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Industry News - September 3rd 2010



Hold the Phone. Sheraton Dallas Offers Room Service Orders Via the Web

The Sheraton Dallas Hotel recently unveiled a website dedicated to on-line room service orders. Using the hotel's free Wi-Fi, guests staying at the hotel can browse the in-room dining menu from a laptop, iPhone or at the hotel's "Link@Sheraton experienced with Microsoft" lobby lounge, place an order and have the food delivered to any location within the hotel."At the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, we pride ourselves in having the most state-of-the-art technology offerings to give our guests services that will simplify their travels even more during their stay with us," says Ray Hammer, general manager of Sheraton Dallas Hotel. "This new room service website does just that, and it adds an element of fun and convenience to the standard way of purchasing room service. With the click of a mouse or the tap of finger on an iPhone, guests can have food delivered when they want it and where they want it, without having to pick up the phone."

To take advantage of the new service, guests can be anywhere in the hotel or conference center where Internet access is available. The meal can either be charged to the room, a credit card or paid in cash upon delivery. Guests will simply enter a first and last name and room number, and will gain immediate access to the new website. As an incentive for guests to try the new service, a 10 percent discount is being offered.


Burger King Sold for $4 Billion

Burger King Holdings, Inc. (the "Company") and 3G Capital announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which affiliates of 3G Capital will acquire the stock of the Company for $24.00 per share, or $4 billion, including the assumption of the Company's outstanding debt.Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Company's Board of Directors, stockholders will receive $24.00 in cash per share for all outstanding shares of the Company's common stock, representing a 46% premium to the Company's unaffected share price before recent market rumors. 3G Capital has obtained committed financing to purchase all outstanding shares and refinance existing indebtedness. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this calendar year.

"The BURGER KING brand is one of the most recognizable and respected brand names in the world, and we are pleased that 3G Capital recognizes the value we have created in revitalizing the brand and enhancing operations over the past seven years," says the Company's chairman and chief executive officer John W. Chidsey. "We look forward to partnering with 3G Capital, whose proven track record as an investor, together with its financial and consumer brands experience, will serve to further strengthen the Company, our restaurants and franchisees worldwide. We are committed to maintaining the superior guest experience the BURGER KING system is known for around the world as we transition ownership."

Alex Behring, Managing Partner of 3G Capital, says, "We have great respect for the BURGER KING brand and the strong business that management, the employees and the franchisees have built. The iconic BURGER KING brand, its solid franchisee network and great product offerings make this a perfect fit for 3G Capital, which has a strong track record of long-term investments in global consumer brands and retail companies. We are excited to work together with the Company's employees and franchisees to continue to invest in the brand for the benefit of all its guests, employees and franchisees."

In conjunction with the transaction, the Company's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, John Chidsey, will remain through the transition period in his current capacity and subsequently assume a newly created position of Co-Chairman of the Board. Upon closing of the transaction, Alex Behring, Managing Partner of 3G Capital, will be appointed Co-Chairman of the Board of the Company, alongside Mr. Chidsey.

Under the terms of the agreement, it is anticipated that 3G Capital will commence a tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of the Company no later than September 17, 2010.

Affiliates of TPG Capital LP, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Bain Capital Investors, which own approximately 31 percent of the Company's outstanding shares in the aggregate, have entered into agreements pursuant to which they will tender their shares into the offer.

3G Capital has received debt commitment letters from JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and Barclays Capital to provide the debt financing necessary to close the transaction. Under the terms of the agreement, the transaction is conditioned upon, among other things, satisfaction of the minimum tender condition of approximately 79.1 percent of the Company's common shares, the receipt of the Federal Trade Commission's approval under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, the receipt of funding under the financing agreements and other customary closing conditions. In the event that the minimum tender condition is not met, and in certain other circumstances, the parties have agreed to complete the transaction through a one-step merger after receipt of shareholder approval.


Approx. 200-300 Serious Texas Bar-B-Q Customers Affected by Data Breach

Shane Benjamin of The Durango Herald writes: Several hundred customers at Serious Texas Bar-B-Q were subject to debit-card fraud or attempted fraud earlier this year in Durango, police said.

Only customers at the south location, 650 South Camino del Rio, were affected, Shry said. Credit-card numbers also may have been stolen, he said, but so far, police have received reports only of debit-card fraud.

"I can assume credit cards were getting defrauded, too, but the main part of our cases were debit cards from local banks," Shry said.

A credit-card software vendor for Serious Texas Bar-B-Q was hacked, Shry said. The restaurant is not at fault, he said. He estimated between 200 and 300 customers were affected.

Customers who used debit cards during February and March at Serious Texas Bar-B-Q may have had their card information stolen as part of a nationwide cyber breach, said Sgt. Dan Shry, investigator with the Durango Police Department.


Starwood Shows Blackberry Users some Love with SPG App Release

    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and its Starwood Preferred Guest program announce the launch of the SPG App for BlackBerry smartphones. The SPG App is now available on BlackBerry App World or by visiting spg.com/BBapp.The SPG App makes it easy for BlackBerry smartphone users to browse and make reservations at 1,000 Starwood properties across the globe. Members can also use the new application to manage current reservations, view their Starpoints balance, check on recent account activity, connect with customer service, get directions and maps to their hotel from their current location, and access TheLobby.com -- the SPG blog featuring travel trends and tips.

    "SPG members who use this application with their BlackBerry smartphone have an incredible tool at their fingertips. With its range of useful functions and user-friendly interface, the SPG App invites members to tap into and experience the power of the Starwood Preferred Guest network," says David Godsman, vice president of global web services for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. "Mobile access is increasingly important for the fast-paced lifestyles of our members and we are committed to providing solutions that enhance their experience while on the go."

    Members who download and log in to the SPG App by September 30, 2010, will be entered for a chance to win 100,000 Starpoints which can be redeemed for Free Nights, Award Flights on over 350 airlines with SPG Flights, VIP access to some of the season’s hottest concerts and once-in-a-lifetime experiences through the SPG Moments online auction and much more.

    Global technology and consulting services provider, CSC, was chosen to develop the mobile application for Starwood’s customers that use BlackBerry smartphones. CSC delivered a user friendly application that is also supported across multiple technology platforms.

    Starwood previously released a version of the SPG app for Apple's iPhone.



Arby's Franchisee: ‘Labor Mgmt Tool Helped Us Weather Economic Downturn'

Arby's franchisee, The Restaurant Company, says that TimeManagement Corporation's TMx solution played a significant role in maintaining profit margins and controlling labor costs over the past 18 months. TimeManagement's TMx solution provides the hospitality industry with tools for forecasting, scheduling and human resources management."The national recession has required our managers to look even more closely at all of our costs," says Bill Lowe, president of The Restaurant Company. "With labor accounting for approximately 27% of those costs, the fact that TMx lets us maximize efficiency in this arena is a huge benefit. The TMx product has definitely helped improve our performance."

Optimal scheduling is a key piece of the TMx solution. Prior to using TMx, The Restaurant Company could take weeks to determine where to put labor hours; each store manager spent several hours every week preparing schedules. Using TMx, those schedules now are written in less than 20 minutes. "TMx clearly defines, very quickly, what hours you should schedule based on your forecast," explains District Manager Brandon Metts. "Better yet, for us TMx exposed areas where we could be more efficient, and today it helps us pinpoint the hours we need to meet our service expectations while keeping costs in check."

The Restaurant Company's executive team also appreciated TimeManagement's willingness to work with their operations team to optimize the product. While most in the hospitality industry base labor forecasts on a percentage of sales, The Restaurant Company uses productivity analysis and transaction data to make their forecasts, which the TMx system easily accommodates. TMx's powerful forecasting solution uses 15-minute actual totals that are imported from their Posera Maitre'D point-of-sale solution. "TimeManagement's business consulting services configured the system to meet our exact business processes, which helped ensure that our users fully embraced the solution while meeting our corporate business objectives," adds Lowe. "We appreciate companies that are willing to go the extra mile, and TimeManagement has certainly done that."


Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside Clears 'Fog' Surrounding Flight Uncertainty

The 235-room Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside hotel has completed the implementation ofFlyte Systems' FlyteBoard real-time airline flight information display and FlytePass airline boarding pass printing service"Travelers today expect real-time airport flight information at their hotel and Flyte Systems uses the latest technology to keep our guests informed about their flights," says Jodie Langhammer, CMP, national sales manager for the Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside. "Customer service is the highest priority at our hotel and providing Flyte Systems' airport information is an excellent way to give our guests the highest level of service."

A majority of the Holiday Inn Bayside's guests travel through San Diego International Airport. "We specialize in hosting military reunions, and most of the attendees are senior citizens," says Langhammer. "We feel it is very important to keep their travel days as stress free as possible. By providing FlyteBoard and FlytePass service, we make it easier for all our guests to travel." In June, 2010, the property was selected as "One of the Top 10 Great Places to hold a Reunion" by USA Today.  

Langhammer notes that fog can be a major factor in flying in and out of San Diego. "Having the FlyteBoard with Doppler radar display assists guests with travel planning," she says. In 2009 the Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside qualified and became part of the Holiday Inn brand relaunch to be more contemporary and competitive in the market. The hotel's implementation of Flyte Systems flight information and boarding pass printing is part of the property's total upgrade program.

Real-time flight info
What sets Flyte Systems apart from PC-based applications is the ability to post accurate, real-time airline flight arrival and departure information, not FAA-regulated scheduled departure times that do not list delays caused by air traffic control, aircraft maintenance, crew availability and weather.

Flyte Systems offers a suite of products that serve the traveling public: FlyteBoard, FlytePass, FlyteChannel and FlyteTouch. 

  • FlyteBoard is a wall, floor or ceiling mounted high-definition, flat panel screen for lobbies, restaurants, bars and other public areas, displaying flight information for one or more airports.
  • FlytePass combines FlyteTouch with free, secure boarding pass printing and can be provided stand alone or neatly packaged in an optional all wood kiosk or integrated metal kiosk, to match your décor.
  • FlyteChannel permits guests to view live airport flight information conveniently and comfortably from their in-room television.
  • FlyteTouch enables individual guests to search flight information using an interactive touch screen that displays real-time flight arrivals and departures for one or more airports.

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