⚠ We would appreciate if you would disable your ad blocker when visiting our site! ⚠

Siegel Sez

October 03, 2014

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

I am writing this Siegel Sez from Las Vegas where I am attending the Global Gaming Expo (G2E). I have been going to this show for years and find it intriguing. Yes, I get to visit with many customers and such, but what I really find amazing are those companies with new casino games that are fighting for space on the casino floors. That is a challenge, but it is interesting talking to those who are trying to take gaming to another level.  The whole process of getting approved by those in charge of gaming in Nevada is an amazing challenge by itself which makes the process that much more difficult.  I was talking to Mark Munger who is doing work with Full Color Games and it is eye opening. I am going to get him to share the story. It is quite a journey.

While in Las Vegas I was staying at Harrah’s which is very close to G2E. Why does the simplest thing get our minds reflecting? Many hotels put little cards in the rooms and have the housekeeper who services your room sign it. There has been a big push in the hotel industry to have travelers treat the housekeepers as tipped employees. I remember many years ago when I was the assistant front office manager at the Halloran House Hotel in New York (now the Marriott Eastside). New York City is a union town and there was a wildcat work stoppage by housekeepers in certain hotels. Yes, we were one of the lucky ones that had the housekeepers walk out. All of a sudden being the assistant front office manager, for the first time, I was considered real management. Why? Because all management was enlisted to clean rooms that day. All I can say is that I have never worked so hard in my life, from early in the morning until almost midnight we worked cleaning rooms. Back then I never thought my career would have me traveling as much as I have. Nobody ever had to remind me to leave tips for the housekeepers. I know both how hard they work and how much they appreciate it. So when I checked into my room at Harrahs and saw the note from the room attendant, I thought it was so cool that instead of being a place card, the note was on an envelope. Yes, it was subtle, but I thought for the infrequent traveler the message was clear. I hope every hotel jumps onboard and does the same thing. Housekeepers earn it!

October and November are hectic times for us.  It starts with G2E, then the Lodging Conference in Phoenix and then I’m off to the HFTP Annual Conference in New Orleans. After that it’s the PAR Springer-Miller Users’ Group outside Atlanta and then on to New York for the International Hotel/Motel and Restaurant Show. So many cities and many different hotels, I can’t wait to get to the rooms and see what kind of notes from housekeeping are there.

Before I go, I want to leave you with a note about IHMRS and BDNY next month; last year we interviewed Phil Robinson on some of the highlights and reasons to attend. To watch this video, please click here.  IHMRS is offering discounted rates to our readers. Use the following link to go to the registration page, and use promo code HU2014 to receive the special offer: https://www.xpressreg.net/register/ihmr114/start.asp   

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



- Software pricing becomes increasingly complex
- Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne’s annual IT Benchmark Report details property-level technology spend in EAME
- Five more hospitality companies listed in the Inc. 5,000
Is it too late to hope that we can simplify the way hotel management systems are priced?  It’s always been a complex subject, partly because of the increasing modularity of our systems and their interfaces.  There’s logic to this, of course; if you’re not going to use a particular module, why pay for it?  And being able to pick just the interfaces you need to your property’s sub-systems obviously makes sense.  But the overall cost of a system has become increasingly hard to determine, at least without a fair degree of analysis up front. 

For as long as I’ve been involved in this industry total system costs have come as a surprise to hoteliers, especially when they discover that the interfaces they need cost more than the base software.  The individual prices are often a surprise, too.  Some interfaces are indeed complex and cannot be simple to develop or support, but equally there seems no justification for continuing to charge $2,500 for a call accounting interface that was developed 30 years ago and transmits just one simple message type.

The coming of subscription-based pricing seemed to hold the promise of a much simpler approach; “all you pay is just $5/room/month!”  Well, OK, but what do you get for that $5?  Some vendors genuinely do try to keep it as simple as possible, including several basic interfaces and all setup, training and support fees in the one base figure.  Increasingly, though, I’m finding more vendors charging on a very fine-grained level.

This might make for a price more accurately tailored to precisely what the client wants, but it’s frequently harder to make sure you’ve covered all the bases in a total figure.  For example, does that $5 include a reservations feed?  If so, is it just from a chain’s CRS or does it also cover the GDSs, ADSs and the property’s website booking engine?  Transaction fees for each of these channels are cropping up more often, requiring a realistic assessment of the number of bookings expected over each channel before an owner can develop a useful annual cost comparison between systems. 

It’s spreading further, too.  A credit card interface that used to be a one-time fee may now also carry a per-transaction fee, and may also carry an add-on for each P2PE encrypted card reader in use.  Does the base figure cover all support?  How about the hosting of the system in some central server facility, or in a commercial cloud such as Azure?  Just as with air fares the initial price might seem very attractive, but by the time you’ve worked out all the other factors you need to get to your destination the actual total can be very different.

Is all this justified?  I know we’re still in the relatively early days of cloud systems, and pricing is still something of an experimental area.  But what may seem like “trying to be accurate” to a vendor too often comes across as nickel and diming to a hotelier.
The Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne’s (EHL’s) IT Benchmark Report on hotel technology spending at the property level in EAME shows that OPEX spend per room increased to an all-time high of 516€ in 2013, with CAPEX spend at 208€ consistent with previous years 2007-2013. This is the first year that the report has included data on the largest IT investment; surprisingly, a significant 38.6 percent of hotels did not make any single large technology investments in 2013. This may have been due to the hotels making major investments in the previous year, although of this 38.6 percent of properties, 11.1 percent spent an average of 291,000€ in 2013 on IT, clearly spending across the board rather than on a single project.

The most popular technological investments were for Internet (18.6 percent), software (11.4 percent) and server (10.0 percent) upgrades.  Additionally, 18.6 percent of hotels spent an average of 101,000€ on both guest and admin upgrades to their Internet provision, in line with the increased demand for greater Internet speed and availability at hotels.  Few large-scale investments in hardware were reported (4.3 percent).  Software-related spending, predominantly by hotels in northwest Europe, tended to include upgrades and installations of systems such as parking, POS and other operations-related systems.  The full report can be downloaded at http://www.ehl.edu/eng/Faculty-Research/Research/Publications/Marketing-IT-and-new-technologies/Publications-in-2014/IT-benchmarking-at-property-level-2014.
In my recent congratulations to hospitality software and management firms appearing on the Inc. 5,000 of fastest-growing companies, I inadvertently left out a few.  Congratulations are also due t
   # 4155 – Milestone Internet Marketing
   # 4523 – Benchmark Hospitality International, appearing on the list for the fifth time
   # 4735 – First Hospitality, a Midwest developer and management company appearing for the eighth time
   # 4739 – HotelPlanner.com, a provider of online hotel sales and event planning services
   # 4870 – Towne Park, a hospitality staffing provider on the list for the seventh time
Well done, all!



- Keith Durden joins Flip.to as chief financial officer
- Raul Vega is Flip.to's new senior director of sales
- Michael Mathews joins Flip.to account management team
- Fran Forte joins SkyTouch Technology as SVP sales and marketing
- Tim Hart is new CEO and board member at The Knowland Group
- Julie Beas joins Duetto as senior director of deployments
- Araz Feyzi hired by Duetto as director of product and analytics
- Keno Helmi joins Duetto as executive VP worldwide field operations
- Mara Campi Pincepoche promoted to regional director of business development – EMEA at TSA Solutions
- Jasmine Koontz joins PAR Springer-Miller as regional sales manager, Southwest
- Bill Green joins PAR Springer-Miller as regional sales manager, Northwest
- Cody Martin hired by FCS as senior director of sales and operations of North America
- Ken McGovern joins Groupize Solutions as senior director of sales
- Dennis Martin hired by Intelity as senior vice president of global sales
- Kurt Bradshaw is new VP strategic partnerships at Intelity
- Michael Dunphy named director of sales/APAC for ZDirect
For more information on People on the Move for 10/03/14


- CheckMate to let travelers check in via cards in Google Now
- Azalea Hotels & Residences, Philippines implements Hotelogix in less than 24 hours
- RoomKeyPMS partners with GuestDriven to offer clients mobile app and marketing/communication dashboard
- Design Hotels offers members GuestDriven’s Mobile Guest Engagement platform
- MSI certifies CloudPM interface with Booking.com
- Sanchaya implements Protel PMS, Xn-POS and Xn Web Booking systems from Xn Hotel Systems
- Las Vegas Downtown Project selects PAR Springer-Miller Systems’ ATRIO
- Scout Hotels orders PAR Springer-Miller’s ATRIO for seven properties
- Clock Software releases guest portal for cloud-based Clock PMS
For more information on Guest Management Systems for 10/03/14


- Alibaba’s Taobao subsidiary takes stake in Beijing Shiji Information Technology
- NAVIS named one of Top Workplaces by The Oregonian for third consecutive year
- Sabre acquires Genares
For more information on Reservations for 10/03/14


- Red Lion to use Serenata as CRM engine for its RevPak integrated marketing and distribution services
- Chase Hotels implements Flip.to at eight properties
- HeBS Digital receives five WebAwards from WMA
- HeBS Digital receives seven Travel Weekly Magellan Awards
- HeBS Digital’s CMS Premium content management system receives Gold Stevie Award
- HeBS Digital receives six Interactive Media Awards
- RoamingAround releases GEO-location marketing message services
- Coast Hotels deploying new CRM initiative based on ZDirect
- Busy Rooms releases Content Hub content management and distribution tool
- Syniverse launches Mobile Engagement Suite
- Dorsett Hospitality International picks ReviewPro
- Lodging Interactive receives Travel Weekly Silver Magellan Award
- Lodging Interactive receives two WMA WebAwards
- Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle launches Facebook Review Services
- Danat Hotels & Resorts deploys Nor1’s eStandby upselling service
- Revinate introduces inGuest business intelligence and communications application
- nSight releases nCompass BI Reporting
- Pelican Bay Resort at Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island, implements HotelIQ Business Intelligence
For more information on Marketing/Management for 10/03/14


- SnapShot launches cloud-based system focusing on hotel demand management
- SiteMinder adds China’s Ctrip to distribution network
- Heathman Hotel implementing IDeaS
- Park & Suites and Appart'City choose FASTBOOKING
- eRevMax adds connectivity interfaces with leading channels in South America
- Hoffmeister Hotel & Spa selects eRevMax’s RateTiger
- LaTour Hotels and Resorts adopts eRevMax’s RateTiger
- Roomlia partners with TravelClick for channel management
For more information on Revenue Management for 10/03/14


- Four Winds Interactive issues v5.0 software release
- Elite Meetings International announces eRFP dashboard for SpeedRFP
- Royal Cliff Hotels Group selects Newmarket’s cloud-based Delphi.fdc
- Landmark Bangkok chooses Newmarket’s Delphi.fdc and MeetingMatrix
- The Lenox Hotel Boston deploys Groupize’s Group Booking Engine
For more information on Sales & Catering/Meeting Planning for 10/03/14


- Agilysys announces v 4.4.5 of InfoGenesis POS and InfoGenesis Flex
Agilysys has announced version 4.4.5 of its InfoGenesis POS and InfoGenesis Flex platforms.  Flex is now available on 8-inch and dockable 11-inch Dell Venue tablets and can be fitted with Ingenico’s iSMP Companion, a P2PE-capable Bluetooth MSR.  Two additional P2PE-capable Ingenico MSRs are available for USB connection to a docked InfoGenesis Flex 11-inch tablet.  The 4.4.5 versions include integration with Agilysys’ rGuest Pay Gateway and other security device options.

Agilysys has expanded its rGuest range to include rGuest Seat – a table, reservation and wait list management application that can be bundled with other Agilysys offerings, including POS, analytics, inventory and procurement, and workforce management.  rGuest Seat is a Web-based and iOS app-based table management system that offers customized table layouts and the ability to block tables from reservations and service.  An online reservation widget enables diners to book reservations from the restaurant website with options such as special menus and seating areas.  Other features include:
- Ability to control reservation slots manually or operate in automatic mode
- Wait list functionality to provide more accurate wait time estimates
- Customizable guest confirmation via email and text messaging
- Dashboard for managers to track shift statistics, assign servers, add notes and access reports
- Ability to toggle between multiple outlets.


- Beverly Hilton deploys guestroom tablets with Intelity’s ICE
- Hilton Arlington installs two FlyteBoard displays
- Satisfi launches customer service mobile platform
- Gleneagles Hotel completes guestroom technology upgrade with Quadriga's Sensiq
- Nairobi Serena Hotel picks HOTstream Interactive TV, IPTV, video on demand and mobile application
- Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel adds audio induction T-Loop technology from Ampetronic for hearing-impaired guests
- FCS Computer Systems appoints Global Gossip Group as a distributor for the Pacific Rim
- Palmer House Hilton deploys HCN tablet Navigator to its guestrooms
For more information on Guest Services for 10/03/14


- Fairway GPO offering Service Management Systems’ maintenance and housekeeping services
- InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, Park Hyatt Chicago upgrade InvoTech Systems to UHF-RFID
- Boyne Resorts implementing Cenium in multiphased project
- Onyx Payments acquires Net Trans Services
- SAP acquires Concur
- M3 Accounting + Analytics announces M3 Professional Services
- Farmers Restaurant Group picks Agilysys’ Workforce Management Solution for four restaurant locations
- Agilysys releases WMx v6.0
For more information on Back Office for 10/03/14


- Vodia Networks adds hotel PMS module Vodia PBX software
- Enseo contracts for more than 25 hotels with 5,000+ rooms
- Enseo's announces E3 Platform for IP over coax
- Al-Hokair picks Swisscom Hospitality to equip all properties with Broadband Internet
For more information on Communications for 10/03/14


And now for you-know-what...

A young woman visits her parents and brings her fiancé to meet them. After an elaborate dinner, the mother tells her husband to find out about the young man. The father invites the fiancée to his library for a drink.

“So what are your plans?” the father asks the young man.

“I am a Torah scholar,” he says.

“A Torah scholar, hmmm,” the father says. “Admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in, as she is accustomed to?”

“I will study,” the young man said, “and God will provide for us.”

“And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?” asks the father.

“I will concentrate on my studies,” the young man replies. “God will provide for us.”

“And children?” asks the father. “How will you support children?”

“Don’t worry, sir, God will provide,” replies the fiancé.

The conversation continues, and each time the father questions, the young idealist insist that God will provide. Later, the mother asks the father, “How did it go, honey?”

The father answers, “He has no job and no plans, but the good news is, he thinks I’m God.”

want to read more articles like this?

want to read more articles like this?

Sign up to receive our twice-a-month Watercooler and Siegel Sez Newsletters and never miss another article or news story.