News Briefs


Sojern and Xcaliber Collaborate to Drive Direct Bookings and Increase Revenue for Asia-Pacific Hotels

Sojern logo

Sojern, a travel marketing platform, and Xcaliber, a direct booking platform offering cloud-based solutions for hotels, announced a new collaboration to collectively drive direct bookings and bolster revenue for Asia-Pacific hoteliers. 

“Focused on travel from day one, our commitment to generating more direct relationships while driving online bookings is stronger than ever," said Lina Ang, Managing Director, APAC, Sojern. “Sojern’s new partnership with Xcaliber, the latest with a homegrown partner in the region, means together we can utilize our respective strengths to provide strategic marketing solutions to regional hoteliers. 2023 is the first year in APAC with no travel restrictions, so our partnership comes at a time of renewed optimism for the travel industry”.

With reports stating that Asia-Pacific’s travel industry could be the first to recover by 2023 this year will be pivotal for the hospitality industry. In an increasingly competitive digital landscape Sojern and XCaliber have partnered to play to each other's strengths. Sojern’s digital marketing expertise enables hoteliers to reach, engage and convert travelers along every stage of their planning and booking journey. Xcaliber offers innovative cloud base solutions that help more than 1,000 hotels in South East Asia to maximize revenue through hotels brands websites. 

“A trusted hotel partner since 2009 offering solutions such as booking engine, payment gateway, website development, digital marketing, property management system and ecommerce management, we pride ourselves on adding value to hotels and their guests. With Sojern’s industry expertise and mutual focus on driving direct bookings for hoteliers we are delighted to announce this new partnership,” said Pipat Amonrungmetham, CEO & Founder of Xcaliber. “After a challenging few years for the industry this strategic collaboration will allow us to strengthen our value adds for hotels.”

Throughout its 15 years, Sojern’s unwavering focus on travel has increased its resilience and reaffirmed its vision to become the #1 travel marketing platform. Sojern was also recently ranked amongst the top Digital Marketing Agencies globally in the 2023 HotelTechAwards. Headquartered in Thailand, Xcaliber also operates in Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Laos with local experts. 


California Restaurant Association Offers Members U.S. Bank and Elavon's Payment Solutions

paying at a coffee shop

U.S. Bank and Elavon, one of the world’s largest payment processors, will now serve up customized payment solutions to restaurants across California under an agreement with the California Restaurant Association.

Elavon recently signed a contract with the CRA, a statewide trade association representing 22,000 member locations. The new partnership will provide the tools or resources that ensure the Golden State’s restaurant and hospitality industry can better manage operations and receive customer payments safely, quickly and efficiently.

Newly released research by U.S. Bank and Elavon found that 70% of restaurant-sector respondents say customers’ ability to order and pay quickly influences their choice of restaurant.


That's inline with the findings from HT's 2022 Customer Engagement Technology StudyWhen it comes to top restaurant technologies that guests demand, 49% say the ability to pay for food via mobile device (i.e., contactless payment) is tops, according to HT's 2022 Customer Engagement Technology Study.

California restaurant owners can benefit from the full suite of U.S. Bank banking and payments solutions including capabilities such as menu, order and employee management, invoicing, banking services, and the ability to view sales data in real-time – all from an easy-to-use dashboard.

The partnership agreement comes on the heels of U.S. Bank’s recent acquisition of MUFG Union Bank, further strengthening U.S. Bank and Elavon’s presence and service offerings in California.

“Our members are always looking for partners who can provide high value and excellent service,” said CRA Chief Operating Officer, Mike Doerr. “We believe our Association partnership with Elavon will provide that, and Elavon’s service is offered at an attractive price point to CRA members.”


Coast Hotels Selects Shiji's Online Reputation Management Solution to Drive Guest Satisfaction Across North America

Shiji and Coast Hotels logo

 Shiji Group, a hospitality technology partner, announced that it has installed its online reputation management platform Shiji ReviewPro across 16 Coast Hotels properties and 8 restaurants in North America. Coast Hotels is a Canadian hotel brand with properties across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Alaska, Washington State, California, and Hawaii.

With the addition of Shiji ReviewPro, Coast Hotels will have the necessary tools to provide exceptional service and further improve their guests’ experience. Shiji ReviewPro's innovative technology, global footprint, commitment to client support and training, and integration capabilities make it the ideal partner for Coast Hotels to build on their already-strong reputation and grow their business. The platform provides the Coast Hotels team with insights into guest feedback and helps them respond to reviews in real-time, resulting in improved guest satisfaction and loyalty.

"We are excited to partner with Shiji and leverage their expertise in guest feedback management to drive guest satisfaction and build our brand," said Brigitte Diem-Guy, Vice President of Revenue Strategies & Communication at Coast Hotels. "Shiji ReviewPro allows us to understand our performance and guest satisfaction levels across our properties, even before the guest arrives, to ensure we are providing the best possible experience."

"As we continue to grow our presence in North America, we are excited to partner with Coast Hotels to help drive their growth through guest satisfaction," said Kevin King, Chief Operating Officer of Shiji Group. "Shiji ReviewPro is an ideal solution for hotel brands that are committed to exceptional service and guest satisfaction, and we are proud to be Coast Hotels' partner of choice."

Coast Hotels plans to expand the use of Shiji ReviewPro solution across several additional properties by the end of 2023.


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.