News Briefs

  • 5/2/2023

    HITEC 2023 NEWS: HCN to Demo DineIN

    DineIN software on display on a tablet

    Hotel Communication Network (HCN) has developed a NEW program that is turning traditional room service operations from a loss leader to a profit center. Rather than placing more stress on limited staff or requiring guests to use a mobile app delivery service such as DoorDash or Uber Eats that requires them to meet drivers in the lobby, HCN has developed an alternative service that is boosting revenues and satisfaction scores.

    Called DineIN, the fully hosted and outsourced digital in-room dining service enables travelers to order food-and-beverage items via its in-room Navigator 2.0 tablets or without tablets via a QR code placed in the guestroom. What makes the program unique is that:

    • DineIN features only local restaurants that are handpicked by hotel staff based on positive personal experiences.
    • Orders can be paid via one of three secure methods: bill to room, bill to mobile wallet, or input credit card on the tablet.
    • Upon arrival at the hotel, orders can be delivered to guests at the front desk, at a location of their choice, or to the room (successfully proven during pilot testing to meet hotel security protocols).
    • ALL delivery drivers are vetted by HCN and trained by the hotel to follow brand foodservice delivery practices.
    • HCN self-manages the full room service operation and shares profits with the hotel.

    Proven Early Adopter and Current Deployment

    DineIN was first piloted in more than 1,000 hotel rooms in San Francisco. By dropping money-losing, self-managed room service and replacing it with DineIN, more than $500,000 in newly generated foodservice revenue was achieved over a 12 month period. A new pilot is underway at 3,000 hotel rooms in Chicago showing similar results.

    “Prior to launching DineIN, we put the Eat Street app on our tablets (similar to Uber Eats) and never got above 50% guest satisfaction,” said HCN President Kevin Bidner. “After taking over the service and managing it ourselves, we never achieved less than 80% guest satisfaction. 

    “Guests got a better meal and a better deal,” he said. “They loved having the best of local restaurants handpicked by the hotel, delivered to the room, and billed to their folio like a room service order. The fact that guests paid the same amount as if they had walked into the restaurant was the icing on the cake that made this program the industry's first viable replacement for room service. The fact that we proved this and succeeded with it at a 1,500-room flagship property shows the industry that a viable solution to the room service problem has finally arrived.”

    This is just one example of the success that can be achieved through DineIN. On average, 5% of guests will order food through room service or a meal delivery service. Using a conservative 3% of guests ordering meals through DineIN, the net benefit comes in at $6 per room per month, a portion of which is shared with the hotel. It's a bottom line improvement for the hotel and a great service for guests. 

    Study Shows Guests Want DineIN

    According to the 2022 Customer Engagement Technology Study, hotel guests “crave convenience and value more than ever. That means an unprecedented demand for innovative tools that allow customers to drive their own … dining experiences, including food delivery, mobile ordering … and more.”

    The report shows when ordering food for delivery, 72% of guests said they prefer to order directly from a restaurant (via the hotel’s delivery service or restaurant’s delivery service). The study also showed that 57% of hotel guests want the ability to order room service via a hotel’s website or app, and 45% of restaurant patrons said they want the ability to place food orders via a tablet/touchscreen at the table. More than two-thirds of hoteliers said they embrace self-service mobile features to drive their hotel bookings, payments, and loyalty.

    “Even though room service is a challenge to run cost effectively, hotel guests still expect it in full service properties. Therefore, someone must provide it and manage it,” said Neil Schubert, HCN Chief Product Officer. “HCN’s DineIN delivers room service without traditional hotel operating costs and makes it a net operating profit. Operators love the efficiency and profitability, and guests love that they can get a taste of the local market affordably and delivered their way – and it’s showing in hotels’ satisfaction scores.”

    Unlike money-losing room service, or its alternate, leaving guest on their own to order on local delivery apps, HCN has now proven out a bespoke hotel delivery service that protects guest satisfaction and provides a rev-share back to the property to help cover the cost of the tablets. This guestroom technology breakthrough solves the room service problem once and for all.

    To experience DineIN LIVE, pre-schedule a meeting with HCN in Booth 1237 at HITEC Toronto, to be held June 26 to 29. For more information on HCN, visit

  • 4/24/2023

    Denny's Launches Series of National Wellness, Mental Health Summits

    Dennys exterior of diner

    As part of a national effort to raise awareness and offer expert insights, Denny's is kicking off a series of summits focused on how companies and individuals can better manage and improve their mental health and wellness.

    The first summit is taking place on April 22 at the HPAC Theater in Spartanburg, S.C. The summit will be free to the public and attendees can participate in-person or virtually.

    "Denny's has always been committed to feeding people's bodies, minds, and souls, and this summit series perfectly aligns with our holistic approach to wellness," said Kelli Valade, CEO of Denny's. "The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the topics of mental health and personal well-being front and center. Now is the time to think about how we can bring our whole selves to all facets of our lives, including the workplace."

    The summit keynote speaker is Dr. Daniel E. Dawes, Senior Vice President for Global Health and Executive Director of the Institute of Global Health Equity at Meharry Medical College. Dawes will discuss the importance of addressing mental health equity and the path forward to achieving a healthier society. Other nationally recognized panelists include:  

    • Dr. Shaneeta Johnson, a surgeon, clinician, educator, and researcher at Morehouse School of Medicine and Senior Fellow in Global Health Equity at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute
    • Dr. Monique May, a board-certified and licensed family physician best known as the "Physician in the Kitchen"
    • Dr. Bennie L. Harris, Chancellor of the University of South Carolina Upstate
    • Sharon Lykins, Denny's Vice President of Product Innovation

    "Mental health and wellness significantly impact the quality of life of individuals, families, and communities across the Upstate region and beyond," said USC Upstate Chancellor, Bennie L. Harris, Ph.D. "We are thrilled to join forces with a global leader like Denny's to address one of the most critical public health issues of our time."

    Journalist Roland S. Martin will moderate two panels, "Mindful Eating," which will address the connection between food and wellness, and "Wellness at the Workplace," which focuses on mental health at work.

    A second mental health summit will be offered on October 10 in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • 5/2/2023

    Valyant AI Secures Fifth US Patent for Conversational AI

    patent approved

    Valyant AI, an artificial intelligence company focused on customer service in the restaurant industry, received its fifth patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Patent No. 11,594,223.

    Valyant AI patents cover AI-based drive-thru order automation. 

    The patent protects Valyant AI’s proprietary method for positioning a hardware ordering device on a restaurant site, capturing multiple audio streams and leveraging an artificial intelligence engine to conduct automated ordering processes for several different customers to complete orders. The AI-driven solution eases labor shortages with order automation.

    “A critical milestone in our strategy to scale up and develop the world’s best conversational AI platform for the QSR industry, this patent allows us to further redefine how customers interact with AI to place their orders at the drive-thru,” said Rob Carpenter, CEO and founder of Valyant AI. “With a significant majority of QSR sales happening at the drive-thru window, restaurant owners need an innovative solution like ours that delivers industry-leading cost savings, increased upsells, reduced wait times and enhanced operational efficiencies.”

    One of the world’s first commercial retail deployments of conversational AI for the enterprise, Valyant AI’s platform is used by four leading restaurant brands and integrates into existing point-of-sale, headset and order confirmation boards to streamline the customer experience, improve employee efficiency and help address labor shortages. By boosting average ticket sizes, diminishing customer service wait times and reducing operational costs via the ability to backfill key employee positions and reduce turnover, Valyant AI’s conversational AI platform delivers up to a 20% increase in top-line revenue. 

    The platform also features custom voices, further transforming the drive-thru experience by allowing guests to interact with local heroes, celebrities, mascots, voices with accents and other characters when placing orders. More than simply transactional, custom voice experiences create excitement that guests look forward to and keep them returning. This new functionality is expected to help the Valyant platform boost sales, enhance brand loyalty, and raise customer satisfaction at QSRs across the country. 

    This most recent patent is related to Valyant AI’s conversational AI technology patents asserted in its patent infringement lawsuit filed 18 months ago.

  • 5/2/2023

    Enso Connect Integrates GPT-4 to Simplify Short-Term Rental Operations

    EnsoAI logo

    Enso Connect, a guest experience platform for hospitality professionals, announced its integration with GPT-4, the state-of-the-art language model developed by OpenAI. The integration will provide hospitality professionals with EnsoAI, a powerful tool to enhance the guest communication and simplify operations.

    GPT-4 is an AI-powered chatbot that can answer guests' questions, provide recommendations, and offer personalized assistance, all in natural language. The integration of the powerful chat into the platform will allow hospitality teams to generate multilingual content in seconds, prioritize issues by context and guest sentiment and drastically increase response times. 

    “Enso Connect’s integration with GPT-4 is a game changer for tech-enabled hospitality”, said Francois Gouelo, co-founder and CEO of Enso Connect. “Enso AI, powered by GPT-4 is not just a better chatbot; it's the quickest content creator, traffic manager and onboarding tool at your team’s disposal. 

    Today what sets a hospitality business apart is its ability to personalize the experience for its guests. And the key to achieving this is in communication that can transform a good stay into an unforgettable one.

    The power of GPT-4 cannot be overstated when it comes to revolutionizing the way we interact with guests on a large scale. By leveraging the latest in personalized AI technology, we are ushering in a new era of hospitality that is both innovative and deeply human.

    As one of the most configurable guest experience platforms on the market, we are thrilled to be at the forefront of this digital transformation. The future of hospitality is all about embracing technology in a way that enhances, rather than replaces, the human touch. With GPT-4, we are confident that we can help businesses achieve just that - and so much more.”

    In addition to the AI-powered features already available to Enso Connect users, such as context analysis, sentiment recognition and predicted responses, the new integration release will unlock the following capabilities: 

    • Nimble content creation in 150+ languages  

    • Immediate guest communication with predicted or fully automated responses 

    • Workflow orchestration and streamlining based on context and sentiment analysis 

    The benefits of the integration include:

    • Improved guest satisfaction: GPT-4's ability to understand natural language and provide personalized assistance like a human, will enhance the guest experience with real-time personalized replies, increasing guest satisfaction.

    • Reduced workload for staff: 

      • With GPT-4 managing guest inquiries, staff can focus on more urgent and complex tasks, improving operational efficiency. 

      • Marketing teams are empowered to generate and personalize content in 150+ languages in minutes. 

      •  Additionally the integration will allow new team members access and review internal information more efficiently, speeding up the onboarding process and increasing productivity. 

    • Data insights: Enso Connect's guest experience technology combined with GPT-4's language capabilities can provide valuable insights into guest sentiment, preferences and behaviors, enabling operators to deliver more personalized experiences.

    Co-founder and CTO of Enso Connect, Peter Sorbo said: “We have a proven track record of leveraging AI technology to streamline messaging for our users. With our latest integration with GPT-4, we are taking this approach to the next level, making communication and content even more instant and intuitive. Our goal is to empower our users with the best tools available in the industry. The integration of GPT-4 into our platform is a natural step forward in this journey.”

    Scheduled for release in Q3 2023, EnsoAI tool will be available for all Enso-connected hospitality professionals through the platform. The waitlist is open for registrations now and will provide all operators with a free month of unlimited EnsoAI use. Learn more:

  • 5/2/2023

    IDeaS Achieves AWS Travel and Hospitality Competency

    IDEAS and AWS logos

    IDeaS, an SAS company and a provider of hospitality revenue management software and services, announced that it has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Travel and Hospitality Competency. The designation recognizes that IDeaS has demonstrated deep domain expertise in core revenue management applications.

    Achieving the AWS Travel and Hospitality Competency differentiates IDeaS as an AWS Partner Network (APN) member that provides specialized software and consulting services designed to help hoteliers adopt and deploy revenue management projects on AWS. To receive the designation, APN members are validated for technical proficiency and customer success.

    Klaus Kohlmayr, chief evangelist and development officer said: “IDeaS is proud to achieve the AWS Travel and Hospitality Competency. IDeaS suite of analytics solutions, Elevate, Optix, and RevPlan, powered by AWS, help organizations across the hospitality industry meet their revenue management goals, unlock new business potential, and increase profitability.

    AWS is enabling scalable, flexible, and cost-effective solutions from startups to global enterprises. To support the seamless integration and deployment of these solutions, AWS established the AWS Competency Program to help customers identify APN members with deep industry experience and expertise.

  • 5/2/2023

    Domino's Debuts Modular Restaurant

    Dominos container

    A subsidiary of Safe & Green Holdings Corp., a designer and fabricator of modular structures, has designed, delivered and installed two QSR units in Arkansas on behalf of a franchisee for Domino’s.

    The first store of the initial two orders, which feature single module units, is located in Marion, Arkansas, and has been functional since November. The second store, located in Osceola, Arkansas, has been up and running since March.

    These two stores, operated by Domino’s franchisee Ty Turner, served as a proof of concept for future stores with the national chain, with the plan for further select roll outs of modular-store fronts across the country. Safe & Green Holdings serves as designer, engineer and architectural consultant.

    “I’m impressed with how fast we were able to get up and running with Safe & Green Holdings’ modular solutions,” Ty Turner explained. “The process was efficient and cost-effective, and I appreciate the speed at which a store can evolve from an idea on paper to fully functioning and operating.”

    Safe & Green Holdings provided Domino's the concept design, design development, and construction of the units. The units arrived on-site already roughly 90% completed.

    “These modular builds from Safe & Green Holdings enable our organization to get freestanding lobby-less units up quickly, affordably and with lower environmental impact than a typical build,” Kenneth Guevara, Domino’s Senior Manager of US Development, noted. “We’ve had a great experience with the initial two units, and we look forward to discussing future plans together.”

    Sustainable Building

    Other brands are adopting sustainable and environmentally friendly new store construction. Chipotle Mexican Grill announced a new all electric restaurant design that works to maximize energy efficiency in its equipment and systems and utilizes 100% renewable energy from wind power and solar through the purchase of certified renewable energy credits. 

    Safe & Green Holdings is known for repurposing secondhand shipping containers. The company, which still utilizes shipping containers for certain projects, has applied these sustainable methods to all modular builds that the company creates, via the single module approach. Single modules can be relocatable.

    Additionally, modular methods reduce much of the environmental impact associated with traditional construction, with 80-90% of the build often being completed within the company’s own factory walls, reducing noise pollution as well. Modular is often viewed as using materials far more efficiently, minimizing waste, and reducing carbon emissions.


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