TRAY® is a cloud-based point of sale system that specializes in self-service ordering. They are changing the way people order and pay in venues such as family entertainment centers, restaurants, and amusement parks.
Christina Calhoun is a seasoned entrepreneur with 12+ years of business development and strategic advertising experience in the marketing sector. Professional focal points include brand development, sales management, account management, market analysis, client and vendor relationship management, and much more. Christina took a few minutes out of her busy day to share some insights on TRAY and tray.com.
Mike: Let’s start things out with what TRAY actually is and what differentiates it from other POS systems?
Christina: TRAY is a kiosk-forward, cloud-based Point of Sale system. We are unique in that we were built for self-service. Where most POS systems have created self-service options like mobile apps, online ordering, and kiosks to stay competitive, we’ve built our whole company around creating a better guest experience through service on-demand.
Mike: What led the founder, Peter Kellis, to this idea and to build a business around it?
Christina: Our founder, Peter Kellis, is an engineer and MIT grad who developed this idea because he was frustrated with the idea of having to wait in line to order and pay. After identifying a need for a better way to order and pay, he created an app that enabled busy venues such as bars, restaurants, and bowling alleys to accept mobile orders and payments, allowing their customers to skip the line and have a more enjoyable experience. Soon after, he developed self-service kiosks for those guests who preferred not to download an app on their phone and, eventually, created a fully integrated Point of Sale system.
Mike: Tray.com, a descriptive, keyword term. It’s only 4 letters long which makes it easy to remember, and it’s a dot com. How has the domain name played a key role in the business?
Christina: Having a strong domain name is great for our brand. Tray.com is not only easy to remember but easy to spell, which means that when people are searching for us, we’re incredibly easy to find. And having a domain that is an exact match to our company name also gives us more brand credibility and demonstrates to our customers that we’re an established business.
Mike: TRAY is a fairly young company, so I am going to venture to guess that you purchased the name on the aftermarket. Can you share the cost of this premium domain name and how you went about acquiring it?
Christina: We were very lucky to be able to purchase tray.com. We were originally operating with the domain, usetray.com, which was still a great domain. But after conducting some research, our team found that tray.com was owned by a media company and was originally created to report on political contributions. But since the domain was no longer of use to them, we were able to negotiate a purchase and we are now the proud owners of tray.com.
Mike: What is it like to break into a market and be a part of a groundbreaking company?
Christina: It’s really exciting to be a part of something innovative. I came to TRAY from the restaurant industry and I was instantly a fan of the product because I know firsthand that labor challenges have created a need for self-service technology in all types of service-oriented businesses. It’s great to be at the forefront of emerging industries like cloud kitchens as well as the rapidly growing Family Entertainment industry and know that our technology is not only transforming the way that they do business but also improving the experience for the end-user.
Mike: What challenges have you found with running a business that is high-tech and has a strong internet base?
Christina: The biggest challenge with new technology is that not everyone is ready to adopt. While many have embraced the idea that on-demand service is a necessary element of their long-term growth, they still may not be ready to implement it. And, of course, there are always some who prefer to see the technology in person before moving forward, which is a challenge with an online sales process. But, luckily, as more industry leaders have begun to implement self-service technology, we find that these challenges are increasingly easier to overcome.
Mike: As an entrepreneur yourself, what book or books have most influenced your own personal development?
Christina: I have a fairly long commute, so I listen to audiobooks frequently as a way to make my drive more enjoyable. I usually stick to books that are focused on business or personal development and there’s usually at least one significant takeaway from each book that I can implement at work or in my personal life. Recently, I listened to The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, which was a great reminder that small, consistent daily efforts can lead to significant results in the long-term. Drastic changes are hard to commit to so wherever you can squeeze in a little improvement that you’ll stick to, you’re much better off than making a promise to yourself that you can’t keep. Just like opting to listen to an audiobook on my drive rather than the radio, I’ve found lots of other small changes that I’ve implemented into my daily routine to ensure that every day I’m just a little bit better than the day before.