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News Briefs

  • 6/3/2024

    RobotLAB Launches Robot Systems

    RobotLab

    RobotLAB debuts a pair of automated systems to transform robotics integration in restaurants: Robot on Call and ServeSwift. 

    Robot on Call is a fully automated, robot-compatible smartwatch that allows servers and bussers to remotely summon robots to any destination in the restaurant. ServeSwift is an accompanying system that gives guests the ability to assign robots to their table via a QR code for simplified routing, bussing and meal delivery. Whether integrated together or individually, RobotLAB’s new Robot on Call and ServeSwift systems have been thoughtfully designed to improve efficiencies and streamline operations at restaurants.

    Compatible with all delivery robots in the RobotLAB product line, the  Robot on Call and ServeSwift systems elevate operational efficiencies and conditions for employees and guests. The first-of-its-kind Robot on Call smartwatch allows servers to send robots to tables from anywhere in the restaurant, expediting the delivery and bussing process and removing the requirement for servers to program destinations from the robot’s built-in tablet. ServeSwift’s at-table QR code system allows customers to notify kitchen staff of their location, and it directly communicates with restaurant robots to ensure orders are delivered to their correct destination – a feature particularly beneficial in quick-serve restaurants with large footprints and numerous tables. RobotLAB’s Robot on Call and ServeSwift systems streamline communication and operations between kitchens, diners and servers, giving restaurant staff more time, energy and focus to deliver an unforgettable guest experience.

    “Restaurant operators and servers aren’t available to resolve technological issues between the kitchen, guests and robots, especially during peak hours when restaurants are crowded and orders stream in through phone and online platforms,” said Anna Sandler, Lead of Research & Development. “Communication misfires and service delays often result in guest dissatisfaction, so we tethered the creation of these new robot-to-table and robot-calling systems to improving guest experiences and building customer loyalty.”

    ServeSwift and Robot on Call follow the recent launch of RobotLAB’s Robot Control AI, an in-house, AI-integrated software that debuted in April for widely used humanoid robot Pepper. Robot Control AI can be tailored to meet the needs of banks, hospitals, assisted living centers, cannabis retailers, hotels and more. Underscored by a variety of recent introductions, RobotLAB’s unwavering commitment to developing supplemental technologies for its robotics portfolio is stronger than ever as the trailblazing company continues to innovate and deliver new ways to solve operational inefficiencies.

    Since its founding in 2007, RobotLAB has provided turnkey robotics solutions to companies of all sizes in industries including foodservice, hospitality, banking, education, assisted living, cleaning, delivery and hospitals. The company’s talented team of roboticists has effectively deployed more than 10,000 robots that have provided an impressive array of businesses with a clear path to the successful and highly specialized integration of robotics solutions. RobotLAB oversees all aspects of the robotics integration process – from sales, tailored programming, onsite integration and repairs – to ensure businesses can access and understand solutions that will dramatically improve their performance.

    For more information about RobotLAB’s tailored integration and business solutions, visit www.robotlab.com.

  • 6/3/2024

    Derrick Pratt Joins Condado Tacos as New Chief Executive Officer

    Condado Tacos has appointed Derrick Pratt as the next Chief Executive Officer, effective July 1, 2024.

    “On behalf of the entire Board of Managers, we are thrilled to welcome Derrick as the next CEO of Condado Tacos,” said John G. Troiano, Chairman of the Board. “Derrick brings a wealth of experience in running successful growth-oriented restaurant brands and has an exceptionally strong track record of guiding companies through periods of significant expansion through strong leadership and innovation. Condado Tacos has doubled over the last three years to 50 locations across 10 states and 18 markets to date, and we are thrilled to have Derrick lead the company through its next phase of growth.”

    Seasoned Restaurant Executive 

    Pratt is a seasoned restaurant executive that brings nearly four decades of restaurant experience to Condado Tacos, with a proven track record in driving best-in-class operations, performance results, world class culture and people development. Since 2021, he has served as Chief Operating Officer of the fast-growing restaurant brand, Portillo’s, where he had leadership experience in operations, real estate development, marketing and supply chain management. As COO,  Pratt was instrumental in the implementation of various technology initiatives and driving industry leading net promoter and guest satisfaction scores and helped lead the organization through its successful IPO in 2021. Prior to joining Portillo’s in 2020, he served in a variety of operations-focused roles of increasing responsibility at Starbucks, where he was Regional VP of Operations leading 800 locations and $1.4 billion in revenue. Prior to Starbucks,   Pratt spent 22 years in various VP-level positions within the McDonald’s organization and was also a franchise owner/operator.

    Condado Tacos started in 201. Since its founding, the award-winning taco concept has grown to 50 restaurants in 10 states.

  • 6/2/2024

    Taco John’s Pilots Voice AI in Drive-Thru

    Taco Johns drive-thru with digital sign

    Presto Automation Inc., an AI and automation technology provider to the restaurant industry,  has been collaborating with Taco John’s  and Qu to implement a Presto Voice  drive-thru pilot at select Taco John’s restaurants.

    Presto Voice enhances the drive-thru staff’s productivity by reducing the time they devote to taking orders, allowing them to focus on more critical tasks and reducing associated labor costs. It also provides customizable upsells to increase revenue and improve the guest experience with immediate, friendly service around the clock.

    Qu’s unified commerce platform delivers consistent data-driven experiences across all Taco John’s ordering channels and locations. Presto has seamlessly integrated its Voice AI solution with Qu’s point-of-sale and kitchen production technologies to enable automated voice orders to be quickly and accurately managed end-to-end within Taco John’s existing technology platform.

    “Taco John’s and Qu have been exceptional partners for Presto because they understand that the technology behind Presto Voice can be seamlessly coupled with a restaurant’s existing technology stack to drive operational efficiencies and improve the guest experience,” said Gee Lefevre, Interim CEO at Presto.

    A Successful Pilot

    Presto Voice’s initial Taco John’s pilot location in Minnesota went live in April 2024. As a result of its success, Presto and Taco John’s are rolling Presto Voice out to a second location in Taco John’s origin state, Wyoming, which is scheduled to go live before August.

    “Preliminary test results have been very positive,” said Ryan Baune, Vice President for Technology at Taco John’s. “We are seeing improvements around speed of service, order accuracy, and an increase in average ticket size primarily driven by upsell attachment.”

    “As Taco John’s looks to the future, Presto Voice is a natural fit to our technology roadmap. Presto and Qu’s development during this process has unlocked the ability for orders being taken by the Voice AI assistant to show up in real-time on the kitchen screens,” said Steve Smyth, Director of Restaurant Technology at Taco John’s.

    “The technology allows our restaurants to focus on making the guest’s orders as they place them to help improve the speed of service and accuracy. Another benefit is not worrying about interrupting the guest at the pickup window to take an order for another guest; this helps to improve the personal interaction with the guest. We are excited about the future possibilities of Voice AI and feel that the best is yet to come.”

    “Qu is designed from the ground up to support robust, bi-directional, AI-powered integrations, meeting the stringent speed and customer experience requirements necessary for a first-class voice AI solution like Presto Voice,” noted Brian Crum, VP of Product at Qu. “The pilot phase with Taco John's showcases how our collaborative efforts delivered an integrated and scalable solution. By enabling Voice AI natively within Qu’s unified commerce platform, we eliminate the need for bolt-on or redundant interfaces, seamlessly incorporating AI into the order-taking and making process. We are thrilled to see this development come to life, enabling Taco John's to leverage the benefits of AI in their restaurants."

    Taco John’s operates and franchises nearly 400 restaurants in 23 states, making it one of America's largest and fastest-growing Mexican quick-service restaurant brands. After completing the pilot phase, Taco John’s intends to roll out Presto Voice to their franchised locations this year. 

  • 6/2/2024

    Report: IT Sourcing Trends

    data analysis coding guy in front of pc screens

    Olive Technologies, a leader in RFP solutions for IT sourcing, released its comprehensive analysis, “Technology Selection Data Report.” The report examines trends and requirements from real-world RFPs, managed through the Olive platform, to help organizations make data-driven, unbiased decisions when selecting IT solutions.

    The current IT sourcing process often leaves buyers navigating a complex landscape of biased information and incomplete data. Lengthy processes, high costs and superficial evaluations can lead to costly mistakes and outdated solutions. Olive's report addresses these challenges by providing objective insights based on actual company solution evaluations.

    "Unlike trend reports, vendor-influenced reviews or biased market comparisons, Olive's report is built on the foundation of real-world data from actual RFPs, ensuring that the insights provided are authentic, objective and directly relevant to the needs of modern businesses," said Chris Heard, Olive's CEO. “By leveraging this information, decision-makers can confidently navigate the complex vendor landscape, identify the solutions that best align with their specific needs and drive successful digital transformations within their organizations."

    Key findings from the report include:

    • ERP, HCM, CRM, LMS and POS are the most researched categories among Olive customers. Some big players in each category have high market presence but low selection rates, demonstrating that marketing alone cannot secure business.
    • While AI is a commonly hyped feature, it ranks low on actual requirements included in RFPs. However, it is the fastest-growing search term in 2024.
    • Data and reporting emerge as the top two requirement themes, reflecting companies' awareness of the value of their data and their desire for clear, actionable insights from tech vendors.
    • Integration and configuration rank high on requirements, indicating that companies struggle with connecting disparate systems and demand out-of-the-box integrations from vendors.
    • Terms like "data," "reporting," "integration" and "mobile" highlight the demand for data-driven decision-making, comprehensive reporting capabilities, seamless connectivity and mobile accessibility. 

    View the full report here: https://olive.app/technology-selection-data-report/

  • 6/3/2024

    Sonesta Debuts New Unified Loyalty Program

    logo, company name

    Sonesta International Hotels Corporation (Sonesta) announced the debut of its unified loyalty program, Sonesta Travel Pass, and combined website, ushering in a new era for its six million members around the world. Following Sonesta's acquisition of Red Lion Hotels Corporation, the updated Sonesta.com brings Sonesta's brands, including Royal Sonesta, Sonesta Hotels & Resorts and Sonesta ES Suites, together with the Red Lion brands, including the eponymous Red Lion Hotel, Americas Best Value Inn and Signature Inn under one umbrella and into a centralized booking site.

    With Sonesta Travel Pass now serving as the singular loyalty program for the entire portfolio, members now have access to unified benefits and a single currency across a network of 1,100 hotels. Members can accrue and redeem points across all 13 brands, with former Red Lion Hello Rewards members seamlessly transitioned into Sonesta Travel Pass. Unlike competitor's programs, Sonesta Travel Pass points accumulate rapidly and hold a higher per-dollar value, eliminating the need to accumulate tens of thousands of points for a single night's stay. Additionally, members enjoy perks such as complimentary upgrades, welcome gifts and premium parking with every stay.

    "Sonesta Travel Pass members now have endless opportunities to make memories at nearly 1,100 hotel destinations," says Chris Trick, Sonesta's Chief Marketing Officer. "By creating a unified booking platform and loyalty program, we are not only expanding opportunities for rewards and benefits but also forging stronger connections across our family of brands. For example, frequent guests of Red Lion Hotel, Inn & Suites by Sonesta can now explore a Sonesta MOD hotel with their points, while Signature Inn by Sonesta guests might also become Sonesta Simply Suites loyalists."

    Sonesta Travel Pass Ultimate Sweepstakes
    To celebrate these milestones of enhanced point accumulation and new members, Sonesta is hosting an Ultimate Sweepstakes, offering guests the chance to win points redeemable at any Sonesta property. One winner will win one million points, 10 winners will receive 100,000 points; 100 winners will receive Platinum Status for life. Travelers can sign up for the sweepstakes at LINK. One million points can provide accommodations for the lucky winner around the world. For example, the one million point winner could currently spend 33 nights at The Royal Sonesta San Juan or Nautilus Sonesta Miami Beach, or 25 nights at the Royal Sonesta Kaua'i Resort. 1,000,000 points could fund an Instagram-worthy road trip across every Red Lion Hotel, twice. Platinum Status entitles the guest to a complimentary breakfast, an exclusive reservations line, additional savings on special rates and promotions and more.

    "Rewards Season" Campaign with Judy Greer
    To support this launch, Sonesta released a new consumer campaign in May, entitled Rewards Season. With promotional materials starring actress Judy Greer, Rewards Season encourages members to join the newly expanded Sonesta Travel Pass (STP) and book or redeem their travel through Sonesta.com. Inspired by awards season, the Rewards Season campaign uses Judy's iconic comedic presence to introduce Sonesta Travel Pass, where everyone can feel like a winner. Throughout the spot, Judy's status quickly elevates from Bronze to Platinum, showcasing the way loyalty members move through the STP tiers faster than with other loyalty programs (only 40 nights/year are required to be eligible for Platinum). While Judy may be dressed in her awards season finery, Rewards Season highlights the everyday perks available to every member of Sonesta Travel Pass, black-tie attire is optional, including complimentary upgrades, free breakfast (for gold members) and welcome gifts for every stay. While Judy dreams of stays in Miami, Hilton Head and Puerto Rico, STP members earn points at every Sonesta location, from Cairo to Kauai.

    "Our portfolio has so much breadth, we wanted to make sure that Sonesta Travel Pass members are rewarded for different types of stays," says Elizabeth Harlow, Chief Brand Officer, Sonesta, "Whether they're booking a family vacation at a Sonesta Hotel & Resort, saving up points for an Americas Best Value Inn road trip, or booking a luxurious Royal Sonesta long weekend, Sonesta has a brand to fit every traveler and every trip, all now bookable with points."

  • 5/29/2024

    Hotelbeds Signs a Strategic Partnership with Palladium Hotel Group

    hotelbeds new teaser

    Hotelbeds has formalized a new strategic partnership with Palladium Hotel Group to enhance the distribution of their properties across Europe.

    This strategic partnership will provide travel professionals with access to a curated selection of Palladium Hotel Group most sought-after accommodations, ensuring exceptional experiences for travelers in Europe.

    Under this strategic partnership, Hotelbeds will offer its B2B clients a portfolio of properties across Europe, including iconic destinations such as the Costa del Sol, Ibiza, Menorca, Sicily and Tenerife.

    “This agreement with Palladium Hotel Group marks a significant milestone in our continuing partnership” said Carlos Muñoz, Chief Commercial Officer at HBX Group. “We are proud to deepen our relationship with them and enhance our commitment to delivering exceptional value and service to our B2B clients and their customers.”

    “We are deeply satisfied to continue our long-standing partnership with HBX Group. This new agreement represents an exciting opportunity to take this relationship to the next level and generate additional value for our hotels across Europe”, stated Rafa Rubi, Regional Sales & MKT Sr. Director EMEA+A at Palladium Hotel Group.

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