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Siegel Sez

July 29, 2010

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Sometimes I wonder if I am the worst shopper in the world. I was in our local mega-grocery store the other day and needed shampoo. I am looking through the shelves of shampoo, pretty much all the bottles are the same size and they are priced from $1.09 to $1.79. What makes the shampoo different? Then I noticed the section right next to where I was looking also had shampoo, but that section was listed as premium shampoo. The bottles were the same size and started at $3.79 and some were over $8. Eight dollars for a bottle of shampoo? Does it actually grow hair? After deciding on my shampoo, I moved over to the wine section to buy a bottle of red wine. Now I know a bit more about wines then I do about shampoo, but not enough to really know what I am buying. I love to try different wines from different parts of the world. So what motivated me to buy a certain wine? Yes, bottles of wine can start at $7, then there is wine for $12, $18 and over $40. Don’t we always assume that the best wine is the most expensive? But what about when we find that $10 bottle of wine that is fabulous, don’t we all agree that is a great feeling? Then there is the time that somebody offers you a glass of wine and you think it is the best wine you have ever tasted and you find out it was also very expensive. Was it worth it? I have always had this fascination with pricing; I don’t think I am that different than most where price is always secondary to value. I mention this to prepare you for Jon Inge’s opening comments regarding pricing and technology. (Be a buyer or seller) he is absolutely right with his opinion this week, which is applicable beyond just technology. Maybe he can help me choose the right bottle of shampoo.

Six more weeks until the ninth annual Hospitality Upgrade CIO Summit (www.theciosummit.com) and once again it will be our biggest crowd ever. It will also be the launch of our newest initiative; it is the greatest feeling coming up with something that just about every major hotel, hotel management and gaming company has agreed has been needed for a long time. That is all I can say at this point, but if you are responsible for the technology for your hotels and you have not yet been contacted by us, then send me an e-mail at rich@hospitalityupgrade.com and I will share what we are doing. If you send your e-mail today or tomorrow it might take me a few days to get back to you. This is the weekend that I get to experience the one-star hotel in Vermont. It should be quite the adventure.

Here now is the real reason we are here, Jon Inge’s technology review with his strongly worded opening. 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


- Believe in yourself, and know where and why you’re better than your competition
- Customer service follow-up
Times are hard and everyone’s looking both to keep costs down and to discount prices heavily to grab sales, but you don’t need me to tell you how unhealthy the latter can be.  I’ve heard that vendors are now even more often under extreme pressure to cut their prices to the bone in order to make a sale.  Many have not helped themselves in the past by offering increasing levels of discount during negotiations, which is always both welcomed and treated with suspicion; hotel customers always wonder about a partner who was willing to make substantially more money off them than they agree to settle for. 

But the reverse is also true; vendors are equally cautious about entering into a long-term relationship with someone whose main purpose during the negotiations seems to be to squeeze ever-greater amounts of money out of the proposal.  Maybe it’s that when hotels hit the recession they seemed to try to chase each other down to ruin by constantly undercutting each others’ rates, and don’t see why software vendors shouldn’t follow the same route.  That’s a self-defeating way to go, though; if you’re buying a complex piece of software on which you’ll rely completely to track your crucial information – client history and operating data – you really do want the vendor (a) to stay in business to support and enhance it and (b) to answer the phone with a smile and a willing attitude when you call for help.  A fair price for both is a decent compromise that ensures an ongoing spirit of partnership. 

My advice to vendors is the same as to hotels; if you have confidence in the value of your product (including service) and know (not just believe) how it stands out from your competition, hold the line and convince your client that you’re worth the price.  Business that puts you out of business is no business at all. 
As a follow-up to my travel-related comments on customer service in the last newsletter, you should know that I forwarded my comments to both Frontier and United and heard back from both within two days.  Frontier was pleased at my good experience and thanked me for the feedback; United was good enough to apologize, provide me with a discount coupon for future flights and offer to reimburse me for the clothing I had to buy as a result of their baggage delivery failure.  Both responses were a bit formulaic – boiler-plate phrases assembled into a semi-coherent whole – but at least they responded appropriately.

And I have nothing at all to complain about compared to Robert Cole’s recent series of clueless, jaw-dropping lack-of-service encounters (and one person who absolutely shone) with Delta and US Airways – see http://bit.ly/9BUU0H.  His summary at the end is pretty much the same as mine:

“Some may say that it is not fair to vilify US Airways based on encounters with a few employees, but I disagree.  This highlights the importance of organizations recognizing that each employee in a customer contact role represents a potential point of failure that can negatively impact perception of the overall brand.”

“The solution is simple – treat your customers with respect, empower employees to help customers in need, and establish processes that provide the organization with an opportunity to proactively identify and correct issues.  It appears that Southwest inherently understands this challenge and meets it head-on.  It is not a cost issue; it reflects the corporate culture, the brand promise and the company’s sincere interest in customer engagement.”



- eRevMax expanding in Asia Pacific
- Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel and Spa goes with EasyRMS
eRevMax has announced its expansion in Asia Pacific (APAC) with two new offices in Singapore and China and the introduction of up to six new sales managers over the next 3 to 6 months. The initial focus will be on Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and China.  http://www.ratetiger.com  
The 216-room Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel and Spa in London has contracted with Easy (Ez) Revenue Management Solutions (EasyRMS) for its EzRMS SaaS Revenue Management system.  The property has deployed the EzRMS Core Module for portfoliowide forecasting and optimization, its Ez-QUOTE Decision Support tool and a two-way interface with its MICROS OPERA V5 hospitality management system.  http://www.pestana.com, http://www.EasyRMS.com  


- Dolce implements SpeedRFP for 27 properties
- Cvent upgrades Cvent Supplier Network (CSN)
Dolce Hotels and Resorts has implemented SpeedRFP’s online request-for-proposal tool for its 27 properties, to help meeting planners solicit bids from multiple hotels at once.  http://www.dolce.com, http://www.SpeedRFP.com  
The Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau (PBC CVB) has partnered with Cendyn on a multi-tiered online marketing initiative that delivered over 150,000 new visitors to the CVB’s Website and significant conversion of hotel bookings.  Cendyn’s three-tiered campaign covered:
* Rich-media display ads focused on leisure, eco-adventure travel and group business.
* Retail/hotel promotions for rebates and discounts.
* Cooperative marketing programs for 50 co-branded CVB member hotels.
 http://www.palmbeachfl.com, http://www.cendyn.com  
Cvent has upgraded its Cvent Supplier Network (CSN).  Enhancements include:
- A new Quick RFP that simplifies RFP creation for planners and facilitates more timely responses from hotels and CVBs
- An RFI option for planners to reach out to restaurants and special event venues, particularly for smaller-scale meetings
- Enhanced venue profile details and filters to help planners find the information they need
- More and more varied venues in the network, with more in-depth detail about each meeting supplier
- Additional opportunities for suppliers to showcase their venue or services


- Park Hyatt Jeddah installs TAC’s Reservation Assistant, TAC’s first Saudi Arabia implementation
- Hammock Beach Resort partners with GolfTripGenius.com
The Park Hyatt Jeddah has installed TAC’s Reservation Assistant spa and activity tracking system, marking TAC’s first implementation in Saudi Arabia and the 51st country in which it has customers.  http://www.jeddah.park.hyatt.com, http://www.reservationassistant.com  
Florida’s Hammock Beach Resort has partnered with GolfTripGenius.com to provide golf groups with a Web-based service for setting up customized golf pairings, the selection and scoring of trip tournaments and concierge golf trip support.  http://www.hammockbeach.com, http://www.GolfTripGenius.com  


- Kyle Duffy hired as vice president of global accounts at Revinate
- OpenTravel announces 2010-2011 board of directors
Kyle Duffy has been hired as vice president of global accounts at social media tracking vendor Revinate. 
Mr. Duffy comes to Revinate from Travelocity, where he developed marketing programs for Travelocity’s largest travel partners.  Prior to joining Travelocity, he managed the launch of Zooba.com, a division of Bertelsmann AG, and earlier served in sales at Moguls Mountain Travel.
OpenTravel has announced its 2010-2011 board of directors as:
* Vincent Lextrait, director hospitality, ground and maritime, Amadeus IT Group
* Buddy Altus, director electronic distribution, online marketing group, Avis Budget Group
* Harold Dibler, managing director, application development, information services, Best Western International
* Vicki Bias, manager of technology, Continental Airlines
* Gianni Cataldo, vice president and general manager Americas, Datalex
* James White, director global automation marketing, Hertz
* Greg Berman, COO and managing director, Hotel Booking Solutions, Inc.
* Andrew Rubinacci, vice president, distribution and intermediary sales, InterContinental Hotels Group
* Lisa Fues, director of reservations, inventory and distribution, Marriott International
* Stephen Joyce, CEO, Rezgo, acting chairman of the board
* Lew J. Harasymiw, Esq., director of interface solutions, Sabre Hospitality Solutions
* Eric Mason, vice president global product development, Wyndham Exchange and Rentals


- ResortSuite now available on monthly subscription-fee basis
- NORTHWIND lands orders for 16 properties in 2nd Quarter 2010
ResortSuite announced that its comprehensive hospitality management suite is now available on a monthly subscription-fee basis.  http://www.resortsuite.com  
NORTHWIND has announced that 10 independent resorts and hotel companies, a total of 16 properties, ordered its Maestro hospitality management system in the 2nd Quarter of 2010. The new clients were:
- The new Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola, Fla.
- MCM Hotels with seven properties in Texas and New Mexico (a centrally hosted implementation including front office, sales and catering, spa and activity management, and gift card modules)
- Hotel Granduca operated by Benchmark Hospitality International
- Andover Inn near Boston
- Unity Village Hotel and Conference Center
- Goodstone Inn & Estate in Virginia
- The Bernards Inn
- Duke University R. David Thomas Center
- The 185-room City Hotel & Bistro in Greenville, N.C.
- Sportsman’s Inn Resort and Marina in Ontario, Canada.


- Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts renews distribution agreement with Sabre
- Lanyon announces GDS Seamless Functionality Review
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has renewed its distribution agreement with Sabre Hospitality Solutions for its 66 properties in Asia Pacific, North America and the Middle East.  Shangri-La will continue to use the SynXis CRS for distribution services to all four GDSs, integrated with its property management and revenue management systems.  http://www.shangri-la.com, http://www.sabrehospitality.com  
Following testing with Genares’ seamless connectivity displays, Lanyon has announced the public availability of GDS Seamless Functionality Review, a content delivery consultation service that provides a six-point evaluation of distribution messages:
- Identifying the maximum functionality in each GDS
- Defining the best practices for each functionality point
- Creating clear test cases
- Identifying functionality gaps in the supplier’s responses
- Recommending processes and enhancements to close the gaps
- Opening any issues with the GDSs, switch company or CRS
http://www.genares.com, http://www.lanyon.com  


- Loews’ Atlanta hotel installs LodgeNet’s TV and broadband services
- LodgeNet appoints TriDENSA reseller for Mid East, South Asia
- InterContinental offers Priority Club points to members checking in to geolocation service Topguest
- IHG releases version of Priority Club Rewards mobile app for Android
- Morgans launches virtual concierge based on Intelity's ICE and iPads in all guestrooms at Royalton, N.Y.
- Albus Hotel, Amsterdam installs Quadriga's Sensiq guest communications portal
- Tharaldson Communications Inc. picks Guest-Tek as HSIA product to offer its telecommunications services clients
For more on Guest Services for 07/29/10


- Aptech announces four new customers for Profitvue
- Hardage Group Management deploys UniFocus’ GUESTScope at Chase Suite and Woodfin Hotels properties
Aptech has announced four new customers for its Profitvue back office system:
- Horizon Hospitality with three operating properties and two in construction
- Duke University R. David Thomas Conference Center
- 15th & L Investors in Sacramento
- The Kirkland Conference Center with 165 rooms and operated by ARAMARK in Silver Springs, Md. 
http://www.horizonhmi.com, http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/admin/rdtc, http://www.aptech-inc.com  
Hardage Group Management has deployed UniFocus’ GUESTScope at its Chase Suite and Woodfin Hotels properties.  http://www.thehardagegroup.com, http://www.unifocus.com  


- Milestone receives nine awards for Website design and Internet marketing
- TIG Global receives Web marketing honors in five international industry competitions
- Choice signs one-year agreement with VRX Studios for photography and content management services
- Vantage picks VIZERGY to help brand members create property-specific Websites
- REBEL Travel Corp launches PropertyVIEW reputation management application
- Marriott selects VFM Leonardo for photo distribution and online merchandising services
For more on Marketing/Management for 07/29/10


And now for you-know-what…

The local bar was so sure that its bartender was the strongest man around that they offered a standing $1,000 bet. The bartender would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and hand the lemon to a patron. Anyone who could squeeze one more drop of juice out would win the money. Many people had tried over time (weight-lifters, longshoremen, etc.) but nobody could do it.

One day this scrawny little man came into the bar, wearing thick glasses and a polyester suit, and said in a tiny squeaky voice, "I'd like to try the bet." After the laughter had died down, the bartender said OK, grabbed a lemon, and squeezed away. Then he handed the wrinkled remains of the rind to the little man.

But the crowd's laughter turned to total silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and six drops fell into the glass. As the crowd cheered, the bartender paid the $1,000, and asked the little man, "Wow, that was amazing. What do you do for a living? Are you a lumberjack, a weight-lifter, or what?"

The man replied, "I work for the IRS."

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