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  • 2/27/2023

    Survey Finds 73% of Hospitality IT Decision Makers Say AI/ML Leads their IT/Business Strategy

    Artificial Intelligence has been around for decades but it is suddenly the most discussed, most important, common denominator technology on the planet due to newfound scale, speed and mass accessibility.   

    A majority 73% of travel/hospitality IT decision makers said artificial intelligence/machine learning leads their IT/business strategy (vs. cybersecurity at 64% and cloud at 58%), a February 2023 Rackspace Technology survey revealed.  Two years ago, cloud, IoT, robotics and blockchain were said to be more important.   

    AI Use is Accelerating Among Hospitality/Travel Professionals 

    Thirty-seven percent of hospitality/travel IT decision makers said they began using AI/ML a year ago vs. 13% two years ago, 13% three years ago, 9% four years ago and 10% five years ago.  Most (63%) of them are using AI/ML for data analysis followed by 55% using it for product lifestyle management and 51% as a driver of innovation.  Intelligent search, document processing and customer engagement are growing fastest among their AI/ML initiatives.   A majority (67%) said they plan to use it to improve speed and efficiency, predict business performance (59%) and reduce risk (46%) in the future.   

    The Question of Trust in AI 

    The amount of data is said to double every two years emphasizing the need for AI but how much do hospitality/travel IT professionals trust what it finds?   

    • Over a third (37%) said they slightly trust AI/ML results with 30% strongly trusting the results.   
    • About as many (37%) slightly vs. 31% strongly think there are enough checks and balances in place to avoid the negative consequences of AI/ML.   
    • 34% strongly vs. 32% slightly think there is sufficient governance in place to safeguard against any misuse of AI/ML.   

    Over half (54%) of travel/hospitality IT decision-makers said they encountered pushback or scrutiny about the penetration of AI/ML in their organization.  

    AI Benefits Are Already Huge with Room to Grow 

    So far, 36% of hospitality/travel professionals said they have realized substantial benefits from AI/ML already with another 38% saying they’ve seen modest benefits and 26% said it’s too early to tell.  Travel/hospitality IT professionals listed those benefits as follows: 

    • 74% increased understanding of business and customers 
    • 73% increased revenue streams, personalized marketing 
    • 72% risk reduction 
    • 71% ability to hire/recruit new talent, reduced cost of new product development 
    • 70% increased innovation, operation cost reduction 
    • 69% improved customer satisfaction, increased sales 
    • 67% increased productivity 
    • 65% faster time to profitability 

    Finding AI Talent is a Challenge 

    A shortage of skilled talent was cited by 75% of skilled talent as the greatest challenge in their AI/ML adoption so far, followed by 64% citing algorithm/model failure and 51% who lack the technology infrastructure to support AI/ML.   86% of travel/hospitality professionals said they’ve grown their AI/ML workforce in the past 12 months with 57% saying the implementation of AI/ML has resulted in a reduction of their workforce.  

    “As AI and machine learning mature and projects mature, we are seeing it expand out across the organization and become more ubiquitous, advancing in its importance, visibility, and usage,” said Jeff DeVerter, Chief Technology Evangelist, Rackspace Technology. “The fact that more respondents began their AI/ML journey within the past year is striking, and points to the fact that these technologies are seen as they key to driving efficiencies in uncertain economic times. At the same time, the research makes clear that many organizations are still struggling to understand or realize the technologies’ full benefits of AI/ML, and many face internal resistance to adoption.” 

    “Organizations that are struggling with AI/ML also tend to be organizations that have immature data cultures, low levels of data literacy and poor data governance structures, because any AI/ML project is only as good as the data being used,” added Ben Blanquera, VP, Evangelist, and Senior Architect, Rackspace Technology. “For more projects to be successful and for organizations to derive long-term value, there needs to be a focus on data quality. For some companies, this may mean rethinking their entire data governance approach.” 

    “Moving into an uncertain economic climate, IT and Business leaders are using AI/ML to improve business operations with low innovation,” said Nirmal Ranganathan, Chief Architect, Data & AI, Rackspace Technology. “We see customers use AI/ML to build intelligent search capabilities to improve employee efficiencies, reduce manual processes through the adoption of intelligent document processing and improve customer experience through customer engagement solutions. Innovation through AI/ML is rocket fueling the consumer space with mainstream adoption of Generative AI technologies. 

    Survey Methodology 

    The survey was completed by Coleman Parkes Research in February 2023. Findings are based on the responses of 1,420 IT decision-makers across manufacturing/logistics, retail, hospitality/travel, energy, healthcare/pharma/biomedical, government, media/entertainment and financial service sectors in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Most of the companies/organizations polled have from 1,000 to 9,999 employees and an annual revenue between $50m and $1b. 

  • 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. 

     

  • 2/27/2023

    Epson to Showcase Latest Restaurants Technology Solutions

    epson pos

    Epson plans to showcase leading  and essential hospitality technology solutions at MURTEC 2023, the multi-unit restaurant  technology conference. Epson solutions, engineered for flexibility and reliability, can help  restaurants run more efficiently and address many situations – line busting, self-ordering,  curbside delivery, and online ordering. MURTEC will be held from March 6-8 at the Paris Las  Vegas Hotel & Casino in booth #306. 

    “Restaurants are faced with orders coming in from multiple online and dine-in touchpoints, and  there is a need for solutions that can help streamline operations,” said Mauricio Chacon, group  product manager, Business Systems Division, Epson America, Inc. “Show attendees will have  an opportunity to explore our latest products and come away with ideas for how to improve  business efficiencies and best serve customer needs and experiences.” 

    Demonstrations in Epson’s booth at MURTEC include: 

    - Fastest POS receipt printer in the industry1 The OmniLink® TM-T88VII offers  lightning-fast print speeds and flexible connectivity between multiple devices to help  merchants deliver the best customer experience in virtually every environment. 

    - Liner-free thermal label printers – The OmniLink TM-L100 offers our broadest media  support and the versatile TM-L90II LFC features fast, efficient operation to help  restaurants streamline processes and improve efficiency in the way they serve  customers and meet demands for digital orders, including buy-online-pickup-in-store  (BOPIS) and delivery.

    - Mobile POS solutions The m-Series OmniLink TM-50II and TM-m30II-SL offer a  modern compact design, engineered for versatile connectivity, performance, and  reliability for hospitality environments, including kiosk usage. 

    - Wearable wireless receipt printers The MobilinkTM-P20II, TM-P80II and TM-P80II  Plus portable receipt printers offer a sleek and modern enclosure, improved rugged  design and enhanced wireless connectivity, delivering operational agility by untethering  operators from a POS terminal, even taking them beyond the four walls if necessary. 

    - Kitchen Display System (KDS) – Ideal for quick-service restaurant (QSR) and small restaurant environments, Epson’s KDS system digitizes, routes and displays order  information to support a kitchen’s workflow. 

    - On-demand color labeling – The compact ColorWorks® C4000 color label printer offers restaurants an easy solution for adding high-quality color to labeling to improve branding  of in-house produced items, print color coupons and reduce delivery errors with color  coding. 

    - Back Office Printing: Epson’s business printers, engineered with PrecisionCore Heat Free® inkjet technology, are ideal for everyday store printing needs. Two compact  Supertank business models – the WorkForce® ST-M1000 monochrome printer and  WorkForce ST-C4100 color MFP – are designed for reliability and include up to 2 years  of ink in the box.2,3 

    Epson’s high-quality and innovative technology solutions enable today’s restaurateurs to  streamline processes and operations for increased efficiency and enhanced customer  experiences. For additional information about Epson’s hospitality solutions, visit  www.epson.com/poshospitality

     

  • 2/27/2023

    Guestcentric Launches HyperCommerce for Hotels

    Guestcentric HyperCommerce

    On March 2, 2023, Guestcentric will launch HyperCommerce  - a comprehensive solution that addresses all hotel ecommerce and distribution needs and empowers hotels to generate business and grow direct revenue.  

    After researching how hotel clients were engaging with Guestcentric’s Hotel CRS, the company started building HyperCommerce in Q4 of 2022, launching it at the start of 2023. HyperCommerce is based on four main pillars to help hotel operations and business performance: 

    • Maximize profit
    • Boost performance in direct bookings
    • Personalize interactions with guests
    • Spread the brand to other guest communication channels

    Guestcentric’s HyperCommerce platform  allows hotels to offer tailored experiences, to advance to attribute-based pricing and generate ancillary revenue streams. It responds to the need to be present everywhere and adapts to new channels that are used  for search and booking, such as social media and conversational interfaces. 

    The comprehensive solution offers hyper-personalization - delivering clear distinctions between local and international guests. It is also designed to cater to the next generation of travelers - with shorter attention spans. HyperCommerce also learns and provides relevant suggestions for hotel performance improvements, direct pricing strategies, as well as context-based reporting. It also integrates with hypercharged conversion mechanisms, allowing hotels to enter the direct consumer travel funnel earlier, and reduce selling on mass distributors.

    A robust and reliable solution, HyperCommerce is also operationally simple, offering  turnkey integrations with digital optimization services. Its user-friendly interface enables hotels to onboard new team members  faster and to perform routine tasks more quickly. It also simplifies all reservation-related problems hotels face, from handling exceptional reservations issues to generating additional demand  to the hotel’s own booking engine. 

    In the run up to the launch, Guestcentric’s CEO, Pedro Colaco, said: “The hotel industry is on the cusp of a revolution. To stay competitive, hotels need to embrace technology and provide the best possible experience to their guests. That’s why we’ve created our HyperCommerce solution – to help ambitious hotels achieve their full potential.”

    Sérgio Serra, CTO of Guestcentric added: “We want HyperCommerce to be a ubiquitous platform that empowers hoteliers to drive better online experiences for guests and convert them into direct reservations. That's what drives us every day, in every little detail of the technology we are building. That's why, for example, we don't just give data, we give actionable information that helps to measure the success of our tools and quickly address situations where the performance is not at the expected level. We are very excited with the set of functionalities we will be rolling out over the next few months. This is not just technology -  It's a facilitator for online revenue growth.” 

    Sergio Koiffman, VP of Revenue Management for Hospitality Advance International , added: “Guestcentric’s direct booking solutions have always been visionary and disruptive for our industry. Over the years, Guestcentric has leveled the playing field for independent hotels to compete on direct.

    With the launch of HyperCommerce, Guestcentric brings hotels to a new era of business growth. Guestcentric’s  HyperCommerce is  easily the most integrated, user-friendly and conversion-driven solution on the market today. It empowers us hoteliers to perform a diverse array of commercial activities quickly and cost-effectively. We also appreciate the great human support team - they really know us and help us solve issues quickly. All in all, HyperCommerce is a great solution for independent hotels and hotel chains like ours, with complex reservations needs and constantly changing client demands. ” 

    HyperCommerce will be made publicly available on April 2, 2023. To find out more about the solution, click here.

  • 2/27/2023

    Chichester Park Hotel Checks in to the Cloud with Infor

    Chichester Park Hotel

    Infor announced that Chichester Park Hotel has deployed Infor Hospitality Management Solution (HMS) and Infor Sales & Catering (SCS), a fully integrated, event-management software solution. The new cloud systems have streamlined and amalgamated key processes, laying the foundations for continued business growth.

    The 86-room hotel in the heart of historic Chichester, England, was looking for a new solution to replace its incumbent system that was unable to keep pace with the demands of the growing business. Following a thorough assessment of the market and a six-way competitive pitch, Chichester Park Hotel chose the two solutions from Infor.

    In particular, Chichester Park liked the ease-of-use of the solutions and their ability to not only integrate seamlessly with each other, but with other solutions and technologies, too. Infor HMS and SCS are already delivering benefits for the business, securing valuable efficiency savings and providing more insightful and accessible data than with the previous solutions. Infor SCS is helping to facilitate a frictionless guest experience, automating the entire booking process with an intuitive workflow at every stage of the customer journey. System integration furnishes the team with comprehensive business visibility at any moment in time.

    “Put simply, the systems work for us,” comments Kam Sanmukhani, Chichester Park operations manager. “The seamless integration of our core business processes has led to a more streamlined and efficient experience for both staff and guests. For example, when it comes to advanced deposit postings, we can now automatically charge cards in a couple of clicks, a process that used to take 90 minutes to do manually. The reporting functionality is excellent, too, enabling us to filter the data in a multitude of ways to reveal valuable business insights.”

    “Infor SCS gives us the ability to automate the entire booking process, from initial enquiry through to the final invoice. In combination with the functionality of Infor HMS, Infor SCS puts the scalable foundations in place to ensure sustainable and profitable business growth, helping us to deliver exceptional customer service whilst maximising revenues,” Sanmukhani added.

     

    “Infor HMS and SCS are built to meet the exacting demands of the hotel industry,” comments Paul Griffiths, Infor hospitality business development management for UK and Ireland. “As the team at Chichester Park has recognised, our flexible and scalable solutions deliver quantifiable business benefits, automating core processes to deliver that all-important quality experience for guests and staff alike. The efficiencies and valuable insights that our solutions deliver continue to make them the ideal choice for hotel businesses keen to pursue ambitious growth strategies, boosting customer satisfaction as well as profitability.”

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