News Feature | August 29, 2017

Restaurant And Hospitality News – August 28, 2017

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer


In news this week, Dickey’s Barbeque is layering the Alexa platform onto its existing Smokestack platform to make the restaurants more data friendly; and Marriott and Alibaba are partnering up to leverage the outbound Chinese tourist market segment.

Dickey’s Barbeque Locations Adopt ‘Hey Alexa’ To Enable Business Metrics

Dickey’s Barbeque Pit has announced the adoption of iOLAP’s new Enterprise Voice Platform to help execute daily business functions in store, accelerating the development, deployment, operations and monitoring of Alexa Skills in the business environment.

Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc., stated: “In working with iOLAP to customize this technology for our restaurants, we are giving each of our franchisees a way to carry out key business functions hands-free in their kitchens. At Dickey’s, we are constantly looking for new ways to better our business along with our slow-smoked barbeque. This new technology means our franchisees can retrieve key data without having to stop smoking ribs.”

The new platform layers a voice platform onto Dickey’s existing proprietary data platform, Smokestack, making the data even more restaurant friendly, according to Dickey. “We’ve worked a lot with iOLAP to optimize Alexa for the kitchen from the integration to the right placement in the back of house. We’ve also been thankful for franchisees that have opted in to further test the technology.”

Marriott Partners With Alibaba To Entice Chinese Tourists

Marriott International Inc. has announced that it is launching a partnership with China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in order to leverage the Chinese tourist segment that travels abroad.  According to the hotel chain, the move allows Chinese travelers to make reservations at Marriott hotels using Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel service platform. The partnership also means that Alibaba will eventually run the Chinese-language websites and apps for the hotel chain, according to Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott’s global chief commercial officer.

The goal of the venture is to create “seamless, insight-based travel services, with Alibaba serving as the gateway to more than half a billion Chinese customers,” according to a company statement.

Using the Fliggy platform, travelers will be able to join Marriott’s rewards program and access special members-only rates as an incentive, and they can use online payments platform Alipay to pay for their bookings.

The joint venture elevates the travel experience for Chinese travelers by making global travel easy; providing personalized and VIP experiences; allow wallet-free travel; and establishing Next-Gen loyalty.

“We are proud to join forces with Marriott International – combining our large-scale consumer base, leading-edge technology and consumer insights with their unparalleled hospitality expertise,” said Daniel Zhang, Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba Group. “Together, we are elevating and redefining the travel experience for Chinese consumers to be more seamless and personalized as they embark on adventures to discover the world.”

According to Linnartz, there is a huge opportunity in the Chinese tourist market over the long-term, with an estimated 700 million trips over the next five years being planned by Chinese travelers. Consumers are seeking new and elevate travel experiences, which Marriott is hoping to provide with this new service.

“We have long admired Alibaba’s digital expertise and deep understanding of Chinese consumers’ needs and behaviors,” said Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Marriott International. “By forming this partnership, we are pairing our hospitality expertise with Alibaba’s digital travel platform, retail expertise and digital payment platform, Alipay, and driving membership to our loyalty programs. With the growing number of Chinese consumers exploring new destinations, this venture will introduce our hotels worldwide to this new and growing traveling class.”