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Siegel Sez

January 06, 2011

Siegel Sez

by: Richard Siegel

Resolutions? We don’t need no stinking New Year’s resolutions. Actually I have one and that is not to get sick on the Sunday night after New Year’s. I thought I had a 24-hour bug, but the bug seemed to be enjoying the time in my body and decided to stay a few extra days. What a drag it is being sick. But maybe that was the impetus for creating real resolutions and to attempt to live a healthier life; I will do that this year as long as it is both physically and emotionally. Wow, this will be a challenge, but I have always been one for change.

Speaking of change, what should we expect this year? The first one was announced this morning in Washington, D.C., with Carl Wilson, executive vice president and CIO at Marriott, announcing his retirement March 31st. He will be replaced by Bruce Hoffmeister as global chief information officer. Over 13 years as a CIO, in this industry that might be some sort of record. Personally my interaction with Carl over the last 10 years has been enjoyable. He has always been a big supporter of our CIO Summit every September and for that we are very appreciative.  Marriott has been to all 10 summits which has allowed us to grow. We thank him and wish him well.

Our first Siegel Sez of the year does not focus on what is ahead, but instead we take a moment to reflect on what transpired the year behind us. Nobody does a better job reflecting and sharing the experiences of the industry than Jon Inge in his annual Year-End Review with comments as to what is ahead. I will defer quickly today to Jon and encourage you to read through it now. We thank him for sharing. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at “you-know-what”.  Happy New Year to all.


Technology NEWSSTAND

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



- 2010 Year-End Review
Although early optimism at 2009 finally being over was soon replaced by the hard reality of a long climb out of the recession, steady progress was made throughout the year by both hoteliers and vendors.  Many of the former took advantage of the lull to re-focus their technology on those areas most likely to help when business took off again, and many vendors worked hard on new product development.  It was definitely the year of the iPad®, hardware-wise, but last year’s hot topic of social networking has now become more generally integrated into operations.

Hospitality Technology Gains Kudos
It’s long been said that this industry is very late to adopt new technology, but that’s also true of many other business verticals and we should stop beating ourselves up about it.  Importantly, last year several hospitality companies were recognized by the general business and IT trade press for their innovative projects.  InfoWorld named Pegasus’ Rezview® NG one of its top 100 IT projects of 2009, and CIO magazine included Pegasus, IHG, Harrah’s and Marriott in its Top 100 awards.  Further, InformationWeek listed eight hospitality companies in the top half of its annual list of the 500 best companies at using technology in innovative ways, including InterContinental Hotels Group at No. 2.

Major Changes Announced for HMSs
Several major new hospitality management systems were announced.  Agilysys and Infor/SoftBrands previewed their next-generation Guest 360™ and HMS systems respectively, and PAR Springer-Miller released tantalizing details of its new product development.  Amadeus formally announced its long-expected Amadeus Hotel Platform, which combines central reservation, property management and global distribution systems in an integrated, centrally hosted platform. HP announced a new hosted travel management application covering airlines, hotels, trains and cruise lines, and licensed Pegasus’ Rezview NG reservations/networking technology as one of its core elements.  On a smaller scale (so far) MICROS co-founder Keith Gruen’s new hetras system was adopted by citizenM as its standard HMS.

Significant Focus on Revenue Management
Revenue management systems were a strong focus for many properties looking to be as efficient as possible, especially as useful integration with other systems became more common.  New products came to market; Xotels launched its own system, RevPAR Guru’s technology and services gained prominence, and TRAVELCLICK® released its Hotelligence360™ multichannel reservation, rate and marketing intelligence tool (immediately adopted by Leonardo Hotels and Taj Hotels). 

System integration improved, with InnQuest adding SiteMinder channel management to its roomMaster 2000 PMS and RateTiger integrating with MICROS’ OPERA, MSI’s WinPM and Gubse’s Sihot PMS.  IDeaS added JackRabbit's distribution engine to its V5i system, PAR Springer-Miller interfaced SMS|Host with EZYield.com, as did Rainmaker, and Genares linked its CRS with RevPAR Guru.  eRevMax and RevPAR Guru even launched iPhone® versions of their apps, though I wonder how much use they’ll get from typical users. 

Implementation was strong across the industry.  RateTiger won major orders from Spain’s Tradyso (1,000 hotels) and Paradores de Turismo (90+), Mövenpick chose EZYield for 69 properties, as did H10 Hotels for 36.  EzRMS was adopted by Choice Hotels Scandinavia (50+), NH Hoteles (75), Chile’s Enjoy Casino & Resort chain, Hong Kong’s Regal Hotels International (6) and Accor UK (80); Jurys Inn picked IDeaS’ V5i for all 30 properties.

Cloud Computing Adds to Appeal of Remotely Hosted Systems
A hot topic at HITEC last year, cloud computing was definitely seen as the way forward for future systems even if some interface and security issues remain to be resolved before a fully integrated management software suite becomes available.  In the meantime remotely hosted systems of all kinds continue to appeal to many hoteliers, as witness Choice Hotels’ deployment of its choiceADVANTAGE® Web-based HMS to its 3,000th franchised hotel.  Pousadas de Portugal implemented MICROS’ full OPERA suite for 39 properties, Delta Hotels and Resorts selected MICROS’ centrally hosted OPERA Enterprise for 45 properties and Virgin implemented protel PMS across its Limited Edition portfolio.  Premier Hotels activated Libra OnDemand for seven properties; Starwood selected Adaco.NET for its procurement and inventory operations.

Vendors confirmed their interest in this direction.  Agilysys, Infor/SoftBrands and PAR Springer-Miller all stated that their next-generation products will be available remotely hosted, and MICROS is committed to the same approach.  Seven Seas Computers announced the migration of its momentohs® sprint PMS to Microsoft’s Windows Azure™ cloud; DataWorks announced a SaaS version of its NeXT™ inventory software.

Hoteliers are also seeing the value of outsourcing much of their technology infrastructure and administration systems.  Hilton outsourced its technology infrastructure to IBM and contracted with Accenture for application development and support.  Carlson WagonLit explored mid-office/back office outsourcing with Amadeus, and Hyatt adopted Microsoft’s cloud-based Business Productivity Online Suite for 17,000 desk-based employees and 40,000 deskless associates (bell hops, housekeepers, front desk staff, etc.).

Central Reservations Systems
The major topic at year end was American Airlines’ opting out of the GDS world it created many years ago in favor of direct booking links, potentially requiring travelers to book only from its own Website (as they’ve done for years with Southwest Airlines) but more likely just stirring the waters to produce a different paradigm for travel booking.  Relative newcomer Genares was on a roll, landing contracts with Jin Jiang International Hotels for 51 properties in China and for Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and releasing a direct booking link for Facebook.  Accor and Carlson Hotels upgraded to Sabre’s DCX direct connect booking platform; Marriott signed a distribution agreement with GTA™ by Travelport.

Starwood launched its first two Cisco TelePresence sites (W Chicago, Sheraton Sydney) and GetThere offered its corporate clients access to Tata Communications’ public and private telepresence rooms for virtual meetings.  These systems are definitely useful and cost saving, and bring a new level of realism to video conferences, but so far no one’s found a way to socialize with a remote image after a meeting.

Business Intelligence
BI was as essential as ever to efficient operations.  Aptech released its EV Lite hosted graphical reporting tool and integrated Clarabridge’s sentiment and text analytics into its Execuvue® software; ProfitSword announced its ProfitWizard ad-hoc BI reporting software.  Alloso Technologies and Datavision released BI apps for the iPhone and iPad®, and PAR Springer-Miller added Datavision’s BI reporting to its SMS|Host hospitality management system. 

Social Media
After the explosion of interest in 2009 social media tools became a more mainstream part of life last year, most hotel chains and many independents now have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.  Many also released phone-based applications for booking and trip updating, branching out into Android™ devices after an initial iPhone focus.  InterContinental tested the waters of location-based services by offering Priority Club points to members checking in from Foursquare™, Facebook and other sites.  protel released a Room Tweet enhancement for its hospitality management system, letting hotels broadcasting special offers to Twitter with a link to their Web booking engine.  Revinate and eRevMax released reputation management tools to help hotels monitor online comments and reviews.

Tablet, Phone Applications
Apple’s iPad was the hot device of the year and very many vendors and hotel companies were quick to release apps for it.  InterContinental tested iPads with concierge teams in four properties, and Hong Kong’s Langham Place offered free roaming iPad service for its guests.  The Plaza in New York offered iPads in all guestrooms, loaded with Intelity’s ICE (Interactive Customer Experience™) guest services portal; Guest-Tek incorporated Intelity ICE into its OneView IPTV and HDTV services, and Wyndham deployed its Intelity ICE-based Wyndham Connect interactive guest services.  Quadriga had success with its Sensiq™ guest portal, installed in hotels from the 66-room Beau Rivage Hotel in Neuchâtel, Switzerland to the 764-room Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel.  GBCblue’s ORION and mobile GORION portals were adopted by hotels including the Hyatt Regency Greenville, Omni Chicago, Hilton San Diego Bayfront and Heathman Portland, and SAI integrated ORION into its SynergyMMS® Maintenance Management System to enhance service delivery.

On the management systems side, iPad applications were released by vendors such as hotel SystemsPro (hotel SalesPro®, hotel ServicePro™), Flyte Systems (FlytePad airport flight information), TrackIT (package tracking) and MSI (Place Point self-service POS).   The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (EI) made its Hospitality iCoach training tips and hints available via Apple’s iTunes® for download to staff iPhone, iPod touch® and iPad devices.

iPhone apps continued to grow (released by Harrah’s, Best Western, Mandarin Oriental, Utell, NH Hoteles, Trust International and TRAVELCLICK’s StayHIP for boutique hotels), and Android came on strongly as the next most desirable platform.  Starwood released a BlackBerry® app, still the most widely used business smart phone.  O’Rourke launched the SmartStaySM tool to help hotels build their own phone apps (iPhone and Android).  MTech released H2GO, a mobile version of HotSOS for the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as a version of REX for Google’s Android.  NORTHWIND launched a mobile version of the ResWave Booking Engine for its Maestro Enterprise HMS to let guests book room and dining, spa or other activity reservations from most mobile devices.

RFID Locks Gained Favor
Interest in RFID locks grew last year, from all vendors and in hotels of all sizes.  These included VingCard® (hotels from Le Meridien Qingdao, Venezuela Marriott Playa Grande, Hotel Okura Amsterdam and Intercontinental Beirut to the 40-room Valentines Resort and Marina in the Bahamas), SAFLOK™ (5,900 rooms at CityCenter Las Vegas), Onity (126-room Ramada Limited in Santa Barbara, CA) and Kaba Ilco (Le Centre Sheraton Montreal).  The Clarion Hotel Stockholm piloted the use of NFC-enabled Samsung mobile phones as keys to VingCard locks.  Starwood tested its Smart Check-In concept at Aloft® brand properties, issuing special RFID cards to SPG loyalty program members; InterContinental pilot-tested OpenWays’ smartphone acoustic keys at Holiday Inn properties in Chicago and Houston. 

Mergers and Acquisitions
In a fairly active year MSI acquired REMco Software, Infor/SoftBrands picked up Amadeus’ Property Management Systems division as Amadeus focused on its new Hotel Platform, and SS&C Technologies bought TimeShareWare.  MICROS acquired marketing specialist TIG Global, and XETA Technologies, best known for call accounting systems, took over Lorica Solutions.  Swisscom acquired Wayport’s EMEA operations, Travelport picked up the Singapore-based Sprice metasearch engine, and KAYAK added Munich-based flight and hotel search site swoodoo.  Newmarket bought market research vendor Hospitality Information Services (not HIS, the former PMS vendor now part of Infor/SoftBrands) and Expedia acquired travel app developer Mobiata.

And This Year?
It’s going to be an eventful year as more fully featured versions of Agilysys’ Guest 360 and Infor/SoftBrands’ HMS appear and PAR Springer-Miller unveils its new management system; I can guarantee that the latter will open a few eyes.  The CRS marketplace may not be the same when the dust settles from American Airlines’ move away from the GDSs, but online booking will undoubtedly become even more dominant.  In the Year of the Rabbit I also expect to see tablet and phone apps proliferate in ever-increasing numbers; as with mainstream software applications, those that succeed will focus on useful integration with each other and with other management systems to become truly valuable real-world tools for both guests and management. 


- Claire Gilbertson named BAHA Hospitality Revenue Director of the Year
- Stewart Fidom named BAHA Hospitality IT Professional of the Year
- Adrian Orton named BAHA Overall Student of the Year
- Luis Maroto replaces David Jones as president and CEO of Amadeus
For more information on People on the Move for 01/06/11


- Genares launches gMobile application for travelers to book, view and cancel reservations from mobile phones
Genares Worldwide Reservations Services has launched its gMobile application, which allows travelers to book, view and cancel reservations from their mobile phones.  http://www.genares.com  


- Starwood’s Aloft Harlem opens, second Aloft to implement Starwood’s Smart Check-In program
- Roadchef rolls out Guestline’s suite at 14 properties across United Kingdom
- Xn Group sells Xn Leisure Systems subsidiary to Jonas Computing
- Margaritaville Beach Hotel opens with NORTHWIND’s Maestro, uses guestroom key cards as room-charge cards throughout the resort
For more information on Hospitality Management Systems for 01/06/11


- Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle social media marketing division releases Facebook applications
- United Nations World Travel Organization unveils Platma collaboration platform
- La Quinta Resort & Club picks Interactive Sites (I-Sites) for Website overhaul
For more information on Marketing/Management for 01/06/11


- iBAHN signs global partnership with Symon Communications for visual communications and digital signage
iBAHN has expanded its current European reseller agreement with Symon Communications, a provider of visual communications and digital signage software, to a global Gold Level contract.  The partnership aims to optimize and monetize all available screens within a property through an end-to-end digital signage and visual communications technology.  http://www.symon.com, http://www.ibahn.com


- Prime Group’s new Chicago property opens with Roomlinx in all rooms
- InterContinental launches free Concierge Insider Guides for iPad covering 120 destinations
- iPass survey indicates hotels may lose business travelers through bad Wi-Fi offerings
For more information on Guest Services for 01/06/11


- Springhill Suites Las Vegas implements Telkonet's SmartEnergy™ platform
The Springhill Suites hotel in Las Vegas has implemented Telkonet's SmartEnergy platform to optimize energy savings in its 300 guestrooms and nine conference rooms. http://www.marriott.com/laspr, http://www.telkonet.com  


- LateRooms.com partners with Availpro for channel management
LateRooms.com has partnered with Availpro to allow its hotel clients to manage inventory via a single channel manager.  http://www.laterooms.com, http://www.availpro.com


- Royal Caribbean selects InfoGenesis for additional seven ships
Royal Caribbean Cruises has selected Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS system for an additional seven ships, bringing the number of vessels that use Agilysys software to 30.  http://www.royalcaribbean.com, http://www.agilysys.com


And now for you-know-what…

Two 90-year-old women, Rose and Barb, had been friends all of their lives.

When it was clear that Rose was dying, Barb visited her every day. One day Barb said, "Rose, we both loved playing women's softball all our lives, and we played all through high school. Please do me one favor: when you get to Heaven, somehow you must let me know if there's women's softball there."

Rose looked up at Barb from her deathbed and said, "Barb, you've been my best friend for many years. If it's at all possible, I'll do this favor for you." Shortly after that, Rose passed on.

At midnight a few nights later, Barb was awakened from a sound sleep by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling out to her, "Barb, Barb."

"Who is it," asked Barb, sitting up suddenly. "Who is it?"

"Barb, it's me, Rose," the voice said.

"You're not Rose. Rose just died," said Barb.

"I'm telling you, it's me, Rose," insisted the voice.

"Rose! Where are you," Barb asked.

"In Heaven," replied Rose. "I have some really good news and a little bad news."

"Tell me the good news first," said Barb.

"The good news," Rose said, "is that there's softball in Heaven. Better yet all of our old buddies who died before us are here, too. Better than that, we're all young again. Better still, it's always springtime, and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we can play softball all we want, and we never get tired."

"That's fantastic," said Barb. "It's beyond my wildest dreams! So what's the bad news?"

And Rose replied, "You're pitching Tuesday."

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