November 27, 2011

Acquire Creates `Top Secret` Virtual Receptionist

Very nice virtual receptionist deployed with Acquire software.

Acquire Creates `Top Secret` Virtual Receptionist - Acquire - Digital Signage, Self Service Kiosk & Interactive Kiosk Software

It is not often that we are lost for words, but sometimes an installation is so secret that even we don`t know much detail about it. Suffice it to say that our partner in the USA, Dimensional Design, picked up a contract from the USA government to provide a Virtual Receptionist kiosk.

So, somewhere in a government building in America, Acquire is playing the role of receptionist on 7 kiosks thanks to Dimensional Design and with help from the Working Solutions Studio.

"Not only did Acquire perform more than adequately, our client was again surprised by the advanced software, and wowed by the organized database as well as the attractive interface that they assisted in designing." Commented Clare Laidlaw - Dimensional Design.

Acquire Creates `Top Secret` Virtual Receptionist - Acquire - Digital Signage, Self Service Kiosk & Interactive Kiosk Software

Posted by CraigKeefner at 05:22 PM

August 20, 2010

Ariane to announce revolutionary self-service technology

Leading hospitality industry kiosk supplier prepares for rapid growth as it brings revolutionary new check-in/check-out technologies to market


Ariane Systems Selects Plan A Public Relations & Marketing to Manage Global Communications Strategy
Leading hospitality industry kiosk supplier prepares for rapid growth as it brings revolutionary new check-in/check-out technologies to market

Paris, France — 17 August, 2010 — Ariane Systems, the worldwide leader in self-service check-in / check-out kiosk technology for the hospitality industry, today announced the selection of Plan A Public Relations & Marketing, Inc. to manage their global marketing and communications initiatives. Plan A will be responsible for increasing exposure and building brand recognition for Ariane Systems, as the company prepares to launch new technologies that are expected to spark a period of rapid growth and expansion. Since its inception in 1998, Ariane Systems has installed more than 1,600 self-service kiosks at hotel properties in 20 countries around the globe. Many of the world’s largest hotel groups currently utilize Ariane’s electronic kiosk solutions to streamline the check-in/out process, including Accor, B&B, Choice Hotels, Fasthotel, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Louvre Hotels (Starwood Capital), among others.

“The new technology solutions that we plan to introduce to the worldwide hospitality market within a six-month period have the potential to change the way hotels manage their interaction with guests, as well as optimizing revenue potential and creating entirely new revenue streams,” said Laurent Cardot, CEO of Ariane Systems. “In order to gain a strong foothold in our expanding markets and pave the way for this groundbreaking technology, we needed a marketing firm that is already entrenched in the international hospitality arena. Plan A is both well-versed in hotel technology and well-connected to the media channels that we need to partner with for our communications, so they are the ideal partner for us as we accelerate our growth.”

Cardot is already an established name in some hotel technology circles, having headed up the Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) kiosk workgroup that led to the first standard release of a fully integrated PMS–kiosk interface. As a Micros-certified supplier, Ariane’s Allegro check-in / check-out kiosk solution was the first to integrate with many of the world’s most popular Property Management Systems, payment systems, locking system suppliers and other hotel technologies.

“Ariane Systems has over 12 years of experience in the international market, so they are familiar not only with the needs of hotels in various global regions, but also with local legal and regulatory requirements,” said Andrea Roland, president of Plan A PR & Marketing. “Their extensive knowledge, experience and resources position them well for global growth and expansion, and we are honoured to have this opportunity to assist them in their continued success.”

Although the full details on Ariane’s new technologies have not been released, Cardot promises that the impact on the hotel industry will be substantial. “Let’s just say that we are taking guest communications and interaction to the next level,” he stated. “We plan to be a part of the next generation of travel, changing not only the way hotels conduct business, but also simplifying and streamlining the process for the traveler, making it efficient and once again, enjoyable.”

For more information, please visit

Editor’s Note: Electronic images are available by contacting Andrea Roland at Plan A Public Relations & Marketing, Inc. Phone: 407-905-0608 or email: [email protected]

About Ariane Systems
Ariane Systems is the world’s leading provider of self check-in / check-out technology solutions for the hospitality industry. Founded in 1998 by Michel Lavandier and Laurent Cardot, Ariane now has over 1,600 installations running at hotel properties in 20 countries. Numerous hotel chains utilize Ariane’s electronic kiosk solutions to streamline the check-in/out process. These include Accor, B&B, Choice Hotels, Fasthotel, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Louvre Hotels (Starwood Capital), among others. With corporate headquarters based in Paris, France, Ariane Systems maintains regional offices in the U.K., Germany, Spain, Benelux, Scandinavia, the Middle East and North America. For more information, please visit

About Plan A Public Relations & Marketing, Inc.
Plan A PR & Marketing, Inc. is a full-service advertising and public relations firm specializing in the hospitality industry, with an emphasis on manufacturers and suppliers to the global travel market. With over 25 years of experience managing marketing initiatives for public and private companies with leading-class technologies and products, Plan A offers a comprehensive range of marketing services, including public relations, advertising, branding, graphic design, media planning, and digital communications. For more information, please visit or call 407.905.0608.


Posted by staff at 08:01 AM

March 23, 2010

September 21, 2007

KIOSK Case Study - Hotel Concierge

TTI Brings ‘Concierge on Demand’ Services to Hotels as Guest-Service, Revenue Tool
Portland Square Hotel in NYC is first to use the self-service entertainment ticketing system; Ideal for independent hotels with fewer than 200 guestrooms

Hospitality Net - Industry News - TTI Brings ‘Concierge on Demand’ Services to Hotels as Guest-Service, Revenue Tool

TTI Brings ‘Concierge on Demand’ Services to Hotels as Guest-Service, Revenue Tool
Portland Square Hotel in NYC is first to use the self-service entertainment ticketing system; Ideal for independent hotels with fewer than 200 guestrooms

New York | Hotels wishing to offer concierge services but can’t justify associated labor costs can now benefit from a new Concierge on Demand service from TTI Technologies International. Concierge on Demand is a computer-based system which allows guests to view and book tours, buy show tickets via Telecharge, book transportation, etc. directly from a convenient lobby kiosk or PC workstation. Vouchers are printed immediately from the terminal.

“Whatever a traditional hotel concierge can do, Concierge on Demand can do for guests,” said Steve Blidner, TTI President. “From making restaurant reservations and airport shuttle arrangements to buying theatre tickets and printing airline boarding passes, Concierge on Demand does it all – and without costly overhead.”

The 147-room Portland Square Hotel in New York’s the Broadway District is the first hotel to benefit from Concierge on Demand. Installed for only two weeks, property General Manager Ed Staniszewski has already requested that two sister properties – the Marrakech and Broadway hotels – also be equipped with Concierge on Demand.

“Staff and guests are very pleased with the Concierge on Demand system,” Staniszewski said. “We’ve seen a real increase in the number of airport shuttles booked directly by guests. Since we’re a small hotel, having this service available online in the lobby is a real time-saver for our front-desk staff. It makes guests truly self sufficient. They love making their own dinner reservations and purchasing theatre tickets. It’s fun to watch our guests having fun – and it enables our front desk staff to check guests in and out more efficiently and reduces the time guests have to stand in line waiting for service.”

Staniszewski said the Portland Square Hotel has needed this service for quite some time, but hadn’t had the available resources for a dedicated, full-time concierge. Not only does Concierge on Demand provide the virtual labor, but the system presents an immediate revenue stream. TTI takes a commission for each service sold and shares a part of its revenues with the hotel.

“We’ve been doing business with TTI for quite some time,” he said. “When they approached us with Concierge on Demand, I was delighted. Their self-service business-center solutions are easy to use, and since this is our busy season, we knew that Concierge on Demand would immediately provide added value to our guests while enhancing their overall New York experience. It’s a no cost, no stress system that we look forward to installing very soon in all our hotels.”

TTI provides self-service business center workstations, boarding-pass terminals, information kiosks and digital signage to hotels featuring: High-speed Dell computers with Pentium processors, Dell 17-inch flat screen monitors, Dell Laser Printer, credit-card readers (optional bill readers are available), smart media readers, CD Burner, USB port for memory sticks and other devices, laptop ports, Skype international Internet calling connectivity, and Lexmark multifunction machinery.

For more information on Concierge on Demand, call (888) 692-4262 or e-mail [email protected]

About TTI Technologies International | TTI Technologies International has been providing state-of-the-art public access equipment and services to the national hospitality industry for over 17 years. We supply and service over 175 locations; including hotels, motels, airports, and youth hostels with equipment ranging from Self Service Business Centers, Informational Kiosks, SmarteCarte Lockers, ATM's, and Public Phones to name a few. TTI is your one-stop shop for your technological and service needs. For more information, visit

Steve Blidner
President | TTI Technologies International
Phone: 888 692-4262
Email: [email protected]

Hospitality NetTTI Telephone Technologies Inc.
P.O. Box 475
USA - Jericho, NY 11753
Tollfree: 1-888-692-4262
Email: [email protected]

Posted by staff at 09:03 AM

May 01, 2007

Internet terminals in hotel rooms for guests

Seaport hotel has installed thin clients made by Igel Technology Inc. in 85 of its 426 rooms, with plans calling for the devices to be added to the rest of the rooms over the next 12 months. The thin clients are integrated into 17-in. flat-panel monitors with touch-screen capabilities.

There are no moving parts in the Web portals, which run an embedded version of Windows XP, support applications such as Adobe Acrobat and include a wireless keyboard. The unit operates as internet kiosk and also support VOiP for the hotel.

Source/Rest of Article

Posted by staff at 01:43 PM

July 28, 2004

Hotel Check-In Kiosks

Wrap on Hilton and Starwood kiosk status

Though some industry insiders believe the industry has been behind on technology, the major brands are starting to invest in certain technologies. Now check-in kiosks are back and executives are saying this go-round will prove this concept has a necessary role in customer service. Road warriors, for example, are salivating at the idea of steering clear of long lines in favor of paperless check-in, self-service kiosks, and even some web check-in systems where you register before your arrival. Playing on the road warrior and conventioneers wants is something that brands such as Hilton, Sheraton, and Radisson believe will drive customer loyalty.

This is about giving back to our travelers one of the most precious commodities in their lives, and that is time, says Thomas Spitler, Hiltons VP for Front Office Operations and Systems.

Speed of check-in was one of the top concerns of our guests, says Julia Strongwater, Manager of Property Technology Applications for Starwood Hotels and Resorts. At Starwood, paperless check-in (which was the first of its kind to be implemented globally five years ago) takes less than one minute using a kiosk and under three at the front desk excluding wait times.

Hilton implemented five kiosks at the Hilton New York on January 5, and four at the Hilton Chicago a month later, with the intension of implementing 100 more kiosks in 45 hotels by the end of this year. Most kiosks will be for the Hilton Full Service Brand, but there will also be trials in all of Hiltons other brands. Hilton is also partnering with two major airlines to offer its customers the option to print boarding passes right from the hotel lobby, saving them even more time and hassle. Though the kiosks are portable and run on a secure wireless network using Cisco Leap Technology and a firewall, they must be plugged in.

We dont view [our kiosks] in any way as a labor saving device Its about driving customer loyalty and taking good care of our customers, says Robert Machen, VP of Customer Facing Technology for Hilton.

Hilton has been experimenting with a new wave of kiosks this year, implementing five kiosks at the Hilton New York back on January 5 and four at the Hilton Chicago a month later. They intend to add up to 100 more kiosks in 45 hotels by the end of 2004. Most kiosks will be for the Hilton brand, but there will also be trial runs of the technology in hotels representing all of Hiltons brands.

To make the technology more appealing and practical for guests, Hilton is also partnering with two major airlines to offer its customers the ability to print boarding passes right from the hotel lobby, saving them even more time and eliminating hassle. Since the kiosks utilize Ciscos Leap Technology, these wireless devices are fully portable.

Hiltons Spitler says some customers get very emotional about new technology that works well. Now that customers have been trained to expect self-service availability from using ATMs, online banking, Internet shopping and high-tech airline check-ins, they are more apt to utilize these kiosks than the last time hotel companies tried the kiosks in the late 1990s.

Nevertheless, comments Machen: We believe hotels and operators should focus on simplicity It does a few things, and does a few things very well.

The frequent travelers will expect [kiosks] at the major hotels, explains Rod Mano, Director of Property Technology Application for Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

So far, customers have been very excited about the new kiosks. Those who choose the kiosks at Hilton are asked about the quality of the kiosk experience and whether or not they would like to use the kiosks again. The average response, on a 7.5 scale, is about 6.4 according to Spitler.

We definitely want to provide guests with more options for check-in, remarks Strongwater. Fifty five percent of customers note kiosks as a feature they want, according to a guest survey conducted by Starwood. Starwoods kiosks were piloted in July of 2003 and Starwood had seven properties fully equipped as of June 18, 2004. The company is adding several new property installations each week until all its Sheraton Hotels have kiosks. Though these kiosks are considered stationary, they can be moved to conference rooms if necessary and are connected directly to the same internal network utilized by front desk staff.

We will always have a front desk and the warm, inviting features that provides, but at the same time, we will also provide a high-tech check-in experience for those interested in getting their key and immediately going up to their guest room, says Robert Machen.

Both Hilton and Starwood require the availability of what they dub kiosk service agents and kiosk ambassadors, respectively. The kiosk ambassador is really that friendly face, and instead of spending the time pressing the buttons behind the front desk, that person is out there, able to assist the guests selecting the best rooms of the ones available, or if they want to book a dinner reservation. says Strongwater.

Although Starwoods kiosks are ADA compliant and use large print, the customers with additional special needs still should have assisted self-service available according to Robert Machen. Though no complaints about confusing kiosks were reported (both Hilton and Starwoods representatives say their interfaces are intuitive and user-friendly), some customers choose not to use the kiosks. For those customers, and customers with more complicated issues, the front desk staff is available. Kiosks also help front desk users by shortening wait times all around. Its also a very cost-effective solution designed with the front desk in mind explains Starwoods Rod Mano.

As alternatives to kiosks, Starwood also considered a mobile check-in system (where the staff member carried around a PDA, a key encoder, and a printer), along with tablets (which may be implemented in the future) and web-based check-in.

Customers in Carlson Hospitality Worldwide focus groups prefer an advanced check-in system on the Internet, rather than using kiosks at the hotel to select their rooms and services.

This initiative is exactly on target with regard to delivering the company strategy to provide more choice to our guests and put the guests more in control of their experience, says Scott Heintzeman, CIO of Carlson Hospitality Worldwide. [Customers say they] do not want a kiosk in the hotel, but like the idea of how the airlines have allowed [them] to check in via the internet.

We are allowing our customers to check in online rather than in line, whether its a work station kiosk or a front desk line, he adds.

Starting September 1, customers will be able to check into any Radisson branded hotel using the Internet anywhere from seven days in advance until two hours before arrival. This new system will cut back on the no-show factor (which is currently around 15 to 20 percent), because it physically connects each customer with a room and charges his or her credit card. All the customer has to do upon arrival is show the hotel pass he or she has printed out, and obtain his or her room key.

This is enabling a much preferred service without the capital investment at the hotel, and its exactly what the customers have requested via the focus groups, says Heintzeman. Kiosks typically cost about $15,000 each, and the deployment process is slow. Hilton will be implementing a web-based check-in system later this year, as well as the ability to check-in using a wireless device such as a PDA or cellular phone.

Kiosks and remote check-in systems are making business more efficient every day. We would love to see more self-service in the hospitality industry, says Hiltons Spitler.

Hotel News, Tools, Services; Online, for Hotelier,Hotel Business,Hospitality Industry,Purchasing,Supplier,Gaming Industry,Technology,Classifieds,Vendors,and Business Professionals.

Posted by Craig at 02:15 PM

April 08, 2004

Hotel Check-In

Sheraton Hotels Unveil New Check-in Kiosks

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts is rolling out new self-service kiosks brand wide. Sheraton Speed Check is the most flexible kiosk of its kind, offering guests' the ability to receive messages, additional room keys and upgrades, change room type, and view, print and email personal folios, in addition to check-in and check-out.

Starwood recently tested and refined kiosks at two hotels and is launching its new and improved kiosk in its largest brand, Sheraton. Sheraton Speed Check makes its debut today at the brand's flagship, the newly renovated Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers in midtown Manhattan, and will roll out over the next several months to more than two dozen U.S. properties and ultimately nationwide.
No Lines, No Hassle, No Wait - You're in Control With Sheraton Speed Check

Sheraton Speed Check goes well beyond other self-service check-in kiosks. A guest needs additional room keys? No problem; they can now easily get duplicate keys from the kiosk. Expecting a message upon arrival? No need to go to the front desk - Sheraton Speed Check will print out all waiting messages on the check-in receipt. In addition, guests can also change their room type and view, print and email their personal guest folios any time during their stay.

Sheraton Speed Check is the most flexible kiosk of its kind, offering guests' the ability to receive messages, additional room keys and upgrades, change room type, and view, print and email personal folios, in addition to check-in and check-out.

"The new kiosks are designed to give our guests' greater freedom in expediting their arrival/departure process," said Norman MacLeod, executive vice president of Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. "Slow check-in has traditionally been a major guest concern, and our new kiosks help to alleviate that concern by offering the best functionality in the industry and providing our guests with a myriad of additional choices designed to improve their check-in/check-out process. It's part of our aspiration to provide the best arrival and departure experience, and part of that is to have better self-service than everyone in the industry."

Last year, Starwood test-piloted kiosks at the W New York - Times Square and the Sheraton Boston Hotel and received extremely positive feedback from guests. During the test pilot, Starwood made many refinements to the kiosks based on guest input, including message retrieval and room choice functions, and subsequently believes its kiosk to be the best in the business and ready for deployment throughout its largest brand.

Internet Travel News - Sheraton Hotels Unveil New Check-in Kiosks

Posted by Craig at 04:36 PM

March 26, 2004

Restaurant Customer Ordering

a row of nine computer screens runs the length of a metallic bar. Step right up, touch the screen, and you're on your way to ordering.

Dining Out: ChefPlex is techy and tasty, but the setting does not compute,

By Nancy Hobbs
Special to The Tribune

OREM -- Last September, ChefPlex opened its doors -- and the door to the future of fast food, its partners hoped -- with five restaurants under one roof and a computerized system for ordering and paying that promised customers total self-service.
It still is open after six months, but obviously not with investors' hoped-for success. Two of the five original restaurants have left: Chichia's Best Mex closed its kitchen more than a month ago; and in the past three weeks, the Italian Buona Vita has been replaced by Falduto's, which offers so few menu items, it looks like a quick patch-up job.
That leaves Humdinger's Wicked American Gourmet, serving burgers, sandwiches and fish and chips; Siam Grill, dishing up Thai specialties and salads; and Moo Scoops Ice Cream for dessert.
Having visited on a couple of occasions and tried a variety of offerings from each restaurant, I found the food superior to most fast-food options, as well as reasonably priced.
Siam Grill's steak salad -- Yam Nuae Nam Tok -- was a complex combination of spices, vegetables and thin-sliced meat, and its sticky rice with mango was a perfect combination of sweet and fresh. Humdinger's homemade beer-batter onion rings were simply addictive, though Falduto's breaded zucchini sticks were almost as good, with both items delivered piping hot to the pick-up counter -- about the only point where customers come in contact with a human employee.
So why do the restaurants, as well as the concept, seem to be struggling?
It looks as though ChefPlex took up residency in the former digs of another failed restaurant, and though I have no idea what it was, I'd be willing to bet on a steakhouse. The building is a huge, wooden barn, surrounded by an equally large parking lot that looks almost vacant even when there are a dozen cars parked in it.
And this is the home of fast-food of the future? The paradox is almost too much to digest.


Back to the future -- - almost -- is inside the door, where brightly painted walls are lit by futuristic hanging lights and a row of nine computer screens runs the length of a metallic bar. Step right up, touch the screen, and you're on your way to ordering. Choose a restaurant, and its photo-enhanced menu appears on the screen with simple step-by-step ordering instructions. You can change your mind, go back, or even start over. Once you push the button to place an order, a receipt is printed and you are on your way to the pay station.
This is the second part of the totally automated system that Orem's International Automated Systems Inc. is banking on to change the future. (The company announced in October that it had committed to 20 additional terminals for two more restaurants scheduled to open over the next year. Repeated calls and messages to the company spokesman to find out where and when those restaurants are planned went unanswered.)
The technology is pretty amazing. A scanner reads the total due, and the voice of a female automaton guides diners through paying with cash, credit or debit card. Several orders can be scanned for a single total, allowing everyone in the family to use a terminal for ordering, but Mom or Dad still foots the bill.
That pretty much ends your brief encounter with the future, as diners next find seating that -- again -- is more befitting a barn dance than the 21st century.
Wooden rafters and a wood-burning stove just don't jibe with the clipped techno-talk of ChefPlex's automaton cashier. Bring on the strobe lights, loud music, modern chairs and metal tables to complement the computer bar.
The food isn't the fault; an incomplete concept may be.

The Salt Lake Tribune -- Dining Out: ChefPlex is techy and tasty, but the setting does not compute,

Posted by Craig at 02:35 PM

February 18, 2004

Hotel Case Study

VingCard is the world's leading manufacturer of card operated locking systems for the hotel....

Posted: August 26, 2002 Printer-friendly version

Solution Overview
Customer Profile
One of the world's leading manufacturers of card operated locking systems for the hotel and cruise industry, VingCard provides the locking system for more than two million locks in properties in 135 countries.
Business Situation
VingCard wanted to provide its customers with a quick and easy way to upload and download software and data from locks on hotel doors and other secure areas.
Solution Description
The solution consists of software running on Microsoft Windows CE supported by hardware devices from a variety of manufacturers. Individual devices connect to a front office PC running Microsoft Windows.

* Easy-to-use system for uploading and downloading lock data allows hotel staff access to instantly access information about room use. Access to lock data to check for unauthorized access and reduced hotel customer fraud and possible theft.
* Scalability and extensibility system adapts to other uses in the hospitality industry.
* Familiar Windows user interface with easy-to-recognize icons makes VingCard's system usable in locations around the world.

Software and Services
Microsoft Windows CE

Vertical Industries


VingCard is the world's leading manufacturer of card operated locking systems for the hotel and cruise industry. More than two million locks are installed in properties in 135 countries. The company's international network consists of 12 subsidiaries and another 75 distributors, employing more than 600 people.

Its technology effectively means that the locks in most hotels are miniature computers which only access only to specific card holders and which store information about who has entered the room and when. One of the keys to the success of such locks is a system which enables the uploading of software and data into the lock and which can then retrieve information about room use whenever necessary.

Card operated door locks aren't especially new -- most large hotels have been using them for the past ten years. But the technology used to implement and administer these systems has progressed as portable computers have decreased in size and increased in capacity.
Searching for a Compact, Easy-to-Use Solution

Matt Rydn, product manager for VingCard, describes the earliest solution. "In the beginning we had large Epson computers which fitted into a briefcase - they looked like something out of a spy movie," he says. "We then moved on to early Handheld PCs which were reliable and robust, but weren't especially easy to use. You have to remember that the devices have to be suitable for the needs of front office staff or even hotel managers who may themselves be based at smaller establishments."

The company looked carefully at the solutions available and considered a number of hardware and operating system combinations before it settled on Microsoft Windows CE and Palm-size PCs (P/PCs) from Compaq and Everex.

"Microsoft is a pretty well accepted nearly every where," says Rydn. "But we wanted to allow different regions to be able to choose the hardware platform which offered the best support in that part of the world. Hotels can also adapt Windows CE and the software to their own hardware."
Choosing a Palm-size PC Solution

The choice of a Palm-size PC solution offers a variety of features that allow hotels to program locks quickly and easily, and then use that software to closely monitor who goes in and out of rooms. Hotels are able to retrieve logistical reports that support maintenance of the locks and enable problems to be nipped in the bud. Management can for example obtain readouts of remaining battery life in the locks' computers.

In the first instance, the hotel uses a PC running VingCard software -- based on Microsoft Windows 98 or Microsoft Windows NT operating systems -- to configure the general properties of the hotel into each lock's program. Members of the hotel staff move through a number of simple menu screens to set information such as the number of floors in the hotel and the number of rooms on each floor. They then set the individual lock data. This describes, for example, which cards can be used to access the lock and how long the lock stays open once it is unlocked.

All this information can then be loaded onto a Compaq 1500 P/PC. This is taken to each of the locks in question where the user enters the room number and the lock software, and data is uploaded via a standard RS-232 cable connected to the lock, or by using the infrared port on the P/PC.
Additional Benefits

Apart from replicating an old-fashioned metal key and lock, the internal computers allow hotels to further increase guest security and staff convenience, and dramatically reduce all kinds of deficiencies in guestrooms or storage areas.

"It keeps an audit trail of up to the last 200 events involving that lock," says Rydn. "For example, which cardholder has accessed the room and when, and whether or not the room was locked from the inside. This makes it very hard to deceive hotels about unauthorized access and stolen goods. In the past if a guest said that something valuable had been stolen from their room in their absence, the hotel often had little choice but to pay up and claim it on its insurance."

Rydn adds: "For example, if a guest claims that someone entered their room and stole an expensive camera while they were eating breakfast, the hotel management can quickly use the Palm-size PC to retrieve data from the lock in question and find out whether or not someone else was in the room that morning. In fact many hotels also use the same lock and technology for protecting expensive alcohol or silver services which are stored in rooms with limited staff access." The audit trail function works both ways: it adds security and convenience to the hotel operators, as well as for the hotel guests.

The latest lock series from VingCard, the DA VINCI series, further utilizes Windows CE and the P/PC by adding "Lock logistics" and "trouble shooting" to the menu. This drastically reduces maintenance time and cost for the hotel staff by enabling instant readouts of lock data containing such parameters as battery capacity, reading failure, number of openings, time to next service or even brake in/tamper attempts.

VingCard's DA VINCI lock system

Rydn emphasizes that choosing Windows CE wasn't a difficult decision: "Apart from the fact that Microsoft operating systems are widely used, we had to consider the ease of use of our solution -- this was the bottom line. In the past we had to settle for solutions which met our business requirements, but which almost required a science degree to be used properly. The system also had to be accessible to people from all parts of the world. That meant we needed an operating system with clear, recognizable icons and graphics. Windows CE is a superb solution for this system."

Scalability and compatibility were also issues. The fact that the two main VingCard software components run on scaled versions of the same operating system on both the front office PC and the Palm-size PCs makes implementation a lot smoother.

The Future

As for the future, Rydn is considering the use of wireless technology. "This means that a lock could automatically report to a P/PC carried by patrolling staff or to the main PC without being wired up. In theory, it would be able to monitor room entry in real time and look out for unauthorized or unexpected visitors."

Rydn adds that they also will extend the use of Palm-size PCs to work on products from VingCard's sister company Elsafe, which manufactures in-room safes. In the future the hotels will be able to use the same Palm-size PCs for servicing, uploading and retrieving logistical data from hotel room safes in the same fashion.

He also believes that the technology could be introduced to other marketplaces. "Similar systems could be used for remote check-ins at airports by waving a smart card at a Palm-size PC with a smart card encoder," he says.

He also believes that the technology could be introduced to other marketplaces. "Similar systems could be used for remote check-ins at airports by waving a smart card at a Palm-size PC with a smart card encoder," he says.
For More Information

To learn more about Microsoft products or services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (800) 563-9048. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. More information via the World Wide Web is available at the following Web sites:
# Microsoft Corporation
# VingCard

Microsoft Case Studies: VingCard

Posted by Craig at 05:51 PM

January 22, 2004

Cruise Line Kiosks

Photo process on Carnival Cruise Lines and Imageware

Hello Sailor!

Imageware Digital Imaging and Facial Recognition Technologies to Revolutionize Photo Selection and Procurement Processes for Guests Sailing aboard Carnival's Newest "Fun Ship"

ImageWare Systems Inc. (AMEX: IW) today announced that it has signed an agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest cruise operator, to conduct a pilot project aboard the new Carnival Miracle to enhance the photo purchasing experience for guests and speed the photo procurement process. The pilot project, which encompasses a photo-retrieval kiosk that utilizes "facial-recognition" software, is part of Carnival's ongoing effort to leverage technology to maximize guest satisfaction.

"We're looking forward to testing this innovative new technology aboard Carnival Miracle. Our objective is to enhance our guests' experience by utilizing state-of-the-art technology that reduces the time and energy it takes to physically search for keepsake photos," said Bob Woodry, Carnival's vice president of Photo/Video Services. "As an innovator in digital imaging and facial recognition technologies, ImageWare is the only company that combines professional photography expertise with innovative software capabilities that meet our demands. This is a terrific concept and if successful, we anticipate implementing the system aboard our other 'Fun Ships'."

Under the terms of this agreement, ImageWare will leverage a combination of its facial recognition and digital imaging capabilities to develop a system that will store all professional keepsake photos taken of guests vacationing aboard Carnival Miracle beginning this spring. To access the system, a guest simply steps up to a stand-alone photo-retrieval kiosk, which will capture an image of his or her face. This image is then compared, using facial recognition technology, to all faces in all photos that have been captured on the cruise. Once the search is complete, photos containing the guest, including group and individual shots, will appear on the screen and be available for review and purchase.

"We are very excited to be working with Carnival and eager to implement the project," said Paul Devermann, SVP and general manager of ImageWare's Professional Digital Imaging Group. "By leveraging our technologies and core competency in software development, ImageWare is uniquely positioned to create innovative products that will open new markets for the Company, such as cruise lines and theme parks. Our digital imaging, identification and biometric solutions have been validated and successfully deployed across multiple markets including government, law enforcement and professional photography."

Carnival is the world's most popular cruise line, with 19 "Fun Ships" operating three-to 16-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Canada, New England and Bermuda from homeports throughout North America. The line's 20th "Fun Ship," the 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle is slated to debut from Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 27, 2004.

About ImageWare Systems Inc.

ImageWare Systems Inc. (AMEX: IW) is the leading global developer of digital imaging, identification and biometric software solutions for the corporate, government, law enforcement, professional photography, transportation, education and healthcare markets, among others. ImageWare's secure credential and biometric product lines are used to produce ID cards, driver licenses, passports, national medical health cards, national IDs and more. The company's law enforcement and biometric product lines provide the public safety market with booking, investigative and identification solutions that can be accessed and shared via PC, Web and wireless platforms. ImageWare's professional digital imaging product line provides professional photographers with automated, in-studio and mobile solutions to facilitate the transition from film-based photography to digital imaging. Founded in 1987, ImageWare is headquartered in San Diego, with offices in Canada, Germany and Singapore. For more information visit

Safe Harbor Statement

This news release may contain forward-looking statements made pursuant to the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. While these statements are meant to convey to the public the company's progress, business opportunities and growth prospects, readers are cautioned that such forward-looking statements represent management's opinion. While management believes such representation to be true and accurate based on the information available to the company, actual results may differ materially from those described. The company's operations and business prospects are always subject to risks and uncertainties. Important facts that may cause actual results to differ are set forth in the company's periodic filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.


ImageWare Systems Inc.
Joyce Chang-Watts, 858-673-8600
[email protected]
Andrea Alfonso, 858-673-8600
[email protected]

Posted by timdaw at January 22, 2004 03:17 PM | TrackBack

KNO - KioskNews.Org: Hello Sailor!

Posted by Craig at 03:27 PM

December 31, 2003

Restaurant News

December issue of Chain Leader on the stands

Article Link

December 2003
A Reed Business Information Publication
Vol. 8, No. 12

Cover Story: Making Concessions
Chicago multiconcept operator Levy Restaurants leveraged its fine-dining restaurant expertise to develop its Sports & Entertainment division. The company then became well known for servicing skyboxes, club seats and stadium restaurants. This year, the Sports & Entertainment group is expected to ring up $348 million in sales, an 11 percent gain in a rough economy. With Andy Lansing about to take on the CEO title, Levy has set its sights on feeding the masses hot dogs and beer.
By David Farkas

Storyboard: Don't Say a Word
The six new television spots for Charlotte, N.C.-based Bojangles Famous Chicken n Biscuits are short on dialogue. Several have no discussion of the chains products at all. Instead, the ads simply show customers enjoying a typical meal. With new management in place, a freshened look for the stores and a balance sheet in the black for the first time in years, Bojangles turned its advertising attention to the strong feelings customers have for the fried chicken. Executives hope to boost checks and traffic with the campaign
By Margaret Littman

Restauratour: Mountain Time
Bear Rock Cafe has redecorated with a rustic lodge in mind. A huge flagstone fireplace presides over the dining room, while sturdy pine timbers crisscross in a network above the room. Where the walls aren't leaf tones of brick red, golden yellow and forest green, they're swathed in golden-tinged pine. The fast-casual sandwich chain deems the mountain-lodge look a strong enough branding tool to support the regional concept as it expands into new markets nationwide
By Lisa Bertagnoli

Toque Of The Town: Fanning the Flames
Two little words can mean a lot. Just ask Peter Gibbons, senior director of research and development for Burger King. The man responsible for translating brand strategy into tangible product, Gibbons is now deep into researching all the ways the world's second largest burger chain can "fire grill" something. The burger giant is revamping its image to build traffic and bolster market share lost to competitors who jumped on the healthful food bandwagon sooner.
By Monica Rogers

Food Safety : A New Breed
VeriPrime Inc. has a new answer to food safety: retailers and producers working together to address issues when animals are being raised. The member-owned and -directed industry group shares the best practices of retailers, producers and meat-packing houses, and takes action that all members endorse to create better and consistent food-safety standards. As members, restaurateurs can collectively address issues such as the health of beef. The producers look for solutions that are cost-effective, then both groups work to implement them.
By Christine Zimmerman

Posted by Craig at 04:46 PM

December 03, 2003

Hotels Begin to Test Touch-Screen Kiosks for Check-In

Kiosks seem to be the hot item, as several chains are running tests to see if guests are willing to bypass the personal touch at the front desk in favor of a quicker check-in and check-out.

December 02, 2003 21:14

Hotels Begin to Test Touch-Screen Kiosks for Check-In
Jump to first matched term

By Kevin G. DeMarrais, The Record, Hackensack, N.J.

Dec. 3--Time is precious to business travelers, which explains why major hotel chains around the nation are testing ways to speed customers from the front door to their rooms, and out again.

Advocates promise this new technology -- touch-screen kiosks, small portable computers, and off-site baggage checks -- will reduce waiting time. But only time will tell if customers will embrace the devices as great conveniences, or reject them as gimmicks.

Hotels and other service providers are looking to make the whole process as easy as possible, said Craig Mateer, president of an Orlando, Fla.-based company that is testing a system that allows airline passengers to check their bags through from a hotel to the airport far in advance of their flight.

"It's just good business," Mateer said.

Kiosks seem to be the hot item, as several chains are running tests to see if guests are willing to bypass the personal touch at the front desk in favor of a quicker check-in and check-out.

Marriott is among those in test mode, with trials under way at two hotels, one at Newark Liberty International Airport and the other near Washington, D.C.

Thus far, acceptance is slow, as the two kiosks in each hotel often sit idle in the lobby, flanking the front desk. "But we're picking up momentum," said Walt Ensminger, the general manager of the Newark hotel.

The tests are part of the hotels' search for new ways to attract and retain customers, a search that has taken on added emphasis since business fell off post-9/11.

Saving time is "absolutely critical," ranking right after security in what's important to guests, said Jim Gard, vice president of marketing services for Prime Hospitality Corp., a Fairfield-based company that owns, manages, and franchises 247 North American hotels.

"Time is probably more important to the modern business traveler than dollars," Gard said.

The Hilton Hotel Corp. brought kiosks to the forefront of the amenities competition in September when it announced it would begin testing them in New York and Chicago. Those trials are scheduled to begin in January, but kiosk tests are already under way at Sheraton Hotels in Boston and New York and the Marriotts in Newark and Washington.

"Today's frequent travelers are increasingly sophisticated technology users who have been using self-service technology X for several years," such as airport kiosks and automated teller machines, said Tim Harvey, Hilton's chief information officer.

"When people go to the airport, they look for kiosks as a faster way to check in," said Andrew Kraemer, senior director of technology for Cendant Corp.'s Parsippany-based hotel group. "They're more comfortable with the new technology." Hotel kiosks aren't new; they were tried and rejected in the past. But that doesn't mean they won't work now, at least in certain situations, Kraemer said.

For big, busy hotels that often have "queues to check in and check out, this is something you'd want to watch," Kraemer said. But it has less appeal at hotels where customers can go straight to the front desk, without waiting on line, and deal directly with a human.

"It's something we had for a while for our Wingate brand, but it didn't quite work for us," Kraemer said. "We found the business traveler preferred to be serviced by the customer service rep at the desk." Wingate hotels are at the top of Cendant's brands, which also include Ramada, Super 8, and Days Inn.

Even as the kiosk trials take place, Prime is testing a wireless check-in system at its Radisson Hotel in Secaucus, Gard said. Customers can use their personal digital assistants to check in before they arrive at the hotel, and stop at the front desk only to pick up the key.

One of the more unusual experiments began in Florida in August when Mateer's Baggage Airline Guest Services Inc., or BAGS, set up shop at the Rosen Centre, a 1,334-room hotel that is near the Orlando International Airport and next to the Orange County Convention Center, one of the nation's busiest exhibition halls.

The new service allows passengers to pay $10 to check their bags at the hotel up to 12 hours before a flight and not see them again until they get off the plane.

The key is that the baggage remains in a locked, secure location it is until trucked to the airport for pre-flight screening. Because of heightened security concerns after 9/11, as well as the need to work out technological bugs, it took 2 1/4 years to get the pilot program started as federal officials worked out security details, Mateer said. But it's "going wonderfully well" now, he added.

"In one sense, the timing couldn't have been worse, but it also couldn't have been better," Mateer said. "Now it's a nightmare at the airport; who wants to deal with the lines? The hassle factor associated with checking your bags is eliminated with our concept.

"The challenge is to change the mindset of how people check in. For a small price, you don't have to schlep your bags around anymore." BAGS is the first remote passenger check-in system in the country approved by the federal Transportation Security Authority, the company said. American, Continental, and Delta airlines are participating, and other airlines and hotels are expected to join in soon.

"We're really focusing on negotiating with major cities across the country and with hotel chains, and should have some announcements soon," Mateer said.

While Mateer speaks of benefits to business travelers, the service should also be attractive to leisure passengers, especially those with early checkouts and late flights, Kraemer said. "It gives them a little more free time." Whether it's advance check-in, kiosks, or PDAs, value-added services are what it's all about these days, officials say.

"The environment has changed significantly in the last five to 10 years, and people are much more savvy, much more price-conscious," Kraemer said. And hotels are trying to find ways to provide value to distinguish themselves from the competition.

That means access to high-speed Internet service in every room -- a must for today's business traveler, even in midprice hotels -- along with a host of other amenities, from free continental breakfasts and free fax service to on-site health clubs.

But food, faxes, and fitness facilities may not be enough to gain customer loyalty if getting in and out of the hotel are a hassle.

Many hotels now slip bills under the door during the night so guests with no late charges can leave without going through a formal check-out process. Others process check-out via the remote and the TV set in the room.

If the traveler needs a paid receipt, not just a final bill, hotels such as the Wingates offer the option to enter an email address during the TV check-out process so the paid receipt is delivered to the customer's office, Kraemer said.

"With that, I cruise by the desk," he said.

Posted by Craig at 08:45 PM

October 29, 2003

Training Employees Pays off

While training can make a difference in any business, it can be especially crucial in the restaurant field, where the employees who are the company's public face tend to change jobs often.

story link

At Cracker Barrel, training is a specialty

Staff Writer

The Lebanon-based restaurant chain believes in investing in its employees.

Eleven years ago, Donna Golliher slipped a brown apron over her clothes and started work as a server at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in Crossville, Tenn.

Early one morning, before the rest of the servers had arrived, a bus pulled up and 45 people got out. When the store manager pitched in, taking drink orders and doing whatever was needed, Golliher noticed.

Then she learned about Cracker Barrel's training programs, which combine better pay, benefits and other incentives with the chance to move up. ''I was so taken away,'' she said last week. ''I knew that I wanted to stay with Cracker Barrel.''

Over her career, participating in the programs, she has earned the four stars that identify those who have completed all four segments of in-store training. She's worked on the red-shirt team that opens new restaurants across the country. Eventually she moved to the chain's home office in Lebanon, where she works now.

''I just think that Cracker Barrel provides a great opportunity to employees,'' she said.

While training can make a difference in any business, it can be especially crucial in the restaurant field, where the employees who are the company's public face tend to change jobs often. Training new workers can be expensive, especially now, when the restaurant industry grapples with whether to pass rising food costs on to consumers.

Trimming turnover by five percentage points, for example, through training and employee-recognition programs can yield big benefits at a restaurant, said Rick Ford, president of The Sage Group, a Brentwood company that offers training consulting primarily in the automotive and telecom industries.

Turnover for all hourly Cracker Barrel employees is about 118%, said Julie Davis, spokeswoman for the chain's parent company, CBRL Group Inc. That's about par for the restaurant industry as a whole, analysts said.

But for hourly workers who have completed all four parts of Cracker Barrel's Personal Achievement Responsibility training program, from cooks to servers, turnover is 24%, Davis said.

''They've created a real kind of career server, and that's different from the norm,'' said analyst Amy Greene of Nashville's Avondale Partners.

Every new Cracker Barrel restaurant employee starts as a PAR 0, and entering the PAR program is voluntary. Some, such as college students working part time, opt out because they know they won't make a career in the restaurant industry, Davis said.

Throughout the PAR program, employees learn and practice a growing set of skills, from the basics of the job to leadership and conflict resolution. They take written tests and are evaluated by managers. To progress through the program, workers must earn increasingly higher grades. The program is offered in English and Spanish, and workers are paid to study written learning materials.

As the workers progress, they earn salary raises and larger company contributions toward their health insurance, as well as other incentives, including discounts on store purchases. Davis declined to give amounts of the raises and insurance contributions.

The program has been in effect for 25 to 30 years, said Stacy Stinson, PAR program director.

''It's part of our culture. Our operations folks totally embrace it, and that's what makes it work,'' Davis said.

In more recent years, PAR IV employees have been able to participate in a separate internship program, which grooms in-store workers such as Golliher to become associate store managers, putting them on a management track. The only educational prerequisite is a high-school diploma or the equivalent. Golliher, for example, had some college credits but didn't graduate.

Golliher started in the internship program in 1995, as it was beginning. She made associate manager and then moved to the home office in Lebanon. She has had two promotions and now works as an operations specialist on special projects for the retail and restaurant parts of the company.

''If you have the desire, the ability is there to progress to any level that you would like. I'm living proof of that,'' she said.

Restaurant industry analyst Robert Derrington of Morgan Keegan & Co.'s Nashville office says he doesn't get data on training per se, but he and other observers examine what he calls anecdotal evidence to see how customers are treated. The Cracker Barrel chain has been the top performing chain in its category for 13 years in a row, he said. In addition, the company has had ''solid'' same-store sales growth.

''The only way you grow your sales is if you take care of customers,'' he added.

CBRL Group Inc.

Headquarters: 106 Castle Heights Ave. N., Lebanon, Tenn. 37088

CEO: Michael A. Woodhouse

Symbol: CBRL (Nasdaq)

Description: CBRL is the parent of the restaurant-retail chain Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. and the Logan's Roadhouse Inc. restaurant chain, both Tennessee corporations.

About the company: Both concepts are steeped in nostalgia. Cracker Barrel locations are modeled after yesteryear's country stores, and Logan's roots go back to the roadhouses of the 1940s and 1950s.

Number of employees: Approximately 65,000 people work for CBRL and its subsidiaries

2002 revenue: $2.2 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 1, 2003

2002 net income: $106.5 million

Market capitalization: Approximately $1.8 billion

Outstanding shares: Approximately 48 million 52-week share price range: $22.35 - 39.95

Kathy Carlson can be reached at 259-8047 or at [email protected]

Posted by Craig at 08:42 PM

October 27, 2003

Fast Food and QSRs

ParTech, Inc., Quick Kiosk Partner to Offer Pioneering Self-Service Solutions for Fast-Food Market

October 27, 2003 09:03

ParTech, Inc., Quick Kiosk Partner to Offer Pioneering Self-Service Solutions for Fast-Food Market

New Strategic Partnership Agreement between Point-of-Sale and Self-Service Technology Leaders Will Revolutionize the Quick Service Restaurant Experience

LONG BEACH, Calif., Oct 27, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- ParTech, Inc., a subsidiary of PAR Technology Corporation (NYSE:PTC), and a leading provider of software, hardware and service solutions to the hospitality and retail industries, and Quick Kiosk, A Kinetics Company LLC, a leading provider of self-service solutions to the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry, today announced they have formed a strategic partnership. The announcement of the partnership was made at this year's Food Service Technology Conference at the Long Beach, California, Convention Center.

Under this agreement Quick Kiosk and ParTech will work cooperatively to become an industry-leading provider of self-service solutions for the QSR and entertainment markets, possibly expanding in the future to other vertical markets.

"We are thrilled to ally ourselves with the most dominant player in the QSR point-of-sale (POS) market," said Todd Liebman, president of Quick Kiosk. "The potential of this type of strategic alliance is truly limitless. By combining our strengths, we can offer a product that will not only fulfill the needs of today's quick-service franchisees, as well as other hospitality and leisure markets, and their customers, but help anticipate future changes in those needs and meet them expeditiously and effectively."

"This partnership further connects ParTech with its core customers (restaurants, movie theatres, cruise lines, commercial banks, recreation sites) and their hospitality technology requirements," said Greg Cortese, CEO & president of ParTech, Inc. "Quick Kiosk's presence in the hospitality marketplace is a key method to further introduce combined (PAR/Quick Kiosk) solutions to other transaction based markets and showcase the superior quality of the software, hardware, and services of both Quick Kiosk and ParTech."

Self-service QSR ordering kiosks are one of the newest and most intriguing uses of self-service technology, and for the small number of owner/operators who now use them, the results have easily exceeded expectations. Self-service helps increase the average total receipt, increases repeat business, gets orders correctly every time, improves point-of-purchase merchandising and increases productivity.

PAR has provided integrated solutions to the restaurant, movie theatre, cruise line and recreation industries for over 25 years. Its POS management technology integrates both software applications and PAR's Pentium-based hardware platform. This hospitality management system can host fixed, as well as wireless, order-entry terminals, may include video monitors and/or third-party-supplied peripherals networked via an Ethernet local area network (LAN) and is accessible to enterprise-wide network configurations. PAR also provides extensive systems integration and professional service capabilities to design, tailor and implement solutions that enable its customers to manage, from a central location, all aspects of data collection and processing for single or multiple site enterprises.

As a subsidiary of Kinetics, Inc., Quick Kiosk will be able to utilize the expertise of the company that pioneered the modern airline self-service era. Kinetics now provides self-service technologies to 10 major North American airlines that offer self-service check-in services to their passengers, representing more than two-thirds of the total market.

Quick Kiosk has already introduced its self-ordering kiosks at approximately 50 McDonald's franchises in 15 metropolitan areas of the United States. The terminals allow McDonald's customers to self-service order at freestanding or countertop kiosks, using either credit card, debit card or cash for payment. They also allow for quick and easy ordering, with a suite of multi-media capabilities, including audio and animations. Customers can easily modify their orders to suit their personal preferences.

Although Quick Kiosk's current sales have been directed primarily at McDonald's franchises, the new strategic partnership agreement will open a vast new array of potential customers that could benefit from self-service technology.


PAR Technology Corporation is a leading provider of professional services and enterprise business intelligence software. PAR develops, markets and supports hardware and software products that improve the ability of business professionals to make timely, fact-based business decisions. PAR has been a leader in providing computer-based system design and engineering services to the Department of Defense and Federal Government Agencies. The Company is the world's largest supplier of Point-of-Sale systems to the quick service restaurant market with over 35,000 systems installed in over 95 countries. PAR Technology Corporation's stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol PTC. More information can be found on the Company's website at


Framingham, Mass.-based Quick Kiosk, A Kinetics Company LLC, is a leading provider of innovative self-service solutions to the Quick Service Restaurant industry, using the time-tested hardware and innovative enterprise and e-commerce technology developed both by Quick Kiosk and Kinetics to create a state-of-the-art turnkey solution for any restaurant that wants to take advantage of the myriad benefits of self service. For more information, visit or

SOURCE: Quick Kiosk, A Kinetics Company LLC

Quick Kiosk, a Kinetics Company LLC
Jim Brown, 407-333-4100, Ext. 142
PAR Technology Corp.
Chris Byrnes, 315-738-0600

Posted by Craig at 02:44 PM

October 20, 2003

Hotel Check-In at Starwood

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) is testing self-service kiosk applications at the 1,215-room Sheraton Boston Hotel and the 509-room W New York - Times Square. Located in each of the hotels' lobbies, and similar to airline kiosks, the kiosk allows guests to check-in and out of the hotel by simply swiping their credit card, eliminating the need to go to the front desk. Check-in takes less than 45 seconds as compared to several minutes using the traditional front desk check-in method.

Story Link

October 20, 2003 12:00 PM US Eastern Timezone

Starwood Tests Check-In Kiosks in New York and Boston; Self-Service Check-In Averages Less Than 45 Seconds

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 20, 2003--Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) is testing self-service kiosk applications at the 1,215-room Sheraton Boston Hotel and the 509-room W New York - Times Square. Located in each of the hotels' lobbies, and similar to airline kiosks, the kiosk allows guests to check-in and out of the hotel by simply swiping their credit card, eliminating the need to go to the front desk. Check-in takes less than 45 seconds as compared to several minutes using the traditional front desk check-in method.

Starwood plans to deploy these kiosks to a number of its downtown, convention and airport hotels next year following the conclusion of the current pilot test in two of its busiest hotels. The kiosks deployed at both the Sheraton Boston and the W New York - Times Square are made possible through the use of Galaxy's next generation Lightspeed(R) property management system.

"Data from our two pilots is positive," said Carl Cohen, Vice President, Property Technology Business and Systems Strategy for Starwood. "It suggests that for those guests with an affinity for technology, this product improves the experience during arrival and check-in, and significantly expedites the check-out process."

Here's how the kiosk check-in/check-out process works: during check-in, a guest simply swipes a credit card, the kiosk pulls up the guest reservation, the guest confirms the reservation, keys are issued and a receipt informs the guest of his/her room rate and room number. The receipt also has space for customized messaging through StarGuest, Starwood's proprietary Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application suite. Upon check-out, the guest swipes his or her credit card, the kiosk pulls up the guest folio, the guest confirms that all the information on the folio is accurate, the kiosk prints out the guest folio and the guest has the option to have the folio e-mailed to him/her in a .PDF (read-only) format.

"We are delighted to have the kiosk in our lobby; it provides a user-friendly option for guests to check-in and out," noted Doug Ridge, General Manager of the Sheraton Boston Hotel. "Business and leisure travelers alike certainly appreciate the kiosks' functionality, especially when they are on the run and want to get in or out fast."

"Times Square is affectionately known as the center of the universe, and our hotel, which is the flagship of the W brand, can get quite busy at peak hours," said Bradford Wilson, General Manager of the W New York - Times Square. "W Hotels have always been on the cutting-edge in high-tech hospitality advancements, and the kiosk application is no exception - it fits right in with our brand ideology."

Future plans for additional kiosk development include the ability for guests to change their room assignments. Starwood and Galaxy work together on the development process, allowing Starwood to make modifications to the kiosk, based on guest feedback, and integrate new kiosk functionality with the Galaxy property management system in the hotel. Should the kiosks catch on with customers as they appear to be in the pilots, they will have a tremendous impact on the improvement of the guest experience, and customer convenience, resulting in the reduction of long wait lines.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 740 properties in more than 80 countries and 105,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. With internationally renowned brands, Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels and resorts including: St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, W brands, as well as Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit

** Please contact Starwood's new, toll-free media hotline at (866) 4-STAR-PR (866-478-2777) for photography or additional information.**

Posted by Craig at 05:19 PM

October 14, 2003

World's First Completely Self-Serve Restaurant

International Automated Systems, Inc. (IAUS.OB) ("IAS") announced today the successful debut of its automated technology at Chefplex, the world's first completely self-service order and pay restaurant.

OREM, Utah--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 14, 2003--International Automated Systems, Inc. (IAUS.OB) ("IAS") announced today the successful debut of its automated technology at Chefplex, the world's first completely self-service order and pay restaurant.

IAS's OrderXCEL system allows customers to order and pay using cash, check, credit or debit without the need for a cashier.

Chefplex ( opened its doors September 2003 to popular reviews. It features five independent authentic restaurants under one roof. Customers get a gourmet selection of authentic Mexican, Italian, Thai, American and Ice Cream on a single ticket.

Each authentic restaurant featured at Chefplex is owned and operated independently with its own kitchen area and chef. Customers simply touch pictures of food on the OrderXCEL's monitor to order menu items from any of the different restaurants and pay automatically with cash, check, credit or debit.

Chefplex has already financially committed to an additional 20 OrderXCEL terminals for its next two locations. The company intends to open several restaurants over the next year.

About International Automated Systems, Inc. (; IAUS:OB)

Founded in 1988, International Automated Systems, Inc., develops high-technology products for diverse markets such as energy production, wireless communications, consumer purchasing and financial transactions. The company, founded by a former AT&T communications engineer, is based in Salem, Utah.

Note: Statements contained in this press release that are not strictly historical are forward-looking within the meaning of the "Safe Harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are made based upon information available to the company at the time, and the company assumes no obligation to update or revise such forward-looking statements. Editors and investors are cautioned that such forward-looking statements invoke risk and uncertainties that may cause the company's actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, demand for the company's product both domestically and abroad, the company's ability to continue to develop its market, general economic conditions, and other factors that may be more fully described in the company's literature and periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

CONTACT: International Automated Systems, Inc.
Randy Johnson, 801-423-8132
[email protected]

Posted by Craig at 03:30 PM

October 10, 2003

McD franchisee in Colorado Experiment

McDonalds in Colorado Springs employing several innovative ways to provide more efficient customer service including internet kiosks.

McD franchisee in Colo. routing orders through call center
SunTimes Article

October 9, 2003

BY SANDRA GUY Business Reporter

A McDonald's restaurant operator in Colorado is funneling customers' orders through a telephone call center to improve service speed and accuracy.

Here's how it works: Customers at six McDonald's restaurants in Colorado Springs, Colo., call in their orders on telephones sitting on each table.

The employees at the call center electronically relay the orders, as well as orders made at the drive-through, to the appropriate restaurant's kitchen. The orders appear on a screen in the kitchen, and identify the table or car where the order originated.

Inside the restaurants, McDonald's employees take the orders to the tables and collect payment. Customers at the drive-through pay for their orders and pick them up as they always have.

A seventh McDonald's restaurant, this one in Brainerd, Minn., recently set up the high-speed data line necessary to run its customer orders through the Colorado Springs call center.

Though the call center employs as many as eight workers -- it reaches a peak during busy times -- the system halves the 35 to 40 cents in costs that a restaurant normally incurs to take a customer order at the counter, said Craig Tengler, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Exit 41, an Andover, Mass.-based firm that supplies the system's software.

The call-center workers are trained to urge customers to buy more, so an average order is 10 to 15 cents greater under the new system than an order taken at the counter, Tengler said Wednesday.

Corporate executives in Oak Brook are impressed enough by Colorado Springs franchisee Steve Bigari's idea to expand the call-center test to as many as four additional restaurants by early 2004, said McDonald's spokesman Bill Whitman.

"We see that it has some potential to help reduce customer wait time," Whitman said, declining to release numbers. "It also reduces order time."

Those are magic words to McDonald's, which has consistently ranked at the bottom of customer service surveys and consistently lagged in speed-of-service surveys. CEO Jim Cantalupo, who took over in January, has begun efforts to grade each restaurant's quality and hold the managers accountable.

Bigari could not be reached for comment, but Tengler said Bigari intends to expand the initiative to include cell phones. It's hoped that by early next year, customers will be able to call in orders on their cell phones, with those calls also being routed to the call center, Tengler said.

One possibility is to let a customer hit a number on his cell phone to relay his most frequent order, without having to say anything.

The Colorado Springs restaurants already have set up new drive-through services to speed order times and improve accuracy.

Digital cameras are set up at the drive-throughs to take a photo of each car. The photo is matched to the order that the driver made.

The restaurants also feature new Zoom-throughs.

The Zoom-through drive-throughs have no menu boards, so customers must know what they want. Customers place their order, swipe a credit card, bypass the drive-through line, and pick up their orders at a window separate from the normal drive-through pickup window.

Plans call for a Virtual Zoom-through sometime in the future, in which customers would call in their orders and the payment would be deducted from a prepaid McDonald's card.

The Colorado Springs restaurants also each have an Internet kiosk, and most tables have Internet access hookups.

Separately, McDonald's announced Wednesday it will provide its New York, New Jersey and Connecticut customers with literature and information on how to order their favorite McDonald's food and still stay on a low-fat, low-calorie or low-carbohydrate diet.

The program, to start in January, is part of McDonald's "Real Life Choices" initiative. It is being created in part by nutritionist and wellness coach Pamela Smith.

Posted by Craig at 05:31 PM