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Industry News -March 4th 2011



Hardee's Franchisee Catches Discount Abuse with POS-integrated Video

The 21-unit Hardee’s franchisee, OTAC, Inc., has selected Envysion as its exclusive video provider and is deploying the company’s Envysion Insight solution to all existing locations throughout Maryland and Delaware. OTAC’s locations will use Envysion’s point-of-sale (POS) integrated managed video to support loss prevention, improve operations and drive bottom line profit improvements.
Leveraging Envysion’s comprehensive MVaaS platform, OTAC operators are able to track a variety of operational data points that have an impact on profit. For instance using Envysion’s motion mask feature, OTAC was able to identify several employees violating cash handling and safety and security procedures. Using Envysion’s robust exception reporting capabilities, OTAC operators can also pinpoint potentially fraudulent transactions such as voids and discounts. Initial use has identified several incidents of suspicious activity. Within a month of use, OTAC operators identified a pattern of employee discounts given at the drive-thru, which is a policy violation.
“We evaluated several video providers and even considered purchasing a system outright. None of them provided the ROI or financial impact to our bottom line like Envysion’s solution does,” says Fred Mattes, director of physical facilities for OTAC. “With Envysion Insight we have already identified and curtailed several incidents of fraudulent transactions and procedure violations that were costing us money.”
Envysion Insight integrates managed video surveillance with point-of-sale (POS) systems. In addition to the customary benefits of video surveillance – increased security and reduced loss from vandalism, theft and unfounded liability claims – Envysion Insight automatically tracks potentially fraudulent transactions such as voids, returns, discounts and coupons.

Benchmark Hospitality: Virtual Systems Lower Capital Outlay and Drive ROI

Many hotel companies talk about the advantages of cloud computing. Benchmark Hospitality International is implementing it. Benchmark operates 30 award-winning hotels, resorts, and conference centers coast to coast and off shore. It launched its virtual system platform strategy in 4Q 2010 to increase ROI for its properties’ owners, create greater property operating efficiency, and deliver better service to guests that make guests. 
“The goal of our virtual system plan is to use cloud computing to improve ROI for our owners,” says Darrin R. Pinkham, CHTP, vice president, information technology for Benchmark Hospitality International. “NORTHWIND’s Maestro Front Office resort hotel software is a big part of our strategy. The system has cutting-edge cloud capabilities and NORTHWIND partnered with us to deliver flexible functionality.” 
Pinkham explains that Benchmark’s goal is to provide current and new-build owners with a turnkey technology solution-set that includes software support and hardware provided by Benchmark which its properties can rent. “This lowers capital outlay and drives a better ROI.  There is no additional cost to owners and we shoulder responsibility for data security and PCI compliance.” Benchmark utilizes a best-of-breed vendor strategy. The company implements systems and providers that have proven reliability and a forward-looking development plan.
“We can implement a Maestro Front Office System and establish interfaces to call accounting, POS, in-room entertainment, and other systems quickly,” Pinkham said. “We have a hardened interface data box on property that converts serial system transactions to IP format for posting in Maestro.” Pinkham notes that property data travels through a secure cloud tunnel and the process is standardized so all properties are on the same version of the Maestro system. An added advantage of cloud systems is that staff can move between properties and be able to use the PMS.  
“Property-based servers are a waste of money that our owners should not have to finance,” Pinkham says. “By outsourcing our systems to trusted tech partners like NORTHWIND, we can focus on running a four-star hospitality operation and leave the system management to them.” Benchmark utilizes the services of SunGard, a secure hosting facility in Richardson, Texas.
Phone systems in the cloud
Benchmark Hospitality is also going to the cloud for its guest phone systems. “We are in the process of replacing many of the older telephone systems with hosted VoIP solutions that can utilize our existing phone investments. We will be replacing our video-on-demand guest movie solutions with hosted free-to-guest channels, HD, digital music selections, as well.”
System training also comes from the cloud for Benchmark property staff. “Another way to increase profitability is to have our staff receive training online,” Pinkham says. “Maestro has an excellent online support and training program that includes video classes for new hires as well as refresher courses and one-on-one personalized classes that keep our property teams operating more efficiently. A well-trained staff is more confident of their abilities and able to focus their attention on guests and service.”
Benchmark’s goal in moving its systems to a virtual cloud platform is to maintain the profitability of our properties’ owners and earn their confidence in our technology expertise,” Pinkham says. “When we put technology in service to profitability, staff productivity, and guest service, everyone wins.”
Maestro PMS solutions include: Front Office (PMS), Accounts Receivable, Analytics and Business Intelligence, Sales and Catering, Multi-Property Management, Condo & Timeshare Owner Management with Web Functionality, Spa and Activities, Web Booking Engine, Real-Time Yield Management, Dynamic Packaging Golf, CRM, Guest Experience Measurement, CRO, GDS Two-Way XML Connectivity or Integration, Membership, Work Orders, Fine Dining and Retail POS, Online Table Reservations with Web Booking, Concierge and Guest Experience Measurement. The Maestro PMS is database independent (ODBC Compliant) and may be deployed via Windows, UNIX, Linux, Terminal Services, hosted and Web platforms.

What's Next for 11-Unit Which Wich Franchisee's Winning Catering Strategy?

S.M.A.R.T. Restaurant Group will deploy MonkeyMedia Software’s MonkeyCatering to 11 franchised Which Wich units to enable increased operational control over the company’s catering business. Which Wich is a fast casual restaurant serving a variety of more than 50 ‘wiches’ and 60+ toppings at over 130 locations across the United States.

MonkeyCatering will provide S.M.A.R.T. Restaurant Group with multiple operations- and communications-enhancing features, including catering management, production and distribution management, integrated sales and marketing tools to help drive more catering business, and powerful, real-time reporting for better business intelligence. The scalability of MonkeyCatering will allow for continued integration into the restaurant’s kitchen operations as the franchise chain grows and expands their catering business. Specifically, each location will receive:

Back-end support: With MonkeyCatering in place, S.M.A.R.T. Restaurant Group’s Which Wich locations will have the back-end support necessary to easily focus on production management, so every guest receives the order 100% right, 100% of the time. Designed specifically for Which Wich’s unique sandwich ordering model, S.M.A.R.T. Restaurant Group’s MonkeyCatering program will have a ‘Sandwich Configurator’ tool built into the system to allow for flawless productions of each order.

Reduced errors: MonkeyCatering’s comprehensive, production-focused functionalities will help the Which Wich franchisee significantly minimize the amount of errors made in the kitchen and allow employees to enhance the existing high level of catering guests’ satisfaction and loyalty.

Strategy and educational services: S.M.A.R.T. Restaurant Group chose a business partner when they selected MonkeyMedia Software. MonkeyMedia Software will work directly with the S.M.A.R.T. Restaurant Group staff and catering managers to develop a winning strategy specifically designed for the restaurant’s catering business. MonkeyMedia Software is staffed with industry veterans who know the catering business inside-out. They will equip each S.M.A.R.T. Restaurant Group location with catering best practices and be there every step of the way to assist with the software implementation and training.

“Catering exploded for us in 2010 and we realized the need to streamline communication, ease operations and find ways to make our catering guests say ‘wow.’ We’re excited to have the back-end tools in place to allow us to focus on continuing to grow our catering business, and improving our operations and communication challenges,” says T.J. Schier, president, S.M.A.R.T. Restaurant Group. “MonkeyMedia Software’s ability to tailor MonkeyCatering specifically to our needs will be a key benefit during the implementation, and we’re looking forward to the roll out.”

Guestroom iPads Offer Control of 30+ Services in Second Morgans Property

Morgans Hotel Group has partnered with Intelity to interactively bring the luxury hotel amenities of the newly opened Mondrian Soho to the fingertips of guests. Powered by Intelity’s ICE Touch (Interactive Customer Experience) software, all 270 guestrooms will feature an in-room iPad that will give guests the control to choose from 30 services and customize their experience. This is the second Morgans Hotel property to be equipped with ICE technology; the solution was installed at the Royalton last year.
With just the touch of a screen, guests can coordinate transportation; check flights; order room service; browse for local information such as maps and directions; make dinner reservations; and make housekeeping requests. To keep guests city-savvy, the Morgans Hotel Group iPad offers The List, a selection of local must-see attractions developed in collaboration with UrbanDaddy, free music downloads curated by RCRD LBL, and current content on the most relevant events happening in New York City. The iPad also offers a customized playlist of ambient sleep sounds to provide guests with the ultimate sleeping experience. Guests can browse through The List, a list of local attractions curated by Morgans Hotel Group and UrbanDaddy.  In addition, a service unique to Mondrian SoHo allows guests to order items from the iPads virtual mini-bar service. 
In addition to providing a luxury service to guests, ICE increases hotel efficiency and customer satisfaction with its backend management tool. Designed by and for hoteliers to reduce operational costs and increase guest satisfaction, ICE fully integrates with the hotel’s property management systems and allows management to track and chart guest requests and response times. As a result, hotel managers can pinpoint how quickly needs are being met, staff strengths and weaknesses and which products and services are most in demand.
“The response from our guests at Royalton has been overwhelming and we are thrilled to be expanding this unique amenity to our newest hotel, Mondrian SoHo,” says David Weidlich, executive vice president of operations for Morgans Hotel Group. “As we are constantly challenging ourselves to push the envelope and reinvent the guest experience, we feel this offering continues to set us apart. Our newest feature will be our Minibar section - whereby a guest can order a wide arrange of curated items not typically available in a mini bar such as Flip Video cameras, Rogan men's apparel and a limited edition Derringer bike upon which to discover New York City.”

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