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Siegel Sez

July 15, 2010

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Summer. In case you aren’t counting there are only seven weeks left for summer. As many plan vacations, some are planning for much of the fall activities. Here at Hospitality Upgrade, we are deeply into the planning for our ninth annual CIO Summit (www.theciosummit.com) in San Francisco. Maybe it is the allure of this infamous city by the Bay, but once again attendance is on pace to be our biggest ever. It is interesting that we are getting so many first-time attendees including quite a few from Europe and Asia this year. Our attendees are our greatest promoters. When they come once they always return and encourage others to attend. We had 53 industry technology leaders last year, and I’ll bet we go over 60 this year. The program is strong and always different from traditional industry events, but much of the success comes from the fact that it is all about the attendees who share with each other what is going on in their world. As a business I always wonder if we should open it up to more sponsors, but I think that would kill what we have created so we will continue to limit sponsorships. We do have one slot available for any vendor that might be interested; you can e-mail me at rich@hospitalityupgrade.com. Yes, seven weeks until I get to revisit my old stomping grounds.  I lived in San Francisco in the early 80s. What a great experience that was. It was there that I took my first job in the hotel technology space working for a PMS company when 90 percent of the hotels were still operating with some sort of NCR posting machine at the front desk. There are times that I miss the days of the room rack at the front desk, but then what would we do when you couldn’t find somebody’s reservation and you didn’t have the computer to blame? Read Jon Inge’s opening after this intro regarding how to handle a situation like this. Summer in San Francisco, I just can’t wait.

I’m going to do a before and after story with you today. I will be meeting my sister, my brother and his wife in Weston, Vt., to see my talented nephew in a summer theatre production of Avenue Q. There are very few choices near Weston so I quickly booked the same motel where my brother is staying. A Saturday night in a very popular summer vacation area and I got a room for $75? Not bad. A few days later I did a little research on the motel I booked and as I read the reviews on TripAdvisor and other sites I started to cringe. I mean really cringe. Now I know why the room is only $75. I travel often throughout the year, but I have a feeling this is going to be a first-time experience for me. I might bring a sleeping bag with me. When I shared my research with my sister-in-law she laughed and said let’s hope we are pleasantly surprised. I am going to share her optimism; after all it is only one night. Vermont in the summer looks absolutely beautiful, I can’t wait. Hopefully it will be a nice escape from the heat and humidity that has been a big part of our Atlanta summer. I wonder if the room at the motel will have air conditioning? Yes, this should be an interesting experience, that good or bad, I am actually looking forward to. Wish me luck!

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review of the last couple of weeks including some highlights of his recent travel experiences. I hope mine will be better. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what. Enjoy your summer!


Technology NEWSSTAND

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



- Customer service: individuals make the difference, but leadership sets the tone
Customer service is top of mind for most companies these days, as each tries to stand out from its competition by making sure people want to continue doing business with it.  I say “most” because some just don’t seem to get it. 

It’s true that the individual interacting with the customer makes all the difference.  Someone who truly cares can give even an indifferent organization a rosy aura it may not otherwise deserve, and all employees have bad days when they don’t represent a good company at its best.  When multiple interactions with the same company all leave the same impression, though, it’s clear just how much the leadership’s attitude permeates the whole organization and defines the overall experience for the great majority of customers.

Examples from my recent travels:
- On a brief overnight stay at a limited-service Hyatt Place, several front desk staff cooperated to sort out why my online reservation hadn’t made it into their front office system and found a way to make it happen, giving humorous reassurance the whole time.  The property also offered free on-demand rides to and from local restaurants in its airport shuttle van, a great service for a remote operation with limited food and beverage options.  No problem, no fee, happy to help, have a good time.  WIN
- At a Marriott Renaissance, my room had no information on the hotel restaurants or other facilities.  When I asked about food and beverage outlets at the front desk later, the clerk pointed them out and immediately comp’d the next day’s breakfast “because you had to ask.”  Later, other front desk agents were happy to recommend outside restaurants, offered maps and provided discount coupons for several.  WIN
- To get to HITEC I booked what United described as a non-stop flight from Seattle to Orlando.  Turned out it stopped in Washington Dulles for an hour en route, and to continue I had to change planes even though the flight number was the same.  United failed to transfer my baggage, eventually delivering it to my hotel six hours after it arrived in Orlando the next morning.  Looking for my bag in the airport at midnight I met one of my clients, who’d flown there directly from San Francisco on a true non-stop United flight.  Her bag had never made it onto the plane at all, and United took two days to find it and get it to her. On the approach into Orlando the cabin crew announced they’d be making one last pass through the cabin before landing and asked us to pass any remaining unwanted items to them.  When I tried I was met with an angry glare, and was told “I don’t have a bag, I’ve walked this aisle four times on this flight already.  Why couldn’t you have given it to me earlier? Just leave it in the seat pocket.”  The friendly skies?  Not so much.  FAIL
- Flying to and from Indianapolis on Frontier took two flights each way, through Denver.  The gate staff on all four flights were clear, friendly and firm about boarding procedures, turning back passengers trying to board ahead of their row number, trying carry-on bags in the size checker and gate-checking any that would have taken up too much room, and, in the cabin, ensuring that passengers used only the overhead bins by their assigned seats.  All flights left and arrived on time, they transferred my checked bags between flights despite the challenge of a 30-minute layover – United, please note – and despite the thunderstorm-laden skies and turbulent approaches managed four of the smoothest touchdowns I’ve experienced in a long time.  Thanks, people; Frontier may be my new favorite airline.  WIN

Who sets the tone for customer service in your organization?  How do you make your standards real and instinctive for all staff at all levels?



- Victor Owens appointed vice president of marketing, North America at Hotels.com
- Richard Robinson named chief executive officer at Acentic
- Steve D’Erasmo joins InterContinental Hotels Group as director, hotel information systems
- Victor Alikin named senior vice president hospitality at Green Vision Media
For more on People on the Move for 07/15/10


- Worldmate announces TripCatch automatic itinerary compiler
Worldmate has announced its TripCatch itinerary-consolidating application, which monitors users’ e-mail messages for travel booking confirmations and automatically prompts the user to add them to a Worldmate itinerary.  The service is initially available only for BlackBerry devices.  http://www.worldmate.com  


- Jurys Inn rolling-out IDeaS’ V5i to all 30 properties
- Grand Hôtel Suisse-Majestic, Montreux, Switzerland, picks FastBooking
- Open Hospitality completes direct XML connection with RateTiger
- Mammoth Mountain Ski Area selects EasyRMS suite for all four properties
For more on Revenue Management for 07/15/10


- Dave & Buster’s completes rollout of TMx Enterprise 5 labor management system
Dave & Buster’s has completed its rollout of TimeManagement Corp’s TMx Enterprise 5 labor management system.  A TMx customer for over 15 years, Dave & Buster’s self-hosts the application on two central servers; its 57 properties access the software via the Internet.  http://www.daveandbusters.com, http://www.timemgmt.com  


- TeleAdapt named to the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 100 listing of fastest-growing companies
- St. Ermin’s Hotel London first to implement Swisscom ConnectedHotel IP TV and Web-based guest services
- Ho Chi Minh City’s Caravelle Hotel installs Wi-Fi service in guest-service cars
For more on Guest Services for 07/15/10


- UniFocus integrates Sage Abra human resource management system into Watson, R.M. labor management
UniFocus has extended its Watson, R.M. labor management system (LMS) through the integration of Sage’s Abra human resource management system (HRMS).  New functions provided by the Sage Abra module include payroll (attendance tracking, online benefits enrollment, compliance with EEO regulations, FMLA, OSHA, COBRA and HIPAA and rich reporting and analysis), employee self-service (view and print pay stubs and W-2s, change W-4s, review payroll history, withholding, bonuses and commissions), dynamic reporting tailored to each user and automated workflows for managers.  http://www.sageabra.com, http://www.unifocus.com  


- Melco Crown Entertainment picks Stratton Warren for gaming properties in Macau
Melco Crown Entertainment has selected Agilysys’ Stratton Warren System inventory and procurement application for its gaming properties in Macau, the Altira Macau in Taipa, the City of Dreams integrated urban resort in Cotai, and the eight Mocha Clubs.  http://www.melco-crown.com, http://www.agilysys.com  


- ZyXEL introduces N4100 Wi-Fi gateway integrated with four-port switch
- Defero3 signs North American distributor agreement for Cetis SIP and DECT SIP guestroom telephones
- Defero3 appoints Pinnacle Communications a dealer for hosted voice services throughout United States
For more on Communications for 07/15/10



And now for you-know-what…

A man and a woman who had never met before, and who were both married to other people, found themselves accidentally assigned to the same sleeping room on a fully booked transcontinental train.
Though initially embarrassed and uneasy over sharing a room, they were both very tired and fell asleep quickly, he in the upper berth and she in the lower.
At 1:00 a.m., the man leaned down and gently woke the woman saying, "Ma'am, I'm sorry to bother you, but would you be willing to reach into the closet to get me a second blanket? I'm awfully cold."
"I have a better idea," she replied. "Just for tonight, let's pretend that we're married."
"That's a great idea," he said, intrigued.
"Good," she replied. "Get your own darn blanket."
After a moment of silence, he passed gas.

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