News Briefs

  • 3/3/2024

    eTip Named an Approved Digital Tipping Provider of IHG Hotels & Resorts Properties

    eTip logo

    eTip  is now an approved digital tipping provider of IHG Hotels & Resorts. This partnership enables associates across IHG's network of more than 6,000 franchises, managed properties, restaurants, and bars to access eTip's contactless tipping technology. By using the eTip platform, hotel colleagues have the potential to increase their tipped wages, while guests can enjoy the enhanced convenience of cashless tipping.

    eTip's advanced payment and banking system, designed as an end-to-end digital tipping solution, can accommodate all payment scenarios for tipped workers at IHG locations, from a guest’s stay in their room to the tip they leave for a meal at the hotel restaurant. By offering guests a user-friendly tipping experience, eTip enables them to express gratitude through a secure and compliant payment method. This convenience results in an average increase in income of $2 per hour and a fivefold increase in tipping frequency, empowering guests to recognize exceptional service.

    From valets and housekeepers to bartenders and waitstaff, hospitality workers are increasingly facing the challenge of a clientele that no longer carries physical money to tip. According to data, two fifths of Americans no longer carry any cash. In response, forward-looking hotel groups such as IHG are leveraging technology platforms such as eTip to capture the gratitude of hotel guests conveniently, securely, and compliantly. The demand for eTip’s services is also evident with its own growth – the partnership with IHG comes on the heels of eTip’s recognition as the approved tipping partner for major global hotel brands and its designation as a digital tipping solution partner for both Visa & American Express.

    ​​“We are seeing an increase in market demand for a fast, reliable, and fully digitized tipping experience for hotel guests and employees in the hospitality industry,” said Yanilsa Gonzalez-Ore, Senior Vice President of Visa Direct. “eTip now offers a digital tipping solution, enabled by Visa Direct, to modernize that process for their guests and employees.”

    eTip requires no mobile app download or login credentials. Guests simply scan a QR code using the camera on their mobile phone, tap the banner on their screen, and then tip using their preferred payment method. eTip also offers “tap to tip,” allowing guests to pay through an NFC-enabled QR code. Once a guest leaves a tip, associates can receive the tip in their bank account on demand and in real-time through Visa Direct, eliminating the need to wait for a tip to be paid through the weekly or bi-weekly payroll process.

    With eTip’s platform, IHG properties can now enjoy:

    • Effortless Appreciation: Guests can easily show gratitude through a user-friendly interface, expressing appreciation with a few taps on their smartphone. This convenience leads to an average increase in income of $2 per hour and a fivefold increase in tipping frequency.
    • Instant Recognition: Hotel associates receive tips promptly, without having to wait for payout disbursements. eTip seamlessly integrates with restaurant and bar Payment Operation Systems (POS), ensuring rapid payout times for all staff.
    • Equitable Tip Distribution: eTip automates fair tip allocation among staff, ensuring transparency, enhancing employee satisfaction, and boosting staff retention rates.
    • In-depth Analysis: eTip's compliant and enterprise-grade reporting provides valuable insights through comprehensive data, allowing businesses to analyze tipping trends, evaluate staff performance, and understand guest satisfaction on a deeper level.
  • 3/3/2024

    SHR and Cloudbeds Announce Partnership

    SHR and CloudBeds logos

    SHR, a provider of innovative technology solutions for the hotel industry, and Cloudbeds, the premier hospitality management software platform, proudly announce their collaboration aimed at elevating hotel management through the integration of Allora CRS (Windsurfer) and the Cloudbeds platform.

    The collaboration between SHR and Cloudbeds marks a significant milestone in the hospitality technology landscape. By joining forces, both companies aim to deliver enhanced solutions that empower hoteliers to streamline operations, optimize revenue, and elevate the overall guest experience.

    Key highlights of the partnership:

    • Integration of Allora CRS: The partnership will focus on seamlessly integrating Allora CRS into Cloudbeds' comprehensive hospitality management platform. This integration will provide hoteliers with a unified solution for central reservations, property management, and revenue management.
    • Advanced Connectivity: Hoteliers using Allora CRS and Cloudbeds' platform can expect advanced connectivity and real-time synchronization of data, ensuring accurate and up-to-date information across all aspects of their operations.

    Heinrich Kessler, Chief Commercial Officer at SHR, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership: "We are thrilled to partner with Cloudbeds in bringing a new level of innovation to the hospitality industry. This collaboration represents a commitment to providing hoteliers with cutting-edge technology that simplifies their operations and enhances overall efficiency."

    Sebastien Leitner, Vice President of Partnerships at Cloudbeds, added: "Cloudbeds is dedicated to empowering hoteliers with powerful, intuitive solutions. Teaming up with SHR and integrating the Allora CRS (Windsurfer) into our platform aligns with our mission to provide hoteliers with the tools they need to succeed in today's dynamic hospitality landscape."

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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].  

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