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News Briefs

  • 4/19/2023

    HCN Showcases NEW Navigator 2.0 Tablets at BITAC Operations Conference in San Diego

    HCN Navigator Tablets at BITAC

    This week hoteliers representing prominent hotels, resorts and management groups across the nation converged at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego to attend BITAC® Operations, a two-day interactive conference filled with education, relationship-building, and uninterrupted private meetings between buyers and sellers of hotel products, amenities and technologies. To help operators better engage with guests, address labor concerns, and drive revenues, Hotel Communication Network was there to introduce its NEW Navigator 2.0 in-room tablet.

    Built on the latest technology stack, the cloud-based Navigator 2.0 platform was re-engineered to give guests more control over how they experience the hotel and communicate with staff plus give operators a way to turn room service from a traditional loss leader to a profit center. With real-time language translation, the tablet is making two-way communication effortless for everyone involved – especially hoteliers who can now update and self-manage tablet content as often as needed throughout the day.

    “BITAC Operations is a terrific forum to sit down with hoteliers face to face, discuss their pain points and introduce to them to our in-room tablets as the preferred way for guests to communicate with the hotel,” said Aurelio DaMota, HCN vice president of sales. “Travelers are very comfortable with tablets, and since the pandemic these mobile devices have become increasingly popular to keep people connected with family and friends, stream movies, conduct business, shop, listen to music, search local information, make reservations and a lot more.

    “We attended BITAC Operations to show hoteliers how they can use HCN’s interactive tablet for direct in-room messaging, group business/event communication, guest surveys, housekeeping optimization, in-room marketing, late check-out requests, and as an interactive city guide – all while cutting labor costs and increasing revenues,” he said. “Via a quick demo, we sat down with buyers in a relaxed atmosphere and showed them how guests can communicate with the hotel, make purchases, order room service from local restaurants (not the hotel), report problems, and control their room environment. More importantly, we demonstrated how Navigator 2.0 can easily replace existing but outdated room equipment such as the phone, TV remote, and clock/radio, further saving money and eliminating all the clutter today’s travelers don’t want to touch. This new in-room tablet hits the sweet spot in affordabilityfunctionality, and engagement.”

     

    Navigator 2.0 has an elegant look with the tablet set on a Bluetooth pairable speaker base. The unit’s high-quality sound, USB A&C charging points, and stunning HD graphics give guests a user experience they are comfortable with and appreciate. The speaker base also serves as a voice assistant, enabling guests to request services and amenities, report problems, plus control lights, thermostat, and blinds by voice command.

    “We are delighted that HCN had such a positive experience at BITAC Operations,” said Rich Viola, President and CEO of Hotel Interactive, producer of the BITAC Conference Series. “Oftentimes at tradeshows it’s difficult for problem solvers to find the time to sit down with operators to discuss their operational challenges and present bonafide solutions. Here, our program is centered around creating time via pre-scheduled meetings and connecting buyers with the sellers they want to learn more about. There are so many new innovations since the pandemic that are overcoming labor challenges and keeping guest safety and contactless engagement at the forefront. Today, operators are sharing best practices with their peers and then we are pairing them with solution providers like HCN whose tools make those best practices a reality.”

  • 4/1/2023

    QSR Automations Recognized for Excellence in Customer Service

    QSR Automations customer service team

    QSR Automations earned recognition for excellence in customer service and support.

    At MURTEC, QSR Automations’ VP of Hardware Solutions and Support, Kathi Klein, received fHospitality Technology ’s 2023 Top Women in Technology Lifetime Achievement Award. 

    During her more than 30 years in the restaurant technology industry – half of those at QSR Automations–Klein has amassed incomparable knowledge in understanding and troubleshooting kitchen display, front-of-house, and the associated hardware and networking platforms needed to run them. 

    But what truly sets Klein apart is her natural ability to nurture relationships and foster talent, which has made her an effective leader in QSR Automations’ Support Services Team. During her long tenure at QSR Automations, Klein has built one of the industry’s strongest and most effective support teams. In fact, under Klein’s guidance, the team has received a 99 percent satisfaction rate from customers in 2021, and last year handled more than 16,000 inbound and outbound calls, which earned them a bronze award for Excellence in Customer Service from the 2022 Stevie Awards. 

    This was the third bronze Stevie award for the team, as last fall, Klein accepted two additional bronze awards from the Stevie Women in Business Awards on behalf of QSR Automations–one for excellence in customer service, and the other for growth. QSR Automations was selected for these honors from more than 1,500 nominations from around the world.

    “Just as our technology is the heart of a restaurant kitchen, our people are truly the heart of this business,” said Angela Leet, CEO of QSR Automations. “My colleagues are passionate about innovation both in and out of the office, and it’s immensely gratifying to see them recognized for these achievements.”

    QSR Automations, headquartered in Louisville, Ky., with offices in the United Kingdom, is a global industry leader in kitchen automation and guest management services.

  • 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.

  • 4/19/2023

    Two-Thirds of Travelers Agree: The Best Getaways Are Spontaneous

    Family standing in front of a Motel 6

    As temperatures begin to rise, travelers are getting the urge to explore, and new research shows they're acting on that spur-of-the-moment travel bug. Recent data from leading economy lodging brands, Motel 6 and Studio 6, reveals that two out of three (67%) Americans with travel plans this year say that the best trips are spontaneous and decided on a whim.

    The study, which surveyed over 2,000 Americans who plan to travel this year also found that almost three-quarters (73%) would be willing to visit a surprise destination. 

    "Taking a last-minute getaway is a great way to add some joy into your life," said Julie Arrowsmith, President and Interim CEO of G6 Hospitality, parent company of Motel 6 and Studio 6. "For those seeking a new adventure this summer, they can rest easy knowing that Motel 6 and Studio 6 are here to provide clean, comfortable and affordable places to stay so travelers can spend more on the actual experiences and events that brought them to the destination."

    Traveling Distances, With Companions
    Seven in 10 (70%) travelers report they are indulging in longer excursions by traveling more than three hours from their hometown. And, what's an unforgettable summer road trip without loved ones – either human or furry friends. When asked about companions, more than three in four (78%) travelers prefer to journey with other people, while almost one in three (28%) are planning to explore with pets.

    Off-Season & Longer Trips
    With impromptu trips on the rise, more than two in five (44%) vacationers admit they are switching up their travel experiences this year. Most notably, the typical "travel season" may be a thing of the past, with almost half (47%) indicating that they are just as likely to get away during the off-season or weekdays as opposed to peak times like holidays and weekends.

    Another one in three (32%) are indulging in their wanderlust by taking longer vacations than ever before. For those longer trips, vacationers needing a home-away-from-home can rest easy with an extended stay lodging option like Studio 6, where rooms come well-equipped with a full kitchenette and on-site laundry.

    Hotel Stays & Prioritizing Discounts
    In fact, no matter the length of the trip, nearly half (49%) of American tourists plan to stay at a hotel or motel. And, when booking accommodations, two-thirds (66%) say rewards programs are important to them while on the road. Those looking to save this summer can enjoy exclusive promotions and discounts while saving 6% off their stay by joining My6, a free rewards program from Motel 6 and Studio 6 with deals to support summer adventures.

  • 4/19/2023

    Sojern and Xcaliber Collaborate to Drive Direct Bookings and Increase Revenue for Asia-Pacific Hotels

    Sojern logo

    Sojern, a travel marketing platform, and Xcaliber, a direct booking platform offering cloud-based solutions for hotels, announced a new collaboration to collectively drive direct bookings and bolster revenue for Asia-Pacific hoteliers. 

    “Focused on travel from day one, our commitment to generating more direct relationships while driving online bookings is stronger than ever," said Lina Ang, Managing Director, APAC, Sojern. “Sojern’s new partnership with Xcaliber, the latest with a homegrown partner in the region, means together we can utilize our respective strengths to provide strategic marketing solutions to regional hoteliers. 2023 is the first year in APAC with no travel restrictions, so our partnership comes at a time of renewed optimism for the travel industry”.

    With reports stating that Asia-Pacific’s travel industry could be the first to recover by 2023 this year will be pivotal for the hospitality industry. In an increasingly competitive digital landscape Sojern and XCaliber have partnered to play to each other's strengths. Sojern’s digital marketing expertise enables hoteliers to reach, engage and convert travelers along every stage of their planning and booking journey. Xcaliber offers innovative cloud base solutions that help more than 1,000 hotels in South East Asia to maximize revenue through hotels brands websites. 

    “A trusted hotel partner since 2009 offering solutions such as booking engine, payment gateway, website development, digital marketing, property management system and ecommerce management, we pride ourselves on adding value to hotels and their guests. With Sojern’s industry expertise and mutual focus on driving direct bookings for hoteliers we are delighted to announce this new partnership,” said Pipat Amonrungmetham, CEO & Founder of Xcaliber. “After a challenging few years for the industry this strategic collaboration will allow us to strengthen our value adds for hotels.”

    Throughout its 15 years, Sojern’s unwavering focus on travel has increased its resilience and reaffirmed its vision to become the #1 travel marketing platform. Sojern was also recently ranked amongst the top Digital Marketing Agencies globally in the 2023 HotelTechAwards. Headquartered in Thailand, Xcaliber also operates in Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Laos with local experts. 

  • 4/19/2023

    California Restaurant Association Offers Members U.S. Bank and Elavon's Payment Solutions

    paying at a coffee shop

    U.S. Bank and Elavon, one of the world’s largest payment processors, will now serve up customized payment solutions to restaurants across California under an agreement with the California Restaurant Association.

    Elavon recently signed a contract with the CRA, a statewide trade association representing 22,000 member locations. The new partnership will provide the tools or resources that ensure the Golden State’s restaurant and hospitality industry can better manage operations and receive customer payments safely, quickly and efficiently.

    Newly released research by U.S. Bank and Elavon found that 70% of restaurant-sector respondents say customers’ ability to order and pay quickly influences their choice of restaurant.

     

    That's inline with the findings from HT's 2022 Customer Engagement Technology StudyWhen it comes to top restaurant technologies that guests demand, 49% say the ability to pay for food via mobile device (i.e., contactless payment) is tops, according to HT's 2022 Customer Engagement Technology Study.

    California restaurant owners can benefit from the full suite of U.S. Bank banking and payments solutions including capabilities such as menu, order and employee management, invoicing, banking services, and the ability to view sales data in real-time – all from an easy-to-use dashboard.

    The partnership agreement comes on the heels of U.S. Bank’s recent acquisition of MUFG Union Bank, further strengthening U.S. Bank and Elavon’s presence and service offerings in California.

    “Our members are always looking for partners who can provide high value and excellent service,” said CRA Chief Operating Officer, Mike Doerr. “We believe our Association partnership with Elavon will provide that, and Elavon’s service is offered at an attractive price point to CRA members.”

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