BAO looks to game-ify the restaurant experience with new app

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

BAO launches Baoverse app

Related tags BAO app Taiwanese cuisine Technology JKS Restaurants

Taiwanese restaurant group BAO has launched a new app that will ‘pioneer the digital restaurant experience’ as it looks to bridge the gap between on and offline.

Launching on 20 January to coincide with the Chinese lunar new year, the app gives users the opportunity to select their favourite BAO character and explore the ‘BAOverse’.

The BAOverse is the first app from Not in Game, the new hospitality tech platform from Ken Kirton of design studio HATO and BAO co-founder Shing Tat Chung. 

The BAO app seeks to game-ify the restaurant experience, with users able to earn the digital currency of BAOcoin, and unlock new levels to receive secret perks and upgraded benefits which translate into real life experiences.

“The BAOverse is the first, pioneering building block in the revolution of the BAO restaurant digital experience,” says Tat. “The challenge of combining digital experiences and technology with real-life restaurants is the risk that it takes away from the user’s experience and enjoyment, however this showcases how a digital experience can actually add to the joy of dining and further relationships with customers.”

The BAO team hopes that as time goes on and the app develops the physical BAO experience will translate seamlessly to the digital world.

“For example, if a user purchases a T-shirt through Convni store in real life, we are working for that to be reflected in the app so that their avatar in the BAOverse will immediately be able to wear a digital version too. I am also particularly excited that the app rewards you when you dine alone.”

A digital dining universe

Taking the form of a pixel city brought to life by the art of Marcelo Colmenero, the BAOverse embodies BAO’s signature retro gaming graphics, with each BAO site represented as a different building on a bustling downtown street.

BAO Noodle Shop features a steaming bowl of noodles perched atop its roof, while Convni store is just down the road from the high-rise Rewards Centre, where diners access each new reward their character can claim.

In the BAOverse, users will level up their ‘passport’ by visiting new sites, working their way towards BAOverse Citizenship and unlocking new perks and benefits along the way. This might be a £5 cocktail, or the ability to skip the queue during busy times.

Designed as an interactive digital layer to enhance real world experiences at BAO, users receive an initial allowance of 300 BAOcoin, the digital currency of the BAOverse. Every pound spent at BAO earns users BAOcoin which can be spent on digital items which are then traded for their real life counterparts on future restaurant visits, such as a favourite BAO or one of BAO’s signature beers. 

The app has been designed to give BAO visitors meaningful rewards; by regularly claiming BAOcoin and taking advantage of bonuses throughout the BAOverse, app users can increase their spending power in BAO by as much as 20%.

To mark the launch of the BAOverse and celebrate Lunar New Year, the in app shop will be taken over with digital red envelopes containing one of a kind and limited edition real world prizes available to the first users who earn enough BAOcoin.

These include a  BAO a Day Signet Ring, which will allow the wearer to order a BAO every day on the house and Taiwan-sourced gifts. 

Founded by Shing Tat Chung, Erchen Chang and Wai Ting Chung, the first permanent BAO restaurant opened in Soho in April 2015. Backed by JKS Restaurants, the group currently operates six locations in London. 

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