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Siegel Sez

May 08, 2008

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

We are creatures of habit, aren’t we? For as long as I have gone to HITEC, it has always started on Tuesday morning. Not any more. This year the opening session begins Monday afternoon at 4:30 and features Paul Bell, the president of Dell Inc.’s Americas Region. Hmm, HITEC in Austin and Austin-based Dell Computers speaking at the opening session. Coincidence? There will also be commentary from trend watcher Michael Tchong on how technology changes continue to change our lifestyle. It sounds like Monday is the day to arrive this year. Actually the Monday crowd has grown dramatically over the years in part thanks to HSMAI having its fifth annual Revenue Management Strategy Conference starting Monday morning. It is about time that HITEC was extended; it actually gives everybody another night of networking and remember, networking is only one letter away from not working, right? We all learned that from Mark Newton at our recent Executive Vendor Summit.

Also at HITEC I am honored to be moderating the closing session which will feature panelists from those companies who are responsible for rating hotels. Bring your list of questions and I say let’s put them on the spot. Two line phones needed for superior ratings? Give me a break. How about flat panel televisions with a HD signal for higher ratings? Over the years HITEC has attracted more and more operational and marketing types and I think offering a creative general session like this is a natural progression.

This past weekend was my favorite weekend of the year. It was Kentucky Derby weekend. I was excited to be staying at the Galt House and rightfully so, it is the place to be for Derby weekend. Every party of note seemed to be held there. As for the Derby, it was one of those experiences of unbelievable extremes. The thrill of seeing Big Brown, who might be the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years, dominate the race to the sadness of watching the beautiful filly Eight Belles break down after the race and having to be euthanized in front of 160,000 people. It is too sad to put into words.

On a much lighter note, last night was the Magazine Association of the Southeast Annual Conference awards dinner. This association is for magazines published anywhere in the Southeast, from North Carolina to Florida and Kentucky to Alabama. When our category came up I was quite shocked to see that we won the top prize for the second year in a row. I loved that the panel of judges’ comments included that Hospitality Upgrade won for design and content. They also loved that we always include a slice of humor in a technology magazine. I get so much grief for including offbeat stuff in a serious technology magazine, but the judges’ validation was a great feeling. It was great to watch Geneva beam as she accepted the award for all of us. It was just one of those moments that I wish everybody has a chance to experience.

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review of the last two weeks. Remember Jon will be one of the panelists at HITEC along with fellow consultants John Burns and Jeremy Rock as we try something novel this year by using actual experts at the Ask the Experts session. 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



- Travel costs soar, videoconferencing predictably resurfaces – but with much higher quality
- HTNG releases 2008A specifications
One topic that pops up every time gas prices soar is videoconferencing.  It’s always tempting to think that face-to-face meetings can be held without all the hassles of travel, and Marriott’s recent announcement that it’s installing HP’s new Halo Telepresence technology in several hotels (see Meeting Planning below) is the latest incarnation of this.

By all accounts telepresence is a major step forward.  The basis is a series of meeting rooms in the various locations, each outfitted with identical furnishings and equipment and with exceptionally high-quality audio and video.  A series of flat screen displays along one edge of the conference table presents life-sized images of the various participants, who could all be in different cities but, thanks to the common décor, appear to be just across the table, behind a window.  High-bandwidth connections ensure zero time lag in the images and audio, and I’m told by those who’ve tried it that the experience is very immersive.  Even more encouraging, although this setup is pricey enough that it makes sense to install it in a shared environment such as a hotel, its cost is well below that of what used to be called high-end videoconferencing.

I think there’s a definite place for this in eliminating a lot of travel for routine meetings, but until they come up with a way for everyone to mingle over drinks afterwards and break off for quiet discussions in the corner of the room there’ll still be great value in being there physically.  Teleportation, anyone?
HTNG has officially released its updated 2008A specifications, with major progress in maturity and coverage over the 2007 releases.  The Property Web Services 2008A specification now includes specifications for asynchronous as well as synchronous communications, plus the single guest itinerary and digital signage specifications.  Preliminary specifications were released for back office integration, open data exchange, and guest self service.  The Property/Distribution Solution 2008A specification adds group profiles, best available rate handling and statistics, and adds functionality for sharers, accompanying guests and services. http://www.opengroup.org/htng/specs/


- TIG Global wins three Summit Creative Awards
- LQ implements Aptech Execuvue BI in over 600 La Quinta Inns and Suites hotels
- Pegasus signs multiyear agreement with VRX Studios for HD rich media distribution
For more on Marketing/Management for 05/08/08


- New revenue management textbook published
- IDeaS has appoints new distribution partners in South Africa, Turkey and Switzerland
A new textbook, “An Introduction to Revenue Management: Principles and Practices for the Real World,” has been published, co-authored by Kimberly Tranter, assistant professor and lead faculty, lodging for The Hospitality College at Johnson & Wales University, and industry revenue management experts Juston Parker and Trevor Stuart-Hill.  Mr. Parker is currently president and CEO of Parker Hospitality Group and EVP of Gusto; Mr. Stuart-Hill is currently vice president of accounts and revenue management at SynXis.
IDeaS has appointed three new distribution partners: Parkernology in South Africa, Protel A.S. in Turkey and RM Solutions in Switzerland.  Parkernology is a 20-year established provider of specialist hospitality consulting services and products throughout Africa.  Protel has been providing world class hospitality technology solutions in Turkey since 1989.  RM Solutions is a Swiss-based specialist in yield management systems and processes, business intelligence, e-marketing and strategic sales support.  http://www.parkernology.co.za, http://www.protel.com.tr, http://www.rmsolutions.ch, http://www.ideas.com


- Marriott International implementing HP Halo telepresence meeting rooms
- Habtoor Hotels picks Newmarket’s Delphi, MeetingBroker for Metropolitan Hotel, Dubai
Marriott International is implementing HP Halo telepresence meeting rooms, available for public use, in several properties in major business centers around the world.  With identically furnished rooms in each location, participants see each other in life-sized images projected on high-resolution displays as if they are just across the table from one another, and can communicate with no perceived delays.  http://www.marriott.com, http://www.hp.com
Habtoor Hotels has selected Newmarket International’s Delphi and MeetingBroker systems for its Metropolitan Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai.  Habtoor has been using Delphi in its Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa for two years.  http://metropolitandubai.habtoorhotels.comhttp://www.newmarketinc.com


- Sandia Resort and Casino to install Capton’s Beverage Tracker property-wide
Sandia Resort and Casino in Albuquerque, N.M. is installing Capton’s RFID-based Beverage Tracker propertywide after a pilot test in one of its bars.  http://www.sandiacasino.comhttp://www.captoninc.com


- Westin installing Nintendo Wii consoles in fitness centers at 10 U.S. hotels
- aloft hotels to offer PumpOne workout PDA programs in fitness centers
- KoolConnect launches DVD-like interactive video on-demand module for Intrigue
- Kokua Hospitality installing FlyteBoard, FlytePass and FlyteChannel at five properties
- TeleAdapt’s MediaHub connectivity panels compatible with Samsung’s hospitality TVs
For more on Guest Services for 05/08/08


- Ron Anderson-Lehman, Tony Williams recognized with OpenTravel Alliance awards
- Andrea Kramis joins Miracle TV Corp. (MiTV) as business development director
- Steve Lyons appointed global ACE manager for Onity
- Bill Oliver promoted to vice president, global sales and marketing at Onity
For more on People on the Move for 05/08/08


- SoftBrands works with Microsoft Technology Center to enhance Epitome PMS
- MICROS and SynXis sign partnership to enhance existing systems integration
SoftBrands is enhancing the scalability and performance of its Epitome PMS using insights gained from working with the Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) in Irvine, Calif.  The current version of Epitome was built on Microsoft’s .NET Framework and uses SQL Server 2005, but product development is being more closely aligned with Microsoft's product strategy. The MTC tests of Epitome’s scalability simulated multiple hotels with numerous simultaneous interactive users.  SoftBrands is now working with Microsoft to obtain ongoing architecture guidance, support and access to Microsoft's facilities to benchmark and fine-tune Epitome.  http://www.softbrands.com
MICROS and SynXis have signed a partnership to enhance the existing integration between their systems, to include functionality such as reservation synchronization to provide hotel revenue managers with a true single-image of inventory in both the SynXis CRS and MICROS PMS.  http://www.micros.com, http://www.synxis.com


- Hilton designates Bittel USA as a preferred vendor for guestroom phones
Hilton Hotels Corp. has designated Bittel USA as a Preferred Vendor for guestroom telephones, following a six-month testing period at a Homewood Suites property in Tennessee.  http://www.hilton.com, http://www.bittelusa.com


- VibeAgent.com search site combines rates, recommendations and social networking
- Travelocity wins TIA’s Innovator of the Year Award for established companies
- SynXis and MICROS sign partnership to enhance the existing systems integration
- Hogg Robinson to use Amadeus’ GDS services in Switzerland, Austria and Lichtenstein
- Amadeus signs 60 hotel brands to Worldwide Commission Manager
For more on Reservations for 05/08/08


- InterContinental posts virtual green Innovation Hotel on Web site, calls for comments
InterContinental Hotels Group has posted a virtual Innovation Hotel on its Web site, to outline the latest technology in energy and water conservation and recycling, and to generate comments from potential guests on which green features are important to them.  The various approaches may become standard across all IHG brands within the next few years.  The hotel features:
* Solar panels on the roof to heat water
* Wind power to generate electricity
* Household waste to provide heat and power
* Rainwater harvesting to supply water to toilets
* A roof garden with shrubbery to provide extra insulation
* Recycled glass windows
* Furniture and fittings made entirely from recycled materials
* Low-emission paint
* Artwork from local artists
* Recycling bins for guests to use.
* Unused food from the kitchens packaged and delivered to local charities or food banks
* Leftover scraps composted for use on hotel plants and lawns
* All bedroom furniture and fittings including towels and carpets made from recycled materials
* Bathrooms with low-flow showerheads and dual flush toilets


- B4 Consulting adopts OnState’s CallCenter for Skype for real-time customer support
SAP channel partner B4 Consulting has adopted OnState Communications’ CallCenter for Skype to deliver real-time customer support for the SAP Business One business management system.  CallCenter includes concurrent Skype chat and voice, Skype voicemail, dynamic call recording, and callbacks, and is integrated with B4 Consulting's customer relationship management system. B4 was formerly known as IMG Americas, an S&T company.  http://www.b4-consulting.comhttp://www.on-state.com


And now for you-know-what…

We took the family to one of those restaurants where the walls are plastered with movie memorabilia. I went to see the hostess about reserving a table.

When I returned, I found my 11-year-old daughter staring at a poster of Superman standing in a phone booth. She looked puzzled.

"Doesn't she know who Superman is," I whispered to my husband.

"Worse," he replied, "she doesn't know what a phone booth is."

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