Messenger Bot for a digital nomad house in Nicaragua

Summary

A digital nomad house in Nicaragua approached us to create a more efficient way for their guests to register for a meal plan. The current process they were using was prone to errors on both sides, and very manual, leading to a lot of time being wasted transferring handwritten information into spreadsheet for proper record keeping.

 

Process

We identified the problems facing all stakeholders:

House guests need to:

  • Remember to sign up for lunch and/or dinner 24 hours in advance.
  • Walk over to a chalk board and write their initials for the day and type of meal they would like to order.

House administrators need to:

  • Manually count the number of meals that have been requested each day, so they know the amount of each ingredient that needs to be purchased.
  • Manually transfer all handwritten information from the meal sign-up chalk board to a spreadsheet,┬áthat helps calculate accurate billing for the meals.

Once we knew the problems we wanted to solve, we started thinking of the best way to streamline and automate as much of this process as possible. We settled on a solution involving a combination of a Facebook Messenger bot to gather information from guest, and a Google Sheet to be automatically populated with that data and used by administrators to manage orders and billing.

 

Technology

We found that all house guests use a Facebook Messenger group to communicate and to make house announcements.

We developed a Facebook Messenger bot, which sends a message to everyone who subscribes to the meal plan at 8am every morning reminding guests to sign-up by 12pm if they would like to order a meal for the next day. Once a response is given, guests are given a confirmation within Facebook Messenger, which serves as their record and proof for signing up.

For house administrators the process is also greatly simplified. Every guest response is received as an email to provide permanent record of the order. Names of guests and meal selections are then populated in a Google Sheet where kitchen staff can see how many lunch and dinner orders have been submitted for the next day, giving them enough time to purchase the needed ingredients to prepare the food. Finally, the spreadsheet also allows for a quick calculation of the total amount a guest owes for meals at the time of check-out – all that’s necessary is that their name be input in the last tab on the spreadsheet.

 

Video and Screenshots

 

The raw data from the email receipt is populated in a Google Sheet. If an order is submitted after 12pm, it’s highlighted in red to alert administrators that the order has come in late and it might be subject to being cancelled.

A separate tab on the Google Sheet is automatically populated with a cleaner view of exactly how many lunches and dinners are requested for each meal date.

A third tab on the Google Sheet makes it easier to calculate the total amount a guest owes for meals at the time of checkout.