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  • 7/8/2024

    ConverseNow Acquires Valyant AI

    conversenow logo

    ConverseNow, the leading voice AI technology platform, today announces that it has acquired Valyant AI, a trailblazer in restaurant drive-thru automation technology. This strategic combination will accelerate ConverseNow's growth in drive-thru and, further, both companies' shared mission to revolutionize the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry by delivering unparalleled, affordable AI solutions that enhance guest experiences and operational efficiency.

    Founded in 2018, Valyant AI is the only company to deploy true voice AI to drive-thru restaurants today and count chains such as CKE and Checkers' among its approved customers. Holly, its robust AI voice assistant, integrates directly via proprietary hardware into existing drive-thru communications systems such as PAR, HME, and POS systems, including Brink, Xenial, NCR, Aloha, and Oracle Microsystems.

    The transaction sees Valyant AI's entire team and technology join the ConverseNow family, which leads the way in the provision of AI voice-ordering assistants in the QSR sector. It will allow the companies to provide a combined offering leveraging joint expertise, shared data, and technology infrastructure. 

    "Our vision is to democratize AI for brands of all sizes, making it accessible across all ordering channels," said Vinay Shukla, Co-Founder and CEO of ConverseNow. "This acquisition brings us closer to that goal. We are thrilled to welcome Valyant AI, whose drive-thru expertise complements our Voice AI capabilities in the QSR industry. Together, we offer robust, scalable solutions at competitive rates." "Valyant's patented technology and proprietary hardware, combined with seamless POS integration, perfectly complement ConverseNow's modern AI stack. We look forward to becoming stronger together to better serve the market," added Rahul Aggarwal, Co-Founder and COO/CPO of ConverseNow.

    Equipped with best-in-class conversational intelligence, ConverseNow's AI-powered virtual ordering assistants replicate natural human dialog to gauge customer sentiment and guide conversations. It can detect nuances, predict ordering behaviors, and maximize revenues by upselling items based on contextual data and information available to them in real-time. Its cloud-based, multilingual solution personalized restaurant orders in high-volume voice channels such as phone, drive-thru, self-service kiosks, and voice-assisted chat on mobile devices. 

    In addition to accelerating ConverseNow's drive-thru footprint, the acquisition brings new technological capabilities, including an AI Employee Assist product. This voice-led generative AI training application enables restaurant staff to ask on-the-job questions to a voice assistant and receive instant, hands-free responses. The solution will be available on tables and integrated into drive-thru communication systems, with plans for rollout by the end of the quarter. Valyant AI has already piloted this solution with select brands, showcasing its effectiveness, and now it will be able to launch at scale.

    For the foreseeable future, the companies will continue to service customers under their respective brands and benefit from enhanced resources and technology expertise. ConverseNow and Valyant AI customers will continue to benefit from uninterrupted service. 

    "Valyant's mission has always been to support restaurant operations, ease employee workload, and enhance customer experience," said Rob Carpenter, founder of Valyant AI. "Vinay and Rahul have created a valuable company, and I'm confident Holly will elevate ConverseNow's platform. I look forward to seeing the achievements of our combined efforts."

    "Joining ConverseNow takes Valyant AI to an exciting new level," said Michael Silverman, CEO of Valyant AI. "Our shared values and complementary technologies create a powerful synergy. Our ready-to-deploy infrastructure and ConverseNow conversational and emotional intelligence give us an unrivaled ability to deliver true, accurate, and ethical AI solutions to our customers. Together, we offer unmatched AI solutions, bringing true potential and efficiencies to the restaurant industry."

  • 7/8/2024

    The Grove Hotel Partners with PPDS to Deliver Five Star Guest Room Entertainment

    PPDS television in The Grove Hotel guestroom

    The Grove Hotel, one of the UK’s most prestigious five star retreats, has teamed up with PPDS, the exclusive global provider of Philips Professional Displays, to revolutionise the in-room entertainment experience with the installation of 225 Google Cast and Netflix ready Philips MediaSuite TVs within its luxury guestrooms. 

    A short distance from Central London and synonymous with the rich and famous – with Tom Cruise, the Beckhams, Hugh Grant, and Kylie Minogue among some of the well-known guests in recent years – The Grove Hotel’s existing TV setup had become outdated, failing to address modern viewing preferences and falling short of guest expectations. 

    Part of an extensive upgrade and refurbishment project, The Grove Hotel - owned by the Ralph Trustees Ltd hospitality group - sought a TV solution to provide best-in-class picture quality together with seamless casting capabilities, embedded streaming and gaming apps, plus the ability to deliver personalised content on a room-by-room basis, enabling guests to take control of their own viewing experiences.

    Following extensive global research, The Grove Hotel teamed up with PPDS, identifying the company’s unique Google Cast and Netflix ready Philips MediaSuite TV range as the only dedicated hospitality solution in the global market capable of meeting its high requirements and exacting standards. 

    Home comforts 

    Designed to offer a seamless transition between home and the hotel room, 189 Philips MediaSuite TVs – adopted by many of the world’s leading global hotel chains – were successfully installed in the guest rooms in The Grove Hotel’s contemporary West Wing. 

    Following the overwhelmingly positive feedback from guests, the project was quickly extended to include an additional 36 Philips MediaSuite TVs (43”-54”) in the 13 rooms and 12 suites in The Grove’s stunning Grade II listed Mansion House. 

    Philip Hallam, Group IT Technical Manager, Ralph Trustees Ltd, commented: “I have been continually reviewing the guest experience over the last 20 years or so. In particular, what I have been looking for is a product that can provide seamless streaming services and experiences to our guests. Five years ago, when I began this journey, I wasn’t able to find anything that matched our requirements or our ambitions. That was, until I found Philips MediaSuite.”

    Like a fine wine

    As the world’s first hospitality TV to feature Google Cast and Netflix ready functionality, launched back in 2019, the Philips MediaSuite TVs enable guests staying at The Grove Hotel to easily access and cast all their favourite content from their preferred accounts (including DAZN, Disney+, Prime, YouTube™, and more) directly onto the TV using their own personal connected device, whatever the operating system. With no additional wires or hardware, the risk of tampering or costly dongle thefts is eliminated, while all customer data – such as login credentials– is automatically cleared upon checkout.

    Running on Android, and further extending the role and benefits of the in-room TV, guests at The Grove Hotel also have seamless access to a multitude of apps via the Google Play store, with games, news, travel, weather, and information on local attractions among those available through the TV. 

    In addition, as part of PPDS' long-term commitment to its Android technology and supporting businesses with their sustainability ambitions, Philips MediaSuite TVs can also receive regular software updates, adding the latest apps, services, and features. This allows the TVs to improve with age, reducing unnecessary hardware upgrades (and electronic waste), while maintaining a consistent user experience in every room.

    Tailored experiences

    Bringing extensive branding, marketing and unique tailored opportunities to guests, all Philips MediaSuite TVs installed at The Grove Hotel are networked over a Tiger TMS hotel property management system (PMS) and use PPDS CMND content management platform.

    The user interface on all Philips MediaSuite TVs has also been customised to feature The Grove Hotel’s iconic colours and branding, together with their design and layout.

    Taking things further, each Philips MediaSuite TV can now be configured to meet the needs and requirements of each guest. This includes but is far from limited to, supporting a wide range of different or preferred languages, adding on-screen messages (such as a personalised welcome or congratulations on special occasions), and even adding specific services, such as games and channels suitable for guests with children, or health-related apps, such as Peloton and iFit. 

    Externally, all Philips MediaSuite TVs at The Grove Hotel have had their bezels custom-finished in a stunning pewter colour, completing the look and adding a final layer of exclusivity.

    Kendra Ingram, Professional TV Business Manager at PPDS added: “The feature we’re finding both hoteliers and their guests enjoy around the world on Philips MediaSuite is Google Cast. It’s a fully certified Google product, allowing guests to come in with their phones and cast the content they really want to watch. It’s fast and incredibly simple. And the benefits of Philips MediaSuite extend much further, with an amazing choice of entertainment options to cover almost every preference a guest might have. We’re incredibly proud to have played such an important role in the experience at The Grove – one of the UK's most luxurious hotels.” 

    Philip added: “In the world we live in today, the majority of the content our guests are looking for is actually from their own streaming services. Philips MediaSuite was the standout choice for our guest rooms.”

    Project at a glance

    • Client: The Grove Hotel
    • Location: Chandlers Cross, Hertfordshire, UK
    • Project: Remastering the West Wing for home-from-home comfort at The Grove
    • Partners: Peter Tyson
    • Products: 43” and 55” Philips MediaSuite TVs

    *Apps can be added, made accessible or restricted at the hotel’s discretion

  • 7/8/2024

    Stayntouch Partners with PUBLIC Hotel

    stayntouch, public hotel logos

    Stayntouch, a global leader in cloud-based hotel property management systems (PMS) and guest-centric technology, partners with Ian Schrager's tech-forward PUBLIC Hotel in Lower Manhattan, known for its upscale, tech-savvy approach to luxury accommodations.

    PUBLIC Hotel utilizes Stayntouch PMS and Kiosk solutions for a customized and seamless check-in experience, streamlined operations, and enhanced connectivity to 3rd party platforms. With Stayntouch, PUBLIC Hotel has enjoyed the following benefits: 

    • Elevated Service and Operational Efficiency: PUBLIC provides guests with a seamless and fully digital welcome experience, delivering a 1-minute check-in with Stayntouch Kiosk.
    • Enhanced Connectivity: Seamlessly integrated a diverse range of leading third-party platforms, including Toast POS, to effectively manage the operations of seven F&B venues on the property.
    • Reliable Tech Partner Assurance: PUBLIC Hotel relies on responsive deployment and customer success teams, and has collaborated with Stayntouch to develop a bespoke guest journey flow.
    • Significant Cost Reductions: Achieved a significant reduction in costs while enhancing connectivity by consolidating multiple technology vendors into a single kiosk solution.

     Ian Schrager, Owner and Creator of PUBLIC commented, "At PUBLIC, our goal is to continually innovate and utilize innovative technology to provide outstanding experiences to a wide range of guests. Through our partnership with Stayntouch, we've optimized our check-in process using kiosk and mobile solutions, to assist our PUBLIC advisors in delivering an enhanced guest experience. Our team highly appreciates the partnership we’ve established with Stayntouch and their robust, user-friendly property management system, which has been as easy to use as the universal Apple iPhone.”


    Jacob Messina, CEO of Stayntouch said, “We're excited about our partnership with PUBLIC and share Ian Schrager’s vision of delivering a luxurious guest experience through innovative technology and personalized service. Since day one of implementing our cloud PMS at PUBLIC, we've maintained a strong partnership that has been pivotal in driving fresh and compelling feature innovations in our product, precisely tailored to meet PUBLIC's needs. These enhancements have not only streamlined processes but have also significantly enriched the overall guest experience."

  • 7/8/2024

    Marriott International Launches Business Access by Marriott Bonvoy to Ease Travel Management Process for SMBs

    business access by marriott bonvoy logo

    Marriott International announced the launch of Business Access by Marriott Bonvoy™ (“the Program”), a comprehensive online travel booking program designed as a direct channel for small to medium-sized businesses. The Program combines an expanded booking experience with benefits and rewards available only through Marriott Bonvoy’s award-winning travel program and portfolio of brands. Starting today, Business Access by Marriott Bonvoy is available to small to medium-sized businesses based in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America and is anticipated to expand to other regions.

    According to a global survey commissioned by Marriott Bonvoy® and conducted by Wakefield Research among business travelers at small to medium-sized businesses in the U.S., UK, Canada, and Mexico,1 75% report experiencing frustrations with their travel booking platforms. 56% say they are difficult to use, 27% are unhappy with the inability to book travel and hotels from the same place, and more than a quarter (27%) express disappointment with the platforms’ lack of integration with their travel expense programs. In fact, 58% are so unwilling to work within their current programs that they would rather ask for forgiveness than permission for booking outside their companies’ travel management platforms.

    With Business Access by Marriott Bonvoy, companies have the ability to book hotels in the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio at a discounted rate, as well as flights, rail, and rental cars, within one easy-to-use multilingual tool. The Program includes additional features that satisfy business needs, such as access to live traveler data, real-time reporting, and expense management.

    “We recognize the significant value small businesses provide to the hotel industry, which is why we’re excited to combine the benefits of our award-winning travel program with a comprehensive suite of tools in Business Access by Marriott Bonvoy,” said Drew Pinto, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue and Technology Officer, Marriott International. “Whether small to medium-sized businesses are looking for convenient online booking capabilities for their employees or better expense management solutions, the all-in-one platform, merged with our portfolio of hotel brands around the world, provides everything they need to manage their business travel needs.”

    With a seamless experience at every step, companies can now take their travel to the next level and benefit from the following features:

    • Discounted Marriott Bonvoy Rates and Awards: Small to medium-sized businesses that join Business Access by Marriott Bonvoy will be eligible to select a discount at hotels in the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio around the world (subject to availability) while earning points for future stays at participating hotels, room upgrades, and more. Participating businesses can also receive Marriott Bonvoy Elite status awards after certain companywide usage thresholds are reached. These status awards can be gifted to employees, who can enjoy the benefits that each Marriott Bonvoy Elite status level provides to members.

    Small businesses that have the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase, or the Marriott Bonvoy Business Credit Card from Chase are also invited to apply for Business Access by Marriott Bonvoy. All Marriott Bonvoy Business Credit Card Members who join the Program can continue to enjoy the benefits of their Cards.

    • Elevated Shopping Experience: The online booking tool serves as a one-stop shop for small to medium-sized business travelers to compare, book, manage, and change Marriott Bonvoy hotel, flight, rail, and car rental reservations all within one integrated platform that supports compliance with their companies’ travel policies.

    • Customizable Travel Policies: Travel managers can take control of their companies’ travel policies and ensure compliance with spending limits. From setting clear guidelines for their unique needs to managing expenses, the self-service tool makes it easy for managers to make changes.

    • Global Travel Policy Management and Reporting: Real-time analytics empower managers with detailed insights on travel spend, sustainability reporting and behavior so they can make policy adjustments.

    • Traveler Health and Safety Monitoring: The travel insights tool gives managers the ability to monitor the well-being and safety of employees on the move. Managers can view interactive maps to stay informed of potential disruptions and proactively mitigate risks, helping keep teams safe and their businesses running smoothly.

    • Expense Management Solutions: Businesses that sign up for Business Access by Marriott Bonvoy will have the option to use an expense management tool. Travelers can choose to integrate the Program with existing expense management platforms and submit payments with virtual credit cards. They can also automate expense reports based on set policies, making it easy for managers to approve and reconcile expenses.

    • Access to Marriott Bonvoy Benefits: Employees of small and medium-sized businesses who join Business Access by Marriott Bonvoy will have full access to the offerings of Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott International’s award-winning travel program and marketplace. Members can take advantage of benefits such as member rates, free breakfast, late checkout, mobile check-in, mobile keys, and mobile chat on the Marriott Bonvoy mobile app, free in-room Wi-Fi, room upgrades and more, subject to availability. Additionally, members can earn points at properties participating in Marriott Bonvoy globally and enjoy free stays by redeeming points or a combination of points and cash or use points to bid on Marriott Bonvoy Moments® experiences.

    Business Access by Marriott Bonvoy is powered by Spotnana, a Travel-as-a-Service platform modernizing the infrastructure of the travel industry.

    For more information on Business Access by Marriott Bonvoy or to apply for the Program, visit www.marriott.com/businessaccess.

    1 The Marriott Business Travelers Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research between May 22 and May 29, 2024, among 1,500 business travelers at small to medium-sized companies in the U.S., UK, Canada, and Mexico, with “business travelers” defined as those taking a business-related trip requiring an overnight stay in the past 12 months, using an email invitation and an online survey. “Small companies” are defined as those with fewer than 1,000 employees, and “midsize companies” are defined as those with 1,000-4,999 employees.

  • 7/7/2024

    Amelia Partners with Resorts World Las Vegas to Elevate the Digital Guest Experience with Generative AI Capabilities

    logo, resorts world las vegas
    Amelia, an enterprise AI agent software company, and Resorts World Las Vegas announced the resort will enhance its digital concierge, RED, with Generative AI capabilities via the Amelia Answers platform in the near future.
     
    The team at Resorts World Las Vegas has operated at the cutting edge of innovation since its inception. As part of its overall strategy, the resort wanted to integrate an AI agent into its architecture from day one. In 2020, Amelia partnered with Resorts World Las Vegas to build and deploy RED, the resort’s digital concierge powered by Amelia’s Conversational AI platform.
     
    Resorts World Las Vegas will usher in a new era of AI in hospitality by leveraging the Generative AI capabilities of the Amelia Answers platform. Having recognized the power of Large Language Models (LLMs), as well as their potential risks, the team at Resorts World Las Vegas chose to expand its partnership with Amelia to take advantage of the benefits of LLMs while remaining within Amelia’s secure, trusted and scalable platform.
     
    “At the core of every decision we make at Resorts World Las Vegas is our unwavering commitment to creating extraordinary experiences for our guests. So, when LLMs and Generative AI burst into the mainstream last year, we knew that if we wanted to leverage this technology, we needed our deployment to be reliable and add value to our guest experience. By building upon our existing partnership with Amelia, we will be able to quickly leverage LLMs to enhance the capabilities of RED and elevate the experience for our guests,” says Shannon McCallum, Vice President of Hotel Operations at Resorts World Las Vegas.
     
    Lanham Napier, President and Chairman of Amelia, says, “it has been an honor to partner with Resorts World Las Vegas over the past four years and counting. The team continues to be at the helm of AI in the hospitality industry and we are thrilled to be a part of their journey. As we mark 10-plus years since the launch of our Conversational AI platform, partnerships like the one we have with Resorts World Las Vegas remind us of why we do what we do – it is a joy to help forward-thinking enterprises bring the latest AI capabilities to their business to improve the human experience, both for customers and employees.”
  • 7/4/2024

    Like Magic and Häfele Announce Strategic Partnership to Develop Multifunctional Hotel Room Concept

    A smartphone key powered by Like Magic unlocks Häfele multi-functional furniture. Photo: Häfele
    Häfele, a provider of hardware solutions, electronic locking systems and lighting, has announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with employee and guest experience platform Like Magic to develop a pioneering new multifunctional hotel rooms concept. 
     
    The concept, dubbed ‘Work and Sleep’, will enable hotel operators to quickly adapt bedrooms into offices, meeting rooms and other functional spaces by using digitally-enabled furniture, fitting solutions and advanced software.
     
    The partnership will combine Like Magic’s comprehensive guest and employee experience platform with Häfele’s advanced hardware systems. The collaboration aims to introduce new revenue models by activating rooms that would otherwise remain vacant, all while reducing outfitting costs.
     
    'Work and Sleep' rooms allow for seamless room reconfiguration without additional costs. For example, electronic locking ensures that only night guests can access the integrated bed, while meeting tables remain only accessible to day guests who have booked it.
     
    Other cutting-edge innovations include lighting technology which automatically adjusts to the intended use of the room, from creating a relaxed atmosphere for hotel guests staying overnight to flicker-free lighting during the day for video conferences. 
     
    Guests can also use Like Magic’s web-based app to independently access extra amenities. For example, they can unlock a coffee machine cabinet with Häfele electronic locks and access upgrades like additional cabinet spaces, sports equipment and clothes steamers using a smartphone key powered by Like Magic.
     
    Like Magic and Häfele are taking their partnership to boutique concept and conventional hotels, such as the ibis Styles hotel in Nagold, Germany, which has incorporated the platform’s smartphone-enabled keyless room technology. Powered by Like Magic, future guests will be offered more personalized services such as regional culinary recommendations, cultural excursions, and sporting activities, alongside traditional services like late check-out.
     
    Gregor Riekena, CEO of Häfele, said: “Our goal is to lead the way in hotel industry innovation with our forward-thinking concepts. We are currently testing these new ideas at the ibis Styles Hotel in Nagold, Germany, which serves as a valuable proving ground for our initiatives. 
     
    “This innovation not only allows us to gather essential insights and refine our concepts, but also demonstrates our commitment to pushing the boundaries of what modern hotels can offer. By continuously evolving and enhancing our solutions, we aim to set new standards for guest experience and operational efficiency.”
     
    Markus Feller, CEO of Like Magic, said: “By combining our comprehensive digital platform with Häfele's advanced hardware solutions, we are creating a best-in-class blueprint for the future of hospitality.
     
    “Digitization can solve the hospitality industry’s most pressing issues and increase profitability. When used strategically, digital solutions can alleviate skills shortages by reducing the pressure on employees, allowing them more time to interact with guests, and ultimately making their jobs more appealing. This allows staff to enhance the industry's core objective which is to deliver tailored and high-quality experiences to guests.”
     
    Like Magic’s platform brings a booking engine, guest platform, employee interface and monitoring tools all into one place, creating a center of operations for hotel management. This unlocks a completely digital guest journey for guests if they prefer. 
     
    In addition to enabling staff to perform 80% of their daily tasks from one single system, Like Magic also allows guests to carry out a range of actions without staff assistance. 
     
    These range from checking in, ordering food, requesting additional linen or pillows, and creating keyless room passes – requiring only a smartphone. 
     
    The platform allows staff to run operations using a traffic light system of notifications and recommended actions, making the whole process of customer service and property management much more automated. 
     
    IMAGE CAPTION: A smartphone key powered by Like Magic unlocks Häfele multi-functional furniture. Photo: Häfele
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