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  • 5/13/2024

    Survey by SpotOn Reveals Restaurant Workers and Consumers Aren’t So Far Apart on Tip Culture

    spoton logo
    The emergence of preset tip amounts and requests for tips in spaces outside the hospitality industry has some Americans feeling burnt out from the concept of tipping altogether. While industries asking for tips have expanded, a new survey shows that “Tipflation,” as it has been coined, is not padding the pockets of restaurant workers. Restaurant workers say that, in reality, the tips they expect and receive aren’t experiencing the notable fluctuations being touted in the press. Today, SpotOn, the top-rated software and payments partner for restaurants and small businesses, revealed the results of a comprehensive study of tipped restaurant workers on tipping expectations, generational trends, and payment options. The report titled “Beyond Gratuity: Perspectives of Restaurant Staff on Tipping Practices” reveals that two-thirds of workers report their tips have stayed the same or decreased in the last twelve months, and more than half of tipped workers expect a modest 15% to 19% tip.
     
    This new data contradicts widespread reporting about increased tipping across the board. Instead, tipping trends remain relatively consistent. Internal data from SpotOn showed an average tip of 18.99% on orders placed through the SpotOn Restaurant point-of-sale system for March 2024. This is a slight decrease (0.1%) from 19% seen one year earlier in March 2023.
     
    In the survey, tipped workers also reported modest expectations for the minimum they expect to be tipped based on service. 52% of tipped workers surveyed said they expect between 15% to 19%, and only 1 in 5 tipped workers expect 20% or more. Worker expectations align with recent Pew Research Center findings that most Americans say they would tip 15% or less for an average meal at a sit-down restaurant, with only a quarter of people saying they’d tip 20% or more. 
     
    For years, restaurants have been working to optimize payments, reservations, staffing, and inventory management with digital solutions to improve their bottom lines, including handheld point-of-sale devices. With a handheld, restaurant staff can take orders and payments in real-time, whether at the table or for line-busting busy crowds, improving staff efficiency and speed of service, resulting in a better guest experience and better tips. Restaurants using SpotOn handhelds typically see both their average ticket price and average tip amount go up. Tipped restaurant workers have largely embraced the technology due to the fact that servers can cover more tables and significantly increase their take-home pay. While tip percentages have remained stable, technological efficiencies are improving everything from ordering to bill payment. Speed remains one of the most important aspects of customer service, so omitting the kitchen round-trip to put in an order or running a credit card at a far away terminal has been transformative to the industry.
     
    “We’ve seen at least a 5% to 7% increase in tips that servers and bartenders are making, thanks to SpotOn’s handheld,” said John Shepherd, Owner of Shep’s and Salt. “Having that screen right in front of customers speeds up the process both when they’re ordering and when they’re closing out, making it easy for our staff to focus on serving guests and providing quick and exceptional service.”
     
    When it comes to pre-set tip amounts, 43% of tipped workers say that predefined tip amounts on point-of-sale systems are actually helpful to both guests and servers. When asked what the predefined tip amounts should be, most respondents selected the standard 12%, 15%, and 20% options. A further 43% indicated that even a 10% option would be suitable. SpotOn’s default preset tip amounts are 15%, 18%, and 20%, aligning with expectations from both parties and can be edited by each restaurant operator. SpotOn recommends prompts be determined based on their restaurant’s service type and geographic location, among other factors. While requests for tips outside the restaurant industry have been cited as contributing to tip fatigue, most industry workers indicated they did not see adding tips to non-hospitality services as detrimental to their take-home pay.
     
    Restaurant workers and their guests may have similar expectations around standard tip amounts, but more than half of tipped workers surveyed believe customers do not understand how tips factor into their take-home pay. Most industry workers receive a tipped minimum wage combined with tips to reach the federal minimum wage. This is typical for the restaurant industry, which operates on unimaginably slim margins, often five to seven percent, and where every dollar and cent makes a difference. To combat inflation and rising costs without raising menu prices to unachievable levels, restaurant operators are turning to tech solutions to make the dining experience better for both guests and workers. Handhelds and order kiosks increase convenience and speed of transactions, resulting in higher tips for workers, while point-of-sale data helps operators staff shifts appropriately, lowering costs and enabling staff to take home more tips. 
     
    “The restaurant industry is in a tough position, facing rising costs, razor-thin margins, and changing consumer expectations,” said Kevin Bryla, Chief Marketing Officer of SpotOn. “We’ve seen that the right restaurant technology can deliver an enhanced experience for guests and drive operational efficiency and improved profitability for restaurateurs - both of which translate to improved pay and workplace satisfaction for restaurant workers. All of those factors need to work together to make a meaningful difference in a tough industry and tougher economic environment."
     
    SpotOn’s “Beyond Gratuity: Perspectives of Restaurant Staff on Tipping Practices” report dives into other aspects of how restaurant workers view tipping, including generational differences, opinions on what kinds of eateries (including fast food) should be tipped, what metrics tips should be based on, and much more. 
     
    Additional Survey Highlights:
     
    • Nearly half (47%) of survey respondents who receive tips said they feel positively about the current tipping culture in the restaurant industry, and only 8% felt that tipping culture is negative and harming the industry. 
    • Despite reports of tipflation and tip creep, industry workers who receive tips have not seen major changes in tipping in the past year. 36% report that their tips have stayed consistent, and 35% actually reported a decrease.
    • Tipped restaurant workers are not worried that more businesses outside the industry asking for tips will negatively impact their own tips — 64% say it has had no impact, while 8% say it’s even helping. 
    • When it comes to the minimum percentage they expect based on service, a majority (52%) of tipped workers expect between 15% and 19%.
    • When they choose to dine out at restaurants, however, industry workers are big spenders, with nearly half doling out 20% tips or higher. While they believe they are better tippers from working in the industry, they expect less from their customers. 
    • 68% of respondents work at restaurants that do not currently charge a service fee, showing that the additional charge is less widely used than it may seem.
    • If their restaurant does add an automatic gratuity, 46% of tipped workers do not expect customers to leave an additional tip. 
  • 5/13/2024

    Pudu Robotics Unveils Enhanced PUDU SH1 Smart Upright Scrubber Dryer

    PUDU SH1 Smart Upright Scrubber Dryer

    Pudu Robotics, a global leader in service robotics, today announced the official debut of the upgraded PUDU SH1 Smart Upright Scrubber Dryer at Interclean 2024. The latest version of PUDU SH1 features extensive enhancements to deliver an altogether new product, boasting substantial design and cleaning capabilities improvements.

    The PUDU SH1 is a testament to innovation, capable of multidimensional cleaning that extends beyond floors to tabletops, vertical glass surfaces, and challenging areas like corners and spaces beneath low furniture. Innovative design features of the PUDU SH1 allow for easy and efficient separation of air, liquid and debris waste, ensuring a convenient disposal process that prevents drain blockages and damage to the vacuum motor. With a 27kg down pressure, a 350rpm brush and 20KPa suction power, the SH1 excels at removing stubborn stains such as oil spills, dust deposits, and air-dried dirt, ensuring pristine conditions in diverse environments.

    In response to the urgent need for sustainable and efficient cleaning solutions, PUDU SH1 sets a new standard for environmental responsibility. The SH1's advanced lithium battery technology and energy-efficient brushless motors significantly reduce the machine's ecological footprint, adhering to strict ROHS standards. By optimizing resource utilization, the SH1 saves up to 80% on water and cleaning agents compared to traditional mopping methods, and cuts cleaning time by a remarkable 70%. These features not only support eco-friendly practices but also translate into operational savings for businesses.

    "Pudu Robotics is dedicated to empowering businesses to refine their services and heighten operational efficiency with our products designed to collaborate with human teams," said Felix Zhang, founder and CEO of Pudu Robotics. "This innovative product not only enhances cleaning performance but also embodies our commitment to sustainable product design and smart technology integration in cleaning workflows."

    The SH1 boasts removable parts, which can be easily replaced and repaired to extend the use of the machine. Further product features include:

    • Multidimensional Cleaning Capabilities: PUDU SH1 is equipped with a suite of accessories for cleaning floors, tabletops, vertical glass, corners, and under low furniture.
    • Enhanced Cleaning Performance: The machine has high-efficiency cleaning with high pressure, rotational speed and suction power, as well as an innovative wastewater tank designed for effective air-liquid-debris waste separation.
    • Touch Screen Interface: A user-friendly touch screen allows for easy management, including the selection of cleaning modes, displays of battery and water levels, and the generation of intelligent reports.
    • Exceptional Stubborn Stain Removal: The machine is able to clean varied stains, including oil spills, dust deposits, and air-dried dirt, ensuring pristine conditions in various environments.
    • Intelligent Detection for Safety: With intelligent diagnostics of core components, the PUDU SH1 ensures safe operation and simplifies maintenance.
    • Air-Liquid-Debris Separation: PUDU SH1's wastewater tank features a layered design that facilitates the efficient separation of air, liquid and debris for easy disposal.
  • 5/13/2024

    Hi Auto Launches Voice AI Marketer Toolkit

    voice ai soundwaves

    Hi Auto, a provider of drive-thru voice AI technology, released the Voice AI Marketer Toolkit, a comprehensive set of tools for quick service restaurants (QSRs) looking to capitalize on customer conversations to increase engagement and loyalty. These marketing tools include menu optimization, A/B or multivariate testing, and customized natural voices to help brands unlock the superpower of direct conversation with their customers.

    Traditional marketing campaigns are limited to one-way communications across multiple platforms, such as digital advertising, social media, events, and visual promotions at brick-and-mortar locations. Due to the high staff turnover rate at QSRs, employees often work under intense pressure, making it difficult to promote the brand's values consistently. As a result, millions of drive-thru customers interact with random employees and experience inconsistent levels of service. This can be true for both regular and first-time customers.

    Recognizing that voice AI automation can shift the current paradigm; Hi Auto developed a new marketing channel that allows restaurants to design and optimize customer conversations while highlighting brand value, promotions, events, special menu offerings, and more. The toolkit drives marketing and sales goals while building brand affinity and creating an elevated, consistent customer experience.

    Key features of Hi Auto's “Voice AI Marketer Toolkit” include:

    Dynamic Upsell Customization: Hi Auto's platform customizes product suggestions considering multiple factors influencing customer experiences, such as time, location, weather, script, language, and voice.

    Multivariate Experimentation: The toolkit allows marketers to test a small control group of stores with similar performance by changing the conversation parameters, such as the number of upsells during a specific daypart. Based on the results, marketing teams can adjust the script to be deployed across all chains.

    Natural and Cloned Voices: Hi Auto's voice AI enables QSRs to incorporate natural and even customized voice options into their drive-thru experience, providing customers with a more personalized and differentiated ordering experience. This ultimately enhances customer engagement and helps build brand affinity.

    "Hi Auto's voice AI allows us to humanize the customer experience by customizing the drive-thru voice with our dialect and incorporating common phrases and slang that our customers can appreciate," said Leann Smith, Head of Marketing at Burger King New Zealand. "This collaboration enhanced labor efficiency and significantly improved order consistency and upselling conversions."

    "While the operational benefits of voice AI justify the system's adoption, there is so much more value to unlock for sales and marketing teams," said Roy Baharav, CEO of Hi Auto. "That's why we are investing in the “Voice AI Marketer Toolkit” to provide organizations with the tools they need to realize the full potential of their drive-thru sales channel. Being the only company to date deploying drive-thru voice AI at scale allows us to identify the opportunities and develop the right capabilities for our customers to maximize their ROI.”

    These capabilities are currently deployed in hundreds of drive-thru locations globally. For more information about Hi Auto and its drive-thru tailored voice AI platform, please visit Hi Auto.

  • 5/12/2024

    FutureLog Debuts Digital Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) Management Solution for Precise, Transparent Financial Planning

    FutureLog software program

    FutureLog, the leading provider of innovative cloud-based procure-to-pay solutions for the hospitality industry, unveiled its latest innovation last month: a trailblazing smart Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) Management solution. The intuitive platform streamlines the process of managing, tracking, approving, and analysing CAPEX investments across hospitality enterprises.

    "We are very proud of this latest addition to FutureLog’s market-leading suite of procure-to-pay solutions," says Frank Dierberger, FutureLog CEO. “Efficiently managing CAPEX is the backbone of any thriving hospitality organisation. It's more than budget allocation or tracking investments; it's a continuous process that requires informed consideration of many factors, including guest expectations, brand standards, industry trends, and competitive market pressures. With our latest solution, companies can easily optimise their processes, improve financial stability, and drive growth."

    FutureLog's CAPEX solution is built to aid precise planning for any project size or scope by offering holistic visibility, real-time collaboration, and improved operational excellence. It allows for quickly creating detailed proposals, centralised document storage, and managing multiple currencies. It also provides a complete budget status overview and supports vendor selection by managing team feedback and supplier quotations for each project.  

    One key benefit of the product is its transparency. The system leverages advanced technologies to accurately check expected and actual spend based on assigned invoices and specifies planned (budgeted) or spontaneous (unbudgeted) expenses for the organisation. The tool also enhances communication needed for smooth approval workflows through an integrated messaging function, keeping all decision-makers informed throughout the project. Time-stamped activity logs and comprehensive overviews ensure everyone is updated on the latest actions.  

    To make resource management more efficient, projects can be flexibly searched and sorted by status, name, supplier, or approval stage. This simplifies project overviews and enables managers to set spending limits, assign invoices, and see all supplier contracts at a glance. 

    The flexible cloud-based solution is customisable to fit each organisation's unique needs, regardless of size. It seamlessly integrates with existing financial systems and provides a modern interface that simplifies the capex management process. With this solution, companies can confidently allocate resources, mitigate risks, and achieve their financial goals.

    To learn more about FutureLog's smart CAPEX Management Solution and how it can benefit your hospitality business, please visit futurelog.com/en/our-solutions/capex-management.

  • 5/12/2024

    Square Unveils Square Kiosk

    square logo teaser

    Square unveils Square Kiosk, a fully integrated software, hardware, and payments solution that enables self-serve ordering for quick-service restaurants. Designed with fast-moving and fast-growing restaurants in mind, Square Kiosk empowers guests to customize and place orders through its sleek and intuitive design, an easy-to-use interface, and embedded contactless and chip payment technology. It also untethers restaurant staff from the counter, freeing them to focus on other tasks. Square Kiosk is the latest technology from Square as it continues to invest in its hardware and software portfolio and expand its food and beverage offerings.

    Square Kiosk works seamlessly with Square for Restaurants and Square’s broader ecosystem of banking, customer engagement, and business insights tools. It’s easy for restaurants to set up, saves precious counter space, and can be placed anywhere – from the wall to flat on the counter to mounted on a stand or swing-arm. Square Kiosk tracks sales data and instantly syncs menu updates, ensuring that customers have real-time visibility into what’s currently available – and nothing that’s been 86’ed. Through this fully integrated solution, and like all Square products, all payments on Square Kiosk are instantly accessible via Square Checking,1 offering greater liquidity and convenience for restaurateurs in an industry where cash flow is often tight.

    For diners, using Square Kiosk is a sleek and simple experience that lets them bypass lines and easily customize their orders. According to the 2024 Future of Commerce report, 78% of customers prefer to place orders through self-serve kiosks or online, and Square Kiosk’s intuitive UI and built-in payments lets diners quickly and easily order their food. Guests are able to select exactly what they want, with customization options being sent directly to the kitchen, and restaurants can grow their check sizes by offering upgrades and add-ons on every order without any awkward exchanges.

    Finally, amid growing labor costs, Square Kiosk gives operators the ability to staff up other areas of their businesses while still taking orders. By deploying self-serve kiosks, restaurants can bust lines and cut down on wait time for customers while freeing up their staff to focus on other tasks.

    “Before, we were using QR code ordering and wanted to reduce the time it took to place an order. People struggle to type credit card numbers on their phones and prefer tap-to-pay; today, it’s a lot easier for guests to order with Square Kiosk,” said Erik Göranson, CEO of Recess, a multi-location quick-service restaurant in Atlanta, GA. “Our guests can modify multiple items and complete their checkout in under 60 seconds. We plan to add more Square Kiosks in 2024.”

    Beyond Square Kiosk, today Square introduced a number of additional new features that will further help restaurants streamline and grow their businesses.

    • With a redesigned Square Restaurants POS, restaurants can spend less time inputting orders and more time interacting with guests. Navigation is faster and menu grids and layouts are now fully customizable, allowing for quick ordering and checkout.
    • Guests can now pay for their meals more quickly with Scan to Pay – by scanning a QR code on their receipt, customers can settle up on their phones and businesses can turn over more tables.
    • With an updated Orders tab, dine-in, to go, and delivery orders all live in a single dashboard, regardless of whether they’re placed in-person or online, with clear organization. Servers can easily understand the current state of orders with just a quick glance, allowing restaurants to keep better track of orders – and keep customers happy – amid the daily bustle.
    • Release Manager allows operators to choose when to enable software updates, with enterprise-level functionality that gives more flexibility and time to train up staff on any POS changes.

    “Two of the biggest challenges for restaurants right now are maximizing orders while also balancing increasingly expensive labor costs,” said Ming-Tai Huh, Head of Food and Beverage at Square. “With razor-thin margins, restaurants need to find efficiencies through technology like kiosks – and at Square, we’re laser-focused on bringing restaurateurs the tools they need to succeed.”

    Square Kiosk will be available to all Square for Restaurants sellers this summer. To try Square Kiosk in-person and learn how Square can power your food and beverage business, visit our booth (#5821) at the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago from May 18 to May 22, 2024.

    1Square Checking is provided by Sutton Bank, Member FDIC. Square Debit Card is issued by Sutton Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Mastercard. Square Debit Card may be used wherever Mastercard is accepted. Accounts are FDIC-insured up to $250,000.

    Funds generated through Square’s payment processing services are generally available in the Square checking account balance immediately after a payment is processed. Fund availability times may vary due to technical issues.

  • 5/12/2024

    RMS North America & Solonis Release Product Enhancements

    solonis teaser logo

    RMS North America and Solonis, providers of cloud-based reservation and property management systems to the hospitality industry, announced this week their latest product enhancements designed to boost the guest experience and streamline day-to-day operations for property partners.

    “At RMS North America and Solonis, we're always listening to our clients so we can create the enhancements they need,” said Frederic Dominioni, Chief Revenue Officer, RMS North America and Solonis. “Our latest updates were designed to set up our property partners to thrive in 2024 by providing their guests with an exceptional experience while creating more controls and automation in their RMS and Solonis databases.”

    RMS and Solonis’ recent improvements include more guest experience options and smarter tools to simplify daily tasks. Below are just some of the latest enhancements from this release.

    A New Guest Loyalty Option

    With the new Loyalty by Nights module, guests earn rewards for each night they stay at a property. This adds another way for a property to offer rewards along with the successful Loyalty by Points module that offers features like sign-up credits, expiration rules, and birthday rewards.

    Smarter Room Assignments

    Properties can streamline their reservation allocation strategy with enhanced controls, including bulk room-number assignments, prioritization capabilities, and the exclusion of room numbers and categories from auto-assignments.

    Guest Management in the Guest Portal

    Guests can conveniently add another person to an existing reservation independently in the Guest Portal, still enforcing a property’s maximum guest rule, recalculating the balance if additional charges are required, and notifying of changes in the Message Center.

    Cancellation Policies with Fees

    Properties can now create fees in their cancellation policies with detailed rules, including what percentage fee is charged based on days’ notice given, or if a flat cancellation fee applies.

    RMS North America and Solonis continue to dedicate themselves to helping their users reach new business milestones with smart business solutions.

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