News Briefs

  • 10/31/2023

    Weldon Spangler Named CEO of TGI Fridays

    Weldon Spangler, a longtime TGI Fridays board member and highly experienced restaurant executive, has been appointed CEO of TGI Fridays, effective immediately. He succeeds Brandon Coleman, who has resigned for personal reasons.

    Spangler will lead implementation of the growth plan to revitalize the brand on a global scale. There are currently 700 TGI Fridays restaurants in 51 countries offering high quality American food and drinks. 

    Spangler brings extensive background in the restaurant industry and his impressive career spans over 30 years of experience, during which he has built a reputation for his unwavering focus on customer experience, store operations, and marketing with successful tenures at Subway, Papa Murphy's, Dunkin' Brands, and Starbucks.

    Rohit Manocha, Co-Founder of TriArtisan Capital, a New York-based private equity firm and the controlling shareholder of TGI Fridays with extensive experience in the restaurant sector, will continue to collaborate closely with Mr. Spangler and the dedicated team at TGI Fridays in his role as the active Chairman of the company.

  • 11/1/2023

    Rush Bowls Updates Loyalty Program

    Rush Bowls has partnered with Como, a next-generation loyalty, customer engagement, and marketing CRM for hospitality – across all 47 locations nationwide. As a fast-casual concept known for its fresh and healthy meals-in-a bowl, Rush Bowls is leveraging Como's industry expertise and solutions to enhance the overall guest experience and align the brand's customer engagement strategy with the needs of its expanding business.

    Como's granular reporting capabilities allow Rush Bowls to benchmark location and item performance, monitor promotional campaign success rates, and ensure high rates of guest return. By utilizing Como's  Customer Data Platform (CDP), Rush Bowls is now empowered to conduct in-depth reporting on every transaction, leading to the development of actionable insights using state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms. 


    "Rush Bowls is constantly striving to bring our customers the best experience possible, from introducing new menu items to refreshing perks for our loyal fans. This partnership with Como is an exciting upgrade that will enhance our guest experience strategy from coast to coast." – Andrew Pudalov, Founder and CEO of Rush Bowls

    The fast casual franchise will also rely on Como's ability to customize and auto segment its customer base, in order to send automated marketing campaigns targeting specific customer segments – such as win-back campaigns – for guests who have not visited in a certain timespan. In tandem with the partnership launch, Rush Bowls introduces its new mobile app, which encompasses a fully white-labeled, Como-designed app experience that includes such features as a Points Shop and embedded online ordering.

    Como is a provider of expanded loyalty capabilities. Leveraging direct integrations with 30+ points of sale (POS) companies around the world, Como collaborates with many businesses like Rush Bowls to drive additional revenue from its customer base, create rich customer experiences, and engage customers in-store to online.

  • 11/1/2023

    Mirai and SIHOT Partnership Drives Hotel Direct Bookings Through Metasearch

    SIHOT logo

    SIHOT, a hotel modular management system, and Mirai, a pioneer of direct hotel sales technology specialist, have partnered to provide hotels with direct connections to metasearch engines for live pricing and availability updates. 

    The partnership enables SIHOT users to connect to Mirai Metasearch to distribute inventory and hotel rates directly to the main metasearch engines. Mirai's strategic integrations with Google Hotel Ads, trivago, Tripadvisor, Bing Hotel Ads, Kayak and Skyscanner allows hotels to minimise distribution costs while increasing direct sales and reducing dependence on OTAs.

    Metasearch engines are one of the most important customer search windows for the hotels. They allow travellers to compare hotel rates in one place, making the channel choice easier for guests and improves visibility and traffic of hotels direct channel to maximise revenue. 

    Metasearch contribution to the number of bookings has grown steadily with 20% more bookings coming from metasearch in 2022 than in 2021, and 41% more than in 2019. Metasearch is now generating between 13% and 25% of total hotel revenue, according to Mirai.

    “Hotels investing in the direct channel to drive bookings are seeing the immense value of metasearch that provides guests with transparency of product and rates to identify the best deal. By working with Mirai, our customers can further improve their direct revenue and guest experience, while ensuring their rates and availability are accurate,” said Maria Santoro, Partnership Manager at SIHOT.

    Toni Gleitsmann, Head of Quality Management at fidelis hospitality GmbH adds: "Metasearch has become an integral distribution channel for our direct sales business, one that reaches the right guest type and provides one of the lowest acquisition costs. Through the integration and partnership of SIHOT and Mirai we have been able to optimise direct sales even further with real-time room rate and availability updates.”

    Patricia Camba, Mirai's Director of Global Partnerships & Alliances, adds: "We are very pleased with this partnership, as SIHOT clients will now be able to optimise direct sales even further. Metasearch ensures hotels are reaching the right potential guests on one of the most important online billboards today, with the lowest distribution cost".

  • 10/31/2023

    Toast Introduces Toast Now Mobile App

    Toast app

    Toast announced significant updates to the Toast platform, including the launch of a new mobile app and an enhanced point-of-sale (POS) experience. The new Toast Now mobile app is designed to meet the dynamic nature of how owners and operators manage restaurants and help them remain in the know, on the go, and in control with real-time reporting and key controls. 

    Additionally, Toast’s new POS experience provides users with more helpful features, workflows designed to help speed up service, and a comprehensive design update that introduces an attractive and streamlined new look—resulting in a system that is easier to set up, learn, and use. Both Toast Now and the new POS experience are available to all Toast customers.

    Access from Anywhere

    Toast Now is designed to meet the ever-changing nature of running a restaurant—giving owners and operators the flexibility and control to run their restaurants from anywhere, at any time, ensuring they are constantly connected to what’s going on, whether on-site or a thousand miles away. In beta testing, users of Toast Now are logging into the app approximately three times more frequently than the average customer logged into Toast’s web portal, as the app enables the flexibility to check in throughout the day.1

    Toast Now is designed to build an experience that is simple to use and enables restaurants to:

    • Increase access to information with real-time reporting: Easy and instant access to performance data is critical for owners and operators to effectively manage operations. In the Toast Now app, managers can get real-time updates with live sales and labor reporting—so they can easily monitor and compare top-performing items, profitability trends, and more across different time periods and multiple locations. Any owner and operator can leverage these insights to make key business decisions in the moment.
    • Stay in touch while on the go with Manager Log: It can be challenging to keep tabs on operations, especially when the owner or operator travels between multiple locations, is out sourcing ingredients for new menu items, or is searching for new locations for their next concept. Toast Now’s Manager Log allows restaurant owners, operators, and managers to communicate and coordinate with staff and stay on top of things without physically being in the restaurant.
    • Optimize kitchen flow with delivery channel control: Staff can help ensure a seamless guest experience both on and off-premise by managing kitchen volume. Toast Now makes it easy to manage delivery channels with quick toggles for turning first and third-party ordering channels on and off to ensure a manageable flow of orders to the kitchen. With the app, owners, operators, and managers can also remove a menu item on the fly to manage guests’ expectations and help employees solve stock shortages in real time.

    Toast Now has become a key tool to Bodega Taqueria y Tequila, a fast-casual, Mexican-inspired restaurant with a speakeasy lounge with seven locations in cities including Miami, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Nashville. “We’ve given Toast Now to our whole company, not just operations,” said Jared Galbut, CEO at Bodega. “Teams, including Human Resources and Marketing, have found it helpful to analyze sales and labor trends in order to better manage our business, and we all love being able to see real-time sales data and know how the business is performing as much as we do.”

    “We have seen great adoption of the new POS experience within our brands and are excited to have a point-of-sale partnership that provides us with new and exciting features,” said Michael Plate, POS Manager at BBQ Holdings.

    Speed up Service 

    According to Toast’s latest Voice of the Restaurant Industry survey2, two of the most important purchasing considerations for small and medium-sized restaurants in 2024 will be the depth of features in core POS and the ability to increase guest throughput and turn-time efficiency. Toast’s new POS experience is built to help enable restaurants to operate seamlessly with access to more features and controls than ever before, accompanied by intuitive screens designed to improve speed and accuracy.

    Examples of additional enhancements include Advanced Table Management, designed to give servers more control and insights that enhance the guest experience through features such as table timers to help optimize pacing and table turnover and also indicate which tables need attention. Servers can also be in greater control with Server Item Fire—built to help support the right dish coming out at just the right time. Table Screen Enhancements on the new POS help staff eliminate errors with updates to layout, font sizes, colors, and more. When it is time for evening service with lower lighting, for example, the table screens now include a Dark Mode, allowing the POS to better blend in with the ambiance. And Open View is designed to speed up and improve order-taking accuracy by displaying items and modifiers all at once to help establishments with high traffic volume and highly configurable menu items keep the line moving, even with lots of complicated orders.

    Toast customer BBQ Holdings is a growing multi-brand restaurant company that owns and operates several restaurant brands, including Famous Dave’s, Granite City Food and Brewery, Urban BBQ, and many more across the United States. The new POS experience has been a feature that restaurants across their portfolio have added to their daily operations.

    Toast Now is available on iOS and coming soon to Android, and the new POS experience is available to all customers now. 

  • 10/31/2023

    Employee Happiness Erodes in Q3 as The Great Gloom Continues

    Is the Great Gloom loosening its grip? Not quite. The BambooHR Employee Happiness Index examines eNPS (employee Net Promoter Scores®) from more than 1.6 billion self-reported scores, and Q3 shows employee happiness continues to decline, but a slight bump might offer a glimpse of much-needed change.  

    In September 2023, employee satisfaction reached a new three-year low:

    • September 2023 eNPS dropped to 36, half a point lower than in June 2023.
    • The average eNPS for Q3 is a full point lower than in Q2 2023, dropping from 38 to 37. 
    • Comparing September 2022 to September 2023, there's a three-point difference, representing a significant 9.3% decrease in eNPS year-over-year (YoY).

    Since the beginning of January 2023, employee happiness has been in freefall, showing a strong correlation between economic conditions and employee happiness and engagement. Job security and income stability are essential factors affecting micro job satisfaction—as well as macro consumer confidence and economic growth. 

    Qualtrics 2024 Employee Experience Trends reports “gaps in recognition, low satisfaction with financial rewards, and a lack of growth and development opportunities,” which leaves workers feeling unappreciated, unheard, and unsupported at work.

    According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 report, low employee engagement is hurting the global GDP to the tune of $8.8 trillion dollars. The report says it best: “If you’re not thriving at work, you’re unlikely to be thriving at life.”

    Key Data Points from BambooHR:

    • Travel & Hospitality (2) continues to be the only industry with growing employee happiness. Q3 scores were four points higher than Q2 2023.
    • Technology (3), Finance (5), and Restaurants, Food & Beverage (8) industries all hit three-year lows in Q3. ‌Tech’s average employee happiness was three points lower in Q3 than in Q2. 

    Travel & Hospitality

    For the travel and hospitality industry, Q3 2023 has brought continued positive growth in employee happiness, with eNPS scores showing a substantial increase and making it the most favorable quarter seen this year for the industry. 

    The average eNPS in Q2 was 35, but it increased to 39 in Q3, representing a notable four-point improvement in employee happiness. The US Travel Association reported that air travel demand was up 12% in July compared to the same month last year, a reflection of a strong and growing travel and hospitality industry. 

    Combined with a rising eNPS, this suggests the industry is recovering, resulting in a resurgence in employee morale and satisfaction.

    Pent-up demand created during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create growth despite consumer spending fluctuations elsewhere. Good business spells happy employees, who likely feel more secure in their employment compared to other service industries.

    How to Pierce the Gloom: Focus on Employee Experience

    Similar to construction, travel and hospitality leadership should double down on employee happiness by gathering and implementing feedback to create employee loyalty. 

    A great employee experience will strengthen employee satisfaction, which will in turn create excellent customer care. 

    Deloitte’s travel report highlights how airports and hotels are doing this already: to address the labor gap, travel providers are leveraging new technology that’s both providing frontline workers with new skills and capabilities and improving the work experience. 

    In the same report, two-thirds of travel providers said they don’t anticipate tech innovations to cause staff reductions in the next five years, meaning a win-win for workers and customers.

    Technology

    The tech industry has reached a worrisome record low in eNPS scores, consistent with the ongoing 2023 nose-dive. The short-term and YoY data both reflect continued decreases in employee satisfaction: Q3’s average dropped three points from Q2, with July hitting an all-time low eNPS of 36.

    The reasons are dramatically clear: The all-but-dried-up venture capital funding has spelled a reckoning in the form of 240,000 lost tech jobs so far in 2023. Slowed sales and company spending have put increased pressure on remaining employees to grow profitability and do more with less, particularly headcount. And with the ever-present economic downturn, unhappy employees are hesitant to leave stable work.

    How to Pierce the Gloom: Invest in Your Employees’ Future

    The tech industry is undergoing seismic changes—financially with lost funding and decreased sales, and innovatively with the rise of AI. A recent Gallup poll found that 22% of workers are worried about being replaced by technology, in addition to being concerned about losing benefits (31%) and having their wages reduced (24%). 

    Be open with your employees about what the organization’s plans and strategies are for a successful future: for the business, for customers, and for employees. Presenting a strong vision of a shared successful future where employees will have expanded opportunities to improve their skills can help quell financial anxieties and layoff fears

    In addition to investing in new skills, don’t overlook the importance of investing in benefits and wages–it’s much cheaper than having to replace skilled talent.

    Restaurant, F&B

    The restaurant, food, and beverage industry in Q3 2023 reached a new three-year low in eNPS, with a substantial drop from the previous quarter, and a notable decrease since June 2023, a concerning and sustained decline in employee happiness. 

    The average eNPS for Q3 is down by four points from Q2, marking a 10% drop since June 2023, surpassing the previous low from March 2023, and a substantial 21% or eight-point drop in September YoY scores.

    The National Restaurant Association reports the restaurant industry is the second-largest private sector employer, currently employing almost 10% of the total US workforce. Yet tanking scores point to further fallout of food service businesses still being short-staffed, putting added responsibility on employees who are spread thin and wage-dependent on tips to make ends meet. 

    Inflation and contested wage legislation, combined with slowing consumer spending, means paychecks that aren’t covering what they used to. 

    How to Pierce the Gloom: Foster Inclusion, Stability, and Security

    Almost one in five (17%) US employees work an unpredictable or unstable schedule, with short notice of changes and inconsistent hours being a barrier or burden for many, particularly for caregiver employees. Brookings research shows that asking employees to stay longer than originally scheduled has a negative effect on sales.

    To create more stability and inclusion, employers in the food industry can lean on technology, like making use of scheduling systems that only schedule employees during their availability. There are also shift marketplace apps that make it easy for employees to trade or pick up shifts that keep employers in the loop. 

    But while picking up extra shifts and having control over available hours greatly supports food workers, too many still struggle to make ends meet and are also food insecure at home. Those making the minimum wage are the most financially vulnerable. A little compassion, accommodation, and support can go a long way.
     

    Methodology

    All source data is from the BambooHR eNPS platform gathered between January 2020 and September 2023 and includes more than 1,600 companies, tracking anonymous responses from over 57,000 unique employees since January 2020. The data analyzed includes more than 1.6 billion self-reported eNPS scores that have been analyzed in an aggregated, anonymized way to protect the privacy of employees and the integrity of the metric.

    Industries highlighted include healthcare, finance, construction, travel and hospitality, nonprofit, restaurant/food and beverage, education, and technology. Further demographics included are company region, company headcount, and average employee tenure at a company. Volatility is calculated monthly using the difference between that month and the previous month’s average eNPS.

     

  • 10/31/2023

    Optii Integrates With Sojern to Streamline Operations from Guest Requests to Fulfillment

    logo, company name

    Optii Solutions, a hotel operations software, announced an integration with Sojern, a digital marketing platform built for travel. This new relationship aims to provide hoteliers with a comprehensive and seamless end-to-end guest experience solution, spanning from guest messaging to operational action, enabling hotels to enhance guest satisfaction and operational efficiency.

    Optii Solutions offers an advanced platform that automates and enhances hotel housekeeping, maintenance, and operations management. Their cloud-based software helps hotels boost staff productivity, reduce costs, and elevate the overall guest experience. By integrating with Sojern’s Guest Experience Solutions, which includes an AI Smart Concierge, Reputation Manager and Guest Marketing Suite with CRM, hoteliers can seamlessly connect with their guests on the guests’ preferred platform and devices, and automate and assign the necessary guest requests and actions. This streamlined workflow enables efficient management of housekeeping, maintenance, and service requests. By combining these solutions, hoteliers can create a more personalized and responsive guest experience, ultimately resulting in increased guest satisfaction, improved online review scores and loyalty. Automation and improved communication also lead to reduced labor costs and operational inefficiencies, enabling hotels to optimize their resources effectively.

    Katherine Grass, CEO, Optii Solutions, said: “We are thrilled to partner with Sojern and integrate with their Guest Experience Solutions to provide hoteliers with an end-to-end solution that enables them to deliver outstanding guest experiences while optimizing their operations. This partnership aligns perfectly with our commitment to modernize hotel operations through innovative technology. This is a win for hoteliers, guests, and staff alike. Hoteliers can automate, manage, and measure guest requests, while hotel staff can avoid administrative work and focus on what they do best, ultimately resulting in an improved guest experience."

    “In today's hospitality landscape, seamless communication and efficient operations are vital, and this new collaboration will empower hotels to excel in both areas, enabling engagement across the entire guest journey while elevating the guest experience," said Baskar Manivannan, VP of Guest Experience Solutions, Sojern. “We're excited to work with Optii Solutions and provide hoteliers with a powerful, integrated solution that combines our Guest Experience Solutions with their operational prowess.”

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