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MURTEC Executive Summit Takes on the Big Apple

Hospitality Technology takes a look back at the successful launch of its newest executive-level networking event for the restaurant industry, MURTEC Executive Summit 2017. For those unable to make the event, HT has compiled a brief recap of a few highlights. Look for a more in depth review in the December issue.

On arrival day, operators and technology executives took part in an exhilarating and fun networking event -- the Grand Central Food Challenge. This scavenger hunt took participants on a whirlwind tour of Grand Central Station and introduced them to a variety of gourmet food destinations. Teams followed a series of clues around the famed station, took pictures for evidence of clue completion, and were under the gun to complete the scavenger hunt as quickly as possible in order to win the grand prize: a $50 Amex gift card for each person in the winning group.

Kicking off the official content on Monday, November 6, was Dustin Garis, Former Chief Troublemaker at Procter & Gamble, Global Brand Innovation Leader. Or more accurately, a breakdancing body double kicked, spun and “popped and locked” off the 2017 MURTEC Executive Summit. When the authentic Garis ran to the stage, he launched into a thought-provoking presentation on the importance of giving guests memorable experiences.  He went on to shock attendees with the statistic that most people only have three memorable days every month. When doing the math, that becomes about one memorable month out of a year or approximately one year in a decade.

"Life is not the number of days you live but the number of days you remember," Garis stressed.

He stressed the need for attendees to be willing to implement change every day both in their personal and in their work lives. He called this concept #LifeProfit and provided some interesting examples of companies that have begun to understand that their customers want help living unforgettable life experiences. As an example, he shared this video of what North Face did in North Korea to turn a typical shopping experience into an extraordinary one.

In a new treatment for content, Innovation Labs gave attendees thought-provoking 15- minute presentations, followed by 15 minutes of intimate group discussions. Innovation Labs were led by executives from P.F. Chang's, Tillster, Mannix Marketing, and Panda Restaurant Group and discussed topics such as improving loyalty and frequency, viral marketing tactics, online ordering and delivery services and measuring digital customer engagement and ROI in digital tools.

To inspire and promote high-value networking opportunities, MURTEC Executive Summit created a “Manhunt” game. Tucked inside attendees’ registration badges was the name of a "target," along with an icebreaker question. After finding, meeting, and talking with that person, the badge holder had to introduce their contact to someone else at the conference. Upon completion, the badge holder could turn in their Manhunt card for the chance of winning a cash prize on Tuesday morning.

MURTEC Breakthrough Awards were presented at the Summit. The ceremony honored three operators for outstanding achievement in business innovation. Sponsored by NovaDine, the awards were given to P.F. Chang's China Bistro for Custom Engagement Innovator, The ONE Group, LLC for Enterprise Innovator and Twin Peaks Restaurants for Enterprise Innovator.  

Monday concluded with a workshop, led by Bloomin' Brands and Revention, where all attendees were invited to participate in roundtable discussions discussing a series of omni-channel strategies. These varied from online or mobile ordering to kiosks, takeout and delivery and even third party services. The audience was asked to discuss trends, strategies, best practices, and concerns for the near future.

The following morning, HT decided to put a new spin on breakfast with an open mic session. After sharing some of her favorite insights from the prior day, Dorothy Creamer, editor of HT, asked attendees to share lessons learned and insights they'd be taking back to the office, as well as any other fun or interesting tidbits about the event that they'd found to be interesting and valuable.

Tuesday's opening keynote presentation by Janneke van Geuns, Head of Insights & Analytics, Food, Beverage & Restaurants, Google, was titled "Calling B.S. on Big Data." To help put the idea of big data into perspective she offered up the statistics that 1 billion hours ago Homo Sapiens arrived on Earth, 1 billion minutes ago Christianity began, 1 billion seconds ago the IBM PC was released, and 1 billion Google searches ago was that morning. She then talked about how big data can be beneficial to restaurants if they're willing to act instead of being scared that they "won't get it right."

Following Google is no easy feat, but Jeffery Kent, CIO of American Blue Ribbon Holdings, did just that with a blunt and frank presentation on how his company was breached and how the hack was handled. Kent detailed the steps taken  to correct the breach, the cost, measures taken following the cyberattack to prevent it from happening again, and the way they were able to monitor the criminals when they attempted a secondary attack.

The event culminated with a leadership panel featuring C-suite executives from Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, Papa John's International, Johnny Rockets Restaurant Group, and Jersey Mike's Franchise System. The candid discussion gave attendees insight into how these major brands structure IT in the leadership paradigm as well as the specific issues impacting brands in the digital age including online ordering, delivery and the need for data and actionable insights.  

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