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Siegel Sez

May 10, 2019

Siegel Sez

by: Rich Siegel

I have to admit - there are times that I truly love what I do. I started the week in Phoenix where MSI invited a mix of industry “influencers” together to share what the company is doing today and where the company envisions its future. I used MSI in my opening line, but that will be part of the company’s history. The name MSI is being sunset as its product offering moving forward will be under the name Jonas Chorum. MSI has been very strong in the limited service and mid-market parts of the hotel industry but moving forward the company will be addressing the needs of full service and beyond as well. The event had a nice mix of attendees, including industry consultants, hotel companies including their biggest customer who shared thoughts of the Jonas plan. There were great take-aways from the two-day meeting and all will be shared in the upcoming HITEC issue of Hospitality Upgrade. I would like to thank Mark Loyd, president, and Jim Rowe, VP of sales, for inviting me to join the event and for their openness of things that they will be doing moving forward. We welcome the new Jonas Chorum to the forever changing world of hotel technology.

From Phoenix it was directly off to Miami for the Amadeus Hospitality Customer Conference. I love user groups where I get to spend time with those who use the products we talk about at Hospitality Upgrade. The sessions were great and I had to laugh when the first session of the conference was Annie Spano talking about how influencers can positively impact the hotel industry. I talked to Annie later in the day and told her my story. She told me if anybody can be an influencer of hotel technology, it would be me. Maybe it is time for me to put my following into play. I am adding that to my to-do list. Amadeus Executive Vice President Marketing and Corporate Development Joe Youssef moderated a great panel covering where Amadeus is going along with challenges the industry must face. The day ended with my new best friend, Derreck Kayongo, who launched the Global Soap Project. I would like to believe most in the hotel industry know about this project. The amazing story of Derreck’s life and what he went through which at times was very difficult to hear as he shared his experience growing up in Uganda but his way of sharing his story was motivating. If you would like to see a very short video of the first day please click here.

The AHCC was well attended and I connected with many people that I know well but don’t often see. Thank you, Amadeus, for inviting me to participate. I always have a soft spot for user groups.  It has a great balance as we approach the other end of the spectrum at HITEC, which was a popular subject at both events this week. We have six weeks to go. Minneapolis, here we come.

Here now is the real reason we are here, the latest technology happenings in the industry from another influencer Doug Rice. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what. Make sure when you are in Minneapolis for HITEC you come by booth 3320 and visit us and just say hello. That is one of our favorite parts of HITEC.


Definitely Doug

by: Douglas Rice

Alternative PMS Realities
The property management system was the mainstay of hotel technology for several decades –a monolithic system designed to support turnkey hotel management. And given that companies like Marriott are still running a PMS built in the 1980s, we can be fairly sure that some of the newer PMS systems in place today will still exist in 2040. But in a world of increasingly open APIs and powerful enterprise service bus (ESB) platforms, does this architecture still make sense? More and more companies are betting not. And if it doesn’t, what will become of the beloved PMS?
Let’s dissect the tasks a typical PMS performs. To be sure, it keeps track of product to sell (typically rooms), including whether they are occupied or not, and their housekeeping status such as clean or dirty. It manages guest folios and prepares basic accounting entries. It checks guests in and out, and records payments. These are the core functions that other systems generally can’t do, and most PMSs perform them well.
Historically, though, PMSs have done much more – and many still do. They can manage the customer database (up to a point…transient diners or spa visitors not so much), distribution to OTAs via channel managers, email campaigns, housekeeping, point-of-sale, event and catering sales, and management of credit card authorizations, top-offs and settlements. And one of the most important functions has been managing interfaces with all the other systems used in hotels, from central reservations to telephones to WiFi to door locks and thermostats, from point-of-sale to concierge systems to digital signage. Legacy PMS vendors in particular have made a lot of their revenue from selling interfaces.
Smaller hotels may sensibly opt for the simplicity of a monolithic PMS from a single vendor, but most larger hotel groups have shifted toward best-of-breed software. Rather than a do-it-all PMS, they interface their own preferred products for applications like customer data, digital marketing, distribution, loyalty, sales/catering, point-of-sale, housekeeping, work order management, and others. Newer PMS vendors and even some major legacy players like Oracle are embracing open APIs or standards, which make this easier to do. Legacy PMS vendors in particular have protected themselves financially via interface fees, and by bundling what they consider core services into the PMS pricing whether you use it or not.
But from a technology standpoint we should ask, why are PMSs still managing interfaces? Systems architects will tell you there is much better technology for doing this: high-reliability platforms whose principal role is to manage messaging between systems. Such platforms have been in broad use for more than 20 years in high-transaction volume, physically dispersed environments like financial services and retail, so why not hospitality? Pioneers like Tibco, Microsoft Biztalk Server, and Microsoft MSMQ were launched in the 1990s. Today’s common choices include Microsoft Azure, Tibco, and Mulesoft, which are used by thousands of customers across virtually all industries.
For hotels, ESBs offer some key advantages over PMSs when it comes to managing interfaces. Your PMS can go down without killing all the other systems (major ESBs are extremely reliable). System replacements are much easier because you can mix and match old and new systems at the same time at different hotels, transitioning hotels at a manageable pace over time without major disruption. Hotels and vendors alike benefit from the ability to test an alternative system at a single hotel and simply pull it out and restore the old one if it doesn’t meet the need. Hotels can easily test disruptive technologies from unproven vendors – or even an entirely new PMS. System downtime is much less because individual components can be updated quickly without taking down the whole system (one major PMS now requires 8 hours downtime for an upgrade – not a happy situation for its cloud customers who can’t even choose when it happens!). While hotels may be able to check guests in manually, it can be a problem if they can’t issue room keys, turn on the heating or cooling in the guest room, or enable the guest to log into Wi-Fi.
ESBs create a central point from which all connected systems can be monitored and measured. Even from a corporate office, it becomes a simple matter to monitor, both statistically and in real time, the health of every connected system and device, right down to individual door locks, televisions and thermostats. Measuring and managing the objective quality of the product is a core function of any business, and up until now was virtually impossible for hotels to achieve.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is that an ESB can free a hotel to sell products other than rooms at the same time as the room is booked. A PMS can only do that by creating a package, which may include elements that the guest doesn’t want, or omit ones they’d willingly pay for. Inventory of other hospitality products (like dining reservations, spa treatments, champagne bottles, or tennis lessons) can be managed by any system connected to the ESB. Those products can then be offered for sale “a la carte” in a booking engine, which only needs to know how to request availability and pricing of “something for sale” from the ESB. The ESB can coordinate combining the elements, applying any pricing rules specific to the combination of products and/or guest, confirming the ones selected in their respective controlling systems, and collecting any payment due.
ESBs in hospitality are not new. From memory, Caesars deployed Tibco in the 2000s, The Ascott serviced apartment group uses Mulesoft, and Hilton worked with a company called RoboMQ a few years back; in each case the hotel group or its vendor wrote custom connectors from their existing systems to an ESB. But in the past few years several vendors have launched new hospitality-specific ESB or ESB-like platforms, with prebuilt connectors to commonly used modules from different vendors. Some major chains reportedly are trialing or have near-term plans to use one, while others are developing their own. Could it be time for you to consider one?
To see what ESB and similar technologies can do, here are some companies to look at (as noted in my prior columns, these are not recommendations to buy but rather to explore). iReckonU was an early player, with an ESB approach built on top of Microsoft Azure and driven by citizenM’s desire to make the PMS just one more satellite system. Protel recently launched protel.io and the Protel Marketplace of third-party apps, making its own PMS a satellite system and opening up the possibility of letting customers use a different PMS on their platform (as well as other apps sold via various vendors via the Marketplace). Apaleo takes a similar approach, with an app-based platform where everything (including their own PMS) integrates via open APIs, and nothing but the platform has to be bought from them. Technically it’s not an ESB, but it operates similarly, and also has a store of compatible apps. In each case, once you connect to the platform, you can in theory transact frictionlessly with any other system that’s already connected.
For a simple, independent hotel, none of this may be compelling quite yet – there are a number of good options for cloud-based PMSs. But if you have a more complex hotel, or multiple properties, then ESBs and near-ESB solutions may well be the next major wave in systems integration. Ignore them at your peril!
Douglas Rice
Twitter: @dougrice


- Angie Hospitality Acquires Roxy, Consolidating Advanced Voice-enabled Solutions for the Global Hospitality Market
Angie Hospitality, developer of the industry's first 24-hour interactive guest room assistant purpose-built for the hotel environment, has completed its purchase of the assets of Roxy, a competing provider of speech-enabled virtual assistant technology for the hospitality industry.
Angie Hospitality


- TRAVELNET Solutions Introduces New Vice President of Engineering & Product
Sean Hughes’ addition to the TNS team further solidifies the company’s position as a leading provider of SaaS and digital marketing solutions for the hospitality industry.


- Want to Go Greener? Maestro PMS Makes Sustainable Practices Easy with Mobile Check-In, eFolios, Online Mobile Reporting
Green practices and environmental responsibility are growing property prerequisites for many travelers. Maestro PMS understands this. Maestro has led the paperless movement for the last 10+ years providing technology solutions that support sustainable hospitality practices.

- Sabre Announces Milestone Migration of La Quinta by Wyndham to SynXis Platform
Sabre Corporation, a leading technology provider to the global travel industry, announced recently that it has successfully completed the migration of La Quinta by Wyndham properties to the Sabre Hospitality Solutions industry-leading SynXis Platform.

- Santi Mandala Villa & Spa in Bali Adopts Hotelogix to Automate Operations
With Hotelogix cloud PMS in place, the management at this exotic property aims to automate its entire operations.


- A Positive Start of the Year for Amadeus Thanks to Strength of IT Solutions
Amadeus IT Group S.A maintained its positive growth trend in the first quarter of 2019, supported by the solid operating performances of its Distribution and IT Solutions businesses and the consolidation of TravelClick (since October 4, 2018).

- SHR Engages Services of Data Science Team, Algorth
SHR, Sceptre Hospitality Resources, a pioneer of advanced hotel distribution technologies, has entered into an exclusive business agreement with the Spanish data science group, Algorth, specialists in customized Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the hospitality technology market.


- IDeaS Announces 2019 Cornell Revenue Management Scholarship Recipients
IDeaS works to help advance the careers of six next-generation hotel revenue leaders through its ongoing scholarship program.


- Volara and Schneider Electric Bring Smart Room Controls on Voice Command to Hotels
Volara, a fully integrated voice-based conversation management software for the hotel industry, and Schneider Electric, a global leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation, have signed a partnership agreement to combine their automation and voice technology expertise to co-develop new innovative solutions in the hospitality industry.

- Allbridge Redefines In-Room Entertainment with Interactive IPTV Solution
Allbridge, a leading provider of data, video and voice solutions for Hospitality, Healthcare, and Higher Education properties nationwide, announced their new in-room entertainment IPTV platform for hotels, Allbridge Entertainment.

- Transportation Booking Just Got Easier for Concierges at Firmdale Hotels
ALICE integrates with Chauffeur Express for seamless concierge pperations at London's Firmdale Hotels.


- dailypoint™ Selected As A Finalist for HTNG’s 2019 TechOvation Award
Central data management platform dailypoint™ was selected as a finalist in HTNG's (Hospitality Technology Next Generation) 2019 TechOvation Award competition, which recognizes technology innovation in the hospitality industry.

- Hotel Retlaw Launches New Website for Its Elite Property in Fond du Lac
Built on HEBS Digital’s award-winning smartCMS® platform, the responsive website incorporates four different page layouts to best display the property, amenities, and nearby attractions.


- Cloud5 Communications Enhances Guest Satisfaction with New HSIA Network for the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Morgantown, WV
Cloud5 Communications, the leading communications technology and services provider for the hospitality industry, has recently completed the installation of a high speed internet access (HSIA) solution at SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Morgantown, WV.

- Arrivedo Launches Routes Feature to Allow Hotels to Give Guests a Better Customer Experience
Arrivedo self-guided walking routes let hotel guests personalize their trip when exploring a destination based on the precise experiences that they’re craving.


- Walker Hotel Chooses a Multi-Property Operations Platform for Its Expansion
Walker Hotel will be expanding its ALICE partnership to its soon-to-open Tribeca location.

- Oetker Collection Switches to Know Glitch to Track Service Failures
KNOWCROSS, the preferred service quality management platform of the finest hotels, is now the favored choice of Oetker Collection to further improve service levels.


- HFTP chooses VENZA’s Matterhorn™ Program
VENZA announced its new relationship as a vendor for HFTP, providing its Matterhorn program as well as its HR Suite of training.


- C-Suite Beware: You are the Latest Targets of Cybercrime, Warns Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report
C-level executives – who have access to a company’s most sensitive information, are now the major focus for social engineering attacks, alerts the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report.

- Pangea Pod Hotel Leverages ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions Technology to Provide Guests with Seamless and Secure Check-in Experience
ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions announced the successful implementation of VingCard Essence door locks at the Pangea Pod Hotel, a recently opened property based in Whistler, Canada.

- Privacy Reg Compliance (GDPR, CCPA) Made Easy with VENZA’s New Partnership
VENZA launched a program that includes access to the Privacy Nexus privacy management system.


- HFTP Announces HITEC Minneapolis CEO Panel Featuring Leading Hoteliers
The upcoming Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference is set to provide attendees an insider’s look at the pressing technology strategies prioritized in the C-suite.

- Hotel Revenue Leaders to Convene at HSMAI’s ROC Americas in Minneapolis
ROC Americas is the world's largest gathering of travel industry revenue professionals.


- New Marriott Service to Compete Directly with Airbnb
- Starwood Data Breach: Lessons for the Hotel Industry
- New Research Study Explores Trends to Meet Consumer of the Future Needs

For more information on Piqued Our Interest for 05/10/2019


And now for you-know-what …  

A 55 year old man who was born on May 5, has been married 5 years, has 5 children, makes $55,555.55 a year, trusts the number 5. 

One day a friend informs the man that a horse named Lucky 5 will be running in the fifth race at the local track that evening. Excitedly, the man withdraws 5,555.00 cash from his bank account, goes to the races and bets on Lucky 5. 

Sure enough, the horse comes in fifth.

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