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Siegel Sez

November 21, 2013

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Sometimes I am amazed at how clueless I can be. Not long ago I flew to Baltimore from Atlanta late on a Friday night. I had rented a car via Hotwire (they are a perfect fit for last-minute car rentals) and my car was from Hertz. There is one bad thing about Hotwire and that is you lose your preferred status, but to save money, if you have to wait in a line for 10 minutes who cares. Finally it was my turn at the counter and the agent was really nice.  In fact, we chatted for a bit. He ended up asking if I would like a Toyota Prius. I had never driven a hybrid before and said sure, after all it would mean a lower cost for gas, right? I got to the car, put my stuff in the trunk and was on my way to Frederick, Md. It was late when I arrived at the Holiday Inn and I went in to register. I picked up the keys to my room, went back outside and got into the car to drive over to the room. The car wouldn’t start! I tried everything, but it wouldn’t start. Was I doing something wrong? I found the owner’s manual, read the section “how to start the car” very carefully and still nothing. Then I called the number in the owner’s manual and listened to the automated attendant. I didn’t have the vehicle identification number and until I could enter in that number I couldn’t get help from Toyota. I then thought to call the Hertz emergency service number (I had a concern that my booking the car via Hotwire was going to come back and bite me). I got connected to a call center for emergencies and the service agent was really nice. I told her I couldn’t get the car started. She started walking me through what to do and I realized she was reading the same manual that I used to try to start the car. Between checking in, my attempts to start the car, the phone call to Toyota and now calling Hertz, it had been nearly 45 minutes since I first arrived at the Holiday Inn. It was late, I was tired and frustrated. I asked the Hertz emergency agent if there was anybody else who might know hybrid cars a bit more and I could hear her ask the person next to her. She came back on the phone and asked me the most amazing question. She asked, “Is the car running?” It is near 11:30 p.m., my phone is about to shut off because the battery needs to be charged, I am calling to get help to get the car started and she seriously asked me if the car was running? I am not a screamer, but it was tempting. I said no, that was why I was calling. She talked to the guy next to her again and came back and very cautiously asked me to do her a favor and put the car in drive. I looked at the phone in disbelief and just started wishing this night would end. I decided to humor her and put the car in drive. To my ultimate disbelief, the car started to move. Talk about shock! The car had been on the whole time, but was so quiet I didn’t hear it. Welcome to the world of hybrids. This experience was quite an eye opener.

This week my car was due for service and I was provided a car from Enterprise. Any guesses what they gave me? Yes, it was a Toyota Prius, my new favorite hybrid. When I shared the story about my hybrid experience with the agent from Enterprise he just started laughing. He said I would be shocked how often that has happened. At that point I wondered, if car rental companies are going to rent hybrids, maybe they should include a few more clues as to how the cars work. Has this ever happened to you or am I the most clueless hybrid driver ever? You just have to love advances in technology, don’t you?

Last week I didn’t have to worry about rental cars. We were in New York for the International Hotel/Motel and Restaurant Show. IHMRS has changed over the years, but is still an event we love to attend. Each year we host a dinner for our customers and friends. This year we had 38 friends come to our dinner, and it was a blast. We were glad so many could join us. On Tuesday Kate and I spent most of the day at the Revenue Strategy Summit which was a great first-time event. During the day numerous panelists referred to the feature article written by Cindy Estis Green in the current issue of Hospitality Upgrade. She did a great job on the subject of revenue strategy. In more than 21 years of publishing and many reprint and share requests over the years, this article has received the most requests from major hotel companies of any article we have published. If you haven’t read it, please go to http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com/_magazine/MagazineArticles/Running-Shoes-Bears-and-Revenue-Strategy.asp, and more importantly go to http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com/Subscribe-Magazine/ and subscribe to our three times a year publication. It is amazing how much positive feedback we get from each issue. We thank you for sharing your comments.

In the United States, next week is Thanksgiving which kicks off the holiday season. Please take a moment to reflect on what is upcoming and all you have to be thankful for. It is that one time of the year when we should also be thinking of those less fortunate who might appreciate our ability to share. Of course, we should do this throughout the year. I think many of us do a pretty good job with this, but then again I always think I could do more. This year I will.

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s review of the technology happenings. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what. To those celebrating next week, have a Happy Thanksgiving. 


Technology NEWSSTAND

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



- Wanted: better reporting and data analysis
Modern hospitality management systems are capable of recording an amazing amount of data, covering both guest activities/preferences and hotel operational statistics.  Many even allow hotels to create their own user-defined fields in case the ones provided don’t quite cover their needs.  So why is it often so difficult to get at this data?

It’s a truism in this industry that every system comes with a library of at least 300 standard reports, but never the ones hotels actually need.  They may have started out as useful sets of data when the system was first designed, but they usually haven’t kept pace with the proliferation of data elements, nor with the increasingly sophisticated and multidimensional ways hotels look at data to identify trends and exceptions that they need to act on.  Consequently, this industry would just about grind to a halt without Excel to serve as a repository and analysis engine for data from the multiple different systems most hotels rely on.

Many vendors have added very useful filtering and sorting options to their standard reports, and some do provide report generators, all of which helps.  Some have developed visually appealing dashboards to present key data in ways that highlight meaningful aspects of the business.  But very few allow for the integration of data from other vendors’ products, requiring hotels to continue to export reports to Excel and to do their own reporting and visuals. 

It’s surprising how many vendors can be highly protective of the data in “their” databases – which is really the hotel’s data, not theirs, of course.  Even some that provide their own report generators don’t make all data elements searchable, restricting access to only the most commonly accessed tables, and often there are very strict boundaries drawn around the sharing of data elements with other systems. 

This really needs to change.  At a minimum vendors should make it possible for any of their reports to be exported to Excel with one click, retaining all formatting.  I’d like to see them also be much more open and helpful about their database structures, too; even when they provide their clients with a data dictionary it’s not always easy to identify which of several similarly named data elements would be the right ones to include in a particular analysis a hotel is looking for.

Existing business intelligence vendors such as Datavision, Aptech, ProfitSword and newcomer Hotel IQ already do pull in data from multiple systems, and I’m not discounting the considerable work that needs to go into ensuring that data from different vendors’ systems is actually meaningful when combined.  But I do think there’s a real need for more data access flexibility on the part of the management system vendors themselves, and a real market opportunity for someone to come up with an inexpensive, intuitive approach to cross-system reporting.



- Alfonso Tasso promoted to CEO at Swisscom Hospitality
- Adam Fractenberg hired as director of sales/North America, Canada and the Caribbean at ZDirect
- Erik Browning joins Rainmaker as VP business consulting, gaming/hospitality division
For more information on People on the Move for 11/21/13


- HTL chooses hetras
- Marlin Apartments selects Guestline
HTL, the newest brand from Scandic, has chosen hetras as its hotel software platform.  HTL plans to open 20 hotels in major Nordic cities over the next five years, all running on hetras’ cloud software platform.  The first hotel, a 275-room property in downtown Stockholm, is scheduled to open in May 2014.  http://www.scandichotels.com, http://www.hetras.com
Marlin Apartments has selected Guestline for integrated management software for its 700+ apartments in London, covering individual building management with central management reporting.  Key functions include opening and closing channels, automatically managing rate strategies, implementing promotions, invoicing, servicing rooms and online booking and payment.  Marlin Apartments will also use Guestline's PCI Manager, which permits paid bookings to be automatically downloaded from the OTAs to the PMS at a Tier 1 compliance level.  http://www.marlinapartments.com, http://www.guestline.com


- Moran & Bewley's Hotels selects Pegasus’ Connect+ Premium
Moran & Bewley's Hotels of Ireland and the United Kingdom has selected Pegasus Solutions’ Connect+ Premium for connectivity and distribution services.  The group consists of 10 independently owned and operated hotels under the two Moran and Bewley's brands.  http://www.moranhotels.com, http://www.bewleyshotels.com, http://www.pegs.com


- Vizergy receives two more design awards
- Flip.to wins People's Choice and Most Innovative Stand awards at 2013 World Travel Market
- NAVIS launches NAVIS Reach data marketing CRM software
- Radison releases Rad Hotel simulated-reality mobile game
For more information on Marketing/Management for 11/21/13


- IDeaS integrates data from Brand Karma into RMS pricing
- Baiyun Hotel Guangzhou selects EzRMS
- SiteMinder celebrates 7th birthday, announces 10,000th customer
For more information on Revenue Management for 11/21/13


- EIBTM announces 2013 Technology Watch awards
EIBTM, the global meeting and events expo held in Barcelona, has announced its 2013 Technology Watch awards for the meetings industry.  The winner was GenieConnect’s MarketingConnect module, which tracks attendee/exhibitor registration data as well as actions and preferences made on mobile and Web platforms before and during an event; it then uses these actions and those of similarly profiled users to target attendees with personalized content.  The event host can set up automated campaigns using a combination of time and action-based triggers combined with highly configurable workflow rules. 

Four honorable mentions were awarded t
- Conferize, a global event content distribution platform that displays event videos, slides, photos and comments and has a strong social networking component.
- Poll Everywhere, a mobile polling and engagement application which can be used with any phone and can simultaneously integrate votes made via text, tweets and a mobile HTML5 website, and integrates with PowerPoint to let a speaker start and stop a poll simply by advancing slides.
- Social Tables, a cloud-based event software system used to design floor plans, create seating arrangements, check guests in, and render event floor plans and setup in 3-D.
- TapCrowd, a mobile market platform designed to increase networking and participant one-to-one communication, using technology such as geo-fencing, user profiling, context sensing and push notifications to increase relevance to the event attendees.


- Hotel Ella selects InfoGenesis
- Akaryn selects InfoGenesis, Eatec for Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga Resort and Spa
The 48-room Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas, has selected Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS system. The hotel recently reopened following a multimillion-dollar renovation.

Akaryn Hospitality Management Services has selected Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS system and Eatec inventory and procurement system for its Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga Resort and Spa in Thailand.  The resort, which is currently undergoing a $2 million expansion, was already using Agilysys’ Visual One property management system. 
http://hotelella.com, http://www.aleenta.com/phuket/, http://www.agilysys.com  


- Akaryn selects Eatec, InfoGenesis for Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga Resort and Spa
Akaryn Hospitality Management Services has selected Agilysys’ Eatec inventory and procurement system and InfoGenesis POS system for its Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga Resort and Spa in Thailand.  The resort, which is currently undergoing a $2 million expansion, was already using Agilysys’ Visual One property management system. 
http://www.aleenta.com/phuket/, http://www.agilysys.com


- Zhone Technologies releases wall-plate profile Active Ethernet and GPON ONTs
- Grand by Lakeview opens with Guest-tek's OneView for voice/video/data plus iACT cloud-based PBX
- Shangri-La migrates online IT infrastructure and assets to Verizon cloud
- PhoneSuite installs its 4,000th hotel telephone system
For more information on Communications/Infrastructure for 11/21/13


- Swissôtel Chicago implements Ghost Wall, mobile meeting app from Nervana Group
- Aloft Hotels launches online platform with MTV Asia to promote local music talents
- Sheraton updates brand standards for Link@Sheraton lobby computers with Eleven
- Hotel WiFi Test announces hotel recommendation service based on tested speed of hotels’ Wi-Fi connection
- Hotel Technologies releases Timex self-adjusting alarm clock radios, plus iHome units with Bluetooth® music streaming and multistandard Apple®, USB charging ports
For more information on Guest Services for 11/21/13


- Trump implements Unifocus’ Labor Management System, Operational Budgeting Software
The Trump Hotel Collection has implemented Unifocus’ Labor Management System (LMS) and Operational Budgeting Software package at the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago and the Trump National Doral Miami, and is implementing these systems for its entire portfolio.  http://www.trumphotelcollection.com, http://www.unifocus.com


- Fairfield New York Brooklyn installs Vingcard Signature RFID locks and VISION software
- Kaba announces new Wi-Fi backbone for Saflok online locks
- European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) installs ILCO 790 RFID lock system for its three hotels
For more information on Security for 11/21/13


And now for you-know-what…

A football team was on the field during practice, when to their surprise, a big turkey suddenly walked up to the coach and demanded a tryout.

“Are you crazy,” said the coach. “We don’t give tryouts to turkeys.”

Before he knew it the turkey had dashed down the field to where the team was practicing and made a fantastic catch.

“That was amazing,” exclaimed the coach. “I have never seen anything like that! How much do you want for a year?”

“Don’t worry about money,” said the turkey. “Let me just ask you something, does the season go past thanksgiving?”

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