News Briefs

  • 2/15/2023

    FitnessOnDemand to Collaborate with Marriott Bonvoy

    man doing a plank

    Fitness OnDemand™, a provider of premium fitness content for clubs and hospitality fitness centers, announces a collaboration with Marriott Bonvoy®, Marriott International’s travel program and marketplace, to offer members free access to a range of virtual fitness classes that travelers can access from the comfort of their hotel room, the beach, pool, or hotel gym. Guests can either access content online or via the FitnessOnDemand™ app across 450+ hotels in Europe, the Middle East & Africa.

    The new collaboration with FitnessOnDemand now makes it simple for Marriott Bonvoy members to access guided yoga, meditation – as well as all kinds of specialty workouts – in the privacy of their hotel rooms or anywhere they may choose on the hotel grounds.

    “A lot of hotel travelers are looking for relaxation on vacation or to unwind after a busy work trip meeting,” said Uday Anumalachetty, divisional vice president, FitnessOnDemand. “Members at participating hotels can now access a large catalog of on-demand, cardio and specialty classes that get the heart pumping; or a wide variety of self-guided meditation sessions and instructor-led yoga classes that help them de-stress and refresh – all from the privacy of their own hotel room. No prior experience is needed so any guest can try something invigorating and new to them or find a class that helps them stay on track with familiar workouts from home.”

    Collaboration based on survey findings

    The collaboration follows research conducted by Marriott Bonvoy among 16,000 adults across Europe, the Middle East and Africa into their fitness habits and attitudes to exercising while away from home.  Results from the research show that one fifth of all U.K. travelers feel unfit if they fail to work out while traveling and, of those that do workout 42% said that they exercise on vacation because it is good for their mental wellbeing and helps them to return home in a better state of mind. A third of South Africans (33%) believe exercise allows them to spend time alone and prioritize their self-care. Yoga and mindful meditation are particularly important to hotel guests across the different countries, with the majority saying they would like to take up yoga and to try meditation on vacation but feel they don’t have access to the tools they need.

    The survey also revealed different approaches to exercise habits while on vacation across the countries. The British were the most idle with only 53% saying they work out on vacation, in comparison to over the 90% of residents of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia who proactively work out while away. Three quarters of Italians and Spanish travelers make a conscious effort to exercise on holiday, with a third of those not normally working out at home, showing an increased interest in fitness while away.  It seems that French travelers most like to indulge on holiday, with a third exercising because they feel the need to burn off the extra calories they consume through the food and alcohol they consume while away. Despite the best of intentions, seven in 10 Germans (71%) who exercise on holiday have suffered a workout faux pas, with nearly a quarter (23%) getting lost when going for a run or cycle in the local area

    This new initiative offers Marriott Bonvoy members at participating locations free access to a wide range of virtual fitness classes that people can access either online or via the FitnessOnDemand app, giving full flexibility to members to work out how and when they choose. Members are offered a seven-day access of the FitnessOnDemand workout platform every time they stay at a participating hotel in more than 450 hotels and resorts across Europe, Middle East & Africa.

    To enrol in Marriott Bonvoy and discover how to blend travel with staying on track with exercise visit To access FitnessOnDemand, members simply scan a QR code provided by each participating hotel, complete their registration details to receive a verification email and connect online or via the app. Although Marriott Bonvoy members receive a complimentary seven-day access to the platform on each hotel stay, they have the option to continue using it longer by subscribing for $5.99/month via the mobile app on any iOS or Android device.

  • 2/6/2023

    Salad and Go Expands in Texas

    Salad and Go  salad and iced tea

    Up and coming QSR  Salad and Go  is expanding in Texas with three new locations opening in February in the Houston markets of Katy, Richmond and League City.

    The Katy store located opened February 1, the Richmond location at  is set to open February 17, and the League City store plans to open its doors on February 22. These new locations will mark the start of rapid brand expansion across the Greater Houston area.

    These suburbs were strategically selected as ideal markets for Salad and Go as some of the fastest growing communities in the region. Conveniently located in some of Houston's most popular suburbs, the new locations will provide fresh, high-quality meals with quick and easy convenience at an affordable price.

    As Salad and Go continues growing its national presence with a strong focus on Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nevada, the brand's expansive growth has it on a positive trajectory to provide fresh and affordable food to communities in more than 125 locations by the end of 2023. Houston is the next step in the brand's expansion across Texas with plans to open additional stores in the market throughout the new year.

    Salad and Go's chef-curated menu provides guests with food for any time of the day by offering a variety of delicious and healthy items including salads, wraps, breakfast burritos and soup as well as beverages including hand-crafted lemonades, teas and cold brew coffees.

    Salad and Go ensures each meal contains fresh, quality ingredients while keeping prices low by vertically integrating operations and distribution, and sourcing ingredients directly from high-quality local farmers and suppliers whenever possible. The brand's mission to make fresh, nutritious food convenient and affordable for ALL extends beyond its stores and is demonstrated in the work the brand does to donate 4,000 meals every week to those in need, as well as in partnerships with nonprofits to support and fundraise for various worthy causes.

  • 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. 

  • 2/15/2023

    SoundHound AI Unveils Its New Approach to Conversational AI

    soundhound dynamic interaction screen shot

    SoundHound AI Inc.  introduced Dynamic Interaction, conversational AI that not only recognizes  and understands speech, but also responds and acts in real-time. 

    Where existing voice technology requires wake words and relies on turn-taking to process requests, Dynamic Interaction uses the twin technologies of fragment parsing – which breaks speech down to partial-utterances and processes them in real-time – and full-duplex audio-visual integration to create an instantaneous, next-generation experience. 

    In customer service settings, like ordering food at a restaurant, this means that users won’t have to speak in a slow or unnatural way in order to be understood. They can communicate just as if they were talking to a human, receive instant responses, and customize and edit a food order “live” as they go.  

    Dynamic Interaction:

    • Instantly follows and captures fluent speech in real-time.
    • Completely ignores off-topic speech – only responding to domain-specific topics, like the items on a menu.  
    • Multimodal, continuous feedback confirms requests via audio and visuals “live” as the customer engages with a device or service – gives firm reassurance that an order or request has been understood accurately 
    • Allows users to change, adapt, and delete requests in real-time. Food orders can be customized and changed using natural human speech
    • Makes proactive suggestions to the user based on a real-time interpretation of the user’s speech – like a dessert menu popping up onscreen when a customer says “for dessert I’ll have…”
    • Users can input information via voice and touch interface interchangeably and simultaneously. 
    • Assistant responds with audio and visual output, and intelligently decides when to speak to the user versus simply updating the visual output    

    For restaurants, Dynamic Interaction can be used in a drive thru, a kiosk, a smartphone, laptop, or even over the phone, where Dynamic Interaction can give smart, instant verbal and visual interactions. 

  • 2/15/2023

    Toast Buys Delphi Display Systems

    drive thru gal

    Toast  has acquired Delphi Display Systems, a  provider of digital display solutions and drive-thru technology for quick-service restaurants (QSRs). Specializing in advanced immersive technology, Delphi solutions have been installed at tens of thousands of sites globally. 

    Delphi's technology, which has the potential to reach the more than 400,000 QSRs and fast-casual eateries in the United States, extends Toast’s growing suite of products that benefit QSRs and enterprise brands, including Toast Flex for Guest, Toast Mobile Order and Pay, Toast Kiosks, Toast Online Ordering, Order with Google, and more. Toast’s solutions are designed to help QSRs improve speed of service, facilitate faster workflows for ordering and the kitchen, unlock additional revenue opportunities, and increase efficiency.

    Adding new features, functionalities, and modules to existing POS is a priority for 71% of respondents, according to HT’s2 2023 POS Software Trends Report.

    According to Toast’s Voice of the Restaurant Industry survey*, on average restaurants are managing seven service models including drive-thru. To help restaurants succeed as they navigate the changing landscape, Toast continues to innovate by focusing on solutions that optimize different service models to unlock growth and increase efficiency.

     *Toast conducted a blind survey of 956 restaurant decision-makers from May 13, 2022, to June 28, 2022. Respondents were not made aware that Toast was fielding the study. Panel providers granted incentives to restaurant respondents for participation. Using a standard margin of error calculation, at a confidence interval of 95%, the margin of error on average is +/- 3%.

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