News Briefs


HCN Showcases NEW Navigator 2.0 Tablets at BITAC Operations Conference in San Diego

HCN Navigator Tablets at BITAC

This week hoteliers representing prominent hotels, resorts and management groups across the nation converged at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego to attend BITAC® Operations, a two-day interactive conference filled with education, relationship-building, and uninterrupted private meetings between buyers and sellers of hotel products, amenities and technologies. To help operators better engage with guests, address labor concerns, and drive revenues, Hotel Communication Network was there to introduce its NEW Navigator 2.0 in-room tablet.

Built on the latest technology stack, the cloud-based Navigator 2.0 platform was re-engineered to give guests more control over how they experience the hotel and communicate with staff plus give operators a way to turn room service from a traditional loss leader to a profit center. With real-time language translation, the tablet is making two-way communication effortless for everyone involved – especially hoteliers who can now update and self-manage tablet content as often as needed throughout the day.

“BITAC Operations is a terrific forum to sit down with hoteliers face to face, discuss their pain points and introduce to them to our in-room tablets as the preferred way for guests to communicate with the hotel,” said Aurelio DaMota, HCN vice president of sales. “Travelers are very comfortable with tablets, and since the pandemic these mobile devices have become increasingly popular to keep people connected with family and friends, stream movies, conduct business, shop, listen to music, search local information, make reservations and a lot more.

“We attended BITAC Operations to show hoteliers how they can use HCN’s interactive tablet for direct in-room messaging, group business/event communication, guest surveys, housekeeping optimization, in-room marketing, late check-out requests, and as an interactive city guide – all while cutting labor costs and increasing revenues,” he said. “Via a quick demo, we sat down with buyers in a relaxed atmosphere and showed them how guests can communicate with the hotel, make purchases, order room service from local restaurants (not the hotel), report problems, and control their room environment. More importantly, we demonstrated how Navigator 2.0 can easily replace existing but outdated room equipment such as the phone, TV remote, and clock/radio, further saving money and eliminating all the clutter today’s travelers don’t want to touch. This new in-room tablet hits the sweet spot in affordabilityfunctionality, and engagement.”


Navigator 2.0 has an elegant look with the tablet set on a Bluetooth pairable speaker base. The unit’s high-quality sound, USB A&C charging points, and stunning HD graphics give guests a user experience they are comfortable with and appreciate. The speaker base also serves as a voice assistant, enabling guests to request services and amenities, report problems, plus control lights, thermostat, and blinds by voice command.

“We are delighted that HCN had such a positive experience at BITAC Operations,” said Rich Viola, President and CEO of Hotel Interactive, producer of the BITAC Conference Series. “Oftentimes at tradeshows it’s difficult for problem solvers to find the time to sit down with operators to discuss their operational challenges and present bonafide solutions. Here, our program is centered around creating time via pre-scheduled meetings and connecting buyers with the sellers they want to learn more about. There are so many new innovations since the pandemic that are overcoming labor challenges and keeping guest safety and contactless engagement at the forefront. Today, operators are sharing best practices with their peers and then we are pairing them with solution providers like HCN whose tools make those best practices a reality.”


Wendy's Franchise Expands Use of AI in Drive-Thrus

Wendys exterior at night

Wenspok Companies, a Spokane-based franchise operator of Wendy's operating 65+ restaurants., is expanding use of camera-based drive-thru timers in partnership with  Berry AI

Wenspok began testing Berry's camera-based drive-thru timers last year. The system provides more actionable data, is easy to install and maintain, and helps restaurants improve speed of service. The success in testing fueled Wenspok's desire to add the technology to more locations and is committed to an upcoming rollout.

RTN releases Restaurant Technology KPIs

"With Wenspok's desire to build a drive-thru that improves operational efficiency while delivering an elevated guest experience, Berry's camera-based drive-thru timer solution is a natural choice," said Adam Azril, Wenspok's Director of Technology and Training. "The Berry AI platform has exceeded our expectations and we are excited to deploy the solution to more restaurants. Our intention isn't to replace jobs – quite the opposite. The goal is to have the employees focus on higher-value tasks and make their jobs easier over time."

Berry AI estimates there's 200,000+ drive-thrus in the country and predicts that in five years, tens of thousands of locations will adopt the camera-based drive-thru timer technology.  

Since its founding in 2019, Berry AI has been on a mission to improve the QSR guest experience and is in active partnerships with numerous top-50 QSR brands.


Nathan's Famous Expands Brand Through Delivery-Only Menu

a large sandwich sitting on top of a table

Nextbite a provider of virtual restaurants, has partnered with Nathan’s Famous to bring its iconic hot dogs, burgers and crinkle cut fries as a delivery-only menu through Nextbite’s network of restaurant partners. The Nathan’s Famous virtual brand is now available for restaurants to sign up to offer them as a Nextbite partner, bringing this brand to consumers nationwide.

The Nathan’s Famous delivery-only menu includes Nathan’s signature all-beef hot dogs, crinkle cut fries, burgers and more. The hot dog menu includes hot dogs along with chili, cheese sauce and bacon toppings.

With Nextbite’s virtual restaurant solution featuring Nathan’s Famous menu items, it seamlessly connects restaurant partners with delivery services such as Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub. Nextbite delivery-only restaurant concepts are crafted to complement current restaurant operations, equipment, and resources. Backed by data, its brands drive orders during different dayparts, so restaurants can increase sales during slow periods.


Valyant AI Advances Conversational AI Platform

Rob in drive-thru of Good Times in Denver standing in front of menu board

Valyant AI, a provider of AI-powered customer service solutions, has announced the incorporation of language-learning models to enhance its artificial intelligence technology for restaurants. This application is set to utilize the latest advancements in LLMs (similar to ChatGPT and Google’s LaMDA) for improving the comprehensiveness of its voice assistant system’s responses, speed and efficiency.

17% of restaurants plan to add in-car ordering this year, according to Hospitality Technology’s 25th annual Restaurant Technology Study.

The LLM technology utilized by Valyant AI is a type of artificial intelligence that allows computers to understand natural language and context in a previously impossible way. This technology has been trained on vast amounts of language data, allowing the platform to provide users with more accurate responses in less time, positively impacting customer satisfaction, reducing wait times and delivering a more efficient user experience overall.

A key distinction of Valyant AI's usage of LLM technology is that it ensures customer data security and privacy by not sharing that information with any third-party external entities. This level of protection is  crucial in maintaining customer trust and building a positive reputation in the industry.

Valyant AI is committed to staying at the forefront of technological advancements in artificial intelligence, and the incorporation of LLM technology is just one example of the company's ongoing dedication to innovation.


Retail & Hospitality ISAC and NACD Collaborate to Prepare the Next Generation of Aspiring Boardroom Leaders

Retail and Hospitality ISAC logo

The Retail & Hospitality Information Sharing and Analysis Center (RH-ISAC) and the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the authority on boardroom practices representing more than 23,000 board members, have launched a new alliance to promote NACD Accelerate to cybersecurity professionals, an educational program for aspiring boardroom leaders and executives that delivers the critical foundation needed to become a prime candidate for directorship.

As the cybersecurity threat landscape continues to evolve, corporate boards are under increasing pressure to provide oversight of cybersecurity risk, but many boards lack directors with relevant experience. Forthcoming regulations from the SEC related to cybersecurity disclosures are expected to further increase the demand for corporate directors with cybersecurity expertise.

“Corporate directors play a critical leadership role in ensuring the security and resilience of their organizations,” said Suzie Squier, president of RH-ISAC. “We are thrilled to partner with NACD to promote the NACD Accelerate™ program to CISOs at our member companies and help close the cybersecurity knowledge gap in boardrooms across industries.”

The RH-ISAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing threat intelligence and best practices related to cybersecurity in the retail and hospitality industry. NACD is the premier membership organization for board directors who want to expand their knowledge, grow their network, and maximize their potential. By joining together, the RH-ISAC and NACD are leveraging their unique strengths to help organizations develop well-rounded boards with cybersecurity expertise.

Through this collaboration, RH-ISAC is promoting the program to CISOs and other cybersecurity leaders and has already enrolled a cohort representing companies from across the retail and hospitality sectors.



Alertify Debuts for Hospitality

alertify device shown on wall

Alertify, an all-in-one noise and indoor smoking sensor for short term rental operators, property managers and hoteliers has begun taking pre-orders in the US and EU. 

Alertify devices monitor noise decibel levels, indoor smoking, elevated occupancy, temperature changes, air quality levels and more. The device is GDPR compliant and ensures 100% privacy for guests - for example, audio is never recorded. Users can set custom thresholds to receive real-time notifications whenever violations take place. With Alertify, hosts, property managers and hoteliers can intervene before receiving noise complaints or things get out of hand.

“As an STR [Short Term Rental] Operator, you don’t usually have staff in the building and can’t easily or accurately monitor for guest misbehavior. A lot of the time, you only find out about smoking or parties when the neighbors or property manager call you, or upon check out. Alertify has been a great solution to this problem, notifying us of violations as they occur so that we can contact guests and remedy the situation immediately and remotely,” said ENVITAE CEO Josh Rogers. 

Alertify comes with access to an online dashboard containing all live and historical data for each property or device. Users can download after-incident reports containing details on violations that took place and, if integrated with a PMS, which guest was in the property at the time. Alertify’s after-incident reports can be used as documentary evidence in the event of (deposit) disputes with guests, and submitted as evidence for Airbnb support cases and credit card chargeback disputes.

The company is currently taking pre-orders slated to ship in May. Short term rental owners, hoteliers and property managers are encouraged to contact Alertify to schedule a demo and learn how Alertify can help their business.