News Briefs


hihotels Announces Partnership with Hopper Travel App

hihotels logo

hihotels by Hospitality International, a recognized leader in franchising of conversion and new build hotels for economy lodging, is pleased to announce a partnership with Hopper, the world’s fastest-growing travel app.

With this new partnership, Hopper will have a direct connection with hihotels’ five distinct brands – Scottish Inns, Red Carpet Inn, Master Hosts Inns, Downtowner Inns and Passport Inn. These brands will benefit from Hopper’s proprietary suite of fintech products that drive conversion, repeat purchases and profitability. Featuring an award-winning booking experience, Hopper will also help hihotels expand its growing online presence and retain its customer base.

“This strategic alliance with Hopper is yet another way of providing more revenue opportunities and increased exposure for our franchisees,” said hihotels Director of Operations Gary Gobin. “Hopper, previously known for its flights business, has rapidly expanded into hotels, homes and rental cars in recent years -- with hotels currently comprising more than half of the company's travel bookings. We like how they are strongly focused on social media marketing, which will improve exposure of our hotels to younger generations who prefer to spend money on experience, rather than higher-priced accommodations.”

“At Hopper we strive to provide the best accommodation offerings in the same place that users are booking the rest of their travel,” said Lexi Caron, Head of Hotel Marketplace at Hopper. “This partnership brings new direct inventory to the Hopper app, which has been downloaded over 100 million times to date, and helps us deliver on our promise to offer customers the best price, selection and inventory available.”


REPORT: Women Growing Among Hospitality Leadership

AHLA Foundation Logo

Representation of women within hospitality leadership continues to increase, with women gaining some ground at the CEO and president levels, according to a new report commissioned by the AHLA Foundation and conducted by Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management.

The AHLA Foundation is a philanthropic organization that aims to inspire, support, and advance the hospitality workforce. The 2023 “Women in Hospitality” research report focuses on evaluating the state of women’s representation in leadership in the hotel industry.

The findings indicate that in 2022 the hospitality industry made steady, incremental progress toward women’s advancement to executive leadership roles, while underscoring areas of opportunity to further diversify representation across industry fields.

Key findings include:

  • Women now hold one in four of all chief-level positions at hotel companies, although mostly in human resources and sales/marketing roles.
  • At the director level, women now occupy an equal number of positions as men. Women have experienced gains in leadership positions in hospitality investment and development since 2019, going from one woman for every 10 men to one woman for every 7.9 men.
  • Women held 24% of the podium spots at hotel investment conferences, up from 16% in 2017.
    • On the main stage, 37% of prime speaking spots in 2022 went to women – up from 22% just a year earlier in 2021.

This is the sixth annual benchmark report commissioned by the AHLA Foundation. Researchers under the direction of Phillip Jolly, PhD, assistant professor of hospitality management at Penn State, reviewed publicly available data spanning more than 6,000 individuals from 701 companies and more than 7,000 hotel investment conference attendees.

“We want to see equity for women at the leadership level and across the hotel industry, and this progress is encouraging,” said AHLA Foundation President Anna Blue. “Representation is only the first step. We see growing efforts by our members to prioritize intersectional leadership, inclusion, and belonging for women in the industry.”

“Although we must continue to increase representation of women leaders in hospitality, it’s encouraging that the hotel industry is steadfastly working together to address longstanding inequities. This report shows that change is possible,” said Donna Quadri, PhD, Marvin Ashner director of the Penn State University School of Hospitality Management.

Click here to view the full report.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association and the AHLA Foundation are part of the Women in Hospitality Leadership Alliance.


DeliverThat Introduces Smart Catering Dashboard

delivery guy with arms

DeliverThat, a catering delivery company, introduced a smart dashboard that directly integrates with other catering channels like Olo.

"We love the increased flexibility with editing submissions as well as the ability for restaurants to have a clearer view of their individual deliveries," said Megan Welcome, Director of Catering for One Table Restaurant Brands.

Regardless of order source, the dashboard provides timestamps, set-up photos and real-time updates on delivery and driver statuses, allowing for full transparency across all channels.

"The enhanced dashboard is a game changer: effective, sleek, intelligent. Our catering team instantly sees orders placed from our native site and can track drivers in real time with only a few clicks. The setup pictures are an added plus," said Wes Patrick, Vice President, Ops Excellence and Off-Premise Performance for Tijuana Flats.

The dashboard is creating efficiencies and streamlining driver schedules. It is helping brands save money, by ensuring their restaurants have the food ready and on time for pickup. This alone is driving catering comps down from over 2% to .3%.


Valyant AI Secures Fifth US Patent for Conversational AI

patent approved

Valyant AI, an artificial intelligence company focused on customer service in the restaurant industry, received its fifth patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Patent No. 11,594,223.

Valyant AI patents cover AI-based drive-thru order automation. 

The patent protects Valyant AI’s proprietary method for positioning a hardware ordering device on a restaurant site, capturing multiple audio streams and leveraging an artificial intelligence engine to conduct automated ordering processes for several different customers to complete orders. The AI-driven solution eases labor shortages with order automation.

“A critical milestone in our strategy to scale up and develop the world’s best conversational AI platform for the QSR industry, this patent allows us to further redefine how customers interact with AI to place their orders at the drive-thru,” said Rob Carpenter, CEO and founder of Valyant AI. “With a significant majority of QSR sales happening at the drive-thru window, restaurant owners need an innovative solution like ours that delivers industry-leading cost savings, increased upsells, reduced wait times and enhanced operational efficiencies.”

One of the world’s first commercial retail deployments of conversational AI for the enterprise, Valyant AI’s platform is used by four leading restaurant brands and integrates into existing point-of-sale, headset and order confirmation boards to streamline the customer experience, improve employee efficiency and help address labor shortages. By boosting average ticket sizes, diminishing customer service wait times and reducing operational costs via the ability to backfill key employee positions and reduce turnover, Valyant AI’s conversational AI platform delivers up to a 20% increase in top-line revenue. 

The platform also features custom voices, further transforming the drive-thru experience by allowing guests to interact with local heroes, celebrities, mascots, voices with accents and other characters when placing orders. More than simply transactional, custom voice experiences create excitement that guests look forward to and keep them returning. This new functionality is expected to help the Valyant platform boost sales, enhance brand loyalty, and raise customer satisfaction at QSRs across the country. 

This most recent patent is related to Valyant AI’s conversational AI technology patents asserted in its patent infringement lawsuit filed 18 months ago.


Enso Connect Integrates GPT-4 to Simplify Short-Term Rental Operations

EnsoAI logo

Enso Connect, a guest experience platform for hospitality professionals, announced its integration with GPT-4, the state-of-the-art language model developed by OpenAI. The integration will provide hospitality professionals with EnsoAI, a powerful tool to enhance the guest communication and simplify operations.

GPT-4 is an AI-powered chatbot that can answer guests' questions, provide recommendations, and offer personalized assistance, all in natural language. The integration of the powerful chat into the platform will allow hospitality teams to generate multilingual content in seconds, prioritize issues by context and guest sentiment and drastically increase response times. 

“Enso Connect’s integration with GPT-4 is a game changer for tech-enabled hospitality”, said Francois Gouelo, co-founder and CEO of Enso Connect. “Enso AI, powered by GPT-4 is not just a better chatbot; it's the quickest content creator, traffic manager and onboarding tool at your team’s disposal. 

Today what sets a hospitality business apart is its ability to personalize the experience for its guests. And the key to achieving this is in communication that can transform a good stay into an unforgettable one.

The power of GPT-4 cannot be overstated when it comes to revolutionizing the way we interact with guests on a large scale. By leveraging the latest in personalized AI technology, we are ushering in a new era of hospitality that is both innovative and deeply human.

As one of the most configurable guest experience platforms on the market, we are thrilled to be at the forefront of this digital transformation. The future of hospitality is all about embracing technology in a way that enhances, rather than replaces, the human touch. With GPT-4, we are confident that we can help businesses achieve just that - and so much more.”

In addition to the AI-powered features already available to Enso Connect users, such as context analysis, sentiment recognition and predicted responses, the new integration release will unlock the following capabilities: 

  • Nimble content creation in 150+ languages  

  • Immediate guest communication with predicted or fully automated responses 

  • Workflow orchestration and streamlining based on context and sentiment analysis 

The benefits of the integration include:

  • Improved guest satisfaction: GPT-4's ability to understand natural language and provide personalized assistance like a human, will enhance the guest experience with real-time personalized replies, increasing guest satisfaction.

  • Reduced workload for staff: 

    • With GPT-4 managing guest inquiries, staff can focus on more urgent and complex tasks, improving operational efficiency. 

    • Marketing teams are empowered to generate and personalize content in 150+ languages in minutes. 

    •  Additionally the integration will allow new team members access and review internal information more efficiently, speeding up the onboarding process and increasing productivity. 

  • Data insights: Enso Connect's guest experience technology combined with GPT-4's language capabilities can provide valuable insights into guest sentiment, preferences and behaviors, enabling operators to deliver more personalized experiences.

Co-founder and CTO of Enso Connect, Peter Sorbo said: “We have a proven track record of leveraging AI technology to streamline messaging for our users. With our latest integration with GPT-4, we are taking this approach to the next level, making communication and content even more instant and intuitive. Our goal is to empower our users with the best tools available in the industry. The integration of GPT-4 into our platform is a natural step forward in this journey.”

Scheduled for release in Q3 2023, EnsoAI tool will be available for all Enso-connected hospitality professionals through the platform. The waitlist is open for registrations now and will provide all operators with a free month of unlimited EnsoAI use. Learn more:


IDeaS Achieves AWS Travel and Hospitality Competency

IDEAS and AWS logos

IDeaS, an SAS company and a provider of hospitality revenue management software and services, announced that it has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Travel and Hospitality Competency. The designation recognizes that IDeaS has demonstrated deep domain expertise in core revenue management applications.

Achieving the AWS Travel and Hospitality Competency differentiates IDeaS as an AWS Partner Network (APN) member that provides specialized software and consulting services designed to help hoteliers adopt and deploy revenue management projects on AWS. To receive the designation, APN members are validated for technical proficiency and customer success.

Klaus Kohlmayr, chief evangelist and development officer said: “IDeaS is proud to achieve the AWS Travel and Hospitality Competency. IDeaS suite of analytics solutions, Elevate, Optix, and RevPlan, powered by AWS, help organizations across the hospitality industry meet their revenue management goals, unlock new business potential, and increase profitability.

AWS is enabling scalable, flexible, and cost-effective solutions from startups to global enterprises. To support the seamless integration and deployment of these solutions, AWS established the AWS Competency Program to help customers identify APN members with deep industry experience and expertise.