How to attract customers to your restaurant and away from the competition. Promobot in Dubai Mall

There’s always a lot of competition when it comes to having a restaurant in a mall. When Tanuki, a chain of restaurants, opened their new location in the largest shopping mall in the world, the Dubai Mall, the owners were wondering how to stand out amongst their peers and attract customers in such a location.

We decided to make a robot that would serve as a link between people at the mall and our restaurant.

With Vasily Ovchinnikov, Brand Director at Tanuki, we discussed the functionality of Promobot in Dubai Mall and what types of robots suit a restaurant.


We have been monitoring different solutions on the robotics market for a long time. As a result, the most recent Promobot model, which was V.4 at the time, was the most fulfilling in terms of what functions we needed. For us it was important that the robot could be quickly produced, that it could feature our menu, and also to make sure the robot could communicate with people, answer their questions, suggest different items and, on top of that, be inexpensive. A lot of other solutions on the market were adequate only as minimum viable product, with nothing but fancy appearance in their core.


We needed an anchor of attention, something for the WOW-effect. The robot immediately fulfilled those needs and it keeps doing that even after a while. The main audience in Dubai Mall is tourists, and for them the robot is always a new thing. Promobot immediately grabs their attention and excites them.

The average lead cost that the robot brings into the restaurant is around 40 cents.

The main task of the robot is communication with the mall visitors, as well as restaurant guests. The robot is great at brightening peoples’ moods, both old and young. After a long day at the mall, little children usually get upset and tired, however after a short chat with the robot they are laughing once again. Word of advice to the parents ― if the child is crying, show it the ‘the Tanuki robot’.


We spent a lot of time on developing the robot inside and out. Together with the Promobot team we tried to include as much functionality into it as we possibly could.

For example, the robot can befriend people. On next visit the robot will greet the new friend and offers it a free drink coupon.

More than a third of clients return to the restaurant on the same day if they communicated with the robot

Robot features the up-to-date menu of our restaurant on its built-in screen. It has pictures and prices, if the client hesitates it can suggest a meal based on preferences or specific ingredients.

Besides, every few hours the robot performs a dance that we developed ourselves. It is always impressive, every time it happens there is a crowd around it.


There were different situations throughout our work. At times, the robot’s hand would ‘go numb’ and wouldn’t move, that actually looks funny. A few times it tried to escape our restaurant and travel around the mall. Naturally, the administration had to catch it. All of those situations resolve quickly, however ― our team at the restaurant is able to resolve everything through technical support team at Promobot, rarely it takes more than a few hours.

After a while, and it happened long after the Promobot specialists visited us for the initial installation of the robot, we needed to interact with the robot’s mechanisms underneath the protective plastic parts. Our manager at that time was not a technical person at all, and she had to work with the technical support, use videos and photos to almost entirely disassemble the robot’s hand, find and fix the issue and then reassemble it again. Everything went well, the hand was working again and while it was happening it looked super badass.