News Briefs

  • 6/19/2023

    Crave Interactive Launches Crave AI

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    Crave Interactive Ltd, a global leader in hospitality technology solutions, is thrilled to announce the release of Crave AI, a ground-breaking guest service solution that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI). With innovative features such as the AI Display Window and integrated Video Chat, Crave AI reimagines the way hotels and resorts can connect and engage with their guests.

    Crave’s AI Display Window is a unique innovation and displays relevant content and services during guest conversations. Videos, images and descriptions bring the conversation to life, creating a far better guest experience than simple chat.

    Any web-based service can be displayed at the appropriate time, including restaurant booking, hotel reservations, F&B ordering systems, service requests, maps and menus.

    Transactions and payments are easy and secure, with no personal data passed to the AI engine.

    For guests who would rather speak to a human and for requests that the AI bot cannot help with, Crave AI can instantly connect the guest to hotel staff via an integrated Video Chat feature. In this way, Crave AI provides the best automated and personal service in a compelling solution that will delight hotel guests. 

    "We are thrilled to introduce Crave AI, a game-changing solution that takes guest engagement to new heights," said Gareth Hughes, CEO of Crave Interactive. "The AI Display Window and integrated video chat feature provide a genuinely unique and compelling guest experience. AI is transforming the world at an incredible pace, and Crave AI will redefine the way hospitality establishments engage with their guests."

    Crave AI supports guest communication via voice, text, kiosk, in-room tablet and web. The AI Display Window is compatible with most hotel booking and ordering systems and any web pages. 

    The first hotel deployments are expected in Q3 2023, with large groups supported from Q4 2023. 

    Visitors to HITEC 2023 in Toronto should visit the Crave team at booth #1335 for a personal demo of Crave AI and Crave Instant Video. 

  • 6/1/2023

    Tim Hortons Expands EV Charging Stations

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    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. 

  • 6/19/2023

    Wade Allen Joins Costa Vida as EVP of Strategic Growth

    Wade Allen MURTEC 2022

    Wade Allen has joined Costa Vida, Fresh Mexican Grill, as EVP of Strategic Growth, he shared on LinkedIn.

    The industry innovator is a frequent contributor to Hospitality Technology. At MURTEC 2023, he was one of three digital transformers to take the stage to share how digital channels and experiences are evolving.  Allen, Justin Falciola, Chief Insights & Technology Officer, Papa Johns; and Vadim Parizher, VP of Technology, Taco Bell  talked about everything from robotics to labor challenges to what the future might hold.

    "COVID gave us the opportunity to press the envelope with drones, robots in front and back of house, and delivering food, and ghost kitchens, etc. I think all these things have a place. We decided to either fail fast or succeed quickly. We found that the horizon was a lot longer than we anticipated for many technologies. So we went back to see what was really driving profitability, sales, guest experience and team member experience. We’re getting everything to work perfectly so we can move forward with confidence," Allen said during the session. 
     


    Allen is also a member of Restaurant Technology Network's Board of Governors.  Check out more people on the move in the hospitality industry in HT.

  • 6/19/2023

    OTA Insight Announces Benchmark Insight, Launching a New Era of Performance Benchmarking for Hotel Revenue Managers

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    OTA Insight announced Benchmark Insight, which will be available as a free beta solution globally.  Going beyond existing benchmarking tools in the market, Benchmark Insight will empower hoteliers with actionable intelligence that shapes strategic decisions and provides a deeper understanding of hotel market share.

    Hoteliers are facing the limitations of legacy benchmarking tools that burden them with outdated data and time-consuming analysis. Recognizing the need for a modern approach, OTA Insight has developed Benchmark Insight to help hoteliers navigate this new era of performance benchmarking with confidence.

    Sean Fitzpatrick, CEO of OTA Insight, stated, "In today's market conditions, performance benchmarking is not just about collecting data; it's about deriving actionable intelligence to make quick and strategic decisions. By leveraging the most expansive and freshest data set in the industry, Benchmark Insight provides a new level of clarity, enabling hoteliers to stay ahead and capitalize on opportunities in an increasingly competitive landscape."

    Benchmark Insight will offer clear advantages over traditional benchmarking tools, including:

    1. Actionable Intelligence: By transforming data into insightful recommendations, Benchmark Insight saves time and facilitates strategic decision-making. With fresher and near-real-time data, hoteliers can make a measurable impact on their business by understanding what the data is saying and taking effective actions accordingly.

    2. Next-level Data Visualization: Benchmark Insight features a lightning-fast and intuitive interface, providing an unparalleled user experience. Visual insights replace static charts, enabling better communication across internal teams, owners, and other key stakeholders.


    3. Comprehensive Data Sets: With access to the most extensive data sets in the industry, Benchmark Insight offers accurate and real-time insights and recommendations. These data sets encompass both global chains and independent hotels, ensuring unparalleled data diversity.

    "For more than a decade, OTA Insight has delivered products that have set the standard for data quality and exceptional user experiences,” added Fitzpatrick. “We exist to serve our 65,000+ hotel partners, and they have asked for a better benchmarking solution. We firmly believe Benchmark Insight will be the answer they have been seeking, and we are excited to continue delivering innovation for our partners.”

    OTA Insight is making the free beta version of Benchmark Insight available globally to hotels and management companies. To learn more, and to sign up for the free beta version, please click here.

  • 6/19/2023

    Sojern Announces Platform Enhancements to AI-Powered Audiences

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    Sojern, a digital marketing platform for the travel industry, announces the latest version of its Sojern Travel Marketing Platform with enhanced Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered audiences. Sojern has leveraged its long-standing AI capabilities to provide expanded support for more than 10,000 travel marketers annually. Customers include hotels and resorts of all sizes, destinations, attractions and airlines.

    “Our customers needed to respond swiftly to the rapidly evolving digital marketing landscape, so during the pandemic, we expanded our automation and AI capabilities. It all begins with data, specifically the Sojern Traveler Ecosystem™, which powers our platform with billions of travel intent signals from thousands of travel brands in every corner of the globe,” said Kurt Weinsheimer, Chief Solutions Officer at Sojern. “While AI is making headlines now, we’ve been harnessing its capabilities for years and are excited to announce these new updates. We have competitors that are just now building AI functionality, and I can tell you firsthand that it takes several years to develop and refine the sophisticated AI models that power our platform. Our 15 years of experience and deep technological expertise gives us a significant advantage in delivering results with AI-powered audiences in the latest iteration of our Platform.”

    Sojern’s AI-powered audiences offer travel marketers a strategic advantage in optimizing their marketing investments. By leveraging AI technology, marketers can make informed decisions on resource allocation, effectively targeting the right customer segments for maximum return on investment and business impact. Through automated audience segmentation and optimization, brands engage with relevant audiences in real time, achieving greater precision, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. In response to increasing demand for personalized experience, and 71% expressing their expectation of personalization from companies, Sojern’s data-driven approach enables brands to deliver highly tailored campaigns at scale while adhering to data privacy regulations. The result is a more strategic and impactful marketing strategy that drives new traveler acquisition, boosts direct bookings, and maximizes guest loyalty.

    Here are the three key enhancements to Sojern’s AI-powered audiences, built to address travel marketers’ objectives, on the Sojern Travel Marketing Platform:

    1. Integration of 1st Party Offline Data: By integrating customers’ offline data - including unified access to historical booking data across various distribution channels - Sojern empowers marketers to gain greater visibility and develop more robust audiences. Combining offline data with AI-powered audiences provides deeper insights into consumer behavior and preferences, facilitating the creation of highly targeted and personalized campaigns. The platform also enriches and scores offline customer data, helping marketers identify and prioritize conversion-ready customers. Overall, this integration empowers travel marketers to build a holistic and data-driven marketing solution, leading to improved engagement and better business outcomes.
    2. Enhanced Support for Reactivation: Sojern’s Platform enables marketers a distinctive capability to leverage AI-powered audiences to reactivate prior guests and loyalty members. This capability allows advertisers to identify and engage with previous customers who are currently in the market, driving loyalty throughout the customer journey. By combining reactivation with AI-powered prospecting and retargeting, Sojern’s full funnel strategy ensures increased return on investment and heightened customer satisfaction.
    3. Expanded Audience Activation: Sojern’s AI-powered audiences can now be activated with more control and flexibility in activation through the Traveler Audiences To-Go offering. Advertisers can activate these audiences across multiple advertising platforms of their choice, such as DV360, Xandr, Meta and YouTube, broadening their reach and providing greater convenience and flexibility.

    Another significant benefit of Sojern’s AI-powered audiences is the integration with extensive data partnerships. By enriching retargeting, reactivation and prospecting audiences with data from Sojern’s Traveler Ecosystem, advertisers gain a broader view of customers beyond their owned channels or walled garden media platforms. The use of durable identifiers illuminates blind spots in a privacy-compliant manner, enhancing audience quality and enabling real-time identification of consumers in-market. As a result, AI-powered audiences effectively reach the right audience at the right time with the right message.

    “At Sojern, we’ve always believed in AI’s potential to enhance the travel experience. The latest iteration of our Platform benefits both our travel marketing customers and their end consumers,” Weinsheimer added.

    Leveraging data-driven digital advertising, Sojern has consistently adapted to meet the changing marketing needs of travel brands. Today, Sojern has evolved into a robust platform business. To discover more about the benefits of AI-powered Audiences for your travel marketing campaigns, get in touch.

  • 6/19/2023

    SONIFI Releases Authentication and Management Platform for Hospitality HSIA and Managed Wi-Fi Services

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    Hospitality technology provider SONIFI has announced the release of a new authentication and management platform (AMP) for its managed Wi-Fi and HSIA services.

    SONIFI has been a rapidly growing provider of managed Wi-Fi services to branded and independent hotels, resorts, and other properties, quadrupling its HSIA customer base in less than five years.

    As part of its continued commitment to guest internet solutions, SONIFI developed AMP to advance network management capabilities, including:

    • Advanced network monitoring for prompt issue identification and response
    • Dynamic real-time visualization of network topology for IT professionals to more easily and holistically view complex network infrastructures
    • Advanced configurations for multi-zone and multi-site roaming for seamless connectivity for guests

    “We made it simple for hoteliers to access essential functionality to operate managed Wi-Fi experiences, such as device authentication, splash page customizations, and network monitoring,” said Paul Johnson, Senior Vice President of Internet Services at SONIFI, “but AMP is really laying the groundwork for better guest Wi-Fi experiences in hotels.”

    The enterprise-grade cloud solution is powered by AWS for maximum reliability and scalability. SONIFI’s breadth of media system PMS integrations will extend to AMP’s PMS connectivity so properties don’t have to manage multiple integrations for Wi-Fi and interactive TV features.

    “Additional features are continually being added to AMP as we invest in greater automations, service reliability, and revenue drivers for our customers,” said Johnson. “We know the critical role Wi-Fi plays in guest satisfaction in hospitality. It’s a service SONIFI is committed to being the best at, and we’re especially proud of our engineering and development teams for continuing to push for better, more efficient, and more effective ways we can serve our customers.”

    SONIFI began releasing its AMP solution to existing managed Wi-Fi customers this summer. AMP and SONIFI’s suite of guest technology solutions will be featured next week at HITEC in Toronto June 27–29, and at The Hospitality Show in Las Vegas June 28–29.

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