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Industry News - August 27th 2010



Pizza Express' Training 'E-'ffectiveness Comes By Way of Virtual Tool

Pizza Express partners with ThirdForce, a UK-based technology enabled learning provider, to implement an innovative eLearning, training and development program. The two-phase implementation follows the completion of a successful pilot scheme across 35 of its sites and the organization, part of the Gondola Group, will complete the roll-out in 2011.In the first two months of the pilot program, 83 courses were completed, generating savings estimated at GBP 5,000 when compared with face-to-face training. Regulatory compliance e-learning courses in Foundation Food Safety, Foundation Health and Safety, DDA and content developed in-house lead the program, with learning assigned, monitored and reported through ThirdForce's learning management system, AIMS. The potential for cost reductions across the wider business are self evident and high value is placed on the successful employee development opportunities that the program offers for more than 9,500 staff members.

"We want to attract really good people to our business. Those people coming in should feel that the standard of training and development that they receive is second to none and that they couldn't get anything else like it in any other casual dining business," says Mark Angela, CEO of Pizza Express.

The organization is delivering the training via ThirdForce's el-box, a tablet PC similar in size to a standard laptop, with a touch sensitive, flip-top screen and a robust design that is preloaded with the necessary catalogue of courses.

"Instead of touching a few people and making them travel quite large distances we can touch 9,500 people with the quality of training and development I think they deserve," says Pizza Express HR director Julie MacDonald.


Dairy Queen Endorses Vendor Safe for PCI Compliance

American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ) has selected Vendor Safe Technologies as an endorsed and preferred provider of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) compliance solutions to its network of 5,000+ North American locations.
Through the alliance, Vendor Safe will support ADQ's initiative to help franchisees secure their payment card processing systems, keeping customers' card data and personal information safe from hackers, thieves and other potential threats using Vendor Safe's PCI Managed Security Suite. Vendor Safe will also enable franchise owners to easily validate PCI-DSS compliance to their acquiring banks.
"Protecting guest's sensitive credit card data is a high priority for Dairy Queen Operators," says Chris Schwanz, National Accounts Program Manager of American Dairy Queen Corporation. "Vendor Safe's Self Configuring Firewall Architecture enables our franchise owners to achieve PCI compliance within 30 days so that their networks, businesses and customers are protected."


Homewood Suites: Blended Biz Traveler Lifestyle Leads Chase to Bundled Value Proposition

Homewood Suites by Hilton, the highest-ranking extended-stay brand in the 2010 J.D. Power and Associates North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index, released the results of its 2010 Workstyles Study. The independent survey, conducted a decade after the initial study, polled 549 extended-stay business travelers about their current work-life balance and the amenities that they find most valuable while on the road.

Maintaining a regular diet and exercise regimen has also become more imperative to a vast majority of business travelers. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents stated that it is either "important" or "very important" for them to maintain their routines on the road, saying that an in-room kitchen, stocked with requested food would make this easier. Participants further confirmed this trend by citing a full refrigerator and microwave as the second and third most-desired in-room amenities, after complimentary internet.

"We frequently survey our guests in order to ensure we're staying as relevant as possible and meeting their needs," says Raynor. "The findings from this most recent study further reinforce that our bundled value proposition is addressing the needs of our guests."

Other big factors
The Workstyles Study also reinforced that location, value and loyalty programs are important factors for business travelers when choosing hotels. Additionally, the results found that the three currently available amenities business travelers most use during their travel were Internet, breakfast and fitness facilities. Although, when asked what amenities they would use most if offered for free, an evening reception moved ahead of fitness facilities, joining complimentary Internet and breakfast as the most valued.

Rather than cutting back on guest services and amenities during the economic downturn, Homewood Suites began a significant capital investment to improve and expand its offerings. The brand's food and beverage program was perhaps the most noticeable change of this "Distinctly Homewood" enhancement, with a 30-day rotational menu which includes a daily full hot breakfast and evening meal with drinks every Monday-Thursday. Additional elements of the program included the installation of flat-panel televisions, granite countertops, wood laminate flooring, upgraded bedding in all guest suites and improvements to fitness equipment.

"Homewood Suites will continue to afford guests the conveniences and bundled value they appreciate and want as reflected by the Workstyles Study," says Raynor. "From complimentary Internet and daily full hot breakfast, to in-room kitchens and a free grocery shopping service, our guests know that they can be at home when staying at one of Homewood's nearly 300 properties."

This independent, external study was conducted in May 2010 using an eRewards panel. A total of 549 travelers responded to the survey, representing an even male/female split. All respondents have taken three or more trips of four or more days in the past year.
According to Carla Raynor, vice president of marketing, Homewood Suites by Hilton, the most significant study finding was that the division between business travelers' professional and personal lives has eroded over the past decade. In fact, 67 percent of respondents have either "frequently" or "sometimes" combined a leisure vacation with a work trip in the past year (16 percent increase since 2000), with over half of those respondents having done so three or more times.

Combining business with leisure travel wasn't the only area to increase. Respondents shared that working after hours has become increasingly more common. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed said they often work in the evenings or on the weekend (an 11 percent increase since 2000).


Restaurants: Breaking Down Dept. Walls Sparks Innovation

The 2010 Restaurant Executive Summit, September 29 – October 1 at The Grand Del Mar Resort in San Diego, Calif., is the venue for fostering cross-departmental innovation this fall. Geared specifically for senior-level executives, the Summit offers technology, finance, operations and marketing professionals a venue for fostering cross-departmental innovation. Peer-to-peer collaboration will demonstrate how executives can work together to break down departmental silos, while event sessions will provide executives with the insight they need to better understand their customer, and to better support the overall business. Specific sessions of interest include:For technology professionals

  • Your Brand is Your Business: Align for Growth in the New Hospitality Dynamic
  • Ubertrends: Socially Engaging the New Era Guest
  • Technology Super Session: Technology that Drives Top-Line Growth
  • Technology Initiatives: Roundtable Workshop

For finance professionals

  • Your Brand is Your Business: Align for Growth in the New Hospitality Dynamic
  • Technology Super Session: Technology that Drives Top-Line Growth
  • CFO Perspectives: Managing the Cost of Change
  • Real Estate Boot Camp: Roundtable Workshop

For operations professionals

  • Your Brand is Your Business: Align for Growth in the New Hospitality Dynamic
  • Ubertrends: Socially Engaging the New Era Guest
  • Rebuilding Your Workforce
  • Technology Super Session: Technology that Drives Top-Line Growth
  • Impact of National Policy: Unprecedented Change
  • Real Estate Boot Camp: Roundtable Workshop

For marketing professionals

  • Your Brand is Your Business: Align for Growth in the New Hospitality Dynamic
  • Ubertrends: Socially Engaging the New Era Guest
  • Rebuilding Your Workforce
  • Impact of National Policy: Unprecedented Change

PMS to Aid Wheatleigh in Preservation of Winning Guest Service Rep

The Wheatleigh in Lenox, MA will implement the ResortSuite PMS, F&B and concierge modules to manage accommodation, dining and spa operations. Wheatleigh is a member of The Leading Small Hotels of the World and has acquired various prestigious awards including, Travel & Leisure's The World's Best Hotels: Top 100, and Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report's Hotel of the Year. Committed to maintaining a flawless standard in guest service, Wheatleigh required a modern system that would manage guest preferences and activities inclusively, including, their initial room reservation through to their dining and spa experiences

"We were extremely impressed by the solution's ability to store and share critical guest information across the entire property without interfacing," says Linfield Simon, owner of Wheatleigh. "The overall capabilities of the system, including the enterprise-wide views, the team's knowledge of the boutique hotel business model, and the commitment to ongoing product development were the reasons we chose ResortSuite."ResortSuite, a provider of integrated, guest-centric hospitality management software solutions.


Navigating South Gate's Wine List Gets Easier with iPad

South Gate (154 Central Park South between 6th and 7th Avenues, NYC) has created custom wireless iPad wine tablets exclusively designed to navigate its extensive wine list. The new iPad wine tablet features the SmartCellar application designed by the New York-based company Incentient.

South Gates' sommelier will use this interactive high-definition, color touch-screen handheld device to educate patrons on more than 650 bottle wines available or invite guests to instantly access the information themselves from the iPad's fully customizable SmartCellar application with the touch of a finger. 

Convenient, quick and weighing in at 1.5 pounds, the South Gate iPad wine tablet not only provides customers with detailed information about the major wine regions and varietals, but also automatically updates the wine list as labels sell out, to ensure that inventory is always accurate. The touch-screen application is easy enough for a casual diner but detailed enough for the most knowledgeable wine connoisseur.


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