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News Briefs

  • 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. 

     

  • 2/28/2023

    Knowland Expands Presence in the Middle East

    knowland doha market

    Knowland, a provider of data-as-a-service insights on meetings and events for hospitality, announced its expansion in the Middle East to include Doha, the capital of Qatar. Knowland’s extension into the Middle East will continue throughout 2023 to accommodate the demand and competition facing new hoteliers.

    The Middle East is one of the fastest-growing hospitality markets in the world. This has created several challenges including steep competition as well as the necessity to train sales teams who may have never worked in the hospitality industry. Knowland provides the market insights and commercial tools needed by operators to capture share and deliver profitable results in the meetings and events space.

    • Expanding market and extraordinary growth – Approximately 600,000 hotel rooms are under development in the Middle East, according to data from consultancy Knight Frank. The region’s growth is also supported by being the first region to return to pre-pandemic levels, and its recent success with mega events including a record number of congresses won by Dubai. Industry reports estimate by 2030 the UAE’s hospitality market alone is set to expand by 25 percent, while Saudi Arabia is projected to reach a total room inventory of more than 218,000, and Qatar is estimated at 89 percent growth in hotel keys by 2025.
    • Shifting market share in a fiercely competitive market – With nearly 27,000 hotel keys expected to be delivered in the next three years, there will be significant changes in Qatar’s hotel offering by the end of 2025. Plans show the country’s room capacity almost doubling as it prepares for an anticipated visitor influx following heightened interest after the success of the 2022 World Cup. Knowland’s platform is specifically designed to aid any sales and revenue person in the market looking to gain insight into new accounts, in-depth competitive insight, and access to data that improves success in their position.
    • Hands-on approach delivers training to hotel teams – Training hotel teams to take advantage of the nuances of any market intelligence program is critical to their success. Knowland takes a white glove service approach to ensure commercial teams in the region are leveraging data to identify opportunities and increase market share.

    Jeff Bzdawka, CEO, Knowland, states:Knowland’s further expansion in the Middle East, specifically in Doha, is a testament to our dedication to ensuring hotel teams have the tools they need to win share in a rapidly developing region. The world’s largest active pipeline of new hotels is in the Middle East, so as we continue to build on the exciting growth in Qatar, we are also focused on expanding our reach throughout the increasingly popular region for local and global meetings and events.”

     

    Knowland plans to open additional Middle East markets this year. For the latest information, visit our regional web page here. Knowland also continues to grow in other global regions such as the Asia Pacific and will release updates as they happen.

  • 2/28/2023

    Hotels on Hiring Spree with Better Wages, Benefits, Flexibility

    As nearly 80% of hotels experience staffing shortages, hoteliers are offering potential hires a host of incentives to fill vacancies, according to a new survey of hoteliers conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA).

    Seventy-one percent of respondents are increasing wages, 64% are offering greater flexibility with hours, and 33% are expanding benefits – but 81% say they are still unable to fill open positions.

    Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents indicate they are experiencing a staffing shortage, 22% severely so. The most critical staffing need is housekeeping, with 43% ranking it as their top hiring need.

    The numbers are an improvement from September 2022, when 87% of respondents to an AHLA survey said they were short staffed, 36% severely so, with 43% ranking housekeeping as their top hiring need at the time.

    Respondents are attempting to fill an average of seven positions per property, down from 10 vacancies per property in September 2022.

    These staffing challenges are resulting in historic career opportunities for hotel employees. As of December, national average hotel wages were at all-time highs of more than $23 per hour. Since the pandemic, average hotel wages have increased faster than average wages throughout the general economy. And hotel benefits and flexibility are better than ever.

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hotel employment is down by more than 250,000 jobs compared to February 2020. Hotels are looking to fill many of the jobs lost during the pandemic, including nearly 100,000 hotel jobs currently open across the nation


    To help hotels fill open jobs and raise awareness of the hotel industry’s 200+ career pathways, the AHLA Foundation’s “A Place to Stay” multi-channel advertising campaign is now active in 14 cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego and Tampa. For more info on the campaign, visit thehotelindustry.com.
     

    Additionally, AHLA affiliate “Hospitality is Working” recently launched the Workforce & Immigration Initiative. The effort is aimed at urging Congress to address workforce shortages with bipartisan solutions to incorporate more immigrants into the American economy. You can learn more about the effort here.

    “Recruiting enough workers continues to be the top challenge for many hoteliers, and this is leading to historic career opportunities for hotel employees,” said AHLA President & CEO Chip Rogers. “AHLA and the AHLA Foundation are working tirelessly to grow the industry’s talent pipeline and retain workers through innovative events like National Hotel Employee Day and compelling ad campaigns like ‘A Place to Stay,’ but there is still more to be done. We need Congress to help address workforce shortages with bipartisan solutions to incorporate more immigrants into the American economy.”

    Methodology: AHLA’s Front Desk Feedback survey of more than 500 hoteliers was conducted Jan. 10-17, 2023.

  • 2/28/2023

    JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Drives Guest Spend by 40% with IRIS’s Mobile Dining Platform

    IRIS logo

    IRIS, a provider of digital F&B and guest experience platforms, was deployed to provide guests with a seamless and efficient mobile dining service and to maximize F&B opportunities and drive revenue across the hotel. 

    With 950 bedrooms and 7 restaurants and al fresco bars, the luxury resort is located in the heart of the Arizona desert and offers a host of state-of-the-art facilities, including five pools, luxury cabana cottages and pool suites.

    The IRIS app, first installed prior to COVID, enables the hotel to enrich the guest stay and drive ancillary revenue with a quick, effective method of ordering and paying for food and drink items. Orders are delivered directly to the kitchen via the EPOS integration, and as a result demands on staff time are minimized, processes are streamlined and delivery times are quicker, all serving to increase operational efficiencies.

    Nebojsa Sarenac, JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa’s Senior F&B Operations Manager commented, “The IRIS mobile dining platform gives us many options to maximize ancillary revenue across our resort and enhance the guest experience. With the simple and seamless ordering platform, in-room sales and average check size have soared by 40% and we are already seeing a significant return on the investment.

    “With new features being released regularly, we’re learning all the time. The app is fully integrated and seamlessly connects across the systems and operations we currently have in place.”

    Today’s guests are demanding a more contactless experience where they can self-serve online. As such, JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge now plans to maximize sales further by expanding the scalable, mobile dining platform to other parts of the resort including the Spa Bistro and the pool areas, thereby adding additional channels to boost revenue generation.

    With the use of QR codes along with IRIS’s approach to F&B ordering, JW Marriott’s guests can browse menus, place orders for in-room dining and pay their bills at a time and location that suits them, via their own mobile devices. Likewise, QR codes in all the bedrooms eliminates the need to print off and distribute 950 laminated menus for each room. Unlike paper directories, when changes are made, the digital menus are updated automatically online, the team only needs to print the QR code once. Not only does this lower printing costs, but it also offers a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way to manage menu changes and reduce paper, whilst at the same time saving housekeeping having to manually update the paper version room-by-room.

    The staff at the newly revitalized resort have also experienced the benefits of the app. It’s easy to edit and update with new menu items and they are able to control the pace of orders by setting delivery times and temporarily turning off mobile ordering to ease congestion in the kitchen and reduce strain on staff and resources during peak times. 

    For the full case study on the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort.

  • 2/28/2023

    Ecotrak, Therma Team Up to Monitor and Optimize Cooling Asset Performance

     Ecotrak and Therma, an IoT-powered equipment monitoring and analytics platform, formed a strategic partnership agreement that integrates Therma's Cooling Intelligence Platform with Ecotrak Facility Management Software.

    Therma IoT sensors send temperature and humidity data directly into refrigeration and HVAC assets in Ecotrak, triggering real-time emergency alerts and intelligent workflows. Asset runtime hours and downtime events are also tracked and recorded, delivering sensor-driven insights on the lifecycle of the asset.

    The collaboration enables Ecotrak and Therma customers to reduce food waste, carbon emissions, plus save time, energy, and maintenance costs.

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