Sodexo Quality of Life Services at Embry-Riddle

Gallery Electric Vehicles Help Sodexo Take Student Dining to the Streets at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Executive Summary:

Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is a private university with its main campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona, United States. It is the largest accredited university system specializing in aviation and aerospace. Sodexo, the global leader in “Quality of Life” services including food service, serves students at ERAU campus in Prescott, Arizona.

Students can be challenged to get a meal on-the-go, with the distance between dorms, classrooms, and dining halls, and time constraints between class sessions. But the pandemic brought new complexity in the form of social distancing and safety guidelines and limited public dining options. ERAU and Sodexo needed a way to better serve both on-campus and commuter students. Sodexo brought in Gallery Electric Vehicles to take new food and beverage options to the students outside their dorms and classrooms.

Partners:

     -  Sodexo
     -  Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU)
 
Challenges:

The ERAU campus in Arizona is situated such that the dorms, dining halls, and classrooms are not conveniently located in close proximity to one another. Many off-campus dining options remain closed or dramatically reduced. Whether public or private, indoor dining facilities must adhere to strictly reduced capacity guidelines to serve during the pandemic. In addition, it can be very challenging for regular restaurant delivery vehicles and personnel to observe all the appropriate safety guidelines and still deliver hot food hot and cold food cold. Not to mention the difficulty of reliably delivering to students in transit between classes.

Reduced capacity in the ERAU dining halls, increased demand for delivery, safety, and convenience during the pandemic, and the opportunity to drive revenue meant the university needed to branch out from traditional student dining. Sodexo took an innovative look at what, where, when, and how ERAU could safely expand and improve food service to the campus population.

How Gallery Delivered:

Sodexo identified an opportunity to leverage Gallery Electric Vehicles to address the needs of students and the university. They had used an earlier version of the product and knew that the mobility, quality, safety, and versatility would be a perfect fit. Sodexo increased its “fleet” to three electric vehicles on the Arizona campus.

A traffic pattern study by the Dean of Students set the stage for serving students at peak times when and where they’re ready for a snack or meal, whether outside of dorms or on the way in/out of classes. The Gallery Electric Vehicles drive to where the peak traffic will be, set up, and are ready to serve when the bell rings. If traffic is lighter than expected, they can redirect to a busier area, minimizing downtime.

We worked closely with Sodexo to customize features that would accommodate a wider menu variety, maximum safety precautions, and a “wow-factor” curb appeal. That makes a big difference in the interest level of students. Originally focused on breakfast, breaks, and lunch, the offering is already expanding. A new pizza offering between 7-11 p.m. sold 45 large pizzas outside of the dorms on the first night of operation.

“Our chef is always working on new trendy food ideas from breakfast burritos and donuts to wings and sushi,” said John Vitale, Sodexo RVP-Embry-Riddle. ”We’ve also incorporated student feedback and social media contests to help keep the menus fresh and traffic lively. Working with Gallery makes it possible and easy to accommodate new and different menu items with tweaks in the customization.”

Results:

In addition to the benefit of social distancing, safe delivery, extra variety, and convenience for students, the electric vehicles allow Embry-Riddle to demonstrate their innovation while expanding their sales to commuter students who otherwise might eat off-campus. They’re able to get ahead of traffic patterns or follow the traffic when it changes.

Because it’s part of the student dining service, payment is integrated with their plan or available using regular credit cards. That means the electric vehicles are providing supplemental revenue to offset volatility in other areas, and ultimately grow revenue as the program expands.

“The Gallery Electric Vehicles have been wildly successful,” adds Vitale. “They have a ‘wow-factor’ with their creative and colorful design. The students can’t seem to get enough of the convenience and variety.”