Wendy's and Google Cloud announced an expanded partnership to pilot an artificial intelligence (AI) solution,Wendy's FreshAI. The technology has the potential to transform Wendy's drive-thru food ordering experience with Google Cloud's generative AI and large language models (LLMs) technology.
Demand for Drive-Thru
With 75 to 80 percent of Wendy's customers choosing the drive-thru as their preferred ordering channel, delivering a seamless ordering experience using AI automation can be difficult due to the complexities of menu options, special requests, and ambient noise. For example, because customers can fully customize their orders and food is prepared when ordered at Wendy's, this presents billions of possible order combinations available on the Wendy's menu, leaving room for miscommunication or incorrect orders. Google Cloud's generative AI capabilities can now bring a new automated ordering experience to the drive-thru that is intended to enhance the experience that customers, employees and franchisees expect from Wendy's. As HT reported last month, one Wendy's franchise, Wenspoke, is expanding its use of AI in the drive-thrus.
"Wendy's introduced the first modern pick-up window in the industry more than 50 years ago, and we're thrilled to continue our work with Google Cloud to bring a new wave of innovation to the drive-thru experience," said Todd Penegor, President and CEO of the Dublin, Ohio-based QSR. "Google Cloud's generative AI technology creates a huge opportunity for us to deliver a truly differentiated, faster and frictionless experience for our customers, and allows our employees to continue focusing on making great food and building relationships with fans that keep them coming back time and again."
Pilot Near HQ
In June, Wendy's plans to launch its first pilot of Google Cloud's AI technology in a Columbus, Ohio-area, Company-operated restaurant, using those learnings to inform future expansions to more Wendy's drive-thrus. The pilot will include new generative AI offerings, such as Vertex AI and more, to have conversations with customers, the ability to understand made-to-order requests and generate responses to frequently asked questions.
This will all be powered by Google's foundational LLMs that have the data from Wendy's menu, established business rules and logic for conversation guardrails, and integration with restaurant hardware and the Point of Sale system. By leveraging generative AI, Wendy's seeks to take the complexity out of the ordering process so employees can focus on serving up fast, fresh-made, quality food and exceptional service.
Today's update builds upon Google Cloud's and Wendy's long standing partnership to enhance the Wendy's restaurant experience. Since 2021, Wendy's has leveraged Google Cloud's data analytics, AI, machine learning (ML), and hybrid cloud tools to make it faster, easier, and more convenient for customers to access the brand.
Shift4 and OpenTable announced an integration that allows restaurant operators to combine OpenTable’s diner booking data with spending data captured at the point-of-sale by Shift4’s SkyTab POS system. This integration gives restaurants a more holistic view of their business performance to make smarter decisions about how to increase revenues and reduce costs.
The Shift4-OpenTable integration allows restaurant operators to quickly identify which guests are new, regulars, or top spenders and then use this information to celebrate their most valued guests and go the extra mile to turn new guests into repeat customers. In addition, real-time insights including when guests are seated and which course they’re on helps minimize wait times and improve table turnover rates.
OpenTable is now available in Shift4’s Marketplace, an end-to-end ecosystem that seamlessly connects restaurants and other businesses with numerous third-party applications, including solutions for online ordering, online reservations, employee scheduling, accounting, loyalty, marketing and more.
Infor®, the industry cloud company, announced that Graduate Hotels®, a collection of hand-crafted hotels located in dynamic university-anchored towns, has selected Infor Hospitality Management Solution (HMS) for its property management system (PMS) and will fully standardize on the Infor cloud-based platform. Graduate Hotels has been marking successful go-lives with Infor’s software at 31 properties since June 2022, with the most recent at its Eugene, Oregon, location. With Infor, Graduate Hotels has modern technology at its fingertips to unify and refine operations, deliver superior guest experiences, and implement and execute intelligent strategy.
After a thorough search of all applicable vendors, Infor was selected because of its customer support, industry-specific advanced functionality, and cloud-hosted nature of Infor HMS, which helps to make it an intuitive, innovative and user-friendly platform.
“Each hotel reflects the culture and charm of the nearby university, and we knew that it was necessary to update our software platform with more modern tools to aid our teams in providing that unforgettable guest experience. We evaluated our current property management system, and in the end decided to move ahead with Infor to better support our growth and expansion plans,” said Benjamin Heiland, vice president of hotel technology at Graduate Hotels. “We are excited to partner with Infor to help standardize operations across our entire brand so we can make daily tasks more streamlined, putting more focus and effort on delivering exceptional guest experiences.”
Infor HMS is a fully integrated property management system built for the cloud with flexibility, security, efficiency, and mobile capabilities that help streamline operations, maximize profitability, deliver great guest experiences, and compete globally. The solution utilizes mobile applications for guest check-in and housekeeping, features automated and customizable reporting capabilities, and includes optional offerings around revenue management, point-of-sale (POS) and business intelligence (BI) tools to support the full range of unique needs for hospitality organizations.
“Travel and leisure are two of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, but also the most competitive. Strategic organizations understand how critical it is to keep pace with innovative, scalable technology that can help support future growth, changes in consumer demand, and price flexibility to adapt to changes in the economy,” said Joe Vargas, Infor senior vice president for hospitality. “Infor’s partnership with Graduate Hotels will help the organization continue to advance and grow, maintain compliance, and support internal teams so they can focus on providing more memorable interactions with guests.”
HFTP Announces 2023 Inductees to the Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame: Sherry Marek and Mark Heymann; Honored at HITEC Toronto 2023
The International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame is HFTP's highest level of recognition in the area of technology. Since 1989, 53 individuals have received this award as a reflection of their contributions to the hospitality industry.
“This recognition is a true career honor, especially because it is the outcome of a professional endeavor I have a real passion for, which is a privilege itself,” said Marek. “I am pleased to be alongside a group of outstanding professionals, each with their own specialties all culminating in the excellence and progress of the hospitality technology industry. As I look forward, I am excited to be able to share my decades of expertise as a mentor to other women coming up in the field.”
Marek started her career in the mid-’80s at Hilton International and InterContinental Hotels, focusing primarily on front of house systems where she worked extensively with system users and vendors at properties across the globe. This experience led her to recognize a struggle with reporting – whether it was tapping into the data inside a single system or consolidating data across systems.
This insight led her to co-found Datavision Technologies and create the first true business intelligence (BI) system for hospitality. Even though the system was Initially designed to create automated daily flash reports for general managers and controllers, Marek soon realized that it would be more effective if the information was put in the hands of all users, not just management. Today, Datavision ingests detailed data from a variety of on-premise and cloud data sources (PMS, POS, Back Office, Comp Set, Labor, Guest Survey, Google Analytics, etc.) and is used across the enterprise to solve different business needs.
Over the last decade, Marek has been focused on promoting women in STEM fields as well as within the hospitality industry. She is working with the Business Analytics department at the University of Iowa, planning and speaking at the Women in Analytics and Leadership conference. For the past few years, she has been a contributor to Hospitality Upgrade’s “MentorSeries” — articles focused on hearing from women at different ages and at different stages of their career. Marek is also a member of various industry councils, including the HITEC Educational Advisory Council.
“I am truly honored by this recognition from HFTP,” said Heymann. “Since the start of the PC age, myself and other individuals that I’ve worked with have striven to present to the industry advanced decision-making tools that help managers and staff improve their overall work-life balance. While at the same time helping the industry progress to meet the challenges of yesterday’s and today’s diverse workforce. I would be remiss in not pointing out that I share this honor with all the individuals that contributed over the years to the advancements of this type of technology and specifically to my career. I look forward to sharing this knowledge in the future with the industry as it continues to address the new labor demands that it is facing.”
Since the 1970s, Mark Heymann has served as the pioneering face of labor management technology innovation for hospitality-based organizations. A graduate of both Brown University and Columbia University, Heymann was the first to relate service quality levels to a business’s ability to effectively manage their labor resources.
Leveraging his years of experience in serving as an industry consultant as well as his expertise in software and asset management, Heymann as founder and president of Heymann Group, Inc. spearheaded the development of modern labor management system technology. Initially introduced in the early-’80s, it wasn’t until around 1991 under the name Watson R.M™, Heymann’s resource and labor management solution served as a catalyst for providing hotels and restaurants with data-driven insight into how they could staff according to fluctuations in service demand.
Following his successes, Heymann went on to found Unifocus following a merger between Heymann Group, Inc. and Strategic Quantitative Solutions in 1998. As founder and CEO of Unifocus, Heymann helmed the first company to ever focus its efforts on developing the full array of labor and performance management systems specifically intended for the needs of the hospitality industry.
Under the Unifocus brand, industry firsts achieved by Heymann include automated scheduling technology equipped with intelligent algorithms that eliminate guesswork in the creating of optimized schedules. Other advancements credited to Heymann include the development of one of the industry’s first touch-screen time clocks and task-based labor platforms for meetings and conventions.
HITEC North America will take place on June 26–29 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ont. Canada. Produced by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals, HITEC is the world's largest and longest-running hospitality technology exposition and conference. It offers a unique combination of top-notch hospitality technology education, led by industry peers and experts, and an unparalleled trade show showcasing the latest hospitality technology products and services. The 2023 event is expecting 6,000+ attendees and 320+ exhibiting companies. Registration for HITEC Toronto is open.
Amadeus Hospitality’s Ecosystem Approach to Deliver Personalized Journeys in New Era of Travel
Traveler expectations have changed over the past four years – the hospitality industry of 2023 is not that of 2019. These expectations are catalysts for change as today, personalization tops the agenda, with consumers seeking customizable offers when it comes to booking travel. Flexible and sustainable journeys and the support of modern digital tools to remove the friction from travel are also high on the traveler wish list.
These are the findings of a new report –Catalysts for Change: Building the Hospitality Ecosystem of the Future–released today by Amadeus.
The news comes as travel continues to recover. As of May 6, 2023, Amadeus Demand360® data reveals on-the-books global hotel occupancy for June has reached 32%, trending above the 2022 and 2021 figures for the same month and standing just three points behind occupancy levels seen in 2019.
At the same time, leading destinations – including Rome and Paris in Europe, as well as Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore in Asia – are all seeing occupancies for June this year ahead of the same month in 2019, illustrating a robust, global recovery.
Global hotel average daily rates (ADR) are also above pre-pandemic levels, standing at US$216 for June this year, compared to US$184 in the same month of 2019.
Against this backdrop of growing numbers and high traveler expectations, the industry needs to be proactive and nimble in meeting evolving traveler needs. Amadeus is positioned to lead the way, as it brings together content from hotels, mobility, and travel protection into a single, unified whole. This ecosystem approach enables travel providers and travel sellers to work together effectively – thus providing guests with memorable experiences while finding new ways to drive profitable demand and maximize industry growth.
Francisco Pérez-Lozao Rüter, President, Hospitality, Amadeuscomments: “The travel industry has long benefitted from collaboration, and we see a real opportunity in combining content from key travel providers across hotels, mobility, and travel insurance to better meet the requirements of the travelers of today. Travelers want more options; they want them to be tailored to their preferences and they want the process to be frictionless.
He adds: “To continue to drive demand across these sectors, providers need to be able to personalize their offering to maximize their revenues. For travel sellers, having access to this integrated content is a gamechanger. At Amadeus, the traveler has always been at the heart of everything we do. An ecosystem approach will allow the industry to take steps towards the creation of end-to-end journeys that travelers want.”
Catalysts for Change leverages insight gathered from Amadeus’ Demand360® business intelligence data as well as interviews with hoteliers, mobility providers, travel sellers, travel insurance providers, and Amadeus executives.
Louvre Hotels Group has announced it now has its portfolio of owned and leased hotels and resorts running on Duetto.
The France-based hotel company, which has a portfolio of 1,700 properties in 60 countries across the world and is an affiliate of Jin Jiang International Holdings, Co, Ltd., the second-largest hotel group in the world, has completed integration, onboarding, and go-live for its owned and leased hotel assets within the Duetto revenue strategy platform. More than 22,000 hotel rooms are now revenue-optimizing with Duetto’s GameChanger and BlockBuster applications.
Louvre Hotels Group has developed a global strategy to reach excellence in pricing and revenue management. It established a service platform built around three pillars: Talent, Tools, and Strategy. Together with the Marketing and Distribution platforms, the Louvre Hotels Group Revenue Management and Pricing platform will bring a multitude of integrated solutions for their franchised, managed hotels, to boost hotel performance, just as their owned and leased hotels now do.
This partnership with Duetto is a concrete illustration of Louvre Hotels Group’s strategy. The company was looking for a solution to cope with today’s fast-paced pricing and volatile demand environment. The revenue team has fully adopted the solution and embraced Duetto’s Open Pricing methodology, which enables them to yield all segments, room types, and distribution channels independently and in real-time.
Automation was also a big plus, as there was a need to eradicate manual processes to free up revenue teams to focus on strategy. Duetto was selected after a rigorous tender process.
“Among the solutions we considered, Duetto is the one that fits our organization and our ambitions. We have a vision of agility and open, dynamic pricing that Duetto is responding to perfectly and allows us to multiply the potential of capturing quality revenue,” said Ignazio Pisano, Vice President of Revenue Management & Pricing at Louvre Hotels Group.
“Revenue management and pricing are two cornerstones in generating value for our hotels. We are proud to have successfully deployed the Duetto solution to more than 250 subsidiary hotels within a few months. The next step for Louvre Hotels Group is to open our service platform, of which Duetto is an important part, to the rest of our portfolio, the franchised and managed hotels,” Ignazio Pisano added.
“We are delighted to welcome Louvre Hotels Group to Duetto. Our cloud-based solutions made it quick and easy to roll out the entire portfolio of owned and leased properties, and scaling this to other areas of the company’s business will now be a seamless transition. We look forward to our continued partnership with Louvre Hotels Group,” said David Woolenberg, CEO, Duetto.