News Briefs

  • 3/19/2024

    Vail Resorts Announces "My Epic Assistant" in the My Epic app, Powered by Advanced AI and Resort Experts

    my epic assistant teaser

    There is nothing better than going to the mountains with someone who knows the place inside and out. That's why today Vail Resorts announced My Epic Assistant, a new technology within the My Epic app providing mountain information at guests' fingertips – anytime, anywhere. Powered by advanced AI and resort experts, My Epic Assistant will be available for the 2024/25 season to answer questions about Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. Vail Resorts plans to expand the technology to additional resorts in future seasons.

    "For more than a decade, we have been committed to improving the guest experience through the use of innovative technology," said Chris Smith, chief information officer at Vail Resorts. "With the recent advancements in AI, we see an opportunity to provide real-time guest service so skiers and riders can navigate their day at our mountain resorts with confidence, efficiency and ease."

    Whether looking for the latest snow conditions, or on-mountain support with rentals and lessons – guests can simply open the My Epic app and use My Epic Assistant to point them in the right direction. No need to stand in line to get questions answered or call for help. The moment a question comes to mind, guests can ask My Epic Assistant so they can quickly get back to enjoying their day on the slopes.

    Why It Matters?
    Vail Resorts is launching My Epic Assistant as part of its ongoing investments to help all guests – new and returning – feel welcome at its resorts. My Epic Assistant will offer skiers and riders an easy-to-use place to ask questions, feel confident in the responses they receive, and then make the most out of their experience skiing and riding.

    This latest My Epic app enhancement follows Vail Resorts' introduction of Mobile Pass and Mobile Lift Tickets this season. This new technology innovation allows guests to skip the ticket window and buy their Pass (or lift ticket) online, then activate and store it in the My Epic app on their phone, and scan at the lifts hands free using Bluetooth technology designed for low energy use. Mobile Pass and Mobile Lift Tickets eliminate the need to visit the ticket window and over time will reduce the waste created by plastic cards and RFID chips. The My Epic app also features lift line wait times, interactive trail maps, real-time mountain conditions, personalized stats, and more, making it a one-stop resource for skiers and riders.

    In future years, Vail Resorts plans to significantly expand the My Epic Assistant technology to provide proactive, personalized recommendations and reminders based on an individual's unique itinerary and preferences, as well as offer always-on booking and itinerary support.

    How Will It Work?
    Using the My Epic app, guests can ask My Epic Assistant their resort and mountain questions for immediate assistance, 24/7.

    My Epic Assistant will support inquiries from a wide variety of topics like mountain conditions, general resort information, resort and on-mountain activities, ski and ride school and rental support, dining options, parking and much more. Here are a few examples:

    "What runs are groomed today?"
    "What are the conditions on-mountain?"
    "What time is Ski and Ride School drop off?"
    "What are the lunch options on mountain?"
    "Where can I get rentals?"
    "What is the closest parking lot to get to the mountain?"

    Any guest using My Epic Assistant may also choose to connect with a live resort expert by chat or phone. More details regarding My Epic Assistant's year-one functionality will be released before the start of the 2024/25 winter season.

    When and Where Will It Launch?
    My Epic Assistant will be available to guests logged into the My Epic app in time for the 2024/25 winter season for questions about four Colorado resorts: Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. The company has plans to expand the technology to additional resorts in future seasons. 2024/25 Epic Passes are available to purchase on

  • 3/19/2024

    A&W Restaurants Signs On With PAR Technology’s Data Central

    digital handshake

    ParTech, Inc. (PAR), announces that A&W Restaurants, Inc. has chosen PAR Data Central’s  for Enterprise Reporting and Analytics.

    In a move that highlights A&W's commitment to technological advancement and operational excellence, the chain known for its signature root beer and classic American fare has embraced PAR Data Central's powerful reporting engine. This transformative collaboration underscores A&W's dedication to leveraging cutting-edge solutions to drive growth and innovation across its organization.

    “A&W has grown to need an extra layer of insights across the organization that is maintenance-free, reliable, accurate, and fast,” said Brett Allan, Senior Director of IT and Analytics at A&W Restaurants. “PAR Data Central's Enterprise Reporting & Analytics module allows us to get a high-level picture for our Restaurant Support Center to understand what factors are driving the business.”

    This milestone also highlights A&W's role as a valued customer of both PAR Brink POS  and PAR Data Central, illustrating their embrace of the Operator Cloud concept. By seamlessly integrating these solutions, A&W maximizes operational efficiency and gains actionable insights into key metrics, setting a new standard for excellence in the industry.

    Betsy Schmandt, President and Chief Operating Officer of A&W Restaurants, expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating, "With Data Central, we are equipped to unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation based on robust, data-driven insights. This partnership exemplifies our commitment to providing our teams with the most advanced tools available in the industry."

    With PAR Data Central, A&W Restaurants is poised to drive informed decision-making, optimize operations, and enhance customer experiences, solidifying their position as a leader in the restaurant industry.

    PAR Technology and A&W Restaurants come together to enhance customer experiences by seamlessly integrating PAR Brink POS and PAR Data Central. This "better together" approach exemplifies the effectiveness of PAR's unified commerce solutions, liberating businesses from system complexities, fostering innovation, and emphasizing PAR's commitment to customer success.

    Founded in 1919, A&W has more than than 900 locations in the U.S. and Asia.

  • 3/18/2024

    Fast Casual Brands Merge, Create BiteLabs

    three guys

    Hungry House a New York-based fast casual restaurant platform, is merging with MegaBite , based in Lima and Mexico City, a multi-brand platform bringing curated, chef-backed cuisine to market through various delivery channels and its own app. 

    Together, the two companies create an international, multi-brand fast casual player with 13 locations in three countries: USA, Mexico and Peru. With a combined annual revenue over $6M, the joint entity will double down on continued growth across the verticals of in-store retail, first-party delivery, and third-party delivery partnerships with UberEATS, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Rappi in Latin America.

     Both companies will continue to operate as vertically integrated players to maintain their mutually high levels of food quality and hospitality that are core to the brand of their new entity, BiteLabs

    Not a Ghost Kitchen

    "We believe that Hungry House and MegaBite, operating together, have the potential to be the most innovative, tech-enabled, multi-brand fast-casual restaurant group across the Americas. We'll continue to bring our vision of chef-backed fast casual restaurants with a dynamic in-store experience, and a robust native app, to diverse audiences passionate about great food. This will uplift choice for the consumer with groundbreaking, high-quality culinary brands developed in partnership with today's most exciting chefs and provide a range of choice for the consumer facilitated by algorithmically personalized options," says Pedro Neira, CEO of MegaBite and the newly created entity. "We are definitely not a ghost kitchen platform. Given that our customers can reach us with in-person eating in our restaurants, via pickup, through third-party apps, as well as online through our own native apps and websites, I would say our business model mirrors more that of Sweetgreen, CAVA, and Shake Shack. The only difference is that we are serving multiple brands in our locations and not just one."

    Hungry House provides the joint entity with expertise in business-to-business catering service, while MegaBite offers extensive expertise in data-driven, food delivery optimization across its multiple sales channels. The deal also creates exciting synergy with the talent of the combined C-Suite leading the next chapter of growth for the company. 

    The transaction solidifies Hungry House and MegaBite's momentum at a compelling time in the fast casual segment. Both companies have since 2021 been building in the same space. The joined companies will not build in the ghost kitchen space, but instead expand by building upon a multi-brand, in-store retail and multi-channel approach similar to that of Wonder, which recently secured an additional $100 in funding from Nestlé. The growth and expansion of Hungry House and MegaBite, and the current merger, have been facilitated by Wilshire Lane Capital, Carao Ventures, SNR VC, McK Hospitality, Alaya CapitalAmarena VC, and independent investors like Russ Rosenband, Atit Jariwala, and Andrew Balogh.

    This news builds on the growth of Hungry House's existing NYC footprint. The company recently launched a newly updated location in Manhattan on January 22. Previously Pure Grit BBQ (now a Hungry House portfolio brand), the new location stands for culinary collaboration, and brings together innovative, chef-inspired flavors through a single multi-brand culinary platform, available in person and online. The launch of the new restaurant, in the heart of Manhattan's Flatiron District, also featured a special announcement about Hungry House's upcoming partnership with chef and online personality Emily Fedner, of Food Lover's Diary, featuring an Eastern European-influenced dumpling menu, now available at both Hungry House locations in Manhattan & Brooklyn for pickup and delivery.

    Pictured from left:  Co-Founder and COO Andrew Corrigan, Co-Founder and CEO Pedro Neira, and Co-Founder and Head of Growth Solamon Cruz Estin, formerly of UberEats and DoorDash.

    About BiteLabs
    Moving forward, the company envisions continuing to launch tech-enabled, multi-brand fast-casual restaurants where guests can sit and eat onsite, order for pick-up or delivery via a native app and various third-party channels, and also locations that can serve the B2B markets with the same variety and quality that it serves the B2C market.

  • 3/19/2024

    Smashburger Hires Denise Nelsen as Chief Executive Officer

    Denise Nelsen CEO Smashburger

    Smashburger, a fast-casual better burger brand, announced the appointment of Denise Nelsen as its new Chief Executive Officer, the company's first female CEO.  

    "We are thrilled to welcome Denise Nelsen as Smashburger's newest CEO. With her extensive experience and proven leadership in the food and beverage industry, she is set to propel the brand into a new era of growth," said Jollibee Group President and CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong. "Her appointment signifies the Jollibee Group's commitment to excellence and diversity. With all her capabilities and energy, we are confident that she can drive success for Smashburger, thereby contributing to the growth of the Jollibee Group as a whole."

    Nelsen joined the company as incoming Chief Executive Officer in January 2024, bringing more than 30 years of QSR industry expertise to the role. Prior to joining the fast casual brand, Nelsen served as the Senior Vice President of U.S. Operations at Starbucks, most recently leading the brand's U.S. business for nearly five years, prior to holding various operations and support roles within the company for over two decades.

    Her tenure in these previous positions has set Nelsen up with a solid foundation as she steps into the role of CEO. Within Smashburger, she will cultivate and lead teams, integrate streamlined business processes and aim to deliver an impactful influence on all Smashburger's employees, locations and the communities they serve.

  • 3/19/2024

    New HID Report Analyzes 2024 Security Landscape

    HID global teaser

    HID, a worldwide leader in trusted identity solutions, announces its 2024 State of the Security Industry Report, which gathered responses from 2,600 partners, end users, and security and IT personnel worldwide, across a range of job titles and organization sizes representing over 11 industries.

    The 2024 State of Security Report delves into the underlying concerns driving upcoming innovations and the technologies that underpin them, helping security leaders to be proactive in adapting to evolving challenges. Conducted in the fall of 2023, this year’s survey reveals six themes, as follows:

    1. Mobile identity is expected to be ubiquitous in the next five years

    Given the widespread use of mobile devices, momentum continues to build around their use in support of identity. Within the next five years, surveyed end users state that nearly 80% of organizations will deploy mobile IDs. Industry partners are even more optimistic in their outlook, stating that 94% of their customers will have deployed mobile IDs.

    1. Multi-Factor Authentication is widespread, despite slow but growing implementation of Zero Trust

    More than 83% of end users respondents said their organization currently uses Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), mainly due to the vulnerabilities of passwords. For many, this represents the first step on the longer journey toward Zero Trust, an approach to security that calls for organizations to maintain strict access controls and to never trust, always verify anyone – internal or external – by default. Zero Trust has been implemented in 16% of organizations with over 100,000 employees and 14% in those with up to 10,000 employees, according to the survey.

    With MFA being widespread, the eventual end of passwords is imminent. The creation of new standards such as FIDO (Fast Identity Online), which uses “standard public key cryptography techniques to provide phishing-resistant authentication,” will pave the path to new and more secure authentication options that will be part of a more robust Zero Trust architecture.

    1. Sustainability becomes a growing driver in business decisions

    Among HID’s survey respondents, sustainability continues to rank high as a business priority, with both end users and partners rating its importance at a “4” on a 1-to-5 scale. Additionally, 74% of end users indicate the importance of sustainability has grown over the past year, and 80% of partners reported the trend growing in importance among their customers.

    As such, there will likely be a continued emphasis on solutions that minimize energy use, reduce waste, and optimize resource usage. A shift to cloud-based solutions and increased use of mobile devices are two clear strategies to reach these sustainability goals.

    1. Biometrics continues its impressive momentum

    In this year’s survey, 39% of installers and integrators said their customers are using fingerprint or palm print, and 30% said they’re using facial recognition. The momentum continues to build as 8% plan to test or implement some form of biometrics in the next year and 12% plan to do so in the next three to five years.

    1. Identity management points up to the cloud

    Nearly half of end users are moving to cloud-based identity management, with 24% already using it and another 24% in the process of implementing such systems. Industry partners say their customers face several hurdles here, including existing reliance on legacy/on-prem equipment (28%), lack of budget (24%), and cloud-based identities simply not being a business priority (21%).

    1. The rise of artificial intelligence for analytics use cases

    Conversations about AI have come to dominate the business landscape, and many security professionals see AI’s analytic capabilities as the low-hanging fruit to enhance identity management. Rather than looking to AI to inform the entirety of the security system, it’s possible to leverage data analytics as a way to operationalize AI in support of immediate outcomes. In this scenario, 35% of end users reported they will be testing or implementing some AI capability in the next three to five years, with 15% already using AI-enabled biometrics.

    The full report includes additional global data and further analysis. Read it in its entirety here.

  • 3/19/2024

    Instant Financial Announces New Mobile App for Improved Employee Pay Flexibility

    instant logo

    Instant Financial, a pioneer of responsible earned wage access (EWA), electronic tips, and paycard solutions, has announced the release of its new Instant mobile app and enhanced mobile wallet functionality, providing employees with a faster, more secure app experience that gives them a greater degree of flexibility in how they receive their pay.

    Understanding that over 50% of Americans would likely avoid major financial pitfalls if they could instantly access a portion of their pay after every day’s work, the new Instant mobile app is narrowing this financial gap by placing financial empowerment directly into the hands of employees.

    The beta version of Instant’s app debuted in October at the 2023 HR Tech Conference & Expo, where event attendees were provided a sneak preview of the app’s new capabilities and functionality.

    Designed with accessibility and financial freedom in mind, the new Instant mobile app is released with a list of innovative new features and functionality including:

    • Faster Access to Earned Wages: Employees have access to their hard-earned wages in fewer steps, with an improved user interface (UI) and key elements surfaced more prominently within the app.
    • Modern Security Features: State-of-the-art security protocols, such as facial and fingerprint biometrics, multi-factor authentication, and encryption technologies protect user information and provide peace of mind.
    • Flexible Payment Options: Users have the freedom to choose how and when they access their wages. Whether it’s through direct deposit, the Instant card, or a mobile wallet, the new app offers a greater degree of flexibility for all employees, ensuring convenience for all.
    • Clear and Informative Design: With improvements to the user interface (UI), the app offers a user-friendly experience, empowering users to make informed choices and navigate the app confidently.
    • New Technology Framework: Underpinned by a new technology infrastructure, the new Instant mobile app is faster, more responsive, and built to allow for additional features and functionality to meet the needs of employees and how they are paid.

    “Employee demands regarding how they access their wages are constantly shifting, and our new app is meeting that head-on,” said Tal Clark, CEO of Instant Financial. “Whether it’s to cover unexpected expenses, avoid predatory loans, or simply to enjoy more control over their finances, Instant is continually revolutionizing the way people get paid.”

    By releasing this enhanced version of its mobile app experience, Instant is furthering its mission of delivering pay to employees, when they want, where they want, and how they want, all free of fees.

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