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Siegel Sez

January 23, 2014

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Oh no! I think I am becoming a weather junkie!  Earlier this week I met with Bryson Koehler the EVP/CIO for the Weather Channel. We went to the Weather Channel studios here in Atlanta and interviewed him on a topic that seems pretty important to the hotel industry. We will have the video posted on http://www.Hotel-Online.com soon.  You can see a picture of my visit with Melissa Medori, one of the nicest PR managers I have ever met, on the right of this column. As I watch the updates on Winter Storm Janus and I see the many pictures of the snow from across the country, I start wondering about the one aspect of winter storms that are always intriguing; what happens to those hotel guests who can’t get out? I smile thinking of my younger days when I was the assistant front office manager at the Holiday Inn at JFK airport. It wasn’t unusual then that travelers planning vacations came to New York the day before a vacation and flew out for their vacation the next morning. I remember one particular blizzard coming and never leaving. The airport was closed for days.  Nobody could leave the hotel and no incoming guests could get there. People planning Caribbean vacations ended up in the Holiday Inn JFK for four nights. We ran out of food and just about all the booze. Remember, there was no Internet back then so either you watched TV or hung out in the bar. Everybody in the hotel got to know each other and even though there were no sunny warm beaches, it was a fun and very different experience. Of course this was my perception since I was also stuck at the hotel with no arriving or departing guests to worry about. I wonder if that same occurrence happened today what would be shared in the world of social media. Do you have a story to share? Please send a note to me at mailto:rich@hospitalityupgrade.com. There are great stories in this industry and some should be shared.  Yes, I live in Atlanta with minimal bad winter weather and as I watch The Weather Channel I think I am missing the snowstorms. I’m sure I will get over it.

It has been an exciting start to the year. The biggest news to close 2013 was the announcement of Amadeus acquiring Newmarket for half a billion dollars. I was fortunate enough to have conversations with the CEOs of the companies involved along with those in the middle who helped make the deal happen. Yes, it will be an interesting year ahead. I also have had conversations with CEOs of many of the major technology companies with some who have been on the job now around a year. It is interesting to get their feedback on doing business in the hospitality industry. Most of these conversations conclude with their commitments to attend our 10th Annual Executive Vendor Summit which excites us even more. If you are a provider of technology we encourage you to participate at our event.  As you see from the video at http://www.vendorsummit.com, it is a very unique gathering and one that attendees place a very high value on each year. I strongly recommend you drop a note to Kate at mailto:kate@hospitalityupgrade.com or call her at (678) 802-5304 to be added to the invitation list. New Orleans might never be the same after we are done with it!

On a final note and mainly because I received a bit of grief from the many readers who made travel suggestions, I wanted to tell you that my six days in New Mexico over Christmas week was a blast. It was a great experience filled with alien museums, White Sands, skiing in Ruidoso and tons of fun people. I can see why New Mexico goes by the tagline, The Land of Enchantment. It is simply different. I ended the New Mexico trip with a day in Juarez, Mexico, which is considered the world’s second most dangerous city. I am not sure where it got that designation, because I had a blast. Then again, I am the type of person that when somebody tells me something can’t be done, I will try to do it. For the many who suggested places to visit in New Mexico, I thank you very much. It was a great adventure.

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review of what is happening in the industry with an opening that seems to be patting the hotel industry on the back for a good job. 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


- Whither mobile payments?
More than most, the payment industry is seeing very rapid changes at the moment.  A number of high-profile data breaches in recent years led to the hospitality industry becoming known (for a while) as the preferred “soft” target for thieves.  Tightening some basic security precautions improved things quite a bit, but the United States’ continued reliance on magnetic stripe cards still leaves it more vulnerable than Canada or Europe, for example, which adopted the more secure chip-and-PIN cards some years ago.  The recent massive breach of data from Target stores may finally swing the tide towards chip-and-PIN cards here, although Target did try to introduce them a few years back; resistance from the retail and banking industry over the costs of adoption killed the project. 

Some U.S. banks do issue chipped cards, but their implementation is still a challenge.  I acquired one ahead of a recent trip to England, but while the card was accepted in readers everywhere, none of them asked for the PIN that I’d established before leaving.  I had to sign the charge slip instead, which was a bit of a nuisance at self-service stations.  When I called the bank to ask why, they said the card was actually a chip-and-signature card “because we haven’t yet figured out a way to do chip-and-PIN without making you liable in case of fraud.”  So what’s the PIN for?  “In case you want to draw money against the card from a European ATM.”  Hmm, I don’t think I’m going to be doing that given the interest rates.  There’s clearly still work to be done here for seamless international banking, which is odd given that debit cards seem to work the same way everywhere.  A simplification, I know, but from a consumer viewpoint it does seem incongruous.

How about mobile wallets such as Google Wallet on our smartphones?  Launched with much fanfare, Google recently reversed course on Wallet; instead of putting the contents of your wallet into your phone and paying with that, it announced a Google Wallet Card to carry (along with all your other cards) in a physical wallet, so you can buy things against your Google account.  Another debit card?  I already have too many. 

Well, how about card consolidators such as Protean Echo and the new Coin card?  These let you store the details of multiple individual cards on a single smart card; pressing buttons on its surface lets you choose which virtual card you want to use for payment.  These may reduce bulk in your wallet but they’re still only mag stripe, not chip-and-PIN; there’s no guarantee yet that merchants will accept them instead of the real cards, and they stop working if they can’t connect with your phone.  This is helpful to make sure you don’t walk off without your card, certainly, but if your phone battery runs down you can’t make payment.  Why not just use your phone? 

It’s chicken and egg, of course.  None of these new technologies will take off unless enough places accept them for payment, and the banks and retail outlets are reluctant to invest in the hardware until enough people want to use them.  Hopefully, the Target breach will finally begin the push.



- MICROS announces mobile versions of OPERA, Simphony™ and Xstore
MICROS Systems has announced a global collaboration with Microsoft, Dell and Intel® to offer tablet-based mobile functionality for its software modules, starting with MICROS’ OPERA, Simphony™ Enterprise F&B POS and Xstore for Retail.  The MICROS software will run under Windows 8.1 on new tablets from Dell incorporating Intel® Atom™ processors; staff and managers will be able to perform multiple activities from one device.  Docking the tablet to the MICROS mStation will provide connectivity to peripherals such as cash drawers, scanners, scales and customer-facing displays.  http://www.micros.com  


- Marriott implements DerbySoft for hotel metasearch connectivity and caching
- Valencia Group lists two more hotels with Pegasus’ RezView NG
- Magnuson launches CRS1 reservation system in United States
For more information on Reservations for 01/23/14


- Hilton introduces getplanning™ interactive meeting planning platform
- Marriott Hotels has launched Meetings Imagined site with emphasis on creativity
Hilton Worldwide has introduced its getplanning™ interactive meeting planning platform for Connect+ properties globally, allowing planners to connect with hotel staff, vendors and partners in real time.  Connect+ hotels are located in destination cities and feature more than 450 guestrooms or 40,000-plus square feet of meeting space.
getplanning features include an organized and detailed approach to planning, real-time communications, centralized document access, single-click to planning assets (floor plans, menus, Passkey and more), management of third-party vendors and activities, the use of mobile devices onsite, and a systematic approach to managing meetings and events.  http://www.hilton.com  
Marriott Hotels has launched Meetings Imagined, an online platform that provides expert tips, information on meeting trends and hundreds of inspirational images to spark creativity based on the meeting objective.  Customers can collaborate with hotels to design custom experiences or view others featured at the participating test hotels, as well as post favorite images on social media sites.  The site bases its approach on seven purposes for meetings: celebrate, decide, educate, ideate, network, produce and promote.  Five U.S. and four European Marriott Hotels will be testing the Meetings Imagined concept: Chicago Marriott O'Hare, Tysons Corner Marriott, Gaithersburg Marriott Washingtonian Center, Orlando World Center Marriott, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, London Marriott Grosvenor Square, Paris Marriott Rive Gauche, Munich Marriott Hotel and the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel.  http://www.MeetingsImagined.com  


- Country Club of Naples installs Clear Sky Software’s BEVERAGE, interfaced with Jonas
- Agilysys announces InfoGenesis Flex mobile POS based on ThinkPad® Tablet 2
- MICROS announces mobile versions of Simphony™, Xstore and OPERA
For more information on F&B/Point of Sale for 01/23/14


- Mike Blake joins StayNTouch board of directors
- Craig Warner promoted to IT director at Wyboston Lakes
- Delfo Melli appointed sales director EMEA at Infor EasyRMS
For more information on People on the Move for 01/23/14


- New York Palace implements ZMail®
- Vizergy® receives gold Adrian Award for digital marketing excellence for Brown Hotel website
- Infor adds TrustYou’s TrustScore™ to EasyRMS
- Best Western, Carlson work with Google to add street view photos of properties
For more information on Marketing/Management for 01/23/14


- Bali Hotel Guide signs with RateGain
- Goibibo.com develops two-way connection with RateGain’s RezGain
- Infor adds TrustYou’s TrustScore™ ranking to EasyRMS
- Indra adds SiteMinder as channel partner for distribution services
- TouristOnline completes two-way XML interface with eRevMax’s RateTiger and Connect
- Restel Hotel Group implements IDeaS RMS in five more properties
- RezNext enhances ReX channel management to handle package bookings
For more information on Revenue Management for 01/23/14


- LG Electronics USA to recommend G-LINK™ as preferred compatible hospitality connectivity device
LG Electronics USA plans to recommend G-LINK™ as a preferred compatible hospitality connectivity device, phasing out its remote jack pack (RJP) in favor of G-LINK's auto-sensing panels with a single HDMI connection to the LG TVs.  G-LINK's connectivity panels include built-in Apple® docks and enough AV ports to support smartphones, tablets, personal gaming consoles and laptops, with power ports to let guests play and charge simultaneously.  http://www.glinkconnect.com, http://www.lgsolutions.com


- Infor acquires PeopleAnswers
- M3 Accounting + Analytics completes 15th year in hospitality industry, passes 3,000-client mark
Infor has acquired PeopleAnswers, maker of a predictive talent analytics engine.  The cloud-based service analyzes 39 behavioral traits for job candidates and produces a fit rating to predict how well a candidate will match the position requirements, helping reduce turnover, improve customer service and increase revenue by qualifying applicants more thoroughly and analytically.  Key attributes predictive of a new employee's performance include ambition, discipline, energy, acceptance of authority, attention to detail, flexibility, conscientiousness and empathy; PeopleAnswers administers online interviews to 20 million applicants annually across multiple industries, job roles and geographies.
M3 Accounting + Analytics has completed its 15th year in the hospitality industry.  Its flagship hotel accounting platform, AccKnowledge, now has more than 3,000 active hotels online; nearly 500 hotel management companies in North America are using M3's products.  http://www.M3AS.com  


- Le Duff America picks Agilysys’ Eatec and Workforce Management for 145 Mimi's Café locations
Le Duff America has selected Agilysys’ Eatec inventory and procurement system and Agilysys Workforce Management Solution (WMx) for 145 Mimi's Café locations across the United States; it already used the products at 66 la Madeleine Country French Café restaurants nationwide.  http://www.groupeleduff.fr/en, http://www.agilysys.com


And now for you-know-what…

A group of women were at a seminar on how to live in a loving relationship with your husband. The women were asked, "How many of you love your husband?"

All the women raised their hands.

Then they were asked, "When was the last time you told your husband you loved him?"

Some women answered today, a few yesterday, and some couldn't remember.

The women were then told to take out their cell phones and text their husbands, "I love you, sweetheart." The women were then told to exchange phones with another person, and to read aloud the text message they received, in response.

Here are some of the replies:
1. Who the heck is this?
2. Eh, mother of my children, are you sick or something?
3. Yeah, and I love you too. What's up with you??
4. What now? Did you crash the car again?
5. I don't understand what you mean?
6. What in the world did you do now?
7. ?!?
8. Don't beat about the bush, just tell me how much you need?
9. Am I dreaming?
10. If you don't tell me who this message is actually for, someone will die.
11. I thought we agreed you wouldn't drink during the day.
12. Your mother is coming to stay with us, isn't she?

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