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Hospitality Technology Announces 2017 MURTEC Breakthrough Award Winners


Hospitality Technology (HT) magazine announces the winners of its 2017 MURTEC Breakthrough Awards.  The 2017 Breakthrough Awards are sponsored by NovaDine, an enterprise-class digital and mobile ordering solution provider to the restaurant industry. Every year, HT presents the Breakthrough Awards to select restaurant companies for outstanding vision and achievement in operational and guest-facing technologies. Winning companies are chosen based on vision and execution; consideration is given to size, resources and individual market segment benchmarks to ensure that companies from across the industry are recognized. The 2017 Breakthrough Award winners and corresponding categories are: P.F. Chang's (Customer Engagement Innovator), The ONE Group, LLC (Enterprise Innovator) and Twin Peaks Restaurants (Enterprise Innovator).

“According to HT’s industry research, digital engagement, data and security are among restaurants’ top strategic goals for technology and this year’s Breakthrough winners align with those findings,” Dorothy Creamer, editor of Hospitality Technology magazine, says. “As restaurant companies continue to clamor to find ways to differentiate from the competition in an increasingly crowded field, companies that collaborate with their technology partners will be better positioned to find solutions that resonate with today’s digital guests and employees, ultimately driving loyalty and the bottom line.”

Nominations were collected in Q3 of 2017 and judged by the HT editorial staff and its Advisory Board on the basis of innovation, thought leadership, execution and forward-thinking vision. The awards were announced live at the 2017 MURTEC Executive Summit, taking place November 5-7 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. This invitation-only event brings together senior-level executives from high-growth restaurant companies to exchange powerful insights in customer service, digital innovation, and growth.

“We’re now at a time when the customer experience is intertwined with, and can be enhanced by, technology — when great service is a mixture of personal attention, convenient and user-friendly digital tools, and rich data intelligence,” said George Istfan, founder of the Raleigh-based NovaDine. “It’s thrilling to see how restaurants are getting creative in areas across both front and back-of-house operations.

Inside the Winning Solutions

P.F. Chang's was honored with the 2017 Customer Engagement Innovator award, for its development of a digital engagement platform, that allowed the brand to simultaneously acquire new guests, drive awareness of the brand and improve sales performance. Social and digital messaging was used to target guests and incent them to take part in a sweepstakes themed around the Chinese New Year.  P.F. Chang’s used a combination of paid social media advertising, paid search ads, animated display ads, and a refer-a-friend incentive to drive incremental visits to locations and incent social sharing by guests. The Engagement Hub combines targeted and personalized communications with incentives and is supported by an immersive, digital, social, direct and in-restaurant communication plan.

The campaign yielded more than 363,000 registrations into the sweepstakes, more than 7 million impressions, with 10,000+ mentions of #PFChangsWish on social media. Of the 12 million+ personalized emails delivered, there was a 23.9% loyalty open rate and a 6.7% click-through rate. In total, P.F. Chang's netted 68,220 new email addresses to its database.

“It is an honor to receive this prestigious award recognizing P.F. Chang’s digital innovation,” says Brian Best, director of interactive engagement, P.F. Chang's. “Digital engagement has been a key contributor to P.F. Chang’s financial turnaround in 2017, and we will continue to enhance our guest’s experience as part of our digital transformation in the coming years.”

The ONE Group, LLC is the recipient of HT’s 2017 MURTEC Breakthrough Award in the category of Enterprise Innovator for its deployment of an EMV solution that reduced chargebacks by $500,000 per year without any negative impact on  customers or wait staff. Implementing EPXpay by PayProTec allows transactions to run through a tethered Ingenico IPP 320 that is connected to the Micros Subnet. The functionality of running transactions stays within Micros, but when it comes time to process the card, it sends the amount to the IPP 320 and the chip is read through that device.

The ONE Group worked with PayProTec to help it develop more advanced features that larger operations need, such as tender type reporting. The initial development of EPXpay was designed to help with security and PCI compliance, but there was no card holder information sent back to Micros. Because of The ONE Group's feedback, PayProTec is currently developing the ability to send back only the last four digits of the card and the card type.

"The ONE Group entered this competition to showcase our dedication to the guest experience," says Michael Hassel, senior director of information technology, The ONE Group. "This initiative was a success thanks to the collaboration between the partners and vendors who provide TOG with cutting-edge technology and support, and our in-house teams who utilize and rely on these technologies to give our guests the highest possible level of hospitality in our venues. Winning this award is a testament to the added value of working with partners as opposed to working with vendors."

Twin Peaks Restaurants is a 2017 Breakthrough Award Winner in the Enterprise Innovator category. The company is recognized for its success in increasing purchase price allocation (PPA) at the individual, store, and brand levels and for finding a better way to measure team member performance and engage with staff.

Twin Peaks implemented Marketing Vitals’ IncentivizeMe! mobile application, to normalize variances in shifts or sections and focus on upsell opportunities that weren’t being leveraged. Using machine learning to count customers the restaurant now has accurate guest counts to understand its true traffic. The IncentivizeMe! mobile app is downloaded by team members and allows the company to communicate directly with each person. Performance statistics are updated daily and shared privately with them. Twin Peaks can use the app to create contests to incentivize behavior and to communicate with staff. And the restaurant uses the performance metrics for scheduling, so the top performers get their choice of shifts each week and day off requests.  

“Twin Peaks is committed to leveraging technology to improve guest experience, employees’ work environment, and the bottom line," says Clay Mingus, chief legal officer, Twin Peaks Restaurants. "This award allows us to showcase that commitment, and we are thrilled to be recognized for it.”

Past Breakthrough Award Winners Include:

  • Outback Steakhouse (2016)
  • Last Call Operating Companies I & II (2016)
  • Chili’s Grill & Bar (2015)
  • Firehouse Subs (2015)
  • Panera Bread (2015)
  • Truluck Restaurant Group (2014)
  • Jersey Mike’s Franchising Systems (2014)
  • Tony Roma’s (2013)
  • Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar (2013)
  • Legal Sea Foods (2012)
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs (2012)
  • Domino's Pizza LLC (2011)
  • Subway Restaurants (2011)
  • Tasti D-Lite (2011)
  • Jack in the Box (2010)
  • ERJ Dining, LLC (2010)
  • Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar (2010)
  • Morton's Restaurant Group (2009)
  • T.G.I. Friday's (2009)
  • Hard Rock International (2009)
  • Cara Operations (2008)
  • uWink (2008)
  • Marco's Pizza (2008)
  • Legal Sea Foods (2007)
  • Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (2007)
  • Kahala - Cold Stone Creamery (2007)
  • Jason's Deli (2006)
  • Noodles & Co (2006)
  • Buca, Inc. (2006


About Hospitality Technology
Hospitality Technology (HT) is the only publication dedicated to covering the role of information technology in improving business performance for both hotel and restaurant operators. The Hospitality Technology editorial portfolio includes: a print publication that publishes nine times annually and reaches more than 16,000 hospitality industry executives, three networking and educational events (MURTEC, HT-NEXT and MURTEC Executive Summit), a comprehensive website, e-newsletters, web seminars, and several exclusive annual reports and studies. Visit Hospitality Technology online at Hospitality Technology is published by EnsembleIQ, headquartered in Chicago.


About NovaDine

NovaDine provides enterprise-class POS integrated digital and mobile ordering solutions to multi-unit restaurant operators. Multiple prominent chain restaurants like Panda Express, Pollo Tropical and Taco Bueno have deployed the feature-rich turn-key solution to support their online and mobile ordering since the company's founding in 2007.   To date, more than 25 million orders have been processed for clients, across multiple continents, in multiple languages.  NovaDine is an innovator in the market place with unique features like its patented Group Ordering; the recently introduced full menu/order/POS integration with Grubhub; and Delivery As A Service integration with Grubhub, UberRush, Postmates and DoorDash.   For more information, visit


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