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Siegel Sez

February 19, 2009

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Recession? What recession? As you read through Jon Inge’s technology review you will see there is a great deal of activity going on in the industry. Are there fewer projects being completed this year than planned? Absolutely. However, the big shots I have spoken with confirm that you can’t just stop investing in technology. We are going to come out of this and you certainly don’t want to be the one company that missed the window and now finds itself in serious catch-up mode. Yes, operators are being more selective on projects but are still moving forward. We are all thankful for that.

In our Siegel Sez two weeks ago I started my one-man crusade to get the world traveling again. Crusades aren’t easy, but we need to try, right? I hope the hotel industry leads the way.  There are many great conferences and meetings going on. I will be off to Dallas in a couple of weeks for the HTNG Conference; the conference looks to be well attended this year with the preregistration numbers close to last year. For more information on HTNG and the conference, click here http://www.htng.org/dallas2009

In late March, we will be off to TravelCom (http://www.tia.org/industrymeet/TravelCom/index.html) which is here in Atlanta this year. TravelCom is owned and run by the U. S. Travel Association, formerly TIA (http://www.tia.org/).  It will be interesting to see the mood at this event with travel or the lack of being in the mainstream media so often these days. Hopefully, the discussions will be encouraging as well as honest. The Hospitality Upgrade Executive Vendor Summit (http://www.vendorsummit.com) has every appearance of being our biggest ever. Now is certainly the time when people need to share. I encourage those on the fence regarding attendance to industry events this year to jump off the fence and make it happen. As an industry we can lead or follow. I vote that we lead.

The word out of Memphis this week is that Tim Harvey has resigned his position as CIO at Hilton. I haven’t talked to him yet, but it sure did put me in a reflective mood. Tim is one of only two people I have interviewed twice in our magazine over the 17 years of our face-to-face interviews. When we launched our CIO Summit back in 2002 he was one of the first CIOs to agree to attend. On the first morning of the very first conference, I went around the room and asked everyone why they were there and what they expected out of the event. When it was Tim’s turn he simply said that he was there because Richard Siegel asked him to come. That was a great moment for me. Thankfully I didn’t screw up the event and it continues to grow. Life is all about moments and that was one of mine.

Going back to the interviews we have been doing for the 17 years, this upcoming issue’s interview is going to be very different. I promised everyone in my office that I wouldn’t spill the beans in this week’s Siegel Sez, but I think it will be something that we are going to do for a long time….if I don’t mess it up. If you are not receiving Hospitality Upgrade, please go to www.hospitalityupgrade.com and click on the subscribe icon. You will enjoy this and you will not want to miss what we have in store.

And now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review which includes his opening with some very pointed comments that I don’t necessarily agree with. I think John Stumpf, president and CEO of Wells Fargo, should receive a medal. I called Mr. Stumpf to tell him my feelings, but the day I called he was in Washington, D.C., testifying before Congress. Oh well, they say timing is everything. 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


- Keep it positive, keep it creative
- HTNG’s impact grows
The current drop-off in business travel seems to me to be an overreaction to media-manufactured false outrage, which blows up even minor transgressions into something sensational and polarizing in an attempt to sell more newspapers or ad time.  But business conferences are very seldom the suggested flagrant waste of time and money; I’d wager that most are productive and useful in ways many mainstream reporters choose to ignore. 

This uninformed public pressure to cut back needs to be countered with positive feedback on the personal and corporate efficiency benefits of travel and meetings.  Wells Fargo lost a huge opportunity to do this in its full page ad in the Wall Street Journal last week, stating that it had cancelled all of its staff-recognition conferences even though it believed they were highly effective in improving staff morale and performance in proportion to their cost.  Why then cut them, for heaven’s sake?  If they truly believed this, why not use the ad space to explain why and then go ahead with them?

I’m with Rich on this; we as an industry need to set an example, to keep traveling, attending meetings and conferences, encouraging others to do the same and being fully prepared to explain the value gained by it.  If a client wants to cancel a piece of business, see what alternatives you can work out creatively with them, perhaps for a reduced scope, different location or time that would still allow them to visit, and help them clarify the benefits to their own organization.  Nothing’s black and white; there’s always room for discussion and negotiation. 

And if you’re feeling nervous, have survived some staff reductions but find it hard to keep a positive outlook and get moving again, you might pick up some motivating ideas from Robert Scoble’s column in Fast Company (http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/robert-scoble/robert-scobles-innovators-and-geeks-blog/youve-survived-layoff-work-how-do-you-ge) (yes, that really is the URL).  
HTNG has done a lot of painstaking, productive work in improving systems integrations, but it’s not always apparent to the world at large.  However, three recent events indicate the initiative’s growing impact:
- Attention is being paid by the mainstream IT trade press, with an article in the current issue of Computerworld pointing out that this is the first example of an entire industry working together to define a workable architecture. (http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=333320).
- Even more senior hotel IT executives are joining its board (see below).
- HTNG itself has posted a table on its Web site summarizing applicable HTNG specifications for each major product category, e.g. PMS, POS, Spa, CRS, etc.  You may be surprised (as I was) at how many there are; check it out at www.htng.org/cert/byproductcat.htm.


- TravelCLICK becomes authorized reseller of Google’s AdWords program
- Virtual Works partners with VFM Leonardo for Costa Rican hotels
- InnLink Central Reservation Services contracts with VFM Leonardo
- Heathman to use UniFocus’ business intelligence tools at two properties
- Open Hospitality implements real-time interfaces to GDSs and PMSs
- Utell to offer Milestone Internet Marketing’s services to all clients
For more on Marketing/Management for 02/19/09


- X2O Media announces Software Plus Services strategy
- Niagara College Canada joins Newmarket’s Delphi in the Classroom program
Digital signage, network and content manager X2O Media has announced its Software Plus Services approach, combining its software applications with a range of managed service options for users.  Software applications include the new X2O Web portal for managing network operations from a browser, with tools for updating and scheduling content, distributing content to specific screens or groups of screens, and building advertising campaigns based on business rules and X2O's smart template technology.  X2O also released version 2.5 of its Xpresenter digital signage platform; enhancements include a new release of the Xpresenter Server, new versions of centralized Web-based content management tools and other Web-based services.  Subscription-based services include full network hosting at X2O's data center, end-to-end content management services and 24/7 system monitoring.  http://www.x2omedia.com  
Niagara College Canada Hospitality and Tourism division has joined the Delphi in the Classroom program, providing its students with access to a suite of e-learning courses from Newmarket International.  http://www.niagaracollege.cahttp://www.newmarketinc.com


- Restolingua contracts with The Northern Office for marketing, sales and distribution assistance
- XPIENT integrates XFormity's technology into its eIntelligence reporting system
Restolingua has contracted with The Northern Office to assist in the marketing, sales and distribution of its multilingual restaurant software and services, which allow menus to be updated in one language and output in a number of different languages (German, English, American, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Japanese and soon, Chinese).  The Northern Office will focus on developing tourist markets such as Russia, China and Africa, consolidating the current subscription bases in Europe and the United States and expanding the languages available to include Chinese, Korean, Arabic and Russian.  http://thenorthernoffice.comhttp://www.restolingua.com
XPIENT Solutions has integrated XFormity Technologies's enterprise reporting technology into XPIENT's eIntelligence above-store reporting application.  XFormity's hosted applications include business intelligence, balanced scorecard and financial benchmarking toolkits for multiunit business operations.  XPIENT's applications are installed in over 20,000 restaurants in North America and the United Kingdom.  http://www.xformity.com, http://www.xpient.com 


- Beekman Tower Hotel installs business center from TTI Technologies
- Bilderberg installs Swisscom Internet services throughout 20 properties
- Starwood to install sonoro audio elements radios in new W hotel guestrooms
- FCS Computer Systems awarded a HOSTEC China Preferred IT Product designation
- Otrum contracts with NOTE Nykoping-Skanninge for volume production of HD cards
- LodgeNet to install smart wireless LAN equipment from Ruckus Wireless in 131 properties
- Hilton Berlin installs first Acentic Panorama digital interactive TV system in Germany
- Nordic Hotel Forum in Tallinn first Baltic States hotel to offer guests Skype telephones
For more on Guest Services for 02/19/09


- Hilton Phoenix in Chandler to use 3-D animated instructions on iPods to train housekeeping staff
New Hilton Phoenix in Chandler, Ariz. claims to be the first hotel in the world to use 3-D animated instructions on iPods to help train and coach housekeeping staff.  New-hires can easily move through 50 steps on an iPod using step-by-step navigation via 2-D icons and 3-D animations.  The training concept was developed by Visual Training Solutions LLC.  http://www.visualtrainingsolutions.com


- Chartres Lodging installing Telkonet thermostats in over 3,500 rooms
- Boyne Mountain Resort installs Entergize energy controls in Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa
- Onity launches Wireless innPULSE to link SensorStat thermostats to innPULSE EMS
- Microsoft announces Environmental Sustainability Dashboard for Microsoft Dynamics AX
For more on Engineering for 02/19/09


- Todd Thompson is new president of HTNG board
- Carl Wilson, Tom Conophy join HTNG board
- Sam Acheampong appointed European sales manager at MTech
- Annie-Laurie McCulloh joins Rainmaker as vice president for LRO Business Consulting
- Hank Owen, Angelo LoBue, Dave Warvel join DB Technology
For more on People on the Move for 02/19/09


- InnQuest integrates TTI Technologies’ Scan2PMS system into roomMaster 2000 PMS
- Palms Casino Resort selects Agilysys’ Visual One Condo Accounting
- IDS Software launches French version of Fortune Suite
- Velvet Hotel, Manchester to open in March with Protel’s PMS
- Enablez moves headquarters to Toronto's Liberty Village
- MSI appoints Hi-Tech Business Systems as a reseller for Canada
For more on Property Management Systems for 02/19/09


- Accor signs multiyear distribution agreement deal with Orbitz
- Web Applications UK acquires Kelworth and its Accoman and Accowin systems
- Egencia announces diagnostic program for business travel optimization
- HotelsCombined.com partners with Expedia for Australia, New Zealand, Japan and India
- University of Delaware partners with Pegasus for reservation and distribution training
- Dorint implements Trust’s Voyager|CRS and Discovery|CRM
- Belgian-based Gateway launches hotel booking engine for UK's travel agency market
For more on Reservations for 02/19/09


- Ace Hotels' properties in New York and Palm Springs to deploy IDeaS V5i
- EZYield.com announces that rate, inventory update processing tripled in last year
- Rate Tiger releases enhanced versions of RTAllocator Pro and RTShopper Pro
For more on Revenue Management for 02/19/09


And now for you-know-what…

Have you ever been guilty of looking at others your own age and thinking, surely I can't look that old?

I was sitting in the waiting room for my first appointment with a new dentist. I noticed his diploma, which bore his full name. Suddenly, I remembered a tall, handsome, dark-haired boy with the same name that had been in my high school class some 30-odd years ago. I wondered if he could be the same guy that I had a secret crush on back then. 

Upon seeing him, however, I quickly discarded any such thought. This darling, sweet, but heavy-set, balding, gray-haired man with a deeply lined face was way too old to have been my classmate.

After he examined my teeth, I asked him if he had attended Morgan High School. "Yes. Yes, I did. I was a Morgan Mustang," he said with pride.

So I asked, "When did you graduate?"

He answered, "I graduated in 1975. Why do you ask?"

"You were in my class," I said.

He sat back and looked at me closely.  Then, that four eyed, ugly, old, wrinkled, gray-haired, decrepit son-of-a-gun asked, "What did you teach?"

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