News Briefs

  • 3/1/2024

    Knowland Reveals a Significant Lift in Data Usage by Conference and Convention Centers

    convention center

    Today, Knowland, the world’s leading provider of data-as-a-service insights on meetings and events for hospitality, announced a significant increase of 50 percent in convention and conference center platform usage in 2023. This speaks to the impact and importance of data-driven insights in staying ahead of the competition and increasing revenue from the full range of space sizes.

    Knowland's recent meeting planner survey revealed that groups are more likely to relocate events to alternative markets than move down in chain scale to reduce costs. This indicates an opportunity for non-hotel venues to compete more strategically for group business.

    • Average booking comparison – Convention centers and non-hotel meeting venues realize the importance of data-driven insights when competing with hotels that average 20k+ of meeting space. Knowland data shows that these hotel venues dominate in the Top 25 markets, over 2-1. The average large hotel venue in the U.S. booked 397 events in 2023, while the average non-hotel venue booked 188 events. 
    • Opportunities for non-hotel venues – As meeting planners consider alternate destinations and venues to manage meeting costs, convention centers have a unique opportunity to fill this need. Larger meeting space locations are turning to data-driven analytics to fill need periods, analyze account behavior, and understand target market trends for events for 25 or more attendees. 
    • Leveraging data to capture event demand – Successful conference and convention centers are leveraging Knowland data to capture event demand. Insight into trends by market, industry, and meeting size; booking history and preferences; competitor activity; and account intelligence are only a few of the critical insights they can apply to compete in their markets.

    Jeff Bzdawka, CEO of Knowland, said: “Booking groups is a complicated business with many moving pieces. There is also fierce competition among venues across all meeting sizes. We believe that finding that business shouldn’t be complicated. Data should be easily accessible and provide the right insight at the right time. We are excited to see the growth in our conference center business and look forward to working with these venues to ensure they have the market and account intelligence to capture event demand.”

  • 3/1/2024

    HRS Launches Pioneering Sustainability Education Program for the Global Hotel Supplier Community

    logo, company hrs

    HRS, the leading global corporate lodging and meeting technology platform, today launched its latest advocacy effort to transform the industry with proven practices that enhance sustainability in corporate lodging. The new Green Stay Knowledge Hub offers an array of courses, downloadable guides, and videos – all focused on helping hoteliers improve their sustainable operations while also generating data and results that highlight their progress. Such metrics and attributes are vital in the evolving corporate procurement process, as companies increasingly prioritize sustainability when conveying preferred supplier status.

    According to the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA), individual hotels should reduce their carbon emissions by five percent annually through 2030. The SHA has also proclaimed that the industry needs to “reduce emissions by 66 percent in that same time frame to ensure that the growth forecast for the industry does not lead to a corresponding increase in emissions.”

    To help hotels reach these goals, the Green Stay Knowledge Hub incorporates multiple assets and world-class instruction from a leading global provider of sustainability training services. Access to the Knowledge Hub is free of charge for hotels worldwide. The content is designed specifically for the hotel community as they invest in more sustainable operations, enhance their awareness of related risk and taxation issues, and compete for corporate room nights. 

    Hoteliers using the Green Stay Knowledge Hub also will find supporting materials related to HRS’ award-winning Green Stay Initiative, now used by 600+ brands across 170+ countries.

    “2024 stands to be a watershed year for hotel engagement on issues related to the reporting, reduction and removal of carbon emissions,” said Martin Biermann, Chief Product Officer for HRS. “In Europe, requirements tied to the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) began in January. And in North America, the Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to issue sustainability-related requirements for public companies in the first half of the year.”  

    “As a result, corporations are increasingly focused on reducing their Scope 3 emissions. We see more companies asking for data transparency and metric verification for individual properties when soliciting for their programs,” continues Biermann. “Average figures no longer suffice for procurement, reporting or answering travelers’ demand for information at the point-of-sale. That’s why we’re launching the Knowledge Hub, giving hotels of any size or affiliation unbiased information on how they can accelerate their sustainability-related projects and enhance their standing as a socially responsible member of their local business community.” 

    Green Stay Knowledge Hub Highlights

    A quick listing of the highlights of HRS’ Green Stay Knowledge Hub includes: 

    • Access to industry experts and best practices; 
    • The flexibility for users to learn at their own pace, allowing hoteliers to tailor their learning paths based on their unique goals and experience level of employees; 
    • Guidance for hotels to help plot for achievable outcomes (i.e. reducing energy intensity and/or increasing recycling scenarios by specific percentages in specific time frames) and benchmark their performance against industry standards and funding trends;  
    • Detailed information tied to risk management issues related to sustainability, covering ramifications for hotels and their corporate clients;
    • A broad array of videos and webinars applicable for any sustainability program, from on-site operational elements to corporate reporting on to the marketing of important green attributes; 
    • Hoteliers can learn how to address their unavoidable emissions via verifiable programs, including HRS’ new Emissions Compensation Program.
    • Upon completion of courses, participants will receive official Certification from HRS, supporting individual and/or company career growth objectives; and
    • Hotels already participating in HRS’ Green Stay Initiative can use the Hub to track emission reporting updates and upload their metrics to compete for corporate volume.

    Recurring Webinar Series to Start in March

    As part of the Green Stay Knowledge Hub, HRS will host a recurring series of webinars featuring best practices, case studies and trends in corporate procurement that impact the choices and pace of a hotel’s sustainable investments. The first webinar – titled “Report, Reduce and Remove: On a Path to Net Zero” – will take place on March 26th. Hoteliers can register for the webinar here.

    “HRS is taking its leadership role to the next level with the launch of the Green Stay Knowledge Hub,” said HRS CEO Tobias Ragge. “This landmark initiative marks our latest effort to help educate and support a broader audience of hoteliers on these issues, while also doing our part to illustrate the growing importance of these issues for our corporate clients as they build more sustainable lodging programs from continent to continent.

  • 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.” 

  • 2/29/2024

    Lighthouse Unlocks the Power of Generative AI with Launch of Smart Summaries for Hotels

    Lighthouse Logo teaser

    Lighthouse, a commercial platform for the travel & hospitality industry, announced the launch of Smart Summaries within its award-winning Business Intelligence solution. Smart Summaries leverage generative AI to transform complex data sets into easy-to-read daily performance summaries for hotel commercial teams, transforming how hotels interpret complex data to make revenue decisions.

    Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) is helping hotels tackle tasks like writing marketing copy and automating responses to guest inquiries with chat bots. But turning quantitative data into actionable insights has remained elusive. Now, Lighthouse is using the latest advancements in GenAI to dramatically improve the quality and speed of quantitative data analysis for Revenue Managers. 

    In an industry first, Lighthouse is leveraging advanced GenAI learning models to provide hotel professionals with customized daily performance summaries directly to their inbox. This advanced technology was built and rigorously trained using vast data sets and tens of thousands of human-written performance summaries as part of the training models. Smart Summaries are able to capture and summarize changes in pick-up, ADR, segmentation, and occupancy that previously took hours to compile.

    "With the introduction of Smart Summaries, Lighthouse is at the forefront of generative AI innovation for hospitality businesses," said Sean Fitzpatrick, CEO of Lighthouse. "Our goal is to take revenue management to the next level, eliminating the more mundane administrative tasks, and freeing up time to make great commercial decisions and grow revenue. 

    We're just getting started with generative AI. It complements our other advanced AI and machine learning capabilities perfectly and we envision our platform becoming an even more invaluable commercial co-pilot over time.”

    To build the GenAI capabilities, Lighthouse worked with thousands of hotels to identify the number one time-consuming task for revenue managers: managing repetitive daily performance communications with stakeholders. Smart Summaries directly address this challenge by automating the generation of insightful, easy-to-understand performance summaries, freeing up time for more strategic initiatives.

    Key benefits of Smart Summaries include:

    • Reduction of non-revenue generating workload so hoteliers can focus on strategic initiatives that drive revenue
    • Timely identification of actionable insights that impact pricing and promotional strategies
    • Improved efficiency for hospitality commercial teams

    Lighthouse's Smart Summaries leverage generative AI to transform how revenue managers use data. Greg Peppel, Head of BI Products at Lighthouse said, "Research by HSMAI indicates that revenue managers spend over half their time on tasks that don't generate revenue. Our goal is to shift this dynamic, enabling them to focus on strategic activities by utilizing AI to save time and streamline the complexity of data analysis." 

    Smart Summaries are currently available to a limited set of Lighthouse BI customers and will be rolled out globally over the coming months.

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