What I’m about to share with you, to me, is one the greatest “advancements” in the world of entertainment. While it’s somewhat disappointing how much society demands convenience in the digital age that we’re living in, it’s true and evident by the rise of on-demand services like Lyft and Venmo.
We’re so accustomed to this type of customer experience (me included, by the way!) that when there isn’t an on-demand service where there could be, it’s sometimes frustrating. It sort feels like one of those #firstworldproblems, but again, it’s the world we live in.
A few weeks back, I was approached by a friend of mine who told me that she’s been doing some work with a new company that she thought I’d be interested in learning more about. She said that what they were doing was essentially changing the entertainment game. She’s been in the hospitality business for years and has very likely seen it all, so her saying that was a big deal. My ears immediately perked up.
The company is called Noble. It’s an on-demand food and beverage service that partners with local entertainment venues (bars, theaters, sports stadiums, etc) to allow you to order food and drinks right from the app, without having to flag down a server, or get up to go to the bar. It’s essentially your own personal (virtual) server/bartender. Just like Lyft, everything is done via the app – the payment, the tip, the ordering, the as-it-happens updates – everything. (Why didn’t I think of this!?)
After hearing about the service, I had to try it out for myself. Laugh Boston is on the list of local venues that currently offers Noble, so I found a comedy show that looked good and I grabbed my friend Michele to take along as my date. I’m pretty ashamed to say that in my 8+ living in Boston, I had yet to see a show at Laugh 🙈, so this was a double treat for me!
The show was on a weekday, so the crowd was a little less full than what I’d assume it would be on a weekend, but it was a good crowd. Michele and I found a nice hightop table on the side of the room and got comfortable. Before heading to Laugh, I downloaded the Noble app and set up my profile so that I wouldn’t have to do it while I was there. Took about two minutes, maybe less.
Time for a beer! There was a server bopping around from table to table, but because we were using the app, she could take her sweet time elsewhere 💁. I pulled up the menu and my first thought was – wow! This is a) beautiful (to look at) and b) there are so many choices! I guess I didn’t realize what to expect – like, would they offer a select menu? Would it be just a list of items? The answer was no – to both. The menu is full, and it’s detailed – made ordering super easy. I wasn’t that hungry, so I snagged some chips + salsa (Guac? Is that even a question!?), Michele ordered a sandwich and we each got a Corona. Add to Cart. Pay. In about 20 seconds, the ordering was over and the following messages popped up onto my screen (about a minute apart):
Omg. I was so excited! I felt like a queen. The simple convenience of ordering everything on my phone in minutes made me feel so…special! 😄
It only took a few minutes before we had a server standing at our table confirming our order number and delivering the goods! Chips + Guac ✔️, Chicken Sandwich ✔️, Two Coronas ✔️. All I had to do was simply swipe to confirm that my order was delivered and voila. I noticed a few people eyeing us when our food and beer showed up out of seemingly nowhere. Sort of like, what the? Once again, queen 👑. Time to enjoy!
Now that we had our snacks and our beer, we sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the show. About half way through we ordered another beer – same thing. Within minutes, we had our beer and we didn’t have to move a muscle. Except our fingers to order, naturally.
Noble is efficient, convenient and frankly, just brilliant. After I experienced the service firsthand, I was curious to know from the venue standpoint, why Laugh decided to parter with Noble and what value it brings to them – on the venue side. So, I connected with Pablo Rojas, who runs the operations for Laugh Boston + Improv Asylum as the GM, to ask.
Courtney: Pablo, I’ve seen the value from the customer standpoint – it’s huge! Now tell me why Noble is appealing from the other side of the coin – from the venue standpoint.
PR: Noble helps us provide a better customer experience. Getting that last drink or appetizer makes the difference between a good experience and a great experience. Since the guest has more control with Noble they can order whenever they want. Ultimately the guest chooses what kind of experience they want and can be catered to as much or as little as they want. It also definitely helps us sell more, too. In case our servers are with another guest and miss the opportunity to touch a table and offer another round of food or beverages, Noble has been helpful in filling those missed opportunities with sales.
CO: Yep. I can totally see that. So now this may be an obvious one, but what value do you see Noble bringing to the guests that attend Laugh/Improv?
PR: Instant gratification for sure. We put more of that control into the hands of our guests. This way they get what they want without having to wait for the traditional service process if they don’t want it. Then at the end of the show, there is no bill or payment to have to then deal with. Just get up and go.
CO: It really is as simple as that! So to me, this is pretty “disruptive” when it comes to the world of entertainment. What type of impact do you see Noble having on the industry?
PR: For businesses, it will increase sales overall by focusing on those buyers that don’t like to wait. For guests, it means that they get to enjoy more of their entertainment dollars by not having to miss things parts of show or event. Whether a venue like ours or a stadium, by eliminating wait times for guests and letting them enjoy more of the entertainment they came to see, it’s a win-win for everyone. More significantly, it helps small businesses operate like enterprises several times larger than themselves without the added cost.
CO: That’s the epitome of a win-win, for sure! Generally speaking, is there anything else you’d like to share in terms of your relationship with Noble and/or anything that you’d like to note for maybe other venues that may be considering adopting Noble?
PR: One of the great things about Noble is that the company can work with you to develop a solution that fits your operations or industry. In the beginning, Android was not available and food was a major component of Laugh Boston service so we couldn’t immediately adopt the service. They met the challenge quickly and then worked with us to develop a simple solution to add on tableside ordering. A year later it’s been an integral part of our food and beverage service for our regular programming and for our private events.
CO: That’s so great to hear! And as a customer, I thank you for thinking through what your guests values are and for being on the forefront of providing the most innovative options to enhance the customer’s experience. I know I certainly appreciate it! Thanks for your time.
I couldn’t stop there. Now that I heard Pablo’s side, I wanted to hear from Noble itself. I reached out to Matt Draper, Noble’s COO to get his insights.
CO: Matt! Noble is amazing! Congrats. Tell me, how did this whole thing get started?
MD: This all started from a simple insight – venue staff spend 50% of their time fulfilling an order dealing with payments like swiping cards or handling cash. We asked ourselves – how do we remove this so they can do what they love doing? Engaging with guests, making orders and making money. Noble holds this role as an assistant to venue staff to make them more efficient and we’ve been seeing great success.
CO: Makes perfect sense. And from the customer’s side, there are some, let’s say…annoyances.
MD: Most people that have had a similar insight have it from the consumer’s POV – waiting in line, missing out on an experience, or frustrated waiting to close their tab. We know Noble solves for these pain points as well, but because our business was formed from the venue’s POV we have a product built for their operations and concerns. This is what makes us the leader and loved by our venue partners.
CO: And soon to be customers! So, what’s the overall goal here with Noble? What is it that you’re hoping to do with the company and subsequent service?
MD: Our goal is to be the universal ordering solution for entertainment, and provide the consistent experience and benefits across a variety of venue types. Our role is simple – make experiences matter more. We pride ourselves on being on the enablement side of this ecosystem, and want our venues to thrive in providing their new service and the advantages that come with joining the Noble network. In the future, we see a world where Noble does more than just streamline ordering, but a place where venues and brands can engage with users in creative ways to drive awareness & loyalty. We know personalization will be key and we are always looking for fun ways to incorporate it into the Noble experience.
CO: I particularly love the partnership concept – you truly are advocating for your venue partners’ successes, which is a whole other topic we could get into – the idea of small businesses fueling the economic engine by supporting one another, but maybe we’ll save that for another time. 😊 So, mobile ordering isn’t new. It’s been around for a while, but from what I understand, you’re trying to create something much more than that with Noble.
MD: No one argues the benefits of mobile ordering – increased speed of service, lift in sales, better customer experience, etc and everyone knows mobile ordering is here to stay – we use it for everything now from coffee to pizza. But the real draw of Noble specifically isn’t just these benefits, it’s the approach we bring to making sure our venues are successful. We’ve built so many features to allow Noble to live within all different types of entertainment environments that getting up and running is simple. Also, we have worked closely with regulators in the space from day one in making sure Noble doesn’t introduce any new risk because we know how sensitive this space is. As we grow we know the added draw for venues will be the network we are growing and that each venue isn’t on their own promoting their new service. Once someone uses Noble at one venue they want to and expect to use it at them all.
CO: Speaking of growing…what’s next?
MD: Our number one goal is to make sure our venues are successful and to make the experience for users amazing. That’s our focus right now and we know that the more we nail this, the more creative we can become. What’s next is that more premium venues will be joining the Noble network – ones that we know everyone will be excited about! So keep an eye out in the coming months as some of the leading venues in the nation join Noble.
Noble is currently available at the following venues in the Boston area:
- Wang Theatre
- Shubert Theatre
- The Wilbur
- Royale Bowery Concerts
- Improv Asylum
- Laugh Boston
- The Chevalier
To confirm if a venue is a Noble partner, just look for the Noble sign (below).
Though active and available, the service will be celebrating its official launch at the end of the month. For more information, visit getnoble.co.
I was provided a complimentary visit to Laugh Boston and a Noble food and beverage credit in exchange for an honest review of the experience. All opinions are my own. Main photo credit: Laugh Boston