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Siegel Sez

November 16, 2007

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Have you ever had a moment where you ask yourself how did I get into this situation? As I reflect on my last two weeks I have been asking myself, am I nuts? Hey, keep those opinions to yourself -- for now. 

Two weeks ago I went to the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., to the PAR Springer-Miller Annual Users Group. I hadn’t been there in years, but I had a blast.  High on the list of my favorite things to do would include mingling with people who actually use the technology we write about. It was a great conference even though I spent a fair amount of time reminiscing about a great nonwork experience I had at Kingsmill three and a half years ago. Ahhh, the memories.

I was home for three days then off to the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show, which for me started at 9 a.m. on Sunday with a meeting of the AH&LA Technology Committee. Who has a meeting in New York City on a Sunday morning? Ouch! Overall I thought IH\M&RS this year was great. I made sure to visit all those technology vendors who were exhibiting and just about everyone said they were very happy with the traffic. The booths might have been smaller, but they were there. After all, when all is said and done, if you spend money to exhibit and you meet people that might buy your product, then the investment paid off, right? The consensus was that formula worked well this year.

While in New York I was able to attend the Penn State dinner on Sunday night thanks to an invite from Mark Ozawa, the president of Accuvia Consulting. There were 133 students at the dinner along with many big shots from the industry. I have been accused of harassing people in a fun way, but you haven’t seen anything until you see me interrogating students on their futures. Connie Rheams from AltiusPar was there watching me and was doing everything possible to keep from bursting out laughing. On Monday night Hospitality Upgrade had our annual New York dinner thanking our advertisers and this year were joined by some of our readers and writers who were in town. We had 51 people this year, our second biggest crowd ever. That is just one of my favorite things to do and the fact that we can take that many people to dinner in New York says that it was a good year. Thanks to all for attending, there will be pictures up shortly on http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com/. Speaking of our Web site, check out this month’s industry Hot Shot, Fraser Hickox from the Peninsula Hotel Group.  He has an interesting story to tell.

From New York I flew directly to Las Vegas for the Global Gaming Show (G2E) and had the “fortune” to fly there with Scot Campbell of MGM/MIRAGE’s Project CityCenter after he found out his flight was cancelled. After our two-mile walk from security to our gate, we heard the announcement, “Will the person who left the Blackberry at the security checkpoint....,” and Scot looked at me with one of those oh no looks and I just started laughing. He did make the flight.

The next morning I had the opportunity to do a presentation at the Microsoft Industry Solution Conference with attendees from across the country. I did an overview of the industry while Peter Nyheim from Penn State did the more serious stuff. Microsoft has been a great partner of Hospitality Upgrade and I was glad to be part of the program. I enjoy when there are opportunities to return favors. Then from the Microsoft meeting I started the party hopping, first to Agilysys at the Pure Nightclub at Caesars Palace and then to the White Sands Consulting party at the Playboy Club at the top of the Palms Hotel.  It was great to bump into Glen Bonner, the former CIO at MGM/MIRAGE. He is truly one of the good guys in the industry.

Virginia, New York and Las Vegas. Early morning meetings and late night dinners and parties – it has been nonstop for two weeks.  It was good for business, it was fun and I had some great experiences, but it was exhausting. Now for the first time in 15 years I can say I need a vacation and know that I am taking one. I have received many notes from the last Siegel Sez about what to do and where to go in Asia, but high on the list will be the five days in Phuket with nothing to do. I can’t wait. Thanks to all for your suggestions and your feedback throughout the year. I probably talk too much and tell too many stories, but I have always told people to be who you are and let the pieces fall where they may. For our little company the pieces this year fell pretty well. Thank you very much.

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.” For those of you in the United States, have a great Thanksgiving weekend.


Technology NEWSSTAND

by: Jon Inge
Systems News in Plain English from Jon Inge


- IHM&RS review
I just returned from the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show – “the New York show” to everyone – and have been musing on its value as a technology showcase.  It’s expensive to attend (more for the cost of staying in New York than for the registration fees – is there any upper limit to what hotels can charge for the most basic of rooms there?) and the tech section, while well worth visiting, always feels a little lost among the huge range of other products at show.  It was a shame that HFTP’s excellent GUESTROOM 2010 exhibit – a popular attraction again this year – was located several aisles away.  Had it been closer, its consistently heavy traffic would surely have boosted attendance at many of the system vendors’ individual booths.  

Overall attendance this year seemed down and the show itself was somewhat smaller than it has been in the past, though it’s still a very long trek from one end to the other!  While there are always a few prospects specifically looking for systems, the show’s value seems to lie more in providing general background systems information, in the chance to see several vendors at once and in the networking opportunities for the regular crew who show up at most conferences.  It has to be a tough choice for vendors as to whether to continue to exhibit there given the costs and the low number of potential buyers, so many thanks to all who did and made it worthwhile for the rest of us.

This year the Editors’ Choice Awards were doubled as the organizers added a green equivalent to each of the five traditional categories – décor, essentials, luxury, restaurant and technology.  Even more kudos, therefore, to INNCOM International for winning the overall Best of Show Award as well as the green technology category, for its e4 Smart Digital Thermostat with ecoMODE.  This unit allows guests to press a button to activate the hotel’s predefined energy-saving settings and to signal their acceptance of reduced towel and linen washing.  The general technology category was won by eMenuBoard Systems for its touch-screen menu, intended for placement in front of a restaurant.


- Bridget Oliva joins RoomLinX as vice president, sales and marketing
- Andrew Furrer hired by Destination Hotels & Resorts as VP of IT/CIO
- William Clements and David Hohne to lead Onity’s CodePro North American sales team
- Darin McAuliffe joins Pegasus Solutions as vice president of distribution solutions
For more on People on the Move for 11/16/07


- MSI announces The Helm centralized guest/corporate profile and data analysis system
- NORTHWIND launches Online Condo and Timeshare Owner Management
- Stay Systems looking for beta test sites for StayManager online/hosted PMS
- Paseo Del Sol installs OwnerRelations Technology’s online applications
- Boyd Gaming picks Agilysys’ LMS for three Las Vegas hotel-casinos
- Springer-Miller releases two-way interface between SMS|Host PMS and EzRMS
For more on Property Management Systems for 11/16/07


- Royal Orchid Hotels picks IDeaS for nine properties
- Firmdale Hotels installs fourth IDeaS V5i system this year, at the Haymarket Hotel, London
- SoftBrands adds Karyon to distributor Libra Hospitality’s range for Russia and eastern Europe
- EasyRMS releases two-way interface between EzRMS and Springer-Miller Systems’ SMS|Host
For more on Revenue Management for 11/16/07


- PSAV relocates Dallas equipment warehouse and showroom to new facility in Coppell, Texas
- Sunstone Hotel Properties deploying Passkey at twelve properties
- Gleneagles Hotel selects Newmarket International’s Sales Advantage suite
- Newmarket launches online NICE certification program
- Newmarket receives four CustomerSat Achievement in Customer Excellence (ACE) awards
For more on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 11/16/07


- Royal River Casino & Hotel installs InfoGenesis POS system
The Royal River Casino & Hotel, Flandreau, S.D. has installed Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS system.  The 120-room property, owned and operated by the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, includes 17,000 square feet of gaming space, two restaurants, a gift shop, swimming pool, meeting facilities and a full-service RV park.  http://www.royalrivercasino.comhttp://www.agilysys.com


- Swisscom implementing network upgrades at all 240 partner locations in Italy
- Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead switches to GoConcierge
- TTI partners with Shubert Organization to sell theater tickets via ConciergeOnDemand
For more on Guest Services for 11/16/07


- Xanterra to install one megawatt photovoltaic (PV) system in Death Valley National Park
Xanterra Parks & Resorts plans to install a one megawatt photovoltaic (PV) system for its properties in Death Valley National Park, one of the largest solar energy systems in the country.  The system, being installed by SPG Solar Inc. of Novato, Calif., will generate more than one-third of the annual electricity needs for Xanterra’s operations there, which include the Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort, golf course, employee offices and housing.  Xanterra will fully own the system and the energy it produces, and expects the system to be operational by March 2008.  http://www.xanterra.com


- The Plaza installs VingCard Signature RFID electronic locks in all 282 guestrooms
- Delta Chelsea Hotel installing TimeLox’ wireless DC-ONLINE lock system in all 1,590 rooms
- VingCard to offer SARGENT, Yale and Corbin Russwin lever ranges with its Signature lock
For more on Security for 11/16/07


- Priceline.com acquires Asian discount booking specialist Agoda
- Venere.com expanding into China through partnership with DerbySoft
- Sandman Hotels picks SynXis GDS/IDS connectivity for more than 35 properties
- India’s Lemon Tree Hotels switching to SynXis’ for GDS/IDS representation
- VISTA Inns implements InnLink’s central reservation services for 17 properties
- Most companies miss significant savings by not integrating self booking tools with expense management systems, per Amadeus survey.
For more on Reservations for 11/16/07


- MSI announces The Helm centralized guest/corporate profile and data analysis system
- SECURE-RES renames itself Vizergy
- Warwick International signs with OPEN Interactive for Web design, Internet marketing services
- Interstate designates Avalon Report as preferred vendor for Web content management services
- Sabre Travel Network and Travelocity sign with VFM Interactive
For more on Marketing/Management for 11/16/07


And now for you-know-what…

As a crowded airliner is about to takeoff, the peace is suddenly shattered by a 5-year-old boy who picks that moment to throw a wild temper tantrum.  No matter what his frustrated, embarrassed mother does to try to calm him down, the boy continues to scream furiously and kick the seats around him. Suddenly, from the rear of the plane, an older man in the uniform of a U.S. Navy Chief begins to make his way up the aisle. The white haired, courtly, soft-spoken Chief leans down and, motioning toward his collar, whispers something into the boy's ear.  Instantly, the boy calms down, gently takes his mother's hand, and quietly fastens his seat belt.

All the other passengers burst into spontaneous applause.  As the Chief slowly makes his way back to his seat, one of the cabin attendants touches his sleeve.  "Excuse me, Chief," she asks quietly, "Could I ask you what magic words you used on that little boy?"

The Chief smiled serenely and gently confides, "I showed him my anchors, service stripes and battle ribbons, and then explained to him that they entitled me to throw one passenger out of the plane."

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