By Amy Procaccini
Sodexo Live!, hospitality partner to the San Diego Convention Center, teamed up with Tortoise to launch the first-ever mobile vending robot in a convention center. The custom-wrapped mobile smart store was available to an estimated crowd of 135,000 attendees during Comic-Con International held July 21-24 at the San Diego Convention Center and marking the first in-person return of the celebrated event since 2019. As the world’s premier pop culture convention, past Comic-Con events have attracted more than 135,000 attendees.
“Entering into the convention center space is exciting, and we look forward to delighting attendees with our seamless new future-facing solution,” said Dmitry Shevelenko, Co-Founder and President, Tortoise, in advance of Comic-Con. “With Sodexo Live!’s track record in providing hospitality for some of the best and biggest convention centers in the country, we knew we could form a strong relationship to ultimately provide a fun new experience for guests.”
Tortoise’s forward-thinking technology paves a path for the future of live event and hospitality tech by allowing fans to instantly access food and beverage quickly and on-the-go, ensuring shorter lines and that fans don’t miss out on any of the action. Tortoise’s separate compartments will be stocked with California burritos (seasoned carne Asada, French fries, Pico de Gallo, sour cream and melted cheese in a flour tortilla) created by Sodexo Live! Executive Chef Sufi Karaien, as well as 20-ounce bottles of Gatorade. Additionally, Chef Sufi and the team at the San Diego Convention Center will aim to use locally sourced ingredients, often purchasing from area partners within a 150-mile radius of the convention center. The Tortoise robot boasts a vibrant design, making it eye-catching and easy for fans to spot in the crowd.
“We’re always looking to innovate the guest experience in a way that is both helpful and exciting,” said Steve Pangburn, CEO, North America, Sodexo Live!. “Tortoise gives us an opportunity to bring our fresh, chef-driven food directly to event goers in a way that is efficient and user-friendly. We know that fans are eager to attend this year’s in-person festivities, and we anticipate this innovative tech experience will be a big hit with those looking for high quality grab-and-go.”
Convention guests were able to approach the roaming low-speed cart, tap to pay with a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, take their item, and go. Transactions takes less than 15 seconds to complete.
Sodexo Live!’s culinary team is also responsible for creating the popular limited-edition chocolate bars that are produced each year at Comic-Con. 1,000 of each of the four bars are sold per day, and this is the first time they will be back to purchase in-person since 2019.
Amy Procaccini is Strategic Brand Communications Manager, Sodexo Live!