News Briefs

  • 3/21/2023

    IRIS Announces F&B Solutions to Personalise the Guest’s Digital Ordering Experience and Leverage Efficiencies

    IRIS mobile app screenshot

    IRIS, a global provider of digital ordering technology for the hospitality industry, announced the launch of a number of new features to supercharge hotel’s ordering and payment capabilities and deliver a more personalized user experience.

    According to the findings of the 2022 report by Oracle and Skift, “Hospitality in 2025: Automated, Intelligent…and More Personal” the majority of hoteliers (81%) expect to see a strong shift in the service model. In reality this means an increase in guest demand for operators to adopt mobile-first technology that offers choice and convenience.

    With this in mind, IRIS’s new features will enable hospitality operators to realize their operational and revenue potential at a time when inflation and recruitment continue to present challenges.

    New search and filter function for allergens

    For both guests and operators, navigating and managing menus to cater for allergens, intolerances, and preferences can be time consuming and in the case of allergies, life-threatening at times, if due diligence is not paid.

    The new search and filter function has been built to mitigate this by enabling guests to personalize their menu choices and refine available items based on their specific dietary requirements. For international operators, the filter options will accommodate and display commonly recognized emoji graphics to help ensure nothing is lost in translation.

    Any changes made to the F&B items’ attributes will be automatically picked up by the filter function without requiring any further steps, making it easy for staff to make updates and ensure allergen information is always accurate.

    Clear pricing display so guests can order what they want

    The new menu display enables operators to accommodate items with multiple prices. Ideal for wine lists, it allows hotels to display both glass and bottle prices on a single item to provide greater choice for guests. Previously they would either have a single price and need to be two separate items, or have the price quoted as “from”. Now operators have the option to build and manage their own digital wine lists which can also be used with the IRIS Flat Menu layout, removing the need for a physical menu.

    Split bill feature to ease group bill settlements

    The new Split Bill functionality makes light work of settling group bills. It has been developed to build on IRIS’s Open Tab feature that allows guests to run a tab with multiple rounds on, then pay with a single transaction at the end.

    Now guests (who are all ordering on the same tab) will have the opportunity to split a bill across multiple devices and pay individually. Each guest inputs the amount they wish to pay, sets their own tip amount individually, pays by card, and receives an email receipt.

    From an operational perspective, staff will be provided with a clear breakdown of how much each guest has paid. This allows staff to pull up the tab according to the table number or room and track the outstanding balance as each person pays.

    Guests will also be able to see how much has been paid by each person in the Order History, making it easy to split amongst large groups.

    Call wait staff to deliver a swifter service

    The new Call Wait Staff function offers greater efficiency for staff and delivers superior service for guests.

    Once settled at a table, guests have the option to call for a member of staff via the Call Wait Staff button on the app. A ticket receipt is then delivered to the kitchen or till to notify staff that a guest requires assistance and gives their location. The real benefit is delivering an efficient approach to service so that wait staff walking the floor are doing so to meet a direct guest need - and not on the floor or waiting in busy pool areas unnecessarily when they are not needed. As a result, wait times are reduced and guests benefit from a swifter service.

    Grocery ordering to enrich the guest stay

    This new feature has been built to enable guests to pre-order groceries and toiletries in advance of their stay. This enables operators to tap into the all-important second wallet ahead of a guest’s arrival. Perfect for self-catering guests to stock up their villa or to order flowers and champagne to the honeymoon suite.

    From an operational perspective, management teams can set a minimum notice period required for advance orders so that they can be delivered efficiently. Likewise, lists similar to the search and filter function can be edited in line with dietary requirements and allergies.

    This feature can also be implemented across departments to include catering or IT requests such as AV equipment or projectors for large conferences and the MICE market.

    David Molofsky, Product Manager at IRIS, comments: “The capabilities and value that mobile ordering offers continues to grow apace as operators and guests recognize its benefits.

    ”These features focus specifically on improving staff efficiencies and personalizing the guest experience. Whether that's reducing the need for physical staff presence, providing guests with clear answers to common questions, or making it easier to manage bills and payments, our goal is to provide F&B ordering solutions that satisfy the guest’s needs and add value to their stay.

    “The need to leverage efficiencies and maximize revenue opportunities is also significant, and each of these new features will fulfil these requirements and exceed operator expectations.”

    Each feature is now available to operators. For more information on IRIS, click here.

  • 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. 


  • 3/21/2023

    Hooters Prioritizes U.S. Development

    Hooters exterior

    As Hooters celebrates 40 years, the brand is signaling the next era of growth and innovation. Entering its third year of same-store-sales growth, company leadership is honing in on U.S. development with territories available across the country. Store model flexibility will play a key role in adapting to various market-dependent real estate options. Hooters is giving away 40 weeks of free royalties for any new franchisee that signs on for a Hooters franchise in 2023.

    New Hire

    Driving this next era of growth is recently appointed Chief Development Officer, Michael Arrowsmith, who oversees the expansion of corporate and franchise locations, both global and domestic.

    International development took center stage in 2022 and continues to accelerate as Hooters opened four stores – two in Mexico, one in Canada, and one in the U.K. resulting in the opening of the world’s largest Hooters in Q4 2022. Hooters now boasts 70 international locations in 17 countries, and there continues to be an increasing amount of interest in key international growth markets.

    “With flexible store models, including multiple innovative conversion plans for second generation space, simpler kitchen operations compared to other concepts, and a lower overall investment level, our franchise opportunity is perfect for multi-unit, multi-brand operators...,” said Arrowsmith. 

    Hooters provides a full development support system, including site selection and construction assistance, marketing, operation, and access to existing supply chain systems.

  • 3/21/2023

    Panera to Use Amazon One's Palm Recognition for Loyalty Identification, Payment

    Panera Amazon guy

    Panera Bread plans to rollout of Amazon One as a loyalty identification for MyPanera, its loyalty program with 52+ million members, and a contactless payment method.

    The technology is deployed at select bakery-cafes in Panera’s hometown of St. Louis with plans to expand to additional locations in the coming months. Panera is the first national restaurant company to use Amazon One as both a way for guests to pay and access their loyalty account with their palm.

    Panera guests who link their MyPanera account to Amazon One will enjoy the convenience of fast payments, as well as tailored meal recommendations from Panera associates based on their preferences and previous orders. After a simple scan of the palm, Panera associates will be able to greet guests by name, communicate their available rewards, reorder their favorite menu items, or take another order of their choice, extending the guest experience into a true and meaningful relationship. When they are done ordering, guests can simply scan their palm again to pay.

    One and Done

    First-time Amazon One users can pre-enroll online or sign up when placing their Panera order in the bakery-cafe. It takes a minute for a Panera guest to link their credit card and MyPanera account to their Amazon One ID. If a Panera guest has previously enrolled in Amazon One at Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, or other locations such as airports and stadiums, they will not need to re-enroll at Panera – they can simply link their MyPanera account to their Amazon One ID online or in store. Enrollment in Amazon One is voluntary and includes opt-in consent, and guests can choose to use Amazon One for loyalty linking, payment or both.

    “Collaborating with Amazon Web Services to bring this service into our bakery-cafes is a natural extension of the tech-forward, guest-centric digital thinking that Panera is known for,” said Niren Chaudhary, CEO of Panera Bread and Panera Brands. “Our philosophy has been centered around leveraging best-in-class technology to create a better Panera experience and using that to deepen our relationship with our loyal guests. Introducing Amazon One, as a frictionless, personalized, and convenient service, is another way we’re redefining the loyalty experience.”

    Panera Bread is committed to providing innovative tech-driven solutions for its guests. Guest participation is opt-in only and Panera does not store personal palm data.

    Any private and personal data shared via  Amazon One is securely stored and protected by multiple security controls, and palm images are never stored on the Amazon One device. All images are encrypted and sent to a highly secure area custom-built for Amazon One in the cloud where palm signatures are created. Amazon One is an optional service. 

  • 3/21/2023

    New Survey by HID Reveals Five Pressing Themes Reshaping the Security Industry

    HID global teaser

    HID, a worldwide leader in trusted identity and physical security solutions, today announced its inaugural State of the Security Industry Report, which gathered responses from 2,700 partners, end users, and security and IT personnel across a range of titles and organization sizes representing over 11 industries.

    By looking at what’s driving the next innovations and the technology that supports them, the security industry is empowered to create more value for its organizations and its people. Conducted in the Fall of 2022, the survey reveals five common threads, as follows:

    1. Nearly 90% of respondents acknowledge sustainability as an important issue

    End users are increasingly demanding that suppliers provide footprint transparency in terms of their operations, product sourcing and research and development practices, with 87% of respondents stating that sustainability ranks as “important to extremely important.” Mirroring this trend, 76% said they have seen the importance of sustainability increasing for their customers.

    To support this growing demand, security teams are leveraging the cloud and the Internet of Things, even more, to optimize processes and reduce resources. Additionally, new products and solutions are being strategically developed to address sensible energy usage, waste reduction and resource optimization.

    1. Most organizations still need to fully embrace identity “as-a-service” (IDaaS) to support hybrid work

    The majority of survey respondents—81% of them—stated they are offering a hybrid work model. As an example, 67% of respondents state that multifactor authentication and passwordless authentication are most important to adapting to hybrid and remote work, while 48% point to the importance of mobile and digital IDs.

    Interestingly, the survey also reveals almost half of the organizations aren't quite ready to implement a comprehensive IDaas strategy.

    1. Digital IDs and mobile authentication to propel many more mobile access deployments

    Identification and authentication are more commonly completed via mobile devices, including smartphones and wearables. The growing popularity of digital wallets from major players such as Google, Apple and Amazon is a key driver of this trend. And expanded capabilities allow smartphone users, for example, to add keys, IDs and digital documents directly in the wallet app. These include, but are not limited to, drivers’ licenses in eight states, verifiable COVID-19 vaccination information, employee badges, student IDs and hotel room keys.

    Commercial real estate companies (40%) are outpacing other verticals as large commercial real estate firms are leveraging mobile access as part of their larger tenant experience apps, according to the HID survey.

    1. Nealy 60% of respondents see the benefit of contactless biometrics

    Biometric technologies represent a major break from more conventional means of access control. Using biometrics as an additional authenticating factor (e.g., biometric scans to verify an individual’s physical identity) can help organizations eliminate unauthorized access and fraud. The importance of this trend is exemplified in the survey data, which shows that 59% of respondents are currently using, planning to implement, or at least testing biometric technologies in the near future.

    1. Supply chain issues continue to be a concerning factor, but optimism begin to emerge

    According to the survey, 74% of respondents say they were impacted by supply chain issues in 2022, although 50% are optimistic that conditions will improve in 2023. Most affected are commercial real estate companies, with 78% citing supply chain problems as their main concern.

    More than two-thirds of organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees indicate that they were highly impacted by supply chain issues in 2022, but they are also the most optimistic that these issues will resolve in 2023.

    By better understanding the aforementioned topics, security professionals will be better prepared to adapt faster, deliver exceptional digital plus physical experiences, and capitalize on breakthrough innovations in solutions and services. Read the survey in its entirety here.

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