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Siegel Sez

August 09, 2013

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

The best surprise is no surprise! Do you remember that slogan or am I just dating myself?  This was the advertising slogan Holiday Inns used years ago and one I thought was great. If you needed a hotel room and you chose a Holiday Inn you knew exactly what you were getting. The hotel industry has changed over the years. It seems so many of the big brands have so many types of hotels from limited service to luxury under one umbrella that you never know what to expect unless of course you equate it to the price you are paying. If you have been reading Siegel Sez over the last decade you will know that I have no loyalty to any brand. It is partly because I work with so many hotel companies, but it is probably more that my sense of adventure enjoys experiencing all types of properties both flagged and independent. Recently I stayed in the same hotel brand twice in a six-week timeframe, and the brand was what most would call very limited service properties. At the first visit it was a wonderful experience with nice people working at the property, I had a clean and comfortable room along with the typical morning breakfast being served in the lobby. However, six weeks later at the same brand I had a totally opposite experience including the condition of the room, the staff and don’t even ask about the morning breakfast. It was very disappointing and does make you think twice before choosing that brand again. I know the world has shifted over the years to franchising and with that comes challenges, but still there should be a minimum expectation for the guest. I am done venting and will add that this experience was not from the world of Holiday Inns, but maybe it is time for the whole hotel industry to start believing that the best surprise is no surprise.

No matter what you do for a living, if you are working at the same place for more than 20 years it is inevitable that those that are customers also become friends. I just returned from Pittsburgh where I joined Aptech Computer Systems at its annual employee and family night at PNC Ballpark to attend a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. (Check out the pictures above.)  I hadn’t been to Pittsburgh in years, what an eye opener that was. A truly revitalized city, I think I am going to push HFTP to include Pittsburgh in the HITEC possibilities list. It was just a wonderful night starting with more than two hours of tailgating before the game. The park was beautiful and most importantly, the Pirates won! What the heck, I think I am going to become a Pirates fan. They are in first place in the NL Central Division and are having a magical season. I think it has been 21 years since they even had a season where the Pirates won more games than they lost. I like cheering the underdog. I must thank Jill Wilder and Sam Costa from Aptech Computer Systems for extending the invitation. It was a fun time. Let’s go Bucs!

Hard to believe our CIO Summit is coming in just over three weeks. It is amazing how many of the industry leaders will be attending this year. We are proud of the support we get, but it also creates an amazing amount of anxiety. Yes, 12 years and you would think it would get easier and in some ways it does, but the pressure to exceed expectations can be very challenging. Even though I started this Siegel Sez by saying the best surprise is no surprise, this year we have a very big surprise planned at the Summit. I can’t wait until September 4! If you have any questions about The CIO Summit (http://www.theciosummit.com), please email me at mailto:rich@hospitalityupgrade.com

It is August 9th and you could say we are in the home stretch of summer. If you are around San Diego this weekend and want to experience a totally unique home stretch, come to Del Mar Racetrack (http://www.dmtc.com/) a bit north of San Diego. Our 4-year-old Currahee will be running in the fourth race and even though I am the most cautious person in the horse racing world going into a race, I feel that we will have our picture taken on Saturday. Keep your fingers crossed, I know mine are. If you are in the San Diego area and would like to attend with our group, drop a note to me. As they say, the more the merrier!

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s review of the technology happenings of the last two 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



- Hotels say they want us to book on their websites, but it’s still quicker and easier to call.
I’m a bit out of touch when it comes to booking hotel rooms online.  Most of the time I stay at the hotel that’s hired me for a consulting assignment, or at a local hotel they book for me.  On vacation we tend to visit friends and family and stay with them.  Given all the press releases I see about the latest growth figures for online booking, when I do use hotels’ online sites I assume (ha!) that the bugs will have been worked out of the process long ago.  After all, because it’s hotels’ least expensive source of business they want us to book that way, right? 

And yet…

Using Google Maps to find hotels close to a new client earlier this year, I found one that looked right, clicked on the link in the pop-up box on the map and made the reservation.  It wasn’t until I checked the confirmation email the day before leaving that I realized the URL in the link was wrong; the booking had been made for a different hotel in the same chain, in a city with the same name but in a different state.  And it was a prepaid, non-refundable reservation.  I was able to sort this out by phone, and mentioned it to the check-in agent when I arrived.  “Oh yes, we get about five guests a week with that problem.”  Really?  And no one’s gone back to Google Maps and corrected the URL?

Last weekend my wife and I needed a hotel in Ohio for a family event.  The only non-smoking rooms available online at the most convenient hotel were handicapped-access rooms with two double beds; not ideal, but everyone else had already decided on that property, and so we booked it.  I called the hotel that evening (after the confirmation had come through) and asked if there were any non-smoking rooms with king or queen beds.  “Sure, no problem, we have several; let me change that for you.”  It was cheaper, too.

Then our plans changed slightly and I needed to shorten our stay at the hotel by one night.  Should be easy on the website, I thought, using the Modify link.  Ah, well, yes, but if you want to change the number of nights, you have to cancel the booking and restart the search for availability.  Again, really?  I called the hotel and they made the change in less than a minute.

I still prefer booking online; it’s easier to look at all the alternatives from different chains and pick the one that’s best for me.  I also understand that hotels would prefer that I do that, as it’s cheapest for them and they don’t want to burden their staff with unnecessary phone calls.  But if they want guests to focus primarily on the website for reservations, that site has to carry all the inventory the guest can book, and it has to function in ways that allow the guest to make and change reservations in the simplest, most helpful way possible. 

Have you checked your site lately?



- Binu Mathews promoted to CEO of IDS NEXT
- Nicolas Aznar joins VingCard Elsafe as president for Latin America and the Caribbean
- Laura Cigana hired by iRiS as VP sales for North America
For more information on People on the Move for 08/09/13


- Swiss-Belhotel Lao Cai, Vietnam, installs protel SPE
- NORTHWIND launches two-way Maestro interface with SYNKROS casino management system
- Outrigger to standardize on MICROS’ OPERA
For more information on Guest Management Systems for 08/09/13


- nuTravel releases v2013 1.3 of enterprise booking system
nuTravel Technology Solutions has released v2013 1.3 of its enterprise booking system, which helps corporate travelers and travel arrangers create policy-compliant and on-budget travel reservations.  The new version features an enhanced UI with more focused content on the screen, a more modern look and feel, new advanced filters for cars and hotels, better placement of sort and filter options for air, and fewer clicks required to confirm a booking.  http://www.nutravel.com  


- Hole in the Wall Gang Camp implements UniFocus' Survey Solutions, donated by the company
- CWT Solutions Group platform encourages business travelers to support corporate travel programs through rewards, recognition
- Watermark Hotel Group implements ZDirect’s ZMail at Watermark Hotel & Spa Gold Coast, Watermark Hotel Brisbane
- Lanyon launches Marketplace Intelligence
- Choose Chicago, Visit Seattle implementing nSight’s newtravel intelligence service
- 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa interfaces Data Plus Finance and Analytics with TimeTrak T&A
- Lindner Hotels & Resorts lets guests link social media accounts with Serenata -based loyalty program
- Lodging Interactive announces www.HotelFAQs.info service
For more information on Marketing/Management for 08/09/13


- Sabre adds RateGain channel management to Channel Connect
- Chic and Basic Born hotel, Barcelona, picks RateGain’s RezGain
- ToPrague.com implements RateGain’s RezGain
- Hotel Westminster, Nice, France, selects Infor EzRMS
- Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs implements Rainmaker’s GuestREV
- Transhotel joins eRevMax’s Channel Ecosystem
- Spirit Pub Company implements Guestline’s Distribution Channel Manager
- Guestline’s Channel and Distribution Manager delivers over £150 million of revenue in last 12 months
- Anantara moves to IDeaS’ Pricing System
- IDeaS adds Price Optimization Service to consulting capabilities
For more information on Revenue Management for 08/09/13


- Vail Resorts Hospitality implements UniFocus' MEETINGScope
- Lanyon announces several major new clients for RFPpublisher
- Knowland Group announces new release of Advanced Researcher Profiles
For more information on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 08/09/13


- Cetis to incorporate feedback from its Customer Design Center council in next-generation hotel telephone designs
- Accor standardizes on Ruckus’ Smart Wi-Fi at 100 hotels in Latin America
- Ruckus Wireless acquires YFind Technologies
For more information on Communications/Infrastructure for 08/09/13


- American Express Global Business Travel partners with Sabre’s TripCase mobile travel app
- Cardola adds OpenWays’ Mobile Key to VirtualHotel mobile concierge
- Roomlinx adds 4,074 new revenue-generating units in last 60 days
- DOCOMO interTouch and Samsung announce Freedom Entertainment partnership
For more information on Guest Services for 08/09/13


- Gila River Casinos implements InvoTech’s UHF-RFID Multi-Property Uniform System
Gila River Casinos has implemented InvoTech Systems’ UHF-RFID Multi-Property Uniform System for three casinos and its corporate distribution center, which between them use 20,000 owned and 16,000 rented uniforms.  Gila River Casinos operates Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino, Lone Butte Casino and Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino in the Phoenix, Ariz., metropolitan area.  http://www.wingilariver.com, http://www.invotech.com


- Xn Hotel Systems begins distribution of Procure.net
Xn Hotel Systems has begun the distribution of the Procure.net hospitality stock and procurement management system.  Procure.net is already used in more than 60 properties across Asia, Africa and Europe; its largest implementation is at the Sun City Resort in South Africa, which has more than 100 concurrent users across multiple departments and multiple hotels.  Xn has installed it for the Windsor Management Company (WMC) in Vietnam.  http://www.xnhotels.com/procure-net  


And now for you-know-what…

The local bar was so sure its bartender was the strongest person around that it offered a standing $1,000 bet. The bartender would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and hand the lemon to a patron. Anyone who could squeeze out one more drop of juice would win the money. 
Many people had tried over time, including professional wrestlers and bodybuilders, but nobody could do it. 
One day a scrawny little man came in, wearing a tie and a pair of pants hiked up past his belly button. He said in a squeaky, annoying voice, "I'd like to try the bet."
After the laughter had died down, the bartender said, "Ok," then grabbed a lemon and squeezed away. He then handed the wrinkled remains of the rind to the little man.
At that point, the crowd's laughter turned to total silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and six drops fell into the glass. As the crowd cheered, the bartender paid the man $1,000, and asked him, "What do you do for a living? Are you a lumberjack, a weightlifter, or what?" 

The man replied, "No, I work for the IRS."

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