News Briefs


Sparkling Hill Resort Dazzles Guests Via Maestro PMS and PurpleCloud Technologies Integration

sparkling hill resort dining room

It’s difficult to imagine that anything could be more amazing than 3.5 million Swarovski crystals adorning the walls, ceilings, fireplaces and light fixtures at Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa in Vernon, British Columbia. Yet, communication between guests and staff at the European-style wellness retreat is shining even brighter, thanks to a recent integration partnership between Maestro PMS and PurpleCloud Technologies.

When the privately-owned resort opened its doors in 2010, Maestro PMS was there to power the property’s front-desk, spa, and sales-and-catering operations and provide modules to manage analytics, club & spa, digital registration card, express check-out, gift card, Maestro OBE, SMS messaging, workorders, WebPro and yield management. Then, the resort deployed the PurpleCloud Service Optimization Platform to increase productivity and decrease labor costs, especially in the housekeeping department. Soon Maestro PMS and PurpleCloud teamed up to connect the two solutions with the goal of easing communication between the front desk and housekeeping to boost guest satisfaction and add more transparency to the room-turn process.

“We knew from the onset that Maestro was the preferred choice for property-management technology,” said Glorija Toplak, Sparkling Hill Resort Assistant General Manager. “Their PMS is built specifically to manage the needs of independent hotels and luxury resorts, and the company has a beyond-stellar reputation for customer service. We began searching for a way to boost productivity among our housekeepers and maintenance staff and make tasks more enjoyable for everyone involved. We compared many service-optimization solutions in the market and found PurpleCloud to be the most user friendly and efficient. It provides quick visibility into employee productivity, insight into trends, and the missing transparency we were looking for in housekeeping.

“Because Maestro PMS has an open API, we knew it would be easy for them to integrate with PurpleCloud,” she said. “The joint solution lets the front desk know the status of each room in the make-ready and inspection process and how long it will be before the room is ready for guests. Being able to share that information with people who have checked in and are waiting to get into their rooms is critical to their loyalty and satisfaction. The integration also provides transparency into the workorder process and whether or not tasks have been completed or are still pending. The result is a more fulfilling workday for staff and a better overall experience for guests.”

Soon, Sparkling Hill Resort will add the “gamification” feature of PurpleCloud. Gamification is a strategic approach to improving a business’ operations, efficiency, and worker satisfaction by drawing on natural inclination to complete tasks that can be tracked and subsequently rewarded. For example, when rooms are cleaned and ready by a set time, associate room inspection scores improve. As work orders are completed and reported in real time, employees are audibly notified via their mobile device and reward points are calculated and assigned. Managers can leverage the PurpleCloud point system to keep track of employee productivity and convert points to prizes.

“The Housekeeping Module inside PurpleCloud tracks real-time check-ins and check-outs to create an efficient schedule based on true clean times and shares that information with Maestro PMS,” said Adria Levtchenko, PurpleCloud Co-Founder and CEO. “Together with Maestro, we are eliminating inefficiencies in housekeeping and improving communications across the board. Today Sparking Hill is detecting and managing early arrivals, late checkouts and stay-over services better through the joint platform. Once the property goes live with gamification, it will keep their team members more engaged, working efficiently and feeling recognized. Over time this increases job satisfaction and reduces turnover.”

Warren Dehan, president of Maestro PMS, had this to say: “Maestro’s integration to PurpleCloud Technologies showcases our dedication to helping hotels deliver frictionless staff and guest experiences. Back-of-house employees need the right tools to do their jobs effectively and stay motivated, helping to boost morale and make their jobs more fulfilling. Our industry cannot afford to ignore the critical role these tools play in employee satisfaction. By connecting Maestro PMS and PurpleCloud, we are bringing hotels into the digital age where communication easily flows two ways. Employees are much happier, and in turn, guests are too.”

Decadent Opulence

Sparkling Hill Resort sits atop a secluded viewpoint between Lake Country and Vernon in the Okanagan. The heart of the resort is the 40,000-square-foot European-inspired KurSpa, which offers more than 100 treatments and therapies, including North America’s first Cryo Cold Sauna (–110°C). The resort features 149 guest rooms, a fitness center, movement studio, serenity rooms, tearoom, uniquely themed steams and saunas area and the infinity pool with its beautiful sweeping views of Okanagan Lake.


The resort also offers gourmet dining in the PeakFine Restaurant, casual snacks in the coffee and wine bar lounge, Barrique & Java, and traditional Austrian fare in the newest addition to the property, the 435-year old Gerni’s Farmhouse, which was brought over from Austria. There are plenty of things to do around Sparkling Hill, including 25km of hiking trails to explore, wine, spirit and brewery tours, golfing, cycling, skiing, helicopter touring, water activities and much more.


Papa Johns Hires Industry Vet Mark Shambura as Chief Marketing Officer

Mark Shambura Papa Johns

Papa John’s International Inc. has hired industry vet Mark Shambura to serve as Chief Marketing Officer, effective May 8.  Shambura  most recently worked as CMO for MOD Pizza.   is a brand marketing leader with deep expertise in growing multi-unit restaurant brands. He will oversee brand and advertising; media and field activation; menu strategy and product innovation; and the digital customer experience, including Papa Johns owned channels, loyalty program and aggregator partnerships.

“... He’s delivered impactful marketing strategies with a digital-first, analytics-led approach,” said Rob Lynch, President and CEO of Papa Johns. “Mark’s consumer-centric mindset will be critical as we continue to enhance every single touchpoint of the customer experience – from our digital channels to our menu to our brand – to drive engagement and growth.”

At MOD Pizza he transformed the marketing organization and drove growth by scaling digital and product innovation and further ignited brand engagement across advertising, paid, social, loyalty and field marketing. Prior to MOD Pizza, he served as Executive Director of Marketing at Chipotle Mexican Grill where he helped spearhead the “Real Ingredients” brand strategy and integrated campaign execution.

Shambura will report to Mr. Lynch and serve on the Papa Johns Executive Leadership Team. He replaces Anne Fischer, who departed earlier in the year.



Joe Tenczar Joins Sky Zone as CIO

Joe Tenczar

Indoor active entertainment company Sky Zone added three executives to its leadership team, including Joe Tenczar as Chief Information Officer. The appointment of Debbie Dizon Lauber as Chief People Officer and General Counsel, Eric Taylor as Chief Development Officer, along with Tenczar, will support Sky Zone's ongoing expansion and continued success.

"Sky Zone has grown rapidly over the past eighteen months, and we are excited to have Debbie, Joe and Eric join our leadership team," said Elizabeth Blair, CEO of Sky Zone. "Each of them brings decades of multi-unit operating experience to Sky Zone, which will further accelerate both our owned and franchised park growth."

  • Tenczar, a member of HT's Advisory Board and Restaurant Technology Network's (RTN)'s Board of Governors, will oversee Sky Zone's distributed technology team, focusing on the strategic alignment of technology with the business to support the progress and ongoing success of the company's innovative systems. Having spent the last several decades leading the IT function at multi-unit brands such as Hard Rock International, Ripley's Entertainment, Marriott Vacation Club and Sonny's BBQ, Tenczar was a founding partner of Restaurant CIOs, one of the top restaurant technology advisory firms in the U.S.  Tenczar and Brian Pearson, from Mendocino Market, shared their years of expertise during the MURTEC session, POS Software Trends: A Buyer's Guide.
  • As General Counsel and Chief People Officer, Lauber will focus on optimizing organizational performance, building out the legal, people and enterprise risk management teams' infrastructure and expanding these critical business enabling functions to best support the continued growth of Sky Zone. 
  • For Sky Zone, Taylor, who has over 20 years of experience in real estate and franchise development, will be responsible for concept development, leasing, design, construction and facilities, as well as franchisee real estate support. In this role, he will spearhead Sky Zone's growth into new markets as well as strengthen the brand's presence in key U.S. cities. Taylor previously served as VP of Real Estate and Development at Tijuana Flats Tex-Mex, with over 120 locations.

New Executives Join the Red Robin Team

Red Robin exterior of Glendale AZ location

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. has added some new faces to its Executive Leadership Team. This includes the appointment of Kevin Mayer to Chief Marketing Officer and Mark Simpson as Interim Chief People Officer. In addition, Jason Rusk has been promoted to Chief Business Development Officer.

Industry Vets Tapped to Fill CMO, Interim CPO Roles

As CMO of Red Robin, Mayer will be responsible for brand development, marketing, digital, innovation and menu development. He brings a wealth of global marketing, sales and brand building experience and has successfully BJ’s Restaurants, Volkswagen, Subaru and Chevrolet. As EVP, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Growth Officer at BJ’s Restaurants he oversaw cross-functional innovation, marketing, product development, off-premise, digital and earned media, and local marketing.  Mayer and his team played a crucial role in transforming the BJ’s Restaurants brand, driving it from a regional casual dining player to a nationally recognized lifestyle brand. Their efforts resulted in numerous successful product launches, one of the best retention programs in the industry and record levels of familiarity and brand love contributing to nine straight quarters of same-store traffic growth over the category.

Mark Simpson, a 35-year human resources and hospitality industry veteran, joins Red Robin May 1 in the role of Interim Chief People Officer, with incumbent Wayne Davis’ recent departure to pursue other personal and career interests. Simpson recently retired from Texas Roadhouse, where he served as Vice President of Legendary People for many years and assisted in guiding the success of the company’s growth and award-winning culture, including administering its Operations-focused market & managing partner program, executive and senior-level staffing, benefits & compensation, field HR and employee relations, HR administration and more. Simpson will provide senior leadership on key People initiatives during this transition and assist in the search for Red Robin’s permanent CPO.

In addition, Jason Rusk has been promoted to Chief Business Development Officer. Most recently serving as SVP of Transformation & Business Development, Rusk has played a leadership role in a number of key initiatives impacting operations, franchise, marketing and branding during his 25 years with Red Robin. In his expanded role, he will continue to spearhead business transformation initiatives including franchise development, culinary upgrades, off-premise channel growth, supply chain, in-restaurant guest experience, real estate and new restaurant growth as well as deepening key brand partnerships with Donatos and others.


QSR Automations Recognized for Excellence in Customer Service

QSR Automations customer service team

QSR Automations earned recognition for excellence in customer service and support.

At MURTEC, QSR Automations’ VP of Hardware Solutions and Support, Kathi Klein, received fHospitality Technology ’s 2023 Top Women in Technology Lifetime Achievement Award. 

During her more than 30 years in the restaurant technology industry – half of those at QSR Automations–Klein has amassed incomparable knowledge in understanding and troubleshooting kitchen display, front-of-house, and the associated hardware and networking platforms needed to run them. 

But what truly sets Klein apart is her natural ability to nurture relationships and foster talent, which has made her an effective leader in QSR Automations’ Support Services Team. During her long tenure at QSR Automations, Klein has built one of the industry’s strongest and most effective support teams. In fact, under Klein’s guidance, the team has received a 99 percent satisfaction rate from customers in 2021, and last year handled more than 16,000 inbound and outbound calls, which earned them a bronze award for Excellence in Customer Service from the 2022 Stevie Awards. 

This was the third bronze Stevie award for the team, as last fall, Klein accepted two additional bronze awards from the Stevie Women in Business Awards on behalf of QSR Automations–one for excellence in customer service, and the other for growth. QSR Automations was selected for these honors from more than 1,500 nominations from around the world.

“Just as our technology is the heart of a restaurant kitchen, our people are truly the heart of this business,” said Angela Leet, CEO of QSR Automations. “My colleagues are passionate about innovation both in and out of the office, and it’s immensely gratifying to see them recognized for these achievements.”

QSR Automations, headquartered in Louisville, Ky., with offices in the United Kingdom, is a global industry leader in kitchen automation and guest management services.


Knowland Releases Sales Leader Training Guide to Help Hotel Owners and Asset Managers Protect and Grow Investments

logo, company name

Knowland, a provider of data-as-a-service insights on meetings and events for hospitality, announced a Sales Leader Training Guide designed to provide sales leaders with tips for helping property-level sellers get the best results from the Knowland platform and in turn, drive new business. Potential customers gain an in-depth look at the nuances of the platform. Download the guide here.

Achieving sustained profitability requires sales strategies that start from the top down. Owners and asset managers are looking to protect their investments through targeted data analytics. To help them do so, the Guide includes key questions needed to gain insight into industry trends and property-level sales performance.

  • Best practices for property-level sellersand above-property managers – Short booking windows challenge leaders looking to simultaneously book in the year, for the year, and build a healthy base into future years. The Guide details top activities that lead to success for on-property sales leaders and enterprise best practices to help asset managers better manage their portfolios.
  • Fast, simple directions to better strategize and delegate – Fast, simple directions and next steps help sales teams leverage insights and realize results. Top-level steps ensure sales teams leverage all aspects of the platform, such as Market Snapshot to investigate market trends or Smart Search to research potential accounts.
  • Create a holistic approach to a successful sales program – Key features enable sales teams to drive results. At the same time, leaders and above-property management gain key insights into performance metrics and areas of opportunity. Feature sets help sales leaders keep tabs on competitors (Comp Set Calendar), delegate target accounts (Account Sets) and hold teams accountable (Usage Reports). Market Analytics aggregates the data to provide a holistic view of a portfolio’s performance.

Patricia Shea, SVP sales and customer success, Knowland, said: “Owners and asset managers ask us all the time, ‘What best practices should I be aware of at property level and what above property metrics should I keep an eye on?’ We set out to answer these questions in a fast, simple way. The Sales Leader Training Guide not only provides best practices when using the Knowland platform but also frames sales team discussions between owners and on-property sales teams.”