Hospitality Technology Announces 2018 MURTEC Breakthrough Award Winners

Hospitality Technology (HT) magazine is proud to announce the winners of the 2018 MURTEC Breakthrough Awards. Sponsored by NovaDine, an enterprise-class digital and mobile ordering solution provider to the restaurant industry, the 2018 awards were presented at the MURTEC Executive Summit, taking place October 17-19 at the Omni Hotel in Nashville.

The 2018 MURTEC Breakthrough Award winners are: McAlister’s Deli (Customer Engagement Innovator) and TGI Fridays (Enterprise Innovator).

TGI Fridays tapped into the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to deliver measurable results in three key areas: guest engagement, internal operations and staff support.

“Today’s leaders in the restaurant industry are proving the benefits of putting technology at the forefront of business strategy,” says Dorothy Creamer, editor of Hospitality Technology magazine. “Innovators recognize that augmenting operations with technology yields huge returns. It empowers employees and it provides experiences to guests that will keep them coming back. In these days when options are limitless, the tipping point for restaurants that want to be in business in two years, let alone 20, is how they leverage technology to gain advantage. This year’s honorees are doing just that.”  

Breakthrough Awards are presented to select restaurant companies that have demonstrated outstanding vision and achievement in operational and guest-facing technologies. Winning companies are chosen based on vision and execution; consideration is given to size, resources and individual market segment benchmarks to ensure that companies from across the industry are recognized. Nominations were collected in Q3 of 2018 and judged by the HT editorial staff and its Advisory Board on the basis of innovation, thought leadership, execution and results.

“With today’s rapid pace of change, the line between restaurants and tech companies are increasingly blurred and innovation is driving business strategy,” says George Istfan, founder of Raleigh, N.C.-based NovaDine. “As the sponsor for this year’s MURTEC Breakthrough Awards, NovaDine is proud to recognize TGI Fridays and McAlister’s. Both companies are embracing the digital era we find ourselves in and are leading by example in what is possible when you utilize the latest advancements from artificial intelligence to mobility to remove barriers to next-gen service and operations.”


Customer Engagement Innovator 

Atlanta-based McAlister’s Deli was honored  for its development of an SEO-optimized, mobile-first website that was designed with calls to action to drive online purchases. The 400-store chain ditched its disparate systems and worked to create one integrated platform, starting with a fully integrated point-of-sale system plus mobile ordering, email marketing, loyalty, intelligent push notifications and analytics.

The integrated online and mobile ordering solution provides a frictionless ordering experience for customers, while the CRM solutions reward McAlister’s best customers and show less loyal customers how much they want their business. Since implementing the revamped online and mobile ordering and CRM solutions, McAlister’s Deli has seen a 189% gain in digital revenue, 2.5x jump in online customers and transactions, and a 200% increase in email open rates. Plus McAlister’s successfully built loyalty with all segments of customers, and unified messaging and offers across the franchise community, while saving time for customers and restaurant team members.

“McAlister’s Deli is proud to be recognized as a 2018 Breakthrough Award Winner. We are always striving to leverage technology to make our customer’s experience better while driving growth for our franchisees,” says Michael Verdesca, Chief Information Officer, McAlister’s Deli.