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Siegel Sez

December 03, 2009

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

December, it is finally here.  Was anybody really prepared a year ago for what has transpired this past year?  I receive grief when I accent the positive, but after a year of negative news is this wrong? Am I the only person who got to the point where I hated people describing the economy as the “new norm.” Who comes up with these descriptions anyway? Yes, there are still too many people out of work, but I am optimistic that the worst is over. The economy slowly continues to recover. The stock market which many consider the true barometer of the economy has been growing dramatically over the past six months. Instead of layoffs companies are hiring albeit not as quickly as they have in the past.  The buzz at the many events I attended last month was a level of optimism that I thought we would never hear again. What a year this has been. 2010 can’t get here soon enough in my book.

Speaking of events, Geneva and I tag teamed at the PhoCusWright Conference in Orlando at the very luxurious Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. I had always heard this conference was the most professionally produced conference for the travel industry and now I am in total agreement.  This gathering has a very unique format, lots of audience participation and much to bring home. We look forward to participating in PhoCusWright’s first ever TRAVDEX (http://www.travdex.com) here in Atlanta in May. After PhoCusWright I went directly to the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.  We all hear about the problems in Las Vegas with less visitors, depressed room rates and with the opening this month of CityCenter and even more hotel rooms, more concerns there will not be enough people to fill them.  You would never have known these problems existed at G2E. The exhibit floor was as big as it has ever been and though attendance was a bit off, it was not dramatic.  I really enjoyed both events and loved meeting so many people in the travel and gaming industry who are readers of both Hotel Online and Hospitality Upgrade. It was a great feeling.

Another reason I am glad that December is here is that Thanksgiving is behind us. I am guessing I am in a pretty small minority. Those who have hit 50, never gotten married and never had kids. I really should get a dog, but who would watch him when I am gone?  With both my parents having passed, Thanksgiving, which to me is the ultimate family day, has become one of those holidays that instead of enjoying I reflect on the decisions I have made in my life. But this year I decided well before Thanksgiving arrived I was going to be proactive and do something that I had always avoided and that was travel over the weekend.  I went to Dublin, Ireland, and I have to tell you, I am ready to move there. What a beautiful country and I can’t remember the last time I met so many nice and friendly people.  It was a trip that was not centered on work, so for a few days I was just a tourist. What fun! I was told it rains in Ireland all the time and it did for two days but the other days were beautiful. Of course, the first place I visited was the Guinness Brewery. What a great experience though I probably could have skipped watching 10-year-olds in the tasting room sipping beer. Then again, it was a tasting room, but it was a pretty strange sight. The brewery tour was wonderful and the coolest thing was everyone there was from different parts of the world. So this is what it is like to be a tourist? I stayed at the Radisson Blu St Helen’s Hotel which a cab driver told me was a school 20 years ago. It was a very cool hotel with the nicest staff I have ever met. I also became a big fan of buses. They have their own lanes in Dublin so the 15-minute trip downtown was a snap. They must give drivers there personality tests since I was always asking which bus to take to get around town and all the drivers were beyond helpful. What a great city and a great experience. I am definitely going back to see the rest of the country, hopefully sooner than later.

I am very thankful that I was able to do a trip like this which made Thanksgiving very enjoyable this year. But as we approach the holiday season, I encourage you to think of those who are alone and invite them into your life. I have a lot of friends and for that I am thankful. But there are so many who struggle with the holiday season and loneliness, I bet if you think about it you know someone who might be dealing with this. Reach out to them and let them know you are thinking of them.  They will be very thankful and I bet you will feel even better. This is the season of giving and not all giving has to be materialistic. I learned this from a friend years ago who started a charity during the holidays to help single moms who are experiencing tough times.  I told him yesterday that he was my hero and I absolutely meant it. He rubbed off on me and if I am able to influence others than the idea of “Pay It Forward” really does work.  If I went a bit overboard I apologize, but this is what happens to me in December. I have much to be thankful for, but I also am aware there is a lot more I can do to help others.

Thank you again for putting up with my rambling. Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review of the last few 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


- Bandwidth demand continues to grow, moves more to phones.  How does this affect hotels?
Several news items below point to the unstoppable growth in bandwidth demand as consumers continue to focus primarily online for their travel and entertainment needs.  Marriott claims that its own brand Web site is now the world's 7th largest online consumer retail site, which is an incredible figure. 

That demand is also becoming more mobile.  A survey by SwissCom reports that mobile phone bandwidth usage is about to match that of laptops as phones become travelers’ main source for finding and acting on information; at its partner hotels the average volume per handheld session is now 86MB, with an average session length of 14 hours.  The explosion of social networking is also driving bandwidth demand up, and not only just for messaging.  Ad-ology research reports over half of 18 to 34-year-olds saying that social media influenced their choice of a hair salon or day spa, and more spas are taking advantage of that to allow online booking.

Where does this leave hotels faced with having to satisfy their guests’ incessant bandwidth demands for high-speed access or be labeled “undesirable”?  Some of that demand will undoubtedly be siphoned off by travelers moving to the new wide-area 4G wireless networks slowly coming into use, such as WiMax and LTE, which will let them access their own entertainment independently of the hotel network.  However, this won’t have a noticeable impact for some time, and meanwhile ever more guests see streaming video as part of their evening entertainment on the road, often overwhelming hotels’ total available bandwidth.

I don’t see an alternative to hotels having to pay for significantly more bandwidth than at present, and to having to pass on some of the costs to their guests, probably on a tiered-access basis.  So I think we’ll see less free Wi-Fi in the future – or at least, free Wi-Fi at usable speeds - and travelers will, reluctantly, accept it.  Or, perhaps, adopt pricing plans from third parties (Boingo, et al) that include service at multiple hotel chains. 

However, there’s an upside for hotel operators upgrading their network capabilities; even if guest demand does slow down a little in the future, their staff will have a first-class platform on which to build much more efficient operations.  After all, if the younger generation sees texting as an inherent part of their lives, why not leverage it to make them more effective in their work?


- Self-bookings tools used by 70 percent of travel managers, save an average 7 percent
- Cvent recognized for exceptional service by CSIA
- Newmarket receives Software Association of New Hampshire’s MVP award
For mor on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 12/3/09


- Hotel Del Coronado chooses Capton’s Beverage Tracker
- Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort releases iPhone app for its restaurants
Hotel Del Coronado has chosen Capton’s Beverage Tracker for monitoring and improving operations at its Babcock & Story Bar, integrated with the property’s MICROS POS system.  http://www.hoteldel.com, http://www.captoninc.com
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort has released an iPhone application to help guests reserve meals at the property’s 17 outlets before or during their stay using their phone.  The application allows users to select a restaurant category – signature, casual, quick service, character dining or lounges – to access descriptions, photos and menus for their preferred restaurant, and provides links directly to the resort’s dining reservations phone number and Web site.  http://www.swandolphinrestaurants.com 


- Leading Spas lists worldwide inventory with SpaFinder
- ISPA’s 10 spa trends for 2010
Leading Spas is listing its worldwide inventory of spas with SpaFinder, Inc.  http://www.lhwspas.comhttp://www.spafinder.com
The International SPA Association (ISPA) has identified the following 10 spa trends for 2010:
1. More use of social media: significant growth in offering and booking last-minute deals, re-booking cancelled appointments, and in influence.  Ad-ology research shows that 57 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds and 48.5 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds say social media influenced their choice of a hair salon or day spa. 
2. Higher customer service: consumers have higher service expectations, and spas are responding by making each visit a customized experience for the guest.  87 percent of ISPA member spas use customer feedback tools to ensure they’re exceeding consumers’ needs, and 48 percent have implemented customer loyalty programs.
3. Spa sampling menus: mini-service options to try out spa treatments.  Forty-six percent of ISPA member spas report an increase in shorter (30 minutes or less) treatment bookings.
4.  More preventive care: spa treatments like massage, acupuncture and meditation have been proven to aid in stress reduction and recovery time for pre and post-op patients.
5. Spa partnerships: Forty-six percent of ISPA day spa members partner with local businesses to incorporate spa into their workplace, most often through wellness programs at local hospitals, accommodating guests at local hotels without spa facilities and service discount trades between spas and local business employees.
6. Cell phone applications: more applications allow spa availability browsing and booking, including those from The Four Seasons, Hot Springs and Spa Finder – California, Tripology and Find a Spa, the latter based on its detection of your location.
7. Giving back: more spas are offering promotions and free services to people who serve the community, such as teachers, hospice workers and military personnel. 
8. The Millennials take over: this group now outnumbers the baby boomers, grew up in a culture where a healthy lifestyle was the norm, and is increasing its use of spa services.
9. Simplified spa menus: spas are focusing on their business core of results-oriented treatments. 
10. Beauty rest: more spas make rest a priority by letting guests book time to sleep at the spa or stay after a treatment to nap when they’re relaxed.


- Apple REIT Companies of Richmond implements M3 Link reporting at 198 U.S. properties
- Hilton Grand Vacations signs multiyear agreement for ePercipio e-learning courses
Apple REIT Companies of Richmond, Va., has implemented M3 Hotel Accounting’s M3 Link operations reporting tool at 198 of its U.S. properties.  M3 Link integrates PMS data, Smith Travel Research (STR) reports, guest satisfaction surveys and financial data in one place, across multiple brands, displayed on a single Web site with multiple viewing options.  http://www.applereitcompanies.comhttp://www.hotelaccounting.com
Hilton Grand Vacations Company has signed a multiyear agreement with ePercipio for its online, multidimensional e-learning courses.  http://www.epercipio.com, http://www.hiltongrandvacations.com


- Kahana Falls Hotel retrofits 106 rooms with EnOcean‘s self-powered energy management devices
Hawaii‘s Kahana Falls Hotel has retrofitted 106 rooms with EnOcean‘s self-powered wireless key card switches, presence detectors and door sensors for energy management.  The Echoflex Solutions wireless key card switch acts as a master switch for the rooms, with a presence detector automatically cutting off the air-conditioning as soon as a guest takes his or her key card out of the dock and leaves a room.  A solar cell powered door sensor also switches off the air conditioning after a set length of time if the balcony door is open.  Signals for the cable-less and battery-less light switches and sensors are converted into switching functions by relay receivers from ILLUMRA.  http://www.kahana-falls.com, http://www.enocean-alliance.org


- Innovation Technologies to resell ADTRAN's NetVanta and Total Access VoIP systems
Innovation Technologies will resell ADTRAN's NetVanta and Total Access VoIP systems as a complement to its own ComXchange Hospitality IP-PBX software.  Using ADTRAN's VoIP gateways, customers will be able interface ComXchange to existing analog phones, allowing them to add extensions or migrate to next-generation IP phones at any time.  http://www.innovationtw.comhttp://www.adtran.com


- Millennium Resort Patong Phuket, Thailand completes installation of Classic by VingCard system
The 418-room Millennium Resort Patong Phuket, Thailand has completed installation of its Classic by VingCard magnetic stripe electronic locking system.  http://www.millenniumpatong.comhttp://www.vingcard.com


- Lisa Klueppel, Cory Sinclair, Robin Hughes Patton join VIZERGY’s sales and marketing team
- Cynthia Russo named as new chief financial officer at MICROS
- Toby Kubis joins VFM Leonardo as vice president corporate hotel sales
- Terence Ronson, Les Spielman and Dave Berkus join forces
For more on People on the Move for 12/3/09


- The Crossings selects ResortSuite
- ResortSuite adds online booking of spa and club services, tee times and gift certificates
- NORTHWIND-Maestro PMS now PCI certified
- IQware announces IQrez online booking engine for Global PMS
- Empire Hotel Group completes rollout of Skyware Systems’ PMX PMS
- Steele Hill Resorts selects SPI Software’s Orange System Enterprise
- Meadow Lake Resort picks SPI’s Orange System Enterprise
For more on Property Management Systems for 12/3/09


- Roomex.com moves to OpenJaw Technologies’ platform, adds 80,000 hotels
- Genares Worldwide Reservations signs 2,600th hotel
- Japan Rail Hotel Group migrating all 61 properties to Sabre’s SynXis
- Viking Line Abp deploying MICROS’ myfidelio.net for CRS and distribution services
- Amadeus’ Affinity Shopper wins top prize at PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit
- Traveltainment integrating Internet Booking Engine v3 into Microsoft Surface application
- Nokia’s Ovi Maps to integrate Expedia’s hotel booking
- Pegasus outsources technology infrastructure to HP Enterprise Services
- Marriott adding high-end independent hotels to its reservations system
- Marriott updates Web site, claims it’s world's 7th largest online consumer retail site
- Kayak launches Kayak Trips itinerary management tool
- Pelican System releases Version 3 of its central reservation system
- Harrah's Entertainment launches Total Experiences small-group planning program
For more on Reservations for 12/3/09


- IQware releases IQmail e-marketing add-on for its Global PMS
- EZYield.com receives Silver Adrian Award for its own Web site redesign
- Milestone Internet Marketing receives six awards for Web site design, Internet marketing
- 10Best Solutions launches Vinepulse social media hospitality reputation/response tool
- VIZERGY awarded multiple 2009 Adrian Awards in hospitality sales and marketing
- VIZERGY moving to new headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla.
For more on Marketing/Management for 12/3/09


- Six new casino hotels go with Rainmaker’s revolution
Six new casino hotels have selected The Rainmaker Group’s revolution Product Suite, namely:
- Pinnacle Entertainment (the 1000-room L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort in Louisiana and the 600-room Belterra in Indiana)
- Seneca Gaming (Seneca Niagara and Seneca Allegany)
- the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City
- the Greektown Casino Hotel in Detroit. 
The two Pinnacle properties implemented the revolution system in September 2009, the other hotels will go live in 4Q ’09.  http://www.letitrain.com


- Telindus survey reports on British Travelers’ in-room viewing priorities
- Swisscom launches Smartphone WiFi service, integrates with a hotel’s PMS
- Quadriga unveils portal-based next-generation technology platform
- Holiday Inn Express and Suites Atlanta Airport West – Camp Creek installs Roomlinx
For more on Guest Services for 12/3/09


And now for you-know-what…

I went to the store the other day. I was only in there for about 5 minutes and when I came out, there was a traffic officer writing a parking ticket for over-running the meter.

So I went up to him and said, "Come on, how about giving a man a break?"

He ignored me and continued writing the ticket, so I called him a redneck. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for also having parked partially on the pavement.

So I called him a son of a mutant pig. He finished the second ticket and put it on the car with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket.

This went on for about 20 minutes and the more I abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

I didn't care. My car was parked around the corner...

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