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Siegel Sez

September 13, 2007

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

George Steinbrenner I will never be. But owning a small piece of a race horse through a partnership with other nutty people has me thinking I am on the way. Our 2-year-old filly, Set Play, raced on Labor Day in the Del Mar Debutante, one of the top races for horses of this age and sex. I was at Del Mar on Labor Day and all day we were dreaming. The big race comes, she broke well and raced most of the race fifth or sixth out of 12 horses. Then as they approached the turn for the stretch she started moving…..moving very well. We all started shouting, then screaming and then really screaming like you have never heard grown men scream (I was by far the worst of the group. I didn’t know I could scream that loud). Sixth, fifth, fourth, third and then second as they approached the long straight away to the finish line. I couldn’t believe it. This was a grade one championship race! We screamed, we screamed more and we continued screaming her home. She reached the leader, battled the other horse for a bit and then took off and won the race easily by two lengths. We were five grown men hugging and jumping up and down like we were 5-year-olds who just won a soccer game. What a great moment. It was truly a thrill of a lifetime and the opportunity to run in the Breeder’s Cup in October with the best horses from all over the world. Who would have guessed?

I woke up the next day to get ready for my flight to Colorado for the Hospitality Upgrade CIO Summit and guess what? I paid the price for all that screaming before, during and after the race. I had no voice! The one time of the year where all the technology big shots from the hotel, gaming, cruise and vacation ownership industries had to listen to me and I couldn’t talk. I don’t know what was worse during the Summit, Michael St-Laurent from Gemstone Hotels and Resorts comment thinking this year’s event was a dream because he didn’t have to listen to me for two and half days. Or was it Mike Sutten, CIO from Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, impersonating me with a bad Rod Stewart imitation. It was a nightmare for me, but for all the attendees it was considered by far our best summit. Offbeat ice breakers to insure everybody met, a great program once again put together by Sally Kelly and a panel to end all panels on Friday morning which included attendees Nick Price from Mandarin Oriental, Gustaaf Schrils from IHG, Fraser Hickox from the Peninsula Hotel Group, Marwan Al Ali from the Jumeirah Group and Oliver Bernet from Möevenpick Hotels and Resorts. The discussion was of technology challenges internationally from those attending from as far away as Dubai, Hong Kong, Switzerland along with one of the largest international hotel companies. What a group it was. It was a true eye opener for many of the attendees.

Look for a review of our CIO Summit in the upcoming issue of Hospitality Upgrade along with a special feature that will include feedback from the attendees at our Summit regarding technology innovation. It is one of our most popular issues of the year, to subscribe please go to http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com. There is no charge for those inside the industry.

Next week I am off to the HITEC Advisory Board meeting to start planning for next year’s event. If you have anything to comment or suggest about improving HITEC, please send a note to me at mailto:rich@hospitalityupgrade.com.  I usually show up with a folder full of suggestions.  At our CIO Summit Frank Wolfe, who runs HFTP the association that produces HITEC, announced that next year for the first time the HITEC welcome reception, traditionally held Tuesday night, will be moved to Monday night. With what seems like 90 percent of the attendees arriving on Monday and so many companies wanting to do their own parties on Tuesday night, this seems like a win-win for everybody. What is next, a fourth day of exhibits?  We shall see and will let you know.

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review of the last couple of 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
- A tech service I’d pay for
Another week, another road trip, another hassle with hotel guestroom Internet access.  Last week, a three-star property’s wired connection was flawless, just plug and play – er, work.  This week, at a five-star resort with wireless service, well, last night it worked fine.  Tonight, I can receive e-mail but not send it, though I can access the Internet without a problem. 

I have no idea what changed overnight, and neither do the helpful, friendly and patient support staff at the HSIA provider’s support number.  We’ve reconfigured Outlook to yet another set of “standard” parameters – why does every vendor’s version seem to be different – but to no avail.  There’s often an assumption that I should have my PC checked out by my IT department when I get home, but I AM my IT department.  Based on past experience, I’ll probably change the parameters back to what worked last time. Long ago I learned to take notes when remote help desks ask me to change settings. Reboot a few times, and it will probably work fine again. It’s all time I’d really rather spend on something more productive.

I’ve expressed my feelings before on the subject of hotels that charge you for Internet access, but when it doesn’t work expect you to spend your own time and effort working with their vendor’s help desk to try to fix it, and it still feels wrong.  But given the complex state of most modern laptops and the range of software we have to load on them to protect ourselves – anti-virus, firewall, anti-spam, anti-spyware, not to mention security updates from Microsoft that sometimes just refuse to load – maybe the task is just too difficult for easy resolution.

Some high-end properties differentiate themselves by offering the services of a technology butler who can help guests with connectivity problems during their stay.  I don’t know if they would have had any greater luck tonight than I did.  But a service I’d willingly pay for at any hotel would be the chance to sit down for an hour with an expert PC technician to go through my PC and clean it up – resolve known conflicts between mainstream programs, work around known security patch issues to make sure it’s up to date, tell me why Outlook always tells me it was closed improperly last time and so it must spend 10 minutes inspecting its own navel before it’ll deign to let me see my e-mail – just anything that reduces the number of unnecessary hassles that cause so much aggravation and wasted time. 

Does anyone know of a service that hotels could offer either internally or on contract and I could book in advance for my next trip?


- Rate Tiger releases Lite and Pro versions of RT Shopper and RT Allocator
- Oberoi picks IDeaS for all of its hotels in India
- Millennium and Copthorne implementing IDeaS V5i in Asia Pacific, EAME and the Americas
For more on Revenue Management for 09/13/07


- IHG rolling out Passkey to all InterContinentals, Crowne Plazas and some Holiday Inns
- Real Hotels & Resorts picks Newmarket’s Delphi MPE for 16 hotels
IHG is rolling out Passkey services in 2008 to all InterContinental Hotels & Resorts and Crowne Plaza sites, plus some Holiday Inn properties.   IHG will offer meeting planners full integration to all Passkey tools including customized event-specific hotel reservation Web sites for event attendees to manage their hotel reservations online.  Passkey will also allow meeting planners to upload rooming lists, link reservation information to IHG hotels, and track hotel block pick-up and reservation status.  http://www.ichotelsgroup.com, http://www.passkey.com
El Salvador-based Real Hotels & Resorts has selected Newmarket International’s Delphi Multi Property Edition (MPE) for the 16 hotels it operates in Central and North America under the flags of InterContinental Hotels Group, Choice Hotels International and Marriott Hotels and Resorts.  Another 11 hotels are under development in the United States, Central and South America and the Caribbean.  http://www.realhotelsandresorts.com, http://www.newmarketinc.com


- B.B. King’s Blues Club picks ReServe catering and event management software for four sites
B.B. King’s Blues Club has contracted for ReServe Interactive's Web-based catering and event management software for its four properties in Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., Los Angeles, Calif. and Orlando, Fla.  http://www.reserveinteractive.com


- Robert Treat Hotel installing FlyteBoard to show real-time Newark arrival and departure information
- Userful Corporation offers up to 10 Internet kiosks and Web cafes run by a single computer
The Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, N.J. is installing Flyte Systems’ FlyteBoard display screens to show real-time airline arrival and departure information for Newark International Airport.  Flyte Systems uses the hotel’s high-speed Internet connection to provide accurate, airport-centric updates of the flight information, including gate locations.  Both the Robert Treat Hotel and its sister property, the Ramada Inn Jersey City currently use Flyte Systems’ FlyteChannel in-room TV-based flight information service and FlyteTouch kiosks, which allow guests to search flight data on lobby touch screens.  http://www.rthotel.comhttp://www.flytesystems.com
Userful Corporation is positioning its pay-per-use Internet kiosks and Web cafes as an environmentally responsible approach to HSIA since it can run up to 10 monitors, mice and keyboards on a single computer, reducing the power and cooling needs of multiple processors.  The units include over 40 software applications in over 50 languages at no charge.  http://www.userful.com


- Westin Lombard Yorktown Center using Hostar International’s ProHost system
The new 500-room Westin Lombard Yorktown Center is using Hostar International’s ProHost system for housekeeping operations and minibar restocking.  http://www.hostar.com


- Hilton Garden Inn El Paso is 1,100th property to install MTech’s PMWorks
The 153-room Hilton Garden Inn El Paso (Texas) has become the 1,100th property to install MTech’s PMWorks preventive maintenance software.  It is also the most recent of Interstate’s Crossroads Division 100+ properties to be installed with PMWorks.  http://www.hiltongardeninn.comhttp://www.m-tech.com


- Tom Giannopoulos named Hospitality Executive of the Year by Penn State H&RS
- Trevor Stuart-Hill joins SynXis as vice president of accounts and revenue management
Tom Giannopoulos, the chairman, president & CEO of MICROS Systems, Inc., has been named the 2007 Hospitality Executive of the Year by the Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society.  As part of the honor, Mr. Giannopoulos will also be inducted into the Penn State Hospitality Hall of Fame.
Trevor Stuart-Hill has joined SynXis as vice president of accounts and revenue management.  Mr. Stuart-Hill has spent almost 20 years in the industry, most recently as vice president of revenue services with Destination Hotels & Resorts.  He previously held executive positions at Sage Hospitality Resources and Sheraton, and is an active participator in many industry associations including HSMAI and TIA.


- Gleneagles Hotel orders PAR Springer-Miller suite
The Gleneagles Hotel has ordered PAR Springer-Miller Systems’ SMS|Host PMS.  The 285-room resort includes three golf courses, riding, fishing, off-road driving, falconry, shooting, archery, a spa and several bars and restaurants.  Modules to be implemented include the Front Office System, SMS |Owner Fulfillment for the seasonal ownership homes at Glenmor, SMS|Spa/Resort Scheduling, SMS |Activities, SMS |Golf Tee Times and both SMS |Retail and SMS |Touch POS systems.  http://www.gleneagles.comhttp://www.springermiller.com


- UniFocus launching SERVICEScope mystery shopping system
- ICE Portal launches supersize feature for its digital brochures
UniFocus is launching its SERVICEScope mystery shopping system that will link service standard attainment to guest and employee perceptions.  The service works on the assumption that standards impact guest perceptions, that employee attitudes affect the delivery of those standards, and that the correlation between these data points needs to be measured in order to identify appropriate actions to improve performance.  http://www.unifocus.com
ICE Portal has launched a supersize feature for its digital brochures, which allows Web-browsers and prospective travelers to click an option to enlarge the media file over 100 percent to show greater detail.  The enlarged image retains options to play, stop, reset and zoom in or out of the 360-degree virtual tours.  http://www.iceportal.com


And now for you-know-what…

A blonde woman was speeding down the road in her little red sports car and was pulled over by a female police officer who was also blonde. The blonde police officer asked to see the blonde driver's license.

The driver dug through her purse and was getting progressively more agitated. "What does it look like," she finally asked.
The policewoman replied, "It's square and it has your picture on it."
The driver finally found a square mirror in her purse, looked at it and handed it to the policewoman. "Here it is," she said.
The blonde officer looked at the mirror, then handed it back saying, "Okay, you can go. I didn't realize you were a cop."

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