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Industry News - August 15th 2014



Amazon Eyes Mobile Payment Systems & Square with Mobile Payment App and Card Reader

Amazon.com has announced Amazon Local Register, a secure card reader and mobile app that provides local businesses with the tools they need to quickly and easily accept credit and debit cards from a smartphone or tablet and keep track of their growing business. Amazon Local Register customers will have access to the Amazon.com customer support team, as well as in-app tracking tools. Customers who sign up for Amazon Local Register before October 31 will also receive a  promotional rate of 1.75 percent per card swipe on all major credit and debit cards until January 1, 2016. Additional details are available at localregister.amazon.com.

Customers can get started with Amazon Local Register in three simple steps: create an account on localregister.amazon.com, purchase a $10 card reader, and download the free mobile app from Amazon Appstore, Apple App Store or Google Play. The  card reader is available with Free Two-Day Shipping on Amazon.com. Beginning August 19, customers can also purchase a card reader at Staples retail locations nationwide. The Amazon Local Register card reader and free mobile app are compatible with a variety of smartphones and tablets, including Apple devices running iOS7, Kindle Fire tablets, select Android smartphones, and coming soon to the new Fire phone.

Each customer’s first $10 in transaction fees will be credited back to the customer’s account once Amazon Local Register is in use – allowing customers to fully recoup the cost of the card reader.

A stabilized card reader limits swivel, making it easier to swipe once and go. Plus, each transaction is backed by the same services that securely power Amazon.com purchases.

Amazon Local Register will also offer business tracking tools. In-app reporting enables a business to quickly check bottom line performance, sales trends, peak sales times and more. All reporting is easily accessible from a smartphone or tablet and is password-protected.
An article on ABC News.com says that “the move places the largest U.S. e-commerce retailer in competition with Square and other established mobile payment processing systems such as PayPal Here and Intuit's GoPayment.”
To read the entire story, click here.

Aloft Hotels Recruits Robot for Front- and Back-of-House Duties

Aloft Hotels has announced the appointment of A.L.O. as the hotel brand’s first Botlr (robotic butler). A.L.O. officially reports for duty on August 20 at Aloft Cupertino, with several new Botlrs to join in the upcoming months.

This charismatic cyber associate makes his debut at Aloft Cupertino, making Aloft the first major hotel brand to hire a robot for both front and back of house duties.

In this role, A.L.O. the Botlr will be on call as a robotic operative where it will be assisting the Aloft talent in delivering amenities to guest rooms. Professionally “dressed” in a custom shrink-wrapped, vinyl collared uniform and nametag, A.L.O. will modestly accept tweets as tips as its wheels whizz from task to task. This newest Aloft associate will not only free up existing talent’s time, allowing them to create a more personalized experience for guests, but will enhance the hotel’s current tech-forward offerings.

“As you can imagine, hiring for this particular position was a challenge as we were seeking a very specific set of automated skills, and one that could work – literally – around the clock,” said Brian McGuinness, Global Brand Leader, Starwood’s Specialty Select Brands.  

A.L.O. was developed by Savioke, a startup company from Santa Clara, California which had been testing robotic technology. A.L.O. will now facilitate and prioritize multiple guest deliveries, communicate effortlessly with guests and various hotel platforms, as well as efficiently navigate throughout the property. The appointment of A.L.O. represents yet another forward-looking milestone for Aloft, known for its industry-first smart check-in program, “Cool Concierge” program and piloting Apple TV in-room services.


Highpointe Hotels Utilize Mobile Dashboards with STR Stats for Competitive Advantage

Highpointe operates 15 hotels in 3 states. Its properties are primarily Hilton, Marriott and Wyndham brands that include Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites, Residence Inns and Marriott Courtyard flags. All of Highpointe’s GMs use tablets and Execuvue Reports to be totally mobile and stay current on property operations. The Aptech Execuvue solution helps managers automatically gather data from all of the company’s separate hotel property management systems daily and combine it with each property’s STR comp-set information. Aptech merges the data, analyzes it, and creates interactive reports and mobile tablet dashboards for every property. Each GM has a daily snapshot of his or her financial performance, labor costs against budget, guest satisfaction reports and their STR comp set comparisons on one screen.
Having Highpointe’s operational and performance information in one place is particularly valuable when property owners and partners come to GMs with questions. Highpointe also worked with Aptech to create mobile-friendly reports for its GM tablets. With Aptech’s Active Reports on their tablets, GMs can check department performance on interactive reports. They can touch the screen to highlight specific areas, or open a comment box to send an email to a specific staff member for clarification. This lets them manage by the numbers faster, and quickly interact with our corporate offices or their properties.

Hard Rock Reduces Labor Expenses with RFID Tracking System

Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park has implemented the InvoTech UHF-RFID Uniform System to automate control and management of the property’s 6,000-plus uniforms.  The InvoTech Uniform System reduces labor expenses associated with manual handling and increases employee accountability with automated uniform tracking.  
Hard Rock Rocksino’s InvoTech Uniform System interfaces with a White Conveyors U-Pick-It System that automates uniform distribution to each Rocksino team member. The systems communicate and record the location of each uniform – if it is in the laundry or has been retrieved by a team member – to maintain a real-time uniform inventory. InvoTech also records all uniform use and laundry cycles to forecast replacement requirements for accurate budgeting. The InvoTech Uniform System integrates Impinj UHF-RFID readers that read durable waterproof Fujitsu UHF-RFID laundry tags that were attached to the property’s uniforms during initial staff garment fittings

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