News Briefs

  • 2/19/2023

    Journey Hospitality Launches Hotel Consultancy Division

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    UK hotel technology company Journey Hospitality has announced the launch of its first Consultancy division, dedicated to helping hoteliers digitally transform their business and the industry as a whole. 

    As part of the company’s mission to revolutionise hotel ecommerce, the new Consulting division is headed by Strategic Director Simon Kaye and Susanne Williams as Commercial Director - Consulting. 

    Kaye joins Journey from his role as VP Services and Client Delivery for Alliants. HIs technology background, paired with commercial nous, sees Kaye act as a surrogate CIO for hospitality companies, identifying gaps in technology stacks and providing solutions to ensure businesses are performing well today and in the future. 

    Williams returns to Journey Hospitality from Alliants to deliver strategies that drive growth in the commercial and technology space for hotels. Her expertise in driving profitability across all revenue streams with commercial frameworks that deliver business change at board level will provide Journey’s clients with unique analyses and recommendations to improve performance. 

    Simon Bullingham, founder and CEO of Journey Hospitality, said: “It’s important to us that we engage with our partners and customers to drive wider change in hotel ecommerce - and a more profitable future for the industry. The launch of our Consultancy division allows Journey Hospitality to further extend support to the industry, helping investors, owners and operators identify opportunities to improve both today and tomorrow.”

    Williams said: “Returning to Journey was an easy choice. I know how much value they add to their clients and how customer relationships are integral to the way they do business. The new Consultancy division will build upon that ethos in an area of the industry that Journey has previously not explored - working closely with investors, owners and operators to identify transformational opportunities for growth.”

    Kaye said: “With our proven track record of delivering strategies that drive growth in both the commercial and back-of-house for hotel groups and individual properties, I’m excited to lead this new chapter for Journey Hospitality along with Susanne. I look forward to helping companies through digital transformation and improving their operational effectiveness whilst keeping guests at their heart.”

    Journey’s new consultancy team has experience in reinvigorating hospitality companies, including leading brands such as Four Seasons, Warner Leisure and Soho House’s venture Mollie’s Motel and Diners. 

    In March 2022, Journey Hospitality launched its revolutionary all-in-one ecommerce platform, onejourney® servicing over 130 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide, facilitating multi-product shopping baskets, and driving sales of non-accommodation facilities and services, and ancillary revenue streams. 

  • 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. 

  • 2/16/2023

    ShiftPixy Labs Develops Mobile Food Ordering Apps

    man hands on a phone

    ShiftPixy Inc. announced the development of ordering apps designed to elevate customer engagement with Digital Food Brands (DFBs) – online-only restaurants that deliver to the customer doorstep.

    The ShiftPixy Labs apps will be uniquely branded for each DFB, and customers can easily browse menus, customize orders, add special instructions, track their delivery status in real time, pay for their meals and earn loyalty points all from their mobile devices. The new apps will be available for download on both iOS and Android devices.

    “What sets our apps apart from the competition is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to personalize the customer experience,” said ShiftPixy Co-Founder and CEO, Scott Absher. “By analyzing past ordering history and preferences, and through a short chat with our brand characters within the app, the AI bot will present a few suggested menu items tailored specifically to each individual customer along with available deals with each order.”

    Each DFB’s individual app will have its own unique brand identity and harness a loyalty program, such that each time a customer places an order, a portal to a “mini game” will be activated for 40 minutes, allowing the customer to play and earn loyalty points that can be redeemed for a variety of rewards, such as discounts on future orders, free menu items, early access to new menu items and promotions, and merchandise.

    ShiftPixy Labs Digital Food Brands will embrace first-party delivery to make certain the entire cycle of customer engagement is protected and consistent, and customers will be able to reach ShiftPixy’s support team via the chatbot at any time after an order has been placed.

    "...We believe that our new food ordering apps will engage customers through a personal digital experience that will keep them brand connected,” said Absher. 

  • 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. 

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