News Briefs

  • 3/27/2023

    Smaller, Simpler Events Backed by Always-New AV Technology Is Steering the Course to Meetings Recovery

    person standing up at event using microphone

    Just three months into the new year and the meetings environment is thriving. Mills James, a concierge-level, audiovisual services provider, is reporting that shorter, in-person meetings are growing in demand this year, with planners expecting the latest audiovisual technologies to make event experiences exceptional. From hybrid equipment and sustainable practices to always-new, portable equipment and stellar service delivery, a facility’s AV partner is playing a pivotal role in the return of meetings for the foreseeable future.

    “Time is a precious resource, and in today’s economy businesses are looking for ways to cut costs while re-engaging with their remote workforces,” said John Watts, Mills James VP of Hospitality. “A lot of people are working from home. To keep them from feeling isolated, it’s imperative that companies bring co-workers together to drive employee wellness and retention, instill company culture and corporate values, improve team bonding, and increase professional development. As a service-focused AV company that works with planners across the globe, we are seeing a big demand this year for smaller, more simplified meetings, and we are finding that the technologies we are investing in for our customers and how they are deployed are making a positive impact on event success.”

    Mills James cites 5 AV trends defining the meeting experience in 2023:

    1. Still a Need for Hybrid Events — Virtual events were popular over the last two years, with streaming equipment becoming standard at most meeting facilities across the globe. It’s not surprising that AV providers want to leverage their investment in hybrid equipment, and business owners are also capitalizing on the spend. Despite conjecture, hybrid equipment is not vanishing from the scene. Companies are limiting off-site meeting attendance to one or two people to cut down on travel and registration costs with remaining staff participating remotely. While this is bitter-sweet to venues with guestrooms and catering departments, it is still bringing meetings back, just in a smaller way.
    2. Demand for Sustainable Venues, Technology Grows — According to the 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, “Seventy-one percent of respondents say their organization considers sustainability when planning a meeting or event; of those, 70% are working with a defined sustainable meeting strategy. Minimizing paper usage, choosing green suppliers, and applying energy-saving and waste reduction practices are the top three ways they meet their sustainability targets.” This year especially, planners expect greener AV gear. This includes equipment that meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program and the RoHS Directive that mandates hazardous substances are not built into the equipment. They also want assurances that AV equipment is recyclable. Facilities with green gear and robust sustainability strategies will minimize their event emissions and win new contracts.
    3. Stationary Tech is Out, Portable is In  With boardrooms being the exception, fewer event facilities are opting to invest in stationary AV equipment for several reasons. First, its costly to purchase. Few, if any, facilities have AV equipment in their 2023 capex budgets, even though planners are demanding the latest digital tools. Second, most maintenance staff are not skilled to fix AV equipment. If gear fails, it can be difficult to service or replace – especially if gear goes down during an event. Third, no one can predict how a customer wants a meeting space to look and feel. When AV equipment is stationary (such as 85-inch TV monitors), it limits set up and can even deter a group from booking the event. Portability gives operators the flexibility they need to structure events their way.
    4. New Technology Saves the Day — Planners want assurances that the AV technology they are paying for is in good working condition. The same goes for how the equipment looks. Boutique AV services providers are investing in new, dedicated inventory for every property. This sets up meeting venues for success, as most planners will opt for a facility with the latest technology vs. one that uses old rental equipment. Hotels, resorts and conference facilities do not have time to worry about managing and maintaining AV equipment. Choosing a partner that understands the importance of providing always-new AV technology for events  no matter how big or small – is a game-changing service differentiator.
    5. Service, Service, Service — No matter how new the technology or how great the room looks,
      it’s the service that gets events to return. Planners expect AV technicians to be trained and to care about the events and people they support. They expect the same person setting up easels can operate a camera for a virtual event. They expect the equipment to work consistently, the first time, every time. And they expect competitive commissions from a dynamic pricing model that results in substantial revenue returns.

    “The pandemic forced us to rethink how people will interact and connect with each other in a business setting,” Watts said. “The good news is small meetings are playing a big role within their organizations, and as a result they are infusing new life into travel and the event business. It’s more important than ever that conference venues partner with an AV services company that is positioned for growth and technology investment. That way, the industry can migrate from smaller, simpler meetings today to larger conventions and tradeshows tomorrow.”

  • 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. 


  • 3/27/2023

    Radisson Blu Mall of America Installs CarbinX Carbon Capture Unit to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    carbon-capture technology unit CarbinX

    CenterPoint Energy and Radisson Blu Mall of America, part of Choice Hotels International, Inc., announced the groundbreaking installation of a carbon-capture technology unit, CarbinX™, developed by CleanO2. This marks the first hotel in the world to use this innovative system that captures greenhouse gas emissions from heating equipment. The installation is part of a program by CenterPoint Energy, Minnesota’s largest natural gas utility, to explore the potential of new, cleaner energy technologies.

    As the world works quickly to find ways to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, CarbinX is a bold and innovative step in these efforts for commercial buildings such as Radisson Blu MOA. 

    The size of about two home refrigerators, the CarbinX device is connected directly to the flue of the hotel’s natural gas water heating equipment, where it cap­­tures carbon dioxide (CO2) and converts it to a nontoxic carbonate powder known as pearl ash. CleanO2, the manufacturer of CarbinX, collects the pearl ash and recycles it as a key ingredient in commercial products such as soaps and detergents. The products are sold online at to customers in the U.S. and Canada. They are also sold through several retail chains and boutiques in Canada.

    Radisson Blu MOA also expects to reduce its energy bill because the CarbinX unit recycles heat, increasing efficiency in the water heating system to achieve both energy and cost savings. 

    CenterPoint Energy is deploying the CarbinX technology in a pilot program with 10 of its commercial customers in Minnesota, including Radisson Blu MOA. Additional CarbinX installations are also being considered for inclusion in the utility’s first five-year innovation plan under the Natural Gas Innovation Act, a landmark new Minnesota energy law.

    “We are thrilled to be leading the way to the future of hospitality stewardship,” said Alberto Abreu, General Manager of Radisson Blu Mall of America. “We at Radisson Blu Mall of America and Choice Hotels International are committed to being part of the climate change solution, and we are proud to be a leader in the industry as the first hotel in the world to install a CarbinX unit. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with CenterPoint Energy and CleanO2 to demonstrate the success of CarbinX in this setting, and we’re extremely optimistic about the impact this technology can make.”

    Steve Greenley, CenterPoint Energy’s Senior Vice President for Utility Operations Support, said, “CenterPoint Energy is committed to evaluating innovative solutions to reduce emissions and advance a cleaner energy future. Through our natural gas utility in Minnesota, we are excited to offer our business customers the opportunity to deploy this new technology that can help decrease their carbon footprint while also reducing their energy usage and heating bills.”

    Jaeson Cardiff, CEO of CleanO2, said, “Moving carbon capture technology to the mainstream takes vision and commitment. At some point, we hope people will take it for granted. But right now, we need leadership and collaboration. That’s exactly what we’ve experienced from CenterPoint Energy and Radisson Blu Mall of America. We’re proud to collaborate with them for this installation.”  

    Having this innovative new technology installed at Radisson Blu MOA is one example of Choice Hotels’ overall focus on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts to strengthen sustainability in the lodging industry while driving financial returns and lower costs for owners. 

    For a brief video explaining how the CarbinX unit works, visit:

    To learn more about this technology, visit:

  • 3/27/2023

    AU10TIX Collaborates with Microsoft on Decentralized Verifiable Credentials

    AU10TIX logo

    AU10TIX, a provider of identity verification and identity management technologies, announced it is working with Microsoft on Reusable ID - a breakthrough in verifiable credentials (VC) architecture for identity management.

    VCs are reusable, unalterable digital credentials that prove the identity of a person or entity and allow the safe sharing of personal documents and biometric credentials. VC architecture also gives users the self-sovereignty to share just the right information on-demand for actions such as opening an account, applying to college, paying taxes, etc.

    "Our belief is that Reusable ID coupled with hotel loyalty programs will deepen guest engagement due to both the streamlined processes (remote check-in, digital room card, identity verification) and the ethically responsible approach to privacy that Reusable ID holds true," says Mark Brady, VP of Emerging Product at AU10TIX. "Separate but related is employee  or third-party supplier verification. Providing employees or third-party suppliers with a verified credential when they interact or conduct their work with the hotel (clocking in, delivering supplies, area managers traveling between hotels)."

    AU10TIX's forensic-level document and biometric verification technology and the award-winning Instinct identity monitoring tool for synthetic fraud provide strong verification, encrypted as verifiable credentials assets. Reusable ID allows enterprises to simplify and accelerate ongoing ID verification, reduce customer onboarding costs, automate workflows, and enhance the security of sensitive data. It also enables end users to store their information locally in a tamper-proof digital wallet and decide what to disclose to third parties.

    "Compliance costs, privacy concerns, data liability, and rising synthetic fraud show that traditional identity management has been a struggle for individuals and organizations," said Dan Yerushalmi, CEO at AU10TIX. "Now, verifiable credentials are providing businesses and individuals with peace of mind regarding who holds and controls the keys of their personal data."

    Microsoft Entra Verified ID enables the solution, which uses AU10TIX's 25 years of experience in identity intelligence. Reusable ID enables businesses to simplify a wide variety of identity verification use cases across verticals such as finance, healthcare, education, hospitality, telecom, entertainment, and others. These applications include fraud detection, KYC reuse, money transfers, legal identities, user verification, insurance claims, and many more.

    This announcement builds on the 2021 collaboration that rolled out Microsoft Azure Active Directory verifiable credentials and brought AU10TIX's identity verification automation to the Microsoft ecosystem. AU10TIX is a Microsoft Verified ID credentials issuer and verification partner, managing identities based on attributes such as documents, biometrics, and electronic data.

    "Microsoft plans to include the Reusable ID technology in its third-party onboarding flow to streamline repeated validation of user identity verification at critical steps while preventing fraudulent activity and ensuring regulatory compliance," said Deepak Marda, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft. "Decentralized ID verification is a key imperative in the digital world, and the AU10TIX solution will increase security while reducing friction in the process of online ID verification."

  • 3/27/2023

    Jersey Mike’s Donates All Sales to Local Charities Tomorrow

    jersey mikes donates to special Olympics

    Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 29Jersey Mike’s Subs is giving a full day’s sales — expected to be over $20 million — to charity. It’s the sub company’s 13th Annual Day of Giving when nearly 2,500 Jersey Mike’s Subs restaurants nationwide will donate 100 percent of sales—not just the profit—to more than 200 local charities. (View/download b-roll)

    Day of Giving is the culmination of Jersey Mike’s March Month of Giving fundraising campaign. All month, Jersey Mike’s has collected donations from customers for partner charities including hospitals, youth organizations, food banks and more. For a list of restaurant locations and charity partners, please visit

    “Please join us and make a difference this Wednesday, March 29, when 100 percent of sales from all Jersey Mike’s Subs locations will be donated to help raise up our local communities,” said Peter Cancro, Jersey Mike’s founder and CEO.

    Actor, comedian and New Jersey native, Danny DeVito, joins Cancro in the sub chain’s recent commercial inviting everyone to buy lunch or dinner at Jersey Mike’s on Day of Giving when all proceeds go to important local causes.

    (Watch commercial)

    Day of Giving is Jersey Mike’s busiest day of the year. Each location prepares by staffing up and ordering extra food, ensuring there is plenty of meat, cheese, bread, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and bacon to meet the high demand.

    The more you order, the more Jersey Mike’s gives. Whether in-store, through Jersey Mike’s app or through third-party delivery partners, proceeds from every single sale this Wednesday — including subs, chips, drinks, and catering orders -- will go to local charities.

    Since Month of Giving began in 2011, Jersey Mike’s has raised more than $67 million for local charities

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