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  • 4/9/2024

    IHG Hotels & Resorts Builds a New Travel Planner Powered by Google Cloud AI

    IHG hotels logo

    IHG Hotels & Resorts and Google Cloud announced an expanded partnership that will fuel new customer experiences within the IHG One Rewards mobile app. With Google Cloud's technologies, IHG will launch a generative AI-powered travel planning capability that can help guests easily plan their next vacation directly in the IHG One Rewards mobile app in a suite of new features that will launch in the second half of 2024, creating a more dynamic digital guest experience.

    "Working with Google Cloud as an AI innovation partner, we're making trip planning easier and more interactive for prospective travelers. Our customized travel planner will use GenAI to help people discover destinations among our more than 6,000 IHG hotels across 19 brands in over 100 countries," said Jolie Fleming, Chief Product & Technology Officer, IHG Hotels & Resorts. "Soon, guests will use the IHG One Rewards mobile app as a true mobile travel companion to build a full itinerary and book hotels in a few taps."  

    With IHG's Travel Planner, a guest can get recommendations and ideas for both broad and nuanced requests like, "Give me four late-night dinner options near the InterContinental London Park Lane," or "Does the Kimpton Shinjuku Hotel in Tokyo allow pets?" to "What jazz shows are happening near the Holiday Inn Express Manhattan Times Square South the weekend of October 12th?" Additional features will launch in the months following the Travel Planner's public launch.

    Investments in the IHG One Rewards mobile app and technology to support IHG's loyalty program are critical parts of IHG's efforts to grow customer loyalty and engagement, and working with Google Cloud will enable the company to move quickly to deploy features loved by guests. The Travel Planner will be developed using Vertex AI, Google Cloud's AI platform, and Google's Gemini models.

    "IHG is not only reimagining how people travel, but also how people interact with brands," said Thomas Kurian, CEO at Google Cloud. "This implementation of generative AI combines Google's technical expertise with IHG's commitment to service, raising the bar for how the hospitality industry thinks about guests' digital experiences." 

    Google Cloud became IHG's cloud provider in 2022, when IHG migrated components of its data to BigQuery, a fully managed, serverless data warehouse. IHG's selection of Google Cloud's AI technology for its upcoming Trip Planner feature was based on a variety of factors, including Google Cloud's suite of AI technologies that IHG can grow with, and Google's broad ecosystem of consumer products and services that will enable opportunities to create personalized experiences for travelers. IHG continues to explore how secured technology innovation can drive increased investment returns for hotel owners, and better experiences for guests.  

    Google Cloud's approach to cybersecurity, data governance, and privacy also allows IHG to retain control over its data, and enables data and applications to meet compliance and security standards, a key priority for IHG. Further, Google Cloud's responsible and ethical approach to generative AI also means IHG has access to tools which enable direct review of model responses for appropriateness and accuracy. This access enables IHG to tune and update its applications, powered by Google's models, to ensure optimal performance.

  • 9/14/2023

    Domino's Updates Rewards Program

    Dominos Rewards Updated

    Domino's Pizza Inc. introduces its new and improved loyalty program. 

    Domino's Rewards offers loyalty members even more opportunities to earn and redeem points across its corporate and franchise store locations. Domino's enhanced rewards program allows customers to:

    • Earn points for less
      • Loyalty members will now earn 10 points on every order of $5 or more
    • Redeem points for even more menu items – and earn free Domino's after just two orders
      • Members can redeem a variety of points for more menu items:
        • 20 points: A free dipping cup, a 16-piece order of Parmesan Bread Bites or a 20 oz. drink
        • 40 points: An order of Bread Twists or Stuffed Cheesy Bread
        • 60 points: A medium, two-topping pizza; pasta; Oven-Baked Sandwich; or a 3-piece order of Chocolate Lava Crunch Cakes
    • Earn more rewards
      • Loyalty perks are now even better, as members will have exclusive access to member-only deals, special discounts and opportunities to earn bonus points!

    "We are thrilled to give the brand's loyal customers additional ways to earn free Domino's items more often," said Mark Messing, Domino's vice president of digital experience and loyalty. "At a time when most brands are scaling back their loyalty programs and making it more difficult to earn and redeem points, Domino's is doing the opposite. We want to make it easier to reward our customers and give them more options so they can get rewarded faster."

    Marketing a LTO 

    From now until Oct. 22, 2023, rewards members can take advantage of a limited time offer to redeem 20 points for a free order of Domino's new Pepperoni Stuffed Cheesy Bread, which is normally a 40-point redemption, in celebration of the product's recent launch. 

  • 4/9/2024

    Curbit, Olo Announce Integration

    handshake partnership
    Curbit.ai, a technology company specializing in AI-driven dynamic order throttling and operational analytics for restaurants, announces a strategic partnership with Olo, a  restaurant technology provider with ordering, payment, and guest engagement solution.   This collaboration marks a significant milestone in the quest to streamline restaurant operations and enhance the guest experience for its mutual restaurant customers
     
    Curbit's integration with Olo enables restaurant operators to leverage real-time operational intelligence from the kitchen to efficiently manage capacity and ensure guests and delivery drivers are informed with accurate promise times and order progress.  With over 20 Olo brands already benefiting from this solution, Curbit has been recognized as a Gold Partner as part of Olo's exclusive partner program, Olo Connect.
     
    The Olo Connect Partner Program promotes the integration of qualified technology and service solutions from select partners within Olo’s open ecosystem. Olo Connect comprises of four tiers: Developer, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
     

    Data-Driven Decisions 

     
    Olo’s Order suite solutions already play a critical role in optimizing digital order and delivery fulfillment for hundreds of enterprise restaurant brands. Integration of its capabilities with Curbit’s dynamic order throttling and guest messaging takes that optimization a step further by providing operators with a holistic look at all factors that accurately predict ticket times. The seamless integration of Olo Order with Curbit’s comprehensive kitchen capacity tracking - taking into account both off-premise and onsite orders - empowers operators with real-time, data-driven decisions that ultimately result in an unmatched customer experience.
     
    For additional details about Curbit, visit curbit.ai and follow Curbit on LinkedIn. To learn more about Olo, visit Olo.com, and stay connected by following Olo on LinkedIn
  • 4/9/2024

    Marco's Pizza Expands Marketing Team

    marcos pizza

    Marco's Pizza adds three marketing leaders to its team: Ben Halliwell as senior vice president of digital marketing, Tanisha Chea as vice president of brand marketing and Kathleen Kennedy as director of culinary innovation.

    After being appointed in June 2023, Chief Marketing Officer Denise Lauer hired industry experts to help drive Marco's Pizza forward through innovative products and digital marketing advancements. As a challenger brand in the category, Lauer looks to drive continued sales growth and achieve new levels of customer engagement.

    New technology rollouts

    In addition to new menu items, Marco's commitment to new technology is also a top priority as the brand rolled out its Marco's Order Management System (MOMS), a proprietary 100% cloud-based technology platform, which gives Marco's the flexibility to customize and pivot to meet ever-changing consumer demands compared to an off-the-shelf technology stack.

    "We made great strides last year in evolving our brand strategy, digital and product innovation pipeline," said Lauer. "Looking ahead, we have plans to launch a transformative brand strategy geared to wake up minds, hearts and tastebuds of consumers everywhere. This new team has been instrumental in bringing this vision to life and I cannot wait to show America what Marco's is all about."

    SVP of Digital Marketing, Ben Halliwell, comes with an impressive 20-plus-year history of driving customer growth across e-commerce, performance marketing, loyalty, and digital platforms in the telecommunications and restaurant industries. Known for leading digital transformation initiatives and delivering brand affinity, he has a proven track record with several recognizable consumer brands, including Inspire Brands, HSNi, and Time Warner Cable.

    In his new role, Halliwell is excited to learn from the Marco's team while sharing perspectives from his own experiences to build off the success that's built Marco's into the brand it is today. As Marco's further solidifies its positions as one of the fastest growing pizza brands, Halliwell is responsible for enhancing the e-commerce customer experience, optimizing digital demand, paid media and creating a marketing engine to convert and engage consumers from trial through loyalty.

    Also playing a key role in Marco's next era is VP of Brand Marketing, Tanisha Chea, and her 15-year expertise in consumer marketing and integrated multi-channel launch campaigns for restaurant brands such as Krispy Kreme, Carrabba's Italian Grill and Taco Bell. In addition to her brand marketing responsibilities for Marco's, she works closely with newly appointed Chef Kennedy on overseeing new product development.

    Finally, the newest addition to the Marco's team is Director of Culinary Innovation, Kathleen Kennedy, who boasts more than 40 years of experience. Having been inspired at a young age by family members who loved to cook, she went on to hold executive chef, product development, and consulting positions for global brands such as Kraft, Starbucks, Walmart and more. Kennedy noted she knew Marco's was a brand she could get behind because of the quality of its food. As director of culinary innovation, she looks forward to accelerating future innovations and developing, testing, and bringing new flavors to the Marco's menu.

    With Marco's targeting continued growth following an impressive 2023, these additions to its leadership team help strengthen its strong development support system. In addition to a network of industry leaders, Marco's offers technology and tools to help identify territories for expansion, plus support in real estate, construction management, field operations, and information related to financing. FRANdata, a leading research and advisory firm that analyzes the franchise market, reports Marco's 2023 FUND Score of 895 is in the top 1% of all evaluated franchise systems and is among the top three scores for all QSR brands.

    The brand's recent performance has earned multiple awards and recognition: Ranking in Newsweek's 2023 America's Best Customer Service in the pizza chains category, earning a spot on QSR's Top 50, appearing on Nation's Restaurant News' prestigious Top 500 ranking, and most recently claiming the No. 48 spot on Entrepreneur's 2024 Franchise 500® ranking.

  • 4/9/2024

    Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Appoints Scott Strickland Chief Commercial Officer

    Scott Strickland headshot

    Wyndham Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: WH) appointed Scott Strickland Chief Commercial Officer reporting to the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Ballotti. In this newly created leadership role, Strickland and his team will continue delivering the best value and experiences to Wyndham's owners and guests across its 25 brands through a united commercial organization.

    "Over 7 years ago we recruited Scott from the private equity world where he led the information systems, eCommerce and business transformation teams at many great companies including D+M Holdings, Nissan, and Black & Decker. Under Scott's thoughtful and strategic guidance – including managing and deploying our $275M investment in best-in-class technology, digital, and franchisee opt-in services over the past five years – Wyndham has taken a leadership position and delivered multiple industry innovations for its owners," said Ballotti. "In this new role, Scott and his expanded team will continue to build our brands, drive direct revenue, and advance our value proposition through a newly combined, tech-forward commercial organization."

    As Chief Commercial Officer, Strickland continues his responsibilities for enhancing and implementing Wyndham's technology and distribution strategy and will add oversight of global sales; revenue generation; marketing; communications and the award-winning loyalty program, Wyndham Rewards.  

    "Combining this group of cross-functional leaders enables us to continue delivering owner-first tools, technology and marketing innovations," said Strickland. "These tools allow our franchisees to run their hotels more efficiently and profitably today and into the future. Integrating best-in-class technology, marketing, and sales teams into a single organization enhances the Wyndham Advantage."

    With the creation of this new organization, Lisa Checchio, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, will depart Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. During her tenure Lisa launched the Company's "by Wyndham" endorsement strategy, played a large role in the introduction of new hotel brands, and grew Wyndham Rewards – the award-winning loyalty program, which doubled in size in five years and has surpassed 100 million members. Lisa also led the creation of the industry's first-ever program dedicated to women's advancement in hotel ownership, Women Own the Room, which recently celebrated 15 open hotels, more than 50 signings, and a community of more than 550 members.  

    "Lisa's leadership and expertise spanning marketing, consumer engagement, digital commerce, global sales, and more has helped us better fulfill Wyndham's mission to make hotel travel possible for all," said Ballotti. "We are grateful for her significant contributions to Wyndham and the broader hotel industry and will miss her many talents."

  • 4/9/2024

    Wow Bao Launches on Roblox, Integrates Reward, In-Real-Life Perks in Metaverse

    WowBao Bao head for metaverse Roblox game

    Wow Bao is once again breaking barriers with a full integration of its Hot Buns Club rewards program in the metaverse. US-based Roblox players who visit Wow Bao’s virtual experience, Dim Sum Palace, search for clues to unlock a free Bao-themed head UGC accessory, free Wow Bao product, and a chance to win Wow Bao for a year.

    The digital and physical worlds collide in this groundbreaking campaign. After Roblox players join the Hot Buns Club to claim the limited-supply UGC items, they will receive a link via email for a free box of Wow Bao at their local grocer and be enrolled for a chance to win free bao for a year. Additionally, as a member of the Hot Buns Club they are eligible for exclusive rewards and benefits.

    “Wow Bao has never shied away from being a trailblazer in technology and innovation,” said Geoff Alexander, president and CEO of Wow Bao. “By connecting gamers with our online ordering channels and rewards program, we are inviting new customers to experience our brand, rewarding our most frequent guests, and embarking on something that has never been done.”

    How It Works

    • Upon entering the steamy, exclusive experience, players will be greeted by a DJ spinning beats and a dancefloor that is pumping with NPC’s (non-playable characters). Signature Wow Bao paraphernalia is found throughout the club and guests can continue through mysterious doors and hallways into the Steam lounge, Momo’s restaurant, and hidden Hot Buns Club speakeasy.
    • The free avatar item is hidden within the club, and players can uncover clues throughout as to how to claim the limited edition bao head accessory. Once in the experience, the DJ, head chef, and Wow Bao branded vending machines all hold hints on how to gain access to the free accessory and bao offer.
    • Upon visiting hbc.wowbao.com, they will be prompted to sign up (or sign in) to the Hot Buns Club rewards program, connect their Roblox account. Once completed, users will head back to Roblox to claim the item.
    • Players who have claimed their free UGC bao head accessory, will be entered to win free Wow Bao for a year and receive a free box of Wow Bao. As newly minted VIP members of the Hot Buns Club, they will earn exclusive benefits and a one-of-a-kind digital CollectaBao.
    • Beyond the initial launch, Wow Bao has plans for continued updates to the experience.

    To bring this campaign to life, Wow Bao has partnered with Flaunt and Paytronix to power the integration between the Hot Buns Club rewards program and Wow Bao’s virtual experience on Roblox. Wow Bao’s virtual experience, Dim Sum Palace, was built by award-winning LA-based production studio, Sawhorse Productions. Wow Bao has chosen DevourGo as its exclusive web3 ordering partner.

    Wow Bao is a fast-casual Asian concept started in 2003 in Chicago and now in nearly 700 locations across the U.S. as well as more than 6,000 grocery stores. 

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