News Briefs

  • 10/12/2023

    Northleaf Commits $200 Million to EVPassport, Open API-Driven Electric Vehicle Charging Platform

    evpassport logo

    Northleaf Capital Partners (“Northleaf”), a leading global private markets investment firm, today announced it has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in EVPassport, Inc. (“EVPassport”), an electric vehicle (“EV”) charging platform company co-founded by Hooman Shahidi (Chief Executive Officer), and Aaron Fisher (Chief Technology Officer), which focuses on the deployment of Level 2 and Level 3 EV chargers across North America. Funds managed by Northleaf have committed $200 million to fund EVPassport’s capital requirements and accelerate the build-out of EV charging systems.

    [Hoteliers are noticing the benefits to installing EV chargers on property. Marriott announced a partnership with EV Connect, Radisson Hotels announced a partnership with PowerGo, and Hilton said it is going to install 20,000 Tesla Universal Wall Connectors at 2,000 hotels.]

    EVPassport provides an end-to-end EV charging solution to both enterprise and commercial businesses. The company utilizes an innovative business model that allows for charging infrastructure to be installed under an infrastructure-as-a-service (“IaaS”) model, supporting its client base with turnkey solutions. This contractual framework is paired with an advanced technology platform that prioritizes the customer experience through high reliability, open API integrations, and an app-less charging experience.

    [Last year, EVPassport launched EV charging software exclusively for the hospitality industry. Just prior to that rollout, it added Andrea Foster, SVP of Development at Marcus Hotels & Resorts to its advisory board. HT interview Foster to get her perspective on the impact electric vehicles will have on the hospitality industry.]

    “We’re excited to partner with EVPassport and apply our market knowledge and industry expertise to build out this critical infrastructure,” said Olivier Laganiere, Managing Director at Northleaf. “With a significant installed base across the country, EVPassport is poised to meaningfully expand its footprint and help drive the EV transition. Under EVPassport’s IaaS framework, site host customers are able to offer an increasingly critical transportation amenity to tenants or clients, while individual charging users benefit from strong reliability, high uptime, and customer-driven features.”

    He continued, “This investment is an excellent fit with Northleaf’s infrastructure strategy, and our investors benefit from the long-term, contracted cashflow profile that underpins EVPassport’s business model.”

    Since EVPassport’s inception in 2020, the company has scaled its network to 35 states, as well as Canada and Mexico. It has deployed thousands of chargers, primarily focusing on the multi-family, hospitality, and retail sectors, while delivering a 99.97% uptime. Existing customers include Viejas Casino and Resort, National Development, Ace Parking, Millennium Park Garages, and Nuveen.

    “We are thrilled to have the support of a global infrastructure investor like Northleaf as an endorsement of our vision, model, and the market opportunity ahead of us,” said Hooman Shahidi, Co-Founder and CEO of EVPassport. “Northleaf’s experience and resources will enable us to accelerate our growth, execute our business plan, and ensure the highest quality of service and reliability to our drivers and enterprise customers. With our focus on building a secure, dependable, and integrated charging network, we are strategically positioned to increase our market share through business and product innovation.”

    Northleaf’s infrastructure program has invested $5 billion to date in more than 50 mid-market infrastructure assets in OECD countries. The program serves more than 80 institutional and family office investors across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Infrastructure is an integral component of Northleaf’s global private markets platform which includes private equity and private credit and has raised more than $23 billion to date.

  • 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, Chipotle.com, 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.

  • 10/6/2023

    Blackbird Lab Raises $24M for Blockchain-Based Restaurant Loyalty

    loyalty buttons

    Blackbird Labs, a hospitality technology company whose platform helps restaurants directly connect and reward their guests, as well as incentivize these customers to return, has raised a $24 Million Series A round.

    Blackbird was founded in 2022 by Ben Leventhal, co-founder of Eater and Resy.

    The new funding will help Blackbird scale operations as it meets an ever growing need from leading restaurants across the country for an all new solution that will help them drive customer loyalty and create new revenue streams.

    The round was led by a16z, with participation from Amex Ventures and Bolt by QED, as well as the company's previous seed investors like Union Square Ventures, Shine, Variant, plus restaurant groups: Quality Branded, Rustic Canyon Family, Souvla and Brooks Reitz.

    In just a few short months, Blackbird has struck a chord with over 80 restaurants in the industry, with 22 restaurants already live. This set includes New York restaurants like: Anton's, Corner Bar, Crown Shy, Di An Di, Ensenada, Ernesto's, estela, Fish Cheeks, Freeman's, Francie, gertrude's, Hanoi House, Joseph Leonard, Momofuku, Nami Nori, Principe, Overstory, and SAGA; Jon & Vinny's (LA), Souvla (San Francisco), Daytrip (Oakland), Little Jack's Tavern (Charleston), The Daily (Charleston), Melfi's (Charleston), Razza Pizza (Jersey City). 

     

    How it Works 

    With Blackbird's advanced platform, restaurants can seamlessly gather insights, including their diners' likes and dislikes, where they prefer to sit, and how many times they've visited the establishment. As today's dining landscape becomes increasingly fragmented, with little direct connectivity between guests and restaurants, Blackbird's technology helps restaurants get to really know their patrons. Operators can consistently surprise and delight their customers, while giving them the special feeling that they are very important and appreciated regulars, sparking increased and ongoing loyalty to the restaurant.

    For diners, Blackbird is also incredibly easy to use. When customers arrive at a restaurant, they simply tap their phone on a Blackbird NFC reader and enter their phone number to create their membership. From there they start leveling up their regular status with each subsequent tap-in, thus unlocking benefits and insider perks like surprise off menu items and even a direct SMS concierge. They also earn $FLY, Blackbird's non-transferable native token, which opens up a world of possibility. Diners can use their $FLY to power up for specific items they might want or they can also use them for membership rewards with a specific restaurant. Blackbird users also don't need to have a pre-existing web3 wallet. The company works with Privy to provide embedded wallets, so users who simply sign in with their phone number get a self-custodial wallet for use. Users are able to manage their memberships, view $FLY balance, monitor recent activity and message restaurants all through the Blackbird app.

    "Web3 enables a powerful, new way for restaurants and guests to connect, making each dining experience unique and more meaningful," said Arianna Simpson, General Partner at a16z crypto. "...With just a few taps, diners can unlock new loyalty programs that only web3 technology can provide."

    With its new funding, Blackbird also has plans to rapidly expand its offering into new markets, as it continues to roll out new features like: $FLY Redemption, which empowers consumers to use their accumulated $FLY points to "power up" and redeem perks either in the moment or in a future planned visit at participating Blackbird restaurants. The company will also be introducing an all-new referral program, giving diners the ability to text their friend a link to become members at a specific restaurant, where they will gain access to an entirely new and exclusive slate of offerings. Diners will also be able to opt into global data sharing, where restaurants will gain visibility into their full dining history and any associated insights, in exchange for providing more $FLY on regular dining activity like tap-ins.

    "Blackbird offers a compelling new platform with the potential to evolve how restaurants deliver on loyalty and supercharge the insights they need to thrive," said Matt Sueoka, Global Head of Amex Ventures. "We are thrilled to back Blackbird as they explore how to leverage web3 technology to positively transform the dining experience for consumers and the restaurant industry."

    For more information on Blackbird,  visit https://www.blackbird.xyz/.

  • 10/12/2023

    Tripleseat Introduces PartyPay to Streamline Payments for Event Managers in the Hospitality Industry

    logo, company name

    Event managers in the hospitality industry can now celebrate another game-changing innovation from Tripleseat. This groundbreaking payment processor has been designed to cater exclusively to the needs of event experts, promising seamless transactions, enhanced efficiency, and increased event sales revenue.

    Tripleseat PartyPay gives customers a frictionless payment experience, maximizing event sales potential and increasing the bottom line:

    ●      Competitive pricing ensures event professionals maximize their revenue without breaking the bank.

    ●      Accepts payments quickly, easily, and securely online while effortlessly managing all transactions in one centralized platform. Seamlessly accept event payments at event close with the addition of QR codes.

    ●      Increased reporting efficiency delivers invaluable insights into business performance with robust reporting and analytic tools. The easy-to-use dashboard tracks event trends, identifies sales patterns and optimizes payment strategy for maximum profitability.

    ●      Enhanced security and dedicated customer support give managers peace of mind. Tripleseat PartyPay is PCI-compliant and adheres to industry-leading standards, safeguarding sensitive payment information. Also, our committed support team provides speedy assistance, and a real person will address questions. 

    “Tripleseat PartyPay revolutionizes how event professionals manage payments," cited Jonathan Morse, CEO of Tripleseat. “This latest Tripleseat product will eliminate the hassle of chasing payments and allow event managers to dedicate more time to doing what they do best - crafting unforgettable events for their guests. With many incredible features and benefits, PartyPay is an essential tool for elevating event businesses of all sizes.”

     

    Tripleseat PartyPay offers a modern, intuitive platform with no hidden fees and transparent, accessible data. Event professionals everywhere will want to unlock the power of Tripleseat PartyPay today, to experience the ease it affords to event payment processing.

     

  • 10/11/2023

    Leading Hotels Unveils New Mobile App

    screenshot of leading hotels mobile app

    The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), the largest collection of independent luxury hotels, that spans 80 destinations is pleased to announce the launch of its brand-wide mobile app. The Leading Hotels app was designed for both hotel guests, as well as Leaders Club members visiting any of the curated collection’s 400-plus properties.

    The Leading Hotels app will offer guests the ability to discover and book properties, request room upgrades, and manage reservations across multiple properties in a trip. Beyond the discovery of LHW properties, the app lets guests view property-specific information, dining options, amenity offerings, local maps and directions, and transportation services. Guests can submit pre-arrival and service requests at select properties on their personal mobile device.

    “We are eager to offer our travelers access to our new app,” said Phil Koserowski, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer of The Leading Hotels of the World. “The app will empower guests to deepen their experience throughout their travel journey with Leading Hotels from inspiration and booking, to pre-arrival and on-property. For our hoteliers, it will offer highly customizable solutions to help them improve staff efficiency, enhance the guest experience, and drive incremental on-property revenue.”

    The app was designed to elevate each stay and inspire future sojourns, with features that deliver:

    • Seamless Service: Make a reservation or manage an upcoming stay. Once checked in, the app acts as a personal concierge for guests, with on-property features to learn more about hotel amenities and activities. At select properties, guests can submit requests to the concierge and housekeeping directly through the app.
    • Richer Rewards: Discover Leaders Club, LHW’s loyalty program built for curious travelers. The app offers an account profile page with access for members to check their points balance, status information, request room upgrades, and explore Leaders Club exclusive rates and perks.
    • Insider Access: Discover LHW’s entire collection of iconic global getaways at your fingertips. From hotels with Michelin-starred dining to under-the-radar hideaways, the app provides inspiration and tips for a future remarkably uncommon stay at LHW’s elite hotels.

    The Leading Hotels app is powered by INTELITY®, provider of hospitality’s leading guest experience and staff management platform. Through the app LHW’s thousands of hoteliers have access to INTELITY’s Guest Experience Management System, GEMS®, and the Content Management System to streamline staff’s day-to-day operations and manage content on the app. Further, the app will provide personalized guest service, optimize response times for guest requests, and increase staff efficiency through INTELITY’s staff-facing platform. Future enhancements to the Leading Hotels app will include mobile check-in, check-out, and keyless entry, and more.

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