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Siegel Sez

February 20, 2014

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

As you read Jon Inge’s opening about his weekend hotel stay, the one thing he doesn’t mention is the reason for the getaway: it was his birthday. For those of you who have been following Siegel Sez for the last 13 years, you are probably aware that Jon and I share the same birthday.  Jon celebrates his and I pretty much ignore mine. My theory is that if I don’t acknowledge the birthday then I don’t get any older. This has been working for me for many years now. Yes, it is a classic case of denial. Another way Jon and I differ is the way we use Facebook. I have met so many great people in my business life, and I enjoy being friends with them on Facebook. It is nice being exposed to their nonprofessional world, their families, adventures and other things that are important parts of their lives. Those who are my FB friends know I don’t post much except updates on the crazy, unpredictable world of horses. I bring this up because of my birthday last Monday. Yes, Facebook tells all my “friends” it is my birthday and all day long I was getting birthday wishes. That was nice. Just friendly little notes from people that I know but don’t often talk to; it was a nice and a subtle way to enjoy the non-celebration of my birthday. But I also must mention that here in the states Monday was the President’s Day holiday. Schools were closed, government was closed and many businesses were also closed. Tuesday was back to normal, and when I got home from work that day I checked my mail, the kind put in my mailbox in front of my house. Because of the holiday, there was no mail delivery on Monday, but Tuesday was a big day. I was actually in disbelief. In my mailbox were 14 birthday cards, even one from Switzerland. Fourteen!!! Yes, I received more than 100 happy birthday wishes on Facebook and many more emails from friends wishing me a happy birthday, but all I could think about was how nice it was to read through all 14 birthday cards with little notes included. Who knows, maybe I am missing the simpler days in life when we weren’t so connected.  Fourteen people took the time to buy a card, write a note, put on a stamp and put it in the mail. The impact of receiving them really made my day. I think there is a lesson learned here. Of course, now my dilemma is do I email everybody and thank them for the card? Nah, I think I am going to call every one of them and thank them. They put forth the effort and so will I. Yes, sometimes it is the simplest things in life that make the most impact.

Right now we are gearing up for the spring conference season. I had a conference conflict dilemma as I was trying to be in San Diego for the HTNG Annual Conference (http://www.htng.org) and also in Berlin, Germany, for ITB, which are both the first week of March. I was entrusted to create a very unique session for HTNG, Travel for the Ages. This is going to be a fantastic session, and I am officially bummed because I have to be at ITB. Thankfully, our own Michelle Renn who runs Hotel-Online will take over and moderate this session, and from the conversations we have had with the panelists this will be not only a very interesting session but will include quite a few laughs. If you are going to be at HTNG, please don’t miss it. I am bummed that I will not be there, but the growth of ITB in the technology sector has been amazing and I look forward to connecting with the many who will also be in Berlin.  We will finish March with our own Executive Vendor Summit (http://www.vendorsummit.com). This will be No. 10 for us and we have the highest quality crowd ever. If you have any questions about our summit or would be interested in joining us, please send an email to me at mailto:rich@hospitalityupgrade.com.  

Here now is the real reason we are here. The older and wiser Jon Inge brings us his industry review of the technology happenings. 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



- The Last Mile Depends on People
We read a lot about the importance of personalized service these days, and how systems are increasingly able to track guests’ history and preferences to ensure that each visit is customized to their exact needs.  In learning to cater to the demanding and vocal few guests who aren’t shy about expressing exactly what they want, systems vendors have added features that let hotel staff raise the bar for all visitors.  If you know what your guests either do or are likely to expect, you can be much better prepared and have more time to respond to the unexpected as well.

But (you knew that was coming) two aspects still need to be kept in mind.  One is that no matter how sophisticated the data gathering, analysis and forecasting systems are that you rely on, it’s still your staff that shapes the guests’ experiences and memories.  Hiring the right people and giving them the right training are still the bedrock of hospitality.

The other aspect is that the systems you use may not interact with each other well enough to make sure that the staff has the full picture and can make use of all the data you’ve been collecting.  As a simple example, my wife and I recently stayed at a local resort hotel; I made reservations for Saturday night dinner at its restaurant at the same time as I booked the room.  The booking form specifically asked about any allergies they should be aware of (the restaurant is only open three nights a week and serves a fabulous 10-course prix fixe meal), and I let them know of my wife’s allergy to crustaceans. 

In the weeks before arrival I received two emailed confirmations of our stay, each confirming our bookings for both the room and dinner and asking me to let them know if either of us had any preferences or allergies.  Huh?  Both times I contacted the property and was assured that the right alert was on the reservation, but clearly there was a disconnect between the restaurant reservation system and the CRM system used for sending pre-arrival confirmations.  More importantly, once the property was made aware of this disconnect, the CRM system wasn’t updated to compensate.

Fortunately the staff on property was a delight, the restaurant had already prepared an alternative version of the one crab-based course for my wife, and we had an enjoyable and truly memorable meal.  The moral, though, is that it can be very useful to have someone not involved with the hotel operations run through typical CRM situations from the outside, alerting the staff of any gaps in the procedures.  Management must then make sure that if the systems aren’t capable of passing important data amongst themselves – especially data you’ve specifically asked the guest to provide – then someone on staff is responsible for doing so manually.

As Michael Schubach commented several years ago, if you ask guests for their birthdates you’d better be in the greeting card delivery business.



- PhoneSuite completes interoperability testing of Voiceware VoIP phone system with Uniden EXP1240 SIP DECT Cordless Mobility system
PhoneSuite has completed interoperability testing of its Voiceware VoIP phone system software with Uniden America’s EXP1240 SIP DECT Cordless Mobility devices.  The EXP1240 platform currently supports up to 200 cordless users per network segment and supports seamless roaming on up to 40 DECT Access points with zero interference with other wireless networks.  A single access point can support as many as 30 cordless handsets per access point with eight simultaneous conversations, and up to 200 handsets on a single network segment are supported.  http://www.uniden.com, http://www.Phonesuite.com


- Peter Klebanoff has been hired by OpenWays as SVP business development
- David Reed promoted to director, systems and programming at Outrigger
- Christine Liu hired by TSA Solutions as regional director of business development for Greater China
- Keith Povah joins Vertical Booking as VP sales international
- Linda Kent joins Pegasus as SVP distribution strategy
- Ricky Castoldi appointed to VP sales for the Americas at eRevMax
- Louise Meyer, VP global account management at Leonardo, receives 2013 HEDNA Award of Excellence
For more information on People on the Move for 02/20/14


- Agilysys releases Visual One v8.51
- Qbic hotel group migrating to hetras
Agilysys has released version 8.51 of its Visual One GMS.  Enhancements include:
- A more powerful installation utility
- Support for credit card tokenization through Fusebox (Elavon) and BRIF 3 (Servebase)
- An interface to Konami Casino Management System SYNKROS
- A package entitlements screen
- Advance configuration of sales and catering discounts by revenue type
- The ability to sell multiple gift cards in a single transaction
- Confirmation numbers for transferred postings on guest folios
- Enhanced Delphi XML interface
- IDeaS rate recommendations
- Integration with the Agilysys Insight™ Mobile Manager application
The Dutch-based Qbic hotel group is migrating its properties to hetras.  The first hotel to convert is the 171-room property in the Shoreditch neighborhood of London.  http://www.qbichotels.com, http://www.hetras.com


- Welcome Hotel Group signs with Trust for 17 hotels
- Maritim Hotel Group implements Pegasus’ OpenView Internet booking engine
- Genares completes direct connectivity interface to Sabre’s GDS
For more information on Reservations for 02/20/14


- Elevation Hotel and Spa picks UniFocus’ GUESTScope
- Mission Inn Hotel & Spa selects Agilysys’ DataMagine
- Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association to provide TrustYou sentiment analysis to more than 800 hotels
For more information on Marketing/Management for 02/20/14


- iRates partners with AppnosticWorx to embed revenue management in other system
- Omega Hotels integrates booking engine with RateGain's RezGain
- Rocco Forte Hotels signs for eRevMax’s RateTiger Shopper
- Charles Hotel implements Duetto’s Edge
For more information on Revenue Management for 02/20/14


- Benchmark Resorts & Hotels releases 2014 Top Ten Meeting Trends
- John Q. Hammons deploying Passkey's GroupMAX at 39 additional hotels
- Passkey integrates with Flip.to
- Noventri Readerboards certified for Marriott’s Consolidated Inventory Total Yield (CI/TY) event management system
For more information on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 02/20/14


- GuestMobile launches Mobile Guest Voice Solution, lets guests make low-cost calls on their own phones
- LVMH installs iPort’s LaunchPort iPad wireless charging at Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives
- Grand Park Orchard, Singapore, equips all guestrooms with complimentary smartphones
- Bitbuzz launches Hotel Freetime service, lets hotels offer free Wi-Fi access in 20-minute units in public areas
For more information on Guest Services for 02/20/14


- Casino Rama implements InvoTech to manage 15,000 uniforms
- Penn Wells Hotel & Lodge implements Data Plus financial systems
- Shift4 Corporation celebrates 20th anniversary
For more information on Back Office for 02/20/14


And now for you-know-what…

The Pope just finished a tour of the East Coast and was taking a limousine to the airport. Since he'd never driven a limo, he asked the chauffeur if he could drive for a while. The reluctant chauffeur pulled over along the roadside, climbed into the back of the limo, and the Pope took the wheel.

The Pope then merged onto the highway and accelerated to more than 90 mph to see what the limo could do.

Suddenly, the Pope noticed the blue light of a state patrol car in his side mirror, so he pulled over. The trooper approached the limo, peered in through the windows, and said, "I’ll be back in a moment."

The trooper went back to his car and called the station. He explained to the chief that he had a very important person pulled over for speeding. "How do I handle this, chief?" asked the trooper.

"Is it the Governor?" questioned the chief.

"No! This guy is even more important," the trooper said.

"Is it the President?" asked the chief.

"No! Even more important," said the trooper.

"Well then, who the heck is it?" asked the chief.

"I don't know, sir," replied the trooper, "but he's got the Pope as his chauffeur."

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