I am sitting in the San Antonio airport writing this week’s Siegel Sez. Why am I in San Antonio? I am honored to have been invited to the first-ever Benchmark Hospitality Information Technology and Human Resources Conference. Benchmark’s Gerald Lampaert was instrumental in creating this event for Benchmark and brought in technology people from nearly 40 Benchmark properties to spend three days together. This was a great accomplishment for Gerald who is leaving his vice president of global IT role and moving back to Europe. For me it was very unique to have the human resources directors also attend. Just try to imagine me having lunch with a table full of HR people. At the opening session, I loved that Gerald singled me out for being there which was followed by enthusiastic applause. Then to add to the moment Benchmark’s COO Greg Champion addressed the audience and said, “This had better be in Siegel Sez this week.” Everyone laughed. Yes, having so many readers of Hospitality Upgrade and Hotel Online in the room and getting two shout-outs like that was quite a thrill. One of the nicest things that came from attending this event was that I met Tony Gaeta, Benchmark’s new vice president of global IT. He had been on the job exactly one day when I met him. Even though he just started this week, when I told him he needed to be at our CIO Summit in September, he absolutely agreed and was booked within 24 hours. You have to love people that make things happen. Tony puts our attendance at 60 which means this might be our biggest crowd ever. It must be Milwaukee! Thanks to Gerald and everyone from Benchmark for the invitation and putting up with me. I had a great time and it was a great event. To see Gerald handing the reins to Tony, check out the photo above.
When it comes to business I have always believed there are two ways to approach it – serious and serious, or serious and fun. We prefer the latter. If you visit http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com often, no doubt you’ve noticed we profile industry hotshots. Our newest hotshot, Laurent Idrac, is a must read! Laurent is the CIO from Accor in Paris and a regular at our CIO Summit. We thought we had gotten to know him well, but some of his answers absolutely amazed me. Who would have guessed? To read our latest hotshot, please click here. I think I might become a fan of French films.
Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s latest on the technology happenings around the industry. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what.
by: Jon Inge
Systems News in Plain English from Jon Inge
TOP O’ THE NEWS
- Is Glass the answer for guest service? -------------------------- Have you had an opportunity to try Google Glass yet? I took advantage of iTesso’s demo unit in its HITEC booth, and while it’s technically intriguing I have mixed feelings about it, both for staff use in guest service and for guests to wear as a guide to the property.
For one thing, as a device it doesn’t really work with regular glasses. Because it sits on them at an awkward angle that makes it hard to read its small screen area, it seems inevitably limited to those with good vision (or contact lenses). Those of us oldsters who can no longer wear contacts need not apply.
Many aspects of its capabilities are intriguing. It seems to hold the promise of that one essential app I’ve longed for at conferences, one that will scan the faces in front of me, search my contacts list and unobtrusively pop up their names. Heaven… Glass’s portable, hands-free access to key information is also promising in so many other ways, whether driven by iBeacons or GPS coordinates for guests on a self-guided tour of a city or of a property’s art collection (see the stories below).
But some other things detract from its appeal in a practical sense. One is that it must, absolutely must, be fitted with an LED indicator to let people know when it’s recording a photo or video. How Google missed this essential factor to its social acceptance is beyond comprehension; people hate being photographed unawares. Another is the somewhat glazed look that comes over a user’s face when she’s reading the screen; it’s clear that she’s distracted, and not really looking at the guest. (As an aside, at Westin Hotels 30 years ago, the same concern led us to drop a wild idea we had about projecting check-in screens onto fold-up glass screens in the counter; the agents would no longer be looking down at their workstations but they’d still seem glazed and detached as they focused on the glass instead.)
Worse than that, to me at least, is that, for data queries, Glass’s convenient form factor mandates an inconvenient and obtrusive voice-controlled user interface, which is a real turnoff for a guest. Asking a question of a guest service agent and having him glaze over, stare into the middle distance and start having a one-way conversation with his glasses seems to me the very antithesis of guest service. I’ve said it before: guest service requires eye contact – real eye contact – and that seems hard to achieve with the way Glass works now. Maybe there’ll be a better Version 2.0.
But I still want my face recognition app. **
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
- Graeme Barrit joins iTesso as CEO - IDeaS announces winners of its IDeaS Cornell Revenue Management Scholarship - Roger Crellin hired by FCS as executive director --------------------------
- Visit Mesa chooses Regatta’s booking engine for its official destination website - Sabre certifies Guest Connect Booking Engine with TripAdvisor’s TripConnect - Sabre introduces Meta Connect bid management service for optimal positioning on cost-per-click meta search sites - trivago launches local platforms in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand - YTL Hotels expands use of TravelClick’s reservations services at 8 hotels - Hyatt properties sign on to Expedia’s Egencia Preferred Rate (EPR) program --------------------------
- Regatta launches new booking engine for tours and attractions - Shore Hotel, Santa Monica, implements Flip.to - Two Open Hospitality hotel websites win Web design awards - Voyat launches V-CRM and V-Direct guest analytics and business intelligence products - HeBS Digital announces Dynamic Rate Marketing service to place real-time hotel inventory availability/pricing in marketing initiatives --------------------------
- AB Hotels selects eRevMax’s RateTiger Shopper for two U.K. sites - GreenPark Hotels and Resorts implements eRevMax’s channel management software at all five properties - Rainmaker integrates TrustYou online reputation management metrics into GuestREV - Busy Rooms announces certified integration with trivago - Kempinski signs new global framework agreement for EzRMS --------------------------
- The James implements Groupize’s Group Booking Engine -------------------------- The James has implemented Groupize’s GBE (Group Booking Engine) for its properties in Chicago, New York and Miami, replacing static eRFP forms with the ability to quote dynamic group rates in real time to group planners. http://www.jameshotels.com, http://www.groupizesolutions.com **
F&B/POINT OF SALE
- San Ramon Marriott installs Clear Sky Software’s BEVERAGE inventory management software -------------------------- The San Ramon Marriott, San Ramon, Calif., has installed Clear Sky Software’s BEVERAGE inventory management software. http://www.marriott.com, http://www.clearskysoftware.com **
- Aloft Hotel, Cupertino, introducing a robot butler - Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine offers guests Google Glass for guided tours, other services - Montcalm London Marble Arch equips staff with Google Glass - Lavu launches hospitality extension of its iPad®-based POS - Newmarket adding Zingle’s guest texting service to HotSOS - Umstead Hotel and Spa signs with Bulk TV & Internet for DIRECTV Residential Experience - Courtyard by Marriott Irvine Spectrum installs Guest-tek Internet, FTG programming and myAway link to guests’ personal devices --------------------------
- Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park implements InvoTech Systems’ UHF-RFID Uniform System -------------------------- The Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park has implemented InvoTech Systems’ UHF-RFID Uniform System to manage control of its 6,000-plus uniforms, in conjunction with White Conveyors U-Pick-It System to automate uniform distribution to each staff member. The system uses Impinj UHF-RFID readers to read durable waterproof Fujitsu UHF-RFID laundry tags attached to the uniforms during initial staff garment fittings. http://www.hrrocksinonorthfieldpark.com, http://www.invotech.com **
- Hilton Barra in Rio de Janeiro installing Telkonet’s EcoSmart -------------------------- The Hilton Barra in Rio de Janeiro is installing Telkonet’s EcoSmart technology in all 298 guestrooms, all lobby and conference areas and 14,000 square feet of meeting space. Close to Rio’s planned Olympic Park, the hotel will open in November and will be a sponsored hotel for travelers attending the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. http://www.hilton.com,http://www.telkonet.com **
And now for you-know-what...
During a recent outing in New Orleans, a woman sneaked off to visit a fortune teller of some local repute. In a dark and hazy room, peering into a crystal ball, the mystic delivered grave news.
She said, "There's no easy way to say this, so I'll just be blunt: Prepare yourself to be a widow. Your husband will die a violent and horrible death this year."
Visibly shaken, the woman stared at the fortune teller's lined face, then at the single flickering candle, then down at her hands. She took a few deep breaths to compose herself. She simply had to know. She met the fortune teller's gaze, steadied her voice, and asked, "Will I be acquitted?"
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