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Siegel Sez

July 28, 2011

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

I have been traveling for a long time and for the most part, I enjoy it. I pretty much always travel alone so I choose any hotel that I want. If you have been reading Siegel Sez for years you know that I have no favorite brand; yes, I am a hotel loyalty program’s nightmare.  I do have properties that I love, but that is always as much from the people I meet at the hotel as the property itself. You might remember last year I stayed at a one-star hotel in Vermont and thought it was a great experience. The owners who also cleaned the rooms were so nice. For the most part, I am truly a mid-market guy: give me a clean room with a coffee maker, a strong Internet connection and I am happy. When I go to conferences I get to experience more upscale hotels, which are also nice. Twice a year I get to be treated like a bigshot in a nice hotel and that is always fun. I just returned from Miami to check out the Mandarin Oriental Hotel where our upcoming CIO Summit will be held. If you or your person in charge of your company’s technology hasn’t booked a reservation for our CIO Summit yet, please email me right away at rich@hospitalityupgrade.com and we will send you an invite. This is CIO Summit No. 10 for Hospitality Upgrade and we are expecting a record crowd including a few surprises from days gone by. Who knows, maybe someday I will stay at a luxury hotel out of choice. We can dream, right?

How often do you Facebook? I find myself forgetting to log on Facebook for days at a time and really, who cares?  I find how people use it from the non-business side pretty entertaining. Yes, there is much gibberish that is posted, and then on occasion a great picture or video is posted, and it is great that somebody you know is sharing an event or a special moment. But a strange thing happened to me recently. I had been introduced to a woman a while ago and we went out on a date. We had a nice time and she friended me the next day on Facebook. We talked a bit and then went out two more times. As often happens, that was the end and life goes on, but we still had enjoyed getting to know each other, or so I thought. A few days later she unfriended me. That was weird, just because we went on three dates and decided not to go forward I get unfriended? Is this normal or am I overreacting? Of course, the funny part for me is we haven’t talked since and I know she is reading this. I wonder if she will friend me again? (Want to guess?)  Everybody in the hotel business talks about Facebook for business, I figured I would balance it out and share one of my Facebook stories. I know Jon Inge who believes that you should only friend real friends will be rolling his eyes right now since we had this discussion a long time ago about who we should and shouldn’t friend. I am now thinking maybe he was right. Who knows, maybe she went back to her husband and she didn’t want me to see that so she unfriended me. Just kidding! Besides, I know she would never stay in a one-star hotel.

Here now is the real reason we are here, the aforementioned Jon Inge with this week’s technology review. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what.


Technology NEWSSTAND

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



- Quality is about more than software code
I’ve written before about the difficulties of quality control in modern software development, due in no small part to the enormous complexity of the applications.  Even the best-written programs, though, can be let down by careless usage and data entry.  The software may be functioning perfectly, but the end result still produces confusion, inconvenience and a small but definite loss of trust in the company.

A couple of travel examples from a trip I just took:
- I like to select my airline seats in advance (window – I love to take photographs – and as far forward as I can get), but the seat plan offered on the airline’s website differed from the actual aircraft.  It wasn’t a question of one aircraft type being substituted for another (they only fly a single type on the routes I was taking) and the seats I had weren’t that different from the ones I thought I was getting.  But if you’re going to offer me a choice, the choices ought to be accurate or why bother?
- I rented a car for point-to-point travel.  TripIt (truly useful software) pulled into my itinerary the addresses of the pick-up and drop-off locations from the rental company’s database, and both were wrong.  The pick-up point was listed as being at an Amtrak station, but was two miles away at a small local airport.  The drop-off location was described as off-airport with a shuttle to the terminal, but was actually at an unmarked parking lot at the terminal with the return desk inside the main building.  Fortunately the phone numbers of both were accurate so I was able to sort things out without too much of a problem, but only after confusion and the loss of both time and trust.

Other examples include press releases with spelling and grammatical errors; I can usually work out what was meant, but they interrupt my thought process as I’m reading and make me wonder what else is wrong.  Similar errors in vendor presentations raise doubts that the software was written with any more care than the PowerPoint text.  Programmers assure me that “the compiler catches stuff like that” but clearly errors do get through, and text typos lower my trust that the company cares about quality at any level. 

None of these things are that big of a deal individually and can usually be worked around, but they all compromise the message.  To err is human, certainly, but given the high expectations we’re all encouraged to have about personalized service, such mistakes are disappointing and undermine our trust that the company really does know who we are – or cares.

Have you checked your website lately to see if you’re sending mixed messages?



- Dick Porter appointed chairman of the board at hetras
Dick Porter has been appointed chairman of the board at hetras.  Mr. Porter co-founded STA Travel in 1979, was director and CEO until 2007 and a director of the STA Travel Group until June 2011.


- NORTHWIND-Maestro launches guest loyalty system
NORTHWIND-Maestro has launched a points-based multitiered guest loyalty system for its Maestro GMS.  The system is optimized for mobile platforms as well as for Facebook, and allows guests to sign up, manage profiles and generate, track and redeem rewards points for reservations, room nights, referrals and other activities.  Rewards points may be earned for individual, corporate or referral bookings; property-configurable reward point criteria can include rate types, dollars spent, nights spent, reservations, guest experience measurement (GEM) survey completion and other factors.  Hotels can also offer loyalty members incentives such as double points for booking on specific date ranges or responding to loyalty member-only flash sales-type promotions.  http://www.maestropms.com  


- DerbySoft integrates Trust’s yourVoyager into its global distribution platform
- Carlson renews contract with Pegasus for commission processing
- Louvre implements ExtraConnect for Golden Tulips’ Goldres3 CRS
- Destinations of the World addition takes Amadeus past 100,000 properties
For more information on Reservations for 07/28/11


- Best Western names VIZERGY an endorsed supplier for online marketing services
- Ten hotels using TravelClick’s digital agency software receive Interactive Media Awards
- Concorde Hotels & Resorts announces new digital strategy
- Visalia CVB deploys Passkey's GroupMAX ME
- Galaxy Macau installs Makito HD H.264 encoders, IPTV infrastructure for digital signage
- NORTHWIND-Maestro launches Guest Loyalty System for Maestro
For more information on Marketing/Management for 07/28/11


- Louvre implements ExtraConnect for Golden Tulip’s Goldres3 CRS
- eRevMax releases SimpleDistribution channel manager for Australia, New Zealand
Louvre Hotels Group has implemented ExtraConnect, the integration of Pegasus Solutions’ RezView NG CRS with eRevMax International’s RateTiger channel management, for the Goldres3 CRS used by its Golden Tulip properties.  Golden Tulip can now send both base rates and derived rates to the various channels chosen per hotel, deliver reservations from external sales parties into the system, and automate and consolidate commission processing for extranet channels.  http://www.louvre-hotels.com, http://www.erevmax.com, http://www.pegs.com  
eRevMax has released its SimpleDistribution channel manager for the Australian and New Zealand market, integrating rate shopping, channel management and a hotel and flight booking engine. 


- SMI to use Cendyn’s eProposal with Destination 3000 destination marketing application
- MGM Resorts International deploying Passkey's GroupMAX across all Las Vegas hotels
- Passkey announces RezHUB
- StarCite partners with Experient to offer MeetingComplete
For more information on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 07/28/11


- Casino MonteLago selects InfoGenesis
- Menusoft Systems integrates Shift4's 4Go into Digital Dining
- Miku Restaurant implements Squirrel’ Professional POS system on Apple iPads®
Casino MonteLago, Henderson, Nev., has selected Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS system.  Located in Lake Las Vegas, the property includes a 40,000 square-foot casino with 241 slot machines and 38 electronic table games, a full-service restaurant and a bar.  http://casinomontelago.com, http://www.agilysys.com
Menusoft Systems has integrated Shift4's 4Go technology into its Digital Dining POS to remove cardholder data from the Digital Dining POS environment.  Digital Dining has used Shift4’s DOLLARS ON THE NET for some time; this enhancement includes 4Go and TrueTokenization, which replaces card data at the point of swipe and ensures that cardholder data is never stored, processed or transmitted by the merchants' system.  http://www.shift4.com, http://www.digitaldining.com 
Miku Restaurant has implemented Squirrel Systems’ Professional POS system on Apple iPads at its Vancouver, Canada location.  http://mikurestaurant.com, http://www.squirrelsystems.com


- TAC officially a Leading Company of Austria
Austrian vendor TAC has been officially awarded a Leading Company of Austria designation, as a company that makes an important contribution to a successful Austrian economy.  http://www.reservationassistant.com  


- Philips launches MediaSuite range of Internet-enabled TVs
- IHG releases version of Priority Club Rewards app for the Windows Phone
- Palmer House Hilton implements Intelity’s ICE
- Roomlinx signs distribution MOU with South Africa’s ViaMedia
For more information on Guest Services for 07/28/11


- Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center implements Yellow Dog Software’s inventory system
The Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center, Sheboygan, Wis., has implemented Yellow Dog Software’s back office inventory application for all retail operations, including the spa and multiple gift shops.  The implementation included integration with the resort’s Springer-Miller POS system.  http://www.blueharborresort.com, http://www.yellowdogsoftware.com 


- Xanterra reports successes with environmental initiatives
Xanterra Parks & Resorts has released its 2015 Environmental Vision environmental performance goals, and detailed its progress over a 10-year period from 2000 to 2009.  Absolute greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced 20.9 percent since 2000, and Xanterra’s goal is a 30 percent decrease by 2015. As of 2009, renewable energy provided 14.1 percent of companywide electricity usage, double its 7 percent goal.  With a 2015 goal to divert 50 percent of solid waste from landfills, the companywide diversion rate had already reached 47 percent in 2009, with several operations over 70 percent.

Examples of Xanterra’s environmental initiatives include:
1. A retail store with a conscience that sells environmentally sensitive products and educates shoppers about making sustainable consumer choices.
2. Retrofitted the steam-powered engines of the Grand Canyon Railway to run on recycled vegetable oil, and collecting rainwater on site to save 11,000 gallons of potable water per trip.
3. Banned the sale of plastic water bottles at Zion Lodge in Zion National Park.  Hydration stations allow guests to use their own refillable bottles.  Banning plastic water bottles from national park operations in Zion as a whole took 30,000 plastic bottles out of the park’s waste stream.
4. Installed a 1.3 MW solar photovoltaic system at the Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park, which supplies 100 percent of the resort’s power during the day.
5. Started reusing waste vegetable oil at operations in Yellowstone National Park; it is now plumbed directly to boilers to heat buildings.
6. Started replacing the diesel-powered buses at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park with compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered buses.
7. Installed a wind turbine at Maumee Bay State Park Lodge in northwest Ohio to generate electricity.
8. Replaced all in-room amenities that were in small plastic bottles with fully biodegradable cornstarch-based containers.
9. Swapped out toxic cleaning products for Green Seal-certified cleaning products at all properties.
10. Donated more than $1.7 million to the National Park Foundation over the past eight years.


- Avendra renews partnership with Safemark Systems
- Opal 1 Nottingham student housing building installs VingCard VISION at all 302 apartments
Procurement services company Avendra has renewed its partnership with Safemark Systems, an approved supplier of guestroom safes since 2005.  http://www.avendra.com, http://www.safemark.com
The new Opal 1 Nottingham student housing building has installed VingCard Elsafe’s VISION locking system at all 302 apartments.  http://www.opalstudents.com, http://www.vingcardelsafe.com


And now for you-know-what…

A blonde is watching the news. The news reporter comes on and says, "Two Brazilian skydivers were killed today."
The blonde turns to her friend and exclaims, "Oh my gosh, that’s terrible. How many is a Brazilian?"

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