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Siegel Sez

February 20, 2015

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

This was my birthday week and thanks to the wacky world of social media it makes it easy to connect with many from our past. And, as some of us get older, that past often becomes our distant past.  I was revisiting a time early in my hotel career when I took a short break and ended up working at a travel agency called Friendship Travel in East Meadow, N.Y. Yes, this was so long ago that when somebody needed to travel we looked up their flights in the OAG (Official Airline Guide), called the airline to book the flight, and then hand wrote the ticket that they better not lose. Yes it was very different back then. I remember the travel agency owner asking if I wanted to go on a Fam Trip to Mexico on Aero Mexico and of course I said yes. There were 35 of us on that trip: two couples, myself and thirty single women in their twenties. This was a trip I will always remember. I also was reminiscing about the first flight I ever took, a 45-minute flight with my dad from New York to Boston on a Northeast Yellowbird. Even today I can sing their jingle. When I went to school at UNLV I remember flying out west on Hughes Air West, PSA and Air Cal. I remember living in San Francisco in the ‘80s when I got my first true traveling job and flew mainly domestic but occasionally internationally. During this time I worked for Hotel Information Systems and trained hotel staffs how to use the very first property management systems they purchased. My first flight for HIS was to the Bahamas and I remember actually requesting a window seat so I could look out the window. When I came to Atlanta in 1992 and started my business it was the same time that TWA was building a hub here. I flew TWA all the time since they were usually the most inexpensive and one could actually “talk” himself into first class back then. Yes, many airlines have come into conversations recently in this trip down memory lane. Then this week meeting planning guru Joan Eisenstodt posted a very interesting chart on Facebook detailing all the acquisitions and mergers of U.S. airlines since 1950. For me, and I am sure many of you reading this, it is truly a trip down memory lane.  National Airlines, Ozark Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, and yes, the list goes on and on. For those of you who have been around the travel industry and want to revisit which airlines merged or were acquired by others, click here: http://m.aviationweek.com/blog/timeline-major-us-airline-merger-activity-1950-2015. To me it is a great chart and a great way to revisit an important part of the travel industry’s past.

How weird it seems that now I am deeply involved in an event next month called TNT which stands for Travel and Technology. Yes, it has little to do with the airlines and more to do with travelers and their experiences when they travel, how the hospitality industry maximizes its relationship with the traveler, and how it can positively affect the bottom line with new technologies as a key tool. If you would like to join us at TNT, please click here: http://www.cvent.com/d/9rqkth. We promise you will have a great time in San Francisco. It is a very different and unique event that will also be memorable in a very positive way. When you create something new you can use your imagination and hopefully we did a great job using ours. We have a very impressive list of speakers from the hotel and restaurant world along with those who invest in young companies that have created next-generation technologies. We do hope you can join us.

Here now is the real reason we are here, my fellow birthday week celebrant, Jon Inge, with the latest technology review. 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



- Make IT part of the team and everyone benefits
I’ve been working with a lot of different properties lately, and was recently struck by an irony.  In an age when we place more and more emphasis on integrating our systems and the data used across all operational departments, the one exception is often the one underlying all of this: the IT department. 

This isn’t always the case; in many properties IT is a valued partner, and the IT director – or in smaller operations, the senior operations officer with responsibility for IT – reports directly to the highest levels and is a valued member of the corporate steering committee.  In other situations, however, IT is kept at a distance, and this handicaps everyone.  Let’s take three examples:

- Support: I hear the comment that “it’s IT’s job to fix all our system problems” surprisingly often, and this can never be the case.  Just as vendors have to accept that their customers know the systems better than they do themselves, simply because they use them intensively every single day, so hotel operational departments cannot expect IT to understand the circumstances when a software problem was first noticed, nor its impact on operations.  IT may well be a critical part of the solution, especially if interfaces, servers or communications are involved, but they cannot be the drivers of it.  That responsibility can only lie with the operational department most affected, which is best suited to contact the vendor(s) and describe the symptoms, and has the most to gain by bird-dogging the issue all the way to resolution.

- Strategy: In the corporate steering committees deciding hotel priorities, most discussions must necessarily be led by operational needs, unless there’s some specific technical issue affecting the operation’s security or legality.  But this doesn’t mean that IT has nothing to add; its involvement is essential to ensure that the full ramifications of operational decisions are understood.  The business reasons for introducing a change will always take precedence, but (for example) knowing that a desired approach is incompatible with the existing systems and will require a new database or some custom interface development is an important factor in that discussion.

- Security: Finding the right balance between security and usability is always an exercise in risk management, but the refrain that “IT won’t let us do X” needs a broader perspective.  IT doesn’t make the rules about which systems or data sets are worth the tightest protection, upper management does; IT just enforces them.  If an operational department has a genuine need to do “X” there must be a way to allow that, but that solution has to be worked out together.  Perhaps there’s a different piece of software that has equivalent functionality but is easier to protect, or maybe the security barriers can be dropped for a specific time and circumstance, such as unblocking a USB port temporarily to import some key information.  But there’s a reason the barriers are in place; deciding what level of risk can be tolerated is a team effort, and requires an understanding of the needs and the risks by both sides.

IT needs to reach out too, and not take any of this personally.  If someone asks for something but it needs some clarification and there’s no response, IT needs to be persistently proactive, diplomatically pursuing the issue until they know the problem has been resolved, and should find out what else they can help with along the way.  Bridges get built from both ends.

One of the big “aha” moments in my career was going through a departmentwide Myers-Briggs evaluation.  For the first time (I’m a slow learner) it became apparent to me that people weren’t being deliberately antagonistic or stupid when I wanted them to do something; they were just looking at the situation from a different viewpoint and different mindset.  It was suddenly OK for everyone to be different; each of us had worthwhile skills and experience, but different ways of expressing them.  Understanding that Joe got more satisfaction out of working on a problem than out of completing it but Mary wanted to get a decision made as quickly as possible, made it much easier to work out how to combine their talents effectively, and we all became much more productive as a result. 

All aspects of a hotel operation have something to contribute.  Make sure IT is part of the team.



- Pam Angelucci joins RoamingAround as SVP operations of RoamBoost division
- Christine Tan is new SVP sales and marketing APAC for FASTBOOKING
- Daniel Ives joins Optii Solutions as CEO
- Toni Portmann appointed to CEO and executive chairman of the board at DHISCO
For more information on People on the Move for 02/20/15


- Spooky Nook Sports complex picks Agilysys’ Visual One, InfoGenesis and Eatec
- Best Western Plus Executive Residency Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada, deploys MSI’s WinPM
The Spooky Nook Sports complex, Manheim, Pa., has selected Agilysys’ Visual One for property management, InfoGenesis for point of sale and Eatec for inventory and procurement at its 700,000-square-foot sports facility, 135-room hotel and 225-seat restaurant, all scheduled to open this spring.  http://www.spookynooksports.com, http://www.agilysys.com 
The new Best Western Plus Executive Residency Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada, has deployed Multi-Systems, Inc.’s (MSI’s) WinPM guest management system, the first of its kind to deploy MSI solutions.  http://www.bestwesterndraytonvalley.com, http://www.msisolutions.com


- Aptech receives Prophix’s 2014 Independent Software Vendor Award for Targetvue
- Hershey Entertainment & Resorts selects Infor’s Learning Management module
- Marriott to migrate much of core IT systems, applications to IBM's open cloud platform
- InvoTech Systems announces three new international clients
For more information on Back Office for 02/20/15


- Conrad lets travelers book rooms by clicking on Instagram photo of a property
- Expedia buying Orbitz
Conrad Hotels and Resorts is now allowing travelers to book rooms at its 24 hotels by clicking on an Instagram photo of a property, which then leads them to the reservations page.  Conrad is using Like2Buy technology by Curalate, a visual marketing firm, to turn its Instagram photos into bookings.  http://conradhotels.hilton.com, http://www.curalate.com
Expedia is buying Orbitz, less than a month after acquiring Travelocity.  http://www.orbitz.com, http://www.expedia.com **


- Maestro PMS™ launches GEM Highlights streamlined guest response tool
- Sabre announces SynXis InstaSite digital marketing tool to help hoteliers build booking-enabled website
- FRHI Hotels & Resorts picks Revinate for all 113 properties
For more information on Marketing/Management for 02/20/15


- Sonesta implementing IDeaS’ G3 RMS across 16 Sonesta ES Suite properties
- Rainmaker introduces more powerful version of GroupREV
- Rainmaker announces 20+ new system sales already booked in 2015
- Destination implementing Revcaster across all 40+ properties
For more information on Revenue Management for 02/20/15


- Groupize Solutions announces six new clients
Groupize Solutions announced six new clients: Lancaster Arts Hotel in Pennsylvania, Wyndham New Yorker Hotel in New York City, Lions Gate Hotel and Conference Center in Sacramento, Calif., Distrikt Hotel in New York City, San's Boutique Hotel & Suites in historic Savannah, Ga., and the University Inn in Minneapolis, Minn.  http://www.groupizesolutions.com  


- Spooky Nook Sports complex picks Agilysys’ InfoGenesis, Visual One and Eatec
- SkyWire integrates Shift4's encryption and tokenization into POS, PMS and spa systems
The Spooky Nook Sports complex, Manheim, Pa., has selected Agilysys’ InfoGenesis for point of sale, Visual One for property management and Eatec for inventory and procurement at its 700,000-square-foot sports facility, 135-room hotel and 225-seat restaurant, all scheduled to open this spring.  http://www.spookynooksports.com, http://www.agilysys.com
SkyWire has integrated Shift4's True P2PE encryption and TrueTokenization into its POS, PMS and spa systems.  Both Shift4 and SkyWire's software are housed at Switch’s SUPERNAP datacenter.  http://www.skywire.com


- RHW Hotels selects ElevenGC as business center computer standard
- HOTELbeat releases Guest SMS text-based, two-way communication tool
- SkiStar deploys Zaplox mobile keys at additional properties
- All Hyatt hotels and resorts now providing free Wi-Fi to all guests
- Renaissance Allentown Hotel opens with Intelity’s ICE on iPad minis in all guest rooms
- AC Hotels by Marriott picks Bittel's JACOB JENSEN HT series guestroom phones as standard for U.S. launch
- Swisscom Hospitality announces Connected TV service over wireless broadband
For more information on Guest Services for 02/20/15


- Royal Caribbean deploys ElevenOS guest Internet on all 22 ships
Royal Caribbean International has deployed ElevenOS as the guest Internet management platform for all 22 ships, with custom branded portal pages, guest authentication, billing and advanced reporting.  With ElevenOS and its satellite communications partners, Royal Caribbean can now offer unlimited Internet based on a per-day rate, as well as tiered bandwidth options.  http://www.royalcaribbean.com, http://www.elevenwireless.com


And now for you-know-what...

Once there was a golfer whose drive landed on an anthill. Rather than move the ball, he decided to hit it where it was. He gave a mighty swing. Clouds of dirt and sand and ants exploded from the spot – everything but the golf ball. It sat in the same spot.

So he lined up and tried another shot. Clouds of dirt and sand and ants went flying again. The golf ball didn't even wiggle.

Two ants survived. One dazed ant said to the other, "Whoa! I don’t think I can take this much longer. What are we going to do?"

And the other ant said, "I don't know about you, but I'm going to get on the ball."

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