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Siegel Sez

June 18, 2010

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Anticipation. What an amazing thing that does to your body and mind. Of course, most everybody in the technology space for the hotel industry is anticipating HITEC next week. The word from HFTP is the attendance will be back to what it used to be, yes the recovery continues.  If you have any doubts that the investment in technology from the vendor side has continued throughout the downturn of 2009, then read Jon Inge’s technology review. As is always the case in this industry, most major announcements are timed for HITEC.  I mirror Jon’s feelings toward Orlando, but the place draws a crowd and when all is said and done, that is the most important aspect of the event. I have visited or talked to nearly 30 CIOs in the last 60 days and it is great to know that just about everyone will be there.  Why I have talked to so many recently I can’t say, but if you come by our booth (No. 823) at HITEC I will be happy to tell you. How was that for a teaser? Plus, you are going to see one creative blog at our booth which we hope you will all be part of. They say being different is good. We shall soon see.  Yes, there are many great events throughout the year, but there is only one event that brings everybody together and that is HITEC. The anticipation is killing me.

Once I get to HITEC I divide it into three areas. I have been involved with the educational program for many years now and this year it is unbelievably strong. In fact the most common comment I receive is the difficulty choosing which sessions to attend. There will be a few sessions repeated so that helps. I have done conference calls with participants on both sessions I am moderating and honestly, it just excites me.  You hear the passion from people like Rob Webb the CIO at Hilton as he discusses outsourcing and then Mark McBeth the VP of IT North America for Starwood who shares some of the very creative things they are doing with technology as they embrace going green. The Outsourcing Session is at 1 p.m. on Monday and the Super Session on Green Initiatives is Tuesday at 4 p.m. We hope to see you at both. Yes, the educational sessions are a lot of work, but come with great rewards. I am so glad many in the vendor community have also told me they will be attending the sessions this year. The second thing about HITEC is the most obvious, the exhibit floor. This is why people attend, some to buy but also many to learn. Do your homework beforehand, plot your strategy and hopefully you will come out of HITEC with an eye-opening experience. The third thing for me is the social aspect. I think this is my 27th HITEC and it is amazing how many people I will see and laugh with as we think back to our initial meeting many, many years ago. It is great to see so many parties this year, getting to all of them is always a challenge, especially in Orlando because they are spread out.  But I will be focused and will do it. If you need any suggestions as to where to go, come by our booth, we will share with you where we will be and hopefully you can join us. What is HITEC without a few party crashers, right?

Hopefully you will be there and we will meet. If you can’t be there or just want to keep up with our experiences at HITEC then Geneva and Kate will Tweet what they are doing, experiencing and learning. Go to www.twitter.com/HospUpgrade to follow us. I might be old fashioned as I prefer a handshake or hug when seeing old friends, but the world is changing and we all have to change with it, right?

Anticipating the next change is a challenge, but what is life without a few challenges? Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s very complete Technology Review. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what.


Technology NEWSSTAND

by: Jon Inge



- It’s HITEC time!
- HTNG reports industry interest in sharing technology across brands
The obvious first – HITEC is next week, and it looks like it’s going to be a great show (despite being in my least favorite convention city).  From all the news I’ve been hearing there’s a definite excitement about new directions and products.  Cloud computing options are springing up everywhere, and this strong interest can only speed vendor cooperation in resolving interface challenges. 

Last year’s prevalent theme of mobility was driven by the iPhone® and the many interactive information, booking and guestroom control functions that could be placed on it.  This mobile focus is even stronger this year, and the platform of choice has been expanded from smartphones to the iPad™.  This certainly emphasizes the power of good user interface design, given that connected tablet PCs have been available for years, but it’s an undeniably hot product.  It’s going to be hard to find a booth NOT offering an iPad application (and a giveaway) this year, linked to other management systems in creative ways.

Among the most anticipated events are next-generation hospitality management system (HMS) announcements from some major players, including Agilysys with its Guest 360 and Infor/SoftBrands with its HMS (“S” as in “Solution” in this case).  Many other vendors also have new products or enhancements, of course, and as usual the challenge will be to get around them all in the short few days.  There’s no finer opportunity to see new developments and make good industry contacts than HITEC.  See you there!
As usual, there’ll be a huge number of vendors each offering its unique approach to specific management opportunities, and each will certainly have its pros and cons.  Inevitably, though, there’s considerable overlap between many of them – do you remember a recent HITEC where 56 vendors each offered high-speed Internet access services? And there’s been some discussion recently about whether some of these offerings may be simplified into cross-industry standards.  

Many hotels do consider the specific applications they adopt to be a significant strategic advantage and have no desire to share them, especially those handling guest interactions.  However, Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) research among hotel chains has shown a strong level of general interest in not having to re-invent the wheel every time they want to add new capabilities or to implement similar approaches in different parts of the world.  More than 80 percent of the surveyed IT executives said they were willing to share such applications as guestroom device management, concierge, point of sale, housekeeping, facilities management and applications for several back office and human resource functions.  In these areas, what you do with the tools matters at least as much as the tools themselves.

HTNG’s report proposes some potential first steps towards those shared services seen as most desirable, and it has identified two areas for initial efforts:  shared-service application(s) to manage interfaces to guestroom devices, and a global hospitality data network.  The latter is a particularly interesting proposal; instead of each hotel chain having to negotiate with multiple data network carriers in different regions of the world (or even within the United States), why not pool resources and set up a single worldwide network themselves that each property could subscribe to?  It’s a model that’s worked for the airlines with their SITA network, and may just usher in a new era in systems cooperation.


- Alloso Technologies announces hospitality-focused business intelligence iPhone app
- Genesis Global Technologies releases its Phone Optimized Website program for mobile marketing
- RateTiger partners with Travelscream to incorporate online advertising and marketing management
- West Paces Hotel Group implements UniFocus’ GUESTScope and MEETINGScope for Solís and Capella brands and eight independent properties
For more information on Marketing/Management for 06/18/10


- KoolConnect, Deuromedia partner to introduce Canvís guestroom video with 3-D movies, PC-like Web browsing
- NORTHWIND launches mobile-capable version of ResWave Activity Booking Engine for Maestro
- Choice designates Uniguest as business center vendor for all franchised Comfort Suites properties in United States
- PCH Hotels & Resorts transitioning eight properties to Guest-Tek’s OneView HSIA
- ZDirect releases Mobile Passport interactive personalized mobile Web portal for every guest
- Elfiq announces two new link balancer units
- Vecima Networks announces Concierge Gateway, provides encrypted HD channels over coaxial networks
- F&F Realty implements TTI Technologies Business Center at Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare Hotel & Conference Center
- INNCOM unveils RF touch-screen tabletop/bedside controller
- Flyte Systems releases FlytePad iPad-based version of airport flight information system
- TrackIT announces iPad version of package tracking application
- Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel installs Quadriga's Sensiq guest communications portal on Philips flat-screen HD televisions
For more on Guest Services for 06/18/10


- InterContinental endorses Merchant Link as approved credit card gateway and payments security provider
- Aptech celebrates 40 years in business
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has endorsed credit card gateway and payments security provider Merchant Link as an approved provider for its franchisees in the United States, covering more than 3,000 hotel properties.  http://www.ihg.com, http://www.merchantlink.com  
Aptech Computer Systems is celebrating 40 years in business.  Founder Jay Troutman began his career by opening a coffee business at Cornell University’s college of engineering with partner Dave Hamilton, and then wrote a computer program to assist Hamilton with his country club’s golf handicapping and accounting needs.  The company built a clientele of 50 country clubs before being hired by Interstate Accounting Services to create a computer program to run the back of the house.  Interstate became Interstate Hotels, for whom Aptech developed a front office system; it also created a golf tee time reservation system that was later sold to Golf Digest.   http://www.aptech-inc.com  


- CityCenter Las Vegas picks Agilysys’ Stratton Warren System application for ARIA, Vdara and Crystals retail
CityCenter in Las Vegas has selected Agilysys’ Stratton Warren System inventory and procurement application and InfoGenesis POS system for the ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa and Crystals dining, shopping and entertainment venue.  ARIA and Vdara use the InfoGenesis POS system in their restaurants, bars and gift shops; vendors at Crystals use tablet PCs running the InfoGenesis POS wireless application to post charges for guests staying at the two hotels.  http://www.citycenter.com, http://www.agilysys.com 


- hotel SystemsPro launches mobile capabilities for hotel ServicePro
hotel SystemsPro is launching mobile capabilities for its hotel ServicePro and hotel SalesPro systems, available for the iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices.  http://www.hotelsystemspro.com  


- Michael Schubach joins Agilysys as associate vice president of product management
- Trevor Zabel hired by The Knowland Group as assistant chief learning officer
- Kristin Intress promoted to CEO and president of InnLink
- InnLink sales team hires David Leitner, Matt Hughes, Gigi Filippi and Marie Ainsworth: promotes Kelly Gale, Sissy Armstrong and Laurie Bechler
- Bjorn Hanson appointed as divisional dean of NYU’s Preston Robert Tisch Center
- Scott Brodows hired by Travel Tripper as executive vice president
- Mick Talbot hired by EZYield.com to lead expansion in United Kingdom, Ireland
- Susan Jones joins Clear Sky Software as customer care representative
- Hiroshi Shimizu promoted to Worldspan's Commercial Head in Japan, South Korea and Guam
For more on People on the Move for 06/18/10


- Choice deploys choiceADVANTAGE Web-based HMS to 3,000th franchised hotel
- Auris orders protel MPE system for 10 properties
Choice Hotels International has deployed its proprietary choiceADVANTAGE Web-based HMS to its 3,000th franchised hotel in the United States, Canada and Mexico.  Choice anticipates full deployment of the system to its entire domestic hotel portfolio of nearly 5,000 hotels by 2012, and plans to roll it out to its properties in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France and Germany beginning later this year.
Dubai-based Auris has contracted with protel hotelsoftware to use the protel MPE multiproperty edition to operate its hotels and hotel apartments, starting this month with the 286-room Al Nawras hotel.  Auris has targeted 10 operational hotels in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by the end of 2010, all managed from a central database.  http://www.auris-hotels.com, http://www.protel-hotel-software.com 


- NORTHWIND launches mobile-capable version of Maestro’s ResWave Booking Engine
- Mandarin Oriental first client for TripCraft’s enterprise-level smartphone booking application
- HRS joins Availpro's distributor network
- Project Interactive launches interactive agency for independent and boutique hotels
- Destination Hotels & Resorts rolls out online condominium/vacation home reservations for guests to book specific units
For more on Reservations for 06/18/10


- RateTiger’s RTSuite iPhone app now available at Apple Application Store
- Postcard Inn On The Beach implements EZYield.com
- Seminole Gaming picks Rainmaker’s revolution revenue management for Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, Fla.
For more on Revenue Management for 06/18/10


- Lanyon announces availability of Total Hospitality Spend Management application
- hotel SystemsPro launches mobile capabilities for hotel SalesPro system
- Hyatt completes deployment of Passkey’s GroupMAX at all Hyatt-branded properties in United States, Canada, Caribbean
For more on Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning for 06/18/10


- Amway Grand Plaza Hotel implements Volanté’s POS system in 11 outlets, convention center
- CityCenter Las Vegas picks Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS, Stratton Warren inventory/procurement for ARIA, Vdara and Crystals retail area.
The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Grand Rapids Michigan has implemented Toronto-based Volanté Systems’ Linux-based POS system in its 11 food and beverage outlets.  The installation includes 54 POS terminals throughout the property and 12 terminals in the adjoining Devos Place convention center.  Future plans include the use of Volanté's wireless POS capabilities and expansion into the hotel's retail operations. http://www.amwaygrand.com, http://www.volantesystems.com  
CityCenter in Las Vegas has selected Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS system and Stratton Warren System inventory and procurement application for the ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa and Crystals dining, shopping and entertainment venue.  ARIA and Vdara use the InfoGenesis POS system in their restaurants, bars and gift shops; vendors at Crystals use tablet PCs running the InfoGenesis POS wireless application to post charges for guests staying at the two hotels.  http://www.citycenter.com, http://www.agilysys.com 


- TAC wins European Health & Spa Award for second time
The Agency for Wellness and Health has presented the European Health & Spa Award to TAC Digital Signage for the second time.  TAC’s Digital Signage system was nominated for Best Technical Product Innovation.  http://www.reservationassistant.com  


- Spotlight 29 Casino implements NEC’s UNIVERGE SV8500 communications server and UC for Enterprise (UCE) system
- PhoneSuite announces phone system rental program
- CityCenter Las Vegas deploys InnerWireless distributed antenna system (DAS), claims largest in North America
For more on Communications for 06/18/10


- Intercontinental Phoenicia Beirut installs VingCard VISIONLINE wireless system and Signature RFID locks
The 446-room Intercontinental Phoenicia Beirut in Lebanon has completed the installation of VingCard’s VISIONLINE wireless RF-online system and Signature RFID contactless electronic door locks.  http://www.ichotelsgroup.com, http://www.vingcard.com 


And now for you-know-what…

The room was full of pregnant women, with their partners. The Lamaze class was in full swing. The instructor was teaching the women how to breathe properly, and was telling the men in the room how to give the necessary assurances to their partners at this stage of the pregnancy.
She said, "Ladies, remember that exercise is good for you. Walking is especially beneficial. It strengthens the muscles and will make delivery that much easier."
She looked at the men in the room and addressed them, "And gentlemen, remember. You're in this together. It wouldn't hurt you to go walking with your partner."
The room suddenly got very quiet as the men absorbed this information. Then a man at the back of the room slowly raised his hand.
"Yes," asked the teacher.
"I was just wondering," the man said. "Is it all right if she carries a golf bag while we walk?"

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