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Industry News - July 12th 2014



Kohl's, Circle K Join Merchant-Led MCX Mobile Wallet Network

Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), the retailer-led mobile wallet initiative that was launched last year, has added Kohl's and Circle K convenience stores to its merchant network. Collectively, the organization's 30-plus retailers operate nearly 90,000 stores and process more than $1 trillion in payments annually.

MCX also announced its selection of FIS, a global provider of banking and payments technology, to provide a payment processing, routing and settlement for mobile commerce transactions. The FIS technology will integrate with mobile wallet software being developed for MCX by Gemalto, offering consumers a personalized payment experience that includes offers, promotions, loyalty and other services.

The addition of Kohl's and Circle K, the convenience stores owned by Alimentation Couche-Tard, means MCX now counts as members eight of the top 20 retailers in the National Retail Federation's ranking of the top 100 merchants by revenue, and over 20% of the top 100 merchants. Retailing giants Walmart and Target were early members of the MCX network, which also includes Lowe's, Best Buy, Gap, CVS, Sears, 7-Eleven, Bed Bath & Beyond, Meijer and Publix.

QR Code Application Enables Real-Time Customer Feedback

Speetra has launched pulseM, the first voice-centric QR code application on the market.
pulseM allows smartphone users to capture a specially designed QR (quick response) code, which triggers the pulseM application and lets users speak their comments, rather than fill out an online form or take a survey. It offers an immediate outlet for compliments or complaints in a variety of situations.
For example, in a hotel environment, a customer could use the pulseM app and code to praise the room or the front desk staff, or express their unhappiness with the accommodations or the cleanliness of the room. They can let the hotel's management know their feelings immediately and directly, rather than express themselves publicly on social media.
pulseM is also an ideal fit for any industry interested in generating feedback by leveraging the massive consumer adoption of smart mobile technologies. There are early pulseM customers in retail, hospitality, healthcare, customer service, sports, special events, and travel.
Once the user speaks their comment, within seconds the comment is received by the sponsoring company as an audio file. The company can gauge in real time what people think about their product or service. With optional analytics, including sophisticated sentiment analysis based on tone and key words, a company receiving many pulseM messages can see precisely how their customers or employees feel about them.
pulseM enables a company to present a simple choice (happy-neutral-unhappy) along with the voice comment, or pose a specific question to customers, such as "How was your service today?" A company can use it to ask employees a question such as "What do you think about the new benefits package?" Respondents also can offer their comment in text if they prefer.
Companies using pulseM can use the complaints to improve their service and leverage the compliments, including the customer's actual comments, in their marketing materials.
The pulseM application is available now for the Apple iPhone, and an Android operating system version will be available in the third quarter of this year.

Telkonet, Inc. Intros Cloud-Based Hospitality Energy Management Command Center

Telkonet, Inc., whose complementary business divisions include EcoSmart, an intelligent energy management technology solution and EthoStream, one of the largest high-speed Internet access (“HSIA”) providers in the world, introduced its new EcoCentral Virtual Engineer cloud-based command center at HITEC 2014.
EcoCentral Virtual Engineer, the new command center for Telkonet’s EcoSmart energy management solution, offers a wealth of convenient features to maximize energy efficiency, operational efficiency, and guest satisfaction. Intelligent thermostats, occupancy sensors, door and window contacts, outlets and light switches form a network to communicate information between rooms, floors, and buildings. Integrated, room-by-room data collected by EcoSmart’s intelligent energy management technology enables the advanced EcoCentral Virtual Engineer to:
Evaluate Equipment Performance - monitor capability of in-room equipment, identifying which HVAC equipment may be malfunctioning, allowing engineering resources to be deployed selectively and proactively, ensuring continuity of comfort. It also enables facility managers to monitor HVAC issues proactively as well as maintain, repair, and replace HVAC equipment, filters and thermostats.
Monitor Total Energy Savings - tracks room-by-room energy savings and stores detailed data about a property’s HVAC, lighting and plugload devices and energy usage patterns to calculate actual energy savings. This information can be then used to qualify for “green” certification, secure rebates from a local utility, or prove a property has achieved brand sustainability standards.
Facilitate Intelligent Load-Shed Actions – designs profiles to dictate how thermostats, outlets, and lights will respond to a Demand-Response request. Schedule “events” in EcoCentral Virtual Engineer, and devices will switch to Demand-Response profiles at the appropriate time.
Enable Logical Profile Shifting – you can specify the number of units to run concurrently, and EcoCentral Virtual Engineer will keep load at a constant level. Alternatively, specify the necessary kWh reduction and let EcoCentral determine how to best set back thermostats.

Control Buildings, Zones, Rooms, or Individual Devices in Real Time - virtual thermostats, light switches, and outlets simplify control allowing you to change HVAC settings room-by-room with the touch of a few buttons on the virtual thermostat.
Visualize Property Data Points with “Floor Planner” - view energy savings by floor and savings by side of building; identify room-by-room variance from average cooling and heating runtimes to determine which rooms do not function as well as others. A high run-time may be isolated to a single room due to a potentially malfunctioning HVAC unit, prompting a maintenance check. 

CRS Provider Intros Flat Fee Unlimited Transaction Model

evolution technology by The Hotel Performance Company, the hospitality e-commerce and e-distribution provider, has introduced a more flexible pricing strategy for hotels.  evolution has created an alternative pricing structure for independent hotels by introducing a subscription-based payment schedule. Hotels can now pay an annual fee for use of its booking engine and channel manager for unlimited transactions and connections, instead of its previous transaction-based payment system, making it a more cost-effective distribution solution than its competitors.
evolution’s new pricing structure will be available to independent hotels. It will also offer hotels a free 21-day trial, where hoteliers can experience the rich features of its booking engine and channel manager and discover great value and business benefits from using one platform for distribution. This platform also serves as a CRS, as evolution treats the GDS as another channel. The technology provider will also no longer tie hotels into a three-year contract. Instead, they will be simple one-page subscription-based agreements, making it a much simpler process for hoteliers.
evolution has also updated its website, making it much more user-friendly and adding a two-minute video on the homepage to give a real insight into its services, including its recently launched next-generation booking engine.
evolution brings together e-commerce products and hotel reservation services to enable hotels to effectively manage and exploit the multi-channel world of e-distribution. evolution allows hotels to increase bookings, optimise revenue and keep complete control over their online profile. evolution’s team of technology experts developed evolution Demand Manager which enables customers to directly control a range of electronic distribution channels, including the GDS, from one simple-to-use interface. 

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