News Briefs

  • 2/28/2024

    American Liberty Hospitality Leveraging AI for Enhanced End-to-End Hotel AP Automation

    ottimate integration

    To give hotel AP managers, approvers, controllers and CFOs better tools to work through the invoice lifecycle, Aptech has entered into an integration partnership with Ottimate (formerly PlateIQ), a company providing AP automation via AI. Together, Aptech and Ottimate are giving time back to accounting teams by enabling them to upload paper and electronic invoices in bulk and eliminate 90% of vendor invoice processing. Houston-based American Liberty Hospitality is one of the first hotel management and development companies to leverage the joint technology.

    “Today with Aptech and Ottimate we are reducing the time it takes to process vendor paperwork, obtain the necessary approvals, and effect payment,” said Charles Poirier, American Liberty Hospitality Chief Financial Officer. “The API integration between Aptech’s PVNG enterprise accounting platform and Ottimate has made that a reality, and without a high degree of difficulty in implementation.

    “The intuitiveness of Ottimate has greatly benefited both our properties and corporate office,” Poirier said. “The OCR and AI learning aspect of invoice upload has greatly reduced the time required for property side AP activity, and the speed of the cloud-based platform is far superior to our previous system. Ultimately, we intend to use the Vendor Pay section of the system to reduce the workload on the corporate AP team. We expect this technology to simplify our AP processes throughout the organization and allow us to scale with much less difficulty on the AP and payments side of our business.”

    With Aptech + Ottimate, hotel accounting teams receive:

    • Invoice Automation: Capture and process invoices, reducing manual data entry and errors.

    • Expense Tracking: Gain real-time visibility into expenses to make informed financial decisions.

    • Streamlined Approval Workflow: Customize approval workflows to fit unique business processes.

    • Vendor Management: Easily manage vendor relationships and negotiate better terms.

    AI Automation

    “Ottimate AI leverages large language models (LLMs) to support complex AP processing requirements, and it is compatible with PVNG,” said Matthew Wallach, Ottimate Partner Manager. “With zero to minimal training requirements, Ottimate can process large volumes of multi-page invoices, capture custom header and line item fields, and code invoices to multiple custom dimensions, including general ledger, departments, projects, and more.”

    Ottimate captures data down to the line item with 99.97% accuracy and pushes the information to PVNG. The solution leverages in-house built AI and machine learning to code invoices to the GL within PVNG. Translating information based on historical data with machine learning and AI enables accountants to auto code specific line items, such as tomatoes, to the GL account.

    “Ottimate is learning a hotel’s AP processes and eliminating human error from manual data processing,” Wallach said. “The technology is continuously learning how each hotel processes invoices and enters the data accordingly. It’s an irreplaceable time-saving tool.”

    Best-In-Class AP

    PVNG – named among the “Best Finance & Accounting Software” of 2024 by Hotel Tech Report – features Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, General Ledger, Statistics, Financials, Bank Reconciliation, automated invoice processing, a myriad of payment options, and drill-down capabilities in financial statements and reports. It is the first hotel accounting solution to connect to the Plaid Data Network. It can handle single or multi-property accounting and can be deployed as a hosted service.

    “Aptech and Ottimate are providing a seamless and efficient solution for hotels seeking best-in-class AP automation,” said Jill Wilder, Aptech President. “This integration partnership signifies a shared commitment to giving hotels end-to-end AP automation for a better day to day. By leveraging the strengths and expertise of both companies, this collaboration will help hotel accounting departments thrive. Through innovative solutions and a customer-centric AP approach, Aptech and Ottimate are making financial processing more streamlined and efficient.”

    American Liberty Hospitality’s Poirier said he is thankful for the tech alliance.

    “Improving productivity while staying cost competitive is a constant need for hotel operators,” Poirier said. “We appreciate the collaboration of these software providers and encourage both to continue to pursue other such improvements for their customers.”

  • 2/28/2024

    Restaurant365 Launches Tip Automation, Strengthening Payroll Accuracy & Efficiency

    skeptical man facing a payment terminal

    Restaurant365, an all-in-one restaurant enterprise management platform, announced the release of its tip automation tool.

    Accurately managing the distribution and accounting of tips is critical to restaurants' day-to-day operations and long-term success.

    "Restaurant365 Tip Automation gives me four to five hours of my week back," said Chad Arnold, an Oklahoma-based Summer Moon Coffee franchisee and early adopter of the tool. "Now, it's simple for me to delegate and teach someone how to use tip automation versus a spreadsheet, and from an employee standpoint, it's regulated; they know a software is managing the process, so it builds trust."

    Eliminating Manual Chaos  

    Previously, restaurants used nonstandard processes to manage how they account for and distribute tips, requiring multiple individuals to make manual calculations, opening the door for mistakes and inconsistencies. Restaurant365 Tip Automation bridges the gap between POS punches and the payroll system, eliminating the need for cumbersome data entry and auditing, while automating record keeping. Users can create as many rules as needed to accurately manage tip shares and pools, eliminating the need for manual work and any doubt that tips are distributed according to company policies.

    "As with many other restaurant management functions, we've long seen leaders spending too much time working with disconnected sets of generic tools and spreadsheets that prevent them from performing at their best," said Mark Calvillo, senior vice president of product at Restaurant365. "With Restaurant365 Tip Automation, restaurant companies of all sizes can create automated, integrated workflows that streamline manual work so leaders can focus on what matters most — their guests and teams — with the confidence that tips are properly managed and accounted for."

    By moving the entire tip workflow to an automated system, restaurant leaders and employees get greater visibility into the entire process. Employees can see their tips within Restaurant365's mobile app, including total tips earned for each pay period, broken down to shift totals, giving employees financial visibility to better manage their money and expenses. 

  • 2/28/2024

    Chipotle Doubles Investment in Cultivate Next to $100M

    chipotle avocado robot

    Chipotle Mexican Grill is increasing its commitment to its Cultivate Next venture fund by $50 million, which brings the fund's total investment pool to $100 million. Introduced in 2022, Cultivate Next makes early-stage investments into strategically aligned companies that further Chipotle's mission to Cultivate a Better World and help accelerate the company's aggressive longer term growth plans to operate 7,000 restaurants in North America.

    "Our decision to double our commitment to our Cultivate Next venture fund is a clear indicator that we are investing in the right companies that we can learn from and utilize to improve the human experience of our restaurant teams, farmers, and suppliers," said Curt Garner, Chief Customer and Technology Officer, Chipotle. "The parallel growth of Chipotle and our partners will continue to further our mission to Cultivate a Better World by increasing access to real food."

    Cultivate Next Investments

    To date, Chipotle has invested in a wide range of companies innovating in areas such as farming, supply chain, advanced robotics, and plant-based foods. The new $50 million commitment will expand the company's existing portfolio, which currently features:

    • Hyphen
    • Local Line
      • Local Line is a leading local food sourcing platform for regional food systems, serving farms, producers, food hubs, and food buyers. In less than a year, Chipotle's investment has helped Local Line digitize their operations, increase their retention rate of customers, build their farm database, and expand to serve international farms in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. In tandem, Local Line has been a key partner in enabling Chipotle to meet its local produce sourcing goals.
      • Due to the early successes with the platform, Cultivate Next has made an incremental investment in Local Line. Chipotle will also leverage Local Line to fund grants to local farms within 350 miles of its new restaurants. The company plans to open 285 to 315 new locations in 2024.
    • GreenField Robotics
      • GreenField Robotics is a company founded with the vision of making regenerative farming more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable by leveraging the latest advances in AI, robotics, and sensing technologies. The company's autonomous agricultural robots can weed crops both day and night, while reducing the need for toxic herbicides. With its Cultivate Next investment, GreenField will continue to build out its robotic fleets, which are currently running on farms in several states, and release additional capabilities for the robots including micro-spraying, cover-crop planting, and soil testing.
    • Nitricity
      • Nitricity is a company seeking to tackle greenhouse gas emissions by creating fertilizer products that are better for fields, farmers, and the environment. Funding from Cultivate Next will be used to scale up Nitricity's production of nitrogen, build out the company's infrastructure, and support the launch of its first commercial product within the next two years.
    • Vebu
      • Vebu is a product development company that works with food industry leaders to co-create intelligent automation and technology solutions. Chipotle is collaborating with Vebu to build and scale Autocado, Vebu's proprietary avocado processing cobotic (collaborative robot) prototype. Autocado is currently progressing through Chipotle's stage-gate process and will undergo an operational test in one restaurant this spring.
    • Meati
      • Meati Foods serves nutrient-dense whole-food products made from MushroomRoot™. Chipotle is continuing to explore opportunities to bring real, fresh vegetables to the center of the plate with menu innovations that uphold its Food with Integrity standards.
    • Zero Acre Farms
      • Zero Acre Farms is a food company focused on healthy, sustainable oils and fats that is on a mission to end the food industry's dependence on vegetable oils. The company has introduced a new category of healthy oils and fats made by fermentation that are more environmentally friendly. Chipotle is in the early trials of testing Zero Acre Farms at its Cultivate Center test kitchen in Irvine, California.

    "It is incredible to see the possibilities that exist when we bring the right founders, startups or ventures into collaboration with Chipotle," said Christian Gammill, Cultivate Next Fund Manager. "Witnessing the progress of our cohorts over the past two years has motivated us to scale our efforts and drive real change in the supply chain, agriculture, restaurant innovation, and automation sectors."

    The Future of Cultivate Next
    Chipotle will continue to provide updates on the Cultivate Next venture fund in 2024 and beyond. Companies interested in collaborating with Chipotle through the Cultivate Next venture fund can apply by emailing [email protected].  

  • 2/28/2024

    Weeva Collaborates with Design Hotels


    Designed by sustainable tourism experts, Weeva champions continuous improvement actions, backed by consistent data management, to boost efficiency, reduce wastage and, ultimately, support profitability and business resilience within the industry. 

    Renowned for establishing partnerships that keep its member hotels ahead of the curve, Design Hotels is currently hosting an ongoing series of online workshops and virtual roundtables to connect its members with partners, industry experts, and each other around actionable insights and forward-thinking ideas and practices. 

    The first of these conversations, hosted by Elin Kann, Director Sustainability & Culture at Design Hotels, and moderated by Dr Andrea Ferry, Head of Sustainability at Weeva, focussed on the importance of developing an internal culture of sustainability. A key takeaway was: 

    “If ‘vision’ is where you are going, ‘culture’ makes sure you can get there.”

    Weeva’s reporting tools can generate tailored Impact Reports for hotels to share with their guests, tour operators and other suppliers. Reports show metrics such as the carbon footprint per bed night or an overall view of a property’s impact. It’s not about being perfect, but rather quantifying goals and showing improvement. Using a system like Weeva helps streamline internal management, sharing the load between departments, from HR employee wellness surveys for to showcasing your community projects. It is also an invaluable data aggregator for those wishing to gain certifications. 

    Julie Cheetham, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Weeva commented: 

    “We’re so excited to onboard many of the Design Hotels member hotels into our system in 2024, giving them access to all our best-practice educational guides, suggested improvements and easy-to-understand tools and dashboards that track results in real-time. 

    The travel industry has long needed affordable, accessible sustainability technology to measure and improve operations for the benefit of profit, people and the planet – so it is wonderful to see our software being adopted by hotels of this calibre globally.”  

    Stijn Oyen, Managing Director of Design Hotels, said

    “We are delighted to collaborate with Weeva to share the exemplary sustainability efforts and successes of our member hotels in transparent, measurable ways. 

    By utilizing Weeva’s data-driven, science-backed approach, our aim is to learn more about the impact our hotels have on the planet, and apply these insights to develop new, meaningful initiatives that guide them towards a more conscious, sustainable future.” 

  • 2/28/2024

    Accor and IDeaS Announce a Global Revenue Management Partnership Across Accor’s Portfolio

    logo, company name

    IDeaS, a provider of hospitality revenue optimization software and services, and Accor, a hospitality group with one of the industry’s most diverse hospitality ecosystems encompassing more than 45 hotel brands from luxury to economy, have announced, following a rigorous selection process, that Accor has chosen IDeaS as its global revenue management software (RMS) provider.

    Partnering on a bespoke suite of advanced IDeaS revenue management solutions, Accor continues to transform its commercial strategy to benefit hotels, property owners, and managers and redefine revenue excellence while driving RevPAR and Revenue Generation Index (RGI) growth.

    Accor is a leading hospitality company operating over 5,600 hotels in more than 110 countries. IDeaS and Accor have signed a partnership, introducing a range of IDeaS solutions to Accor’s diverse global brand portfolio, aligning IDeaS’ transformational capabilities with the unique needs of the Accor hotelier.

    Accor will leverage IDeaS to future-proof its revenue management strategy by utilizing best-in-class technology to create a competitive advantage and deliver superior value while considering its global portfolio footprint. Through the focus and implementation of strategic pillars, the new toolsets will enable hotels to benefit from dynamic pricing, total revenue and profit optimization, and awareness of the competitive landscape to shift focus toward revenue management strategies while driving a strong revenue management culture across Accor’s global portfolio.

    Benefits of the partnership include:

    •             Proven RevPAR and RGI growth — Accor has already seen growth in RevPAR and RGI in hotels that have already been onboarded.

    •             Tailored revenue solutions — The partnership includes a suite of revenue solutions designed to meet the unique needs of Accor and its global hotel portfolio, maximizing expertise, economy of scale, and financial returns.

    •             Solutions and support for the future — As an industry-leading RMS technology provider, IDeaS is well-positioned for the future, with the demonstrated scalability and joint innovation capabilities needed to collaborate with Accor to shape the future of the hospitality market.

    Ravi Mehrotra, co-founder and chief scientist, IDeaS, said: “We are thrilled to be selected as a global partner to drive Accor’s commercial revenue platform transformation at a moment of unparalleled growth and opportunity for the company worldwide. In a new era of innovation and consumer and product diversification, we are pleased to bring IDeaS’ market-leading automation, pricing approach, and a singular focus on holistic revenue optimization to Accor’s diverse brand portfolio.”

    "We are driven to provide our owners and managers with the best possible solutions to achieve revenue expansion and optimal topline performance. As the hospitality industry evolves in response to dynamic market demands, deploying a robust and adapted hotel Revenue Management System secures our sustainable commercial growth, with demonstratable RevPar and RGI growth. The developed solution with IDeaS serves our unique, extensive and diverse brand portfolio and global footprint.” added Karelle Lamouche, Chief Commercial Officer, Accor, Premium, Midscale & Economy brands.

  • 2/28/2024

    Burger King France to Add EV Chargers

    EV charger with white car

    Burger King France is among the hospitality businesses adding electric vehicle (EV) charging.  

    The QSR has partnered with Allego N.V. , a pan-European public electric vehicle fast and ultra-fast charging network, to rollout of ultra-fast chargers across Burger King France drive-thru and dine-in locations that are not in co-ownership.

    Following Burger King France’s call for tenders, Allego has been chosen as the partner of choice to enable the installation of ultra-fast charging stations at existing and future Burger King France locations over the next three years; the deployment of charging stations will also depend on the agreement of the various landowners. The partnership has the potential to enable the deployment of a large number ultra-fast charge points across the restaurant’s locations in France. The first sites are expected to be operational by Q3 2024 and for easy recognition for the drivers, the chargers will be fitted with both Allego and Burger King branding.

    This new partnership is expected to be a significant addition to Allego’s network in France where it currently operates a network of 190 ultra-fast charging locations. The Company is also rolling out a network of 4,000 charging points across 400 Carrefour hypermarket locations, Pathé cinemas, Klepierre shopping center and more throughout the country, which positions Allego to be one of the largest destination charging providers across the French market. 

    Mathieu Bonnet, Chief Executive Officer of Allego, said, “To meet the demand of the ever growing EV market in Europe, we must swiftly roll out high power chargers in locations that are most convenient for drivers. This sort of growth cannot be achieved alone, so we must work with like-minded partners to support the considerable change brought by e-mobility. Through this partnership, we can make charging more accessible and enjoyable so drivers can travel with ever greater ease. Allego is reinforcing its position as one of the leading ultra-fast charging networks in France.”

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