Focus Brands says dual branding is the future of QSR, and the parent company of Auntie Anne’s®, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s, is leading the charge. Today, the Focus Brands portfolio boasts 175-plus open dual branded units with at least 65 more in various stages of development across the country.
The Focus Brands portfolio brands have signed agreements to open more than 50 dual and tri-brand locations in the coming year, many of which include drive-thrus for added convenience as interest in dual branded franchise opportunities continues to surge.
Flexible Store Formats
Focus Brands is among the brands introducing new store formats, including Krystal, Jack-in-the-Box and Panera Bread, which opened its Panera To Go, solely offering Rapid Pick-Up and Delivery shelves where guests and delivery drivers can easily pick up orders.
Focus Brands has long pioneered the concept of dual branding, predominately in malls and non-traditional locations with Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon. Now, the company’s portfolio brands have found new opportunities with streetside dual branded units, which is paving the way for immense franchise growth.
“Dual branding is the future of our brands, especially on the specialty side of the business,” said Brian Krause, Chief Development Officer at Focus Brands. “There will always be a place in malls, but there is an immense amount of growth opportunity in streetside venues, and, by dual branding, there is more opportunity for enhanced revenue.”
The company invested heavily in consumer research to identify how to create combinations of its iconic brands to resonate with consumers and meet them where they want to be met.
Focus Brands has identified four dual-brand concepts:
Cinnabon/Carvel – Cinnabon Swirl.
While key consumer benefits vary by dual-brand combination, one consistent benefit has been convenience. Having these brands together in one location makes them far more accessible than they are individually. This convenience also creates opportunity for franchisees, as co-branding leads to an expansive menu that drives enhanced unit-level volume.
Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux Invests in Tech Transformation
Walk-On’s is implementing a systemwide aggregator to consolidate third party orders, partnering with Lunchbox to upgrade its online ordering platform and guest loyalty program, and introducing a partnership with Toast to level up its POS management system.
Walk-On’s new loyalty program and app, designed by Lunchbox, are scheduled to launch in the first half of 2023 with an improved interface and back-end integration that will create a more seamless user experience for guests and operators alike.
Continuing with marked enhancements to the guest experience, Walk-On’s is also partnering with BOWENto modernize the brand’s website presence and streamline the online ordering experience.
In addition to the upgraded Toast POS system, Walk-On’s is installing Toast Kitchen Display System, and rolling out Toast Go 2 mobile handheld POS devices for tableside and curbside use at current and future locations.
Walk-On’s will implement a phased rollout across all current locations throughout 2023 and begin immediate implementation at all new restaurants in their development pipeline.
Hifive Launches to Help Employees be Recognized and Rewarded in the Workplace
Hifive is making waves in the hospitality industry by helping service employees receive recognition and increase their income for their hard work through their feedback and digital tipping solution.
Staff members such as housekeepers, concierge, and front desk employees often work behind the scenes and their contributions may go unnoticed by guests and management. With the increasing trend of digital payments, many people no longer carry cash on them, making it difficult for them to leave tips for service staff. This can be a problem for hotels, as tips can be an important source of income for employees and a key factor in improving customer satisfaction. Hifive's cashless digital tipping solution makes it easy for guests to leave a tip for service employees by using a QR code. Guests can scan the QR code using their mobile device and use options such as Apple Pay or Google Pay to complete the transactions. If they prefer, guests can also manually enter their card details to leave a tip. This not only makes it easy for guests to leave a tip, but it also ensures that the service employee receives it in a timely and secure manner.
But Hifive's solution doesn't just stop at digital tipping. Guests can also leave reviews about their property experience during the tipping process, giving a feedback mechanism for general managers and hotel owners to utilize as a way to improve existing and future guest service experiences. In addition, the platform also allows service employees to receive recognition for their hard work, through a system of ratings and reviews, which both property personnel and employees can keep track of.
One of the most exciting features of Hifive's solution is the recent launch of its instant payouts. The instant payout feature allows service employees to disburse the tips earned from their digital wallet, who can choose from various payout options, including their bank account, Cash App, Venmo, or even in the form of a gift card. This gives employees greater flexibility and control over their earnings and eliminates the need for them to wait for a paycheck for tips to be distributed. Given Hifive is a B2B solution, the startup also offers an option where tips can be run through payroll.
"We are thrilled to offer our digital tipping solution to the hospitality industry," remarked Anirudh Emmadi, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Hifive. "We understand that employee retention can be a challenge, with many individuals feeling underappreciated and undervalued. Our platform addresses these issues by providing a mechanism for staff to receive recognition for their efforts and to be appropriately compensated for their services, while also enabling guests to provide feedback on their experience at the property."
Hifive's digital tipping solution is a win for service employees, guests, and business owners. It helps employees increase their income and receive recognition for their hard work, while also giving guests an opportunity to share their experience and giving businesses valuable feedback on their staff and helping to improve the overall experience for guests.
Chuck E. Cheese has completed its 200th remodel at its Douglasville, Georgia location.
New and refreshed fun centers across 35 states have been enhanced to plus up the fun and the experience for families with more games, updated technology enhancements throughout each location, and innovation within its operation. To meet the shifts in consumer demands, the company is upping the game to continue to be the destination for the whole family.
An Immersive Experience
To serve the Chuck E. Cheese guests of today, remodeled and new fun centers feature the most popular arcade, sports and kid-focused games with varying skill levels for players of all ages, an interactive dance floor, a large format video wall and screens with audio connected throughout the venue. With nearly half its entire fleet remodeled already, the brand is on track to remodel another 100 locations in 2023.
Self-service kiosks allow guests to pause their play time, check their ticket allotment or re-up on game play at any time.
Mobile Table Ordering creates an easy way for guests to view the menu, order food immediately or later from their table so they have more time for fun.
"Within the next three years, we expect all our fun centers across the country to be upgraded with our latest vision of the brand, said David McKillips, President and CEO of CEC Entertainment, LLC. Our remodeled fun centers offer families more space for play and through our game enhancement program we are introducing new games year-round; its more entertainment than ever before. Chuck E. Cheese has helped families create lifelong memories for 45 years, so we are excited to bring to life an elevated entertainment experience to this beloved brand for the next generation of kids."
REPORT: Hotels Continue to Recover in 2023 as Industry Begins New Era of Operations
The hotel industry in 2023 is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels of demand, nominal room revenue and state and local tax revenue, while inching closer to other key 2019 performance metrics, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s 2023 State of the Hotel Industry Report.
The report, which forecasts that operational challenges such as staffing shortages and economic factors will replace COVID as hoteliers’ top concerns, is based on data and analysis from Oxford Economics and was created in collaboration with AHLA Platinum Partners STR, Avendra, Ecolab, Encore, and Oracle.
The top findings of the report include:
2023 nominal room revenue is projected to reach new heights ($197.48 billion vs. $170.35 billion in 2019). While these numbers are not adjusted for inflation, and real revenue recovery will likely take several more years, the trendlines are positive.
2023 room-night demand is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels (1.3 billion occupied room nights vs. 1.29 billion in 2019).
Hotels are expected to generate $46.71 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2023, up from $41.11 billion in 2019.
Average hotel occupancy is expected to reach 63.8% in 2023 – just shy of 2019’s 65.9%.
Staffing is expected to remain a significant challenge for U.S. hotels in 2023, with hotels projected to employ 2.09 million people in 2023, down from 2.35 million in 2019.
Inflation for a number of hospitality-related products will continue to run 5% to upwards of 10% for the next few quarters, according to AHLA Platinum Partner Avendra.
Group business has a bright future: AHLA Platinum Partner Encore reports that 70% of planners surveyed for the company’s Fall 2022 Planner Pulse Report were either booking or actively sourcing new events, and 61% expected to have larger budgets in 2023.
“Three years after the unprecedented hardships our industry faced due to the pandemic, hotels continue to make significant strides toward recovery,” said AHLA President & CEO Chip Rogers. “2022 saw one of the strongest summer travel seasons ever, and this year we expect hotels to reach new heights in terms of room revenue, room-night demand and state and local tax revenue. But when inflation is taken into account, our industry likely won’t see full recovery for several more years. Nevertheless, hotel performance is trending in the right direction – great news for our industry and our employees, who are enjoying better pay, more career opportunities, upward mobility and flexibility than ever before.”
To help hotels fill open jobs and raise awareness of the hotel industry’s 200+ career pathways, the AHLA Foundation’s “A Place to Stay” multi-channel advertising campaign is now active in 14 cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, and Tampa. For more info on the campaign, visit thehotelindustry.com.
Additionally, AHLA affiliate “Hospitality is Working” recently launched the Workforce & Immigration Initiative. The effort is aimed at urging Congress to address workforce shortages with bipartisan solutions to incorporate more immigrants into the American economy. You can learn more about the effort here.
Download the full State of the Industry report here.
Quantum Metric Introduces Atlas to Empower Organizations to Expedite Digital Expertise
Quantum Metric, the Continuous Product Design platform for customer-driven digital experiences, announced the launch of Atlas, a first-to-market structured and accelerated solution to answering the most critical business questions about an organization's digital experiences. Powered by proprietary machine intelligence and mapping learnings from hundreds of leading brands and digital teams, Atlas provides outcome-driven insight that enables anyone to easily identify and respond to digital customer needs from day one.
"Atlas completely reimagines what we know about building and optimizing digital experiences today," said Mario Ciabarra, CEO of Quantum Metric. "Organizations consistently struggle to know if their teams are asking the right business questions and working hard to drive their experience forward to the benefit of both their business and their customer. With Atlas, we are empowering every member of digital teams to focus on what matters most, winning the hearts of their customers. This is a defining day for Quantum Metric that sets a new standard for the type of value our current and future customers can expect from our platform."
Atlas is a comprehensive library of pre-built industry guides within the Quantum Metric platform, providing a step-by-step approach to improving critical digital use cases through a tailored set of dashboards, metrics, anomaly detection, and alerts. A proven and structured approach to analysis, Atlas introduces the next evolution in the practices of Continuous Product Design. Digital teams can confidently define customer needs across any digital journey faster, regardless of their past experience with the Quantum Metric platform.
As digital becomes a primary driver of business sales and revenue, organizations are facing major hurdles in decreasing the time between identifying digital opportunities and taking action. Added to this are teams' limited ability to capture every customer frustration, including small customer touchpoints that when added together can have a massive effect on the customer experience. These challenges have an immediate impact on digital ROI. According to Quantum Metric, the average enterprise leaves up to $220M on the table per year in inefficiencies, with digital teams taking up to four weeks to resolve digital issues or optimize experiences. With Atlas' simplified approach, organizations can improve their efficiency by up to 90%, resolving issues in one to two days.
"The hospitality industry has seen significant digital acceleration over the past few years as they’ve raced to keep up with customer expectations and desires to engage with brands digitally," says Danielle Harvey, vice president, travel & hospitality strategy at Quantum Metric. "From booking and online-ordering to mobile check-in and curbside pick-up, there are more technology touchpoints than ever before — which means more possibilities for customers to experience barriers or friction in their journey, if not fully optimized.
"Through Atlas’ travel and hospitality guides, brands can quickly and easily understand performance across key experiences like booking, in-stay, order fulfillment, and loyalty in real-time," Harvey continues. "Atlas provides hospitality companies with a more structured way to proactively identify guest-facing friction points that are driving poor customer experiences, including those experiences that may have not made it to the call center or a customer survey, but are having a profound impact on the customer and the business. It’s about helping lean teams throughout the industry better understand their core customers, and proactively focus on what matters most to improve customer satisfaction and their business' bottom line."
The introduction of Atlas will transform other areas of the Quantum Metric platform, such as:
Provide guided analysis on-site with Visible: Enable team members with Atlas insight with an intuitive entry point via Visible, which shows data in line with the site experience.
Use-case-driven navigation: Enhancing platform accessibility by organizing the Atlas guide library by top use case categories and focus areas.
Automated segmentation for deeper analysis: Connecting users to deeper and more personalized analysis that supports outcome-driven results.
According to a recent report from Forrester, authored by senior analyst, Zhi-Ying Barry, "Forrester's research shows that advanced insights-driven firms are five times as likely to grow revenue by 20% or more. This depends on firms' ability to harness and apply data and analytics at every opportunity and base operating models on insights that lead to clear action embedded in software."
At launch, Quantum Metric's Atlas library offers 90 guides, with customized use cases for consumer banking, travel, retail, insurance, and telecommunications. Cross-industry guides will also be offered for common use cases faced by digital organizations today, regardless of their industry.