Tech advances help bolster Las Vegas hospitality businesses

Miranda Alam / Special to Vegas Inc.

Images are projected onto a table and place settings via video mapping software in the private room at Partage in Las Vegas on Thursday, June 6, 2019.

With mobile apps now a regular part of daily life, it makes sense that one would be dedicated to helping organizations find short-term employees.

Enter Instawork, a gig worker app geared toward the hospitality sector.

“We thought there was an opportunity to connect hourly workers and hospitality businesses more efficiently,” said Sumir Meghani, Instawork’s CEO and a co-founder. “If you can chop an onion and make a drink, we believe Instawork is a way for you to be in the gig economy.”

The service launched in 2015 and entered the Las Vegas market in May.

Applicants can upload pictures, videos, reference information and career certifications in hopes of making it through a screening process where they are cleared for one of 10 categories of work, such as bartending, event setup or dishwashing.

There are two different apps for businesses and workers.

Once accepted, job seekers can use their app to choose opportunities for which they would like to be considered. Jobs are listed with a breakdown of what the temporary gig would entail, pay, uniform requirements and parking.

Businesses then use their app to choose from those applicants.

Businesses and job seekers are rated by each other and those ratings can then be viewed by participants in future transactions.

“I call it high-tech and high-touch,” Meghani said. “We live in a world now where people want to press a button and have something delivered. People want technology and they want someone else to do the curation. They want someone else to figure it out.”

Instawork makes money by charging businesses a fee to tap into its network of available temporary workers, but the service is free for job seekers.

The service is collaborating with restaurants, hotel properties and country clubs for the time being but has plans to expand its client base.

Most individuals who download the app use it to secure a onetime shift and earn about $100.

“There’s so many talented people in Las Vegas trained to provide world-class service,” said Kris Cuaresma-Primm, general manager for Instawork’s Las Vegas operation. “A lot of these people are still struggling to make ends meet. On the other side of that coin, there are so many companies that need help servicing and bringing to life the entertainment capital of the world.”

As of late May, according to Cuaresma-Primm, the Instawork app had been downloaded thousands of times.

“Demand has been overwhelming, but we’re still always looking for quality people—that’s our top priority,” Cuaresma-Primm said. “We’re at a point where all of our initial gigs have received five-star ratings, so we’re ready to ramp up our partnerships to create more economic opportunities here in Las Vegas.”

Vidal Villagomez, DW Bistro’s assistant general manager, said the restaurant has mostly used Instawork to find temporary bartenders and line cooks.

“It’s been a good service for us so far,” Villagomez said. “We’ve had no complaints about the people we’ve brought in. They’ve all been very professional.”

In addition to Las Vegas, Instawork can be found in the LA, Phoenix, San Diego, Chicago and Bay Area markets.

It also recently received an infusion of capital to the tune of $18 million from a list of investors that included Spark Capital, a deep-pocketed firm that has invested in brands such as Twitter, Oculus and Tumblr.

The Instawork folks hope their brand name will someday be as recognizable to the hospitality sector as Uber and Lyft are to the rideshare space.

“Traditionally, the gig economy has only been accessible for people with a nice car,” Meghani said. If “you don’t have a nice car but you want to bartend on the weekend, we’ve created a vehicle for that.”

In marketing, personalization can often be paramount

Personalization—or company branding—is the idea behind video mapping, an ambiance-setting concept being used by the French restaurant Partage in Chinatown.

Overhead projectors “map” images,placing them on dining tables with messages or animations. A guest’s picture or their name might appear on their plate inside the restaurant’s private dining room, which can seat about a dozen.

“One of the easiest things that we do is put a logo of a company in the middle of the table, so it’s great for corporate meetings,” said Nicolas Kalpokdjian, co-owner and manager of Partage.

Kalpokdjian said he doesn’t know of other restaurants in town that offer what Partage does.

“Eventually, we’d like to get to where we offer a five-course meal and have a different animation for each course,” Kalpokdjian said. “It’s been good for us. It’s a good way to celebrate an occasion or display a company’s name or accomplishments.”

To book the private room, according to Partage website, a party needs to spend at least $1,200. Additional fees for customization might also apply.


This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.