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Most-Read Stories from in 2015

As 2015 prepares to enter the history books, it’s a good time to reflect upon what stories had readers buzzing over the past year. It’s evident from the headlines that ranked as the most-read on  that EMV, security and mobility at the point-of-sale were all top-of-mind for operators. It was also a big year for major announcements in mergers and acquisitions. Read on for a recap of some of the top stories.
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. We also get specific, asking about the features they’ll seek in their next upgrades. 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. Check out the 2016 Report here.
Six Key Payment Trends for 2015
This article from early in 2015 recapped 2014 and looked forward to what was trending for 2015. From security strategies to mobile payment, the payment space is poised for major changes in the year ahead. With huge disruptions in the payment space including EMV and the debut of Apple Pa, 2014 was a watershed year for payments technology. This feature summarizes six key payments trends that hospitality tech executives need to know about in 2015.
Is EMV DOA in Restaurants?
Steve Barrow, Vice President IT, Luby's Fuddruckers offers his insight into how EMV was shaping up to impact the restaurant industry prior to the liability shift. The global standard for chip enabled payment cards, known as EMV, was implemented in Europe in the late 1980s by Europay, Master Card and Visa.  EMV promotes a more secure payment infrastructure with lower risk and lower fraud potential that should benefit the entire payment ecosystem. While Europe has been in the EMV business for twenty-five years, EMV implementation into the U.S. market has created quite a stir as uncertainty and misinformation permeate the marketplace. Sources of confusion are many as the card brands, issuers and equipment manufacturers grapple over the basic EMV standards and protocols necessary to secure and monetize this new form of payment.
Working the Local Angle: Benefits of Location-Based Technology
With the rapid adoption of smartphones in the United States, marrying marketing with technology and location can bring in more sales and satisfied customers for restaurant and hotel operators. As of last year, two-thirds of Americans owned a smartphone, according to The Nielsen Co.,
and location-based technologies, including beacons and geo-fences, are giving hotels and restaurants access to customers in a whole new way.
EMV Countdown is On: Getting Prepped
Prior to October of 2015 — the deadline by which merchants must deploy point-of-sale (POS) technology that complies with the Europay/Visa/MasterCard (EMV) standard for chip card acceptance or assume liability for fraudulent transactions — HT took a look at what hotel and restaurant operators should be doing to ready their organizations for the liability shift.

It was a big year for Heartland Payment Systems as the company continued to strengthen its position in the POS marketplace with several major point of sale company acquisitions. The year closed out with the announcement that the company was going to bought by worldwide payment tech provider, Global Payments. Here is a brief recap of headlines:

1. Heartland Acquires Digital Dining, Strengthens Stand in POS Marketplace
Heartland Payment Systems has announced it has acquired privately held Digital Dining, a provider of restaurant point-of-sale (POS) and management systems throughout the United States. The acquisition allows Heartland to help restaurants turn their POS system into a secure commerce center as it collaborates with other operations including payroll, marketing and loyalty programs.

2. Heartland Announces Acquisition of Dinerware & pcAmerica
Heartland Payment Systems, the nation's fifth largest payments processor and provider of merchant business solutions, announced the acquisition of Dinerware and pcAmerica, two leading point-of-sale (“POS”) companies with solutions covering various hospitality and retail segments.
3. Global Payments to Acquire Heartland Payment Systems for $4.3 Billion
Global Payments Inc., a worldwide provider of payment technology services, has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Heartland Payment Systems, Inc., one of the nation’s largest payment companies.
Marriott to Buy Starwood for $12.2 Billion
Marriott International announced plans to purchase Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in a cash and stock deal valued at $12.2 billion to create the world's largest hotel chain. Speaking to CNBC, Marriott CEO & President, Arne Sorenson says that the global piece of this particularly powerful. “By pulling together Marriott Rewards and SPG – these are two of the leading loyalty programs in industry – we can put these together be able to spend that much more on technology and marketing and other things,” he revealed.
Oracle Launches Oracle Hospitality
Oracle, building on the strong foundation MICROS established serving the hotel and food and beverage industries, has launched Oracle Hospitality Global Business Unit to accelerate development of innovative cloud, mobile, and guest experience technology. With hundreds of thousands of systems already deployed in hotels, restaurants, cruise operations, and other venues on all seven continents, Oracle Hospitality extends MICROS’ commitment to providing fast, reliable service and solutions to customers both large and small. The launch of Oracle Hospitality combines the deep domain expertise of MICROS, acquired by Oracle in 2014, with the power of Oracle’s scale and innovation, to help customers succeed in an environment that has been fundamentally changed by the rise of social, mobile, and cloud technologies.
Hilton Adds Digital Key to HHonors App
Hilton Worldwide introduced Digital Key, an all-new feature of the Hilton HHonors app, providing the loyalty program's members more choice and control over their entire travel experience. Digital Key now gives frequent guests the option to bypass the hotel check-in counter and access their rooms, as well as any other area of the hotel that requires a key, directly via the Hilton HHonors app on their smartphones.
Starbucks POS Glitch Disables POS at Thousands of Stores
Company-owned Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada suffered a point-of-sale outage on Friday, April 24. The company released a statement saying that the glitch was caused by a failure during a daily system refresh and assured customers it was not the result of an external breach. The outage also affected the company’s Evolution Fresh and Teavana stores. According to an Associated Press story, the glitch that disabled registers served as a reminder of how dependent restaurants are upon these systems that run increasingly sophisticated operations. They process credit cards, send orders to computer screens in kitchens and help run loyalty programs.
Aloft Hotels Debuts Emoji Room Service Menu
Aloft Hotels has launched its TiGi (Text It. Get It.) Emoji Room Service Menu – the world’s first ever emoji-only room service menu. Debuting October 21 at Aloft Manhattan Downtown – Financial District guests are able to text a single emoji, or a combo of emojis, to order items directly from the front desk. The debut Aloft TiGi Menu features six different kits including The Hangover (vitaminwater, Advil, bananas), The Munchies (Doritos, Snickers, etc.) and The Re:Fresh (toothpaste, razor, etc.).
Starwood Preferred Guest App for Apple Watch Enables Keyless Entry
Apple Watch lets you order an Uber, check into your flight, make a dinner reservation and now for the first time ever you can open your hotel room door all with the flick of the wrist. Starting today, members of Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®), the award-winning loyalty program from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. have instant access to the #spglife thanks to the SPG App for Apple Watch.
Taco Bell's New Urban Concept Optimizes Digital Ordering
Taco Bell is dropping the drive-thru, opening its kitchens and using technology to create a new experience as the brand expands into urban markets. The new design focuses on simplifying and modernizing the restaurant experience and bringing forward an atmosphere as unique as the community in which it serves. “These new urban restaurants are a critical part of our growth strategy in markets where people experience our brand differently,” said Brian Niccol, chief executive officer, Taco Bell Corp. “Today’s consumers are living in more urban settings and our new restaurants cater to their lifestyle in adapting our traditional restaurant concept to fit their modern needs.”
Dunkin' Donuts Announces New Mobile Pay Option With Visa Checkout
Dunkin' Donuts has officially announced the launch of its newest mobile payment option for guests, integrating Visa Checkout on and within the Dunkin' Mobile® App as a fast and easy way to purchase and reload virtual Dunkin' Donuts Cards.
4 Steps to Turning Digital Displays into Dollars
Historically the term “room scheduling signage” was primarily limited to the meeting and convention space. For MGM Resorts this all began with small format displays outside of meeting rooms with a direct feed to scheduling software that would display the group’s name along with meeting start and stop times. When these rooms were not being utilized these screens would default to displaying internal marketing content. Adam Feldman, executive director guest services at MGM offers four tips to turn digital displays into revenue.
Starwood Alerts Guests to Data Breach

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced that the point of sale systems of a limited number of its hotels in North America were infected with malware, enabling unauthorized parties to access payment card data of some customers. Promptly after discovering the issue, Starwood engaged third-party forensic experts to conduct an extensive investigation to determine the facts. Based on the investigation, malware was detected that affected certain restaurants, gift shops and other point of sale systems at the relevant Starwood properties. There is no indication at this time that the Company’s guest reservation or Starwood Preferred Guest membership systems were impacted. The malware was designed to collect certain payment card information, including cardholder name, payment card number, security code and expiration date.

Other Security Breach Articles Getting Attention:
64 Percent of Consumers Say Unlikely to Do Biz with Breached Companies
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers surveyed worldwide say they are unlikely to shop or do business again with a company that had experienced a breach where financial information was stole?n, and almost half (49%) had the same opinion when it came to data breaches where personal information was stolen. This is according to a recent global survey by Gemalto, titled "Broken Trust: 'Tis the Season to Be Wary", which surveyed 5,750 consumers in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom and United States. 

Landry's Investigates Credit Card Breach
Landry’s, Inc., a company that manages a nationwide stable of well-known restaurants — including Bubba Gump, Claim Jumper, McCormick & Schmick’s, and Morton’s – recently received reports of unauthorized charges on certain payment cards after the cards were used legitimately at some of its restaurants.  The company immediately began an investigation after receiving these reports and has engaged a leading cybersecurity company to investigate this matter.  Landry’s is also working with its payment processor and payment card networks. 
Hilton IDs and Takes Action to Eradicate Malware
Hilton Worldwide has identified and taken action to eradicate unauthorized malware that targeted payment card information in some point-of-sale systems.  Hilton immediately launched an investigation and has further strengthened its systems. 
Starbucks App Falls Prey to Hackers
As reported by CNN Money and confirmed by Starbucks, criminals have been breaking into individual customer rewards accounts. The Starbucks app lets you pay at checkout with your phone. It can also reload Starbucks gift cards by automatically drawing funds from your bank account, credit card or PayPal.
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