San Jose, Calif. — Expedia.com Cafe made its debut at California's San Jose International Airport in the heart of Silicon Valley. The high-tech eatery was designed by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based architectural and design firm Fitch/AAD, in conjunction with Bethesda, Md.-based HMSHost, which operates food, beverage and retail concessions throughout the world.
The cafe uses a variety of technologies to draw and entertain visitors, including a plasma screen monitor that runs continuous video, and sound domes that provide audio to visitors who stand directly under them. Other features of the travel-themed restaurant include holographic vinyl flooring, the coloring of which changes depending on one's angle of view; and laptop friendly tables that contain connection units with two phone jacks and two electrical outlets. Sitting at the tables, customers with a toll-free or local access number can plug in their laptops free of charge.
Bethesda, Md. — Storetrax.com hired a new CEO and a new senior vice president of sales and business development. Incoming CEO Thomas McCabe will manage day-to-day operations and be directly responsibility for the financial performance and long-term growth of Storetrax, a retail-focused listing site. Incoming senior VP Marc Willson will lead the sales division and develop strategic partnerships and alliances.
McCabe joins Storetrax from global information technology firm GRC International. Willson previously served as vice president of merchandising for eCampus.com.
Seattle and Ann Arbor, Mich. — Amazon.com and Borders Group recently joined forces to re-launch Borders.com as a co-branded website powered by Amazon.com's e-commerce platform.
The site, expected to debut in August, will feature the books, music, video and DVDs available at Seattle-based Amazon.com, as well as content unique to Borders.com, including store location information and in-store event calendars. (Amazon.com will continue to operate as an independent site.)
Under the agreement, customers of the co-branded site will have access to Amazon.com's editorial reviews, personalization features and recommendations, one-click ordering, and other site features. They may also receive notification of upcoming author events and musical performances scheduled to take place in local Borders stores. Borders Group is based in Ann Arbor.
Charlotte, N.C. — AvidXchange, a locally based technology company that provides e-procurement and bid management tools for commercial real estate, and RentOnTheDot, a national online rental reservation system, announced a joint venture.
The new partnership will allow AvidXchange customers to search, compare pricing, confirm availability, and reserve equipment from national rental companies throughout North America. AvidXChange also announced an agreement with Stamford, Conn.-based GE Capitol that enables AvidXchange customers to access certain GE Capital services, including off balance sheet financing for business transactions; credit protection and insurance.
St. Paul, Minn. — Smarte Carte, a concessionaire of baggage carts, strollers and electronic lockers, launched www.smartecarte.com. The site features new ways to integrate locker and stroller services and offers tools designed to improve security and customer service while reducing costs.