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Siegel Sez

January 05, 2007

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Two days before Christmas, Saturday, December 23, I was flying to San Diego. My flight was out of the international terminal in Atlanta, which also is used for some domestic flights. Everybody traveling that day was paranoid about the crowds so it was common to see people killing a few hours before flights. I was walking around and came upon the food court which was decorated for the holidays. In the atrium near the food court there was a woman playing a baby grand piano. A crowd was standing around listening to her play and many were singing along. I noticed there was a young man dressed in army fatigues (who I found out later was home for the holidays and now heading back overseas) asking the woman if he could sing a song.

What happened next is best described as surreal. The pianist started to play and the military man in full combat dress sang John Lennon’s, “Imagine.” It caught everybody off guard to say the least. As he sang I looked around at the crowd that had grown and women were crying while men (including myself) were trying to hold their emotions in check as he beautifully sang each note. It was just one of those moments that in some ways didn’t make sense and in other ways meant so much. I am sure no one in the crowd will forget this for a long time. When he finished there was an awkward moment, the crowd didn’t know whether to cheer or applaud. As it happened they did neither. Finally a woman walked up to him and gave him a big hug. He smiled, the crowd smiled and eventually he sang another song, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and everybody got back into the holiday mood. But it was one of those unexpected moments and I know it will be something that I remember for a long time. It was an interesting way to start my holidays, that was for sure.

The holidays are now over and it is 2007. I can’t believe next month it will be 15 years ago that I went to a lawyer’s office, incorporated myself and started publishing a newsletter on technology for the hospitality industry. Today we have 28,000 readers of Hospitality Upgrade in 87 countries. Who would have thought? In November 1996 Dick Johnson sent out the first Hotel Online e-mail which was the first for the industry, a daily e-mail with hotel news from around the world. Dick and I partnered in 2000 and our first Siegel Sez came out and shocked many people. Thankfully our bi-weekly focus on technology has been accepted. There have been many others who have come and gone in the e-mail news business for the industry since. We can proudly say that every ranking service we can find has Hotel Online listed as the most popular by a wide range. Plus, every reader is opted in, not a one has ever been spammed. We are proud of that and must thank you. Your sharing the e-mail with others has allowed us to grow.

If you want to talk technology with the best of them, Jon Inge makes it easy with our first e-mail of the year. Jon’s very popular year in review is in this e-mail and once again he has done a great job. We are thankful that Jon has been with us from day one. Here now is his review and I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what. I hope everybody has a great 2007. We are thankful to be part of it. 


Technology NEWSSTAND

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


- Year-End Review
It’s been another interesting year, but one marked more by consolidation than by startling new products.  The world’s continuing obsession with the Internet was reflected in many areas; PhoCusWright, for example, predicted that the Internet will account for over half of all U.S. travel bookings next year.  Travel agents still generate significant business (and at higher ADRs than the Internet, too) but the traditional GDS domination seems to be waning; Travelport acquired Worldspan (it already owned Galileo) and Sabre was sold to private investors. 

Guestroom technology continued to be a high visibility topic, emphasized by HFTP’s Guestroom 2010 at HITEC.  The wider availability of entertainment options for guests, both from Internet sources (videos, IP phones, etc.) and from their own portable gadgets, reduced the demand for traditional pay-per-view movies and increased demands on network bandwidth.  The latter can only increase significantly next year and many hotels will need to upgrade their networks to cope.  The adoption of tiered pricing is expected to spread rapidly to help manage this demand.  LodgeNet moved well to maintain its edge, offering Entertainment 2Go for legal movie downloads to guests’ PCs, buying HSIA provider StayOnline and acquiring its traditional pay-per-view rival On Command, but the IP-based vendors will continue to grow in competitiveness.

Pressure on hotels’ networks also came from the continued growth in rich-media content on their Web sites.  Video, 3-D photos and interactive media all greatly help a property sell itself, but they place major demands on the network to make sure the potential guest can display them quickly.

In the PMS world, the demand for wider, more complete systems led both to acquisitions (SoftBrands acquired HIS, Visual One acquired GolfPro and was in turn acquired by Agilysys) and to more formal partnerships with complementary vendors.  HIS partnered with Newmarket, Ennoview (spa/golf), Squirrel and Guestware, SoftBrands with Serenata and Cerenity spa, Visual One with IDeaS, and Northwind with Jencess golf.  Ramesys renamed itself RedSky IT, and Amadeus gathered its Hogatex PMS and Optims RMS applications under the Amadeus Hospitality brand.

Reflecting the growing need for more secure, professionally supported systems, an increasing number of hotel groups opted for centrally hosted PMS operations using systems from Micros-Fidelio, Northwind, RedSky, Protel and Amadeus/Hogatex, among others.

Consolidation also showed up in the sales and catering world (Newmarket acquiring Daylight Software and StarCite merging with OnVantage) and in POS (nuSable and WaiterPAD merged, PAR Technology took over SIVA and MICROS acquired TangentPOS).  Contrarily, Cendant split into four groups; its travel distribution services division was renamed Travelport before being sold to The Blackstone Group. 

Revenue management systems made good progress, their current wide applicability shown best by Best Western’s adoption of EasyRMS as a preferred vendor and by most new implementations being ASP-based.  The continued importance of distribution channel management led to the numerous sales reported by EZ-Yield and HBSI, as well as to IDeaS’ integration with EZ-Yield and eRevMax’s RTShopper, and to Travelocity’s interface with TravelCLICK’s RateVIEW.  Additionally, Manugistics was acquired by JDA Software Group. 

Data analysis and business intelligence were both in strong demand, with Aptech and Datavision among the front runners and Agilysys releasing its own module.

What’s going to be hot this year?  Attractive new services will continue to put pressure on network bandwidth, certainly.  Other brands will follow Hilton in letting guests pick their own room from floor plans and photos. (Will RMSs be fine-tuned to yield prices on a per-room basis?) Guest recognition and targeted marketing will continue to grow and put more demands on data integration across systems, and good BI systems will become essential to help managers pick out the exceptions needing action from the wealth of data collected.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few more vendor mergers, either.  In other words, business as usual! 


- Dan Bogan promoted to senior vice president of NCR’s retail/hospitality and self-service solutions
Dan Bogan has been promoted to senior vice president of NCR’s retail/hospitality and self-service solutions business.  Mr. Bogan, a 30-year veteran of the company, most recently served as the interim leader of its retail store automation business.  He has also held positions as vice president of the Americas region, vice president of worldwide marketing, assistant vice president of cooperative marketing, area vice president for NCR’s Western division and vice president of food industry marketing.


- Agilysys acquires Visual One
- Three Boyle properties install two-way Medallion/Best Western interface
Agilysys has acquired Visual One Systems Corp.  The purchase is expected to close in late January 2007.
Three Boyle properties – Best Western Murray Hill Inn, Best Western Westfield Inn and Best Western Morristown Inn in New Jersey – have installed SoftBrands’ two-way interface between their Medallion PMSs and Best Western’s CRS.  http://www.softbrands.com


- Núñez i Navarro Hotels picks iHotelier for Web bookings at nine properties
- Orbitz launching delayed-flight hotel notification service for travelers
- Homewood Suites’ Suite Selection lets guests view hotel floor plans and room photos, select a specific room
For more on Reservations for 1/5/07


- ARAMARK Harrison Lodging selects Blue Square Studios to help re-launch Web site
ARAMARK Harrison Lodging has selected Blue Square Studios to help re-launch its Web site and enhance its e-commerce capabilities.  Blue Square’s Hospitality Toolkit will let each of the company's properties create and manage online content, packages and promotions using corporate graphics standards and brand identity.  http://www.aramarkharrisonlodging.comhttp://www.bluesqstudios.com


And now for you-know-what…

It was a sunny morning, a little before 8:00 a.m. on the first hole of a busy course, and I was beginning my pre-shot routine. I was visualizing my upcoming shot when a piercing voice came over the club house loud speaker, "Would the gentleman on the women's tee back up to the men's tee please?"
I could feel every eye on the course looking at me. I was still deep in my routine, seemingly impervious to the interruption.
Again the announcement, "Would the man on the women's tee kindly back up to the men's tee?"
I simply ignored the guy and kept concentrating, when once more, the man yelled, "Would the man on the women's tee back up to the men's tee, please!"
I finally stopped, turned, cupped my hands and shouted back, "Would the jerk with the microphone kindly keep quiet and let me play my second shot!"


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