Siegel Sez

March 26, 2009

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

For one day the world seemed fine. I walked out the front door of the Liaison Hotel in Washington, D.C., it was a beautiful spring afternoon. The cherry blossoms were on their way to full bloom. Our nation’s Capitol was gleaming only a hundred yards away and across the street the Hyatt Hotel had a banner hanging on the front of their building welcoming America’s Beer Distributors. Most importantly, I am here in D.C. attending the SoftBrands Hospitality 2009 Users’ Conference.  The turnout was very healthy which I was so glad to see. Are we starting to loosen up the purse strings, take some chances and slowly get back to what we need to do as an industry? Or will somebody pinch me and tell me this was all a dream?  Wow, how cool would that be if I could actually dream a Siegel Sez versus writing this column?

I love users’ groups. You get to talk to the people who actually use the systems, and what they learn from each other at meetings like this are as important as anything else they get out of the event. For the second year in a row I was asked to moderate a panel of SoftBrands’ executives. You would think they would have learned after last year, but it is fun to ask the tough questions in front of their customers and watch them squirm a bit in their chairs before answering. We also had lots of great questions from the audience, and along with my offbeat shenanigans to start the session, I have to say it was an enjoyable time for all. Thank you, Jo Masters, senior vice president and general manager for SoftBrands, for inviting me.  It is an event I always look forward to. 

You have recently or should any day now receive our spring issue of Hospitality Upgrade, which I can proudly say has gotten us many accolades. Out of all the comments we have received, the one that stands out most and that I personally heard numerous times is that we nailed it with the cover.  It was just a perfect message during these uncertain times. Thanks to Jon Inge for one of the best feature articles he has ever done with us. Speaking of Jon and this will be the last time I mention this, I concede. I asked the question during my session here at the conference about keeping Facebook family and friends only or opening it up to everybody we have met in our business lives and the majority in the audience agree with Jon that it is friends and family only. He wins and I will find another fight to fight. Maybe next time I will win.

I am going to head on down to the White House and see if anybody there will talk to me. Here now is the real reason we are here, my new enemy Jon Inge’s technology review of the last two 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


- Social networking revisited
- Twitter has its uses
I had several good comments in response to my last column on keeping my Facebook and LinkedIn contacts separate.  Most agreed strongly that they are indeed different communities and really should be kept distinct – but then those who commented were all pretty much of my own generation!  No doubt if any Millenials disagreed, they wouldn’t have responded by e-mail anyway.

Tech guru Robert Scoble addressed this in a recent blog entry discussing what he sees as Facebook’s inevitable extension into the business and commercial world ( Sadly, I think he’s right on both counts; the advertising opportunities presented to commercial Facebook users are just too enticing.  Do you remember the huge outcry when the Internet and e-mail were first used to send advertising messages, “betraying” the community spirit of it all?  Look where that got us. 

As I said last time, I’m probably tilting at windmills to try to keep Facebook just for my family and friends, which means we may need to find a different, more personal online community instead.  Or we may just need to accept that fewer people care about personal privacy any more.
Incidentally, several people mentioned that they saw no use at all for Twitter, and from a personal viewpoint I agree that it’s hard to see a business justification for sending out 140-character “tweets” of self-promotion to the universe.  But a consumer-service business like a hotel needs to keep an eye on what consumers are saying about it, and whatever their motivation, Twitter-users tend to be technically literate, mobile and relatively well-off; good customers, in other words.  Set up a Twitter search for your hotel name and check out their comments. 

Take this example from Monday: “My hotel won't check me in because the system is rebooting. Waiting 15 minutes in the lobby at 2 a.m. for an empty bed upstairs!”  That feedback is more immediate than TripAdvisor and was just sent to all of Twitter’s 10 million users who are interested enough to check for messages containing “hotel.”  A quick response from an alert hotel manager could ease the guest’s feelings while he/she is still on property and correct a front desk training issue at the same time.  Not bad for 140 characters.


- Mike Kistner named chairman of the board at Pegasus
- HTNG recognizes 10 individuals for major contributions during 2008
- Dhiren Fonseca and Gary Fritz promoted to lead Expedia’s Partner Services Group
- Olivier Dombey joins as chief information officer
For more on People on the Move for 03/26/09


-’s monthly Hotel Rate Report lists cities with 10largest price reductions
- Travelport looking for travel industry companies to fill vacant space at data center
- OpenJaw Technologies opens new subsidiary in Oslo
- extends price monitoring service to include hotels
- now available on iPhone
- Sabre Travel Network adds inventory from hotel aggregator
- Xotels launches XBooker hotel reservation system and booking engine
- Britannia Hotels implements Eptica to convert fax bookings to inbound e-mails
- Trust International celebrating its 20th anniversary
For more on Reservations for 03/26/09


- takes on TripAdvisor with hotel information Web site
- MTech integrating CRM tool Libra OnDemand into HotSOS
- TripAdvisor launches owners’ center to help properties manage online presence
- Gullivers Travel Associates picks VFM Leonardo for visual content distribution
- Resource Technology Management introduces Hercules Document-Management System
- TravelCLICK announces Social Media Optimization (SMO) for hotels
- Hart Hotels deploying UniFocus’ GUESTScope at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel
For more on Marketing/Management for 03/26/09


- Eglinton Arms Hotel orders SoftBrands' Medallion with two-way Best Western CRS interface
The 35-room Eglinton Arms Hotel in Eaglesham, has ordered SoftBrands' Medallion property management system (PMS) with a two-way interface to the Best Western GB LYNX reservation system, the first hotel in Scotland to select this combination.


- Dinerware releases version 2.8.2 of its POS
- IndiCater secures orders for Web-based catering management software from 170 new users
- Lecere Corp completes merger/acquisition with Full Circle Image
For more on F&B/Point of Sale for 03/26/09


- Grand Hospitality deploying IDeaS V5i at Soho Grand and Tribeca Grand in New York
- RateTiger launches RTStrategy revenue management tool
- Carlson picks JDA’s Travel Price Optimizer as foundation for its SNAP initiative
For more on Revenue Management for 03/26/09


- Doubletree Guest Suites Fort Shelby/Detroit Downtown installs PSAV audiovisual systems
- Knowland Group announces patent-pending group rating for new MYYco SFA tool
- 122 properties this year install hotelSalesPro S&C and hotelServicePro applications
For more on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 03/26/09


- Kempinski names SpaSoft the preferred system for all its owned or managed spas
- One&Only Cape Town, South Africa installs PAR Springer-Miller’s SpaSoft
Kempinski Hotels has selected PAR Springer-Miller Systems’ SpaSoft as the preferred system for all spas it owns or manages globally.  The first SpaSoft system will be installed at the new Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras, Slovakia, scheduled to open this spring.  Kempinski owns and operates 55 hotels, with a further 57 under final development or construction in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The One&Only Cape Town, South Africa has installed PAR Springer-Miller’s SpaSoft system, the first such installation in South Africa and the sixth Kerzner International property to install SpaSoft.  The property is due to open in April.,,


- Sleep Inn & Suites, Minot, N.D., installs Roomlinx Interactive TV services including free VOD
- 122 properties this year install Web-based hotelServicePro and hotelSalesPro applications
- MTech integrating CRM tool Libra OnDemand into HotSOS
- iBAHN opens Americas headquarters office in Denver Technology Center
For more on Guest Services for 03/26/09


- Hotetur chain deploys VoSKY’s Exchange PBX-to-Skype gateway
Group Marsans’ Hotetur chain has deployed VoSKY’s Exchange PBX-to-Skype gateway at its 30+ sites in Spain, Cuba, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.  Skype was initially installed on employees' PCs, followed by a pilot test of the VoSKY PBX gateway at Hotetur's head office in Majorca.  Currently 60-80 hotel employees use the system for calls between offices and hotels in different countries.  Hotetur is considering offering guests in-room Skype connections, and integrating a "Click-to-Call" button on its Web site.


And now for you-know-what…

Brenda is home making dinner as usual when her neighbor Tim arrives at her door.

"Brenda, may I come in," he asks. "I've something to tell you."

"Of course you can come in, you're always welcome, Tim. But where's my husband?"

"That's what I'm here to tell you, Brenda. There was an accident down at the brewery."

"Oh, Lord, no," cries Brenda. "Please don't tell me."

"I must, Brenda.  Frank, your husband is dead and gone.  I'm so sorry," Tim replies.

Distraught, she looks up and asks, "How did it happen, Tim?"

"It was terrible, Brenda. He fell into a vat of Guinness Stout and drowned."

"Oh my dear Jesus!  But, Tim, did he at least go quickly," she asks.

"Well, Brenda, no.  In fact, he got out three times to go to the bathroom."

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