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Siegel Sez

April 24, 2015

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Hospitality

If you are reading this you are probably somehow connected to the travel industry or are a frequent traveler yourself. Everyone who travels has stories; here is one that I was connected to but not the traveler.  Someone was traveling to the United States from Switzerland. She was booked on Delta but because of airlines codeshare she was traveling on KLM. She checked in at Zurich, showed her proper travel documentation (passport and visa) and got on her plane to Amsterdam where she was connecting to travel to the states. She gets to Amsterdam, goes to her connecting flight and when she tries to get onboard, the Amsterdam version of TSA tells her she is not allowed to board, her ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization Visa) which was valid until November 2015 was denied. Denied? How could it have been good in Zurich but two hours later it wasn’t?  Well it was denied and when this happens it is a very helpless feeling. Nobody at the airport can help, nobody to call, just a truly helpless feeling. All you can do is go back home except you are in Amsterdam, not Zurich. Big kudos to Delta for jumping in and helping out when KLM wanted to charge $700 for a flight back to Zurich. Traveler in Vain is now my favorite class of service. So she went back to Zurich and she had no way to get an explanation as to why the ESTA was denied. Of course, since the U.S. Government did this, I tried to help. Ever try to call the government? Homeland Security? Not possible. But a friend told me that since this was government related I should call my senator. I called Washington, D.C., and asked to speak to Senator Johnny Isakson. This is not as simple as it sounds, but I had advice as to who I should call in his Atlanta office, which I did. He was helpful. He warned me that Homeland Security operates uniquely and his office really can’t do much. He agreed to contact the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland as she had to apply for a different travel visa and that turned out to also be quite helpful. To make a long story short, over three weeks later and she is on a plane to the United States at this very moment. Senators, immigration lawyers, friends, friends of friends, anybody you thought could help was contacted but it was an unbelievable uphill battle. I’ve heard stories about people traveling to the U.S. and when they get here are not allowed in. What do they do? Sleep at the airport? Get on the next flight back to where they came from? And who pays for this? What a learning experience this has been, hopefully something that only has to be experienced once. If you have stories like this that you would like to share, please send a note to rich@hospitalityupgrade.com. Some stories that I have heard were unbelievable. Who knows, maybe I can get them all published and shared.
 
I love this time of year. Every conversation seems to have something to do with HITEC. Less than two months away and the way the industry is booming now along with the attractiveness of Austin I wouldn’t be surprised if all attendance records are broken. Last year I did a session with CIOs and CMOs sharing the stage and it was eye opening and provided a better understanding of how both these roles continue to evolve. We have been asked to update this session for this year and will do it on Tuesday to take advantage of all those coming from the HSMAI ROC conference over to HITEC. It will be amazing and of course with appropriate surprises. Put it on your calendar. If you are exhibiting at HITEC and want to boost your booth traffic please email anne@hospitalityupgrade.com. We are the only magazine that is in the HITEC registration bag of every attendee, which is a great addition to our more than 40,000 readers who follow technology all over the world. It is easily our most popular issue of the year.  Hopefully we will see you in Austin and if you are there please come by booth No. 425 to see us. Fingers crossed that the weather cooperates; we have a ton of parties to attend!

Here now is the real reason we are here, the once again very opinionated Jon Inge with his opening critiques of the industry along with his review of all that is happening in the technology world. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what.

Rich@hospitalityupgrade.com
 
 

Technology NEWSSTAND

 
Systems News in Plain English from Jon Inge

 

TOP O’ THE NEWS

- Keeping current with technology: obsolescence is risk
- Alibaba announces plans for cloud-based hotel platform
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Why don’t hotels update their systems more often?  Probably for the same reason that I’m still using a 6-year-old laptop: the all-too-human ability to rationalize inertia.  After all, it costs money and causes disruption to replace older technology (even if that’s only a PC running on Windows XP, which I still find in hotels even though it’s an automatic PCI fail… and no, my laptop isn’t running XP), whereas the benefits of replacing it – lower risk of failure, PCI certification, the opportunity to do more things more efficiently – are financially unquantifiable.  We can easily convince ourselves that the old systems are stable and do what we need for now, workarounds notwithstanding.

The same is true for vendors’ need to keep up with technology developments, though obviously they have even more invested in their current technology stack than do hotels.  Max Rayner’s presentations this spring at the HTNG Conference in San Antonio and at Rich’s Vendor Summit in San Francisco made a compelling argument for the use of newer technologies that offer greater flexibility, more dynamic interactions with third-party systems and much greater performance at affordable prices.  Max believes that an approach like this is essential if hotel systems are to be able to compete successfully with the CRM and marketing technology used by the OTAs, and that without it we have little chance of providing the instant-response, customized offers to search inquiries that will attract our guests.  But switching to newer technologies is just as traumatic for a vendor as it is for a hotel.

You may not be able to make a financial case for keeping up to date, but you can certainly make a business case for doing so.  Staying with older systems means that you tend to lose sight of better ways of doing things, because it seems so natural to do them the old way.  But obsolescence is risk.  Hotels and vendors adopting the latest technology have an immediate advantage in speed of development and flexible integration with other systems and other data sources.  Older systems have trouble coping with the highly fluid dynamic relationships that characterize current trends in customer support and marketing.  They’re also harder to support; the older programmers needed to support them will retire one day, and the best and brightest new software developers aren’t interested in working on old technologies.  The same applies to the best and brightest hotel staff; they want to use the best technology they can to leverage their talents, and won’t stay at properties that slow them down with old approaches.

Consultant Bob Lewis claims that the idea that humans only use 90 percent of our brains is false.  He believes we use 100 percent: 10 percent for thinking and 90 percent for rationalizing.  In this case the rationalization is that there’s always something else that’s more urgent than the conversion – right up until the time when there isn’t.   And doing it as a fire drill when you have no alternative is always far more expensive and disruptive than planning for it.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go shopping for a new laptop.
**
Given the rise of China’s hotel industry and technology companies, it was only a matter of time before Chinese hotel systems brought new ideas to the global market, and Alibaba Group has announced that its alitrip.com application will be targeted at the “hotel of the future.”  Launched last October Alitrip “aims to use network and Big Data technology to enhance customer service and improve innkeepers’ ability to attract travelers and retain them as loyal guests.”  One specific product mentioned is “Post Post Pay,” which allows guests vetted by Sesame, Alibaba’s credit agency, to reserve rooms through Alitrip without paying a deposit and to use express checkout, their folio being settled directly from their Alipay account.  Alibaba also plans to use its Aliyun cloud-computing unit as part of Alitrip, creating a cloud-based platform for hotels incorporating online services such as check-in, catering, sales, reservations and membership programs.
**




 

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

 

- Mike Blake is new CEO at HTNG
- Frank C. Peugh Jr. is HFTP’s 2015 CHTP of the Year
- Eric Peters, Winnie Cheng, Eric Korff join Flip.to’s design team
- Gary Etherington hired by FCS as national sales director for U.S.
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For more information on People on the Move for 04/24/15
 

GUEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

 

- BLVD Hotels picks SkyTouch for three properties
- Maestro PMS announces subscription pricing, Analytics BI enhancements
- Westcorp selects Ariane’s self-service kiosks for two properties
- Proxce has wins Innovator Spotlight Award from The Next Big Thing Travel & Hospitality Technology
- Infor releases version 3.7.1 of HMS
- Chickasaw Nation picks Agilysys’ LMS and InfoGenesis for WinStar World Casino and Resort, Thackerville, Okla.
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For more information on Guest Management Systems for 04/24/15
 

RESERVATIONS

 

- Wyndham migrating to Sabre’s SynXis CRS
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Wyndham Hotel Group is migrating its central reservations systems to Sabre’s SynXis.  Beginning in late 2015, the process of migrating more than 7,600 hotel properties will take place over an 18-month to 24-month period.  http://www.wyndhamworldwide.com, http://www.sabre.com
**


 

MARKETING/MANAGEMENT

 

- Clairvoyix upgrades its Hospitality Solution automated post-stay surveys
- Flip.to integrates Advocacy Platform with Availpro's Smart Booking Engine
- Kaptivating enhances Konnector platform
- Hotel Covell in L.A. chooses GuestCentric for digital marketing
- HeBS Digital receives six IAC Awards
- FCS releases Vega guest intelligence system
- TravelClick receives10 Horizon Interactive Awards, two IAC Awards and Webby Awards Official Honoree status
- FindMyCarrots updates semantic search website engine
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For more information on Marketing/Management for 04/24/15
 

REVENUE MANAGEMENT

 

- Sallés Hotels signs with SiteMinder for eight properties
- eRevMax integrates with roomlia mobile booking app
- Elite Hospitality Group picks eRevMax’s LIVE Integrated Management Dashboard for seven properties
- Accor acquires FASTBOOKING
- RezNext to distribute custom version of MaximRMS e.FLEX in India, Middle East, North Africa and SE Asia
- My Place Hotels of America selects Revcaster
- Duetto integrates with Trust International’s CRS
- Hotel ICON in Hong Kong implements Duetto
- IDeaS integrates TravelClick’s Demand360 customers’ subscription data
- Wyndham to roll out Infor EzLite revenue management to more than 4,500 hotels in United States and Canada
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For more information on Revenue Management for 04/24/15
 

SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

 

- Ayres Hotels rolling out PRM (Pipeline Response Manager) to 22 properties
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Ayres Hotels is rolling out Groupize Solutions’ PRM (Pipeline Response Manager) for all 22 properties, in conjunction with the release of a new website that replaces its RFP form with Groupize’s GBE (Group Booking Engine).  Ayres Hotels operates 22 hotels in Southern California.  http://www.ayreshotels.com, http://www.groupizesolutions.com
**


 

SPA/GOLF/LEISURE ACTIVITIES

 

- Carillon Spa chooses SpaSoft
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The Carillon Spa in Miami Beach, Fla., has chosen PAR Springer-Miller Systems’ SpaSofthttp://www.carillonhotel.com, http://www.partech.com
**


 

GUEST SERVICES

 

- INNCOM used by three out of four award-winning designers of guestrooms and public spaces at HI Connect event
- Radisson Blu rolling out Media Box digital library to Central Europe region
- Intelity enhancing ICE to send guest request notifications to hotel staff using Apple Watch™
- Hotel WiFi Test launches Hotel WiFi Connect partner certification program
- Hyatt Place Atlanta Airport North installs FlyteBoard
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For more information on Guest Services for 04/24/15
 

BACK OFFICE

 

- Foundation LogicSystems partners with RFID tag vendor HID Global
- City Hotel in Ljubljana installs InvoTech Systems’ Linen System
- Cherokee Nation Entertainment installs InvoTech at Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland
- Magnolia Hotel Group implements Aptech’s Targetvue and Profitvue for 11 hotels
- HOTELbeat adds multilanguage translation module
- Top hotel magazine gives ABreez by Mobile Simple a Silver Top hotel Star Award 2015
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For more information on Back Office for 04/24/15
 

COMMUNICATIONS/INFRASTRUCTURE

 

- HoistLocatel acquiring Swisscom Hospitality Services
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Sweden-based HoistLocatel is acquiring Swisscom Hospitality Services.  The resulting company, Hoist Group, will be headquartered in Stockholm and Paris, and aims to become the European leader for convergent IP solutions in these sectors with a strong North American presence.  HoistLocatel provides software, hardware and leasing solutions to EMEA’s hospitality industry.  Swisscom Hospitality Service currently serves more than 2,000 sites and 260,000 guestrooms in the EMEA region and in North America.  http://www.swisscom.ch/en/business/hospitality.html, http://www.hoistgroup.com
**


 

F&B/POINT OF SALE

 

- Sheraton Commander implements Social Tables
- Oracle introduces MICROS Workstation 6

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The Sheraton Commander in Cambridge, Mass., has implemented Social Tables. http://www.sheratoncommander.com, http://www.socialtables.com
**
Oracle has introduced its MICROS Workstation 6, targeted at hospitality and select retail venues to work in concert with mobile, cloud and social media. For hospitality businesses, Workstation 6 is positioned as part of an integrated strategy built around content delivery, moving beyond POS transactions to offer guest recommendations, roll out special promotions and personalize the guest experience. The workstation can share digital content from a variety of sources with both staff members and guests, from displaying a training video for a new worker to helping a guest view a spa package or menu special being offered. Workstation 6 operates under Microsoft’s Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro system, uses an Intel Atom processor and includes six USB ports for peripherals such as printers, scanners and cash drawers. A modular, integrated, three-track magnetic card reader allows for 3DES or AES encryption upon swiping. http://www.oracle.com
**


 

You-Know-What

 

And now for you-know-what…

One of the airlines recently introduced a special half-fare rate for wives accompanying their husbands on business trips.

Anticipating some valuable testimonials, the publicity department of the airline sent out letters to all the wives of businessmen who used the special rates, asking how they enjoyed their trip.

Responses are still pouring in asking, "What trip?"