Trend Report: MURTEC 2023 Rewind!

Record-breaking attendance, the hottest restaurant-tech solutions, and three days of inspiring — and entertaining! — sessions made MURTEC 2023: All In an unmissable experience.
MURTEC 2023 logo

MURTEC 2023 experienced a record attendance of 1,000 industry professionals -- better than a 1-to-1 ratio of restaurant technology professionals to suppliers. We had a blast doing double duty, both hosting the event and covering it as journalists. Here, we present a “rewind” of highlights (including videos) from our annual Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference, March 6-8 at The Paris, in Las Vegas.

What's the Vibe? Genzennial Sentiment Panel

Dishing on everything from restaurant apps to delivery preferences, kiosks vs. real people, the promise — and potential pitfalls — of robotics, new definitions of loyalty, and more, our Genzennial panel was a MURTEC first and a true highlight of the conference. 

With a firm belief that the future of the restaurant industry will be shaped by a new generation of guests — with new expectations, depends, and energy — Angela Diffly, co-founder of RTN, sat down with students from the University of Nevada Las Vegas to get the lowdown on what they want when it comes to technology-enabled experiences, both in the workplace and when making decisions on where and how to devour their favorite meal.

Check out the session video (above), where our student panelists share an array of insights, including:

  • GenZ prefers to discover restaurants on TikTok and other social media. 
  • like free food and other offers, which can be an incentive for downloading a restaurant’s app. 
  • When it comes to using a kiosk versus ordering from a person, it may depend on how busy the restaurant is and how well the customer know the brand’s menu. 
  • They prefer e-wallet — they’d rather not carry cash or debit cards — even though they may be tempted to spend more money.
  • And much more!

Thank you to our student panelists:

  • Ariana Zarate, Student, UNLV Hospitality College
  • Ira De Jesus, Student, UNLV Hospitality College
  • Delaney Cloma, Student, UNLV Hospitality College
  • Dominique Hlavac, Student, UNLV Hospitality College
  • Jessica Kang, Student, UNLV Hospitality College
  • Wanjin Li, Student, UNLV Hospitality College
ACI Worldwide Logo

Post-MURTEC Insights From ACI Worldwide

“One technology that stood out among all others for us: voice-based AI for ordering.” —Amit Chhabra, Director, Product Management, ACI Worldwide READ MORE!
Start-Up Alley 2023 Celebration "Silly" Shot

RTN's Start-Up Alley: Top 3 Showdown

Fifteen truly innovative start-ups competed in this year’s Start-Up Alley, culminating in a riveting final-three showdown — and one amazing winner. To help us reach that goal, judges Robert Notte, MOD Super Fast Pizza; Carissa De Santis, Brix Holdings; and Zerrick Pearson, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, spent a few hours yesterday interviewing the semi-finalists and narrowing down the competition to their top three picks: bikky, LANDED and Tablz. These three startups were then given the opportunity to speak for a few minutes on stage, explaining their technology to the audience while also answering probing questions from the judges. After all three presented, the audience was given the opportunity to vote. Congratulations to LANDED for winning this year's Start-Up Alley competition!

LANDED is a company that helps restaurants find, interview and hire new employees quickly. For instance, it pushes conversations via text message with applicants to get them to the restaurant for an interview within 24-48 hours of the candidates first showing interest in the job. 

"That's how you reduce ghosting and get your stores staffed," said Vivian Wang, Founder & CEO.

Following through on this fast turnaround time is important (and impressive), considering the industry average for job candidates ghosting potential employers is currently about 60%. The technology can also handle live rescheduling and will introduce and tone and personalize the hiring experience for job candidates. 

Bite logo

Post-MURTEC Insights from Bite

“Kiosk proof-of-concept projects have now begun to evolve into kiosk initiatives. Many brands have now proven the value of on-premise digital ordering solutions.” —Natalie Wild, Chief Customer Officer, Bite READ MORE!

Firechat: Maximum Automation: Next-Level Robotics 

During this session (which you can watch, above), Benson Tsai, former SpaceX engineer and current CEO & Co-Founder of Stellar Pizza, told HT editor-in-chief Robert Firpo-Cappiello the story of how he developed, built, and launched a mobile “pizza robot” that’s been taking Los Angeles by storm.

"At first I wanted to develop a Boba vending machine. But then I realized the biggest market for Boba is actually in the United States, and that wasn't a big enough market. Pizza, on the other hand, is beloved around the world. In fact, it was the only American food allowed in my Taiwanese home. For me it symbolizes joy and America. So, it just made sense to pivot to pizza."

"I've developed a newfound respect for restauranteurs and entrepreneurs. You work so hard. The saying goes: 'It’s not rocket science' but as an actual rocket scientist, I think building a restaurant is harder than rocket science. I can rely on the laws of physics, but customers don’t always do what you want them to do!"

Ingenico logo

Post-MURTEC Insights From Ingenico

“MURTEC underscored how technology is disrupting the restaurant space and opening the door to exciting innovations.” —Anthony Walsh, Vice President, Payment Solution Sales, Ingenico READ MORE!

Keynote: Digital Transformers Take the Stage 

During the opening session on Day 2 of MURTEC (check out the video, above), Justin Falciola, Chief Insights & Technology Officer, Papa Johns; Wade Allen, SVP and Chief Digital Officer, Brinker International; and Vadim Parizher, VP of Technology, Taco Bell joined on stage to talk about everything from robotics to labor challenges to what the future might hold for each of their brands. Here are a couple quick quotes from that session!

  • "We're at a juncture as a restaurant industry where it’s never been easier to do the wrong thing. In marketing tech, ordering tech, tipping, rating, survey, the experience you have when you call in when your order was late or you need to change something, all of those experiences tend to be disconnected departmentally and strategically. Regardless of how amazing your tech is, the ability to do things wrong is a challenge for all of us." -- Justin Falciola
  • "COVID gave us the opportunity to press the envelope with drones, robots in front and back of house, and delivering food, and ghost kitchens, etc. I think all these things have a place. We decided to either fail fast or succeed quickly. We found that the horizon was a lot longer than we anticipated for many technologies. So we went back to see what was really driving profitability, sales, guest experience and team member experience. We’re getting everything to work perfectly so we can move forward with confidence." -- Wade Allen
  • "The most important people in our business are our team members. But there is a labor shortage. Technology is, in some ways, an answer to the labor shortage. Automation can help with the most mundane tasks. It could also help us open earlier or open later. It could help take orders, prepare food, serve customers, etc." -- Vadim Parizher

Post-MURTEC Insights From Panasonic Connect

“The opportunity to engage with customers and restaurant industry professionals to chart our industry’s future was a highlight.” —Jay Burdette, Sr. Director, Panasonic Connect North America READ MORE!

The Metaverse 101

We want each and every one of you to bottle the energy of this cool session — a Day 1 breakout — and take it home! Panelists Kevin Seo, Chief Megaphone, Food Fighters Universe/Bored and Hungry, and Skip Kimpel, Principal of Independent & SMB Consulting, ConStrata Technology Consulting, brought energy and imagination to this new and exciting topic. Check out the video of the session, above. Highlights include:

  • The metaverse is not a new concept. The first VR machine was created in 1956 and simulated riding a bicycle. The term “metaverse” was coined in 1992.
  • Global shipments for AR/VR devices by 2024 will be 76.7 million. Meta Reality Labs has so far invested $10 billion trying to standardize the use of metaverse. By 2024 the projected value of the metaverse will be $800 billion.
  • If you don’t think the metaverse matters for our industry ask yourself: Why are major restaurant players like Wendy’s, Chipotle, McDonalds, Burger King, Panera, Hooters, Yum! Brands, Chik-fil-a, Inspire, Wing Stop and Bojangles buying real estate and creating experiences in the metaverse? They’ve done the research and they know that it’s worth their time and money.
  • The metaverse is just another channel for marketing to guests. It’s a new type of marketplace. Gen Z and Gen Alpha (age 12 and under) are consuming information in new ways and brands need to advertise to them, where they are.
  • Kevin Seo’s  Food Fighters Universe brand put together a game in Roblox where gamers could farm potatoes. Marketing campaigns might impact up to 100k individuals. Social media campaigns might impact a million. But Food Fighters' Roblox campaign meant 4 million people saw the brand.
Rosnet logo

Post-MURTEC Insights From Rosnet

“The emphasis on digital tech transformations in restaurants could be felt throughout the week.” —Amesha Tate-Thomas, Marketing Manager, Rosnet READ MORE!
Voice AI Metrock MURTEC breakout

Powerful Voices: How AI is Changing the Game 

Panelists Bradley Metrock, CEO, Project Voice, and Jon Stine, Executive Director, Open Voice Network, presented a truly disruptive Day 1 breakout session on voice-enabled AI and how it's changing — and will continue to change — the ordering game and more!

"When McDonald’s acquired Apprente in 2019, to bring voice technology to drive-thrus, this was a very forward-looking acquisition. It was one of the first big acquisitions in the conversational AI industry and it validated the concept of using AI to supplement customer service, and use conversational AI to supplement operations. It was 'The Big Bang of AI.'"—Bradley Metrock

"It’s hugely important to be ethical with the use of data garnered by AI. Voice is the second most revealing part of a human experience – according to physicians. We can learn more about you from your voice than anything else, short of your DNA." —Jon Stine

"AI is the accelerator of automation throughout the value chain. Ask yourself: What’s the sustainable value and advantage for your organization? When you know sooner you can decide smarter and act faster. Voice is a remarkable technology and most of us don’t realize that its like an iceberg where most of the value is 'under the water.'" —Jon Stine

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Post-MURTEC Insights From Solugenix

“With the help desk work we do at Solugenix, networking is always a highlight.” —Jessica Sweet, Director, Executive Relationship Management & Business Development, Solugenix READ MORE!
MURTEC Storytellers Series
HT's VP and Publisher, Abigail Lorden, interviews Paul Macaluso, President & CEO, Another Broken Egg Cafe.

Storyteller Series: Tech-Enabled Revenue Streams

This series of one-on-one conversations with HT’s VP & Publisher Abigail Lorden spotlights innovation in alternative sources of revenue for restaurants — the kind of imaginative thinking that has diversified business models with new takes on catering, loyalty, and vending. 

  • Paul Macaluso, President & CEO, Another Broken Egg Cafe, shared how he took the full-service brunch concept from zero off-prem pre-pandemic to quickly implementing third-party delivery with DoorDash and online ordering with Olo.Today, Another Broken Egg boasts a robust catering enterprise using ezCater integrated with POS — brunch catering is a niche with growth opportunities, and the brand doubled its catering revenue last year.
  • Brian Anderson, Sr. Dir. of Technology, Upward Projects Restaurant Group, shared how Winebar, which specializes in proprietary wines unavailable anywhere else, pivoted during the pandemic to a Wine Wagon that marketed via Twitter to sell wine to the community. He also launched Wine Cult, a subscription model offering premium experiences to members, and redefining his loyalty can be utilized to grow demand.
  • Dan Mesches, President & CEO, Sprinkles Cupcakes, discussed the transformation of Sprinkles, which he describes as “innovators at heart,” into a digital-first bakery, including online ordering and pickup and a system-wide remodel including digital boards and technology-in-bakery kiosks. Dan also wins this year’s award for food images that made us most hungry!
Toast logo

Post-MURTEC Insights From Toast

Being our first major conference of the year, MURTEC really sets the tone for our team in 2023.” —Frank Chen, Director of Product Marketing, Growth Segments, Toast READ MORE!
Brenda Parker at MURTEC 2023
Brenda Parker, Partner, Results Thru Strategy, accepts the Top Women in Restaurant Technology Lifetime Achievement Award.

Leaders & Innovators: 2023 Award Winners

Day 3 kicked off with Hospitality Technology's Industry Heroes and seven annual Top Women in Restaurant Technology awards.  What a truly engaging award ceremony! Anna Wolfe, senior editor - restaurants, Hospitality Technology, and Derek Canton, CEO, Paerpay, presented awards to Industry Heroes and the Top Women in Restaurant Technology (both sponsored by Paerpay). 

Industry Heroes awards were presented to:

  • Checkers & Rally's for CAREs program, its support of No Kid Hungry, and its support to help underrepresented groups become franchisees. 
  • Leanpath for its contributions in reducing food waste
  • Gigpro for its work on solving both sides of the labor crisis
  • Giftameal for its gift-a-meal program

The winners of the 2023 Top Women in Restaurant Technology Awards were:

Lifetime Achievement, presented in recognition of more than 15 years of service and accomplishments in the foodservice technology industry, honoring women who have had an impact on the foodservice technology industry as well as their colleagues and industry peers through enthusiasm, mentorship and commitment, while also showing how technologies can provide new ways of doing things:

  • Kathi Klein, VP of Hardware Solutions and Support, QSR Automations, Louisville, Ky.
  • Kelly MacPherson, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Supply Chain Officer, Union Square Hospitality Group, New York
  • Brenda Parker, Partner, Results Thru Strategy, Charlotte, N.C.

Innovator, presented to women who are forward thinkers and who have executed on tools and strategy to transform the foodservice technology space in a positive manner by creating or deploying emerging technologies that reimagine how things are done while paving the way for future technologies:

  • Carissa DeSantis, Chief Technology Officer for BRIX Holdings, Dallas
  • Jenna Keith-Birney, Director of Back of House and Above Store Technology, Taco Bell, Irvine, Calif.
  • Brittany Maroney, Head of Marketing & Communications for PAR Technology, Phoenix
  • Deborah Matteliano, Global Head, Restaurant Technology atAmazon Web Services, New York
  • Priyanka Mehra, Director of Product Management, Olo, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Meredith Sandland, CEO, Empower Delivery, Newport Beach, Calif.
  • Marcy Setter, Sr Product Manager - Restaurant Technology, Inspire Brands, Canton, Mass.

Rising Star, presented to women from any level of an organization with less than five years' experience in the industry, who have demonstrated leadership and are making a mark in foodservice technology:

  • Gabrielle Andrade, Senior Product Manager, Qwick, Scottsdale, Ariz. 
  • Lindsay Eichten, Director CRM, Loyalty and Media, TGI Fridays, Dallas
  • Cynthia Hollen, CEO and co-founder, MAVI.ioOnMyWay Commerce,  Miami
  • Beth Olson, Director of IT Restaurant Engagement, Inspire Brands, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Christine Schindler, Co-Founder & CEO atPathSpot, New York
RTN KPIs panel at MURTEC

New & Hot! RTN's Restaurant Technology KPIs

RTN Co-Founder Angela Diffly took the stage to recap of RTN's accomplishments since its launch four years ago.

During this session, the Restaurant Technology Network released the industry’s first collection of 100+ key performance indicators (KPIs), covering six broad categories: sales, marketing, product, labor, operations and service and financials. In addition, it showcased the Restaurant Technology Capabilities Framework, a tool that defines functional areas and capabilities for solutions, allowing restaurant technology stakeholders to speak a common language. 

Three of the seven key contributors to the Restaurant Technology KPI matrix appeared on stage to discuss why both these KPIs and this new tool will be such a gamechanger for the industry: Robert Peterson, Area VP, New Business, North America, Oracle Food & Beverage; George Hutto, Data Architect, MOD Pizza; and Tim Tang, Director of Enterprise Solutions, Hughes:

  • "When we think about the restaurant industry, one of the big challenges that we see is that there's so many different stakeholders with so many different backgrounds. Some grew up in the restaurant industry and understand it from being servers and running cashiers and serving customers. Others have a technology background and a deep understanding of the technology that powers restaurants. For us to succeed as an industry, we need to bring these groups together and offer them a way for them to be able to communicate in a shared, understood language. Until now, we didn't have that ability." —Tim Tang.
  • "When I came into MOD Pizza, I was very fresh to the restaurant industry. What I found was that I had different teams interpreting things differently.  I spent a lot of time having to prove to each team that we're talking about the same thing. So these KPI's give very standardized, very easily understood measurements that we can implement. Honestly, if I had these definitions available to me when I first started in MOD, I would have had a six month jump on my job. We all know that restaurant resources are slim – we're like one slice of butter across four pieces of toast! Having these all defined ahead of time would have allowed me to do more experimental innovative work." —George Hutto.
  • “Many restaurant operators ask: 'How can I contribute to RTN when I don’t have time to be at a workgroup on a consistent basis?' We still want you in these workgroups, even if you can't make every single one. But besides participating in workgroups, the most important way to contribute to RTN is by adopting our framework, KPIs, etc. And then, when you are engaging with solution providers, ask them: Have you heard of RTN? Do you support them? When operators and brands begin asking these questions, you'll help drive adoption and help the industry as a whole. So, spread the word! Let your partners know that RTN is important to you!" —Robert Peterson
Obi Felten

Keynote Speaker: How to Apply Moonshot Thinking to Real-World Challenges

In this Day 2 keynote, Futurist Obi Felten, CEO, Flourish Labs; Head of Getting Moonshots Ready for Contact with the Real World, Google X (2012-2021), shared some lessons and key takeaways on shooting for the moon, embracing failure, learning fast — and how to support your team throughout the journey. Highlights included:

  • The biggest impediment to innovation is how you set up the company culture to incentivize people to try new things (even if they might fail).
  • Fall in love with a problem. Engineers love solutions. But if you don’t spend enough time deeply understanding the problem for the customer you might build a solution that no one wants, such as Google Glass. 
  • Innovation is a team sport. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone. Great innovations are made by great teams not great men. You need a diverse team.
  • Set kill criteria immediately so that you know when to stop wasting resources on a project that isn't going to: make money, solve the problem, etc.

POS Software Trends: A Buyer's Guide

During this session (which you can watch, above), panelists Joe Tenczar, CIO, Restaurant CIOs, and Brian Pearson, CTO, Mendocino Farms, discussed POS needs vs wants vs wish list; critical considerations such as costs (e.g., cloud-based POS vs server-based), a flexible API for current and future integrations, and new demands such as mobile guest experience, tablets at table, and more.

“There’s a very clear delineation between legacy solutions — an enhanced cash register — and today’s cloud-based solutions, which enable future thinking,” Brian Pearson, CTO, Mendocino Farms.

The POS has truly evolved to do so much more than its original concept.

MURTEC Need for Speed
Jim Vitek, Restaurant Technologist & Entrepreneur, former tech leadership roles at Yum! Brands & Domino's, interviews Jonathan Tryzbiak, VP of IT, Checkers & Rally’s

The Need for Speed: Restaurant Innovation

Jim Vitek, Restaurant Technologist & Entrepreneur, former tech leadership roles at Yum! Brands & Domino's, chatted with Karl Goodhew, CTO, BurgerFi; Jonathan Tryzbiak, VP of IT, Checkers & Rally’s; and Chris Demery, CTO, Blaze Pizza, to explore how they're pioneering new paths at the intersection of technology, customer experience and store design.

  • Jonathan Tryzbiak, VP of IT, Checkers & Rally’s, noted that while speed count is a primary concern, context — including experience and revenue — is important. Many factors affect speed — Checkers is using data and analytics and AI at the drive-thru, which accurately takes orders, eliminating the need for the challenging cashier position. The brand conducted a study watching people work and identified wasted time, paving the way for a redesigned kitchen for efficiency.
  • Chris Demery, CTO, Blaze Pizza, said speed is part of the brand’s promise: 8 minutes from order to fulfillment. But when Demery joined Blaze, he didn’t have a way to measure speed other than checkout. He moved POS to the front of the line, then measured time to pay. He noted that while KDS is part of the speed equation, it is not not the final step. Brands must also understand the manufacturing process and customer exoerience.
  • Karl Goodhew, CTO, BurgerFi, observed that speed of service does not mean as fast as possible — digital customers can take as long as they want. In person at a kiosk, the more time at the kiosk, the more money they spend, the more time for upsells. The time BurgerFi cares about is the time they tell the driver. The brand focuses on multiple time points, and a clear correlation between drive time and customer satisfaction.

Save the Dates: MURTEC 2024 will be March 11-13 at The Paris, Las Vegas!

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