News Briefs

  • 6/1/2023

    Tim Hortons Expands EV Charging Stations

    EV charging

    For electric vehicle owners in British Columbia, Tim Hortons is now fueling road trips in more ways than one.  The company has announced the expansion of its electric vehicle charging station pilot launched earlier this year in Oakville, Ontario, by unveiling six new charging stations at restaurants throughout  British Columbia.

    Tim Hortons announced the pilot in February in an effort to study the technology, its usage and opportunities.

    "We have been thrilled with the results of the pilot so far.  Usage of the charging station in Oakville has surpassed our expectations and we received many calls with requests to expand the pilot," said Paulo Ferreira, Senior Director, International Strategic Restaurant Design and Building Standards, Tim Hortons. "With more than 3,300 eligible restaurants across the country, we continue to look for opportunities to expand the pilot and contribute to the EV infrastructure."

    The BC expansion, supported by the Province of BC's Community Charging Infrastructure Fund and Koben Systems Inc. (KSI), placed charging stations strategically in Nanaimo, Langford, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Abbotsford and Coquitlam to create paths within the province, allowing guests to travel from restaurant to restaurant strictly on electric power.

    Tim Hortons offers charging stations as a courtesy to guests at six locations.  As of March 31st, 2013, Tim Hortons had 4,288 system-wide restaurants, including 3,453 in Canada, 808 in the United States and 27 in the Gulf Cooperation Council. 

  • 5/31/2023

    Panda Express Launches Rewards Program

    Panda Express loyalty program

    Panda Express announces the launch of Panda Rewards, its first points-based national rewards program.

    It utilizes a personalized points-based system that rewards members with ten Panda Points  for every dollar spent on qualifying purchases. Once 200 Panda Points have been accumulated, guests can start redeeming their favorite Panda menu items. Each month, guests' first qualified purchase will unlock a surprise Good Fortune Gift ranging from bonus points to special discounts or even free food, along with a unique digital fortune cookie message to be collected. Panda Rewards members will also receive a birthday gift of their choice.

    "Sharing good fortune is an important value at Panda, and we are delighted to launch our first rewards program nationwide as a heartfelt expression of gratitude towards our loyal guests for their continued support throughout the years," said Andrea Cherng, Chief Brand Officer at Panda Express. "We look forward to engaging our guests in a playful and meaningful journey of good fortune as they collect unique prizes offering exceptional value every time they dine at Panda."  

    The more Panda Points members accrue, the better the rewards options. The rewards range from a free upgrade to a premium entrée, a free drink of choice to even a free Family Meal. Guests have a personalized experience to choose their preferred reward from multiple options. What's more, Panda Points do not expire unless there are no qualifying purchases in 12 months.

    Panda Rewards members can earn and redeem Panda Points when ordering through the Panda Express mobile app or the website, in-store, or the drive-thru. Those ordering online that have logged in as a Panda Rewards member will automatically receive Panda Points for their purchase. For in-store and drive-thru orders, guests can easily access and present a QR code in the mobile app for a Panda associate to scan. Alternatively, guests can also enter a unique rewards code found on their receipt from an in-store order that can be entered in their account up to seven days from purchase in the app or online to earn Panda Points on that purchase.

  • 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.

  • 6/1/2023

    Harris Rosen Announces Major Leadership Changes within Organization

    rosen hotels and resorts logo

    Harris Rosen, Founder, President and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, announced a new leadership structure as the company positions itself for decades to come. For close to 50 years, Mr. Rosen has built, guided and expanded his “little company” through amazing growth, becoming the Southeast’s largest independent hotelier with seven convention and leisure properties, more than 6,000 guest rooms and suites and close to 4,000 associates. Mr. Rosen is proud to announce that Joshua Rosen now serves in the role of Associate Vice President, while remaining in his current position as National Sales Manager. Mr. Rosen is also proud to announce that Shayna Rosen now serves as Secretary of Rosen Hotels & Resorts. Both officers will serve alongside Mr. Rosen and others on the Board of Directors.

    In addition, Mr. Rosen has created an advisory committee, which consists of Vice President and CFO Frank Santos, Treasurer and Director of Finance Jim Bina, Project Manager and Owner’s Representative Glenn Rosen, Director of Human Resources Dorea Mays, Director of Guest Contact Jennifer Rice-Palmer, Director of Standards Susan Caronia, Director of Operations Fernando Ching and Rosen Shingle Creek General Manager Dan Giordano. Collectively this advisory committee has more than 200 years of service and dedication to Mr. Rosen and Rosen Hotels & Resorts.

    “Good leadership is more than just leading,” said Harris Rosen. “It is also about leading others to realize their fullest potential by providing opportunities for growth and development. I have the utmost confidence this team will collectively operate as an extension of me and make decisions driven by both brains and hearts, keeping it simple and always doing the right thing,” he added.

  • 5/31/2023

    HFTP Announces HITEC 2023 International Perspectives Headliner Panelists to Explore Tech Trends for Today’s Global Traveler

    logo, HITEC

    Coming up later this month is the 2023 Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC®) with a packed schedule of industry expertise. Topping the program is the Tuesday morning Headliner, “International Perspectives – Tech Future Proofing: Planning for The Global Traveler.” The Headliner stage that day will feature six executive hoteliers who have seen it all from localities that span the globe.

    “HITEC is the one time of the year where you can hear directly from the individual experts who are in the midst of planning strategy for the most significant hotel companies from across the world,” said HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe, CAE who will moderate the session. “Our panel represents a cross-section of property types and regions; and will present an excellent picture of how to plan for today’s guests.” 

    This interactive panel will feature a dynamic and live discussion format to proactively tackle the questions and challenges of today’s complex technology landscape and how to prepare for the global traveler coming to your property. The audience will get to know these seasoned executives and how their professional experiences have shaped their ability to facilitate business and plan for “better than ever” success.

    Panelists include:

    • Sanovnik Destang — Owner of Bay Gardens Resorts; First Vice President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association; Chairman of the CHTA Technology Task Force; and 2022 Caribbean Hotelier of the Year • Regional Experience: the Caribbean
    • Michael Levie, CHTP — Adviser to NEOM Hospitality Development and Tourism; Founding Partner of citizenM; HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame inductee • Regional Experience: Europe and Saudi Arabia
    • Bharat Patel — Owner, Gulf Coast Hospitality Solutions; 2023–2024 Chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) • Regional Experience: Americas
    • Amandeep Singh Sarna — CIO for ITC Limited, Hotels Division • Regional Experience: India
    • Tariq Valani — Global SVP Technology for Accor Hotels, Canada, Middle East; Global SVP of Technology, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts • Regional Experience: Canada and Middle East
    • Todd Wood — Vice President, Global Applications and Transformation for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group • Regional Experience: Americas, plus application development for Global use
    • Moderator Sherry Marek — Principal/Owner of Aiken Street Consulting; Co-founder of Datavision Technologies; HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame inductee
    • Moderator Frank Wolfe, CAE — CEO of HFTP; HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame inductee

    The stage will also feature the Opening Headliner, “Strategy in a World of Disruption” presented by Shawn Kanungo on Monday, June 26 at 4:00 p.m., sponsored by Hospitality Network/Blueprint RF. Kanungo will explore how we can take unexpected approaches to innovation to remain competitive and relevant.

    Then on Wednesday, June 28 from 8:15 to 10:00 a.m., is HFTP’s hospitality technology start-up pitch competition: Entrepreneur 20X (E20X), sponsored by PROVision Partners. E20X 2023 will feature seven ambitious entrepreneurs presenting breakthrough business concepts to a room full of HITEC attendees and panel of expert judges. The start-ups are competing for the top Judges’ Choice award including a $5,000 USD cash prize, plus the honorary People’s Choice award selected by the audience.

    Access to the Headliner sessions is open to all registered HITEC attendees.

    Produced by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®), HITEC North America will take place on June 26–29 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ont. Canada. HITEC is the world's largest and longest-running hospitality technology exposition and conference. It offers a unique combination of top-notch hospitality technology education, led by industry peers and experts, and an unparalleled trade show showcasing the latest hospitality technology products and services. The 2023 event is expecting 6,000+ attendees and 320+ exhibiting companies. Registration for HITEC Toronto is now open.

  • 5/31/2023

    Mews Announces Successful Completion of SOC 2 Type 2 Examination, Proving Its Commitment to Data Security

    mews logo

    Mews, the hospitality technology leader and innovator, completed its SOC 2® Type 2 examination to help meet its users’ security needs and get an objective evaluation of the effectiveness of controls.

    The SOC 2® Type 2 Examination is a detailed examination of design suitability and operating effectiveness for the controls implemented around the information and system security. The examination reflects the third-party testing results of Mews’ security controls against the Trust Services Criteria published by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

    “In the world of hospitality, data security is critically important. We designed Mews to have the highest degree of safety and confidentiality, and we’re deeply proud to be among the few PMS providers to have passed this rigorous test  ”, said Richard Valtr, Founder of Mews. “Our technology empowers properties to securely handle guest data and process real-time payments, all while minimizing potential threats.” 

    The successful completion of the SOC 2® Type 2 examination further strengthens the growth strategy for Mews in North America, more specifically the enterprise segment in the US market.

    "With this, Mews is entering a new stage of maturity. We're unlocking new possibilities in North America and delivering industry-leading technology to modern hoteliers and their guests,” said Michael Wesner, Chief Commercial Officer at Mews. “The data security of our customers is a point of trust that Mews will continue to protect as we grow our platform and client base.”

    It comes at the same time as Mews tripled their North American business with the acquisition of Hotello.

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