As one of the leading innovators of technology in venues over the last 20 years The Digital Line (TDL) and audico co-founder George Vaughan has been involved with a broad scope of initiatives, across multiple sectors.
George Vaughan, says, “Much of my interest has always been around cross-sector technology - how certain systems work from industry to industry. I’ve always believed that understanding what people use at home or in their everyday lives is key to any successful technology deployment you make as a business.
“I remember 2015 being a significant year in terms of this approach. The rise of contactless and Google Pay a few years earlier was redefining the way people travelled and shopped. Oyster cards in particular improved operations for TFL and I quickly realised that many of the people attending venues in London were probably using a cashless alternative to bring them to the stadium but were then being asked to conduct the majority of transactions once inside with cash. The queues for the cashpoint machine, where people would use the same card to draw out cash that they could use to pay for their food, drinks and merchandising meant many were taking twice as long just to buy what they wanted!
“I was working at the RFU to prepare Twickenham Stadium for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup tournament England were hosting that year. In conjunction with one of the key sponsors of the event, Mastercard, we had made the venue the first open loop, fully contactless rugby stadium in the world, which also included launching Apple Pay in the hospitality sector. No small feat at that time given that Apple had only released the payment platform in 2014.”
Whilst George’s work went onto to help Twickenham win 7 industry awards between 2015 and 2018, including The Stadium Business Summit Best Stadium Award and Best Technology Award, in 2017 he decided to co-launch The Digital Line (TDL), a commercial research, information, and technical innovation consulting firm. The intention was to offer a full range of professional services to help companies in various industries structure their plans for upcoming technological endeavours and support the deployment of critical projects in a more creative and cost-effective manner.
“In 2018 I was then given the opportunity to work with another major global brand in Ascot Racecourse and for the next 5 years, as their Head of Technology, focused on a host of venue initiatives including a full POS upgrade with tech partner Kappture, the first voice driven hospitality solution to corporate boxes in association with Amazon and audico and also the largest portrait outdoor LED display ever installed in a European venue with Samsung and Digital Media Technologies.
“In addition, I worked with Bose Professional to revolutionise the audio setup at the racecourse, deploying one of the largest hardware/software solutions ever rolled out by the company in a European venue and engineered some really exciting ticketing initiatives – which included the completely original Ascot Golden Ticket campaign in 2020 – helping bring true NFC through Apple/Google wallet for the first time in racing to people at home, with tech partners, ProntoCX and Skidata. We even went so far as to pilot some bleeding edge, real time people management technology from global firm, Utterberry, who’s CEO, Heba Bevan OBE is a Royal Enclosure member. That was some serious, next level, clever stuff!
“It was a very fruitful period of transformation and innovation and I will always be grateful to the board and the trustees at Ascot for supporting me on that journey.”
Since the start of 2023, Vaughan has turned his hand to several new projects, still retaining his interest in venues and hospitality, but extending his reach to retail, education, sustainability and healthcare. It’s perhaps testament to his ethos around cross-sector technology that many of his collaborative partners in tech have been with him on his journey in venues but have also helped facilitate some great initiatives in health care and wider hospitality such as hotels.
“I’ve been fortunate to be work with some of the world’s largest tech brands, many of whom have been crucial across all the sectors I’ve worked in, including Amazon, Samsung, Bose, ProntoCX, Kappture, Skidata, Utterberry, Withings, Elavon, Mastercard, Visa and BPCS.
Vaughan has also conceded he is excited by the opportunity of TDL collaborating alongside HOSPA later this year, at the Elavon connext event in September and he believes this association will help to further elevate the company’s profile as well as keeping the business up to date with the most current industry trends and developments.
“With TDL and the A.I. driven platform, audico, we will begin showcasing some ground-breaking solutions in the coming months as we continue to build towards servicing more defined verticals. It’s all about being different whilst remembering that technology should be there to make everyone’s lives easier, not just the young or wealthy.”
audico is the hands-free, voice activated platform that works in conjunction with Alexa Smart Properties (ASP) to keep residents informed, entertained, and connected. Through simple voice commands those in care can ask for room service, housekeeping or assistance and control other smart devices as well as stay in touch with loved ones. Their success led to putting the solution and other companion technologies like digital hubs and smart monitoring systems for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s into care homes and other healthcare locations in the UK and Europe, transforming the senior living landscape.
“From there we started to extend the solution to other sectors because fundamentally, whether you are in a corporate box, a care home, or a hotel suite, you will always want some form of service or assistance. The platform also seamlessly integrates into a range of existing systems, with a minimum of fuss, allowing businesses to manage their entire estate using a range of natural vocal instructions.”
Thanks to TDL’s partnership with Elavon, audico now offers a ground-breaking pay-by-voice capability that will boost your business revenue, streamline operations, and enhance customer satisfaction. This unique feature makes it easier than ever for users to complete payments for their requests, eliminating the need for physical transactions and reducing wait times.
But it doesn’t stop there. Vaughan concluded that this was only the start and September would see the launch of a very special module of the audico platform, which he believes will change the premium hospitality space.
“What we are going to begin deploying in the next quarter of 2023 is a connected solution that we believe could completely transform the hospitality market, hitting a price point that has never been realised before, so watch this space!”
Hemlata Narasimhan, Elavon Merchant Services President in Europe, says, “Virtual assistant technology is the future of hospitality, and we’re thrilled to be powering the payments behind audico. This is all about improving the customer experience, and a large part of this is seamless payments. We’re pleased to be partnering with The Digital Line to make this happen.
“audico is unique in the UK market, and has already been implemented at the world-famous Ascot Racecourse in Southeast England, where premium customers can call for betting services, order food and drinks, and purchase merchandise from their private boxes all with a few simple words to the voice-activated device. The audible command is then relayed to staff as a Card Not Present transaction, and payment is made using a pre-determined account preference such as a credit card.
“audico is also being explored as a room service solution in hotels, and in premium hospitality areas at other venues and stadiums, as well as providing a landmark series of services in the healthcare industry”.
Our innovative, pay-by-voice capability will drive revenue, further increase operational efficiencies, and elevate the customer experience in hotels and hospitality venues.
audico is a game-changer that offers businesses a competitive edge in the market. By providing an effortless and seamless experience, audico can help increase sales, reduce costs, and enhance customer satisfaction, making it the perfect solution for any business looking to stay ahead of the game. Not only do we offer audico hospitality providing an award-nominated voice and touch concierge service to guests looking for a more tailored and elevated experience. Built upon the Alexa Smart Properties (ASP) platform and underpinned by AWS, audico is safe and secure and represents a revolutionary step forward in the world of premium hospitality.
From Room Service to Point-of-Sale and integrated payments (with our acquiring bank partner, Elavon) audico is the only cross- sector system covering the complete needs of hotels and hospitality.
George Vaughan, says, “This partnership represents a unique opportunity for two recognised brands to collaborate on initiatives that will revolutionise multiple business verticals, including hospitality, venues and health care, delivering a level of digital transformation not seen before.”
Technology is deeply embedded in our modern civilisation. It has become an essential tool for progress, innovation, and problem-solving. If human beings continue to strive for advancement and improvement, technology will remain a fundamental pillar of our future development and TDL is thrilled to be a part of it.
Elavon Financial Services DAC, trading as Elavon Merchant Services, is authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and with deemed variation of permission. Subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and limited regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details of the Temporary Permissions Regime, which allows EEA-based firms to operate in the UK for a limited period while seeking full authorisation, are available on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website.
Elavon Financial Services DAC, trading as Elavon Merchant Services, is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.