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Siegel Sez

March 08, 2012

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Dean DeNeefe who has worked with us for a year now is from a small town in south Alabama. This was her first job out of college. Earlier this year she visited some friends from Auburn University who now live in New York City. She had the time of her life, fell in love with New York and told me she wanted to move there. I am from New York and having done the city thing I told her she should go. I have always believed that everybody who is single and young should experience Manhattan. There is nothing like it. As many do, the experience of finding an apartment in New York became a real eye opener for her. The apartments are expensive and very small. I told her that New York is one place where you don’t pay for what is inside your apartment, but what is outside. If you know of anybody in New York who wants to hire a 23-year-old Auburn graduate, please email Dean at mailto:dean@hospitalityupgrade.com. I do miss the days of being young and adventurous.

My conversation with Dean got me thinking of my travels over the last few months. I have stayed at a Hyatt, a Mandarin Oriental, a La Quinta, a HI Express, an Embassy Suite, a Hilton Garden Inn and a couple of independent hotels. Once I get into the hotel room and close the door, I realize that many of the hotel rooms could be interchangeable, at least from how I look at them. Am I the exception? All I want is a decent room size and a clean room. I like a shower with strong water pressure and I want to be able to control the temperature when I am in the room. If I am tired I can sleep standing up so the beds are not all that important to me. I also love when the room has a single-serve coffee maker and there is caffeinated coffee with enough for me to make two cups.  Of course, the most important things to me and just about every other traveler today are a strong Internet connection and a flat-panel TV with HD channels. That is what I have at home and shouldn’t I expect the same in a hotel room? As everybody in the hotel industry knows, these two things are the first and second complaints from travelers. One of the brands will get it and instead of promoting the hotel lobby, great restaurants, pools and other things, it will guarantee great televisions in the rooms with HD and an Internet connection that will allow everybody to do what they would do at home regardless of occupancy and other guests online. If they charged more, but I was guaranteed this would be the case, I would book that hotel every time. Dean might be paying more for what is outside her apartment, but I will gladly pay more for what is inside my room. Am I unique for thinking this way? I don’t think so.

I believe that if it wasn’t for bad luck I would have no luck at all. Our spring issue of Hospitality Upgrade will be in the mail in the next few days. I take full responsibility for the cover. I thought it was creative and would inspire people to read the excellent feature story as our industry deals with a multitude of technology changes ahead this year. Who would have thought that after the issue was sent to the printer the disastrous tornadoes would hit so many parts of the Midwest? If only we knew what Mother Nature had planned, we would have done our cover differently. My heart goes out to those suffering through this devastation.

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review of the last few weeks. I am a bit upset with Jon accusing me of a diversionary tactic. Then again, if the shoe fits… I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what. Some days we all need a laugh.


Technology NEWSSTAND

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



- Microsoft’s Windows 8 beta points the way to touch-screen interfaces, but will they be any faster?
Spring is in the air and things are definitely stirring – just look at the number of People On The Move below!  It’s also a traditional time for new announcements by Apple®, whose new iPad® is due to be announced tomorrow (as I write this) and which always prompts thoughts as to how we might improve the usability of systems in general and hotel systems in particular.  Not to disparage Apple’s aesthetic inspiration, but the directions Microsoft takes are usually more meaningful for mainstream users, and this week’s release of the public beta version of Windows 8 is therefore highly significant.

Its tile-based screen design, an enhancement of Microsoft’s Phone software approach, is both visually appealing and intuitively useful, with various tiles displaying brief information on their underlying context such as the number of unread emails.  The applicability to hospitality management systems is obvious – different tiles could easily lead to lists of arriving guests, in-house groups, VIPs or other categories of information – but I’m just as interested in whether this will lead to a more touch-based interface in general.

Clearly many vendors have been moving towards this, as witness the number of tablet-based versions of systems now available.  Few, however, have changed the fundamental design of their user interfaces towards a primarily touch-screen approach, with the notable and admirable exception of PAR Springer-Miller’s ATRIO system.  Most have ported their standard screen designs over to touch-screen devices and left it to the users to cope as best they can with fingers somewhat larger than ideal for the small target buttons.  Microsoft’s new approach shows much more promise, although as with ATRIO it remains to be seen how far the metaphor can be applied into more detailed functions such as setting up a multiday, multiroom-type group block with complex charge routing. 

One thing I am curious about, though, is whether this touch-screen direction will actually produce faster processing of routine functions such as check-ins.  When mouse-driven graphical user interfaces were first introduced they were always slower than traditional keyboard-based approaches, due to the need to focus and carefully position the cursor before clicking the mouse.  With time, however, a generation of users brought up on Windows and gaming consoles closed the gap and began to see keyboards as the slower option.  Will touch screens be faster or slower?  Drop me a line (mailto:jon@joninge.com) and let me know what you think.
Many thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes, prompted by Rich’s comment in the last newsletter – a comment that was also a diversionary tactic, because he always neglects to mention that it’s also his birthday!  We share the date, so feel free to send him good wishes too, if not this year then next!



- BTG-JIANGUO Hotels & Resorts contracts with IDeaS for revenue optimization services
- IDeaS announces its Pricing System (PS) for hotel managers at budget, economy or midscale properties
- Hotels4u.com integrates RateGain's ChannelGain channel management software
- TravelClick launches Rate360 rate shopping product
- H-Top Hotels Group implements Availpro's Smart Channel Manager
- SiteMinder expands online distribution network with six more travel agent sites
- TripAlertz Travel Solutions announces Deal Distribution System
- Vacation Internationale selects TimeShareWare Resorts-4-Rent
For more information on Revenue Management for 03/08/12


- PSAV receives Bronze Stevie Award for Sales & Customer Service
- Newmarket wins 2012 MarketTools ACE (Achievement in Customer Excellence) Award
- Benchmark Hospitality announces Top Ten Meeting Trends for 2012
- MeetingRoomNow.com launches online booking site for hotel meeting rooms
For more information on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 03/08/12


- Moran & Bewley's Hotel Group chooses MICROS’ Simphony POS
Moran & Bewley's Hotel Group has chosen MICROS Systems’ cloud-based Simphony POS system for all 10 hotels in Ireland and the United Kingdom.  The four Moran Hotels already use OPERA and will be migrated to a centrally hosted configuration; this will also be implemented at the six Bewley's Hotels, replacing their existing systems. Moran & Bewley's will also implement centralized sales and catering and website integration.  http://www.moranhotels.com, http://www.bewleyshotels.com, http://www.micros.com


- TAC adds mobile app to Reservation Assistant
TAC has added a mobile app for spas, hotels and fitness centers to its Reservation Assistant software, allowing users to make reservations, book a table or buy vouchers and wellness items from any mobile device such as iPads, iPhones and on Facebook.  In order to avoid no-shows, Reservation Assistant reminds the guests of their appointments by SMS.
Vouchers bought over the mobile app can be customized with an individual message and emailed to recipients, who can redeem them either by printing them at home or opening them on a smartphone on the next visit to the spa. http://www.reservationassistant.com  


- Canalta Hotels picks EthoStream high-speed Internet access for 34 properties
- Dorint chooses Acentic Internet and TV services for 35 properties
- Omni to upgrade over 30 properties to LodgeNets Envision interactive HDTV
- FCS appoints Pacific I.T. Solutions its Value Business Partner in Guam
- Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, St. Regis Deer Valley implement TrackIT’s new Ski Valet software
For more information on Guest Services for 03/08/12


- Dayna Kully joins Enseo as vice president, hospitality business development
- Mario Agrario named CEO at Bartech Systems
- Debra Golden promoted to director of teleprospecting services at Hospitality Softnet
- Michael McCartan appointed CEO at eRevMax International
- Phillip Spencer appointed to board of directors at LodgeNet
- Alicia Pavignano promoted to director of client services for Lodging Interactive
- Rosella Virdo promoted to director of social media marketing for Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle
- Ulf Guldi hired by Your Hotel Worldwide as regional sales director – Germany
- Aamir Shaheen joins EasyRMS as director of finance
- Suneil Aggarwal promoted to interim chief operations officer at Guest-tek
For more information on People on the Move for 03/08/12


- Hunley Hotel & Golf Club is first U.K. client for Infor10 SoftBrands HMS
- SoftBrands formally releases latest version of Infor10 SoftBrands HMS
- Shearings Holidays deploys SoftBrands’ Classic Starlight GMS across 48 properties
- The Mark Anthony Group of Companies chooses Cenium for 6 locations
- MISComputer announces Head’sUp FD proximity badge-based login/logout for front desk agents
- MSI releases nTouch mobile application for Apple hand-held devices
- Hospitality Partners selects SKYWARE for three hotels
- Moran & Bewley's Hotel Group picks centrally hosted MICROS OPERA, S&C and Simphony POS for 10 sites
- Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto implements MICROS OPERA and Restaurant Enterprise applications
- Gracesoft announces Smart Device mobile interface for its Easy InnKeeping software
- Island One Resorts selects SPI Software’s Orange Enterprise Suite for 8 resorts
For more information on Guest Management Systems for 03/08/12


- Sceptre acquires Whiteboard Labs as part of joint venture
- Worldhotels integrates Nor1's eStandby Upgrade into its ResMaster 3 Internet booking engine
- TourOnline integrates DIRS system with Trust International
- Groupize launches beta online booking engine for groups needing five rooms to 25 rooms
- InnLink launches VisitUs suite of booking software for DMOs and CVBs
- GoMio’s youth hostel reservation system uses Appnostic's SocialBooker app for hostel Facebook pages
For more information on Reservations for 03/08/12


- Olery announces Feedback system using on-site tablets or computers to obtain guests’ feedback
- Lodging Interactive releases InnterACT online client portal for website analytics, KPIs and social media monitoring
- Lodging Interactive extends Link2Brand URL service to include branded Google+ Business Pages
- Pegasus receives Gold Adrian Award for trade show marketing campaign
- Thirteen TravelClick customers receive Adrian Awards for excellence in digital marketing
- Appnostic enhances SEO offerings to include Google+ social search results
- Uniguest picks Ascension Software (formerly GBCblue) to develop guest portal and mobile applications
- Five hotel companies select Aptech
For more information on Marketing/Management for 03/08/12


- Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla, Calif., upgrades to VingCard’s Classic RFID locks
The 93-room Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla, Calif., has upgraded to VingCard Elsafe's Classic RFID locking system from an older magnetic stripe lock system.  http://www.thegrandecolonial.com, http://www.vingcardelsafe.com


- Five hotel companies select Aptech
- Shift4 integrates payment services with eBay’s Magento e-commerce platform
- Transaction Resources, Inc. (TRI) integrates Merchant Link’s Payment Gateway and TransactionVault
- MICROS integrates Merchant Link’s TransactionShield and TransactionVault
- HFTP developing global hospitality accounting system users guide
- Vertical Systems, Inc. (VSi) launches four mobile apps
For more information on Back Office for 03/08/12


- Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas selects Yellow Dog
- Maryland Live! Casino selects Agilysys’ Stratton Warren System
Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas has selected Yellow Dog Software’s back office inventory system for its retail store, integrated with its MICROS POS system.  http://www.hofbrauhauslasvegas.com, http://www.yellowdogsoftware.com
The Maryland Live! Casino in Hanover, Md., has selected Agilysys’ Stratton Warren System for its inventory and procurement operations.  The casino also will use the system's menu/recipe analysis module.  Scheduled to open this summer, Maryland Live! Casino will offer 4,750 slot machines and electronic table games, multiple restaurants, shopping outlets and a live entertainment venue.   http://ppecasinoresortsmd.com, http://www.agilysys.com 


- Hampton Inn, Hendersonville, N.C., installs solar thermal collector panels from FLS Energy
The Hampton Inn of Hendersonville, N.C., has installed 24, 4-foot x 10-foot AET solar thermal collector panels on the roof of the hotel, providing approximately 1,200 gallons of hot water a day for the hotel’s hot water needs, including laundry and guest showers.  The panels were engineered, built and operated by FLS Energy of Asheville, N.C., which owns the system and sells the hotel the energy at a lower rate than it currently pays for fossil fuels.  http://www.hendersonville.hamptoninn.com/, http://www.flsenergy.com


- Best Western names PhoneSuite as a preferred vendor of telecom systems
- Mandarin Oriental contracts with Swisscom Hospitality for remote IT infrastructure at five locations
Best Western has named PhoneSuite as a preferred vendor of telecom systems.  http://www.bestwestern.com, http://www.PhoneSuite.com 
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has contracted with Swisscom Hospitality Services for the remote management of its IT infrastructure at five European locations.  Swisscom will manage the core network components within each hotel, covering all central, floor and in-room switching, Wi-Fi infrastructure and UPS power status monitoring.  Swisscom’s Managed Services are built on IBM's Tivoli software, adapted by Swisscom for the specific needs of the hospitality business.  Swisscom presently manages Mandarin’s IP networks in London, Paris, Geneva, Munich and Barcelona.  http://www.mandarinoriental.com, http://www.swisscom.com/hospitality


And now for you-know-what…

A young man called his mother and announced excitedly that he had just met the woman of his dreams.  He then asked his mother what he should do next.

His mother had an idea. "Why don't you send her flowers, and on the card invite her to your apartment for a home-cooked meal?" she asked.

He thought this was a great strategy, and a week later, the woman came to dinner.  His mother called the next day to see how things had gone.

"I was totally humiliated," he said.  "She insisted on washing the dishes."

"What's wrong with that?" asked his mother.

"We hadn't started eating yet," he replied.

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