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Siegel Sez

December 03, 2010

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

What a very different Thanksgiving I had this year.  The days leading up to Thanksgiving as I was listening to everybody’s plans for their holidays with family dinners to family holiday trips, I just smiled to myself. As I boarded my plane Tuesday night before Thanksgiving for my eight hour flight to London I asked myself, “What am I doing?” I was on my way to the British Association of Hospitality Accountants annual conference to speak on a panel regarding technology investments on Thanksgiving Day, no less. As it turned out it might have been one of my most enjoyable Thanksgivings in recent years. My session followed Frank Wolfe from HFTP doing a presentation on social media. Frank did a great job and it was funny that two guys from the States were speaking on Thanksgiving Day, but it was great that he was there. Then my panel closed the conference. The panel included Ian Millar from Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne; Ted Horner, the well-known IT consultant who had traveled all the way from Australia; Carson Booth, the vice president, information technology, Europe, Africa, Middle East for Starwood Hotels and Resorts; and Jeremy Ward, senior VP IT from Kempenski Hotels. Sometimes my creative ways work, sometimes they don’t. This time they worked, but it was because of this extraordinarily smart panel. It was a well received session followed by a night of nights. Cocktails and then a great dinner for the 350 attendees with a Thanksgiving flavor to it (yes, they served turkey). Those Brits sure know how to party. I crashed at 1:30 a.m., but I heard many were out until 4 a.m. What a great day, night and Thanksgiving. I was thankful to be invited.

I left London for Lisbon, Portugal, because I wanted to stay in Europe for the weekend and I had never been to Portugal. When I travel alone, wait who am I kidding, I always travel alone, I always try to venture off the beaten path. It was fun doing that in Lisbon except I ended up in places where no English was spoken, which created some interesting but thankfully fun moments. I just love Europe; there is so much history there. Special thanks to Liliana Conde, the hotel manager at the NH Hotel Liberdade, for making sure my stay was enjoyable. The NH Hotel Liberdade is a very nice hotel right in the heart of Lisbon. What a great city and more important, what great people. I was told before I went that the people in Lisbon were extremely nice and they definitely were.  But the question remains, how much Port can one drink in three days? I might have set a record. It is what Portugal is known for and now I see why.

It is December, finally. What an interesting year it has been, but as I think back to where we were a year ago there is a lot to be thankful for. Personally, I always struggle with this month. From a business side many want to end the year on an upbeat note or get plans in motion for a successful 2011. This is really the month to take a step back as the holidays approach and even though we all have worries, concerns and even fears as to what the future holds, we should take a moment and reflect. I always ask myself if I do enough for others during the upcoming holidays. I hope everybody will help those in need, be it financially or with their time. It is always amazing how good you feel after you give. Do we do this often enough? The answer is usually no, but we should try. I hope you will during this season if you are able. 

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



- Internet bandwidth becomes a key hotel selection factor
More indications are arising that the bandwidth available to hotel guests is going to be as big a differentiator now as just having Internet access used to be. 

A Deloitte survey of 1,001 business travelers found that roughly two-thirds of them often work in their room, 79 percent rate high-speed Internet access as an important amenity, and 80 percent predict that they’ll be traveling more in 2011.  At the same time their companies’ travel policies are being more strictly enforced (59 percent), with 32 percent reporting dollar limits on accommodation spending.  The report concludes that “the tipping point for hotels to differentiate their brand offering and strengthen loyalty among the post-recessionary business traveler will be providing additional complementary services and amenities tailored to their guests’ specific needs.”  In other words, effective high-speed Internet access at low or no charge will be a key factor.

Outside of business usage, a Sheraton Hotels & Resorts study of 4,204 people in the United States, United Kingdom and China reported that 60 percent of respondents use social media to stay in touch with family and friends while traveling, with more than a third (36 percent) saying they'd rather log on than make a phone call.  One fifth of respondents said that they check social networking sites multiple times throughout the day while traveling.

And the bandwidth requirements of all this activity are still increasing at unprecedented rates.  Users are downloading more YouTube videos, Hulu TV episodes and Netflix movies than ever before, to the point that Comcast is trying to impose surcharges on Netflix to carry its soaring movie traffic.

The bottom line: travelers will be making more trips, expect true high-speed Internet access, will use it for more bandwidth-intensive traffic and will continue to watch expenses.  It’s a tough situation for hotels, but just as with the introduction of HSIA to guestrooms in the first place, those that provide usable, affordable, reliable service will get the bookings.


- Lodging Interactive releases Chatter Guard Lite Social Media Monitoring
- Manhattan at Times Square Hotel selects UniFocus’ GUESTScope
Lodging Interactive has released Chatter Guard Lite Social Media Monitoring, a low-cost version of its Chatter Guard Reputation Management Service tool for the hospitality industry.  The Web-based Chatter Guard Lite provides an online dashboard, real-time e-mail alerts, guest comment sentiment scoring and the ability to share guest comments with others via e-mail.  http://www.LodgingInteractive.com  
The 665-room Manhattan at Times Square Hotel, New York City, has selected UniFocus’ GUESTScope system.  http://www.themanhattanattimessquarehotel.com, http://www.unifocus.com


- Rainmaker releases interface with EZYield.com
- César Ritz Colleges Switzerland partners with EasyRMS
The Rainmaker Group has developed an interface with EZYield.com to allow hotels to update optimized room rates across over 500 channels.  The new interface is currently in use at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  http://www.ezyield.com, http://www.letitrain.com
César Ritz Colleges Switzerland has partnered with EasyRMS to provide educational sessions and online demonstrations of EzRMS to César Ritz students on a quarterly basis.  http://www.ritz.edu, http://www.EasyRMS.com


- Florida Hotel & Convention Center implements TTI Technologies business center
- Marriott Australia picks DOCOMO InterTouch, HP Networking to upgrade guestroom services
- Topguest adds VOILA Hotel Rewards to range of loyalty programs
- Royal Garden Hotel implements Swisscom’s Hospitality Services, ConnectedHotel TV
- Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Oslo, upgrades guestroom technology with OTRUM Evolution, LG displays
- iBAHN appoints Speeron sales, support partner for Nordic region
For more information on Guest Services for 12/03/10


- Alan Young joins Infor-SoftBrands as vice president, global marketing - Hospitality Group
- Michael McCartan hired by eRevMax as chief operating officer
- Jorge Valverde Rico appointed project manager for RTConnect at eRevMax
- John Seaton, Giles Gurney hired into eRevMax sales division for RTConnect
- Lilian Stjepanovic joins eRevMax as sales representative for southeast Europe
- Nigel Allport appointed director of business development EMEA at Agilysys Hospitality
For more information on People on the Move for 12/03/10


- Tanglewood picks PAR Springer-Miller
Tanglewood Resort & Conference Center on Lake Texoma near Dallas has selected PAR Springer-Miller's SMS|Host Hospitality Management System, including the Multi-Property Management, Owner Fulfillment, Golf, Activities and Membership modules.  Tanglewood includes over 240 guestrooms, golf, spa, three swimming pools and many other land and water-based activities.  http://www.tanglewoodresort.com, http://www.springermiller.com **


- Groupize releases research/booking engine for small-group travel
- Open Up signs with Pegasus Solutions for UltraDirect interface
- Expedia acquiring Mobiata
For more information on Reservations for 12/03/10


- Task Retail Technology opens North American office to launch cloud-based Xchangexec POS
Australia-based Task Retail Technology has opened a North American office in Atlanta, Ga., to offer its cloud-based Xchangexec F&B and retail point-of-sale application.  Xchangexec provides real-time sales data, centralized POS terminal and data management with integration to devices such as digital menu boards, electronic marketing panels with pricing managed automatically and wirelessly, global loyalty, mobile applications and text messaging.  Xchangexec is developed in Microsoft’s .NET environment and based on SQL Server.  http://www.taskretail.com.au  


- TAC receives User Experience Award from Austria’s World Usability Day
- TAC releases iPad® version of Reservation Assistant
TAC has received the User Experience Award in the Service Engineering category from Austria’s World Usability Day, for version RA 4.0 of its Reservation Assistant spa and activity software.  Since 2009, Austria’s User Experience Award has been given to software companies that stand out through innovative functionalities and user-friendliness.

TAC has released an iPad version of its Reservation Assistant spa and activity software. 
http://www.worldusabilityday.at, http://www.reservationassistant.com


And now for you-know-what…

A devoted wife had spent her lifetime taking care of her husband. Now he had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet she stayed by his bedside every single day.

When he came to his senses, he motioned for her to come near him.

As she sat by him, he said, "You know what? You have been with me all through the bad times. When I got fired, you were there to support me. When my business failed, you were there. When I got shot, you were by my side. When we lost the house, you gave me support. When my health started failing, you were still by my side. You know what?"

"What dear?" she asked gently.

"I think you bring me bad luck."

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