Industry News - November 26th 2010
RETAIL AND TECHNOLOGY NEWS
Mellow Mushroom Tackles Franchise-wide PCI Compliance
as the endorsed and preferred PCI compliance provider for its franchise
community. Seeing the potential vulnerabilities within its network, the pizza
chain decided to make every location safe by mandating PCI compliance among its
“A security breach can have a devastating impact on the franchisee and the
entire brand as a whole. For this reason we felt requiring our franchisees to
have a consistent comprehensive solution was the best approach for our system,”
says Jeff Wiggins, CFO of Mellow Mushroom. “We wanted in-store [network]
protection that would be perpetually maintained and updated at a reasonable
After evaluating several vendors, Mellow Mushroom decided that the SecureConnect
National Account Program, which offers franchisors a cost-effective,
comprehensive solution, was the best choice. In partnership with SecureConnect,
the brand spearheaded an aggressive effort to educate and simplify the PCI
process. Franchisees received necessary services for compliance and security
while benefitting from ongoing communication and educational resources to help
them understand the importance behind the initiative.
“We considered four different vendors in the process and SecureConnect quickly
became our biggest contender,” says Wiggins. “Some key factors in our decision
were the number of years of experience, depth of technology and security
expertise, range of services provided and the ability to educate and assist our
franchisees on the many requirements of PCI compliance that go beyond hardware
Vital for Mellow Mushroom's continued growth, SecureConnect is implementing a
security and compliance initiative for the brand while allowing franchisees to
focus attention on the day-to-day business activities within their restaurants.
Essential services provided by SecureConnect include a fully managed firewall,
centralized logging and reporting, 24x7x365 monitoring and support, quarterly
vulnerability scanning, SAQ Assistance and a $100,000 Breach Protection Program
that is double the industry average.
“We feel that SecureConnect is a solid business partner with a wealth of
experience and technical expertise, particularly as it relates to system
security and PCI Compliance,” says Wiggins. “SecureConnect offers a
comprehensive turn-key solution to address the evolving challenges of PCI
Accor Strengthens Commitment to Transparency with Customer Reviews
Accor is now posting recent customer opinions about its hotels online. Web users
looking for a hotel on accorhotels.com
are now informed directly of other travelers' opinions posted on
, the world's largest
travel community site.
The new service is available for Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel, Suite
Novotel, Mercure, Adagio, ibis, all seasons, Etap Hotel and Formule 1 hotels in
all of the Group's host countries.
To support and expand the process, e-mail messages are sent to travelers one
week after their stay encouraging them to provide feedback. Opinions and
comments appear on the traveler rating form for each hotel that is posted on
both accorhotels.com and the TripAdvisor website.
"Through this partnership, accorhotels.com is demonstrating its commitment to
quality by transparently providing hotel ratings posted by customers via
TripAdvisor," says Romain Roulleau, Accor's deputy director of direct sales in
charge of e-commerce. "In this way, the portal is improving service for Web
users by supplying them with more information before they book their hotel and
enabling them to share their impressions with other travelers after their stay."
Rooms in Accor hotels around the world can be reserved at accorhotels.com, the
Group's multi-brand worldwide online booking portal.
Travelers Prefer Social Media Over Phone, E-mail Communications, Says Sheraton Survey
Waiting for word from a loved one on the road? Don't sit by the phone.These
days, chances are they'll keep in touch through social media, according to a
survey released today by Sheraton
Hotels & Resorts, home of "Link@Sheraton experienced with Microsoft."
More than 60% of respondents in the global social media study use social media
to stay in touch with family and friends while traveling; more than a third
(36%) say they'd rather log on than make a call to share good news.
Social Media = One of Life's Necessities?
Overall, survey respondents ranked social media somewhere near air and
water as a must-have in their lives. Four-fifths of respondents said they access
social networking sites throughout the day, while 39% said they "could not live
without" social media sites. One-third of respondents said they log in multiple
times each hour. Habits barely shift on the road. One fifth of respondents say
that they check social networking sites multiple times throughout the day while
The global study was conducted by
STUDYLOGIC LLC, which surveyed 4,204 people via phone in the U.S., U.K.
and China. Sheraton recently completed the roll-out of its signature offering
"Link@Sheraton experienced with Microsoft," - a technology-driven social hub
that keeps travelers connected 24/7 at nearly 400 hotels around the world.
Social Networking Blurs Lines between Business, Pleasure
Careful what you post. Before meeting a new business contact, more than
half of those surveyed check out their new contact's social networking profiles
(54%). Nearly 60% say they have not hired a candidate based on a negative
impression from a social-media profile. More than half (54%) of respondents say
they know someone who has been fired for something said or posted online.
Regardless of pitfalls, social networking's popularity as a networking tool
continues to grow. More than half of all respondents (56%) agreed about the
importance of doing business with people active in social media channels; 55%
use online social networking to meet new business contacts and maintain current
And many use social media to mix business and pleasure - literally. More than
half of those surveyed have arranged a romantic interlude on the road using
social networks, with men more likely to do so (45%) than women (40%).
Fact or Fiction?
Don't always believe what you read. Nearly 70% of respondents say they
aren't honest on social networking sites; 27% of those fib "a little," 21%
flat-out "lie," and 20% admit that their postings are total fabrications. Women
are more inclined to tell little white lies online; men were more likely to be
100% honest (46%) versus their female counterparts (18%).
Who Are People Visiting While on the Road?
More than 50% of all Sheraton guests use the Link@Sheraton during their
stay. Facebook is the most visited site at the Link@Sheraton, with 75% of Link
users logging in during their stay. More than 60% of those surveyed (62%) find
that social media makes it easier for them to meet people while traveling for
Social Media as a Travel Planning Tool: 64% say yes
64% said they use social media to make their travel plans and within
the 25-34 year old participant group, the number is even higher; 76% look to
popular social media sites to plan their next getaway.
"Along with the bigger shift toward social media from other forms of
communication, what the survey drove home for us was that an experience like
Link@Sheraton isn't a luxury for guests, but a necessity," says Hoyt Harper, SVP
and global brand leader for Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. "They expect total
connectivity, and that's what Sheraton's delivering,"
The Link@Sheraton experienced with Microsoft is a signature component of the
Sheraton brand's $6 billion global effort to enhance the brand and differentiate
the guest experience at properties worldwide. The Link@Sheraton's unique lobby
lounge enables today's travelers to stay connected with instant access to
information and technology for work, leisure and social networking. Designed as
a social environment, The Link@Sheraton invites guests to interact with each
other while they check their email, research local attractions and even print
boarding passes using free Wi-Fi and Internet-enabled computer stations. It also
features a Link@Sheraton Café, televisions and daily newspapers.
CityCenter Initiates Standard Surveillance Platform for MGM Resorts
features luxury hotels, residential buildings, retail and entertainment
districts, a parking garage and a fire station as well as the
development's centerpiece -- the 61-story, 4,004-room ARIA Resort &
Casino. To help ensure the safety and security of the site,
North American Video (NAV), has designed, built and implemented a state-of-the
art, enterprise-wide video surveillance system.
The CityCenter project is the first deployment of a standardized
surveillance platform, designed by NAV, for other MGM Resorts
International properties. The custom hybrid solution at CityCenter is
built around the Honeywell VMS and features multiple matrix systems
spread across seven different head-end locations with monitoring in six
separate monitor rooms; six different access control rooms tying
together approximately 300 controlled doors; PSIM (physical security
information system) integration and management control; and a fiber
backbone tying all properties and systems together. More than 3,700
video surveillance cameras provide detailed images on a 24/7/365 basis.
The enterprise system provides versatile features needed for
surveillance of the mega complex, including simultaneous record,
playback and viewing of live or recorded material, internal and
external redundancy, and back-up and advanced networking capabilities.
Oncam IPC 5 megapixel 360 degree cameras are used in selected locations
in order to provide full 360 degree persistent situational awareness;
complete scenes can be viewed in panoramic or multi-view screen mode.
The 360 degree cameras are additionally capable of generating intrusion
alerts upon motion detection and other alarm events, and of notifying
personnel via email and/or ftp, complete with images of the event.
NAV developed a local team led by five different project managers to
help advance project efficiency. All racks, enclosures and integrated
systems were built, tested and commissioned locally at NAV's Western
Region Headquarters in Las Vegas. This process allowed NAV to do
extensive testing and quality control prior to delivering the equipment
and kept on-site rework to a minimum. It also helped to ensure that the
build was consistent with the technical specifications and that the
commissioning was executed to NAV operation standards while meeting a
very tight timeline.
is a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Infinity World
Development Corp. (a subsidiary of Dubai World). The urban metropolis
covers 18 million square feet and cost $8.5 billion to build. It
includes 17,000 miles of electrical wiring and 7,000 miles of telecom,
security and A/V cabling.
Famous Dave's, Wow Bao & More Find Value in Social Online Ordering Platform
Several major restaurant chains are now leveraging Exit41's
latest product innovation, which includes a Facebook application that
allows consumers to place food orders from the restaurant's Facebook
page. Users can then share and "Like" their favorite menu items within
their social network. Exit41 is an online ordering vendor that
integrates social media into their web and mobile product strategy,
connecting restaurants to the social web and enabling them to connect
with consumers where they live, work and socialize.
"Social media is one of our top initiatives and we are heavily
investing in solutions that drive results," says Aric Nissen, VP
marketing, Famous Dave's.
"Not only did Exit41 meet all of our 'checkbox' feature/function
requirements for web and mobile ordering, they were the only vendor to
offer a complete social ordering solution. Their products will
complement our own social media strategy perfectly and allow us to
maximize investments in this area."
The Exit41 solution includes:
- Online Application:
Optimized for social sharing with Facebook "Likes" of a menu item and a
preview of other fans who also "Liked" that item. Facebook "Likes" are
posted to the consumer's profile page and into their social stream,
which feature a menu item picture and description along with a link
back to the restaurant's site to order that item and additional
- Facebook Application:
An Online Ordering Tab is added to the restaurant's Facebook page where
fans can begin the ordering process by adding featured items to their
cart and seamlessly completing the order on the restaurant brand's
online ordering site. Consumers can also "Share" the Online Ordering
tab within their network for a viral marketing opportunity for the
- Mobile Application:
An iPhone app customized for the restaurant brand featuring location
awareness to find the closest restaurant, as well as secure mobile
payment, ensures speed, ease and convenience of ordering.
Since implementing Exit41's Facebook solution, Exit41 customers are
experiencing positive results, including steady increases in sales and
order volumes. For example, Wow Bao,
a Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurant widely recognized
throughout the industry for its innovative use of social media, saw a
ten percent increase in online order volume within five weeks. Silver
a Maryland-based casual dining chain featuring fresh and local diner
fare, released their Facebook ordering application as an important part
of a push to grow their Facebook fan base to 6,000 in just a few weeks,
and has since experienced a seven percent increase in online order
Additional Exit41 customers ranging from
BRAVO! Cucina Italiana, a BRAVO|BRIO Restaurant Group concept to
a New York City-based chain serving fresh and organic pasta to-go, are
just getting rolled out with the solution and are looking forward to
the impact it will have on their customer base.
As part of the company's strategy for fully integrating restaurants
with the social web, Exit41 has aggressive plans to expand
functionality to instantly recognize and reward loyal customers. The
company is also pursuing partnerships with several social media
marketing, mobile couponing and social location companies to further
enhance their offering and create highly personalized ordering
experiences for consumers.
Select Calif. SUBWAY Locations to Accept Mobile Payments
Doctor's Associates Inc., the parent company of
SUBWAY, and Think Computer
Corporation announced that FaceCash will now be accepted at certain SUBWAY
locations in California. FaceCash is a mobile payment system that allows
consumers to use their cell phones to make purchases at the point of sale.
When signing up at facecash.com,
consumers pre-fund their FaceCash accounts by transferring money from
traditional checking or savings accounts. They can then debit their FaceCash
balance by making purchases at participating merchant stores. The free FaceCash
application, which also consolidates consumer loyalty program cards, is now
available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry phones. Other phones can also
access FaceCash through a mobile web browser.
With a flat rate of 1.5% per transaction, merchants utilizing FaceCash can
achieve savings of 50% or more relative to traditional credit and debit card
processing fees. There are no monthly fees or other hidden fees. In order to use
FaceCash, merchants simply need a computer (with Internet access) and an
optional barcode scanner, which are available from Think at a discount.
"We're looking forward to finding out how this could benefit our customer base
and our business," says Diana Kazarian of SUBWAY.
FaceCash gets its name from its unique security process. During a purchase, the
consumer's face appears on the merchant's register to verify identity. The first
time a buyer makes a purchase using FaceCash, the merchant matches the
photograph provided during the sign up process to the consumer's driver's
license or passport. A number of other security measures are built in.
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