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Siegel Sez

December 21, 2006

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Do you often wonder what inspires us to do the things we do? Where is that part of our brain that kicks in at the strangest times and why isn’t it used more often? 

Each day I stop for coffee at QuickTrip, an elaborate gas station and convenience store. Recently, I got my coffee and walked over to the cashier to pay. There were two cashiers open working side by side. There was a woman paying at one register and a guy I was guessing was about 18 years old at the other. I chose to get behind the woman who turned out was attempting to pay by check. I was going to quickly move over to get behind the kid but then noticed there were a lot of pennies on the counter in front of him. I decided to stay where I was but listened to the conversation between the clerk and the kid. The kid had said there were 110 pennies. The clerk said he would have to count them. The kid then said, “But sir, I just counted them. There are 110.”
“Sorry, I need to count them,” was the response.

As I waited for my turn to pay for my quickly cooling coffee behind the check lady I watched the transaction at the neighboring cashier. The clerk slowly counted the pennies and, yes, there were 110 like the kid said. I figured that he was buying candy or a drink. After sweeping up the pennies the clerk asked the kid what pump he was at. The kid was buying $1.10 worth of gas!

I thought to myself I hope he didn’t have to travel very far. Miss Check Writer in front of me finally finished her transaction and I paid for my coffee. I went out to my car, put my coffee in the cup holder and then put my key in the ignition. I was about to start my car and then stopped abruptly. I got out of my car, walked over to pump 20 and tapped the kid on the shoulder. He was a bit startled but then looked at me. I handed him $10 and told him to put some more gas in his car. He had a very strange look on his face but didn’t say anything. He was obviously confused. Then he thanked me. I said he was welcome and walked back to my car and left the QT to go to my office.

What a strange feeling that was.  I couldn’t get that strange look he gave me off my mind or get over how good I felt. I try to be generous when possible, but rarely get to see the actual reaction of those I help. Was it the holiday spirit that inspired me? Possibly, but I really think it was how polite the kid was when he was being somewhat embarrassed by the clerk. I hope that everybody reading this will have an opportunity to do something outside the norm to help someone who didn’t ask for any help. If you feel half as good as I did, you will consider it one of those simple but magical moments in life. What a great feeling.

Before I turn this week’s Siegel Sez over to Jon for his final technology review of 2006 I need to say a few things. Thank you HEDNA for inviting me to their annual conference earlier this month. What a great event. There were fun social events, great educational sessions with the whole conference being very interactive. Thanks to Nick Price for inviting me to a Mandarin Oriental Hotels Group dinner here in Atlanta last week. Thanks to Dave Burroughs from Visual One for taking me to lunch when I was in Maryland last week. And, special thanks to Jules Sieburgh and family for inviting me into his home for dinner also while I was in Maryland last week. I need to do stuff like that someday but of course then I would have to clean the house.

Here is Jon Inge’s aforementioned final technology review of the year. I hope everybody has a great holiday season. Thanks for another year of putting up with my often offbeat stories. I will try to clean up my act a bit next year. Come on now, who am I kidding? 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


- We need a more professional approach to systems security and support
A thought for end-of-year reflections: we need to do something about support.

We all know the problems with looking after the many different systems required by any moderately-sized hotel; there are too many separate products from separate vendors, each with their own technology, interfaces and support needs.  This has been a major factor behind the drive to develop more all-encompassing systems, as a way to reduce the number of vendors involved (and hence the number of interfaces) as well as to provide a more complete picture of guest activity and operational data.  While we’re still a long way from having a single solution – no one yet offers a telephone system or video on demand services as part of a PMS package, for example – vendors continue to make progress in expanding their systems’ coverage.

With the appearance of XML-based IP interfaces, though, the need for one vendor to do it all seemed to recede.  With the availability of more flexible links between multiple products, more complete application sets have become available, especially as vendors make formal agreements with preferred partners.  As a result, the best-of-breed approach gained renewed life; hotels can get a more complete offering from one PMS vendor and its specialist partners, with better-integrated data flow and fewer interface configuration hassles.

But flexibility of interconnection doesn’t necessarily translate to simpler support.  Just because a PMS can link effectively to spa, golf, sales and catering and other systems from other vendors, it doesn’t become any easier for the hotel to get good support for the complete installation.  Even if the PMS vendor takes support responsibility for its partners’ products (including single sign-on and effective user access security across all applications) it’s still a multistep process to resolve a cross-system problem.  And no PMS vendor yet takes responsibility for supporting the network on which all the applications depend, let alone keeping up with security patches and anti-spyware on the hotel servers.

In the past this has just been a royal pain for properties as they try to manage it themselves.  But as the legal and adverse-publicity consequences of guest data loss continue to rise, and as company executives are expected to certify that all changes made to the data on their systems were made by authorized users, the need for professional, full-time support of each property’s complete systems environment has never been greater.  Who’s going to step up to this opportunity and provide it?
Thanks to all of you for reading this newsletter, for tolerating its occasionally irregular appearance and for your support and helpful feedback.  Best wishes to all for the holidays, and for a happy, healthy and successful New Year!


- Ethan Allen Hotel orders Delphi Select Edition and Delphi Diagrams
- InterContinental Dubai Festival City and Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City to implement Delphi Multi-Property Edition
- Newmarket releases version 6.0 of Daylight sales and catering application
- Passkey and HBSi to integrate their platforms
For more on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 12/21/06


- Golden Tulip picks centrally hosted Amadeus PMS (Hogatex) for Northern Europe
- RedSky IT wins PMS category at WTM/TravelMole Travel Technology Awards 2006
- MSI implements 100th two-way PMS interface with Best Western’s CRS
- Comtrol releases Lodging Link Premier turn-key hardware interfacing product
- Matfen Hall Hotel orders Visual One’s PMS suite
For more on Property Management Systems for 12/21/06


- Eleven Wireless announces tiered pricing for Internet access
- Vertical Systems Inc. converting hotel payphone areas to VistaPoint Internet kiosks
Eleven Wireless has announced tiered pricing for its Internet access technology to allow hotels to offer free Internet access for guests while charging for high-bandwidth services or non-guest usage.  http://www.elevenwireless.com
Vertical Systems Inc. is converting hotel payphone areas to Internet kiosks with its VistaPoint kiosk, which allows guests to surf the Web, send and receive email, send text messages to mobile phones, print airline boarding passes and make telephone calls.  VistaPoint can be offered as a free guest service or as a revenue generator.  When a guest logs off a new copy of the Windows operating system, factory settings and applications are loaded, deleting the previous user’s files, personal data, usage history and any user-loaded non-standard programs.  http://www.ver-sys.com


- JDA Software hires Dominic Beveridge, John Fuggles and Christina McClay
- Jay Weaver promoted to CFO at Onity
- Ty Abrahams joins Mintek Mobile Data Solutions as director of marketing
- Ignacio Martos appointed CEO of Opodo
- Max Steinhardt joins CBORD Group as senior vice president of operations
- Shawn McCarthy joins CBORD as vice president of wide area commerce solutions
For more on People on the Move for 12/21/06


- Internet to account for over half of all U.S. travel bookings next year, per PhoCusWright
- Hotel Plus partners with HBSi for enhanced connectivity
- OpenTravel Alliance publishes latest version of its messaging specifications
- Executive Hotels & Resorts cuts over to SynXis’ RedX for 14 hotels
- SynXis processes record number of transactions in 2006, handles $2 billion worth of bookings
- Hoteles Centro Ciudad contracts with Pegasus for Internet booking and e-marketing
- Travelport, owner of Galileo, acquires Worldspan
- Sabre announced for sale
- Galileo launches multicurrency rate capabilities for hotels
For more on Reservations for 12/21/06


- MICROS Systems acquires sports and entertainment event POS provider TangentPOS
MICROS Systems has acquired TangentPOS, a provider of event point-of-sale and accounting systems for food service and retail operations at sports and entertainment facilities with over 200 installations in North America.  http://www.micros.com


And now for you-know-what…

The owner of a business was confused about paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help. He called her into his office and said, "I need your help to figure this out. If I were to give you $20,000 minus 14 percent, how much would you take off?"

The secretary thought for a moment, then replied, "Everything but my earrings."

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