News Briefs


Hilton Rolls Out Technology Platform to Help Reduce the Friction of Travel

couple checking in at hotel front desk

It’s 3 p.m. on a Monday at Homewood Suites by Hilton Largo Washington DC, arguably one of the busiest times for this hotel’s lobby. A guest, having checked in on Sunday, would like to inquire about dinner reservations. They approach the front desk. Although the hotel is at capacity, there is no line. The guest is welcomed personally by a smiling Hilton team member, who has time to ask their preferences, their dining style and more before making a recommendation.

While a seemingly simple interaction, this valuable in-person connection is enabled by a new cloud-based hotel Property Engagement Platform (“PEP"), co-developed by Hilton and HotelKey, now powering more than 1,000 properties within the Hilton portfolio. The platform’s ability to speed computer-based transactions at the front desk and throughout the hotel is helping reduce guest waits and increase the amount of time hotel team members can dedicate to providing personalized service.

Homewood Suites by Hilton Largo Washington DC is one of the first hotels in Hilton’s portfolio to implement PEP and is a testbed for the project rollout, which is expected to reach more than 7,000 hotels worldwide over the next three years.

“Since implementing the PEP solution in early 2022, we rarely have a line at our front desk, allowing us to spend more time connecting with our guests,” said Andron Gordon, general manager, Homewood Suites by Hilton Largo Washington DC. “Our regular, extended stay guests are even noticing the dramatic changes in efficiency. We are huge fans of PEP.”

Gordon credits the platform for significantly reducing the amount of time for team member training, reducing day-to-day technology and billing errors and enabling more time to build relationships and genuine connections with their guests.

According to a recent Hilton report, “The 2023 Traveler: Emerging Trends that are Innovating the Travel Experience,” more than half (56%) of consumers planning travel in 2023 said they want an easier, or “frictionless” travel experience this year. PEP, which was co-created with Hilton for exclusive use at Hilton properties, enables the global hospitality company to incorporate a suite of integrated software solutions to streamline operations, address guest and team member needs, and identify cost efficiencies within one standard platform that can be scaled worldwide. The collaboration is expected to improve the guest experience across Hilton’s 19 world-class brands and reduce team member upfront property management system training efforts from 40 hours to 4 hours, by providing access to HotelKey’s industry leading TrainKey solution.

Hilton’s implementation of PEP is one of many innovations the company is delivering to marry the power of technology with the light and warmth of hospitality, helping team members deliver the most reliable and friendly stays.

“As a business of people serving people, we’re always looking for ways to deploy solutions that meet the evolving needs of our team members and our guests,” said Michael Leidinger, senior vice president and chief information officer, Hilton. “In addition to benefiting from our new property engagement platform, to achieve a more frictionless travel experience, guests can also engage in our other industry-leading digital innovations, such as enhanced booking options, Digital Key and Digital Key Share through the Hilton Honors app and personalized in-room technology.”

Fareed Ahmad, co-founder & chief executive officer, HotelKey said, “Our partnership with Hilton is a testament to our hospitality platform technology and capabilities that allow a single property platform to serve many distinct brands across the globe. This engagement also highlights our partnership approach to integrate our technology as a part of the broader workflows of a large hotel enterprise.” Aditya Thyagarajan, co-founder & president, HotelKey, said, “We are enthusiastic about the new ground being blazed by our collaboration and look forward to a long partnership with Hilton to complete the deployment of our Hospitality Management Platform across their global portfolio.”


ConnexPay Partners With Payouts Network to Launch Push-to-Card Technology

ConnexPay, a payments technology company that integrates payments acceptance and issuance inside a single platform, announced a partnership with Payouts Network, an industry leader in financial technology. Through this partnership, ConnexPay has launched new functionality that will enable payouts via Push-to-Card modalities.

Push-to-Card Payouts are initiated by the payer, who “pushes” funds in real time to a payee’s account through their eligible Visa or Mastercard debit or reloadable prepaid card. Unlike traditional bank-to-bank transfers, Push-to-Card Payouts are settled in real time and need only the payee’s name and email to set up. The payee’s card information is then captured on the initial payment through a quick and easy white-labeled flow and stored for future payments; there is no need to collect banking information. Push-to-Card Payouts can be made anytime, 24/7/365. With Push-to-Card technology, payments are easy, quick, safe and transparent for businesses looking to pay other businesses or individuals, such as gig workers.

ConnexPay's primary payment modality is virtual cards, which provide an alternative to traditional cash, check, and ACH payments. Push to Card provides value where virtual card acceptance is unavailable. For example, Push to Card allows businesses to pay gig-economy delivery drivers (DoorDash, Grubhub, etc.) in real time directly to their eligible card account rather than having them wait several days to receive a payment via check or ACH. Powered by Payouts Network, this Push-to-Card solution complements ConnexPay's existing offering by enabling real-time settlements* and visibility into transactions via a new modality.

Commenting on the partnership, Bob Kaufman, Founder & CEO of ConnexPay, stated: "ConnexPay's partnership with Payouts Network demonstrates our commitment to delivering innovative solutions that meet the evolving needs of our customers. With Push to Card, ConnexPay is poised to offer a new payment process to our customers that is efficient and secure, further enhancing our position as a leading payments provider."

The new functionality will benefit businesses by eliminating the need for traditional payment methods like checks and ACH, which can take days to clear and have limited settlement visibility. With Push to Card, settlements to the recipient occur in real time, and businesses have full visibility into all transactions.

"This partnership is a natural fit for us, as both companies are committed to providing innovative and reliable payment solutions," said Payouts Network CEO Keith Smith. "We look forward to working with ConnexPay to bring our Push-to-Card solution to businesses across various verticals."

“Providing secure and transparent digital payment capabilities is at the core of Visa’s efforts to help enhance how individuals and small businesses move money,” said Yanilsa Gonzalez-Ore, SVP, North America, Head of Visa Direct. “We are excited to extend the benefits of Visa Direct to ConnexPay’s customers across a variety of industries and use cases.”

The new functionality will be available to all ConnexPay customers and will also help accelerate the company’s expansion to reach more customers across the gig economy, insurance industry, as well as other dimensions of the travel industry. ConnexPay and Payouts Network are also exploring opportunities to expand their partnership to other markets and geographies in the near future.

"We’re excited about the growth and retention opportunities that this partnership will bring to our business," added Kaufman. "Our customers are already using technology that is at the forefront of PayTech, and this new addition will make their payments much faster, while helping us serve more companies."


IRIS Partners with MYM to Support Expansion of Operations in China

IRIS logo

IRIS, a provider of digital F&B and guest experience platforms, is set to increase its market share across China’s growing hospitality market. It announced a new partnership with Asia-based hospitality technology reseller MYM, utilizing IRIS’s Chinese Azure cloud solution.

IRIS currently serves several Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons and Marriott properties, among others, within China. A key part of IRIS’s plan is to enhance its local service offering and the capabilities of its solution for both current and new clients across China. The report from Mordor Intelligence - China Tourism and Hotel Industry confirmed IRIS’s own insight that the hotel industry in China is currently experiencing a period of growth with hotel groups planning developments and renovations in the coming years. Enhancing the service and speed of delivery and establishing a partnership with an experienced partner, equipped with local expertise and market insight, is an important foundation for building this ambition in a hospitality market that is set for expansion.

Johan Ohlin, CTO at IRIS, comments: “Since we first launched in China it has been a key focus market for us as a business. Our investment in local hosting and the new partnership with MYM is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for us.

“In addition to the local presence, language support and the scope of their operations, they also have a great track record and client base so are a strong commercial fit to help us promote our solutions locally.

“The hospitality industry in China is growing and as operators work to deliver exceptional guest services, for many that means a digital-first solution, in terms of ordering and payment capabilities. Our platform has been built and developed to benefit both the operator and the guest, and we look forward to working with our hoteliers across the region to further support them in realizing their own ambitions for revenue growth.”

Ricky Huang, CEO at MYM added: “We pride ourselves on the expertise we have throughout the hospitality technology sector and are delighted to be working with IRIS to build a long-lasting partnership that will support both our hotel clients and the wider industry.

“We look forward to enhancing our service offering and are confident hotels and guests alike will benefit from the knowledge and support that both companies are recognized for.”

Sunny Zhang, VP of Data Governance and Analytics at Mandarin Oriental also commented: "We value our partnership with IRIS and are delighted with their continued investment in China. IRIS's digital in-room solutions not only offer our guests excellent service but also provide an additional revenue-generating channel for our hotels.

“The partnership between IRIS and MYM in China has resulted in an enhanced solution that delivers improved local operational support. We look forward to collaborating with both parties to facilitate more business opportunities with the IRIS solution."


New Robot Server LOLA Matradee L Aims to Revolutionize the Restaurant, Hospitality and Retail Industries

LOLA Matradee L server robot

LOLA™, a National Merchants Association (NMA) revolutionary fintech product line for the modern merchant, reveals one of their most coveted and advanced products, LOLA™ Matradee L, a robot server and food runner that’s paving the way for fully autonomous restaurants. LOLA™ Matradee L, aims to support organizations through an ever-changing business climate that includes labor shortages, evolving consumer demands, technology adoption, inflation and more.

Specifically designed for the restaurant, hospitality and retail industries, LOLA™ Matradee L, offers the following features:

  • Advanced Obstacle Avoidance: Equipped with LIDAR and AI camera technology, allowing the Matradee L to avoid obstacles and move around in-the-way objects.
  • Multi-Robot Functioning: The LOLA™ Matradee L can work seamlessly with other LOLA™ Matradee L’s. 
  • Smart Advertising: LOLA™ Matradee L’s main screen can be used to display custom videos, pictures and audio to advertise promotions or specials.
  • Three to Four Adjustable Trays: The LOLA™ Matradee L has three to four adjustable trays that can hold a total of 22 pounds. On average, the Matradee L makes about 50-150 trips per day, which with the three trays, is equivalent to 150-450 human trips.

“As more businesses struggle with labor shortages, inflation and a rising consumer demand for modernization, robots and automation technology continue to be the way of the future,” said Heather Altepeter, CEO of National Merchants Association. “We’re proud to be at the forefront of this pioneering technology, moving the needle in widespread human adoption of robot servers like LOLA™ Matradee L.”

Also included in the LOLA™ product line, LOLA™ Kiosk 210, LOLA™ Station 500 and LOLA™ Point, are available at no upfront cost to merchants, each catering to organizations’ unique business needs. LOLA™ Matradee L is no different, pioneering the market and adoption of kiosks and robots in the restaurant, hospitality and retail industries. As NMA’s fintech strategies continue to evolve, LOLA™ will expand services for future technology needs. NMA aims to deploy LOLA™ solutions throughout Q3, targeting movie chains, restaurants and retail stores. 


Groups360 and Choice Hotels International announce Direct Booking Solution for Group Room Blocks

choice hotels logo

Groups360 and Choice Hotels International announced the rollout of GroupSync™ Instant Booking across Choice’s global portfolio in 2023. Soon meeting and event organizers can shop and book online group guest rooms at Choice Hotel properties within GroupSync Marketplace.  

GroupSync’s direct integration with Choice Hotels will offer real-time best available group rates and inventory to thousands of Choice properties. Planners of small or simple meetings can book these events in real-time, with guaranteed rates and availability. Event organizers will also benefit from viewing inventory availability before submitting an RFP for more complex events. Real-time pricing and availability reduce the booking process for smaller meetings from weeks to minutes. The combination of these two capabilities changes the hotel sourcing process into an instant booking one.

“We are thrilled to have Choice Hotels join the GroupSync Marketplace,” said Kemp Gallineau, CEO, Groups360. “Their involvement is a testament to our shared commitment to reducing transaction friction in group travel planning. This technology roll-out will help franchisors like Choice continue their history of innovation, enhance their customer relationships, and deliver an improved event planning experience at Choice properties. With the addition of Choice, we anticipate that over 20,000 leading hotel properties will be equipped to offer GroupSync’s online instant group booking functionality in the months ahead.”

Choice’s commitment to GroupSync technology extends further by allowing its properties worldwide to choose GroupSync Marketing™ for property-level content curation and promotion management tools.


LG Earns Top Rating in Newly Expanded B2B Sustainability Assessment Program

2023 LG Mindclick logo

LG Electronics has been singled out as the only supplier of commercial displays recognized for environmental sustainability excellence in the foremost third-party assessment of suppliers to the U.S. hospitality industry and, for the first time, other vertical markets.

As the MindClick Sustainability Assessment Program (MSAP) was expanded significantly to encompass many more brands of leading hotels and resorts, LG Electronics received the highest possible rating for the eighth consecutive year. For the first time, evaluations of the production and life cycle impacts of products also extended beyond hospitality, with MindClick naming LG a “Leader” in display products for other vertical markets that include healthcare TVs and cruise ship TVs, as well as digital signage displays and small monitors used in various industries.

Announced just in time for Earth Day, a “Leader” rating demonstrates LG’s “exemplary use of environmentally and socially responsible practices throughout the lifecycle of all product lines, from material choice to end-of-life solutions,” according to MindClick, which validates participants’ operations through a rigorous audit process. The MSAP is an annual manufacturer assessment evaluating the sustainability of product lifecycles. Previously, only suppliers to Marriott International participated in the assessment, but the program has expanded to include more suppliers, and their results are shared to additional brands, ownership groups and purchasing agents, such as Four Seasons, Highgate Hotels, Hilton, Hyatt, SH Hotels, Xenia Hotels and more.

The assessment program evaluates products based on environmental and social metrics such as energy use, carbon emissions, water reduction, and human and labor rights. It also measures metrics such as carbon footprint from product use and distribution, recyclability, sustainable materials use and avoidance of chemicals of high concern. Ratings are based on products the vendor submits for consideration and those products are recognized in one of three rating levels: Starter, Achiever or Leader.

“MindClick’s recognition of LG Electronics as a Leader in sustainable business practices is even more significant this year, following the 2023 assessment’s expansion that includes many more suppliers in the hospitality industry and beyond,” said Thomas Yoon, president and CEO of LG Electronics North America. “LG is committed to reducing the environmental impact of our products while improving and innovating user experiences. We strive each day to be a responsible corporate citizen, and MindClick’s evaluation of our leadership provides validation of the sustainability practices and policies we live by.”

Commercial TVs and displays from LG Business Solutions serving key U.S. business-to-business markets earned Leader status in seven key categories:

  • “Manufacturing Environmental” through efforts to measure and reduce energy and water usage, waste and carbon emissions in LG’s Mexicali and Reynosa, Mexico facilities.
  • “Manufacturing Social” with required human and labor policies including zero tolerance for forced or compulsory labor, discrimination, child labor and human trafficking.
  • “Packaging” that includes use of sustainable raw materials, is recyclable, and is optimized to minimize packaging material.
  • “Distribution” through the use of transportation carriers that are EPA SmartWay certified.
  • “Health” based on products’ materials and chemical compositions positively contributing to user health.
  • “Facilities” by ensuring product designs help reduce power and water usage, as well as reducing waste.
  • “End of Use” with products that are recyclable and have defined end-of-life solutions.