News Briefs


Wendy's Pilots Google Cloud's Generative AI

Wendys global next gen drivethru

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.


OTA Insight Expands Business Intelligence Product Suite and Launches Spider in EMEA

ota insight spider tool screenshot

OTA Insight, the global leader in cloud-based hospitality business intelligence, today announced the expansion of its business intelligence (BI) product suite with the launch of Spider in the Europe, Middle East and Africa markets. This launch builds on the acquisition of Kriya RevGen in 2022 and marks another step in OTA Insight's strategy to empower revenue managers with the best tools in the industry.

Since 2022, OTA Insight has operated two BI products: Revenue Insight under the OTA Insight brand and Spider under the Kriya brand. Starting today, both BI solutions will be available under the OTA Insight umbrella, with Spider now being made available in the EMEA market. Spider has provided U.S.-based hotels and management companies with a comprehensive business intelligence solution for over five years, and will now enable EMEA hotel partners to quickly and easily monitor their portfolio.

Spider addresses the key challenges faced by revenue managers who oversee multiple hotels under various brands. By unifying and standardising data from diverse sources across different hotel systems, it streamlines revenue management processes and reporting. Spider eliminates the need for time-consuming manual reporting and ensures that decisions are driven by data, providing a comprehensive and coherent view for better decision-making.

"Spider has already made a significant impact in the US hospitality market, and we're thrilled to bring this powerful solution to hoteliers in EMEA," said Sean Fitzpatrick, CEO of OTA Insight. "Our goal is to ensure that all of our customers have access to the most advanced, innovative and reliable tools to help them make data-driven decisions and grow their businesses, wherever they’re located.”

"Spider isn't just for one department, it's an invaluable solution for our operations, sales, and revenue management team,” said Donna Paraliticci,  Regional Director of Sales & Revenue Management at Mid-Continent Hospitality. “It doesn't just provide information, it offers invaluable insights that we all tap into. Spider gives us the data we need exactly when we need it, without missing a beat. It’s quick, accurate, and makes us more efficient.”

Spider is designed for advanced revenue managers, management companies, and hotel owners and groups with diverse revenue management systems, and provides a complete BI offering. Spider aggregates information into a single BI solution, improving efficiency and expanding revenue management capabilities.

The number of hotels in North America adopting Spider has tripled over the past year, demonstrating the platform's powerful and positive impact on hotel commercial decision-making. OTA Insight plans to make Spider available in the APAC market by the end of the year, further expanding its global reach. 


Olga’s Kitchen Expands Use of Voice AI Ordering

voiceplug ai

Olga's Kitchen  has expanded its partnership with VOICEplug AI, a provider of voice-AI solutions, to enhance its customer experience through AI enabled ordering. The partnership has helped Olga’s Kitchen improve efficiency, allowing employees in the restaurant to focus on bringing an elevated level of guest service.

The 50-year-old Detroit restaurant has a loyal customer base that is used to ordering food from their nearest Olga’s Kitchen several times a month. It was important for the Olga’s Kitchen team to have calls answered promptly, orders taken accurately and pushed to the POS and kitchen for immediate processing. With VOICEplug’s AI, every call is picked up on the first ring, customers are uniquely identified using their voice signature and conversations are personalized to the customer’s profile to ensure a pleasant customer experience. Orders are captured accurately even when there is background noise like the radio in the car or kids screaming. The AI system is fully conversational, allowing customers to interact naturally without having to follow a defined script.

VOICEplug's AI technology has enabled Olga's Kitchen to achieve an order to call conversion rate of more than 95% on average. “We are thrilled to partner with VOICEplug AI to streamline our operations and provide our customers with an enhanced and personalized ordering experience," said Ryan Jones, Vice President of Operations for Olga's Kitchen. "The implementation of Voice-AI technology has helped us improve efficiency, while also enabling us to offer our customers more convenient and efficient ways to place orders."

In the  Restaurant Technology Network (RTN) AI Share Group, Jay Ruparel, Co-Founder & CEO, VOICEplug AI said that every customer case is a bit different; there’s no cookie-cutter approach to deploying AI for his brand. “Our approach in general has been to start at a much higher threshold of accuracy when we go live, and we do that by using real recordings between the brand and the customers to build the AI.” He also shared that the company doesn’t use synthetic or generic data to build the AI; each AI is customized to fit the unique needs of each brand.

VOICEplug’s approach is to build AI for restaurant brands using real audio conversations between the customers and the restaurant brand. This allows the AI to deliver highly accurate output and adopt to the customer’s style of conversing with the brand rather than the customers having to adopt to the AI.


IRIS announces new technology investment program with the launch of IRIS TECH VENTURES

IRIS logo

IRIS, a global leader in digital F&B ordering and concierge services for the hospitality industry, today announces the launch of its new investment program IRIS TECH VENTURES.

Targeting travel and hospitality technology start-ups it will deliver significant growth opportunities for those companies with a keen ambition to enhance the guest experience working alongside IRIS’ existing portfolio of solutions and partners.

IRIS TECH VENTURES is a global program, open to start-ups worldwide and will be overseen by IRIS CEO Mark Horne.

The new program represents a significant investment by IRIS at a time when demand for technology, and in particular mobile ordering technology by both operators and guests, is at an all-time high. Many predict a continued and significant increase in the adoption of mobile-first, on demand technology that delivers a more personalized, autonomous experience for both the guest and operators. Coupled with the maturation of the internet-first Generation Z, there is an unprecedented wealth of opportunity for new technology companies to work in closer alliance with hospitality operators to support operations and drive efficiencies and revenue.

IRIS has invested significantly in growing its network of integration partners in recent years. The launch of IRIS TECH VENTURES signifies the next step in the company cementing its ongoing commitment to retaining its technical leadership in both its service and product offering, as well as its customer service.

Mark Horne, CEO, IRIS, comments: “Since IRIS first launched we have invested heavily to maintain our status as technology pioneers for the hospitality industry. We are committed to developing and enhancing our suite of solutions for clients to ensure we continue to lead the market.

“IRIS TECH VENTURES is the next important step and as part of this investment strategy we will work with partners and acquire technology where necessary to focus on the rapidly evolving needs of both the hotel guests, management companies and owners.

“We are operating in an incredibly dynamic and diversified market and our ambition as part of this new strategy and programme is to build a holistic hospitality technology ecosystem with a host of revenue-generating and resource saving software solutions.

“Investing in the next generation of hospitality technology and playing an active role in elevating the guest experience through these technologies is incredibly exciting, for us, our clients and our clients’ guests.” 


BEONx now Available on Oracle Cloud Marketplace

oracle and beonx logos

BEONx, a hospitality revenue management service provider, announced its Revenue Management System is available on Oracle Cloud Marketplace, and can be integrated with the Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform (OHIP). Oracle Cloud Marketplace is as centralized repository of enterprise applications offered by Oracle and Oracle partners.

Among the BEONx solutions available on Oracle Cloud Marketplace is the BEONx Sustainable Profit Platform (SPP), providing hoteliers a fresh perspective on revenue management.

SPP offers automated, integrated, and digital solutions to optimize costs, revenue generation, and guest retention using cutting-edge AI and machine-learning technology. The platform includes a powerful revenue management system as well as a carefully curated selection of partner applications, allowing hotels to analyze and optimize all revenue streams, from parking and restaurant services to room revenue.

Rubén Sánchez, CEO at BEONx said: “The participation of BEONx in the Oracle Cloud Marketplace further extends our commitment to the Oracle community and enables customers to easily reap the benefits of our RMS. We look forward to leveraging the power of the Oracle Cloud to help us achieve our business goals and helping Oracle’s independent hoteliers, global and regional chains become more efficient – empowering their staff to perform at their best.

“The BEONx RMS optimizes pricing and distribution based on consumer preferences and buying patterns, leveraging the Hotel Quality Index (HQI™), the only index in the hotel market that measures overall hotel quality. With a double segmentation by channel and market, hotels are equipped with the information they need to make informed decisions to maximize their profits” added Rubén.

Oracle Cloud Marketplace is a one-stop shop for Oracle customers seeking trusted business applications that offer unique business solutions, including ones that extend Oracle Cloud Applications. Oracle Cloud is an enterprise cloud that delivers massive, non-variable performance and next generation security across a comprehensive portfolio of services, including SaaS, application development, application hosting, and business analytics. Customers get access to leading compute, storage, data management, security, integration, HPC, artificial intelligence (AI), and Blockchain services to augment and modernize their critical workloads. Oracle Cloud runs Oracle Autonomous Database, the industry's first and only self-driving database.


Applause State of Digital Quality Report Examines Comprehensive Real-world Testing Data, Analyzes Impact on Customer Satisfaction

man conjuring data integration

Applause, a testing and digital quality company, released its second annual State of Digital Quality report, a comprehensive examination of real-world testing data which identifies the most common flaws in digital experiences – digital banking, streaming media services, wearable devices, online shopping, voice-activated device usage, and more – and provides pathways for improvement. 

The extensive report examines key aspects of digital quality, including accessibility, localization, and payments – areas which can greatly affect customer satisfaction and product usability. The report notes that failing to address flaws and friction points along the customer journey often results in costly problems like shopping cart abandonment, missed conversions, customer service complaints, poor customer satisfaction and negative ratings, all which affect a company’s bottom line. 

“It’s interesting that in the second year of the report, we continue to observe companies challenged by the same types of defects and digital quality issues  – especially pertaining to accessibility and localization. This is why testing all code – new and existing – for all digital customer journeys is so crucial. It only takes one defect to have a negative customer experience that impacts revenue,” said Luke Damian, Chief Growth Officer for Applause.  “As new technologies and innovations continue to evolve, companies need to commit to getting it right the first time to remain competitive. That requires continued quality testing – from design through development, release and beyond,” he said.

This year’s report introduces digital quality frameworks that outline core capabilities and typical processes for organizations at different stages on the journey to excellence. The frameworks provide concrete guidance on how organizations can improve quality and efficiency across the organization. The report recommends several best practices for accelerating development, maturing testing organizations, and increasing digital quality.

  • Invest in consistent and comprehensive testing to ensure digital quality

Digital quality is an intersectional discipline. Functionality, localization, accessibility, payments, customer experience and UX bleed into one another. Testing must assess different components of an app or digital experience holistically, not just in isolation, to truly understand how customers engage with your brand. Companies that produce the most popular and highest-ranking apps across all categories invest in comprehensive functional testing to eliminate defects before they reach customers. 

  • Make customer journey and UX top priorities

Ensuring a customer journey is frictionless and accessible across all touchpoints and payment methods can be complicated and challenging. Industry leaders are increasingly looking at UX and customer journeys to understand how they create differentiated experiences and engage customers for the long-term. Testing the customer journey with real people in real situations is key to understanding how digital experiences will fare with actual customers. And, moving from accessibility testing to inclusive design actually creates a better user experience for all customers.

  • Test using a wide variety of devices and network combinations

Because apps and websites often work differently across devices, networks, locations and operating systems, it is essential to test as many variations and real-world combinations of a digital property as possible. More traditional methods - like in-house or lab testing, often lack the resources to test these combinations effectively. Crowdtesting offers the flexibility, speed and resources to adequately test across thousands of variables, with the profiles and usage of actual customers. 

  • Commit to a testing strategy, not just testing
    While testing is crucial for uncovering defects, a solid testing strategy is essential for growth. Organizations that dedicate time to documenting test cases and test run results, test case management, and quality management create repeatable processes that can scale. Achieving excellence doesn’t mean the work is done. Ideally, as QA practices improve, testing can shift left and become more automated, earlier in the development cycle, when issues are easier and less expensive to fix.

The State of Digital Quality report is created from a representative sample from the company’s testing data spanning 70 industries and 159 countries, collected between January 1 and December 31, 2022. Testing involved nearly 3,500 payment sources and methods, 2,300 mobile device models, 2,200 smart TVs, and thousands of device/OS/browser combinations. Digital assets tested included websites, apps, IoT devices, mobile web and mobile apps in real-world scenarios.

Over the coming weeks, Applause will release additional State of Digital Quality reports focused on key industry vertical segments, including retail, media and telecommunications, finance, travel and hospitality, health and wellness, and B2B software.