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Siegel Sez

March 20, 2008

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Some of my favorite things to do in business are those things that we do for no other reason than it is fun. A few years ago we started a social event for any industry person in or who will be in Atlanta. This twice a year get-together is not for business even though there is tons of networking. It is just a social event for those in and around the industry. Our next event is appropriately on April Fool’s Day which is one week from this Tuesday. I say appropriately because we are going to have this event at the same locale the night before our Hospitality Upgrade Executive Vendor Summit which will hopefully be held at the still-not-yet-opened W Hotel in Atlanta. This hotel was scheduled to open in February, then early March and now a week before our summit on March 25. I am guessing the hotel will open its doors when the first guests for our conference arrive to check in. Thankfully the Friday tornado which caused a great deal of damage in downtown Atlanta spared the W. How appropriate it would be for our more than 50 attendees to experience this. The attendees are CEOs and presidents of the top technology companies doing business in the hotel industry and here they will be experiencing what the hotel industry goes through opening a hotel. I am sure many have experienced this before, but it will be fun to see them experience it as a group. I can’t wait. If you have any questions on the social event or the Executive Vendor Summit, please e-mail Sharon at mailto:sharon@hospitalityupgrade.com. I wonder where this situation would fit in the top 10 meeting trends that Jon listed at the conclusion of his technology news which follows this intro.

As promised the results of the Benchmark IT Spend Study will be available to the participants at the end of this month.  This has been an amazing journey; I know why it has never been done in this industry before. Owned hotels, managed hotels, franchised hotels and combinations of all, how do we allocate technology costs? But the positive thing is that even though it literally took us years to get it right, we did. The numbers are amazing. If you have any questions on the survey or are interested in the results, please e-mail me at mailto:rich@hospitalityupgrade.com. Sally Kelly of KPMG and Paul Reynolds of Performance Monitor did a great job in their article in our spring issue of Hospitality Upgrade. If you don’t receive our magazine but would like to please go to http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com to subscribe. We get great feedback when our magazine hits the street, but once in awhile I get slammed for something I wrote. You know that old saying, you can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all the time. But we keep trying anyway!

The spring issue of Hospitality Upgrade, which many of you just received or will receive this week, is our first of the year and our 16th year of covering technology news for the industry. I can’t help but at times reflect on the state of technology back in 1992 compared to today. Remember the world without the Internet? What an amazing journey this has been, thank you all for your support, feedback and encouragement. We appreciate it all including the occasional complaints which thankfully have been few and far between.

Ok, 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


- Amadeus survey highlights three key trends
Amadeus has released a new research report on trends driving the hotel industry.  The three most significant areas it highlights won’t come as a surprise to anyone keeping up with the news, but it’s definitely helpful to have them confirmed by the wide range of resources interviewed.  These included senior hotel executives, consultants, academics and researchers. The hotel executives included C-level positions as well as those with direct responsibility for IT, distribution, revenue management, marketing and sales.

The three main drivers were seen as:

  1. Globalization and rapidly developing economies offer great opportunities.  The emerging markets of Russia, India, China and the Gulf offer both significant markets and major challenges, in that each requires a culturally distinct approach.  Brand integrity is critical: hotels need to supply consistent service levels on a global basis while still catering to local markets.
  2. Better-informed travelers expect experiences to be built around their personal needs.  Guests now do much more research before traveling, especially from peer group reviews on social networks, and want to engage with a hotel across all touch points they feel appropriate. Hotels need to place even more emphasis on capturing and using guest profile data quickly and accurately to personalize the experience, and must go further in their adoption of social networking.
  3. New integration technologies provide opportunities to personalize the experience and improve operational performance.  Tight integration between the core systems of distribution, channel and content management is an even higher priority as it becomes more complex.  Applications, databases and networks must integrate more easily with each other and third-party systems to facilitate collaborations with partners.  And with the growing importance of the mobile channel, hospitality technology platforms must support interactions with all user devices from phone to fax to PC to PDA to mobile. 


- Rod Collier and John W. Wallace hired by The Rainmaker Group
Rod Collier and John W. Wallace have been hired by The Rainmaker Group at its Georgia headquarters. 
Mr. Wallace is the new vice president of business consulting, replacing Tom Walker who has joined Rainmaker client Omni Hotels as vice president of revenue management.  He has served in upper level executive positions at Talus Solutions and Manugistics, and most recently worked with Axicom Digital/Kefta.
Mr. Collier joins as vice president of professional services, coming to Rainmaker from JDA Software where he served as a practice director and director of revenue management.  He also has experience with Talus Solutions and was a senior consultant for Aeronomics.


- Spirit Group picks Guestline’s RezLynx for 36 sites
- Hotel Concepts’ PMS validated as CISP-compliant
- MSI performance-tests EnterprisePM in Microsoft labs
For more on Property Management Systems for 03/20/08


- InterContinental implements direct connectivity with Travelocity
- Expedia launches subsidiary for Indian travelers
InterContinental Hotels Group has implemented direct connectivity with Travelocity, providing real-time inventory and pricing on Travelocity and allowing reservations to be booked directly into IHG’s Holidex Plus reservation system.  http://www.ichotelsgroup.comhttp://www.travelocity.com
Expedia has launched a subsidiary for Indian travelers, offering almost 80,000 worldwide hotels and accepting payment in Indian rupees.  An in-country help desk is staffed with dedicated agents who speak both Hindi and English.  http://www.expedia.co.in


- ICE Portal adds NeuStep virtual walk-through content
- Market Metrix, Andiamo Systems partner for online guest comment research, response
ICE Portal has contracted with NeuStep to add its virtual walk-through content to ICE Portal's network of over 30,000 travel Web sites.  http://www.neustep.comhttp://www.iceportal.com
Market Metrix and Andiamo Systems have partnered to link Market Metrix’s survey, analysis and benchmarking tools with Andiamo’s real-time Word of Mouth & Social Media reporting. This is intended to let companies discover and act on virtually any online conversation occurring across the spectrum of online media and direct guest feedback.  Initial users are currently in place and a full launch is scheduled to follow within the next 90 days.  http://www.marketmetrix.comhttp://www.andiamosystems.com


- Oxford Hotels & Inns installing Rate Tiger revenue management chainwide
- Sunstar Hotels installing IDeaS V5i at all nine properties
- IDeaS releases version 3.2 of Revenue Optimization V5i
- IDeaS launches New Hotel Service Success Package
- IDeaS integrates TravelCLICK’s ChannelDirect into V5i Revenue Management
- SynXis signs new three-year agreement with reseller Yeeld Solutions
- Carlson names JDA Software Group its Supplier of the Year
- Luxe Worldwide Hotels upgrades to version 3.0 of EZYield
- FastBooking releases new version of Updater channel management tool

For more on Revenue Management for 03/20/08


- PAS to offer Infor’s FMS SunSystems and PM Business Process Analytics
PAS has contracted with Infor to provide Infor’s FMS SunSystems and PM Business Process Analytics (BPAs) to PAS’ hotel customers.  FMS SunSystems is a complete financial management application; PM BPAs make strategic management, planning and budgeting, forecasting and financial reporting faster, easier and more efficient.  http://www.infor.com


- JHM Hotels selects MTech’s PMWorks for 30 properties
- Telkonet announces new SS1107 Energy Management Controller
JHM Hotels has selected MTech’s PMWorks to provide its 30 U.S.-based properties with ASP-based maintenance management.  The South Carolina-based company operates its properties under various brands, including Marriott, Hilton, Starwood and Hyatt.  http://www.jhmhotels.comhttp://www.m-tech.com
Telkonet has announced its new SS1107 Energy Management Controller, with enhanced communications functions for better interoperability with other equipment.  The SS1107 includes a dedicated port for high-speed communication and the ability to support future mesh networking technology.  http://www.telkonet.com


- Benchmark Hospitality’s annual Top Ten Meeting Trends
Benchmark Hospitality has announced its annual Top Ten Meeting Trends, as reported by its properties:

  1. Green Meetings. Demand continues at an even higher level than last year.   More and more RFPs are inquiring about the conference centers’ green policies as a selection criterion.
  2. Keeping up with technology.  Wireless connectivity is now an expectation, advanced technology such as 360-degree cameras are being installed in conference rooms to enable meetings to patch in persons from around the globe, and at a moment’s notice.  The challenge is to stay ahead of the curve when it’s difficult just to keep up. 
  3. Laptops now encouraged in the meeting room for note-taking or facilitator-directed research, not e-mail.  It’s also a nod to going green, as typing notes into a laptop uses zero paper and eliminates waste.
  4. Paperless negotiation.  More than 80 percent of RFPs, proposals and contracts are now delivered and returned online, saving great amounts of paper but increasing the pressure to respond in real time.
  5. Healthy break snacks.  Choice, variety and selection are all still important, but the requests to make sure it’s healthy have come back strong, and low carb is not the only criterion.  At least healthy today is synonymous with flavorful, low fat and low cal.
  6. Teambuilding activities in high demand.  From the traditional to culinary cook offs to white-water rafting, teambuilding activities as part of a meeting are more popular than ever, often driven by the destination and with a preference for outdoor, physical activities. 
  7. All-inclusive package pricing still preferred.  There are fewer meetings with a greater number of attendees per meeting, for enhanced cost efficiencies, but package pricing remains solid.
  8. Critical to stay current on industry segments delivering business to your property.  Change happens faster all the time, with company mergers, products becoming obsolete as technology delivers the next generation, global competition bringing rapid paradigm shifts, and social networking systems revolutionizing how information flows from person to person, group to group.
  9. Destination recreation activities increasingly important.  More than golf and spa sessions, attendees are looking to experience all that a destination has to offer, including walking and biking through natural forests, touring historic sites, climbing mountains and mesas, descending into canyons and even shopping.
  10. Interactive event Web sites.  Set up by group leaders for a particular meeting for attendees to reference before the meeting begins, and throughout a conference as a review of the material discussed during the day.  The sites also enable feedback and continued group interaction after hours by contributing to a dialog or meeting blog.
  • Bonus Trend #1 - Latin America is increasingly attractive.  With geographic proximity, growing business climates throughout the region, a ratcheting up in demand for corporate meetings and the movement toward recognizing all the Americas as one, Latin America is not just for incentive groups anymore.
  • Bonus Trend #2 – So is Japan.  Interest in conference centers in Japan is growing faster than in many other established regions in the world.  Corporate Japan is actively embracing the meetings concept that Europe and America adopted over a quarter century ago.  Proposals for new purpose-built conference centers in Japan are surfacing every day and the country is projected to lead the concept as it migrates throughout Asia.


- Marker InfoComm releases iHAMMS Direct
Marker InfoComm has released iHAMMS Direct, an update to its well-known system for connecting existing hotel property management systems (PMS) and CRM/loyalty programs directly to over 35 frequent flyer programs.  iHAMMS tools currently provide FFP connectivity for over 2,000 hotels worldwide, and reconciles every transaction sent to an FFP program for accurate hotel billing and accounting.    http://www.ihamms.com


And now for you-know-what…

Two 90-year-old women, Rose and Barb, had been friends all of their lives. When it was clear that Rose was dying, Barb visited her every day.

One day Barb said, "Rose, we both loved playing softball all our lives, and we played all through high school. Please do me one favor: when you get to Heaven, somehow you must let me know if there's softball there."
Rose looked up at Barb from her deathbed and said, "Barb, you've been my best friend for many years. If it's at all possible, I'll do this favor for you." Shortly after that, Rose passed on.
A few nights later, Barb was awakened from a sound sleep by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling out to her, "Barb, Barb."
"Who is it," asked Barb, sitting up suddenly. "Who is it?"
"Barb -- it's me, Rose."
"You're not Rose. Rose just died."
"I'm telling you, it's me, Rose," insisted the voice.
"Rose, where are you,” Barb asked.
"In Heaven," replied Rose.  "I have some really good news and a little bad news."
"What is it," said Barb.
"The good news," Rose said, "is that there's softball in Heaven. Better yet, all of our old buddies who died before us are here too. Better than that, we're all young again.  Better still, it's always springtime, and it never rains or snows. And, best of all, we can play softball all we want, and we never get tired."
"That's fantastic," said Barb. "It's beyond my wildest dreams! So what's the bad news?"
"You're pitching Tuesday."

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