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  • 5/10/2023

    TGI Fridays Updates Rewards Program

    TGI Fridays

    TGI Fridays today unveiled its newly reimagined Fridays Rewards loyalty program, helping guests enjoy their Fridays' favorites more frequently, for less.

    The revamped Fridays Rewards program streamlines the restaurant loyalty experience, making it simpler for fans. With the free-to-join program, members are able to link with their cell phone number to automatically earn a point for every dollar spent – no app download required.

    "We want to give our fans more opportunities to enjoy those Fridays feels each and every day at our restaurants. The new Fridays Rewards program is our way of showing appreciation to our loyal guests and offering them more flexibility in what menu items they can enjoy on us," shared Lindsay Eichten, Director of Loyalty, CRM, and Paid Media at TGI Fridays, and  HT's  Top Women in Restaurant Technology Rising Star Award Winner. "With the revamped program, we are helping guests redeem rewards as often as possible, so they know they can always get a delicious deal and meal at Fridays."

    As fans accumulate points, they have the flexibility to curate how they redeem them across two reward tiers.

    How it works

    • 75 Points: Score any appetizer, kid's meal, nonalcoholic beverage, or dessert for free
    • 150 points: Score any entrée for free

    To celebrate the launch of the refreshed program, TGI Fridays is helping guests earn their first free reward even faster. Any guest who makes a purchase between May 12 and June 12 will receive 150 bonus points – enough to enjoy a free entrée on their next visit.

    The new Fridays Rewards also brings diners more everyday rewards, including either free chips & salsa or $3 off any appetizer, once per day, every day. For even more savings, the program will offer members personalized monthly offers that help them accumulate points faster.

  • 5/10/2023

    Wendy's Pilots Google Cloud's Generative AI

    Wendys global next gen drivethru

    Wendy's and Google Cloud announced an expanded partnership to pilot an artificial intelligence (AI) solution, Wendy's FreshAI. The technology has the potential to transform Wendy's drive-thru food ordering experience with Google Cloud's generative AI and large language models (LLMs) technology.

    Demand for Drive-Thru

    With 75 to 80 percent of Wendy's customers choosing the drive-thru as their preferred ordering channel, delivering a seamless ordering experience using AI automation can be difficult due to the complexities of menu options, special requests, and ambient noise. For example, because customers can fully customize their orders and food is prepared when ordered at Wendy's, this presents billions of possible order combinations available on the Wendy's menu, leaving room for miscommunication or incorrect orders. Google Cloud's generative AI capabilities can now bring a new automated ordering experience to the drive-thru that is intended to enhance the experience that customers, employees and franchisees expect from Wendy's. As HT reported last month, one Wendy's franchise, Wenspoke, is expanding its use of AI in the drive-thrus.

    "Wendy's introduced the first modern pick-up window in the industry more than 50 years ago, and we're thrilled to continue our work with Google Cloud to bring a new wave of innovation to the drive-thru experience," said Todd Penegor, President and CEO of the Dublin, Ohio-based QSR. "Google Cloud's generative AI technology creates a huge opportunity for us to deliver a truly differentiated, faster and frictionless experience for our customers, and allows our employees to continue focusing on making great food and building relationships with fans that keep them coming back time and again."

    Pilot Near HQ

    In June, Wendy's plans to launch its first pilot of Google Cloud's AI technology in a Columbus, Ohio-area, Company-operated restaurant, using those learnings to inform future expansions to more Wendy's drive-thrus. The pilot will include new generative AI offerings, such as Vertex AI and more, to have conversations with customers, the ability to understand made-to-order requests and generate responses to frequently asked questions. 

    This will all be powered by Google's foundational LLMs that have the data from Wendy's menu, established business rules and logic for conversation guardrails, and integration with restaurant hardware and the Point of Sale system. By leveraging generative AI, Wendy's seeks to take the complexity out of the ordering process so employees can focus on serving up fast, fresh-made, quality food and exceptional service.

    Today's update builds upon Google Cloud's and Wendy's long standing partnership to enhance the Wendy's restaurant experience. Since 2021, Wendy's has leveraged Google Cloud's data analytics, AI, machine learning (ML), and hybrid cloud tools to make it faster, easier, and more convenient for customers to access the brand.

  • 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.

  • 5/10/2023

    Amadeus Partners with Canary Technologies

    Canary, Amadeus logos

    Travel technology provider Amadeus has partnered with Canary Technologies to help hospitality customers improve e-signature and payment processes. Hoteliers are now able to benefit from expanded electronic signature and payment offerings integrated to their sales and catering solutions. 

    With the addition of Canary Technologies’ e-signature and payment platform, Amadeus’ Delphi solution offers even more choice and flexibility to customers who are looking to integrate electronic signature and payment capabilities. Hoteliers are able to send proposals and contracts directly to clients, who sign and make payments electronically in an entirely contactless, digital experience. Amadeus customers who use Canary’s platform will enjoy reduced costs as well as more efficient and secure document signing processes.  

    Amadeus’ award-winning portfolio of solutions – the most extensive in the industry – helps customers drive profitable demand, increase operational efficiency, and elevate the guest experience. Continued expansion within the hospitality technology ecosystem allows Amadeus to provide even more innovative strategies and solutions to support every stage of the traveler’s journey. 

    “We are thrilled to join Amadeus in providing a modern, efficient and secure contract signature and payment solution to their customers,” says Bryan Michalis, VP of Strategic Initiatives at Canary Technologies. “Our award-winning platform is ideally suited to help Amadeus’ Delphi customers operate more efficiently and effectively, and we look forward to supporting these hoteliers as we move forward.”

    Javier Campo, Vice President, Partners, Hospitality, Amadeus, adds, “We are committed to the success of our customers. Our new strategic partnership with Canary Technologies will be integral to providing hoteliers with the technology options they need to stay competitive and improve operations.”

  • 5/10/2023

    Grata’s Reputation Platform Enrolls Additional High Profile Service Brands

    logo, grata

    Grata is a reputation platform dedicated to capturing and showcasing the value frontline service workers provide to customers and brands. Following a successful round of seed funding in December 2022, Grata announces their innovational reputation platform is now available in five different brands and eleven restaurant locations in Dallas and Miami. All seven of the Mesero Restaurant Group locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth region and four dining outlets in Miami launched the Grata platform. The restaurants in Miami include Bar Centro, Hyde Beach, Bazaar and Katsuya located in SLS South Beach. Gates Hotel in Miami’s South Beach has also adopted Grata throughout their hotel. 

    Grata helps brands build a culture of exceptional customer service through recognition, retention and reputation. Through Grata’s reputation management platform, customers are given the opportunity to recognize frontline workers for unforgettable experiences in real-time. Employees can publicly capture and showcase their proven reputation of exceptional customer experiences. Brands can reward and retain their top performers, while building a culture of service through customer insights.

    The community is free and accessed through QR codes, not requiring customers to download an app. The customer can scan a QR left in the check presenter, on a nametag, table tent, wearable or handheld POS device to leave an employee a “Grata '' to recognize and endorse them for their great service. Employee reputations are no longer centralized within employer’s reviews, they are publicly credited to the individuals that create and cultivate exceptional guest experiences.  The frontline worker is building a reputation and resume for service quality for themselves as well as their employer’s brand. In turn managers can leverage real-time customer service insights to identify, reward and retain their top team members and create a standard and reputation of service quality. Service brands are able to provide a truly personal guest experience by capturing the feedback and interests of their most valuable customers to drive brand loyalty.

    A property known nationally for its exceptional service and skilled staff, SLS South Beach was an early adaptor to Grata, participating in its beta forms in 2022. Simon Sopresi, Vice President of Operations Miami, Mexico & South America with Ennismore Lifestyle Hospitality Company, has long seen the intrinsic value of team members who make guest’s stays exceptional at the hotel.  

    “Our staff and customers love the easy-to-use Grata platform,” said Sopresi. “Our guests enjoy having access to a tool that allows them to express gratitude for excellent customer service on an easy-to-use platform. And our staff members are able to scroll through the recognition they have received at any time, offering them an opportunity to capture the praise they have received in a cumulative and permanent digital format. It fuels employee and customer satisfaction, while also providing us insight into the experiences our customers value most.” 

    “As so much of our brand’s culture revolves around exemplary service and memorable experiences for our guests, implementing Grata was an easy decision for us,” Mesero Restaurant Group President and CEO Trey Dyer said. “We have seen an immediate positive response from our staff and from our guests with the easy to use QR codes. It is always exciting to see our employees being appreciated by our customers and we are looking forward to further increased engagement between them on the Grata platform.”

    Grata is reshaping the culture of service through recognition, retention and reputation in brands that differentiate themselves through the guest experience.  Grata founder Mark Bunting believes the importance of frontline service workers is indisputable. The army of service employees are directly linked to the guest’s experience with any service brand. Any customer service-focused enterprise will benefit from technology that shines a light on the quality service that keeps customers coming back. 

    “It’s really gratifying to see our growth continue to accelerate over the past quarter. Great service is the core of all brands. We look forward to seeing the continued impact Grata has on the culture, quality of service and employee satisfaction at additional restaurant concepts in the coming months,” says Mark Bunting, Founder.

  • 5/10/2023

    Oracle Teams with Wyndham to Bring OPERA Cloud to 2,000 Additional Hotels

    wyndham logo teaser

    Oracle is expanding the global rollout of its Oracle Hospitality OPERA Cloud Property Management System (PMS), today announcing plans to bring the system to 2,000 additional hotels under the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts portfolio by the end of next year. Currently, hundreds of Wyndham branded hotels are live on OPERA Cloud with franchisees using the system to simplify everyday hotel tasks, personalize guest experiences, and help boost revenue.

    “We’ve brought hotels onto OPERA Cloud at incredible pace,” said Scott Strickland, chief information officer at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “Today, we’re averaging 20 hotels a week with franchisees migrating in a matter of days and seeing immediate benefits including greater efficiencies, lower costs, and the opportunity to deliver better guest experiences. That includes helping us deliver new innovations to hotels such as room upselling, integrated revenue management, and mobile housekeeping management, among others, all on a global scale.”

    Beyond operational and cost efficiencies, Wyndham franchisees can use the Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform (OHIP) within OPERA Cloud to connect with RevIQ, Wyndham’s next-generation, cloud-based, mobile-first revenue management system designed to help owners optimize their revenue strategies and grow market share. Created in collaboration with IDeaS, an industry leader in hotel revenue management software, RevIQ is built specifically for the needs of Wyndham franchisees and is designed to deliver top-tier performance while keeping control, flexibility, and simplicity at the forefront. Both it and OPERA Cloud are the latest in a growing list of initiatives supporting Wyndham’s ongoing, multi-year digital transformation.

    With OPERA Cloud, hotels can easily: 

    • Scale in the cloud – Built specifically to run hotel operations, the PMS is flexible and can scale to meet the needs of each hotel without requiring installation and maintenance of on-site hardware.
    • Enable mobile “anywhere” access – Operators can run their hotel from anywhere while team members can untether from the front desk to serve guests throughout the property
    • Operate globally – Designed to meet fiscal requirements across more than 200 countries, operators can customize the system to operate in 20 languages.
    • Streamline operations – Easy integration with thousands of key partner interfaces means a smoother, more streamlined guest experience with the opportunity for enhanced personalization.
    • Unlock new insights – Oracle Hospitality OPERA Reporting and Analytics helps hotels and Wyndham unlock insights needed to boost performance at the department, hotel, and chain level.
    • Increase revenue opportunities – Flexible rate and inventory control options, as well as advanced reservations functionality, help boost occupancy and profits while Oracle Nor1 allows for incremental revenue through automated upsells like room upgrades, late checkout, and more.
    • Quickly train staff  Oracle’s library of OPERA Digital Learning content, combined with the OPERA Cloud’s intuitive user interface, make training new team members easier than ever.
    • Tailor event management  Oracle Hospitality OPERA Sales and Event Management (OSEM) helps maximize revenue by providing detailed, real-time information on room and event offerings, including space availability, menus, packages, and pricing.
    • Enhance security and performance – The PMS is built on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, elevating the guest experience while helping deliver higher performance, security, and reliability across its globally properties. 

    “Wyndham is the model of how a global brand can rapidly adopt cloud-based, mission critical technology,” said Alex Alt, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Hospitality. “With OPERA Cloud, Wyndham can scale to meet the needs and size of each unique property, speed innovation to support the evolving demands of customers, and help hotels create efficiencies that allow limited staff to focus on higher value tasks.” 

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