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Siegel Sez

December 04, 2014

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

I live in Atlanta. I needed to be in Los Angeles on Monday this week and San Francisco on Friday, so what to do about Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday? Fly back and forth? No way. I decided to stay in California and do something I hadn’t experienced since I was 13 years old; I was going to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco. When I was 13, we took a family trip with our cousins. We loaded up our Chevrolet Caprice with four adults and six kids and drove from southern to northern California. But not just the normal get from one place to the other trip, we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway. So I decided to relive my past and take the same trip, up through Santa Barbara and then onto the coastal highway when I reached San Luis Obispo.  It is one of those trips where a 120-mile stretch takes more than three hours, but is absolutely worth it. Of course I picked the week to do it when California is doing everything to get out of its drought conditions so I am enjoying a good deal of rain while driving the very curvy road. But I did make it and I’m glad I did. If you have done this ride, let me know. If not, then put it on your to-do list, it is absolutely magnificent. What a thrill. This weekend in San Francisco I get to experience another thrill when the Hotel Information Systems reunion is happening. HIS was where I started my hotel technology career in the ‘80s and it is going to be so much fun to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in 30 years.  It should make for some interesting conversations!

Yes, the Thanksgiving holiday is over and now we start the stretch to the end of the year. It is always a strange time for business with many trying to end their year on a positive note while others are totally into the planning for next year. I just hope that next year is as good as this one seems to have been for most companies we deal with; there is a positive energy that so many seem to share with us. Hopefully next year will be even better!

I must thank everyone who complimented Katherine on her great job substituting for me on our recent Siegel Sez while I was off to London for HOSPACE. Once again it was a great event, with a great crowd, very good sessions. HOSPA always guarantees really fun parties. I must thank Carl Weldon for the invite; it is an event worth going to as it gives great insight to what is happening in the U.K. and European markets. I think I will find somewhere else to go and make Katherine do it again!  If you want to see a few photos from the event please visit - http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com/techTalk/Articles/Snapshots-from-HOSPACE-2014/.

My final thank you has to be for the great reception we got for our technology e-newsletter. The signups for it were way beyond our expectations which is always a good thing. If you haven’t subscribed, please go to http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com/subscribe. It comes out twice a month so I can promise that we won’t overload your inbox. The only downside was there are too many smart people in this industry; our first two attempts to offer an industry trivia question were both answered very quickly. We need to figure out a way to ask where you can’t Google the answer.  We will work on that!

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review of the last two weeks. 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



- Choosing replacement systems: aim high, but remember the essential need for compromise
- Melia announces three-year digital initiative
Defining requirements for a replacement system is a tricky exercise for any property.  Usually the process is triggered by a bad experience, or a series of them, and this inevitably colors the priorities.  It might be the need for some new functionality that the current vendor can’t provide, or perhaps one too many support calls that have been handled badly.  Sometimes it can be that the vendor of an essential system has suddenly gone out of business, and a replacement must be found quickly.

All of these triggers are valid reasons, but it’s important not to make them the only criteria for a replacement.  They’re highly useful in generating momentum for change, but they also present a grand opportunity to take a look at the whole operation and see if there’s a better way to go forward than just addressing the one major problem.  As someone else said, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

This leads to a new challenge of its own: the need to balance the blue-sky possibilities that suddenly seem to be available against the limitations of the real world.  On the one hand, most new systems looked at will introduce many opportunities that simply weren’t available with the old ones, and that can generate all kinds of new ideas as to how the property can reorganize and take advantage of them.  On the other hand, these ideas may need new interfaces that haven’t been developed yet, and the vendors with the most attractive new concepts may not have been around long enough to give a good feeling about their staying power.

I always encourage hotels to take the widest possible view of what can be achieved, but to temper it with a pragmatic approach to real world implementation issues.  Whether it’s taking a multiphase approach to a major change when you’d rather do it in one shot, or accepting that no vendor is guaranteed to be around forever, compromises to one’s initial goals are always necessary.  That’s why there’s no one “best system” for any hotel; each operation must balance the trade-offs in its own way and make sure everyone in the operation understands why the eventual solution was chosen, accept that balance and work together to make it the right way forward.  Context is everything.
Following Accor’s announcement last month of its major technology investment, Meliá Hotels International has now launched its Meliá Digital initiative to lead the digital transformation of the company over the next three years.  The project has a budget of around €100 million and will focus on three key areas:
- Customers: improving interactions with guests through the development of melia.com and mobile applications, with professional customers by developing the MeliaPro program, and for business trips thanks to Business Travel by Meliá.  Customers may, amongst other innovations, check in using their phones or tablets.
- Employees: a new tablet-based Meliá Sales App includes all tools needed by the sales team; digital projects are planned in all areas of management including finance, expansion and human resources.
- Hotel owners and investors: a new owner portal contains extensive information about the company and its products, access to owner benefits and to their personal reservations.



- Frédéric Barou promoted to VP distribution, products and operations for Amadeus/Asia Pacific
- Janssen Choong joins Groupize as CTO
- Venkat Korvi appointed VP product management at Groupize
- Elvin Lai named Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year by the Asian Business Association of San Diego
- Jeffery Busch, Shawn Harris, Thomas Castleberry join RSI’s board of directors
For more information on People on the Move for 12/04/14


- Nordic Choice implements Cenium’s FastTrack self-service kiosk and mobile app at two hotels
- Mews Systems announces Navigator mobile check-in/guest service app
- RoomKeyPMS releases interface with JackRabbit’s Book › Direct engine
- Turtle Bay Resort implements Maestro iPad Xpress Check-In
- Windward Management/Gresham Hotel Group picks CheckMate’s mobile check-in/guest service app for five properties
- GuestDriven launches Mobile Check-In and Upgrades app
- Vive Hospitality picks ATRIO for Qliq Damansara Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
For more information on Guest Management Systems for 12/04/14


- Amadeus integrates Conferma’s virtual card payment into e-Travel Management online self booking
- Amazon to begin testing online reservations in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle
Amadeus announced that Conferma’s payment technology is now available in its e-Travel Management online self-booking tool.  With Conferma now integrated into Amadeus Billback, TMCs and corporate clients can now use virtual card numbers (VCNs) as a payment method for Amadeus GDS hotel bookings.  The system automatically faxes a VCN to the hotel on completion of the booking; at checkout, the booking is charged back to the VCN by the hotel, triggering an automated process that matches payment data to booking data, eliminating manual reconciliation processes.  All data for every transaction captured by Conferma’s VCNs is available to TMCs and travel managers through Conferma’s SNAP management information and reporting tool.  Controls such as credit limits and charge validity dates allow TMCs to enforce compliance with corporate policies.  http://www.conferma.com, http://www.amadeus.com
Amazon announced that it will begin testing an online reservation service in January with a selection of mostly independent hotels of four-star or higher ratings in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.  Reservations would be forwarded by email and it is the hotelier's job to keep reservation planning up to date.  Travelers can pay through Amazon, which pays the hotels minus commission.  http://www.amazon.com  


- Nor1 launches Merchandising Platform to boost revenue throughout guest’s trip
- Leonardo launches Vizlly multichannel digital marketing system
- Pinnacle implements Aptech’s Targetvue Budgeting and Forecasting software for 26 properties
- Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center implements nSight
- Vizergy partners with Flip.to
- UniFocus integrates Cognos into Enterprise Solutions dashboard and business intelligence platform
For more information on Marketing/Management for 12/04/14


- Best Western integrating Revcaster’s rate shopping tool into BestREV revenue management for 2,100 properties
- Kamp Group implementing IDeaS’ RMS at five properties
- Brazil Hospitality Group picks eRevMax’s RateTiger Channel Manager for 49 properties
For more information on Revenue Management for 12/04/14


- Mohegan Sun selects Groupize Solutions’ GBE
- InnSuites Hotels and Suites picks Groupize for its flagship properties
- Chatrium Hotels & Residences selects Newmarket’s Delphi.fdc for six properties
- NH Hotels unveils High Tech Made Easy virtual meeting service with 3-D holographic projection technology
For more information on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 12/04/14


- Electric Mirror named one of 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Washington State
- The Brando resort deploys Intelity ICE tablets from McLaren Technologies in all 35 villas
- Delta Hotels and Resorts launches Intelity ICE-based guest service app for all 38 properties
- Down Town Association, New York, picks Guest-tek’s HSIA, OneView Media and OneView Voice iACT services
For more information on Guest Services for 12/04/14


- Major Food Group selects UniFocus’ Time and Attendance
Major Food Group, a New York-based restaurant and hospitality company, has selected UniFocus’ Time and Attendance system.  http://www.majorfood.com, http://www.UniFocus.com


- The Marker Waterfront Resort Key West deploys Thing5’s T5 Voice services
The Marker Waterfront Resort Key West has deployed Thing5’s T5 Voice services (selected by Enterprise Solution Providers), including flat rate SIP trunking (VoIP inbound and outbound calling, local and long distance), cloud-based PBX, voicemail, call accounting and auto-attendant services.   http://www.themarkerkeywest.com, http://www.thing5.com


- OpenKey launches mobile application for smartphone entry to hotel rooms
- Hotels in Delhi’s Aerocity district installing facial recognition software
OpenKey has launched a mobile application allowing keyless entry to hotel rooms via a guest’s smartphone.  The application concept has been strongly backed by HOFTEL, an association of hotel property investors representing thousands of hotel properties worldwide.  OpenKey works with different types of existing guestroom electronic locks (RFID, NFC and Bluetooth-based locks), potentially allowing a single mobile application to open guestroom doors at any participating hotel.  OpenKey’s opt-in service includes encryption that lets guests safely share or revoke key access to their rooms as needed.  http://www.hoftel.com  
Hotels in the Aerocity hospitality district near the Delhi airport in India, including the Ibis and Lemon Tree properties, are reportedly installing facial recognition software, as required by the Delhi Police.  Security agencies provide a black list of people they consider a security risk; hotels can create their own white lists of regular guests.  Other security requirements for the hotels in Aerocity include boom barriers at entrances, crash bollards, under-vehicle surveillance and fish-eye cameras in basements.  The project is considered a security risk because of its proximity to the airport runway.


And now for you-know-what...

A wife is sitting peacefully in her cozy armchair sewing her husband’s socks. Her husband comes into the room, glances at what she is doing, and starts to badger her. “Honey, be more careful,” he screams. “Please watch what you are doing! You don’t want to poke your finger! How many times do I have to tell you! Don’t look up when you're sewing! There you go now slow and steady, nice even stitches."

The wife puts down the needle and thread, looks up at her husband, and says, “What the heck is wrong with you? Do you know how many times I’ve sewn before?"

“Exactly the point I was trying to make,” says the husband. “Do you know how many times I’ve driven a car before?"

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