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News Briefs

  • 3/20/2023

    UK-Based Serco Leisure Chooses Agilysys Property Management System and Point-of-sale Solutions to Optimise Customer Experience and Deliver High Return Hospitality

    logo agilysys dec 2022

    Customer-centricity is at the heart of High Return Hospitality. Resort and leisure activity customers expect experiences that go above and beyond the norm to keep them returning for more.

    In fact, Gallup reports that fully engaged customers — those who are 23% more likely to spend at a facility — expect property employees to know more than just their name. They crave easy-to-book rooms and activities, simple ordering and payment solutions and more emotional connections.

    To create guest and staff champions at every touchpoint, from booking to re-engagement to referral, UK-based Serco Leisure Operating Limited has selected a suite of intuitive, integrable solutions from the Agilysys Hospitality Cloud™. Agilysys, Inc. is a global provider of next-generation SaaS hospitality software solutions and services that will empower Serco Leisure to optimise Return on Experience (ROE) for guests and staff so they can achieve High Return Hospitality. ROE measures how technology creates more engaged and empowered staff members as well as guests that return more often, spend more, and leave stronger reviews.

    Serco Leisure is one of the UK’s leading national operators of leisure centres, destination venues, and elite sporting facilities. Founded in 1988, it is part of Serco’s UK Citizen Services business unit, which has 6,000-plus employees. Serco Leisure provides leisure services on behalf of Community Leisure Trusts, local authorities like Nottinghamshire County Council and the Wheelpower Trust, and Sport England. The organisation provides world-class facilities for elite athletes, supporting them with resources to help in their pursuit of becoming part of Olympic teams and/or perfecting their sport. The leisure properties are also open for use by the general public.

    Agilysys will provide hospitality solutions that range from a cloud-based property management system (PMS) to a booking system to a sales and catering solution for Serco Leisure’s current 550-bed estate, which includes:

    • Holme Pierrepont Country Park, home of the UK’s National Water Sports Centre and base for amateur and world-class athletes in a variety of sports set on 270 acres.
    • Stoke Mandeville Stadium, known worldwide as the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement. It boasts on-site accommodations and catering, an air-conditioned gym, a 25-meter swimming pool, an outdoor track, floodlit tennis courts and more.
    • Lilleshall National Sports Centre and Lilleshall House & Gardens, the former of which is one of the UK’s National Sports facilities for elite and community sports and the latter of which is a stunning 19th-century stately home and an idyllic venue for weddings, events and private parties.
    • Bisham Abbey, which provides similar services as Lilleshall, plus accommodations, and was once home to Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The historic property sits on the borders of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

    Serco Leisure is investing in Agilysys’ intuitive and easy-to-use PMS and its latest modern point-of-sale (POS) system, which combines highly interactive terminal and tablet touchscreen applications supporting Windows, Android and iOS devices and includes strong information security for data protection. Its robust reporting and analysis features, extensive enterprise-grade menu and item configuration capabilities and multi-language support help drive service flexibility and increase operational efficiency. The company expects to scale up the cloud-based technology in other divisions in North America, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, as well as the larger corporate organisation that includes Serco UL and Europe PLC.

    Additionally, Serco Leisure will also adopt and implement three hospitality solutions from the Agilysys Experience Enhancers Collection:

    • a commission-free booking experience that encourages upselling unlimited amenities, such as room upgrades, and activity appointments — as part of an integrated itinerary that makes it easy for each customer to see and manage their trip details.
    • an Activities booking system for experiences that enhance revenue per guest while creating loyal enthusiasts.
    • a comprehensive sales and event management solution enabling an intelligent view of every group, event and attendee to optimise outcomes.

    “Our previous system provided a less-than-ideal experience for customers and staff. Also, it did not integrate with other applications or provide proper reporting functionality,” said Steve Nelson, Operations Director of Serco Leisure’s National Sports Centres. “With Agilysys solutions, we’ll be able to deliver a more personalised service for our diverse range of customers, which includes Olympic and Paralympic athletes as well as members of the public. We’re looking forward to working with Agilysys, which will allow us to provide an end-to-end customer journey in a secure environment.”

    “Serco Leisure understands the need to modernise its hospitality solutions to be the best in the market,” said Ben Curtis, Managing Director – EMEA for Agilysys. “We are grateful to help the company improve its offerings, which will attract more guests, customers and employees, enabling the company to maximise guest and staff experience and ultimately increase revenue.  

  • 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. 


  • 3/20/2023

    Cendyn Adds CRM Analytics Reporting Feature to eInsight CRM

    cendyn logo

    Cendyn, a catalyst for digital transformation in the hospitality industry, is thrilled to announce the launch of CRM Analytics, a new reporting feature for Cendyn’s eInsight CRM. This innovative enhancement is designed to drive effective and impactful decision making for hoteliers at scale.

    With the addition of CRM Analytics, eInsight CRM has simplified the process of transforming hotel organizations’ marketing data into actionable insights to help drive revenue, engagement, and direct channel share. By combining industry-leading business intelligence capabilities with CRM data, CRM Analytics delivers critical, transformational business insights in seconds. It enables decision-makers and hotel managers to track and visualize their KPIs and analyze hotel marketing data to get the deepest view of their campaign, sales, and customer data across all channels.

    “CRM Analytics delivers a deep understanding of business-critical marketing data that empowers hotels to gain impactful, actionable intelligence about the interactions with each property’s unique brand and customer needs,” said Michael Bennett, President & Chief Marketing Officer at Cendyn. “This is just the latest enhancement in our ongoing mission to keep eInsight CRM at best-of-class level for our customers around the globe.” 

    For more information, click here.

  • 3/19/2023

    Laxman Narasimhan Takes Over as Starbucks CEO

    laxman starbucks ceo

    Effective today, Laxman Narasimhan has assumed the role of chief executive officer of Starbucks and will join the company’s board of directors.

    Narasimhan was named incoming CEO on September 1, succeeding company founder and now former CEO Howard Schultz.

    Starbucks Reveals Roadmap for Reinvention

    Narasimhan joined the company as incoming ceo on October 1, 2022, bringing nearly 30 years of experience leading global consumer goods businesses and advising retail, grocery, restaurant and e-commerce companies. Over the past five months, he has embarked on a unique immersion experience, traveling to work with partners (employees) in over 30 stores, manufacturing plants and in support centers around the world, earning his barista certification along the way. He became immersed in the reinvention plans for the company led by Schultz who returned as interim ceo effective April 4, 2022.

    Since Schultz returned last year, Starbucks unveiled a company-wide reinvention strategy and continued to deliver on more than $1 billion in investments in retail partners and stores for prioritized areas such as increased pay and sick time accrual, new financial well-being benefits, modernized training and collaboration, store innovation and equipment and the celebration of coffee. 

    Schultz shared a letter to the company’s senior leadership team on the eve of the announcement – viewable here.

    Narasimhan will lead Starbucks Annual Shareholder Meeting this Thursday, March 23.

  • 3/19/2023

    Operto Guest Technologies Raises US$25 Million in Series-B Financing, Led By Centana Growth Partners

    logo, operto

    Operto Guest Technologies, a provider of automated solutions for 50 million-plus rooms in the global hospitality industry, announced that it secured US$25 million in a Series-B financing round. The financing was led by Centana Growth Partners, with participation from Thayer Ventures, FUSE, Blackpines Capital Partners and Derive Ventures.

    Proceeds from the round will be used to further fuel Operto’s aggressive expansion in the global short-term rental and hotel markets, where it already works exclusively with Accor Hotels to power its global digital key program. This includes luxury hotel brands such Fairmont and Raffles, where Operto’s revolutionary contactless digital solutions can be leveraged to remove common friction points in the guest journey, while lowering operating costs and driving new sources of revenue for the hotel.

    "We are delighted to announce our B-Round funding, which will enable us to build upon our exceptional company growth over the past 3 years. It will accelerate our company mission to build cutting-edge technology solutions that drive amazing guest experiences, across the entire accommodation spectrum. In addition, our solutions will continue to deliver huge operational efficiencies for property owners and hosts by lowering costs and driving additional in-stay guest revenues, which is becoming increasingly important in today’s macroeconomic environment.” said Operto CEO Steve Davis. “Hospitality is one of the last major industries to be disrupted by technology, and we believe there is a significant opportunity to bring the benefits of simple, affordable automation to the sector. We are excited about the future, and we look forward to making a real difference to the accommodation industry."

    “Operto is leading the digital transformation of the hospitality industry by creating a seamless, automated check-in and check-out experience for its customers,” said Eric Byunn, co-founder and partner at Centana Growth Partners. “Centana has been following the digitization of the hospitality industry closely, and we are very excited about this sort of innovative disruption streamlining the experience of owners, hosts, and guests. We will leverage our expertise in the payments and commerce ecosystem to work with Operto as they continue to innovate in an industry with such enormous potential.”  

    In addition to the funding announcement, Operto is pleased to announce that Sam Shank has joined the company’s Board of Directors. Shank, who was previously CEO and founder of HotelTonight and former head of Airbnb’s Commercial Team, brings a wealth of hospitality and travel industry experience to Operto. "Operto's cutting-edge technology solutions are reshaping the hospitality industry, and I am excited to be a part of the journey,” said Shank. “I look forward to working with the team to help drive growth and innovation."

    Operto’s automated, customizable platform enables hotels, property managers and others to remotely provide access as well as monitor and control a wide range of devices and systems, including smartphone-enabled guest verification, security deposit and payment, electronic elevator and room access. By providing property managers with real-time data and insights, Operto helps streamline operations, reduce costs and enhance the guest experience.

    Operto Guest Technologies is well-positioned to continue its rapid growth and expansion into new markets. The company is committed to delivering innovative solutions that help property managers improve efficiency, reduce costs and provide a better experience for their guests.

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