Creating a digital concierge.

SKYCITY Case Study Hero | Roam


What we did

UX/UI Design

Technical Architecture

Mobile Apps

Backend Development - Sauce

Responsive Web Development




SKYCITY is an iconic New Zealand company providing great experiences for customers across New Zealand and Australia

We partnered up to create a digital platform for their guests, partners and staff, that will grow with capability into the future.

Customer's are always right

The Auckland SKYCITY experience can be very complicated, from arriving in the large carpark, checking into your hotel and navigating the large multi story complex to find a restaurant, theatre or bar for a quick drink. Adding in New Zealand’s largest convention centre in 2019, these complications are continuously expanding. SKYCITY also has a wide range of customers, from the casual day tourist going up the SKY Tower, a regular restaurant diner to high rollers at the casino. It is an ongoing challenge to meet these customers needs in such a complex physical environment.

After interviewing over 200 SKYCITY hotel and restaurants guests across 5 locations, The Innovation team had a number of opportunities for us to tackle.

Customers told us that their interaction with SKYCITY felt outdated and manual compared to the digital interactions with other businesses. These customers are familiar with modern and mobile first experiences like Uber, Airbnb, Google Maps etc.

Customer exploration | Skycity | Roam

With SKYCITY’s large dining and hotel precinct in Auckland’s CBD, room service, restaurant ordering and payment process in the hotels, restaurants and bars were chosen as a priority journey to focus on.

Guests staying at the hotels were frustrated by the manual room service process, still having to wait on the phone late at night or to pre-order breakfast. Once the order was placed, there was no other information provided on when it would be ready and regular guests had no way to re-order items.

With SKYCITY’s large scale bars and restaurants busy almost every night of the week, venues often have queues of customers waiting to pay. When customers were finished their meal, they were annoyed at the wait to pay or the time taken to process large groups.

Roam setup a complete product team to tackle these problems made up of a product manager, technical architect, UX/UI designer who was then supported by a development team across mobile, web and backend.

By understanding pain points of SKYCITY’s guests, we began to work through possible solutions across ordering and payment and how these might work be implemented via a digital product.

Guests staying at SKYCITY are not waiting around in the hotel room to make a phone call to the kitchen, they need the ability to order breakfast the night before or order dinner in a meeting away from the hotel. We wanted to offer the ability for customers to view, order and pay for a room service order from anywhere and to customise that order, add favourite items and be flexible with daily and seasonal specials, all from their mobile.

While at a bar or restaurant, wouldn’t it be amazing if you didn’t need to wait in line to pay, or better yet, just walk out? Our goal was to create a seamless in-app payment experience, turning that frustration into one of delight.

When designing the solution, we also needed to consider the staff and their interaction with guests. Staff are critical to bringing the digital ordering and payment service into the existing processes and becoming sponsors of how it worked. An interactive staff dashboard would allow staff to see who is in the restaurant and know how best to serve them, based on their past experiences and preferences.

App Hero | Skycity | Roam
“What we’re building is a foundation for the future – making the customer experience more seamless.
What we found was that if people are having a great time, but then it’s taking forever to pay, that leaves a lasting memory to an otherwise lovely night out.”
- Sarah RichardProgramme Manager, Innovation
What we made | Skycity | Roam

With the user problem and product direction defined, We moved ahead with design. In order to understand the complete journey for room service, we spent busy nights in the hotel kitchen, taking phone orders, watching them be prepared and running them up to rooms. We gained valuable insights which allowed us to craft a solution that solved real pain points. Solutions we had discussed amongst ourselves in the office didn’t actually solve the true problem hotel staff and guests experienced.

As the hotel offers a wide range of services for guests, the design needed to reflect this, similar to the way an operating system works on your phone or PC. Working collaboratively with SKYCITY, we designed detailed wireframes for ordering and payment services while keeping the ability to add others in the future. These could be keyless door entry, hotel and restaurant bookings and even games.

SKYCITY and Roam had worked together before to complete a number of proof-of-concepts. Important learnings were built on for this product, taking into consideration the difficult technical and staff capabilities. For example, connecting a mobile app to the POS system to sync menu items and ensure one source of truth for payment.

“Roam is really keen to try and experiment and learn and do different things. That capability to be nimble and passionate was so important – we need to be able to work with companies with the same ethos.”- Alexandra Cunningham

Customer Experience Strategist

The product value proposition was to allow SKYCITY customers to order and pay across all SKYCITY’s venues while keeping track of favourites, payment details and allow staff to provide a memorable customer experience.

Prototypes for the core ordering and payment flows were created for user testing with restaurant staff, operations teams and customers. After validating the journey and value proposition, we completed the UI with an updated look and feel based off SKYCITY’s new brand guidelines.


The final solution was a mobile app for iOS and Android allowing ordering within the hotels and payments at restaurants, connecting to the POS and DPS payment gateway.

Mobile ordering allowed guests to easily check the menu before or during their stay, pay with a credit card or charge to their room. Once their favourite order had been made, they could save it to re-order next time and also save their specific dietary requirements.

Once ordered, it is sent directly to the kitchen to be cooked, either at a scheduled time or right away. Staff are no longer tied to the phone to take orders, when the order is ready it is taken directly to the room, arriving hot for the guest to enjoy. Runners have their own app to view current orders with the expected delivery time and items. Within the app, they let the guest know the order is on its way to their room. Keeping them up to date on their order, not a surprise at the door.

The payment service is a seamless experience while at a SKYCITY bar or restaurant. Let’s play it out through a guest’s night out...

Monique has the app downloaded and arrives at Andy’s Burger bar, she receives a notification on her phone “Welcome to Andy’s Burger bar, please see your waiter to start a tab”. We know Monique has arrived because the iBeacons installed at Andy’s detect her phone and account details over bluetooth.

Monique is greeted by the FOH staff and asked to open a tab, this automatically opens a new tab in the POS system.

As Monique orders burgers and a couple of round of drinks, her tab is automatically updated and visible on her phone.

When leaving, Monique can simply walk out of the restaurant to pay.

Because she has a credit card loaded in the app and we know her location based on the iBeacons, we can automatically trigger the payment when she leaves and give her the option of leaving a tip.

The complex integrations and system management is all connected using Roam’s backend framework, Sauce. Sauce is an API driven micro service framework that allows these types of products to get to a production release at speed. Sauce is constantly improving as it’s used to build a number of Roam’s projects.

The Pudding | Skycity | Roam

The pudding

With the product rolled out across the two Auckland hotels to pilot, the SKYCITY team have received positive feedback from staff and customers.

“It’s been overwhelmingly positive. Something’s just clicked – now our internal teams understand what we’ve been doing.
It’s much easier for us to talk to our vision when they can see something and relate it back to their everyday. They’re excited because it’ll make their lives easier.”- Alexandra Cunningham

Customer Experience Strategist

This was a challenging project, but the final solution has been worth it. We had a few bumps along the way, but doesn’t every new product. The POS we were going to integrate to was replaced with an interim one to allow for more flexible API integrations, this ended up being a positive as we were building a product that needed the flexibility for how orders are placed. Another challenge was the on location testing, this took a big effort to coordinate Roam, SKYCITY and the restaurant staff to test through the end-to-end flows. In the end the Roam and SKYCITY teams worked together to deliver a simple solution that solves a complex problem.

“Collectively we’ve been able to achieve some really great things. Our suppliers aren’t suppliers, they’re part of the team, and it’s about being able to work together, and have open conversations so you can be on the same playing field, not working separately. There’s a natural synergy between us and Roam.”- Alexandra Cunningham

Customer Experience Strategist


Don’t just listen to the user. Put yourself in their shoes

We learnt from the start that we needed to truly understand the complex processes that hotels, bars and restaurants operate under. Each location is different, but have similarities that we needed to understand, in detail. Spending time with staff and customers gave us the insights to solve their problems, and create a solution that could be used with minimal disruption to current processes.


Design for today… and the future

Having a design framework that allowed additional services from the beginning meant that the app will not need to be redesigned to grow and evolve with the business. We had already added in Find My Car and other content pages at the end of the project delivery.


Always look under the hood

Technical due diligence is invaluable when integrating multiple systems. Knowing the capabilities and limitations from the beginning allowed design and development to work together to build a solution that worked.