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NEW YORK—Condé Nast Traveler this week announced the winners of its 31st annual Readers’ Choice Awards, ranking the best hotels, resorts, cities, islands, airlines, airports, and cruise lines in the world. The Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running recognition of excellence in the travel industry. This year, the publication received a recording-breaking number of responses from nearly half a million readers who rated their travel experiences to provide a full snapshot of where and how guests travel today, including the 50 Best Hotels in the World.

The 2018 results are all about comfort. Readers stayed closer to home than ever before, pushing more cities like Chicago, Charleston, and Nashville to the top of the lists. They favored the Caribbean and domestic islands in the southeast, like Hilton Head, Amelia, and Kiawah. The properties that impressed them most were smaller and less flashy than in years past, and the publication’s small-cruise-ship list is longer than it’s ever been, suggesting that the right kind of less is more.

NEW YORK—Hospitality House (HH) has acquired Hicks Design Group, adding a Foodservice Planning and Design division to HH’s suite of services, which include food-and-beverage-focused pre-development consulting, real estate services, and talent procurement. Cody Hicks, the founder of Hicks Design Group, will join as managing partner of HH’s newly formed division.

“We are excited to become a part of this multifaceted organization that will provide us a platform to help grow our business,” said Cody Hicks. “We look forward to bringing our talents to center stage in the hospitality industry and working on world-class projects across the United States.”

Hicks Design Group has worked with Chefs Daniel Boulud, Todd English, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Tom Colicchio as well as the Culinary Institute of America, Soho House, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Eataly, Google, and NBC Universal.

The creation of the Foodservice Design practice accompanies growth for the firm’s London office. Since opening an official outpost in 2016, Hospitality House EMEA has reported a 200 percent increase in revenue over nearly two years. This consistent expansion reflects the company’s pipeline of high-profile hotel, restaurant, and corporate projects.

“We strive to make food and beverage integration and activation as simple as possible for our clients,” said Hospitality House CEO Steven Kamali. “Adding an in-house foodservice design team was an organic next step for us. We anticipate growing their business by 400 percent by engaging in over 50 new projects in the coming year.”

PHOENIX–IBC Hospitality Technologies has completed integration between IBC’s proprietary software and mobile payment providers Amazon Pay and PayPal.

IBC, an OBASA Hospitality company, is a lodging B2B and B2C hospitality software and services providers globally. Its technology platform includes central-reservations system, booking engine, online revenue generation, patent-pending guest loyalty program, marketing services, a preferred partner network, and more.

“Recent integration to Amazon Pay and PayPal is giving travelers more choices in mobile payment methods. Through these programs and many more, IBC is continuing to drive value to its members,” said Pamela Barnhill, IBC founder and COO.

IBC also recently announced that it has been selected by MasterKey Alliance as the technology to power its association’s online B2B online marketplace. MasterKey will use IBC Hospitality Technologies to power its coalition of independently-owned and operated corporate housing, vacation rentals, serviced apartments, and independent hotels.

S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI) and RobecoSAM recently announced the results of the annual Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) review. The S&P Dow Jones Sustainability Index is a benchmark for corporate economic, environmental, and social performance.

IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) has been listed on the S&P Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for the second consecutive year. IHG achieved first place in RobecoSAM’s Hotels, Resorts & Cruise Lines industry group, with the highest score for the industry on its Corporate Sustainability Assessment.

“At IHG, our purpose is to provide true hospitality for everyone, and this is central to our long-standing commitment to operating our business responsibly in all aspects of our work,” said Yasmin Diamond, executive vice president of global corporate affairs at IHG. “As the gold standard for sustainability performance, we are very proud to be listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for the second year running. This serves as recognition for the hard work and dedication of our people, owners and partners around the world.”

In RobecoSAM’s Industry Leader Report, IHG scored highly in areas relating to environmental criteria, human rights, and risk and crisis management.

ROCKVILLE, Md.—Choice Hotels International has announced it will match Choice Privileges member donations to the American Red Cross. Members can donate loyalty points that convert to cash. Choice Hotels will match up to 20 million points contributed by members in support of disaster relief and recovery efforts through the end of this year.

Choice Hotels is a member of the Red Cross Disaster Responder Program, which ensures American Red Cross is prepared to respond to disasters and meet the needs of those affected anytime and anywhere across the United States.

Each year, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters around the country, providing food, shelter, and comfort to people affected by disasters during their greatest time of need. In 2017, Choice Privileges members donated to disaster relief, together raising a combined total of nearly $400,000, in addition to providing 1,000 comfort kits and blankets.

“Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Florence, and we are committed to assisting our franchisees and their guests, as well as supporting local recovery efforts,” said Patrick Pacious, president and chief executive officer, Choice Hotels. “Hospitality extends beyond hotels and into the communities where we live and work, which is why Choice is dedicated to ensuring those in need are cared for during disasters.”

Roxy, creator of a speech-enabled device built for hotels, has announced a partnership
with Redwood Systems Group, a hospitality technology provider and integrator. This
partnership will enable hotels to use a single technology provider for their in-room voice
assistant, PBX, HSIA, and CCTV needs.

The Roxy device integrates directly with Redwood Systems’ PBX offering so that guests can get information about hotel amenities and services from the device and also make internal and external calls, including emergency calls. This functionality allows Roxy to replace guestroom telephones at a similar price point. Roxy also has functionality enabling it to replace the in-room speaker, alarm clock, charging ports, and guest booklet so that by consolidating in-room hardware, hoteliers are able to cut costs and reduce clutter in guestrooms.

“We’re excited to be working with a company that has long been at the forefront of new hotel
technologies,” said Cam Urban, CEO of Roxy. “Redwood Systems is an important partner
because of their focus on future-proofed solutions.”

This announcement comes following a recent report by technology advisory and research company, Gartner, which predicts that there will be a voice-activated smart speaker in three out of four U.S. households by the end of 2020. As more guests get used to using these devices in their homes, they begin to expect them in hotel rooms as well.

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