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Siegel Sez

March 06, 2008

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Sometimes you can go to the well once too often.  A friend of mine needed an airline ticket and since I am a premium frequent flyer on Delta, I went to the Delta Web site. I found her flights, used my miles and got her a ticket. As I was finishing the transaction and paying the appropriate taxes for the flights I saw that not only was I being charged the taxes but I was also charged a $75 processing fee because the ticket was less than 14 days before the flight. I am no accountant, but aren’t frequent flyer miles a liability on the books and here I am booking a flight two days out and taking a seat I am sure would have gone unsold in the next two days.  And they are penalizing me because the flight is in two days? There was no human intervention; it was just five minutes on their Web site, why am I being charged $75? I am sensitive to the struggles the airlines are having with fuel prices and rarely complain. But to stick a $75 charge on a Gold member just because I was booking the ticket less than 14 days out? To me that isn’t silly, it is downright stupid. Ok, I am done venting.

Speaking of travel, last week I had great back-to-back trips. It started in Seattle with the HTNG Annual Conference which Jon Inge brings up some great points in his opening to the technology news. They had a good crowd; there were lots of networking opportunities and some great sessions. Seattle is a beautiful city; I wish we had more industry events there. I will defer to Jon Inge now for more HTNG stuff especially since I had to leave the conference early.

Why did I leave HTNG early? I was also invited to the Carlson Hospitality Global Business Conference in Las Vegas. I love conferences like this. Not only do I get to spend time with people like Paula Winkler, the CIO from Carlson Hotels and David Sjolander, the VP of Hotel Systems, but I get to meet with people like Carlson Hotels Worldwide’s President and CEO Jay Witzel. There were companies like Amadeus, MICROS Systems and Wayport at my dinner table, and I met many interesting people along the way.  On the last day of the conference at the Carlson 70th Anniversary Celebration, which included all the Carlson businesses, not just the hospitality group, there were a slew of speakers from all over world. Being the socially inept person I am, I had no idea who Dr. Maya Angelou was. I will simply say this; I have never been so moved in my life, have never heard a speaker that good and am sure I never will. That woman can tell stories, have you on the verge of tears and then all of a sudden she has you burst out laughing. I think I am a Dr. Maya Angelou groupie and proud of it. What an experience that was.

I finished my Las Vegas trip with breakfast with Tom Peck, the CIO of MGM MIRAGE. I had breakfast with him about a month after he started in this role and here we were two years later reflecting on his experiences. It was a fun breakfast. He is a good person who has been very supportive of our efforts here at Hospitality Upgrade. We are very appreciative.

Speaking of our efforts that MGM MIRAGE and 34 companies including Starwood, Global Hyatt, Omni and many others have participated in, the industry’s first Benchmark Study on Technology Spending will be released the end of March 2008. The results were unbelievable, and since it is the first time it has successfully been accomplished in this industry, it is a proud moment for Hospitality Upgrade. Special thanks to HFTP and KPMG for sponsoring this effort. If you have any questions on this survey, please e-mail me at mailto:rich@hospitalityupgrade.com.

Before I turn this over to Jon Inge and his very detailed Technology Newsstand, for those of you in the Atlanta area on Tues., April 1, we are planning our Atlanta social event that evening. This also is the night before the start of our Executive Vendor Summit (http://www.vendorsummit.com). The social cocktail event is just for fun, but of course there is always much networking going on. I am guessing a few of the early arrivals at the Vendor Summit who are playing golf the next day will be joining us. For more information on the social event, please e-mail mailto:sharon@hospitalityupgrade.com and she will fill you in on the location and other details. Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon’s Technology Newsstand. 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
- HTNG Conference showcases products, momentum, value of participation
Last week’s excellent 4th annual HTNG conference in Seattle was solid evidence of the initiative’s momentum and productivity.  As usual, there were good thought leadership sessions, but this year the workgroup reports provided just as much inspiration.  HTNG-certified interfaces are now available from several vendors for both the single guest itinerary (which links activity management systems to PMSs) and property distribution (which links PMSs with central reservations, revenue management and other systems involved in managing booking availability).  Four Seasons, for example, has already implemented an SGI link between PAR Springer-Miller’s SpaSoft and MICROS’ OPERA PMS.

Equally significant, though, were the presentations by InterContinental and Marriott, who are rolling out major initiatives based on HTNG’s original goal of simplifying hoteliers’ lives by providing well-integrated system sets with single vendor installation and support.  InterContinental’s Hotel-In-A-Box program for its new construction, limited-service brands (including Candlewood and Express Staybridge) provides all the core technology services (PMS, PBX, network, HSIA, call accounting, voice messaging, door locks, etc.) in one package installed and supported by a single vendor, in this case IBM. 

Marriott’s ClearSky converged network offering is a single network throughout a property for both guest and administrative use, with flexible bandwidth management and providing device-specific services at any point.  A POS workstation plugged into a jack anywhere sees only POS communications; a guest’s laptop plugged into the same jack receives only the standard guestroom high-speed Internet access, and so on.  Two properties’ installations were presented, one managed by Lorica and AT&T, the other by Guest-Tek.  These are not proof-of-concept trials; they’re actual operational products.

Membership is up to 350, with the emphasis shifting more to companies than individuals.   All workgroups said that they would welcome more members, especially from hoteliers, to help develop the most representative solutions.  Most are reworking their structure to allow more productive use of hoteliers’ time, focusing on involving them in requirements discussions and regular specification checking rather than attending all the technical detail definition discussions.  I strongly urge all hoteliers with an interest in helping to shape integration improvements to become involved. 

If you’re concerned about the time commitment, I’d pass on the comment from one hotelier who has staff on several workgroups and was asked whether this wasn’t a drain on his resources.  He replied that, on the contrary, if they weren’t involved he’d worry that they might be sub-optimizing their work by focusing on areas that are being done more effectively by HTNG.  In his view, HTNG participation is necessary for them to do their jobs properly.


- Booking.com expands in China by partnering with DerbySoft
- SPI contracts with LeisureLink for distribution to online travel sites and GDSs
- SPI re-brands Enterprise software suite as Orange Systems
- Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts implements reservations services from Trust International
- InnLink releases interfaces to Expedia, SABRE, Micros OPERA and InnQuest roomMaster 2000
- Sabre Travel Network to launch Cubeless social networking platform mid-year
- SynXis’ RedX Distribution Management System PCI-certified by Visa
- Peak Resort’s Mount Snow resort picks Inntopia for central reservations and Internet booking
- Thomas Cook buys U.K. hotel booking Web site hotels4U.com
- TripAdvisor acquires U.K. user-feedback travel site Holiday Watchdog
- Marriott to distribute rooms inventory through Orbitz’ brands worldwide
- MICROS releases XML-based direct connection between Expedia and myfidelio.net
For more on Reservations for 03/06/08


- Lodging Interactive releases HotelCalendars Events Calendar for hotels
- Smith Travel Research acquiring research and planning firm RRC Associates
- Great Hotels Organisation picks VFM Interactive for rich media services
- MICROS to provide VFM Interactive services to all hotels using myfidelio.net
- Pegasus and Leonardo to offer ContentHub single-site rich-media management and distribution service
For more on Marketing/Management for 03/06/08


- Rate Tiger establishes dedicated team to manage Web site integration
- IDeaS forms revenue optimization consulting division, IDeaS Advantage
Revenue management and distribution vendor RateTiger has established a dedicated team to manage Web site integration, working with several property management systems and channel management systems to provide XML integration with RateTiger suites.  Over 300 Web sites are currently targeted for integration.  http://www.ratetiger.com
IDeaS has formed a consulting division, IDeaS Advantage, to help hospitality companies develop a revenue optimization culture.  Operating independently from the IDeaS technology division but drawing upon IDeaS’ infrastructure and resources, IDeaS Advantage provides a range of client-specific services including revenue management outsourcing services, revenue analysis and benchmarking, best practice development and hotel pre-opening support.  http://www.ideas.com


- Newmarket integrates MeetingBroker with SMI’s Destination 3000 for CVB lead management
- Sofitel London Heathrow implements Newmarket’s Delphi, MeetingBroker and Delphi Diagrams
- Donald E. Stephens Convention and Conference Center installs FlyteBoard
- Nexus launches HotelworX hotel industry sales force automation system
- Hyatt, Hilton to use StarCite’s online Small Meeting Solution
- Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain selects UniFocus’ STAFFScope
- Millennium Hotels and Resorts selects UniFocus’ MEETINGScope for 14 USA properties
- MTM Luxury Lodging deploying Passkey at seven properties
For more on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 03/06/08


- Louise Meyer hired by VFM Interactive as vice president hotels
- Mark Parry-Jones and Marnie Glasson join iBAHN as regional sales managers
- Ryan Williams joins timeshare specialists 6 Dimensions Consulting
For more on People on the Move for 03/06/08


- Danubius Hotels picks MICROS OPERA Central Systems and 9700 POS for all 56 hotels
- IDS Softwares appoints Caspel LLC as first-line support agent in Eurasian market
- Mövenpick confirms protel as primary systems provider, with MICROS as the preferred alternative
For more on Property Management Systems for 03/06/08


- Mintek Mobile Data Solutions installs WinTrack PM system in three new hotels
- Marriott ranks No. 10 of Computerworld magazine's Top 12 Green IT Companies
Mintek Mobile Data Solutions has installed its WinTrack PM system in three new hotels: the 488-room Radisson Valley Forge in Valley Forge, Pa., the 238-rooom Battle House in Mobile, Ala., and the 682-room Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich.  The latter property has 42 meeting and reception areas, seven food and beverage outlets, and is attached to the DeVos Place Convention Center.  http://www.mintek.com
Marriott International was ranked No. 10 on Computerworld magazine's first Top 12 Green IT Companies list.  Among the actions cited in the award are:
  • Virtualization software from vendors such as VMware has reduced its server population by more than one-third over the past three years.
  • Storage virtualization and archiving technologies have cut storage energy costs by more than 50 percent over that same period.
  • Five of the 10 rooftop air-handling units above the company's data center were replaced with the highest-rated units available (a SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, of 13).
  • Construction of a second data center 300 feet below ground in a former Pennsylvania mine with an ambient air temperature of 53 degrees Fahrenheit.  The facility (owned by Iron Mountain) is expected to be complete by year end.
  • Replacement of over 5,000 desktop PCs with thin clients, cutting power consumption per device by 50 percent.
  • Replacement of 38 public printers at its headquarters with more efficient Energy Star devices, helping reduce its carbon footprint by 36 tons annually.


- Vantage Hospitality Group designates Inn-Phone a preferred guestroom telephone
- Bittel USA named a preferred vendor for Best Western hotel chain in first year in USA
Vantage Hospitality Group has designated Inn-Phone as a preferred guestroom telephone vendor for its Americas Best Value Inn and The Lexington Collection branded properties.  http://www.vantagehospitality.comhttp://www.inn-phone.com
Bittel USA has been named a preferred vendor for the Best Western hotel chain in its first year of business in the United States. Bittel’s phones include features such as Never-Off, a busy dial tone disconnect and reset feature that disconnects the line from an accidental off-hook condition and, after a time delay, resets the phone to accept incoming calls; Safe-Redial, which provides convenient last number redial storage with automatic number deletion after a configured time delay; and the No-Hook Hook Switch, which features no mechanical components and enhances the maintenance-free aspects of the unit.  http://www.bittelusa.com


- ResortQuest to install Kaba Ilco’s Oracode keyless access system in managed properties
ResortQuest will install Kaba Ilco’s Oracode keyless access system in its managed properties.  ResortQuest has used the Oracode lock for several years in various locations; the agreement provides for additional Oracode locks to be installed in vacation rental units managed by ResortQuest throughout North America.  Oracode is a pushbutton lock that uses time-sensitive PIN-based credentials issued remotely using Web-based software.  The system permits the generation of time-sensitive codes via the Internet months or even years in advance.  http://www.resortquest.comhttp://www.kabalodging.com


- Orange Lake Resorts picks Carnus’ Forecaster and AI Scheduler
- Las Vegas Sands extends Venetian’s MICROS 9700 HMS to include Palazzo Las Vegas
- Danubius Hotels picks MICROS 9700 HMS and OPERA Central Systems for its 56 hotels
- MICROS expands integration between Payment Gateway and Planet Payment in Asia-Pacific
- Squirrel releases loyalty and delivery modules for SquirrelOne POS
- Malmaison and Hotel du Vin Hotels to roll out Xn Hotels’ dotPOS Enterprise
- Eiffel Tower Restaurant in Paris Las Vegas implements ReServe Interactive
For more on F&B/Point of Sale for 03/06/08


- Acentic announces next generation of navigation technology for hotel in-room entertainment
- cStar Technologies integrates Vending Genie unit with Fastcorp’s Z-400 Robotic Frozen Vendors
- TTI Technologies’ ConciergeOnDemand now used by 100 hotels in greater New York area
- iBAHN launches digital convergence services in Asia-Pacific
- FoneKey appoints Pop-A-Lock as implementation partner for installation/ maintenance
- NewspaperDirect launches Hotel PressDisplay.com with facsimiles of 550-plus newspapers and magazines
- Hilton Phoenix East/Mesa upgrades wired and wireless Roomlinx HSIA
- NxTV signs film and television VOD content licensing agreement with NBC Universal
For more on Guest Services for 03/06/08


- Agilysys acquires Eatec
Agilysys has acquired Eatec Corp., and will add its EatecNetX inventory and procurement management system to its product range.  EatecNetX will also be interfaced with Agilysys’ point-of-sale offerings to create a complete end-to-end solution.  http://www.eatec.com, http://www.agilysys.com


And now for you-know-what…

If men wrote advice columns…

Dear Fred,

I hope you can help me.

The other day I set off for work, leaving my husband in the house watching TV. I hadn't gone more than a mile down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help.

When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in the bedroom with a woman from our neighborhood.

When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted that he'd been having an affair for the past six months. I am 36, my husband is 38, and we have been married for twelve years. I told him to end the affair or I would leave him.

He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. I don't feel I can get through to him anymore.

Can you please help?


Sheila in shambles

Dear Sheila:

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the jubilee clips holding the vacuum pipes onto the inlet manifold. If none of these approaches solve the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber.

I hope this helps.


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