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Siegel Sez

March 12, 2009

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

My first kiss, her name was Donna. Maybe a sign of things to come, there never was a second. My first trip on an airplane was from New York LaGuardia to Boston on a Northeast Yellowbird. I was going crazy with excitement as the countdown started until the day my dad and I flew up there. I remember my first time on the high-dive at our local pool. And I remember wanting to climb back down, but I closed my eyes and jumped. I remember my first front desk job back in the late ‘70s when I checked in my first guest at the Laurels Lake Hotel near Monticello, N.Y. It is fun to reflect, but as life progresses and we get older we need to be thinking of things that we have never done.

From the business side I remember the first time I spoke in front of a very large crowd (about 600 people).  It took me at least 20 minutes for the sweat to stop pouring down the side of my face. Anyone remember my first Siegel Sez nine years ago? Having a column that was read by more than 23,000 people, that was pretty exciting. My first newsletter, my first magazine, my first summit--it is exciting to do something for the first time no matter what the results are. Today you might want to experience another of my firsts that hopefully will get better, but at least there was no sweating this time even with the lights.

Nelson Garrido is the vice president of technology for Noble Investment Group, a company that owns and manages properties of the major hotel brands, conference centers and resorts.  Thankfully he is very smart and polished, which made my attempt at our first video interview a lot easier.  Yes, after 17 years of sitting down with technology innovators face to face, recording our conversation and creating the written interview for each issue of Hospitality Upgrade, we have tried something new. If you have been reading the interviews in our magazine, this will be easy to watch. If you are not a technology enthusiast, you might find it a bit long, but thanks to our friends at http://www.realviewtv.com you have the ability to jump around. I am always my worst critic, but I must admit this was actually fun to do. Go to http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com, and in the center of the homepage you will see the interview. Please feel free to send comments and critiques to me. I have thick skin.  This will allow us to improve. After all, this was another first for me.

Wow, two weeks in a row I am going to disagree with Jon Inge. His opening talks about social networking and the separation of business and personal. I love the idea of seeing the other side of people I have done business with often for many years. Of course, the line between business and friendship is so blurred with me it would figure I would think this way. I agree with Jon that it was great that HTNG was so well attended, but I would also add that I wish the ratio of hoteliers to vendors was better. The travel industry is pushing businesses to keep travel as a top priority. How about the hotel industry lead the way by sending people to important industry events? I hope everyone who is sitting on the fence regarding whether they can afford to travel believes in the power of karma. You start and others will follow. That said, I hope to see everybody at HITEC (http://www.hitec.org) this year. HITEC is one event I will never miss and if technology is important to your business you shouldn’t either.

Before I turn this over to Jon, I have one last comment regarding travel. Our fifth annual Executive Vendor Summit (http://www.vendorsummit.com) might be our biggest yet, which I will admit is nothing short of shocking with the current state of the world. We have always believed niche events are the way to go. I will let the other guys try for the big events. To the many technology providers who have already booked, thank you very much--we look forward to seeing you in San Antonio.

Here now is the real reason we are here--Jon Inge’s technology review. Read all the way through. The investment in technology clearly continues and we are all thankful for that. 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



- Are we friends yet?
- HTNG Conference attendance holds steady, a very positive sign
I may be tilting at windmills with this one, but is it too late to hope that we can keep our links on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites under enough control for them to be meaningful?  Howard Feiertag brought this up in his recent column in Hotel & Motel Management, wondering why so many people who ask to link to his profile never contact him again, and I’ve been receiving increasing numbers of “link” requests lately, too.

I’ve used LinkedIn for some time and like it for its professional focus and wide coverage; it’s very useful for checking the current position, company and work history of people I want to contact, for example.  It’s also been really great to come across and re-connect with people I’d lost touch with some time ago.  On the social side I’m a relative newcomer to Facebook, surely the most wonderful time-waster in years, and it’s been a delight to catch up with and share personal news and photos with my friends and family across the world.

But while I truly value the many great friendships I’ve developed in this industry, the two worlds don’t need to overlap all the time.  If I’m already connected on LinkedIn to someone I’ve met briefly in a professional capacity, what benefits do either of us gain by also being linked on Facebook?  It always feels a little churlish to decline an invitation to be someone’s “friend”, but I’m sure most of my professional contacts aren’t really interested in my personal comments, social activities and family photos. 

Over on LinkedIn, I look on my direct connections as people I’ve worked with enough to be comfortable recommending to someone else or asking for a favor.  Second and third level connections to contacts of their contacts are nice to know about, but I can’t see that as a valid reason to ask them to be my direct contact.  We already know how to get in touch with each other if we need to, and it seems presumptuous to claim a closer connection just because we share friends of friends. 

I know that the more online connections we have the higher we rate in SEO visibility, but I hope we’re not all linking to each other just for the sake of increasing our apparent popularity and influence.  That’s a pretty sad reason to ask someone to be your “friend”.
HTNG’s Annual Conference in Dallas last week was another very successful event.  Apart from the excellent thought leadership sessions and workgroup reports, the most encouraging aspect was that attendance was so high.  While actual numbers were perhaps 10 percent down compared to last year, in today’s environment that’s a major tribute to the value people get from it.  It’s quickly and definitively become one of the few must-attend annual conferences.


- InterContinental implements Jive Social Business Software to create Priority Club Connect community
- Worldwide Revenue Solutions introduces GuestSpace Web 2.0 social media platform
InterContinental Hotel Group has implemented Jive Social Business Software to connect and engage with its 40 million Priority Club Rewards members.  IHG's new Priority Club Connect community is intended to become an online gathering place for Priority Club Rewards Members to share their experiences and talk directly with IHG management through a video blog.  http://www.ihg.com, http://www.jivesoftware.com
Internet marketer Worldwide Revenue Solutions (WRS) has introduced its GuestSpace Web 2.0 Marketing Solution and Social Media Platform, a portal where guests can find news, interactive maps, entertainment, games, local specials and join an online community.  Guests are encouraged to create a profile, upload images and blog about their experiences for hotel owners to monitor and respond to.  http://www.wrsol.com


- Newmarket signs Texas Digital as event management system partner
- Stockholm’s Berns Salonger implements Newmarket's Delphi sales and catering
- Dolce Hayes Mansion picks Passkey
- New Orleans Metropolitan CVB signs with Travel Technology Group
- Harris unveils Punctuate application for digital signage management
- X2O Media introduces X2O Data Service, Xpresenter Xe entry-level digital signage system
For more on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning


- SCI releases hosted version of FOOD-TRAK
- boo.com partners with toptable.com
- Chumash Casino Resort chooses Capton’s Beverage Tracker
For more on F&B/Point of Sale for 03/12/09


- Hilton’s new Denizen Hotels to include digital davenports with electrical connectors for multiple countries
- hotel nikko tokyo installs TeleAdapt’s first Japanese MediaHub connectivity panel
- Deep Blue Wireless merges with WiFiFee
- DT Research announces WebDT Content Manager 3.0 for emergency message broadcasts
- iBAHN granted patent for tools that detect multiple users of a network access node
- Carlyle Hotel implements MTech’s HotSOS with Motorola MOTOTRBO radios
- GlobalPrint Systems enhances functionality of its PrintPOD product
- Uniguest contracts with Com-Net for real-time flight data on Concierge Station Internet kiosks
For more on Guest Services for 03/12/09


- Elysian Chicago to use Agilysys’ Visual One, InfoGenesis, Eatec and GeM
- Armathwaite Hall implements Agilysys’ Visual One for PMS, POS, spa and club
- Sands Casino Resort, Bethlehem, Pa., picks Agilysys’ LMS, InfoGenesis, Stratton Warren and DataMagine
- HMS InfoTech announces Beta release of Hotelogix 1.0 Web-based PMS
- Bardessono, Yountville, Calif., installs PAR Springer-Miller SMS|Host
- Lodge of Four Seasons Golf Resort and Spa Shiki selects ResortSuite
For more on Property Management Systems for 03/12/09


- PAS unveils Web-based pasUnity software
- d2o consulting launches PMI labor and cost management system in North America
- Choice picks Hospitality Softnet as partner in re-launching ResCoach training platform
- 2Checkout.com offers all TenantWIZ customers free merchant accounts
For more on Back Office for 03/12/09


- Crowne Plaza Alice Springs implements largest building-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) system in Southern Hemisphere
The Crowne Plaza Alice Springs has implemented the largest building-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) system in the Southern Hemisphere, generating over 530,000 kWh per year.  The $3.3 million PV installation is planned to reduce the hotel's energy consumption by 40 percent to 80 percent depending upon the time of year, with the energy efficiency program further reducing consumption by 18 percent. The hotel’s overall energy efficiency program includes an in-house solarPV television channel so guests can see how much energy the hotel is saving at any given time of the day, installation of Energy Eye occupancy-sensing guestroom thermostats, replacement of over 3,110 light bulbs with energy efficient options, and installation of Jemflo showerheads in all guest rooms.  The project is a joint initiative between the hotel owner, Investnorth Pty Ltd, and the Australian government.  http://www.crowneplaza.com.au


- Thing5 offers telecommunications platform for hotels on monthly subscription basis
- Meraki launches MR58 next-generation three-radio 802.11n device
Thing5 announced that it is now offering a complete telecommunications platform for hotels on a monthly subscription basis, avoiding CapEx issues. The service includes voicemail, ACD, interfaces to PMS and call accounting systems and a fully featured hospitality class PBX; it includes 24/7 network monitoring, and is hosted at two network operations centers in Massachusetts and Florida.  http://www.thing5.com
Meraki has launched its MR58 next-generation three-radio 802.11n device, with five times the capacity and speed of standard 802.11b/g wireless devices.  The MR58 high bandwidth across multiple hops, supports long distance links and is targeted at high-bandwidth content such as voice and video.  http://www.meraki.com


- David Nelson joins IDeaS as vice president of technology
- Sarah Fowler of Pegasus named vice president of HEDNA
- Jennifer Riesselman of Carlson joins HEDNA’s board as member at large
- Robert Krause promoted to VP business development/Asia Pacific for Kaba
- Victor Pynn joins Amadeus as SVP of its multinational customer group, Americas
For more on People on the Move for 03/12/09


- SynXis signs Journey Kenya as its first African reseller
- Charming Hotels and Resorts signs for Trust’s full CRS for 33 properties
- HUSA Hoteles signs with Trust for full CRS for over 160 hotels
- TravelCLICK partners with WPS to offer automated processing of travel agent commissions
- Travelport discussing ways to include Sabre and Amadeus in new multi-GDS desktop
- Pan Pacific, Parkroyal launch PANTHER, shared MICROS-based CRS and distribution system
- OpenTravel Alliance announces FastRez connectivity approach for smaller hotel companies
- Expedia announces Partner Central Web site for hotels to access Expedia’s tools
- Pegasus marks 20th anniversary of its hotel switch
For more on Reservations for 03/12/09


- RateTiger announces RTCorp for hotel groups and chains to manage multiproperty online distribution
- Hotel Dei Cavalieri in Milan deploys EzRMS
- Assured Ascot Quays Apartment Hotel implements EzRMS’ Internet Product Suite
- Ramada Jarvis Hotels signs with TravelCLICKfor RateVIEW Enterprise
For more on Revenue Management for 03/12/09


- ResortSuite now HTNG-certified for activity bookings
ResortSuite 5.1 has been certified under the Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) Property Web Services Product Specification for activity bookings as part of a single guest itinerary.  http://www.enablez.com


And now for you-know-what…

When I go to casinos, a sign I often see is the one that says, "If you have a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER."

On my last trip, I thought about it for a moment and dialed the number. When they answered I said, "I have an ace and a six. The dealer has a seven. What do you think I should do?"

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