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Siegel Sez

April 11, 2013

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Apps. Then more apps. There are apps for your smartphone and apps for your tablet. This is one technology expansion that seems to have no end in sight. More people show me their new apps than you could imagine: Apps that let you book a room, check in at the hotel and once you’re at the hotel make your stay more enjoyable. Then there are next-generation apps for the rooms that will eliminate the guestroom phone to order just about anything. There are apps that help housekeeping and engineering. After seeing these demonstrations I wonder how those who created these apps will make money. There is no doubt that some will be widely used, but it is a competitive field right now. If you know of a new app for the hospitality industry let me know, I would love to give it my two cents. Maybe there is a calling for critiquing hospitality apps.

Other than seeing demos of new apps, I occasionally get to see demonstrations of different software solutions. Recently Infor Hospitality invited some industry bigwigs and me to see many of the company’s offerings. It was quite impressive. Many people forget that Infor as a company is the second largest software solutions company for the industry.  Thank you, Infor, for including me and showing this group not only what you are offering today, but what is coming down the road. I wonder what new smartphone/tablet apps Infor is working on.

One thing I have learned over the years is that once the calendar flips to April, everyone in the technology world, both those that supply technology and those who use it all start talking HITEC (http://www.hitec.org). HITEC moves locations every year and if there was one place that every attendee seemed to have fallen in love with it was Minneapolis. It is great that we are going back to this city. I have been a member of the HITEC Advisory Board for many years and it is both enjoyable and challenging to put together the educational program for HITEC. I have helped put together one of the HITEC Super Sessions with Tim Huckaby, CEO, Actus Interactive Software, and chairman, InterKnowlogy, who wowed the crowd at our Executive Vendor Summit (http://www.vendorsummit.com). There will be more about this session down the road, but I will tell you right now, don’t miss it. Anybody who shared a stage with Bill Gates has to have something and Tim has a lot to share. If you are a vendor of technology and especially if you are exhibiting at HITEC we are proud that for 12 years now Hospitality Upgrade (http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com) has been the Exclusive Affiliated Technology Magazine for HFTP and will be the only magazine inserted into the bags of every attendee.  Every attendee will know who you are along with more than 32,000 readers all over the world.  If you would like to be involved with Hospitality Upgrade for the HITEC issue, please email Morgan Mathis at mailto:morgan@hospitalityupgrade.com or call (678) 802-5304.

Lastly, there is a great history of technology for the hotel industry. If you were involved with hotel technology back in the ‘70s or ‘80s send a note to mailto:rich@hospitalityupgrade.com. If you were a vendor, operator or any other role that you were involved in during these decades, please let me know.  What we have learned since then is absolutely amazing and should be shared, plus so many of the stories are fascinating. We are going to absolutely love putting this together, and we want to hear your stories. If you don’t really know who Hospitality Upgrade is or even if you think you do, then click here. It might be the best 90 seconds of your life. Ok, that might be a stretch, but it is something very cool that we just created. Watch it and send Geneva your thoughts at mailto:geneva@hospitalityupgrade.com.

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review of the last few weeks. 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



- Can we simplify hotel systems’ interface pricing?
Of all the complexities of hotel system pricing, interfaces have always caused the most head scratching.  Why is this?  As long as I’ve been in this industry (and trust me, that’s a l-o-n-g time) I’ve had to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining to hotel owners why it is that the cost of the interfaces often exceeds the cost of the base software, or why a simple one-way charge-posting interface that’s been installed in thousands of properties and hasn’t changed in 20 years still commands a $2,500 list price.

There’s a lot of rationale to dividing interfaces into two groups, the simple one-way charge-posting links and the much more complex interfaces such as central reservations connections.  The latter continue to expand in functionality, from initially just sending room/rate availability and receiving bookings back to handling length-of-stay restrictions, receiving activity reservations as well as room bookings, and handling multiple channels.  Credit card interfaces and connections to revenue management systems or complex sales and catering systems are also non-trivial pieces of software.  In addition, Web services interfaces have proven far more useful and flexible than the old RS232 serial cable connections, and are certainly worth more than a call accounting interface.

But vendor policies on pricing are all over the map.  Many charge a flat fee, often in a two-tier structure that differentiates between the above two categories, though the levels of pricing vary considerably and often seem to have no relation to the actual value of the software.  When AremisSoft came into the U.S. market many years ago it proclaimed its intent to change the paradigm by charging for each interface according to the amount of revenue that flowed over it.  There may be some theoretical justification for that but it’s hard to explain to a skeptical buyer and almost impossible to administer, and the concept died a deservedly early death. 

Now the general idea is being revived by vendors that propose to charge for interfaces according to the size of the hotel, presumably on the basis that the bigger the hotel the more traffic flows over the interface and so the more valuable that link is to the property.  What’s next, paying more for Internet service on the days we pay our bills online? 

Fortunately some enlightened vendors offer their systems on a more inclusive basis, e.g., bundling the buyer’s choice of five basic interfaces from the vendor’s library into the base price.  And if the hotel replaces one call accounting system with another, the vendor just swaps out the interface at no extra charge instead of imposing a new license fee on the grounds that it’s a different piece of software.  It may well be, but it’s probably been amortized over a few hundred installations already.  Further, given that the license only provides rights to use the software, not own it, the concept of charging a repeat “sales” price for the hotel to use a different piece of software with the same functionality seems a little hard to justify.

I realize that vendors need to generate a sufficient revenue stream one way or another to stay in business, develop and support their products, but does it need to seem so arbitrary?  I guess I shouldn’t complain.  If nothing else, it contributes to my job security as a consultant.



- Philip Wolf joins board at TrustYou
- Thomas Storey hired by LodgeNet as president of hospitality
- Ric Leutwyler joins Choice Hotels as president of SkyTouch systems division
For more information on People on the Move for 04/13/13


- Hyatt Regency Baltimore installs five iMacs® from Eleven Wireless
- Passkey and Nor1 extend integration of GroupMAX and eStandby Upgrade
The Hyatt Regency Baltimore has installed five iMacs® from Eleven Wireless, equipped with ElevenBC software.  Four are located in the hotel's suites, each with a printer; the fifth is in the Regency Club for free boarding pass printing.  http://baltimore.hyatt.com, http://www.elevenwireless.com
Passkey and Nor1 have extended the 3-year-old integration of their GroupMAX and eStandby Upgrade products, now allowing hotels not only to use GroupMAX's Web booking engine to send offers to guests, but also to use its embedded email marketing suite to promote upsell offers to group guests.  http://www.nor1.com, http://www.passkey.com


- China Panda implements Prologic First’s Touché POS across 21 outlets
- Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, Aloft Charlotte Ballantyne Hotel implement Clear Sky’s beverage control system
- MICROS releases MICROS inMotion mobile business intelligence tool for restaurants
For more information on F&B/Point of Sale for 04/13/13


- Nine Zero Hotel, Boston, installs 50+ iPads® with Intelity ICE Touch in guestrooms, suites
- M.C. Hotels Group offers Cardola VirtualHotel mobile concierge software to U.S. market
- Sceptre unveils Roku-Ready 47-inch LED TV with MHL technology
- Chargerback announces Web-based hotel lost and found application
- citizenM London Bankside adds free Miniclip online games to guestroom tablets
For more information on Guest Services for 04/13/13


- Noble House Hotels & Resorts selects Aptech’s Profitvue, Execuvue and Targetvue for 17 properties
- Blake Hotel, Charlotte, deploys Linen Technology Tracking’s RFID linentracker system
Noble House Hotels & Resorts has selected Aptech Computer Systems’ Profitvue Enterprise Back Office accounting, Execuvue Business Intelligence and Targetvue Planning/Forecasting systems for its 17 properties.  Profitvue was deployed in Q1 2013; Execuvue and Targetvue will be installed in Q2.  http://www.NobleHouseHotels.com, http://www.aptech-inc.com
Amsterdam Hospitality’s Blake Hotel, Charlotte, N.C., has deployed Linen Technology Tracking’s linentracker turnkey system to track more than 52,000 linen assets (sheets, towels and bathrobes) embedded with linentracker’s proprietary UHF RFID SMARTtags.  http://www.blakehotelnc.com, http://www.linentracker.com


- Multiple properties select Yellow Dog for back office inventory solution
Yellow Dog Software has announced several new clients for its back office inventory solution for retail and/or food and beverage inventory management.  These include:

- Atlantis (Paradise Island, Bahamas)
- Island Resort and Casino (Harris, Mich.)
- Houstonian (Houston, Texas)
- Springmaid Beach Resort (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
- Pronghorn Resort (Bend, Ore.)
- Charleston Harbor Resort (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.)
- Sonesta Hilton Head (Hilton Head Island, S.C.)
- Biggest Loser Resort (Chicago, Ill.)
- Whiteface Lodge Resort (Lake Placid, N.Y.)
- Crystal Springs Resort (New Jersey)

Amusement Parks:
- Knoebels (Elysburg, Pa.)

- Borgata (Atlantic City, N.J.)
- Wildhorse Resort and Casino (Pendleton, Ore.)


- Choice launches SkyTouch Technology division to sell its cloud systems on the general hotel market
- Radisson launches pilot program to evaluate digital check-ins
- Prologic First announces several new customers for WISH suite
- B4Checkin Web booking engine gets certified two-way interface with Infor’s Medallion and Epitome
For more information on Guest Management Systems for 04/13/13


- HRS to list 250,000 properties with GetThere
- NCED Conference Center and Hotel implements OpenView booking engine
- International Hotel Development of Amman, Jordan, working to increase Pegasus’ presence in Middle East
- FastBooking upgrades smartphone apps for Hotels-Paris.fr, Facebook.com
- IHG adding 4,600-property portfolio to Ctrip.com via interface from DerbySoft
For more information on Reservations for 04/13/13


- SALA Hospitality Group deploys ZDirect’s ZMail at two hotels in Thailand
- Noble House Hotels & Resorts selects Aptech Profitvue, Execuvue and Targetvue for 17 properties
- Flip.to wins Best Entertainment Interactive Application in WMA’s Internet Advertising Competition
- TrustYou launches The Reputation Machine
- Great Wolf Resorts picks Infor’s Epiphany Marketing
For more information on Marketing/Management for 04/13/13


- Malmaison, Hotel du Vin pick SiteMinder for 26 properties
- eRevMax certifies two-way XML RateTiger interface with Hotwire.com
Malmaison and Hotel du Vin have selected SiteMinder for channel management services for their combined 26 properties in the United Kingdom, linked to their MICROS OPERA Central Reservation System and IDeaS Revenue Management System.  http://www.malmaison.com, http://www.hotelduvin.com, http://www.siteminder.com  
eRevMax has added Hotwire.com to its Channel Eco-System following certification of a two-way XML interface with RateTiger and eRevMax Connect.  The link will let hotels process rate and inventory updates through RateTiger’s XML interface and receive reservations from Hotwire bookings.  http://www.hotwire.com, http://www.erevmax.com


- Oasis Inn, Kissimmee, Fla., installing wireless environment for ZENO Controls system
The Oasis Inn, Kissimmee, Fla., is installing a point-to-point, wireless environment that will be upgradeable to ZENO Controls’ mesh network, complete with Verve Living Systems' guestroom switches, sensors and thermostats as well as HVAC, lighting and load controls.  http://www.zenocontrols.com  


- DOCOMO interTouch receives Marriott's 2013 GPNS certification for FREEDOM Internet service
DOCOMO interTouch has received Marriott International's 2013 Global Property Network Standard (GPNS) certification for its FREEDOM Internet high-speed wired and wireless Internet service.  DCMI’s network was already in compliance with 2011 standards, and this recertification now brings DCMI current with Marriott's 2013 standards.  Currently 70 percent of Marriott properties in the Asia Pacific and MEA regions use DCMI's FREEDOM Internet.  http://www.docomointertouch.com  


And now for you-know-what…

The teacher asks the students in her class, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Johnny says, "I want to be a billionaire, and go to the most expensive clubs, take the best looking girlfriend with me, give her a Ferrari worth over a million bucks, an apartment in Copacabana, a mansion in Paris, a jet to travel through Europe, a Visa Infinite Card and make love to her three times a day."

The teacher, shocked and not knowing what to say to the child, decides not to give importance to what he said and continues the lesson. She turns to another child in the class and asks, "And you, Susie, what would you like to be when you grow up?"

"I want to be Johnny's girlfriend."

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