News Briefs

  • 10/4/2023

    Chipotle Tests Digital Make Line

    Chipotle digital make line and employee

    Chipotle Mexican Grill is testing an automated digital makeline in collaboration with Hyphen, a foodservice platform designed to help restaurant owners, operators, and budding chefs move their business forward by automating kitchen operations. Bowls and salads are created by an automated system that moves the entrées through the bottom makeline where ingredients for the order are dispensed automatically. In tandem, a Chipotle team member can leverage the top makeline to create burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and kid's meals for the same digital order.

    How It Works

    1. Digital orders would be placed via the Chipotle app,, or third-party platforms.  
    2. If the order included a bowl or salad, those entrées would be routed to Hyphen's automated system. The bowl traverses along the bottom makeline and positions itself under the specified ingredient container. The intelligent dispensers dynamically portion each ingredient into the bowl. If the order included burritos, tacos, quesadillas, or kid's meals, a Chipotle team member would use the top of the same makeline to create those entrées.
    3. The completed bowl or salad would be raised from the bottom makeline and revealed at the end of the makeline through an opening in the countertop. A Chipotle team member would place a lid on the entrée and add any final items such as chips, side salsas, or guacamole to the order.
    4. Completed orders would be placed in their designated pick-up area: in-restaurant pickup shelves, walk-up window, or Chipotlane.

    Employee & Guest Experience

    Approximately 65% of all Chipotle digital orders are bowls or salads, so the cobotic digital makeline has the potential to free up more time for employees to service the front makeline and deliver exceptional hospitality, while simultaneously increasing capacity for digital orders during peak periods.

    The new digital makeline could also help enhance digital order accuracy, improving the guest experience.

    "Chipotle's new digital makeline built by Hyphen embodies our commitment to leveraging robotics to unlock the human potential of our workforce, ensuring an elevated dining experience for our guests," said Curt Garner, Chief Customer and Technology Officer. "Our goal is to have the automated digital makeline be the centerpiece of all our restaurants' digital kitchens." 

    Chipotle's Investment in Hyphen

    Chipotle invested in Hyphen as part of Cultivate Next, the company's $50 million venture fund that intends to make early-stage investments into strategically aligned companies that further its mission to Cultivate a Better World and help accelerate its aggressive growth plans. As a people-first company, Chipotle is seeking opportunities that will elevate the human experience for its teams as well as increase access and convenience for its guests. Investments may include innovations in farming and supply chain, advanced robotics, alternative proteins, and more.

    Through Cultivate Next, Chipotle also invested in Vebu, a product development company that works with food industry leaders to co-create intelligent automation and technology solutions. Earlier this year, Chipotle and Vebu unveiled the Autocado, an avocado processing cobotic prototype that cuts, cores, and peels avocados before they are hand mashed to create the restaurant's famous guacamole. 


    image courtesy of Chipotle

  • 6/21/2023

    Shiji and IPORT Partner to Transform Hotel Restaurant Operations with All-in-One Tablet and Payment Device Solution

    Shiji teaser logo

    Shiji, a global hospitality technology innovator, has partnered with IPORT, an award-winning manufacturer known for enhancing the usability of iPads and iPhones, to introduce an all-in-one software solution for hotel restaurants. This collaboration will provide hoteliers with a seamless combination of a tablet and payment device to maximize their F&B operations.

    The integrated iOS and payment device solution simplifies guest service for hotel restaurant servers, providing them with an effortless tool to cater to their guests' needs. As a certified Apple partner, Shiji and IPORT guarantee exceptional performance and reliability. Hoteliers can choose from multiple device options, including iPad Pro, iPad Mini, and iPhone, ensuring flexibility and compatibility with their operations.

    “IPORT products are built around modularity and flexibility that empower our hospitality customers to do more with the iOS platform. We are thrilled to partner with a leading iPad and iPhone cloud PMS and POS platform provider like Shiji,” said Chris Lawson, Head of Partnerships, IPORT. “We look forward to innovating with Shiji in disrupting legacy, monolithic providers who have limited the industry from harnessing the power of iOS and mobility. The future is bright, and the possibilities are endless with IPORT, iOS, and Shiji.”

    "The partnership with IPORT is a significant milestone for Shiji in our commitment to provide innovative technology solutions for the hospitality industry," said Ryan King, Senior Vice President of Shiji in the Americas. "By combining our expertise with IPORT’s hardware solutions, we empower hoteliers to streamline restaurant operations and deliver exceptional guest experiences. This collaboration represents another step forward in our dedication to driving success in the Americas, and globally."

    The tablet and payment device solution seamlessly integrates with multiple payment gateways, allowing hoteliers to choose the system that best suits their needs. By simplifying the payment process, it reduces operational complexities, minimizes errors, and saves valuable time and resources for hoteliers.

  • 10/5/2023

    Hilton Waikiki Installs Samsung’s The Wall to Elevate Guest Experience

    samsung hilton waikiki lounge screen

    Samsung Electronics America, Inc. is elevating experiences at the Hilton Waikiki Beach with a new installation of The Wall All-In-One 4K display. The 146-inch Direct View LED display is now one of the largest displays in Hawaii, offering the hotel’s guests and local customers an inspiring viewing experience with vibrant colors and superior clarity.

    “As the hospitality industry rebounds from the pandemic, hotels are looking for new ways to create memorable experiences and deliver a ‘wow’ factor for their guests and customers,” said James Fishler, Senior Vice President, Display & Home Entertainment Divisions, Samsung Electronics America. “The Wall enables Hilton Waikiki to excite its guests with entertaining content on a standout display that both enhances the guest experience and elevates the hotel’s brand.”

    Hilton Waikiki Beach’s customers include a unique blend of business travelers, visiting families and local community members. The hotel worked with Samsung and installation partner Pacific Digital Sign to install The Wall behind the LBLE lobby bar. Visible from anywhere within the lobby, The Wall now serves as the social heart of the property, bringing the Hilton’s diverse range of customers together with its spectacular visual technology.

    Advanced usability and controls allow the hotel’s staff to securely manage the displayed content. In the morning, The Wall presents hotel guests with inspiring scenes from around Hawaii and information about activities to enjoy during their stay. In the afternoon, the hotel utilizes The Wall to keep guests engaged with current news and sports, segmenting the large screen to display four different television channels at once. In the evening, calming Hawaiian scenes create a luxurious ambiance for dinner guests. On Sundays, NFL game broadcasts on The Wall draw in the local community.

    “The Wall presents a unique way for our hotel staff to cater to our local community and guests from around the world, while distinguishing the Hilton Waikiki Beach as a state-of-the-art hotel in every way,” said Henry Perez, General Manager, Hilton Waikiki Beach.

    In addition to The Wall, Samsung technology enables Hilton Waikiki Beach to deliver a complete premium guest experience. The lobby and bar area features a series of 98-inch Samsung TVs that further immerse guests in the Hilton brand from the moment they enter the hotel. Behind the concierge desk, four Samsung displays showcase content to welcome guests at check-in. Further, three 65-inch Terrace Outdoor QLED TVs within a newly opened Pool Bar engage and entertain the hotel’s patrons. Guests can also enjoy the high-definition picture quality of 65-inch Samsung TVs from the comfort of their own rooms.

  • 10/5/2023

    Innovation Meets Experience: From Generative AI to Virtual Reality, New MMGY Global Study Examines the Changing Role of Technology in Travel

    mmgy global logo

    A new study released today by MMGY Travel Intelligence examines technology’s growing impact on travel from two distinct perspectives: the traveler and the marketer. The comparative study, titled Emerging Technologies in Travel & Tourism, explores innovations such as artificial intelligence, virtual assistants and augmented reality through the lens of the travel industry. 

    “What’s fascinating to me is what we learned about the concerns travelers have about emerging technologies and how they will impact their travel experiences in the coming years,” said MMGY Travel Intelligence EVP Chris Davidson. “Having a clear understanding of these perspectives, concerns and potential barriers will be important for travel industry executives who expect to introduce new technologies successfully in the years ahead.”

    The online survey captured detailed feedback from more than 1,000 U.S. adult travelers and more than 100 leaders from destination marketing organizations (DMOs). Among the insights gleaned from this study, MMGY Travel Intelligence identified the following: 

    • Overall, travelers are open to incorporating emerging technologies as part of the travel experience, especially for research and planning purposes. In fact, nearly 2 in 3 travelers relied upon some kind of emerging technology during a travel experience in the past year. 

    • When asked which technologies they feel have the most potential to improve the travel experience in the next five years, travelers and destination marketers differed in their responses. Travelers’ top three choices were the Internet of Things (47%), Virtual Assistants (41%) and Virtual Reality (17%). Destination marketers, on the other hand, were most enthusiastic about the prospects for Generative Artificial Intelligence (70%), Virtual Assistants (32%) and Augmented Reality (31%). 

    • Unlike travelers, destination marketers are highly focused and bullish on Generative AI. Just over half of the DMO leaders surveyed said that they are already using Gen AI (56%) in their marketing efforts (most often for content management), and 46% are likely to use the technology to help make marketing decisions in the next year.  

    • The survey’s open-ended questions revealed that some consumers are wary of new technology because it makes things too complicated or could negatively impact the excitement of making plans to travel. For some, travel planning is an important and personal part of the process, and platforms such as Gen AI threaten to homogenize the experience.

    • Above all, travelers are highly concerned about the privacy and security of their personal information when it comes to using these new technologies. Three out of every 4 travelers surveyed expressed concern with protecting their personal data and privacy in relation to using new technology. 

    “Data compliance changes are going to come fast and will have broad implications in how we collect, manage and utilize data,” said MMGY’s SVP of Marketing Technology, Robert Patterson. “DMOs should be hypervigilant of this concern, whether they’re confident in their ability to conform to data regulations or not.”


    Traveler and marketer opinions toward virtual reality, the use of ad blockers and several other topics are also examined in Emerging Technologies in Travel & TourismTM. For more insights or to purchase a copy of the full study, visit MMGY Global thanks its sponsors, Tripadvisor, Destination Ann Arbor and Discover The Palm Beaches Florida, for their contributions to this study. 

  • 10/4/2023

    Vistry Unveils Conversational AI Platform for Food Commerce

    Vistry Conversational AI chatbot

    Vistry, a San Diego-based startup, leading the way in Generative AI and restaurant automation, proudly announced the launch of its Conversational AI platform, along with its AI Customer Assistant chatbot. The chatbot assistant, called LumoChat, is designed to assist customers in completing their online ordering tasks across different channels such as web and mobile. The chatbot blends conversational and clickable interactions for a familiar, yet completely unique customer experience.

    Vistry's CEO and Founder, Atif Kureishy, has experienced firsthand how enterprises have grown exponentially through AI and sees how the restaurant industry is ripe for AI's operational efficiency.

    "Generative AI is reshaping the food service industry's guest and employee experience. Our platform stands at the center of this transformation, offering omni-channel capabilities and seamless integrations with existing digital platforms," said Kureishy.

    Introducing LumoChat (Lumo), the AI Customer Service Assistant — Leveraging ChatGPT-like technology, Lumo acts as a virtual concierge that personalizes customer experiences and increases online orders.  It allows customers to ask questions about the menu, order pickup and delivery, and resolve customer service issues in real-time.

    • Menu & location understanding - Lumo excels in intelligent menu parsing and location services. Whether you're looking for vegan options or the closest outlet, it directs you seamlessly.
    • Cart building - Harnessing advanced AI algorithms, Lumo constructs an optimized cart for you. After describing food and ingredient preferences, Lumo's AI creates a personalized shopping cart that enhances your food commerce experience. From recommended pairings to promotional items, customers experience a cart tailored to their preferences.
    • Order checkout - Lumo ensures a streamlined checkout process with features like auto-filled details and secure payment options. It's a checkout experience designed for speed and security.
    • Other support - Lumo isn't just for orders; it's a comprehensive support tool. Whether you're curious about nutritional facts, current promotions, catering or special dietary accommodations, it provides instant, accurate information.

    Vistry's Conversational AI platform integrates with modern online ordering platforms and point-of-sale systems, and is accessible via web, mobile and social channels. Within minutes, a restaurant can deploy an expert chatbot to their customer base – assisting customers and converting online sales.

    Try Lumo's live demo and ask the AI Customer Assistant anything from menu allergens to what is the concept's most ordered menu item. The platform demonstrates why conversational commerce is becoming the growth of the restaurant industry's future.

    Based on the 2023 NRA's State of the Restaurant Industry Report, restaurants state roughly ¾ of all traffic occurred off premises (e.g., drive-thru, curbside, takeout-counter, ghost kitchens or delivery). AI is poised to help streamline restaurant operations and profitability via enhanced food commerce for off-premises ordering and customer service.

    When customers access a restaurant's preferred digital channel, they can ask Lumo about menu items, allergens, ingredient listings, hours of operation, coupons and specials, sustainability practices, capacity for large parties, accommodations for small children and the like. Next, Lumo will quickly guide them through completing their order, similar to a concierge.              

    For example, a customer browsing an online menu wants dinner for a family of four but is working with a $75 budget. They turn to Lumo, requesting meal recommendations that fit within this budget. In moments, Lumo provides a combination of appetizers, family style value meals, and a shared dessert, ensuring a delightful dining experience without exceeding the $75 constraint.    

  • 10/4/2023

    MDO Acquires HelloGM

    MDO and HelloGM logos

    MDO, a hotel data platform that centralizes and operationalizes critical performance and financial data for hotel companies, has bolstered its back-office automation and business intelligence capabilities with the acquisition of HelloGM.

    HelloGM, a centralized data analytics and automation platform, enables hotel operators to better understand property-level operating performance and automate previously manual reconciliation tasks. MDO customers will now be able to take advantage of a broader set of back-office capabilities, while HelloGM customers will benefit from MDO’s paperless night audit solution and more robust budgeting, forecasting and business intelligence solutions.

    “We are thrilled to welcome the HelloGM team and customers to MDO,” said MDO CEO Vic Chynoweth. “By offering improved reconciliation workflows and efficiencies in hotel accounting and financing departments, MDO is now delivering solutions across all areas of the hotel back office. Helping hoteliers with streamlined, centralized operations and data-driven decision making tools will allow them to focus on what they do best, which is delivering a fantastic guest experience.”

    Hotel operators face a dire challenge: The costs of staffing and supplying a hotel continue to rise and resources are oftentimes scarce. As a result, many hoteliers are focusing on finding creative ways to increase efficiency so they can do more with smaller teams, including centralizing many of the manual tasks that were previously performed on-property.

    Coupled with HelloGM’s capabilities, MDO customers will now be able to automate and streamline more back-office tasks, helping to offset rising costs and improving the bottom line.

    “HelloGM is excited to join MDO, giving our customers access to a broader set of capabilities and the ability to leverage MDO's established relationships with industry partners, which will increase data resiliency and quality,” said Dhaval Chokshi, Co-Founder and CEO at HelloGM. “We are excited about the opportunity to scale the business while continuing to provide first-class service to our hotel partners.” 

    Over the past decade, MDO has evolved from a hotel-specific digital document storage solution to a holistic hotel data platform serving thousands of hotels. A next-generation business intelligence platform, announced in 2023, is enabling hotel owners and operators with the data and analytics they need to improve revenue, profit and guest satisfaction.

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