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Hospitality Technology Reveals 2011 Breakthrough Award Winners

Each year, Hospitality Technology (HT) magazine presents a select group of foodservice companies with its Breakthrough Awards. These awards honor restaurant companies for their outstanding vision and achievement in delivering technological excellence to the operation and the guest experience. Winning companies are chosen based on their vision and execution; consideration is given to size, resources and individual market segment benchmarks to ensure that companies from across the industry are recognized for their efforts.The 2011 Breakthrough Awards go to: Domino’s Pizza LLC, Subway Restaurants and Tasti D-Lite.
Breakthrough Awards were presented in two categories: Enterprise Innovator and Customer Engagement Innovator. Winners were judged by HT editorial staff on a basis of innovation, thought leadership, execution, and forward-thinking vision, and announced at the Restaurant Executive Summit on Thursday, September 15, 2011. The Summit, held September 14-15 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Ill., is an invitation-only event that brings senior-level executives from high-growth restaurant companies together to exchange powerful insights for preserving financial health at their companies, and positioning their brands for growth.

The 2011 Breakthrough Award Winners
Domino's Pizza LLC was chosen as an Enterprise Innovator for its development of Domino’s Live, an open-source, enterprise 2.0 solution that has helped to enhance employee collaboration across more than 4,800 locations. The system, which is a combination of Domino’s custom code and open-source technology, provides a content repository of training materials and enables employees to share tips and best practices with their peers. “The spark for this idea came from someone recognizing a very real need in our company and coming up with a solution using very low-cost tools,” said Chris McGlothlin, Domino’s chief information officer. “Using open source technology with our own coding, we turned a top-down information mechanism into a system-wide collaborative tool. Team members are not only sharing best practices, they’re addressing problems and concerns, and helping each other solve problems. ‘How-to’ calls to our help desk have dropped nearly 75 percent, but more importantly, team members across our system have come together to form a true collaborative community.”
Subway Restaurants was chosen as an Enterprise Innovator for its development of a proprietary point-of-sale (POS) system, as well as the infrastructure needed to improve restaurant operations across the 100 percent internationally franchised organization. Dubbed the SubwayPOS project, it draws upon Microsoft’s suite of development tools, including .NET, SQL, and Silverlight. Much of the product architecture is built to support the idea of maintaining mission-critical functionality locally within the restaurant, while moving more multi-unit or non-mission-critical functionality into the cloud. Prior to its formal rollout, hundreds of restaurants in multiple countries installed prototypes of the software. This provided valuable insights in identifying future features of the software. “This project is about using technology to help our franchisees to build sales, build profits, and build stores,” said Thys Van Hout, CTO for Subway. “Rather than take a POS system built for someone else, we took the last two years to gain the input from hundreds of franchisees to help us build SubwayPOS to meet their specific needs. Subway stores use consistent operational procedures which make it possible for us to provide a single world-wide POS platform that will meet their current and future needs.”
The 63-unit frozen dessert chain, Tasti D-Lite was chosen as a Customer Engagement Innovator for its TastiRewards Customer Loyalty Program. The program, which links guests’ social networking activity to the POS, began with the deployment of standardized POS systems and a global customer database that enabled the earning and redemption of the points-based system. Vendors involved in the project include: pcAmerica, Mercury Payment Systems and Snap for Business. Ninety-percent of Tasti’s franchise locations have installed the solution, and adoption rates continue to increase with 1 in 5 customers enabling connections to one or more social media account. Visibility into the social graph of those enabling network postings provides Tasti D-Lite with the ability to engage and enable greater connections with its core customers. An estimated 660,000 online social impressions were generated by the platform during the initial deployment period in 2010. “We are honored to receive this Breakthrough Award for the implementation of our social-friendly loyalty platform,” said BJ Emerson, Tasti D-Lite’s VP of technology. “We’re excited to be able to offer this solution to our franchisees as well as customers and wish to thank Hospitality Technology for the recognition.”
Hospitality Technology also recognized the following restaurant companies as 2011 Breakthrough Awards Honorable Mentions:
  • Sbarro: Named an Enterprise Innovator Honorable Mention for a 450-location overhaul of point-of-sale hardware that has resulted in an increase of order accuracy and speed of service.
  • Aramark: Named an Enterprise Innovator Honorable Mention for the development of a digital signage network that was installed in more the 200 locations, all with varying needs.
  • Scotty’s Brewhouse: Named a Customer Engagement Innovator Honorable Mention for the creation of a four-pronged social strategy that has helped to eliminate the need for secret shoppers.
  • Elephant Bar Restaurants: Named a Customer Engagement Innovator Honorable Mention for its e-gifting and social referral distribution campaigns that helped to drive store traffic and increase its Facebook fan base.  
  • Victoria Gastro Pub: Named a Customer Engagement Innovator Honorable Mention for an application that allows guests to view its 60-page libations menu on roaming iPads, rate offerings that they have previously tried, and access their loyalty club accounts.
Past Breakthrough Award Winners Include:
  • 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)
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