2014's Most-Read Stories from HTmagazine.com

As 2014 comes to a close, we take a look back at the top headlines and stories garnering attention over the past year.  While there were many stories that resonated with readers concerning mergers and rollouts, overall, point of sale technology, loyalty and payment security were of most interest to readers.

Benefits of Online Ordering Go Beyond Increased Sales
To a large degree consumers have come to expect — and take for granted — the ability to place restaurant orders online. They don’t give the process much thought. Restaurant owners do, however, and they are adopting some new and innovative ways to simplify the lives of their customers while boosting their own ability to track customer activity in ways that enhance their analytics.

POS Integration Becoming a "Must-Have"
Restaurant operators are increasingly seeking to integrate a variety of capabilities into their point-of-sale (POS) systems. According to Hospitality Technology’s 2014 Restaurant Technology Study, foodservice operators cite integration as a major business driver influencing their next POS upgrade. Integration between systems opens up capabilities on both the operations side, including kitchen efficiency and better intelligence, and the customer-facing side, such as mobile and online ordering, and more sophisticated loyalty programs.

How Boston Pizza is Redefining Loyalty
In 2014, the 350-unit Boston Pizza celebrated its 50th anniversary and, as a part of its next growth phase, was reevaluating what drives visitation and frequency for its 40 million annual guests. Having recently completed extensive market research around guest loyalty, Boston Pizza is shifting resources away from traditional points-based loyalty, toward creating experiences instead. A key component of the new loyalty strategy will be technology. Boston Pizza’s VP of marketing Alex Green talks to HT about the research findings, the company’s transformation in loyalty, and what it’s like for a marketing executive to jump head-first into technology strategy.

POS Software Trend Report 2015
Each year, Hospitality Technology puts a spotlight on point-of-sale technology to find out what’s trending in POS for the year ahead. Through reader surveys with restaurant executives, HT uncovers insight into their 2015 purchasing plans, and the business pressures that are impacting their next POS buy. In addition, HT connects with the POS software supplier community to find out what they’ve been up to over the past 12 months, and to get a sneak peek into new rollouts and development efforts for 2015.

2014 Restaurant Technology Study
The 16th annual Restaurant Technology Study covers a comprehensive range of topics including: budgets, business health and metrics; investment and implementation strategies; top IT department challenges; mobile and social initiatives and plans; POS; payment security and more. The survey's findings show that as budgets increase, opportunity emerges for restaurant technology to shift from responding to leading the business.
How Prepared is Restaurant Industry for end of Swipe & Sign?
The U.S. payment industry is in a period of transition. October 2015 will mark the end of swipe-and-sign. While card brands are committed to swapping mag-strip for EMV chip-based cards, the standard for authentication remains under debate: signature capture or PIN. While PIN authentication is considered the more secure option, there’s concern that Americans, who tend to have a variety of credit cards, would struggle to manage multiple PINs.

A Roadmap to EMV
The deadline for merchants to be capable of accepting EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) is only a year away. The pressing concern surrounding October 15, 2015 is the fact that any operator who doesn’t have the ability to accept EMV credit cards and experiences a breach at one of their locations after that date, will likely bear the responsibility of the cost associated with the fraud.

Why Wi-Fi is Keeping Hotels from Receiving 5 Star Reviews
Given the critical importance of Wi-Fi to guests, hospitality decision-makers are keeping a watchful eye on their hotels’ Internet service off­erings. However, the eff­ects of poor Internet service on guest satisfaction and consequently on hotels’ online reputation have yet to be thoroughly explored. A deep dive into online review data analyzed about 53 million English language reviews from multiple review sites and OTAs. A little more than two million reviews explicitly mentioned the terms "internet", "wifi" or "wi-fi."

6 Lesser Known Uses of Beacons in Restaurants
Equipped with mobile devices, consumers today value personalized, contextual mobile engagement, built around their current location, interests and buying preferences. According to a recent Mblox survey, 80% of consumers prefer receiving personalized, context-aware branded content through their mobile app. Therefore, it is highly likely that, merging mobile marketing efforts with iBeacon technology could result in higher click-through, quicker conversion, more sales and greater loyalty. Although beacons are popularly considered to be a retailer-focused opportunity, restaurants have a lot to gain from this new proximity-detection technology, as it allows them to have meaningful, personalized conversations with customers.

Hilton Rolls Out Digital Check-in/out, Room Selection and Customization Across 4,000 Properties
Hilton Worldwide has announced its guests will have unprecedented choice and control over their entire hotel stay with the ability to check-in and choose their exact room from digital floor plans, as well as customize their stay by purchasing upgrades and making special requests for items to be delivered to their room, on their mobile devices, tablets and computers.  Guests also will be able to check-out using these personal technology devices.  By the end of 2014, digital check-in and room selection will be available at more than 4,000 Hilton Worldwide properties across 11 brands in 80-plus countries via members' Hilton HHonors accounts.

Restaurant IT Execs Debate Move to Tablet POS at MURTEC
Converting to tablet point of sale has become an issue for many restaurants looking to streamline service and operations with mobility. This was a topic of discussion at the recent MURTEC 2014 (Multi-Unit Technology Restaurant Conference).  A combination of information technology, operations and vendor executives from The Melting Pot, Lucille’s/ Hut Hut, KFC, Taco John’s, Jack in the Box, Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill, and Heartland Payment Systems discussed the future of the tablet point of sale and key points to consider prior to implementing.

Restaurant Payment Tech: Set to Explode
Not long ago, neither restaurant operators nor their customers seemed willing to use payment technology systems for check settlement. How times have changed, at least for customers (and probably for restaurateurs as well). A new study from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research has found that U.S. restaurant customers seem ready to forge ahead with technology-based check settlement. The study compared the ratings of nearly 1,300 consumers on how they felt about paying their restaurant bill using a smartphone, a dedicated table-top system, or the traditional system of handing over a credit card. The survey rated those three settlement methods according to eight measurements—and technology won on all eight of them.

MICROS Acquisition Makes Oracle Leading Retail POS Provider
With the pending acquisition of MICROS, Oracle will become the new leader in retail POS software according to Boston Retail Partners’ 2014 POS/Customer Engagement Survey results. Combined, the two companies account for 19% of the retail POS software installation base. Oracle’s largest acquisition since it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010 demonstrates the attractiveness of industries it considers to be ripe for technology transformation and growth.

POS: To Tablet or Not to Tablet?
Tablets have been around for a while now, but their popularity has grown exponentially since Apple released the iPad in 2010. This rise in consumer attention has encouraged developers and technology leaders to compete in the expanding tablet software market, and point-of-sale (POS) companies are no exception. When correctly implemented, a tablet-based POS can help a business run faster while reducing the overhead expenses associated with a traditional system. But are tablets right for every business type?

Apple Launches ApplePay as Mobile Payment Option
Apple announced its latest iPhone releases and new systems including its own mobile payment offering, ApplePay. According to a report from Cnet News, Apple announced that it's partnering with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express along with several issuing banks to allow iPhone users to store credit card accounts. ApplePay will be available in 220,000 US merchant locations that already take mobile payments via NFC. Apple also announced it has worked with retailers including Subway and McDonald's to rollout ApplePay. McDonald's is even adding Apple Pay to its drive through.  

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