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Siegel Sez

April 22, 2010

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

When I started my career in the hotel industry a million years ago my favorite thing was getting to know business travelers who always stayed at our hotel. Some were once a week, some once a month and some less frequent then that. But over the years they looked for me, we got to share some life experiences and the relationships went beyond employee and customer. I eventually went from the hotel industry into the software business for hotels. Of all the things I experienced while working in the hotel technology field my favorite was our annual users’ group. Again, I was the employee and the users were the customers and not only did I get to know many on a more personal level, they also got to know other users on a personal level, sometimes a little too personal. But it was great to watch the interaction and sharing. 

I realized last week that our Hospitality Upgrade magazine has its own users’ group with our Sixth Annual Executive Vendor Summit. Honestly, who would think a two-and-a-half day event that has presidents and CEOs of most all the major technology suppliers that compete for business throughout the year would become so popular. I think the realization is that business is business but people are people and when you bring them all together it becomes a great mix. There is no one for them to sell to at the event, but the partnerships and sharing that come out of this unique time never cease to amaze me. Of course, any event that has golf, barbecues, dinners and cocktail parties is going to generate some, “did he really say that” quotes, but since all the people there are our customers we will not repeat any of the quotes. But when it comes to pictures all I can say is we are a magazine and of course, we are going to print them. That is what we do.

We thank the more than 70 executives who joined us in Houston. Thanks also to HP for partnering with us on the program and The Venza Group, Microsoft, TRAVELCLICK, The McLean Group and HFTP for sponsoring this year’s event. If you want to see the damaging and often funny pictures from this year’s event, please go to http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com/Subscribe and subscribe to either our print or digital edition. While you are there, you might want to roam around, answer our survey questions, view our most popular articles, download some great white papers and case studies, or just explore our new and improved Website.  You might see some pictures on there that will surprise you.

Here we are, April 22 and everybody you talk to in the technology world is discussing this year’s HITEC (http://www.hitec.org). For the life of me, I cannot understand why holding it in Orlando brings the biggest crowds, but it always does. We are already getting requests to make sure we put certain companies on our must-visit list, and have been asked if we will be attending parties and other events. It is a fun two months leading up to the show. HSMAI’s Revenue Management and Internet Marketing Conference will begin the same week on Monday morning, June 21. To register please visit HSMAI.

It looks like the return of Guestroom 20X is going to be very popular again, the room looks very futuristic. I remember the lines two years ago to visit it and the exposure it got on the national news networks.  I remind you that HITEC actually starts on Mon., June 21. Many still think of the old Tuesday to Thursday format but Monday is probably the most important day this year with the keynote speaker in the afternoon being the infamous Frank Abagnale, Jr., about whom the movie, “Catch Me If You Can” was based. His exploits included cashing millions of dollars in fraudulent checks and successfully impersonating a doctor, lawyer and airline pilot. An airline pilot? Hopefully that impersonation wasn’t up in the air. Should be a great session, we are all amazed about those who choose a life of crime, aren’t we?  HITEC in June always completes the first half of the year and thankfully from the feedback we have been getting it has been a positive six months. That has been great to hear. 

Hospitality Upgrade will also be at PhocusWright’s first ever TRAVDEX event (http://www.travdex.com) here in Atlanta the first week of May. This event is shaping up pretty well especially being the first event in the industry of this kind. Look for us there. Next weekend I will do my annual pilgrimage to Louisville and hang out with a 160,000 of my closest friends. I have encouraged many friends to experience the Kentucky Derby and I will tell you, it is better than any World Series, Super Bowl or Final Four at only $40 a ticket to get in. It is just fun, I can’t wait. If anybody reading this will be there, drop me a note and we will try to connect. I will be the guy with the very strange hat again, what a blast.

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. Thanks.


Technology NEWSSTAND

by: Jon Inge
Systems News in Plain English from Jon Inge



- Interface standards bring major integration improvements, but we’re not at plug-and-play yet
- OpenTravel Alliance publishes 2010A version interface messaging specifications
Annual conferences such as HTNG’s recent meeting in Orlando and OpenTravel’s meeting next week in Seattle are good reminders of the advances made in multivendor systems integration, helped along by these groups’ specification standards.  Even as integrated systems continue to expand their coverage, this continues to drive the debate over whether hotels can simply pick and choose their preferred individual systems (I dislike “best of breed” as a description – best for whom, and under what circumstances?) and, as long as they’re all OTA or HTNG-certified, have them work seamlessly together. 

Reality is different, of course.  Systems interfaces have definitely become more powerful and flexible, but no specification can be a cure-all.  In our complex industry each will necessarily have multiple aspects covering the different roles that the separate systems can take (sender, receiver, narrow or wide focus, etc.), and so not all the possible functionality will be implemented by all the vendors working to them.  Given an unfortunate but natural variation in precision in adhering to specs and you have a definite need for each vendor to test and verify its interfaces with potential partners.  Given the time and effort of doing so, this usually happens only at the request of a specific customer and inevitably comes at a price, which in some cases (and not always justifiably) can be quite high. 

While it may sometimes appear that we’re still in the dark ages of needing a custom interface between each pair of systems, the situation is vastly improved.  Having a common starting point for each vendor greatly reduces the development and testing work overall, and the resulting interfaces themselves are significantly more capable and useful.  Even with this definite progress towards a plug-and-play world, though, hotels looking to integrate multivendor solutions do need to recognize and allow for the time and cost of interface verification.
The OpenTravel Alliance has published the 2010A version of its interface messaging specifications.  Developments include new or enhanced message specifications for loyalty programs, dynamic packaging, hotel availability searches with mapping and meal plan type searching.


- Mike Gadbury joins EzRMS as director of strategic sales development
- Scott Wilkins named chief operating officer at Travelscream
- Alan Gregory hired by Vertical Systems, Inc. (VSi) as vice president of operations
- Rain Fletcher joins Choice Hotels International as vice president of application development and architecture
- Oswald Lares to head EZYield.com’s sales in Europe and Northern Africa
- Brian Kotula joins Travel Tripper’s sales team
- Scott Alvis hired by Amadeus IT as senior vice president of client management, Americas
- Frederic Danschutter appointed to international channel partner manager at Guestline
- Prakash Shukla, SVP technology and CIO for Taj Hotels, joins HTNG’s board of directors
For more on People on the Move for 04/22/10


- Miraval Arizona picks Agilysys’ Visual One PMS, InfoGenesis POS and Guest eMarketing
- Seven Seas Computers migrating Momentohs Sprint PMS to Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud
- Ariane Systems announces early 2011 launch date for remote checkin/checkout VIKI project
- Fairmont Hotels & Resorts installs RDPWin at three more Fairmont Heritage Place sites
- Brend Hotels contracts with Guestline for centralized Rezlynx PMS and Roomlynx channel manager at six properties
- MICROS launches two-way interface between OPERA, myfidelio.net and RateTiger’s RTConnect
For more on Property Management Systems for 04/22/10


- FastBooking’s iPhone app named best mobile application by Web Marketing Association
- Gleneagles Hotel signs with Pegasus for global commission processing services
- Onetech Solution implements InnLink CRS for Vagabond Inns and independent properties
- La Quinta extends relationship with Pegasus
- Marriott adds Marriott ExecuStay and Autograph Collection brands to Pegasus commission processing contract
- TRAVELCLICK to offer Advantage Reserve voice reservation services to iHotelier users
- Mandarin Oriental launches interactive mobile Website
- Travelocity offers both opaque and regular hotel rates in single search window
For more on Reservations for 04/22/10


- DB Technology issues release 3.31 of RAS data extraction/reporting system
- Campbell Lodging picks eMax Hotel Internet Marketing to create Websites for 16 properties
DB Technology has issued release 3.31 of its RAS data extraction/reporting system.  Enhancements include the ability to set and save queries in RAS, a forgot password feature to allow users to reset their passwords and access RAS without making a call to the support desk, and the ability to edit user defined fields without opening a report.  http://www.dbtech.com  
Campbell Lodging has chosen eMax Hotel Internet Marketing to create independent Websites for all 16 of its hotel properties.  eMax offers a guaranteed 10x return on its Websites.  http://www.cmpm.net, http://www.eMaxhotelmarketing.com  


- Radisson Blu Martinez Hotel, Beirut installs EzRMS Internet Product Suite
- Hôtel Napoléon, Paris, France deploys EzRMS Core Module, Ez-QUOTE
- Open Hospitality extends Website booking engine to hotel Facebook pages, portal Websites
- MICROS launches two-way interface between OPERA, myfidelio.net and RateTiger’s RTConnect
For more on Revenue Management for 04/22/10


- Experient implements StarCite as official electronic RFP (eRFP) sourcing platform
- Hyatt integrates Envision sales application with Cvent Supplier Network eRFP platform
- Lanyon releases Rate Parity application to compare consumer Website rates with corporate negotiated rates
- Benchmark Hospitality announces annual Top Ten Meeting Trends
For more on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 04/22/10


- Agilysys releases InfoGenesis version 4.1.6
- ReServe Interactive releases version 2010 Spring
- Mandarin Oriental selects InfoGenesis for Barcelona and Las Vegas
- MICROS to use Odyssey 's Athena remote management software for its hardware line
For more on F&B/Point of Sale for 04/22/10


- Shutters on the Beach implements runtriz
- Crown Plaza Copenhagen Towers equips gym with electricity-generating exercise bikes
- TeleAdapt to resell WorldConnect’s Swiss Travel Products and SKROSS travel adapters
- Quadriga picks Teleste’s Luminato digital TV headend technology
- Swisscom’s Hospitality Services Plus subsidiary acquiring Wayport’s EMEA operations
- Ipswitch releases version 14.2 of WhatsUp Gold IT management suite
- B. F. Saul Company installs hotel ServicePro mobile asset management/guest service system in 18 hotels
- InterContinental pilot-testing Apple iPads with concierge teams in four properties
- Omni Chicago implements GBCBlue’s ORION system for online guest service requests
For more on Guest Services for 04/22/10


- American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute makes Hospitality iCoach training tips available via iTunes
- NORTHWIND adds Shift4 credit card payment services to Maestro PMS
- MICROS offers Trustwave services to help clients with PCI-DSS compliance
- Hilton Worldwide outsources technology infrastructure to IBM
For more on Back Office for 04/22/10


- Hilton’s LightStay system calculates and analyzes properties’ environmental impact
Hilton Worldwide has unveiled its LightStay system, developed to calculate and analyze environmental impact.  The first full year of findings shows that the 1,300 properties using the system reduced energy use by 5 percent, carbon output by 6 percent, waste output by 10 percent and water use by 2.4 percent, results that were independently audited and adjusted for differences in occupancy levels and major weather events year over year. The system measures indicators across 200 operational practices including housekeeping, paper product use, food waste, chemical storage, air quality and transportation, and includes a meeting impact calculator that measures the environmental impact of any meeting or conference held at a Hilton Worldwide property. This latter feature enables meeting planners and corporate travel managers to consider the environmental impact of hotel stays and meetings when making purchasing decisions, and provides corporate customers with meeting impact data to include in their own sustainability reporting.  All 3,500 Hilton Worldwide properties will use LightStay by the end of 2011.  http://www.hiltonworldwide.com  


- Swisscom Hospitality Services and ENTIRETEC partner to provide complete multisite networking services
- Kratsa Properties implements ITG Networks wired/wireless networks at Residence Inn by Marriott on Pittsburgh's North Shore
- Candlewood Suites in LaCrosse, Wis., implements Defero3’s hosted voice solution
For more on Communications for 04/22/10


- Microsoft invites OpenWays to join its BizSpark start-up assistance program
- Bogota Marriott Hotel installs VingCard Signature electronic door locks and Elsafe SENTINEL II in-room safes
- Hotel Okura Amsterdam completes installation of VingCard Signature RFID locks
- Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Detroit, implements SAFLOK Quantum wireless locks
For more on Security for 04/22/10


And now for you-know-what…

A mature lady gets pulled over for speeding...

Older woman:  Is there a problem, Officer?

Officer:  Ma'am, you were speeding.

Older woman:  Oh, I see.

Officer:  Can I see your license please?

Older woman:  I'd give it to you but I don't have one.

Officer:  Don't have one?

Older woman:  I lost it, 4 years ago for drunk driving.

Officer:  I see... Can I see your vehicle registration papers please?

Older woman:  I can't do that.

Officer:  Why not?

Older woman:  I stole this car.

Officer:  Stole it?

Older woman:  Yes, and I killed and hacked up the owner.

Officer:  You what?

Older woman:  His body parts are in plastic bags in the trunk if you want to see.

The officer looks at the woman and slowly backs away to his car and calls for backup. Within minutes five police cars circle the car. A senior officer slowly approaches the car, clasping his half-drawn gun.

Officer No. 2:  Ma'am, could you step out of your vehicle please?

The woman steps out of her vehicle.

Older woman:  Is there a problem, sir?

Officer No. 2:  One of my officers told me that you have stolen this car and murdered the owner.

Older woman:  Murdered the owner?

Officer No. 2:  Yes, could you please open the trunk of your car, please?

The woman opens the trunk, revealing nothing but an empty trunk.

Officer No. 2:  Is this your car, ma'am?

Older woman:  Yes, here are the registration papers.

The officer is confused.

Officer No. 2:  One of my officers claims that you do not have a license.

The woman digs into her handbag and pulls out a clutch purse and hands it to the officer.
The officer examines the license. He looks quite puzzled.

Officer No. 2:  Thank you ma'am, one of my officers told me you didn't have a license, that you stole this car, and that you murdered and hacked up the owner.

Older woman:  I bet the liar told you I was speeding, too.

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