The last two hotels I stayed in were a Microtel Inn located in Augusta, Ga., and then a Fairfield Inn located in Jeffersonville, Ind. Both hotels were great. They were typical limited-service properties with basic rooms and the free continental breakfast in the lobby, but what made them great was that both properties had the friendliest staffs. Actually, it wasn’t just that they were friendly, but what I would call engaging. They didn’t just answer any questions I had; they asked questions about me, about my trip and where I live. If I owned a hotel, I would make sure any employee that came in contact with a guest would not just smile, but if he or she were passing a guest on property, he or she would actually say hello. It just makes the whole experience that much better. These hotels probably made a bigger impact because of my Delta flight up to Louisville last Thursday. I had a friend booked on a later flight trying to get on my flight, but standby on the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby is unbelievable. I tried joking with the gate agent trying to convince her to get my friend on the flight even though I know it is all automated, but you never know unless you ask, right? She was about as rude and non-engaging an employee for the travel industry as I had ever met. My friend and I laughed when I said that someone was definitely having a bad day. Miraculously standby cleared and as we got on the plane I said thank you to the gate agent. She gave me a strange look and said nothing. Honestly, if someone who has to deal with the public is having that bad a day, I would have sent them home.
On a lighter note, traveling up to Louisville for Kentucky Derby weekend is an experience. You think there is normally a problem with room for carry-ons in the overhead? Imagine a plane with over 50 hat boxes? Those things are gigantic! But if you have never been to the Derby, hopefully you have seen it on TV. It is as much about hats as it is about the race. Speaking of the race, every year I pick a horse and change my mind a hundred times before the race. I hadn’t cashed a ticket in 10 years. This year a month out I said I was going to bet Orb. Nothing would change my mind, not my friends, not the experts, not anybody. Believe it or not, I didn’t and I finally cashed a winning ticket at the Derby! Who said miracles can’t happen!
As much as I obviously love staying in limited-service hotels, next week I get to experience Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. I have been invited to the Newmarket Users’ Group where not only will I be attending, but they have trusted me to lead a panel with industry consultants as we deal with the challenges facing the industry. This will be fun and if I do some things right, hopefully entertaining as well. I love users’ groups and Newmarket is one of my favorites. Las Vegas here we come.
On a somber note, last Wednesday was one very bad day. I was notified that Fred Beck, a past president of HFTP, past COO of the Georgia Hotel Association and fellow Atlanta resident, lost his battle with cancer. Fred was one of those people that you meet early in your career, befriends you and you always feel connected with. He will be missed. Then a couple of hours later I got another note letting me know that Jeff Henschel the director of IT for Benchmark Hospitality had died unexpectedly. I met Jeff when he was with Marcus Corporation and then Destination Hotels and Resorts. We had been in many committee meetings together and had shared a few drinks along the way. He was only 49 years old. Fred and Jeff will both be missed; they made our industry better and were both great people.
Here now is the real reason we are here, consultant Jon Inge’s technology review of the past two weeks. I stress he is a consultant, read his opening comments and then if you are a vendor of technology start your consulting bashing. 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
- Hotel system sales presentations: where’s the enthusiasm? -------------------------- A bunch of us consultants were sitting around comparing notes the other night – you can guess the type of location – and realized that we’ve all noticed a common phenomenon recently: few people try to sell anything anymore. It’s not that there aren’t good systems on the market; there clearly are, and in enough variety to offer real choices to any of our clients in any market segment. It’s just that the sales process has become static and reactive, lacking energy and focus.
This is not to cast aspersions at all sales representatives; most work hard to respond to RFPs and prepare proposals, often laced with enticing discounts. When called upon to make a system presentation, they clearly know their system inside out and can always spend more time than is available going through the functionality list. The problem is that (with a few, memorable exceptions) this is too often passive; “Here’s our system, here are its functions, we think it’s great, can I have the order?”
What’s missing is both a laser focus on the prospective client’s specific needs, and the passion to address them and really make a sales pitch. When there are several viable alternatives (and there almost invariably are) it’s not enough to show the standard system and see how the client reacts; the sales reps should know what their company stands for, where its focus is, what makes it shine and stand out, and why it’s the best solution for this specific set of needs. “I understand what you’re looking for. We’ve specialized in that area for years, here are the three functions we offer that truly handle that in depth, and here’s how and where they’re going to make you money!”
In common with my colleagues, I try to summarize each client’s environment and needs for the vendors up front, and list the major scenarios that a new system must be able to handle. But I’ve even had a vendor dismiss that at the start of a presentation, saying “You don’t want us to follow this, do you? We’ll just start from the top of our standard demonstration.” Here’s another quote recounted at our informal round table: “How many systems do you set per year as a sales goal?” “Well, we seem to get about 40 to 50 a year.” Really? “Seem to get?” If you targeted 80 to 100 and really went after them do you think you might get more?
We’re not looking for over-the-top razzle-dazzle, glib promises and glossed-over details, just some evidence that the sales person has read the RFP, taken the time to research the property, understood the demo scenarios, prepared the system to show them, focused the presentation with the client’s needs front and center, and really cares, passionately, about meeting those needs and closing the sale. Too much to ask?
I look forward to my next RFP process with interest. **
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
- Tom Stoffo, director of information technology at Mainsail Lodging & Development, named CHTP of the Year - Matt Neff promoted to executive director of sales, North America at innRoad - Sandee Swearingen is innRoad’s new director of sales, southeast region - Susan Cotton hired by innRoad as director of sales, northeast region - Katherine Blaisdell appointed vice president, technical services at Orient-Express Hotels - Mark Swetman promoted to vice president, global sales, Americas at Pegasus Solutions - John Owens promoted to senior vice president, distribution sales at Pegasus Solutions - Prashant Menon promoted to vice president – sales, Asia Pacific at eRevMax --------------------------
- Marriott International picks MICROS OPERA as standard GMS to be used in all Marriott brands worldwide - Best Western adds MICROS Opera to list of preferred hosted PMS providers - Best Western Premier Petion-Ville opens in Haiti with MSI’s WinPM - Magnuson Hotels names Roomkey as exclusive recommended GMS for 2,000 hotels - Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport and Hyatt Regency Chicago add HeadsUp FD to front desk operations - Patton Hospitality Management picks SPI Software as vacation ownership technology platform --------------------------
- Roamba.com selects SPI Orange as central reservation system - Pegasus Solutions sells commission processing financial services division to H.I.G. Capital -------------------------- Roamba.com, an online travel agency dealing exclusively with timeshare rentals, has selected SPI Orange as its central reservation system. Roamba.com specializes in offering multiroom resort vacation rentals. http://www.Roamba.com, http://www.spiinc.com ** Pegasus Solutions has sold its commission processing financial services division, Pegasus Financial Services, to H.I.G. Capital, LLC. http://www.pegs.com **
- Choice Hotels signs buuteeq as exclusive provider of digital marketing services - Milestone Internet Marketing receives three IAC awards from WMA - REBEL Travel Corp launches OTA Analyzer for Hotels - ZDirect redesigns Forms Center services - Flip.to unveils new mobile landing page - TrustYou announces TrustYou Comp Index online benchmark - LeisureLink integrates ReviewPro's Global Review Index benchmark into LeisureLink MarketSpan platform --------------------------
- Leonardo Hotels extends contract for RateTiger to cover additional 20 properties -------------------------- Leonardo Hotels has extended its contract with eRevMax’s RateTiger to cover the additional 20 properties it has acquired from the QMH Hotel Germany Group. The portfolio will also benefit from RateTiger’s RTCorp real-time market rate data, to monitor rates for various properties and competitors across hundreds of selected sales channels. Leonardo Hotels operates 44 hotels in Germany. http://www.leonardo-hotels.com, http://www.erevmax.com **
SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING
- Stonebridge Companies implements hotel SalesPro across 47-property portfolio - Lanyon adopted by five new chains: NH Hoteles, Kimpton, Jumeirah Group, Larkspur Hotels and ONYX Hospitality -------------------------- Stonebridge Companies has implemented hotel SystemsPro’s hotel SalesPro Sales and Catering system across its 47-property portfolio. Stonebridge’s portfolio covers eight states and operates under franchise licenses from Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and InterContinental. http://www.sbcos.com, http://www.hotelsystemspro.com ** Lanyon announced five new major hotel chain clients for its lead management and RFP response software: NH Hoteles, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Jumeirah Group, Larkspur Hotels and ONYX Hospitality. http://www.lanyon.com **
F&B/POINT OF SALE
- Shift4 releases full integration with newest version of JDA Software Group Store system -------------------------- Shift4 has added JDA Software Group as its newest preferred partner, releasing full integration including support for tokenization and point-to-point encryption (P2PE) with the newest version of JDA Store, formerly JDA Point-of-Sale. Shift4’s DOLLARS ON THE NET payment gateway original interfaces with JDA’s POS offerings were mainly client specific to support features requested by individual merchants, but last year Shift4 released full integration to JDA Customer Engagement. These recent development efforts earned Shift4 a JDA Top Co-Innovation Excellence award. http://www.jda.com, http://www.shift4.com **
- Hyatt upgrades mobile app to integrate more guest experiences - Intelity to launch new ICE Sapphire in-room guest service platform on June 14 - PARKROYAL on Pickering in Singapore installs Bartech minibars in all rooms - Gaylord Hotels completes deployment of Eleven Wireless guest Internet management software --------------------------
- MGM Resorts International picks Mobilitie for high-density Wi-Fi networks at all Las Vegas properties - Canalta Hotels selects RoamingAround to improve mobile phone network coverage -------------------------- MGM Resorts International has selected Mobilitie LLC, in collaboration with Cisco Systems, to create a high-density Wi-Fi network; Mobilitie will deploy, own and operate the system, which includes services such as location-based and push advertising, faster connectivity to reduce battery drain in mobile devices, automatic Wi-Fi connections and delivery of customized information directly to guests' devices. Implementation at Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and The Mirage was completed at the end of 2012; Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor and Excalibur will be online by late summer 2013. The installations cover the low-rise public spaces, including pools, casinos, lobbies and restaurants, and will also soon be available in the guestrooms. http://www.mgmresorts.com, http://www.mobilitie.com ** Canalta Hotels has selected RoamingAround’s Roam Boost technology to improve mobile phone network coverage at its corporate offices and, as needed, at its 36 properties across Alberta and Saskatchewan. http://www.canaltahotels.com, http://www.RoamingAround.com **
- Safeplace introduces Solid Safe product range -------------------------- Safeplace has introduced its Solid Safe product range, featuring a large, red LED display with visual feedback and illuminated keypad for safe operation, left or right opening door, two colors and four different models: compact, laptop, wide and floor. Solid also includes a low-battery indicator and an optional power outlet for laptop recharging with two laptop-compatible sizes. Security features include automatic sleep mode after five incorrect codes are entered and a 500-event audit trail record. Solid also features IR communication with Safeplace's UltiMax Service unit, a PDA-like handheld. http://www.safeplace.co.il **
And now for you-know-what…
Two couples go away on a two-week holiday together. After a week they are thoroughly bored. The men decide that if they change partners maybe life will take on new meaning. They all agree that it's an experiment worth trying. The morning after the exchange, one fellow says, ''I'm glad we tried this. It was exhilarating, great sports events, good wings, great beer. Come on, let's go in the other room and see how the girls got along.''
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