News Feature | April 24, 2017

Restaurant And Hospitality News – April 24, 2017

Christine Kern

By Christine Kerncontributing writer

Subway New Food Trends Hummus

In news this week, Shoney’s is the latest restaurant to face a suspected credit card breach; and Subway is entering the Facebook Messenger ordering arena with its new bot technology.

Shoney’s Credit Card Breach Affects 37 Locations

Shoney’s restaurant chain has apparently been hit by a credit card breach, affecting 37 different locations, Krebs on Security reported. The Nashville, Tennessee-based chain has approximately 150 company-owned and franchised locations across 17 states, predominantly in the South. Krebs says that sources in the financial industry have been alerted to suspected breaches at “dozens” of these locations, though whether or not the problem extends company-wide or is localized is still unclear. Those sources also indicated that the breach is suspected to have occurred between December 2016 and early March 2017.

An Atlanta-based company called Best American Hospitality Corp.  has published a press release claiming responsibility for a card breach impacting dozens of Shoney’s locations. The company’s notice about this incident lists the locations thought to have been compromised so far.

“The malware searched for track data (cardholder name, card number, expiration date, and internal verification code) read from the magnetic stripe of a payment card as it was being routed through the affected computer,” the company explained in the statement, which also includes a list of affected locations. “In some instances, the malware appears to have identified data from the card’s magnetic stripe that included the cardholder name and number and in other instances the card data identified by the malware did not appear to include the cardholder name. It is possible that not every cardholder name was identified.”

The rise in attacks on Point-of-Sale systems highlights the need to overhaul security approaches for all restaurant, hospitality, and retail locations.  John Christly, global CISO at Netsurion, told InfoSecurity Magazine that “Attach and breach prevention requires a new approach today, and many products and service providers simply do not have the ability to stop cyber-criminals before they do legitimate damage, as evidenced by the recent onslaught of restaurant chain data breaches. Many restaurant owners set up a firewall as a basic security measure and believe their networks will be sufficiently protected. [However,]…modern, effective security goes beyond having a firewall and anti-virus.”

Subway Launches Facebook Messenger Chatbot Ordering

Subway has announced the launch of a new Facebook Messenger Chatbot system that allows customer to pre-order food at its 26,500 U.S. locations, according to Geekwire. The chatbot is the latest move by the chain to revolutionize its digital efforts. The bot allows customers to place customized orders and pay on any device that supports Facebook Messenger, and then pick up their orders at any location in 15 minutes or less.

The new technology is designed to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Carman Wenkoff, chief information and digital officer for Subway, told CNBC “It’s really about connecting and engaging with customers.” Subway joins Taco Bell , Domino’s, and other restaurants that are using Facebook Messenger to lure younger customers to their restaurants by making digital ordering more convenient. And because mobile order checks are often as much as 30 percent higher than traditional in-store checks, according to Deloitte principal Andrew Feinberg, there is a strong move to improve digital services.

“Our bot for Messenger was just deployed in more than 26,500 U.S. Subway restaurants — the largest deployment of a Messenger bot in the restaurant industry,” Carman Wenkoff, Subway’s chief information and digital officer, said in a news release. “We’re proud to offer our guests an innovative new way to order and pay outside the restaurants. This is a new initiative in the ongoing quest to enhance the guest experience.”

According to Wenkoff, the Messenger bot is just the first stage in the relaunch of the company’s entire digital platform from the ground up. "Facebook messenger has got over 1.2 billion customers using it now and the target customers overlay perfectly with the demographics of our customers," Wenkoff said. "It allowed us to dabble more in the innovation space... we just thought it was a perfect marriage between Facebook and Masterpass."