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  • 1/31/2023

    US Foods Adds Bear Robotics, 7shifts to CHECK Business Tools Program

    Bear Robotics Servi

    Foodservice distributor US Foods Holding Corp. added two transformative technology offerings to its CHECK Business Tools program: Bear Robotics and 7shifts.

    US Foods CHECK Business Tools program provides foodservice operators with a growing suite of technology solutions designed to help drive traffic, simplify staffing and reduce waste. Bear Robotics and 7shifts were selected to join the US Foods CHECK Business Tools line-up after participating in the company’s Innovative Partnerships incubator program with more than 20 restaurant technology companies vying for the opportunity.

    Aligned with the growing trend of automated solutions for addressing labor challenges, Bear Robotics offers “Servi,” a hospitality robot. Servi can run food, deliver drinks and bus dishes back to the kitchen, eliminating repetitive service needs so restaurant staff can focus on delivering superior service. Each robot is self-driving and equipped with multiple cameras and LiDar sensors for nimble navigation across any restaurant space.

    7shifts is an all-in-one team management platform that can be used across mobile and desktop, designed specifically for restaurants. The platform provides restaurants with the team management tools they need to succeed, including scheduling, communication, tip management, tasks and more. 

    The US Foods incubator program was designed to help the company find the most innovative and proven technology solutions for their customers. The program takes applications twice a year. Current companies taking part in the next US Foods Innovative Partnerships program are:

    • InKind, a financing platform that provides restaurants with cash in exchange for food and beverage credits, sold to consumers through the inKind app.
    • Kickfin, a cashless tipping software for restaurants, bars and hotels that sends instant tip payouts directly to employees' bank of choice, 24/7, 365.
    • Tablz, a guest personalization tool that turns diner upgrades into new revenue for restaurants.

     

  • 1/9/2023

    Focus Brands Accelerates Dual Branded Locations

    Foucs Brand dual branded Jamba Juice and Auntie Annes

    Focus Brands says dual branding is the future of QSR, and the parent company of Auntie Anne’s®, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s, is leading the charge. Today, the Focus Brands portfolio boasts 175-plus open dual branded units with at least 65 more in various stages of development across the country. 

    Drive-Thru Convenience

    The Focus Brands portfolio brands have signed agreements to open more than 50 dual and tri-brand locations in the coming year, many of which include drive-thrus for added convenience as interest in dual branded franchise opportunities continues to surge.

    Flexible Store Formats

    Focus Brands is among the brands introducing new store formats, including Krystal, Jack-in-the-Box and Panera Bread, which opened its Panera To Go, solely offering Rapid Pick-Up and Delivery shelves where guests and delivery drivers can easily pick up orders.  

    Focus Brands has long pioneered the concept of dual branding, predominately in malls and non-traditional locations with Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon. Now, the company’s portfolio brands have found new opportunities with streetside dual branded units, which is paving the way for immense franchise growth. 

    “Dual branding is the future of our brands, especially on the specialty side of the business,” said Brian Krause, Chief Development Officer at Focus Brands. “There will always be a place in malls, but there is an immense amount of growth opportunity in streetside venues, and, by dual branding, there is more opportunity for enhanced revenue.”

    The company invested heavily in consumer research to identify how to create combinations of its iconic brands to resonate with consumers and meet them where they want to be met.

    Focus Brands has identified four dual-brand concepts:

    • Auntie Anne’s/Cinnabon
    • Auntie Anne’s/Cinnabon/Carvel
    • Auntie Anne’s/Jamba
    • Cinnabon/Carvel – Cinnabon Swirl. 

    While key consumer benefits vary by dual-brand combination, one consistent benefit has been convenience. Having these brands together in one location makes them far more accessible than they are individually. This convenience also creates opportunity for franchisees, as co-branding leads to an expansive menu that drives enhanced unit-level volume. 

     

  • 1/14/2023

    Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux Invests in Tech Transformation

    Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux is making its largest technological investment in brand history.

    Walk-On’s is implementing a systemwide aggregator to consolidate third party orders, partnering with Lunchbox to upgrade its online ordering platform and guest loyalty program, and introducing a partnership with Toast to level up its POS management system.

    71% say the ability to integrate with other systems is driving their POS purchase decisions, according to HT’s2 2023 POS Software Trends Report.

    Walk-On’s new loyalty program and app, designed by Lunchbox, are scheduled to launch in the first half of 2023 with an improved interface and back-end integration that will create a more seamless user experience for guests and operators alike. 

    Continuing with marked enhancements to the guest experience, Walk-On’s is also partnering with BOWEN to modernize the brand’s website presence and streamline the online ordering experience. 

    In addition to the upgraded Toast POS system, Walk-On’s is installing Toast Kitchen Display System, and rolling out Toast Go 2 mobile handheld POS devices for tableside and curbside use at current and future locations. 

    Walk-On’s will implement a phased rollout across all current locations throughout 2023 and begin immediate implementation at all new restaurants in their development pipeline. 

  • 1/31/2023

    Chowly Acquires Koala

    handshake partnership

    Chowly, a restaurant technology company that integrates third-party delivery marketplaces with point-of-sale (POS) systems, has acquired Koala, a guest experience platform that empowers established and emerging restaurant brands to elevate their digital ordering experience across web, app and kiosk to drive immediate results. The combined business will represent over 16,000 restaurant locations on the platform, integrating over 350,000 orders per day across the US.

    “We’re thrilled to welcome Koala to the Chowly team,” said Sterling Douglass, co-founder and CEO, Chowly. “Merging these two businesses together represents a major leap forward in the mission of both organizations as we help restaurants navigate today’s complicated digital world. Koala’s open platform meshes perfectly with Chowly’s, while also giving restaurants a simpler experience for their off-premise strategies. We plan on bringing Koala’s best-in-class, enterprise-grade ordering to the SMB restaurant space and blend our partnership ecosystems while continuing to support their success in the enterprise restaurant space.”

    71% say the ability to integrate with other systems is driving their POS purchase decisions, according to HT’s2 2023 POS Software Trends Report.

    SMB and independent restaurant owners will soon gain access to a more sophisticated and holistic solution, including enterprise-grade online ordering, advanced data analytics, and proven machine learning recommendation engines for increasing basket sizes. Sophisticated native iOS apps, open platforms, and multi-platform support have long been relegated to the largest of enterprises, but are now being democratized for the independent restaurateur.

    The leadership team at Koala, Walter Beller-Morales, Melanie Norton and Brett Spiegel will play a critical role in integrating the two companies’ solutions in conjunction with Chowly’s leadership. Koala’s CEO Nat Trienens will remain temporarily to help shepherd the integration of the two companies.

    Chowly brings significant scale to the expanded organization, representing more than 12,000 locations and 3,000 brands. The company has delivered a consistent record of product innovation, best-in-class implementation time and POS integrations, and a strong value-driven sales team. By adding Koala’s strengths with product-leading features such as top tier conversion rates, enterprise-grade stability, a highly-customizable user experience and a machine learning engine for recommendations to maximize basket size, the combined company will be positioned for significant growth as a market leader.

  • 1/31/2023

    Hostaway to Expand Its Reach Using Amadeus as a New Global Distribution Channel for Short-Term Rentals

    A person packing for a trip

    Hostaway, a vacation rental management software company, has partnered with global travel technology provider Amadeus to distribute short-term rental properties worldwide.

    This partnership supports a growing interest in alternative accommodations within the travel industry, both from leisure travelers and business travelers craving more flexibility and choice. As the number of remote workers increases, ‘blended’ travel combining work and leisure time has firmly rooted itself in corporate culture. As such, travelers and their agents are looking for properties that can satisfy their unique needs more than ever before.

    Now Hostaway property managers looking to expand their distribution networks have the option to connect with Amadeus and distribute their own content thanks to LinkHotel technology. This not only adds to the wide variety of accommodations available in the Amadeus Travel Platform but allows Hostaway users to reach Amadeus’ vast network of travel agents to unlock new revenue. 

    Marcus Räder, CEO & Co-Founder of Hostaway, said: “Short-term rentals have always attracted a dedicated customer base of leisure travelers. Over the last two years, they have also proved their value to business travelers who want more flexibility. We wanted our property managers to be able to reach these guests and connecting with Amadeus was by far the best way of achieving this on a large scale. We’re proud to reveal it today.”

    Mirja Sickel, VP Hospitality Distribution, Amadeus, said: “As global travel resumes, it’s important we continue to grow our network with a wide range of properties suited to today’s life and travel-styles. By selecting Amadeus’ LinkHotel, Hostaway property owners are empowered to update and send information to a global network of travel agencies instantly with complete control over changes to inventory, rates, and availability.”  

    Property managers can learn more about the Amadeus connection by visiting the Hostaway marketplace at hostaway.com

  • 1/31/2023

    Twenty-Year Marriott Technology Strategist to Lead HCN Product Development in 2023

    Neil Schubert

    Forty-year hospitality industry technologist Neil Schubert has joined Canada-based Hotel Communication Network (HCN) as Chief Product Officer. With 20 of those years spent spearheading the technology initiatives for Marriott International, Schubert brings to HCN a wealth of knowledge in application development, product management, systems integration, financial systems management, infrastructure, IT architecture, and field service. His goal is to strategically transform HCN into a global hospitality communications brand. HCN’s Navigator tablets are quickly gaining traction in hotels as a two-way communication device that easily and efficiently replaces in-room phones, alarm clocks, voice assistants and other electronics. Schubert will perform this role from his office in Wilmington, N.C.

    “Neil has a keen understanding of hotel technology and how to balance the bleeding edge with a leading edge approach for effective adoption of new and emerging solutions,” said Kevin Bidner, HCN president. “We first met Neil while still with Marriott, as we installed our tablet and DineIN solutions at a 1,500 room Marriott property which was a great success. When Neil left Marriott, he joined HCN’s Advisory Board. We were always impressed with his passion for innovation and we feel greatly honored that he has decided to join us to provide his visionary leadership to the HCN guest communication platform. Driving ADR and reaching new heights in guest satisfaction are the missions we know Neil can help us evolve in our continuing quest to be the industry's innovation leader."

    Serving Those who Serve

    Serving on Advisory Boards is not new to Schubert. He has been recruited by several universities and leading hospitality associations to lend his expertise. Advisory posts include president of the University of Delaware Technology Advisory Committee, a member of the Penn State University Technology Advisory Committee, Advisory Board member of Hotel Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), and workgroup and forum chairman for Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG). Schubert also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Delaware educating graduate students on hotel technologies.

    Prior to joining Marriott — where he held such prestigious titles as Vice President IT Business Partnership & Planning, Vice President IT Strategy, Western Regional Vice President (IR Global Field Services), Senior Director (International Financial Systems), and IT Director — Schubert served as Senior Director of Renaissance Hotels International, responsible for managing all IT functions at the company inception when it spun off from Ramada International. His hospitality career began in 1986 where he served as a Systems Manager for Sheraton Hotels. Immediately following his exit from Marriott, Schubert worked as Senior Vice President Global Product Management, Exceptional Innovation. More recently, he served as Senior Vice President of Product Management and Development for Cloud5 Hospitality. Prior to joining HCN, Schubert and his wife, Anna, took a year-long RV trip visiting 43 states across 33,000 miles spanning the U.S. and Alaska.

    Turning Tech Noise into a Symphony

    “One thing hoteliers are challenged with today is giving travelers a digital experience equal to – or better than – what they experience at home,” Schubert said. “Unfortunately, operators are getting hit with too much technology noise; I’m talking about spot solutions and micro applications that are taking over the guestroom. HCN’s Navigator tablets don’t just turn down the noise, they turn it into a symphony. Their tablets with audio docking stations replace most peripheral solutions and does it with an ROI that is not capital intensive. More importantly, it’s affordable for luxury brands and economy properties alike. Navigator not only transforms how guests interact with the hotel, the city, and their room, but it’s an interactive in-room two-way communication platform allowing guests to send and receive information, make purchases, order room service, report problems, and control their room with just a touch or voice command.

    “Wi-Fi has matured to a point where hotels have a reliable wireless footprint today,” he said. “That was not always the case; wireless in rooms started out with very spotty coverage and made it nearly impossible for tablet providers to connect guests to the hotel. Those early adopters did not have the digital platform adeptness that HCN is putting into rooms today. Navigator is supporting brands’ desires to drive guests to their own apps using personalized marketing. Quick messages to guests via the tablet is proving to be a strong business case for improving the guest experience. HCN’s innovative approach to tablet technology and their team’s ability to look at applications through a unique lens is what made me eager to join the company. I look forward to helping them grow.”

    To learn more about HCN and its Navigator Tablets, visit www.hcn-inc.com.

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