Siegel Sez

August 11, 2011

Siegel Sez


by: Richard Siegel

In this day of emailing and texting, I often wonder if talking on the phone has become a lost art. In the last 24 hours I had two conversations about frequent flyer awards that couldn’t be more different. I was trying to deal with expired miles on airlines that have limited or no service in Atlanta where I live. First was with United Airlines. This turned into a classic example of how not to serve your customer.  There is nothing like assuring someone not to worry and that everything is documented in your record, then when the customer calls back there is nothing in the record reflecting that previous phone call. It was truly an unbelievable conversation. I never raised my voice even though they were doing everything to upset me and get me angry. I closed the call with one of my “just so I understand what you are saying” questions. I stated that (United) is not recognizing my previous call from February or what the previous United employee told me, correct? Of course, the United representative didn’t answer directly, but told me to move forward. Yes, I moved forward and immediately went on to YouTube to watch “United Breaks Guitars” one more time. I am currently trying to figure out how to update the video. Unbelievable non-customer service.  If I treated my customers that way then I would not be in business anymore. 

The following morning I had to call Southwest Airlines about using expired awards (yes, you might be picking up a pattern here). You have to love the Southwest automated phone system telling you the wait time is four to eight minutes, but if you leave your number someone will call you back. I left my number and was called back in about three minutes. The woman on the phone was so friendly, so helpful and actually quite funny.  After the call I reflected; how could I have similar situations with two major airlines and have two completely opposite phone calls. I just don’t get it. Anyway, the flights were booked on Southwest and life goes on. I am sure I will never get my lost 25,000 miles from United Airlines back. A lesson learned I guess.

I am using the miles on a free ticket to San Diego next week. My friends and I are all keeping our fingers crossed as our two-year-old filly will hopefully run her first race next Friday at Del Mar. There is nothing more exciting than watching your horse run a real race for the first time.  When the horses are loading in the gate the rush of adrenaline is through the roof. We need a few things to happen beforehand to make Friday a reality, but our fingers are crossed. Her name is Kilted Tilt. Yes, this is what happens when five friends are trying to name a horse born in Ireland while sitting in a bar at the Tilted Kilt restaurant in Ocala, Fla. You can’t name a horse Burger King and we couldn’t name a horse Tilted Kilt, but after a few more drinks and more stupid name ideas the decision was to switch letters and Kilted Tilt it was. For those of you who live in southern California and want to share the event with us, drop a note to mailto:rich@hospitalityupgrade.com. We should know for sure if she is running early next week. How exciting.
 
It is four weeks until this year’s CIO Summit and maybe there is some magic being that it is No. 10. Every leading hotel brand, hotel management, casino, cruise line and vacation ownership company is attending this year, which has created record attendance for us. Of course, now we have to deliver. But what is life without a few challenges, right? For more information on our CIO Summit please visit http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com and click on events on the bottom of the home page.

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


Rich@hospitalityupgrade.com

Technology NEWSSTAND


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

 


TOP O’ THE NEWS


-  HFTP survey on guests’ tech wish list
--------------------------
An HFTP survey on which technology features guests want when they travel showed that 15 percent carry at least three devices that need charging overnight, so “sufficient power outlets” is an obvious need!  The device breakdown was laptops (90 percent), smartphones (82 percent), tablet computers (15 percent, but watch this one grow), media players (15 percent) and game systems (3 percent). 

The top answer to the question, “What is the No. 1 piece of technology you’d like to see universally added to the guestroom?” was overwhelmingly (and unsurprisingly) a secure, reliable, fast, wireless Internet connection.

As for the guestroom television and the many options available on it, HD programming was the highest-rated desire (79 percent), followed by a virtual tie between room environment controls (lights, temperature, etc.) at 49 percent and connectivity panels for guests to replay content from their own (multiple!) devices (48 percent).  On-demand TV shows tied with in-room messaging at 29 percent; first-run movies showed surprisingly strongly at 27 percent, followed by consumer subscription services such as Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, etc. (22 percent).  Not really surprising given its current lack of quality programming, 3-D came in at less than 3 percent.

Other guestroom items ranked “important or very important” included:
* A simple telephone for room service, contacting the front desk, etc. (71 percent)
* Adjustable desk and chair with universal charging plugs (66 percent)
* A simple alarm clock (65 percent)
* Bio-metric safe (18 percent)
* Internet-enabled telephone capable of ads, valet, maps, local attractions, etc. (17 percent)
* Voice-activated lights, curtains, temperature (12 percent)
* “Find Me” mobile phone issued by the hotel (11 percent)
Note the emphasis on “simplicity”; traveling is complex enough without having to wrestle the technology supposed to help you.

One aspect that surprised (and pleased) me was that 86 percent of the respondents still prefer to check into a hotel with front desk personnel, i.e. to interact with a human being.  Only 10 percent prefer a self-service kiosk, and so far less than 5 percent would prefer a smartphone or computer method.  That may be due to either the slow spread of such options in the industry so far, or to the small number of über-geeks who really do prefer to use their phones for everything.  I expect it to rise over time, but the human element at checkin is still overwhelmingly important to a majority of travelers.

The survey was conducted just before HITEC, and received responses from around 450 travelers, 64 percent of whom spend more than 10 nights a year in hotel rooms.
**


http://www.joninge.com

REVENUE MANAGEMENT



- RateTiger offers wide-ranging one-off Snapshot report service for RTCorp
- eRevMax expands in China, South Africa and Australia
- Anantara deploying IDeaS across all 15 hotels
- RateGain partners with Stash Hotel Rewards
- SiteMinder integrates SoftBrands' Epitome into pmsXchange
- New Century Hotels & Resorts implements EzRMS in Beijing
--------------------------
For more information on Revenue Management for 08/11/11

SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING



- StarCite launches Mobile Attendee tool
--------------------------
StarCite has launched its Mobile Attendee tool, which delivers key information (including agendas, logistics, maps and news alerts) directly to meeting attendees' mobile phones and devices.  It will also offer networking tools that let attendees search for and send messages to other meeting attendees.  The app will be available in fall this year, for iPhone®, BlackBerry® and Android™ phones.  http://www.starcite.com  
**


F&B/POINT OF SALE



-  Benchmark reports Top Five Dining Trends for 2011
--------------------------
Benchmark Hospitality International has reported its Top Five Dining Trends for 2011, as observed by its 40 properties.
1: Rebirth of the Gentleman Farmer – innovative products coming from an increasing number of individuals turning a passionate love of farming into a second career.  
2: Omakase (“have it your way”) with a Mixology Twist – on-the-spot-creation of customized drinks based on specific requests from the customer, including coloring drinks with a guest’s favorite hue or for a color-coordinated wedding. 
3: Nose-to-Tail Dining – using everything available so little is wasted, experimenting with unusual preparations of kidneys, tongue, head cheese, etc.
4: The Finish, Torn Between Two Lovers – guests are choosing desserts which are either wildly decadent (e.g. sumptuous pies) or very health conscious (miniature guilt-free desserts). 
5:  The World of Wine is Flat – wine drinkers today looking for good but less expensive selections, and willing to explore varietals from unusual countries such as China, India, Russia, Georgia, Moldova, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
http://www.benchmarkhospitality.com  
**

GUEST SERVICES



- Larkspur standardizes all 23 properties on Ruckus Wireless
- Starwood names Safemark its preferred provider of guestroom safes
- Loews migrating all 18 properties to MTech’s HotSOS
- Embassy Suites Denver - Downtown Convention Center implements 100-MB Internet service from PSAV
- Diamond Desmond Hotel and Conference Center installs FlyteBoard, FlyteChannel
- Holiday Inn Atrium Singapore installs FCS e-Connect, UBIS and WinVoice
- Intelity ICE receives the Business Traveler Innovation Award for Best Travel Convenience & Efficiency Innovation
- New York Helmsley implements ARINC’s microFIDS through TTI Technologies
--------------------------
For more information on Guest Services for 08/11/11

BACK OFFICE



- Aptech announces three new clients for Profitvue
--------------------------
Aptech Computer Systems announced three new clients for its Profitvue ASP back office system for financial accounting:
- Hilton Garden Inn Temple, Texas
- 30-room luxury boutique Mayflower Inn and Spa in Washington, Conn.
- 112-room Gold Eagle Lodge in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada 
http://www.hiltongardeninn.hilton.com, http://www.mayflowerinn.com, http://www.goldeaglelodge.com
**


PEOPLE ON THE MOVE



- Ayikudy "Sri" Srikanth hired by Passkey as chief technology officer
--------------------------
Ayikudy "Sri" Srikanth has been hired by Passkey as chief technology officer.  Mr. Srikanth brings 18 years of experience, most recently as co-founder and president of energy technology company Acealine.  He was previously vice president of engineering and product management at education software vendor Certica Solutions, and had held various roles at start-ups NewRiver, Kubi Software and Crossbeam Systems.  Beginning his career at Wellfleet Communications (acquired by Nortel), Mr. Srikanth holds six patents. 
**


GUEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS



- PAR Springer-Miller expands Las Vegas Operations Center
- NOVEXSYS integrates Shift4's DOLLARS ON THE NET to GMS
--------------------------
PAR Springer-Miller Systems has announced the expansion of its Las Vegas Operations Center (LVOC) into a larger, renovated space in Henderson, Nev., and plans to more than double the number of employees there over the next two years.  In addition to hosting customer support, the new location will also be the development hub for the new ATRIO Hospitality Technology Platform.  http://www.springermiller.com  
**
NOVEXSYS has integrated Shift4's DOLLARS ON THE NET gateway to its NOVEXSYS Guest Management System (GMS) to help its hotel customers simplify the scope of their PCI compliance audits.  http://www.shift4.com, http://www.novexsys.com
**


RESERVATIONS



- Sunshine Mountain Lodge, Windtower Lodge & Suites pick B4Checkin online booking engine
- Google launches Hotel Finder search tool
--------------------------
Two Alberta resorts, the Sunshine Mountain Lodge in the Canadian Rockies above Banff and the Windtower Lodge & Suites in Canmore, have selected B4Checkin's online booking engine.  http://www.sunshinemountainlodge.com, http://www.windtower.ca, http://www.b4checkin.com  
**
Google has launched its Hotel Finder search tool (initially for U.S. hotels only), an extension of Google Maps that includes a user-definable search area within the map, the display of full rates for each hotel being considered, and hot links to book on the various channels offering those rates.  Trust International is the first centralized reservation system (CRS) provider to have its hotels displayed in Hotel Finder.   http://www.TrustInternational.com  
**

MARKETING/MANAGEMENT



- Stash Hotel Rewards partners with RateGain
- Cornell students’ software claimed to identify fake hotel reviews
--------------------------
Stash Hotel Rewards, a loyalty program for independent hotels, has partnered with RateGain to allow Stash partner hotels to automate their points redemption rates using ChannelGain channel management and to offer their inventories to frequent guest members to redeem for points.  http://www.rategain.com, http://www.stashrewards.com
**
Researchers at Cornell University have developed software claimed to be able to identify fake hotel reviews by analyzing their linguistic structure.  A test of 800 reviews of hotels in Chicago reportedly picked out “deceptive reviews” with close to 90 percent accuracy.  http://www.cornell.edu  
**

You-Know-What



And now for you-know-what…


Two guys are bungee jumping one day. The first guy says to the second, "You know, we could make a lot of money running our own bungee jumping service in Mexico."

The second guy thinks this is a great idea, so the two pool their money and buy everything they'll need – a tower, an elastic cord, insurance, etc. They travel to Mexico and begin to set up on a square in a popular town. As they are constructing the tower, a crowd begins to assemble. Slowly, more and more people gather to watch them at work.

Once they are set up, the first guy jumps to demonstrate it for the crowd. He bounces at the end of the cord, but when he comes back up, the second guy notices that he has a few cuts and scratches. Unfortunately, the second guy isn't able catch him, he falls again, bounces and comes back up again.

This time, he is bruised and bleeding. Again, the second guy misses him. The first guy falls again and bounces back up.

This time, he comes back pretty messed up – he's got a couple of broken bones and is almost unconscious.

Luckily, the second guy finally catches him this time and says, "What happened? Was the cord too long?"

The first guy says, "No, the cord was fine, but what the heck is a piñata?"




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