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Siegel Sez

February 03, 2011

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

The month of January was one for the books. I have spent the month talking to vendors of technology about our magazine and our upcoming Executive Vendor Summit (www.vendorsummit.com). I have also talked to many CIOs and others in charge of technology for their hotels regarding our new information sharing initiative. I have talked to Frank Wolfe about the many creative things in store for this year’s HITEC (www.hitec.org) and talked to Doug Rice about the upcoming HTNG Annual Conference (www.htng.org). Everyone who I have talked to has one thing in common: a very positive energy regarding what is going to happen this year. I attended the Agilysys User’s Conference last week at the Cosmopolitan (a special thank you to Colleen) and along with it being very well attended, they had very good speakers. Marshall Andrew the CIO of Cosmopolitan did a great presentation on what he went through opening a 3,000-room hotel in one of the shortest windows ever, due to circumstances beyond his control. His talk absolutely wowed the crowd.  I know as a technology guy it definitely wowed me! Yes, it was a very wild January and I refuse to bring up the weather that most of the world seemed to experience this year.

This is our 11th year being involved with Hotel Online. In fact on Tuesday of this week we had one of our busiest days ever. It must have been because January was over, who can be sure. We know the daily e-mail is a unique way of enlightening the industry on a wide range of subjects in a somewhat unique format. Thanks for reading every day as it is very much appreciated. If you ever have news that you want to share with the largest audience in our industry, please contact Michelle Renn at michelle@hotel-online.com or call her at (678) 802-5308. Of course, with us the more creative the better.

Here we go, Super Bowl weekend. I had to laugh when reading an article about the National Football League’s biggest weekend in Dallas this year. I cringed when the article mentioned the Green Bay Packers were staying at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Los Colinas. Didn’t this used to be a secret where the teams were staying so thousands of fans wouldn’t converge on the hotel trying to meet the players? It was when I worked at the New York Sheraton in Manhattan and we housed all the major league baseball teams. I guess times have changed, but what a security challenge this must be. It looked like the opening line for the game had the Packers favored by three and a half points over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then it went down to three points. I am sure it is going to be a romp, so I will take the Packers and give four points. Do I have any takers?  Hopefully it will be a close and exciting game before the Packers run off with it.

For those of you dealing with the brutal snow storm, I wish you luck. We only got iced-in recently in Atlanta, I am sure digging your way out of 20 inches is a real challenge. I grew up in New York and will tell you this, I honestly miss it. Not too much, but I do miss it. It sure brings people together, if they can get outside that is. Dang, I promised not to bring up the weather and I did anyway. Bad Rich.

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review of the last two weeks. You have to love his opening comments regarding service. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what. Thanks.


Technology NEWSSTAND

by: Jon Inge
Systems News in Plain English from Jon Inge



- Customer Service (contd.)
Guaranteeing a specific response time to correct problems is good, but sometimes focusing too hard on that metric can distract you from your real objective – doing what it takes to satisfy the customer.  Take my recent laptop experience.

I bought a Lenovo ThinkPad 15 months ago, with a three-year on-site 24/7 extended warranty.  Recently it began spontaneously rebooting itself, randomly and frequently, 38 times last Sunday alone.  As it sometimes happened when it was waiting for me to sign back in, I was pretty sure it was a hardware problem, not software.  I called for support; Lenovo told me that their records didn’t show an extended warranty and they couldn’t help me, despite my offering to fax them a copy of the purchase order showing the warranty.  Only the warranty department could correct the error, and they weren’t available until Monday – when I had an early morning flight to Las Vegas.  As I was going to be on the road Monday-Thursday that week and the same the following week, I had to make sure the laptop was fixed on Friday.  As I believed the warranty covered support at my home office site, where I’d registered the laptop, I left it behind on the trip and just relied on my phone.

I called Lenovo’s warranty department from Las Vegas on Monday, had the coverage error corrected and was transferred back to customer support.  They confirmed that it sounded like a hardware problem that would need the system board to be replaced, and would have a technician call me to arrange to visit the next day – if the part was in stock.  However, when I asked if I could schedule the visit for Friday I was told that this couldn’t be guaranteed “because you are not conforming to the terms of the warranty, which state that you must have the laptop with you when you call.  If someone else calls in a problem on Thursday, that would take priority over yours for the technician’s time.”  Apparently the warranty covers the laptop wherever I happen to be, not only at my home address.  Good to know.

I tried to explain that I absolutely needed it fixed on Friday, and that it seemed that giving four days notice would guarantee both that the technician could visit and that a replacement board would be available.  “Sir, may I remind you that you are not in conformance with the terms of the warranty.  I advise you to hang up and call back on Thursday.” 

“But what if the part’s out of stock?”

“Then the service call would be re-scheduled for the following week.” 

“But I’ll be traveling then.” 

“We would arrange for the call to be scheduled in the city you’ll be visiting.” 

“But that would interrupt a very tightly scheduled visit.  Look, we both have the same objective of fixing my computer; doesn’t my giving four days notice make that simpler to achieve?” 

“Sir, I remind you again that you are not in compliance with the terms of the warranty, and so the call cannot be guaranteed.” 

Going nowhere, I asked him to log the call and crossed my fingers.

Happy ending; the technician called on Thursday, confirming the part was in stock and saying he could actually fit it that afternoon.  He seemed surprised when I told him I was in the airport on my way home (so when did he get the call?  and what details of my availability was he given?), but we set an appointment for Friday morning and all is now well.

Why was this so difficult when we were both trying to achieve the same end goal?  The only possible reason I can think of was that delaying the correction would have thrown off Lenovo’s statistics on the number of trouble tickets corrected within the 24-hour window they guarantee – even though that would actually have resulted in better customer service.


- Ric Leutwyler recognized by HSMAI as one of the Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing
- Doug Schmitt hired by Uniguest as director of technical support
Ric Leutwyler, COO of Pegasus Solutions and president of Utell Hotels & Resorts, has been recognized by the HSMAI as one of the Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing for 2010. The eighth annual list recognizes the leaders in the hospitality, travel and tourism industries, judged by a panel of senior industry executives on their creativity and innovation, cutting-edge sales or marketing campaigns, triumph in challenging situations and sales efforts that resulted in dramatic gains.  Mr. Leutwyler joined Pegasus in 2008 after six years with Best Western International in a number of senior executive positions; he had earlier held various leadership positions with Cendant Corp.
Doug Schmitt has been hired by Uniguest as director of technical support.  Mr. Schmitt is the former manager, application and product support, global tier 3 technical support for Hilton Worldwide in Memphis.


- Gotham Hotel on 46th Street, New York is first non-beta install of Agilysys’ Guest 360
- Resort Collection of Panama City Beach selects Springer-Miller for six condo properties
- Springer-Miller upgrades SMS|World XA Online Booking Engine with usability enhancements from RTP Interactive
For more information on Hospitality Management Systems for 02/03/11


- Open Hospitality releases new mobile multilingual Website options
- Swiftrank launches 13 new market-specific travel planning Websites
- Pegasus receives Silver Adrian Award, Utell a Bronze Adrian Award
- Libra OnDemand releases several enhancements
For more information on Marketing/Management for 02/03/11


- Hoteles Silken selects RateTiger's RTCorp and RTConnect
- RateTiger releases BlackBerry® version of its RTSuite
Spanish hotel chain Hoteles Silken has selected RateTiger's RTCorp and RTConnect applications to help manage its online sales channels.  The RTCorp rate shopping software has been implemented at group level to monitor all properties’ rates across all relevant sales channels.  RTConnect provides the group with greater control over its distribution network, and is interfaced with MICROS’ OPERA Hospitality Management Systems at 25 hotels.  Hotels without the MICROS system are subscribed to RateTiger’s RTSuite Channelmanager Pro.

RateTiger has released a BlackBerry version of its RTSuite channel management application for smartphone, which was previously available for Apple’s iPhone®
http://www.hoteles-silken.com, http://www.ratetiger.com   


- Benchmark Hospitality releases annual list of Top Ten Meeting Trends
- PSAV named a finalist in 5th Annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service
- Nexus adds five new chains to hosted sales management platform
For more information on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 02/03/11


- Holiday Inn Resort Orlando – The Castle completes implementation of Roomlinx’ Interactive HD TV
- Benchmark installs FlyteSystems flight information displays in two properties
- MTech releases Android app for H2GO
- Holiday Isle Resort and Marina, Islamorada, Florida Keys, selects UniFocus’ GUESTScope
- UniFocus announces version 5.0 of GUESTScope
For more information on Guest Services for 02/03/11


- TTI Technologies combines 3M full page document reader with its Scan2PMS software
- Fairmont Pittsburgh implements UniFocus’ Watson, R.M. Labor Management System and EVENTLabor
TTI Technologies launched a new system for the hospitality industry, combining a 3M full page document reader with its Scan2PMS software.  http://www.ttitel.com  
The Fairmont Pittsburgh has implemented UniFocus’ Watson, R.M. Labor Management System (LMS) and EVENTLabor. The property, which opened on March 29, 2010, includes 185 guestrooms, 12,000 square feet of event space and a 6,000 square-foot health club.  http://www.fairmont.com, http://www.unifocus.com


And now for you-know-what…

One day a father gets out of work and on his way home he suddenly remembers that it's his daughter's birthday. He pulls over to a toy shop and asks the sales person, "How much for one of those Barbie's in the display window?"

The salesperson answers, "Which one do you mean, Sir? We have: Workout Barbie for $19.95, Shopping Barbie for $19.95, Beach Barbie for $19.95, Disco Barbie for $19.95, Ballerina Barbie for $19.95, Astronaut Barbie for $19.95, Skater Barbie for $19.95, and Divorced Barbie for $265.95."
The amazed father asks, "What? Why is the Divorced Barbie $265.95 and the others only $19.95?"
The annoyed salesperson rolls her eyes, sighs and answers, "Sir, Divorced Barbie comes with Ken's car, Ken's house, Ken's boat, Ken's furniture, Ken's computer and one of Ken's friends."

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