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Siegel Sez

October 13, 2017

Siegel Sez


by: Rich Siegel

Two weeks ago I was in Houston for the HITEC Advisory Board meeting where more than 20 industry leaders work on the educational program for next year’s HITEC in Houston. I stayed an extra day just to visit the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey which included a ride out to Port Arthur where I had never been (I’ve always loved Janis Joplin who was from Port Arthur). It was an unbelievable experience to see what had happened and what was going on with the recovery. I was glad I went. From Houston I went to Las Vegas where we opened an office this year. On Monday morning about 6 a.m., I was in my office drinking coffee, reading and replying to email when all of a sudden, the texts started. Pretty much all of them were asking if I was OK. OK? I soon found out why they were asking. I turned on the TV and saw what had happened the night before at the Route 91 Harvest Festival and Mandalay Bay. Like everybody else, I went into the mode of disbelief. Who? Why? How could something like this happen? And then sadness for all the innocent lives lost. Everything changed when the text messages started that one of the victims was a longtime friend. I met Neysa Tonks more than 10 years ago when she worked at MICROS. After MICROS she went to Cisco and was most recently at Technologent. We would have dinner over the years when I was in town, and we would talk on occasion throughout the year regarding industry and life issues. Neysa was wonderful. She was the kind of person that made everybody around her a better person. I know she did that with me. She was loved by many in the industry. Red Rock Casino Resort in Las Vegas hosted a memorial which could better be described as a celebration of Neysa’s life. I recommend you check out her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/neysa.tonks to see the impact she made on so many. She will be missed, but forever remembered.
 
I encourage you to read Ron Hardin’s opening to this week’s review of the latest technology happenings. He is basically asking the question, as an industry are we investing in technology that is not being used. I am not sure I totally agree with all his thoughts, but he is entitled to his opinion. He does inspire discussions either agreeing or disagreeing and that is a positive thing in my book. Let me know your thoughts.  I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what. There are days that we can all use a laugh.
 
Rich@hospitalityupgrade.com


Technology NEWSSTAND



Introduction
 
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
 
This familiar verse – from “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” a poem recited to Alice by Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” – is actually a bit of disinformation. It is distracting nonsense spouted by the walrus to his dinner companions: the carpenter, and a bunch of fat, young oysters. The pair had tricked the young oysters into going for a walk along the beach, only for them to discover (too late) that they were on the menu. The older, presumably wiser, oysters had remained in their bed. First, just four young oysters hurried to join, but this quickly led to another four, then another, and more and more. The object lesson being that the young, the eager, the less-experienced, can be lured into agreement and complacency – or at least following their peers – by the siren-song of a well-dressed, smooth-talking salesperson (who happens to be a walrus).
 
At the recent Hospitality Upgrade CIO Summit, there was a lively discussion about the role of the CIO, and the competing priorities of driving innovation versus “keeping the green lights blinking.” I believe CIOs should be innovators, but there is that fine line between “leading-edge” and “bleeding-edge.”  There is also a line between consumer tech and hotel tech. Too often, the drive to innovate has resulted in premature deployment of consumer-grade technology to hotel guestrooms, with predictable results. Remember iPod-docking clock radios? Jack-packs? How about trying to do device media casting or over-the-top apps with the built-in apps on consumer-grade smart TVs. In looking at current in-stay guest engagement methodologies, the most commonly deployed is the hotel or brand mobile app, because there should be an app for everything, right? But a recent study by L2, Inc., concluded that hotel apps aren’t very effective due to lack of in-stay functionality and low usage rates. Enabling mobile-specific functionality, like mobile key, and adding additional in-stay functionality may promise some improvement. But it’s still going to be one app per brand, or one app per hotel, for the foreseeable future. In-room touch points, like tablets or voice devices, get a lot more usage – 80 percent to 90 percent of occupied rooms cited by some sources, compared to 3 percent to 5 percent for in-stay usage of the hotel’s mobile app. But this is where early adopters have all-too-often been tempted into using consumer-grade products that aren’t adequate for hotel guest usage. Early tablet apps were good apps – but deployed on consumer tablets with no device management and inadequate support. This soured the in-room tablet experience for many, and has led vendors to improve their offerings or develop hotel-specific devices engineered for the application. Now voice interaction is the next new thing. Here, too, there is a clear difference between consumer-grade solutions like Amazon Echo and emerging AI products designed specifically for hotels. A large-scale deployment of Amazon’s product at a large, premier Vegas property was all over the news at the end of 2016, but that project appears to have been put on hold. Published sources cite functionality wrinkles, like alarms set by previous guests not being cleared, and security concerns. Accordingly, there are several vendors providing made-for-hotel products in this space as well. The consumer AI engines, whether Amazon, Google, Apple, Cortana or Watson, may well be under the covers, but the voice interaction process will be much more closely tailored to the hotel room environment. My crystal ball says that the in-room device of choice will continue to be a tablet or some form of touch-screen device, either with or without voice functionality. Voice by itself, without the visually engaging touch screen, is going to be hard to get right. Pervasive guest engagement needs touch points that guests actually engage with, and they shouldn’t be consumer-grade devices (and they probably won’t be a mobile app). 
 
Next subject:  Whether pigs have wings.
 
Ron Hardin
RonHardin.TECH Consulting
Ron@ronhardin.tech
**



********************************************************************************

Recent headlines, from Hospitality Upgrade


MERGERS and ACQUISITIONS



- Wyndham Hotel Group Completes Acquisition of AmericInn
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Wyndham Hotel Group Completes Acquisition of AmericInn
Wyndham Hotel Group has completed its acquisition of the AmericInn® brand and its hotel management company, boosting the hospitality giant's footprint of more than 8,100 hotels and strengthening its position as a midscale segment leader in the United States. The transaction brings the company's collection of brands to 20 iconic names. Upon closing, the company appointed industry veteran Nasir Raja to senior vice president, brand operations, overseeing the AmericInn brand's strategic direction, daily operations and owner advisory board. Raja most recently served as executive vice president of franchise development and operations for the AmericInn brand at Northcott Hospitality.
**


PEOPLE ON THE MOVE



- Joseph Fox Joins BirchStreet Systems as Chief Strategy Officer
- SkyTouch Technology Continues to Build Momentum, Promotes Doug Hogan as VP Sales & Marketing
- StayNTouch Appoints Nisha Singh as Vice President of Sales
- Beekeeper Poises for Global Growth with Prominent Staffing Changes
- Chief Operating Officer of Canyon Ranch, Thomas Klein, Takes on Additional Role as President of the Wellness Brand
- Dorchester Collection Appoints Wendy Potter as Chief Financial Officer
- Murat Yilmaz Named Vice President of Business Development at Deutsche Hospitality
- IHG Appoints Claire Bennett as Chief Marketing Officer
- Pentahotels Appoints Peter Habelitz as Vice President Finance
- Performance Hospitality Management (PHM) Appoints Richard J. Cotter as Chief Operating Officer
- Two Roads Hospitality Appoints Rika Lisslö as Vice President of Acquisitions and Development
- Zaplox Reinforces U.S. Presence with Appointment of Chris Clement as Vice President Sales, North America
--------------------------

For more information on People on the Move for 10/13/17

GUEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS



- Agilysys Announces New Mobile Capabilities in Latest Release of Property Management System
- Knowcross Expands its European Footprint, Announces Integration with HostPMS
- StayNTouch Guide Explores Strategies for Maximizing Guest’s Share of Wallet
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For more information on Guest Management Systems for 10/13/17

RESERVATIONS



- SiteMinder Secures Atahotels as Group Remains in Prime Position to Capitalize on Italy’s Tourism Boom
--------------------------
SiteMinder Secures Atahotels as Group Remains in Prime Position to Capitalize on Italy’s Tourism Boom
One year after completing its merger with UNA Hotels & Resorts, Atahotels announced it has partnered with one of the global hotel industry’s leading cloud platforms, SiteMinder, to further capitalize on Italy’s rising tourism numbers. SiteMinder will power the distribution of Atahotels’ more than 4,700 rooms online and increase guest acquisition for the hotel group through the company’s 350-strong network of top booking channels.
siteminder.com
**


REVENUE MANAGEMENT



- Rainmaker Ends Summer with Record-setting Performance and Growth
- Pivot Hotels Expands IDeaS’ Proven Revenue Management Technology to Multiple Properties
--------------------------
Rainmaker Ends Summer with Record-setting Performance and Growth
The Rainmaker Group (Rainmaker), a leading provider of cloud-based hospitality revenue management software, announced that it has ended the summer with record-setting performance and growth, deploying its solutions at more than 150 properties in 14 countries in July and August. The properties include hotels, resorts and casinos throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
http://www.letitrain.com/
**
Pivot Hotels Expands IDeaS’ Proven Revenue Management Technology to Multiple Properties
IDeaS Revenue Solutions, a leading provider of revenue management software solutions and advisory services, announced the expansion of its relationship with Pivot Hotels and Resorts, the luxury and lifestyle operating division of Davidson Hotels and Resorts. With a growing collection of independent and soft-branded properties within its portfolio – and a partnership with IDeaS spanning back to 2014 – it was an easy decision for Pivot Hotels to continue its trusted relationship with IDeaS.
http://www.ideas.com
**


GUEST SERVICES



- Marriott International's AI-powered Chatbots on Facebook Messenger and Slack, and Aloft's ChatBotlr, Simplify Travel for Guests Throughout Their Journey
- SONIFI Solutions Scores Five Stars With Boutique Luxury Hotels
--------------------------
Marriott International's AI-powered Chatbots on Facebook Messenger and Slack, and Aloft's ChatBotlr, Simplify Travel for Guests Throughout Their Journey
Marriott International – a hospitality industry leader in guest service – is expanding upon the heart of its hospitality, its hundreds of thousands of associates, by creating additional points of engagement for guests, powered by artificial intelligence. Recently, Aloft Hotels, the innovation incubator for savvy global travelers, launched the first ChatBotlr, a new chatbot available via text message that gives guests an additional way to make service requests. Driven by ahead-of-the-curve technology, Aloft's ChatBotlr empowers guests to request basic hotel services right from their own smartphones.
http://www.marriott.com
**
SONIFI Solutions Scores Five Stars With Boutique Luxury Hotels
SONIFI Solutions, Inc., is highlighting its recent successes with independent luxury hotels, with a look inside a recent Proper Hotel install at the hotelier's San Francisco property, Proper Hotel San Francisco, which celebrated its grand opening last month. The announcement was made at the Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association's Stay Boutique™ Leadership Conference in Los Angeles.
http://www.sonifi.com/
**


PERSONALIZATION/GUEST EXPERIENCE



- Local Measure Partners with Cisco to Offer a New Social Sign On, Building Richer Customer Experiences, Understanding Guest Behavior, and Gathering Valuable Data
--------------------------
Local Measure Partners with Cisco to Offer a New Social Sign On, Building Richer Customer Experiences, Understanding Guest Behavior, and Gathering Valuable Data
Local Measure, a leading location-based social intelligence platform for hospitality and tourism, announced a Wi-Fi integration with Cisco that enables hotels and other hospitality providers to identify and connect with guests while they are on property, personalizing the customer’s experience while they are at the venue. Leveraging Local Measure’s proprietary social intelligence technology, providers deploying Cisco wireless technologies - including Meraki, CMX on premise or in the cloud - now have the ability to capture guest preferences while they are on site, generating real-time insights, building a richer customer experience, driving sales and customer acquisition, and reacting in real time with customer alerts.
https://www.localmeasure.com, http://www.cisco.com
**


MARKETING/MANAGEMENT



- Cendyn Nominated for Two World Travel Awards
- Two Roads Hospitality Selects NAVIS to Optimize Direct Channel Revenue
- Milestone Shortlisted for Best SEO Software Suite, Best Search Software Tool, and Innovation in Analytics Software by Prestigious US Search Awards 2017
--------------------------

For more information on Marketing/Management for 10/13/17

BACK OFFICE



- PAS Announces BlackLine for SunSystems Journals
- TravelClick and InterContinental Hotel Group Announce Expanded Strategic Business Intelligence Partnership
- M3 Unleashes New Mobile App to Increase Hoteliers’ Productivity
- UniFocus Boosts Its Industry-Leading Workforce Management Solutions with Hyper-Converged Infrastructure
--------------------------

For more information on Back Office for 10/13/17

F&B/POINT OF SALE



- New Version of Agilysys InfoGenesis® POS Offers More Payment Gateways and Enhanced Casino Management System Integration
- Agilysys Announces General Availability of New rGuest® Buy Self-Service Kiosk Capabilities for Café and Enhancements to Grab N Go
--------------------------
New Version of Agilysys InfoGenesis® POS Offers More Payment Gateways and Enhanced Casino Management System Integration
Agilysys, Inc. (Nasdaq: AGYS), a leading global provider of next-generation hospitality software solutions and services, announced InfoGenesis® POS v4.4.10, the latest version of its award-winning POS system. The new release includes new and improved P2PE and EMV gateway options, improved casino management system (CMS) integration and enhancements to the user experience making it easier than ever to boost efficiency and increase revenue.
http://www.agilysys.com
**
Agilysys Announces General Availability of New rGuest® Buy Self-Service Kiosk Capabilities for Café and Enhancements to Grab N Go
Agilysys, Inc., a leading global provider of next-generation hospitality software solutions and services, announced the general availability of innovative enhancements to rGuest® Buy, the company’s self-service kiosk POS solution that extends point-of-sale reach, improves guest service and reduces staff demand. The enhancements for Café workflows and a new Grab N Go guest experience are part of Agilysys’ continuing dramatic market penetration in food and beverage venues of all types as it moves to self service through guest-facing kiosks.
http://www.agilysys.com/
**


INVENTORY/PURCHASING



- Foxwoods Casino Goes All In With BirchStreet Procure-To-Pay Suite
--------------------------
Foxwoods Casino Goes All In With BirchStreet Procure-To-Pay Suite
Foxwoods Resort Casino has chosen the BirchStreet procure-to-pay suite for its entire campus of casinos, restaurants, hotels and convention spaces. The Mashantucket, Conn. property, which is one of the largest resort casinos in North America, will use the BirchStreet eProcurement, AP 3-Way Auto-Matching, Food & Beverage Inventory Control, Recipe Management and Capital Projects modules. It will rely on BirchStreet to meet procurement needs for both direct and indirect-spend items across the Foxwoods campus.
http://www.birchstreet.net
**


COMMUNICATIONS/INFRASTRUCTURE



- Beekeeper Introduces Custom Integrations, Bringing Chat and Operations Under One Hub for 2 Billion Non-desk Workers
- Panasonic and Cetis Complete Interop Certification
--------------------------
Beekeeper Introduces Custom Integrations, Bringing Chat and Operations Under One Hub for 2 Billion Non-desk Workers
While many workplace tools specialize in peer-to-peer, top-down or bottom-up communication, it is rare to encounter a workplace app that tackles all three. Running on the belief that an intuitive user interface (UI) and open communication builds cross-organizational trust, Beekeeper's award-winning digital workplace application has been connecting dispersed non-desk teams across a variety of industries since 2012. The company recently announced its latest platform expansion, adding the capability for information technology teams to integrate open application program interface (API) operations tools directly into its Beekeeper communications hub.
https://beekeeper.io/
**
Panasonic and Cetis Complete Interop Certification
Cetis, Inc., has announced that Teledex and TeleMatrix brand VoIP phones have been interop-certified by Panasonic, a leading global provider of Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) services. Teledex and TeleMatrix corded and cordless VoIP hotel phones by Cetis have been validated to be interoperable with the Panasonic KX-NS700, KX-NS700G, and KX-NS1000 communication servers. Cetis telephone models include Teledex M Series, Teledex E Series, Teledex I Series, TeleMatrix 9600 Series, and TeleMatrix 3300 Series.
http://www.cetisgroup.com, http://www.panasonic.com
**


DATA SECURITY AND CYBER ATTACKS



- Historic Francis Marion Hotel Chooses VENZA® to Provide Proactive Cyber Security Training
--------------------------
Historic Francis Marion Hotel Chooses VENZA® to Provide Proactive Cyber Security Training
The Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, S.C., has partnered with VENZA to provide critical data security and PCI compliance training for its staff. The property has selected VENZA’s Denali package, which offers online training modules, awareness audits and other resources, including a five-stage phishing campaign designed to measure staff understanding and adherence to best security practices. VENZA is an approved educational provider for (HFTP) members, partnering with hotels and hospitality organizations to deliver proactive cybercrime-resilient training and strategies to help protect guest data.
http://www.venzagroup.com/
**


SECURITY



- Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley Revolutionizes Hotel Guest Convenience with ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access
- dormakaba Video: Steps for Easy Hotel Mobile Access Adoption
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Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley Revolutionizes Hotel Guest Convenience with ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access
The Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, an award-winning luxury resort in Australia, has successfully implemented several of ASSA ABLOY Hospitality's innovative security technologies, including ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access, VingCard Signature RFID electronic locks and the Visionline online platform. As part of an initiative designed to reposition the property as a technologically advanced resort, management sought out innovative technologies that utilize mobile solutions to allow for keyless entry. After conducting research on ASSA ABLOY Hospitality and several other lock providers, hotel leadership opted for ASSA ABLOY Hospitality's innovative electronic locks and mobile solutions.
http://www.assaabloyhospitality.com/
**
dormakaba Video: Steps for Easy Hotel Mobile Access Adoption
dormakaba, one of the top companies in the global market for access and security solutions, released a video on how to simplify mobile access electronic door lock adoption. dormakaba manufactures the Saflok™ and Ilco™ electronic door locks and provides installation and service for its systems. dormakaba’s mobile access platform is a secure, open platform that adapts to the business goals and marketing needs of hoteliers while it enhances the guest experience.
http://www.kabalodging.com/
**


PHILANTHROPY



- VENZA® Launches a Casino Cruise Charitable Event to Combat Human Trafficking
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VENZA® Launches a Casino Cruise Charitable Event to Combat Human Trafficking
For a decade, VENZA has celebrated its success as a business by focusing not on the organization itself but on those in need. Exceeding $100,000 in fundraising over 10 charity benefits, these events have meant much-needed monies for non-profit organizations and a whole lot of fun for VENZA’s friends and family. These autumn evening soirees have been an annual tradition for Atlanta-based organizations associated with VENZA. Given the company’s significant growth, including the establishment of its European office, this year’s 10th Annual Charity Event brought attendees from well beyond the Southeast to raise money for Hope for Justice, a global non-profit that seeks to end human trafficking.
http://www.VENZAgroup.com
**


HOSPITALITY EVENTS



- Agilysys Announces Annual Inspire User Conference & Executive Summit 2018
- Aspire Named Stevie® Award Finalist in Innovation for 12th Year in a Row
- HX: The Hotel Experience Expands Immersive Zones to Highlight Key Hospitality Innovations
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For more information on Hospitality Events for 10/13/17

PIQUED OUR INTEREST



- Steve Wynn discusses hotel security in wake of shooting
- Modern Hospitality: Striking the Right Balance Between High-Tech and Human
- Mobile Websites vs. Apps: The Final Showdown – Part One
- Millennials + Mobile: A Match Made in (Hotelier) Heaven
- New Report Suggests U.S. Business Travelers Embrace Emerging Technology, but Fear its Impact on Mankind
- How to Keep the Heart of Your Hotel Beating
- Accor: What Will be the Hotel Room of the Future?
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For more information on Piqued Our Interest for 10/13/17

You-Know-What



And now for you-know-what…
 
Three golfing partners die in a car wreck and go to heaven.
 
Upon arrival they discover the most beautiful golf course they have ever seen. St. Peter tells them that they are all welcome to play the course, but he cautions them that there is only one rule: Don't hit the ducks during your first three months here.
 
The men all have blank expressions, and finally one of them asks, "The ducks?”
 
"Yes," St. Peter replies. "There are thousands of ducks walking around the course, and if one gets hit, he quacks, then the one next to him quacks and soon they're all quacking to beat the band. It really breaks the tranquility, and if you hit one of the ducks, you'll be punished.  Otherwise, everything is yours to enjoy.”
 
Upon entering the course, the men note that there are indeed large numbers of ducks everywhere. Within 15 minutes, one of the guys hits a duck. The duck quacks, the one next to it quacks, and soon there is a deafening roar of duck quacks.
 
St. Peter walks up with an extremely homely woman in tow and asks, "Who hit the duck?”
 
And one of the men reluctantly says, "I did.”
 
St. Peter immediately pulls out a pair of handcuffs and cuffs the man's right hand to the homely woman's left hand. "I told you not to hit the ducks," he says. “Now you'll be handcuffed together for eternity.”
 
The other two men are very cautious not to hit any ducks, but a couple of weeks later, one of them accidentally does. The quacks are as deafening as before, and within minutes St. Peter walks up with an even more unattractive woman.
 
He cuffs the man's right hand to the woman's left hand. "I told you not to hit the ducks," he says. "Now you'll be handcuffed together for eternity.”
 
The third man is extremely careful. Some days he doesn't even play for fear of even nudging a duck. After three months, he still hasn't hit a duck.
 
St. Peter walks up to the man at the end of the three months, and brings with him a knock-out, gorgeous woman – the most beautiful woman the man had ever seen. St. Peter smiles at the man and then, without a word, handcuffs him to the beautiful woman and walks off.
 
The man, knowing that he would be handcuffed to this woman for eternity, lets out a contented sigh and says aloud, "I wonder what I did to deserve this.”
 
The woman responds, "I don't know about you, but I hit a duck."
 
**



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