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Siegel Sez

August 28, 2014

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

For those of us in the technology world do you remember this year’s HITEC? I thought about it because along with being the premier technology show for the hospitality industry, it has another big significance. When it is done, it marks the beginning of summer. Yes, those two months of the year when everybody is pointing toward their vacations.  We think beaches, pools, mountains, cookouts, trips and many other summer activities.  Yes, we all look forward to summer, right? Then there is this week, the last week of summer. In many parts of the country as here in Atlanta, kids are back in school. In other parts like New York where I grew up, everybody starts school next week after Labor Day. If you are like me, do you take a moment and ask, “Where did summer go?”  Now business travel kicks in, and the list of industry events become almost nonstop and everybody tries to squeeze them in between next week and early November, when we have our winter version of summer from Thanksgiving through the holiday season. Yes, we have some interesting cycles or is it just me?  The summer season is ending and with Hospitality Upgrade’s CIO Summit next week in Milwaukee it is definitely over.  For those of you dealing with groups at your hotels and those that are professional meeting planners I need to ask one thing: Why in the world does it take six months to plan something that only lasts three days? It seems so unfair! Thankfully for us we have one of our biggest crowds ever and with the exception of one company, the technology leaders from every major hotel brand will be attending along with management companies, cruise lines, vacation ownership and gaming companies.  It is a great feeling to create something that so many put such value upon, but the stress sends us through the roof.  It hasn’t gotten any easier after 13 years. I can’t wait for next week to be here, but I also can’t wait for it to be over, then I can concentrate on other things that are important to me, like breaking my 10-year slump in fantasy football! I miss having a winning team. I hope everybody had an enjoyable summer and now we can kick in to our five month home stretch of making 2014 a positive year.

Speaking of home stretches, I must thank my new best friend Victoria Gorman at the Del Mar Hilton. Many follow horses during the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown races, but there are those of us who follow the older horses. One of the summer’s biggest races is the Pacific Classic at Del Mar north of San Diego. The race was this past Sunday and what a fun day it was. What made it really interesting was there were four of us there, we were all betting horses throughout the day and the only person who couldn’t pick a winner was me. I need to find horses with longer noses! Then when the big race was finally run, I miraculously picked the winner and when the day was done, all four of us had won. Trust me, with my crazy friends that never happens. What a fun day, and being able to stay at the Del Mar Hilton which might be one of my favorite hotels only made it better since we could walk to the track. Thank you, Victoria and Scott Sloan for making it a great weekend.

We started off referring to HITEC. The HSMAI Revenue Optimization Conference which is simply called ROC is co-located with HITEC. We attended the conference and with camera in hand Kris and Geneva asked why people where there and to share their views on industry trends. Both videos are short and quite interesting. To watch the event recap, click here. To watch the video about trends in the industry, click here.

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s review of the technology happenings in the industry. 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

- Wanted: a hotel chain pioneer
- Hospitality tech vendors recognized in the Inc. 5,000
What’s it going to take for a hotel chain to take the plunge with one of the new breed of guest management systems?  Great interest was aroused three to four years ago when several vendors announced new-generation cloud-based products, with the promise of vastly more appealing user interfaces, greater reliability, faster development for enhancements and significantly easier deployment and training.

Progress on many of these has been steady if not as fast as hoped for, but while most lack depth of functionality in some areas, all are capable of running at least focused-service hotels, and some much more.  While most of them are slowly selling in ones and twos to innovative hoteliers finding just what they need, none of them have yet found a major client.  What they’re all looking for is a hotel chain willing to commit to one of them for multiple hotels, even as a pilot, and seeing such promise in the new approach, they’re willing to wait a while until all the functionality they’d really like has been developed, influencing that development along the way.

While all of the new breed are appealing, you can find a reason with each one for a chain to be cautious and take a wait-and-see approach.  To take some examples, PAR Springer-Miller’s ATRIO has a highly original and very appealing user interface, as does Agilysys’ new rGuest, yet both, as new products, need to be sold into the midrange commercial hotel segment  where neither vendor had much experience with their prior resort-focused systems.  Infor’s HMS has more functionality than most and a good UI, yet it’s unclear what the impact of Infor’s wide coverage of many verticals is on its interest in selling GMSs.  The same can be said of MICROS’ OPERA 9; while not a new product as such, its significantly improved UI is very encouraging, but the impact of Oracle’s ownership has yet to be seen.  Skytouch is a proven product with a great track record at Choice, but until it’s spun off as a completely separate company, how independent will it really be of Choice’s influence?  And so on.

All of these objections have some validity, but they all miss the point.  Every one of these is a proven product in operational use (except rGuest, but I’ve seen enough of that system to be very encouraged), and while they may not yet be as fully functioned as many chains would like, no system is ever really “complete.”  Backing any one of them now would give a chain a significant advantage in being able to shape its extended development and gain some very real benefits. 

This whole situation reminds me of when Fidelio introduced a new approach to user interface design and functionality 25 years ago, yet didn’t really see widespread adoption until Hilton International took the plunge and adopted it, taking early advantage of what became a worldwide standard.  Which visionary chain is going to take the lead this time?
Evidence that interest in hospitality technology is growing fast continues to mount.  The latest indication is that this year’s Inc. 5000, a listing of the fastest-growing, privately held companies in North America, includes four hospitality system vendors:
   #2200 - Four Winds Interactive
   #2745 - The Rainmaker Group
   #3178 - Dinerware
   #4081 - Unifocus
Many congratulations!



- Greater New Smyrna Beach has ordered Regatta Travel Solutions’ booking engine
Greater New Smyrna Beach has ordered Regatta Travel Solutions’ booking engine for its official destination website, allowing visitors to book hotels, attractions and packages when on the destination website.  http://nsbfla.com, http://www.regattatravelsolutions.com


- RoamingAround offering RoamView interactive virtual property tours
- Ivy Boutique Hotel implements Flip.to
- Palisades Resort Hotel implements Flip.to
- Singgasana Hotels picks TrustYou
- Thomas Cook using TrustYou to monitor more than 45,000 hotels
- Worldhotels actively promoting hotels with highest ratings in TrustYou
- TravelClick receives 28 Interactive Media Awards for website design
- Infor acquires Saleslogix
For more information on Marketing/Management for 08/28/14


- Rainmaker listed in Inc. 5,000 for fourth consecutive year
- The Luxe Nomad signs with SiteMinder's RDX platform
The Rainmaker Group has been in the Inc. 5,000, Inc. magazine's list of the nation's fastest growing private companies, for the fourth consecutive year.  Coming in at No. 2,745, Rainmaker reported three-year revenue growth of 136 percent and has added 64 employees in the previous three years.  http://www.inc.com, http://www.LetItRain.com
Asia Pacific-based luxury hotel booking website The Luxe Nomad has signed with SiteMinder's RDX platform for two-way links between booking channels, guest management systems and central reservation systems worldwide.  TheLuxeNomad.com is a members-only site that offers flash sales and 24/7 best available rates of luxury hotels, resorts and villas, and currently lists more than 400 properties.  http://www.theluxenomad.com, http://www.siteminder.com


- Waldorf Astoria Orlando implements iPad® menus from Uptown Network
The Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s Bull & Bear restaurant has implemented iPad menus from Uptown Network, and has made the app available through Apple’s iTunes® Store for pre-arrival menu browsing.  http://www.waldorfastoria.hilton.com/Orlando, http://www.uptownnetwork.com


- Percipia moves to new headquarters at Michigan Plaza, Chicago
- Ritz-Carlton rolling out mobile app for check-in, checkout, service requests; will add Travel Poster feature
- Hyatt integrates Uber’s ride-sharing service into revamped mobile guest app
- Intelity adds Knowcross’s KNOW SERVICE guest request management module to ICE
- FCS opens new office in Mumbai
- Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa installs TAC’s Reservation Assistant from Xn Hotel Systems
- Shelbourne Dublin installs Acentic’s Panorama NG system
- Grosvenor House installing Guest-tek’s™ Internet and IPTV
- Marriott expands mobile check-in and checkout to additional 11 brands
- Safemark Systems and ScooterBug merge
For more information on Guest Services for 08/28/14


- Jacob Buckstead hired by SkyTouch as VP client partnerships
- St. John Murphy joins Sabre as VP enterprise accounts
- Christopher Donnellon joins Sabre as VP strategy and planning
- Steve Smith hired by CheckMate as VP global sales
For more information on People on the Move for 08/28/14


- Value Place migrates to MSI’s Tr?Cloud™ for 190 properties
- Best Western certifies MSI’s CloudPM™ for general release in its properties
- Skyware completes two-way interface with eRevMax’s RateTiger and Connect
- Frontdesk Anywhere announces interface with SiteMinder's Channel Manager
- Golden Nugget Lake Charles picks Agilysys’ LMS®, GolfPro, Insight™ Mobile Manager and DataMagine™
- B4Checkin completes all requirements for PCI DSS 3.0
- Swiss-Belhotel Seef Bahrain selects Protel Single Property Edition GMS and Xn POS from Xn Hotel Systems
For more information on Guest Management Systems for 08/28/14


- Four Seasons Resort Orlando implements InvoTech Systems’ UHF-RFID Uniform System
The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort has implemented InvoTech Systems’ UHF-RFID Uniform System to automate management of the property's more than 7,000 custom uniforms.  The Orlando resort is the ninth Four Seasons resort that utilizes InvoTech's system.  http://www.fourseasons.com/orlando, http://www.invotech.com


- Telstra extends cloud-based unified communications service to 25 countries
- Inn Marin installs Comcast Business’ 400Mbps fiber-optic Ethernet service
Telstra has extended its cloud-based unified communications service, launched in Australia last year in partnership with Cisco, to 25 countries across four continents.  The service is delivered via Telstra’s cloud infrastructure, which now extends to seven locations throughout the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific.  http://www.telstra.com.au  
Inn Marin has installed Comcast Business’ 400Mbps fiber-optic Ethernet service to help improve its guest experience.  http://innmarin.com, http://business.comcast.com


And now for you-know-what…

A poodle and a collie are walking together when the poodle suddenly unloads on his friend.

“My life is a mess,” he says. “My owner is mean, my girlfriend ran away with a schnauzer, and I’m as jittery as a cat.”

“Why don’t you go see a psychiatrist?” suggests the collie.

“I can’t,” says the poodle. “I’m not allowed on the couch.”

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