News Briefs

  • 1/31/2024

    AHLA: 72% of Americans Likely to Maintain or Increase Hotel Stays in 2024

    72% of Americans say they plan to either maintain or increase their number of hotel stays in 2024 compared to 2023, and hotels remain the top lodging choice for likely travelers, according to a survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and conducted by Morning Consult.

    The survey found that most Americans (53%) plan to travel overnight for leisure during the next four months, and 32% plan to travel overnight for business. Hotels remain the most popular lodging choice for likely travelers, including 71% of likely business travelers and 50% of likely leisure travelers.

    Despite the positive outlook for hoteliers, the survey also showed that inflation is preventing hotels and other travel-related businesses from reaching their full potential. It found that over the next four months:

    • 56% of respondents said they are less likely to stay in a hotel because of inflation
    • 53% said they are less likely to travel overnight because of inflation
    • 48% said they are less likely to travel by airplane because of inflation
    • 44% said they are less likely to rent a car because of inflation

    The poll surveyed 2,202 U.S. adults from January 6-7, 2024. Other key findings include:

    • 51% of respondents said they are likely to travel overnight for a family trip in the next four months, 39% of whom said they would likely stay in a hotel.
    • 38% said they are likely to travel overnight for a romantic getaway in the next four months, 60% of whom said they would likely stay in a hotel.
    • 32% said they are likely to travel overnight for Spring Break, 45% of whom said they would likely stay in a hotel.
    • 35% of those surveyed ranked high-speed Wi-Fi as the top technological amenity they consider when evaluating hotels.
    • 14% of those surveyed ranked keyless entry or mobile check-in as the top technological amenity they consider when evaluating hotels.

    “These survey results underscore the tremendous potential 2024 holds for hoteliers and hotel employees,” said AHLA President & CEO Chip Rogers. “The year ahead will not be without challenges, however, and these findings show that inflation is preventing hotels from reaching their full potential. Still, hoteliers are optimistic about the year ahead and excited continue providing excellent services for guests throughout 2024.”

     

    Morning Consult Survey Methodology

    This poll was conducted between January 6-7, 2024, among a sample of 2,202 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, gender, race, educational attainment, region, gender by age, and race by educational attainment. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

     

  • 1/31/2024

    Smalls Sliders Updates Mobile App

    Smalls Sliders mobile app with loyalty program

    Atlanta-based  Smalls Sliders has released a new iOS and Android app complete with their first loyalty program, Smalls Rewards, and digital ordering experience in partnership with Thanx and Olo. 

    With the enhanced program, Smalls Sliders can customize their loyalty approach to the fullest extent, aligning seamlessly with their brand-centric strategy. Thanx supports Smalls’ creative loyalty rewards, which deviate from conventional discounts, as well as expedites the scalability of the program to match the brand's monumental national expansion.

    “We chose Thanx because of its seamless onboarding process that got us up and running quickly, and how easy it is to operate both internally and externally, making them the perfect partner to help grow our brand loyalists. A high performing loyalty program is table stakes as we prepare our brand for explosive growth throughout 2024,” said  Michael Alberici, Smalls Sliders’ SVP & head of marketing.

    With Smalls Sliders’ rewards, guests receive one free order of queso just by enrolling with the easy-to-use signup process and continue to earn 10 points for every $1 spent. Additionally, guests can enjoy a free milkshake on their birthday, surprise perks throughout the year and more exclusive  offers to come in the future. 

    Smalls Sliders opened its first signature ‘Smorange™’ colored Can in 2019. Since its inception, Smalls Sliders has disrupted the QSR industry with its stacked leadership team and robust development pipeline, furthering its rapid growth trajectory with more than 160 Cans open or under development.

     The brand continues to garner high-level industry recognition, with Nation’s Restaurant News featuring Smalls Sliders in its “Breakout Brands of 2023,” and QSR Magazine ranking the concept in its annual QSR 50 Contenders list. Other accolades include ranking on Entrepreneur magazine’s “Top New & Emerging Franchises” list in 2023.

  • 1/30/2024

    ItsaCheckmate Adds Dynamic Pricing Features

    Online ordering on iphone with man hands

    ItsaCheckmate's collaboration with Juicer and Sauce Pricing has strengthened its online ordering platform, resulting in AI-guided data-driven pricing solutions. 

    These updates expand ItsaCheckmate’s integration marketplace – empowering restaurants to deploy effective and profit-driving strategies by optimizing pricing. Informed by data and fueled by machine learning models, these partnerships allow restaurant brands to ditch the one-size-fits-all pricing model and embrace the power of data with tools tailored to their unique operational challenges. 

    Dynamic Power

    Dynamic pricing gives restaurants flexibility to adjust menu prices based on multiple factors, including day of the week, traffic, demand, competitor pricing, and more. In addition, this strategy helps adapt to market changes such as item shortages, rising costs, and even weather. Ultimately, dynamic pricing evens out demand variations so restaurants can operate at full capacity more often without an overreliance on discounts and promotions to motivate customers. Unlike surge pricing – which only goes up – dynamic pricing gives restaurants greater control to adjust prices at scale and boost digital sales during slower times with automated, real-time price optimization.

    Juicer offers a complete real-time restaurant revenue management and pricing analytics solution. Its delivery revenue management module seamlessly integrates with ItsaCheckmate, allowing restaurants to completely eliminate the burden of managing prices on delivery channels.  

    Sauce is the dynamic pricing solution that scales for multi-unit restaurants. With Sauce, brands can leverage customer and conversion data to provide value to guests at more price points, while driving incremental sales across digital channels. Sauce launches on ItsaCheckmate within minutes, allowing  brands to turn online ordering into a profit center while converting more digital orders.  

    While relatively new to the restaurant industry, airlines, hotels, and third-party delivery providers have harnessed dynamic pricing solutions for years. The collaborations with JUICER and SAUCE PRICING give restaurants even more ways to maximize efficiency and deliver better customer experiences.  For more information, visit itsacheckmate.com.

  • 1/30/2024

    STUDY: Business Expansion, Automation to Address Staffing Challenges are Top of Mind for Restaurants

    a woman standing in front of kiosk

    Square’s fourth annual Future of Commerce report delves into how consumers are feeling about advancement in automation and generative AI.  The report offers insights on how restaurants are shifting.

    In collaboration with Wakefield Research, Square surveyed thousands of business owners and consumers on restaurants, retail, and beauty industry trends across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

    Oh Canada!

    Decisively, 100% of surveyed Canadian restaurateurs say they plan to expand their businesses in the next 12 months through offering new products or opening additional locations, and 80% report feeling more optimistic about the future of their restaurants. At the same time, approximately three in four Canadian consumers say they expect to pull back on restaurant spending in 2024.

    76% of Canadian consumers would prefer to place their food orders via self-serve kiosks. Customer satisifaction with self-serve ordering is strong; according to HT’s Customer Engagement Technology Study, 55% of consumers are very or somewhat satisfied with restaurant self-ordering technologies such as kiosks.

    Canadian consumers are looking for a tech-forward approach from restaurants – 60% are supportive of local restaurants using AI-based tools.

    All surveyed restaurateurs in Canada (100%) believe AI could solve some of their staffing challenges, particularly food prep robots (44%), voice ordering technology (42%), predictive ordering and inventory management (40%), and food prep and delivery management (38%).

    Other key findings: 

    89% of restaurants say they’ll experiment in the coming year with non-core offerings like meal kits, subscriptions, events, and more. Restaurateurs say that right now, 19% of their revenue stems from products and services outside of their core restaurant offerings.

    Restaurateurs are not only investing in AI to address labour challenges – more established automation tools are also on the agenda in 2024. 56% of surveyed owners plan to increase their spending on technology and automation tools in the next 12 months, and 76% of consumers want restaurants to invest in at least one area of automation when they’re not at full staffing capacity.

    “Automation and AI are going to be key growth levers for restaurants in the coming year, though not in the way you may think,” said Ming-Tai Huh, General Manager of Square for Restaurants. “The vast majority of restaurants will be integrating AI into their operations in small, iterative ways – not through flashy robots but through automation in marketing or kitchen workflows – and these minor changes will add up to saved time and more profit.”

    About Future of Commerce

    The retail and restaurant surveys were conducted by Wakefield Research among 2,000 retail owners and managers and 2,000 restaurant owners and managers, with quotas set within each survey for 500 respondents per market in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Australia between October 27 and November 8, 2023, using an email invitation and an online survey.

    The consumer survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 4,000 nationally representative adults ages 18+ in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Australia, with quotas set for 1,000 respondents per market, between November 15 and November 28, 2023, using an email invitation and an online survey. Data has been weighted. Download the report here.

  • 1/30/2024

    Choice Hotels Becomes First Hotel Company to Complete Total Data Center Migration to AWS

    Today, Choice Hotels International, Inc. announced the closure of its last data center, making it the first hotel company to migrate its entire system infrastructure to the cloud. Now fully on Amazon Web Services (AWS), the move to the cloud enables Choice to respond to real-time market conditions and provides the company with a flexible, resilient, and scalable platform that benefits owners and operators within the Choice system. Being on the cloud enables Choice to update its hotel-facing operations and management tools more efficiently and more completely layer in the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other cloud technologies to help hotel owners drive profitability and enhance the guest experience.

    “By moving all of our systems to the cloud, we’re ensuring that our franchisees have up-to-the-minute access to the latest innovations, saving time and money while providing industry-leading distribution and digital systems throughout the competitive hotel booking journey,” said Brian Kirkland, Chief Information Officer for Choice Hotels.

    The migration concludes a five-year process and represents a significant milestone in Choice’s continued legacy of technology innovation. The move to AWS Cloud is a key component of Choice’s long-term technology roadmap and involved decommissioning more than 3,729 servers, with over 300 applications retired and more than 250 applications migrated.

    “Choice Hotels leaned in big and early on the cloud, which helped them innovate, scale, pivot, and become a more sustainable business over the last 5 years,” said Matt Garman, Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing, and Global Services at AWS. “The hotel company has a cloud-first mindset that permeates every part of their business from improved operations to extraordinary customer service, and we're excited to see what they do next.”

    Choice’s work with AWS began in 2015 with the creation of a cloud-based central reservation system (CRS), choiceEDGE. At the time, choiceEDGE was the industry’s first new CRS from a hotel company in over 30 years.

    “Choice operates at the intersection of hospitality, franchising, and technology, and we are thrilled to leverage our cloud-first infrastructure,” said Jason Simpson, Vice President of Cloud Engineering for Choice Hotels. “AWS Cloud was key for us in completing the digital integration of Radisson in record time as well as increasing traffic and booking revenue across our platforms.”

    Choice Hotels has a history of technological firsts and innovation, including:

    · In 1995, Choice launched the first hotel website with real-time rate and availability information.
    · In 2003, Choice launched the first cloud-based property management system (PMS), choiceADVANTAGE.
    · In 2009, Choice released the first hotel app for iOS.
    · In 2014, Choice became the first hotel company to offer instant booking on TripAdvisor. That same year, Choice was the only hotel company listed on Forbes’ Top 100 Most Innovative Growth Companies.
    · In 2016, Choice became the first hotel company to offer immediate in-app gift card downloads.
    · In 2018, choiceEDGE went live for all reservations – the first cloud-based central reservation system (CRS).
    · In 2019, Choice was the first hotel company to commit to being 100% on AWS Cloud.
    · In 2021, Choice launched ChoiceMAX, an AI mobile-first revenue management solution.
    · In 2024, Choice completed its migration to the cloud.

    Now fully on the cloud, Choice will continue to innovate and leverage the power of AI to drive even more business value for franchisees.

  • 1/30/2024

    Oracle Cloud to Help Elevate Property Management for Marriott International

    oracle hospitality logo teaser

    Oracle announced thatMarriott International has selected Oracle Hospitality OPERA Cloud Property Management System (PMS) and Sales and Event Management as a hospitality cloud platform for Luxury, Premium, Select Service, and Midscale Properties.

    “Oracle OPERA Cloud provides an integrated hospitality platform that enables companies, like Marriott, to deliver exceptional guest experiences while supporting increased efficiency and revenue growth across their operations,” said Alex Alt, executive vice president and general manager of Oracle Hospitality. “From upselling to sales and event management capabilities and hundreds of partner plug-ins, Oracle’s security-first methodology and commitment to long-term cloud investments can help properties meet their financial and operational objectives while maximizing customer satisfaction at every touchpoint.”

    Built on the high performance and security of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), OPERA Cloud PMS will give Marriott properties the ability to streamline their hotel operations and guest-facing product offerings, while centralizing data across Marriott’s global footprint for better guest insights, planning, and customer service. In tandem, OPERA Cloud Sales and Event Management will allow the hotelier to optimize its event space, from meeting rooms to room blocks and catering. 

    “Adapting to changing customer needs is essential in our industry. Technology and data platforms like Oracle OPERA Cloud are the backbone of service and empower our associates so they can stay focused on taking great care of our guests,” said Erika Alexander, Chief Global Operations Officer, Marriott International.

    Marriott is also optimizing its HR processes and employee experiences with Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) and is scaling its IT with multicloud architectures on OCI and Microsoft Azure.

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