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Siegel Sez

March 31, 2011

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

I guess I am a technology guy. At least I think I am, but today I am not so sure. For those of you who read Hospitality Upgrade, thank you for the kind comments on our recent spring issue both in print and the digital edition. Your comments were much appreciated. I need to also say people need to stop e-mailing me about my significant other on page 2; doesn’t anybody read the whole caption? ;-) We believe one of the reasons behind the continued growth of Hospitality Upgrade is we are able to keep those in the hotel industry that technology even slightly touches aware of what is going on. This brings me to my current dilemma. Who can keep up with the changes with smartphones? I impulsively bought a new phone this past weekend, and, no it was not an iPhone®. I try to avoid buying what everybody else has. It is a Samsung Galaxy something or other. I figured from the five days I have had the phone I am now using about 2 percent of its functionality. Probably within six months I will be using 5 percent. Apps?  Honestly, there seems to be a million apps on this thing, what do people do? Just keep downloading the free ones and then decide if they like it or want to keep it? Even though it is relatively small considering all it does, did I ever think I would be carrying something that big in my pocket? Ouch! I got on the plane last night to fly to Las Vegas to attend Travelcom, and when the very strongly worded announcement came on to power all devices completely off, I looked at my phone and realized I didn’t even know where airplane mode was on this new phone, and even worse, I had never turned the power off. Oh great, now what should I do? Thankfully I got lucky and figured it out. I guess I learned a lesson there. If you are going to invest in technology you might be better off knowing exactly what it does. If there are any Sprint customers out there who want to suggest apps for me, please do. Five days with this phone I now know how to answer the phone, make calls and send and receive texts. I can take pictures, but haven’t quite grasped the video parts of the phone (sorry, Scot). But it is definitely on my to do list. Who knows, maybe I will figure much of this out and be using 8 percent of the phone’s functionality by HITEC. One can dream, right?

It is two weeks until our Executive Vendor Summit and we are all in a state of positive shock. It seems like anybody and everybody who runs a technology company will be there and that is very exciting. Of course, the tough part of this is now we have to do a great job, but what is life without a few challenges? Thank you to the nearly 70 presidents and C-level executives who will be joining us. Maybe when I catch them in one of those funny moments that happen when this group gets together, I will whip out my new phone and take a picture. I just hope the moment lingers long enough for me to do this right.

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review of the last two weeks. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what. Speaking of you-know-what, I will tell you this, I am over 40 and it really made me smile and reflect. I bet you will also.


Technology NEWSSTAND

Systems News in Plain English from Jon Inge



- The challenge of Quality Assurance
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how extraordinarily difficult it is to perform thorough quality assurance (QA) on today’s management systems.  The more comprehensive we ask the vendors to make them, and the more sub-systems we ask for them to be integrated with, the more the complexity of the end product increases exponentially.  If you’re going to be certain of flawless system performance under all circumstances, you have to test every possible combination of configurations, interfaces and user actions.

You can’t of course; current systems are just too powerful, flexible and, therefore, complex.  Someone once defined how you know when you’re finished with testing; it’s when you’re out of time and budget.  In addition to testing how a new enhancement needs to work, the circumstances that gave rise to every new problem encountered in a test lab or by any customer in live operations need to be documented and incorporated into all ongoing test scripts, all of which must be automated just because of the sheer volume of actions to be covered. 

This puts vendors in a difficult position; the volume of testing required to be reasonably certain that:
(a) all the new features and bug fixes work as intended, and
(b) you didn’t break anything that was working before
will never stop growing.  It’s clearly far too much to be handled manually, yet writing automated test scripts to cover every possible combination of circumstances is incredibly time consuming, and probably never ending, especially for systems that were designed many years ago without automated testing in mind. 

So much of this comes down to expectations management.  Every hotel will tell you, “You don’t understand; we do things differently here.”  And to some extent they’re right; no two people ever do everything just the same way.  As a result it’s only to be expected that some will try to use systems in ways the designers never imagined, and will uncover bugs.  Every new release must therefore be expected to have some flaws in the new functions, and every hotel must expect them and be on the lookout for them.

But equally, users have every right to expect that fundamental, basic operations will continue to function unchanged regardless of how many enhancements or bug fixes are incorporated into a new release.  Larger and more complex hotels and resorts will gain a lot of reassurance from maintaining a test system that can be used to verify new releases against their own operating procedures, but even then some things will probably only crop up later in real-world circumstances.  A vendor’s support reputation rests on how seldom this happens, and on how quickly it comes up with a fix when it does.

Automated regression testing is therefore an essential, critical part of each vendor’s toolkit.  Nonetheless, a simple, manual check that you can still make reservations, check guests in, post charges to their accounts and check them out, may still catch some overlooked problem that has no business getting anywhere near an operating hotel. 


- Marcie Hyder promoted to CFO and EVP at Pegasus
- Kevin Housh promoted to VP and controller at Pegasus
- Alan Goldschneider hired by runtriz as managing director EMEA
For more information on People on the Move for 03/31/11


- AC Hotels by Marriott picks MICROS’ centrally hosted OPERA and Simphony for 91 properties
- InnQuest releases roomMaster interface with LeisureLink channel management
- Berkley Group orders SPI Software’s timeshare management suite
- The Village at Lyons deploys SoftBrands’ Medallion
- Best Western Premier Miami International picks MSI’s WinPM and Place Point
For more information on Hospitality Management Systems for 03/31/11


- InnLink releases iLINK mobile booking engine
- Availpro releases Facebook booking engine
- Expedia announces Expedia Hotels mobile app for iPhone® and iPod touch®
- Egencia announces impending launch of new mobile capabilities
- Trust moves main systems into new data center, upgrades disaster recovery system
- Heritage Hotels and Resorts picks Pegasus for full reservations services
For more information on Reservations for 03/31/11


- TRAVELCLICK acquires Rubicon
- Lodging Interactive rolls out Mobile SMS Text Marketing services
TRAVELCLICK has acquired Rubicon, adding its intelligence reports to the existing RateVIEW, SearchVIEW and Hotelligence360 offerings.  Tim Hart, former CEO of Rubicon, will become executive vice president and head of TRAVELCLICK's business intelligence division.    http://www.rubicongroup.com, http://www.travelclick.net 
Lodging Interactive has rolled out its Mobile SMS Text Marketing services for guest and prospective guest mobile communications. http://www.LodgingInteractive.com  


- LeisureLink releases interface with InnQuest’s roomMaster
- Galt House Hotel deploys interface between EZYield and Passkey
- Swiss-Belhotel International implements EZYield at 20 new properties
- Lixto receives Travel Innovation Award at Travel Distribution and Investment Summit
- IDeaS integrates RateGain's ChannelGain and PriceGain-Hotels applications with RMS
- Pan Pacific signs with SiteMinder for distribution channel services
For more information on Revenue Management for 03/31/11


- Galt House Hotel deploys interface between EZYield and Passkey
Galt House Hotel has deployed an interface between EZYield’s rate management tool for group inventory and Passkey’s online group reservation application, allowing it to sell room upgrades and extended stays to its group guests automatically.  The hotel offers 1,290 guestrooms, 124,000 square-feet of convention space and more than 50 meeting rooms.  http://www.GaltHouse.com, http://www.ezyield.com, http://www.passkey.com


- AC Hotels by Marriott picks MICROS’ centrally hosted Simphony Enterprise Restaurant POS for 91 sites
- Uncorkd releases Web-based application for creating wine lists on an iPad®
AC Hotels by Marriott has picked MICROS’ Simphony Enterprise Restaurant POS and MICROS’ OPERA software for its 91 properties in Spain, Portugal and Italy.  The applications will be centrally hosted at the MICROS Frankfurt Datacenter and delivered using cloud computing technology.  Deployment will begin in May 2011 and is scheduled to be complete by year-end.  http://www.ac-hotels.com, http://www.micros.com
Uncorkd has released a Web-based application for restaurants, hotels and nightclubs to create their own wine lists on iPads.  http://www.uncorkd.biz  


- Hôtel de Crillon, Paris, selects Quadriga's Sensiq
- Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas deploys Evolve Guest Controls in over 2,700 rooms
- Flyte Systems expands flight information service internationally, starting with South America and Caribbean
- at-visions ONEvision Hotel TV displays now include a Wi-Fi access point
- Novotel picks TeleAdapt’s MediaHub as brand standard for new properties
- O’Rourke releases version 2 of Smartstay mobile platform
For more information on Guest Services for 03/31/11


- Service Tracking Systems integrates Shift4 payment processing into Computerized Valet Parking System
Service Tracking Systems has integrated Shift4's DOLLARS ON THE NET payment processing into its Computerized Valet Parking System (CVPS).  Guests' charges can be billed directly to their rooms, and non-hotel guests can be immediately charged through the hotel's POS system with payment data securely processed and archived by Shift4.  http://www.ServiceTrackingSystems.net, http://www.shift4.com


- Wyndham Worldwide deploying Adaco’s .NET system enterprisewide
Wyndham Worldwide is deploying Adaco’s .NET system enterprisewide for procurement and cost control of food, beverage and non-food items. The initial rollout includes Wyndham Hotels & Resorts in the United States and Caribbean; other divisions and regions will follow, eventually covering all Wyndham brands.  http://www.wyndhamworldwide.com, http://www.adaco.com


- Palms Hotel & Spa implements Phybridge UniPhyer to upgrade IP, HSAI service
- BelAir Networks announces BelAir100LP LTE Picocell outdoor cell base station
- Defero3 authorizes EscapeWire Solutions as sales/service distributor

For more information on Communications/Infrastructure for 03/31/11


- Marina Bay Sands in Singapore completes installation of Elsafe SENTINEL II in-room safes
The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore has completed installation of Elsafe SENTINEL II in-room safes.  http://www.marinabaysands.com, http://www.elsafe.com


And now for you-know-what…

For those over 40:

1) When I was a kid we didn't have the Internet.  If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog.
2) There was no e-mail.  We had to actually write somebody a letter – with a pen.  Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take a week to get there.  Stamps were 10 cents.
3) Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us.  As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our butts. 
4) There were no MP3s or Napsters or iTunes.  If you wanted to make a playlist, you taped one from your vinyl album to your cassette tape on the same record player. Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and mess it up.
5) There were no CD players.  We had tape decks in our car.  We'd play our favorite tape and eject it when finished, and then the tape would come undone, rendering it useless. 
6) We didn't have fancy crap like call waiting.  If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that's it.
7) There weren't any cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn't make a call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your friends. Think of the horror... not being in touch with someone 24/7. 
8) And we didn't have caller ID either. When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was.  It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your dealer, the collection agent... you just didn't know.  You had to pick it up and take your chances.
9) We didn't have PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics.  We had the Atari 2600.  With games like Pong, Space Invaders and Asteroids.  Your screen guy was a little square.  You actually had to use your imagination.  And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen… Forever.  And you could never win.  The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died.  Just like life.
10) You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on. You couldn't channel surf as easily as you can today.  You had to get off your butt and walk over to the TV to change the channel – no remotes.  You sometimes had to stand there holding onto the rabbit ears (TV antenna) to help the station come in better too.
11) There was no Cartoon Network either. You could only get cartoons on Saturday morning.  Do you hear what I'm saying? We had to wait all week for cartoons.
12) And we didn't have microwaves.  If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove... and wait...
13) And our parents told us to stay outside and play... all day long.  Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort.  And if you came back inside... you were doing chores.
14) And car seats - Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on.  If you were lucky, you got the safety arm across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling shot gun in the first place. 

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