News Feature | January 16, 2018

Restaurant And Hospitality News – January 15, 2018

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Hilton Mobile App

In news this week, Hilton announces further upgrades to its loyalty program to create greater member flexibility; and Taco Bell announces some significant leadership changes that underscore its commitment to All Access technology and expansion of the global brand.

Hilton Upgrades Loyalty Program

Hilton has announced new changes to its guest loyalty program, Hilton Honors, that add flexibility and greater rewards to its members, according to Hotel Business. Among the changes are the ability to earn more points, take advantage of unlimited milestone bonuses of 10,000 bonus points on every tenth night once members reach at least 40 nights in a calendar year, elite rollover nights, and the ability to gift elite status to their favorite travel partner. Many of these changes take effect in April, although some new benefits and ways to earn are already available to Hilton Honors members.

The new program reflects greater flexibility and increased options for redeeming rewards points. Mark Weinstein, senior vice president and global head of customer engagement, loyalty and partnerships explained, “Today we are announcing the latest updates to Hilton Honors, designed to deliver more of what matters most to our members. We have heard our Hilton Honors members loud and clear – they are looking for simple, straightforward ways to earn more points and rewards the more they stay with Hilton. Now more than ever, every stay counts – there’s always another milestone to reach, benefit to unlock, reward to earn.” The changes address these customer demands.

"Over the last several years, we have been evolving Hilton Honors to ensure our members receive the best hotel stay experience with perks like free WiFi and member-only rates when they book directly with us. Last year, we introduced even more ways for members to use their Points with more flexibility and ease, including Amazon Shop with Points and Points Pooling. Now, in 2018, we want to give our members more ways to earn their Points and show our loyalty back to our most elite members," continued Weinstein.

Taco Bell Adds New Executive Roles To Drive Growth And All Access Digital Platform

Taco Bell has announced several new hires and the expansion of executive roles designed to focus on technology and broadening the reach of the brand, according to a company statement. The company has named Julie Felss Masino as the new brand president, a newly created role for the company, responsible for same-store sales growth by “driving innovation, new store development, and a frictionless customer experience.”  In all, the company has added three new positions that elevate its executive team roles and expand its leadership capabilities. Brian Niccol, CEO, will now be able to focus on the company’s growth as a global brand as he continues to oversee the US business.

“We are proud of the momentum the Taco Bell brand has seen globally, and the continued growth here at home,” explained Niccol. “We are expanding our leadership team and excited to bring on Julie as Brand President to continue our success and innovation with a renewed focus on technology and greater access to the brand for consumers.”

Taco Bell also announced the elevation of Chief Food Innovation Officer Liz Matthews’ role to oversee international capabilities including Research and Development, Quality Assurance and Engineering; and the expansion of Mike Grams’ title to Chief Operations and Development Officer, now including overseeing growth in Canada and global operations. Additionally, Maris Thalberg will now serve as Chief Brand Officer with a global emphasis, and she and her teams will “continue to drive the brand’s U.S. business directly, and will now also be responsible for e-commerce, internal communications, events and ensuring global consistency of the marketing strategy of fueling the cult of Taco Bell.”

These changes come as Taco Bell moves forward with its plans to focus on new technology initiatives in 2018, working with franchisees to provide frictionless digital experiences to both customers and team members. Elizabeth Baicy, Vice President, Digital and Future Works, and Jon Kosoff, Vice President, E-commerce and Performance Marketing, have been tapped to lead these initiatives.

“Our fantastic relationship with our franchisees and our growth mindset have enabled us to create an aggressive plan to make Taco Bell an All Access brand,” asserted Niccol. “We are thrilled to have Elizabeth and Jon join our team and apply their extensive tech knowledge to execute our ideas to meet consumers where they are with unparalleled access to the brand.”

Taco Bell, a division of Yum! Brands Inc. has 7,000 restaurants in operation across the United States and another 250 global locations. The company has previously announced a push to add approximately 2,350 restaurants worldwide by 2022, a move that will boost annual sales from $10 billion to $15 billion. Right now, Taco Bell’s U.S. estimated sales per unit are $1.5 million.