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Siegel Sez

June 28, 2019

Siegel Sez

by: Rich Siegel

Every year this is the toughest Siegel Sez to write. It is the week after HITEC and there is so much to cover. Doug Rice’s article below provides a great glimpse of the week as he shares his experience at HITEC Minneapolis searching for the next generation of technology. Doug follows the latest technology news across the board. News was plentiful last week since so many announcements were made at HITEC. I will try to keep this short this week with much more to follow. Please make sure you receive our bi-weekly Hospitality Upgrade Watercooler to see to see some very cool reviews and videos from HITEC Minneapolis. HITEC had a great turnout with more than 6,000 reported in attendance. Seating was at a premium at the opening session, the E20X presentations and at the session I did about the evolution of the front desk of the hotel, and how technology has and will continue to impact it. A special thanks to the great group of panelists Jeffrey Parker from Red Lion, Davina Nightingale from Hilton, Mike Dickersbach from HEI Hotels and Michael Schubach from Rosen Hotels. The panel made the session a huge success. I had so much fun at HITEC meeting so many first-time attendees and I was glad I roped Dave Rubin of Greystone Hotels to share his experience as a first-time attendee. It will be in our next Watercooler newsletter so make sure you get our bi-weekly tech review.  HITEC this year was quite the success and the love affair with Minneapolis continues. It is just a great city to host HITEC. I can’t wait until we go back. Kudos to HFTP for a job well done.

While at HITEC I spent part of Wednesday at the HSMAI Revenue Optimization Conference, which we all know as ROC. I was standing in the back of the conference with HSMAI CEO Bob Gilbert and I asked him how proud he was. I remember the first intimate gathering of revenue management professionals at the first ROC. This year there were more than 600 in attendance with a lineup of amazing speakers. Simply an amazing event with everyone I talked to saying they were thankful to be there. I know I was glad Hospitality Upgrade and Hotel Online was there. Look for our exclusive video interview with Bob Gilbert and many other professionals as we cover the evolution of revenue management to revenue strategies. The video will be out in the coming weeks.

Next on the Hospitality Upgrade plate is our 18th Annual CIO Summit. It was great seeing so many technology leaders from the industry last week who shared how excited they were to be going back to Boston after 10 years. Let’s see how excited they will be after we put them on the Charles River in a very unique competition.  A special thanks to David Starmer the CIO at Sonesta Hotels and Resorts who got us into the IBM X-Force Command Center which is nearly impossible to get into for a very special pre-conference event on cyber security.  Except for the fact that I hate all the city’s sports teams, Boston will be a great city to host for our event this year. If you have questions regarding the 2019 CIO Summit Boston, please email a note to me at rich@hospitalityupgrade.com.

Here now is the real reason we are here; the in-depth look at the latest technology happenings. Some will amaze you. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you know-what. Thanks to all who came by to say hello at HITEC. It was great catching up.


Definitely Doug

by: Douglas Rice

Since last week was HITEC, this week seems like a good time to vary my usual format of focusing entirely on one specific area of innovation. That will return in the next edition.
There were about 400 exhibitors and E20x participants in Minneapolis this year, and I counted 112 that I had never heard of before. Indeed, most of them were HITEC first-timers. I tried to visit every one of them (and shame on those who had abandoned their booth by noon on Thursday!). I spoke to as many as I could, asking for a 30-second elevator pitch and then diving further if something caught my interest. I skipped only those that were too busy, or unstaffed. This year had an unusually high proportion of newbies, more than any year in my memory. So I set out on a three-day mission to see what kinds of innovations were on offer. With few exceptions, I spent my entire trade-show floor time in 10x10 booths, mostly in the far reaches of the exhibit hall, where the disruptive innovators are most often found. 
For the most part, I didn’t visit the established vendors – not that some of them will not have had some interesting innovations, but with only 15 hours of exhibit time, I had to prioritize! I wish I could have visited every booth. But the mission of this column is to expose innovators, and whereas the established vendors have ways to get the word out about what they’re doing, the early stage companies need help.
If you see something interesting in my observations below, by all means ask the vendors you already work with to see if they have something similar. But I saw some unique twists with these products that I hadn’t seen before, so I think they are worth at least a quick look to see if what intrigued me might be useful to you.
I was pleased to see heavy representation, among the newcomers, of products designed to optimize the largest controllable cost for hotels, which is of course labor. I saw two major angles on this: software designed to reduce labor costs while maintaining or improving the guest experience, and software designed to increase employee engagement and/or to deal with the persistent training burden that comes with high turnover rates for those jobs that require extensive training. For years, I have strongly believed that labor optimization may be the lowest-hanging fruit for profit improvement in hotels via technology, so I was glad to see some innovation in this area.
Here are the companies that caught my eye last week, and why. As always, these are not recommendations; I haven’t done anything close to the due diligence I would do before engaging them seriously. Having spent 5-10 minutes max per vendor, for all I know some of these products might even be written in the Powerpoint operating system, which would be a significant limitation. But if you take a look, you may at the least come away with some new ideas. I won’t try to characterize the full range of capabilities of these systems, just enough to highlight what I found innovative. Some of the companies are pretty young, and their websites may not fully reflect what they were showing, so you may have to schedule a demo to get the full story.
Singlestep from Mediafolio – this was my personal favorite from the Entrepreneur 20x (E20x) competition. It’s gotten some early traction in the cruise industry, but is just starting out in hotels. It had a really interesting approach to on-the-job training, where a staff member can get a checklist (for example, a room cleaning checklist for a housekeeper, a check-in checklist for front desk), and if they don’t know how to do a particular step, the training module is right there – perhaps a short video or access to a document. The staff member can be required to check off each item, or even take a picture to document completion. This product checks three boxes: on-the-job e-learning, quality management, and employee engagement.  It’s designed to make it easy to train and monitor adherence to brand SOPs, and checklists can also be used for quality control, such as in housekeeping inspections.
Kryon Systems was offering an interesting application of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Essentially it overlays a front desk user interface with a “help” layer that can guide a user step-by-step through unfamiliar transactions. While many PMS vendors may offer something similar, these capabilities typically fall short because they are generic and don’t consider the specific brand or hotel SOPs, or the other systems used at a particular hotel. It’s already in use at one major hotel group and has the potential to greatly reduce the impact of front-desk turnover on guest satisfaction. (I’m thinking of my check-in experience at my Minneapolis hotel, where the obviously-just-hired colleague really struggled with two totally routine requests, consuming 20 minutes of my life that I will never get back, and needing to consult two different colleagues!)
Purple Cloud was showing their team and service optimization software, targeted directly at maximizing staff engagement, accountability, feedback, and reduction of wasteful spending across multiple departments including housekeeping, engineering, front office, service staff (laundry/valet/bellhop) and management. It is designed to enable all staff to work as one team, crossing departmental boundaries, and had lots of interesting features to reduce labor costs through optimization, and to improve the guest experience. An interesting tidbit for industry old-timers is that the company’s board chairman is Carl Wilson, who served for 14 years as CIO at Marriott until his retirement about eight years ago. 
IDEM Hospitality, also an E20x participant, was showcasing software that connects hotels, meeting planners, and individual meeting attendees to simplify the process of managing group rooming lists. Attendees can book their own rooms directly on meeting microsites. Upsells such as stay extensions are accommodated during booking, payments can be handled securely, and both the meeting planner and hotel get immediate and complete visibility into the group block (a major issue for meeting planners as well as the hotel sales staff they work with). Based out of Singapore, the company had just signed a major deal with Accor, covering their hotels across the Asia-Pacific region. Having booked many rooms in group blocks myself when attending conferences, I have found most hotels typically use the link-to-brand.com-with-special-rate-code approach, which is friendly neither to the individual attendee nor to the meeting planner; this product has the promise of both.
OccasionGenius would have been a good one for me to meet sooner; I would have covered it in my May 24 blog on enhancing the guest experience through information about things in the hotel’s neighborhood. Unlike static guides, which are great for persistent attractions and activities, OccasionGenius focuses on short-term events such as festivals, concerts, street fairs, sporting events, theatrical runs, and the like. Hotels can proactively suggest activities that are specific to the dates of a guest’s stay, and events are tagged by various attributes so they can be matched to guests’ known or predicted interests. The product doesn’t yet handle booking for ticketed events, but the company has heard a lot of interest and is looking at that for the future – which could create a new revenue source for hotels.
Arrivalist was showing some interesting and innovative geolocation tracking software. It’s based on anonymized cellphone tracking data that is available from most mobile phones, and can be used to get deep information on where your guests (in aggregate, not individually) are coming from, how they are arriving, and where they go while they are staying in your hotel. You can run the same analysis on your competitor’s customers as well to see where you are stronger or weaker. You can see how many arrive by car or by air (even down to which airline in some cases), where they live, where they go in your city, what other cities they travel to, and any other information. There’s certainly much debate in privacy circles about using this kind of data, even anonymized, and you may want to consider this first -- but I won’t pass judgment here.
EXP360 was showcasing a way to use a simple 360-degree camera and software to produce VR and 360-degree content, and convert it almost instantaneously, using their software, to be usable on a VR headset, a website player, or an app – no production studio needed.  In addition to 360-degree tours of your hotel facilities, it is approachable enough that a group sales department could use it to create VR/360 tours of nearby attractions or facilities that a group might use for an offsite event, which could be an interesting differentiator.
HITEC was huge, and I’m sure I missed some innovations that belonged in this list. If you saw any that should be on my radar, please drop me a note!
Douglas Rice
Email: douglas.rice@hosptech.net
Twitter: @dougrice
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ricedouglas/


- Eldorado and Caesars Enter $17.3 Billion Merger Agreement
The combined company will provide its guests with access to approximately 60 domestic casino–resorts and gaming facilities across 16 states.

- Cendyn Announces Strategic Follow On Equity Investment From Accel-KKR
Cendyn, a leading provider of hotel CRM and hotel sales platforms for the hospitality industry, announced a strategic follow on investment from Accel-KKR, a leading Silicon Valley based technology-focused investment firm.
- InnSpire Forms Strategic Partnership with Quadriga Worldwide
Leading provider of guest engagement and entertainment solutions tapped to jointly strengthen stability, reliability and innovation for the hospitality industry.


- Infor Hospitality Continues to Invest and Innovate in Products and Service
Infor, a global leader in business cloud software specialized by industry, announced its significant product investment and commitment to its hospitality suite of solutions.
- Margaritaville Resorts & Hotels Standardizes Operations with Infor
Infor, a leading provider of industry-specific cloud applications, announced that Compass Properties and Margaritaville Hotels & Resorts have selected Infor Hospitality Management Solution (HMS) for their property management system (PMS).


SHR to Join LION-APP AI Conference at University of Trento
SHR, Sceptre Hospitality Resources, a pioneer of advanced hotel revenue generation technologies, will be sponsoring and participating in the LION-APP Conference held by the University of Trento, Italy, from July 5-9.
- Vertical Booking USA Launches a New Mobile CRS App & Releases a New Update to CRO
Vertical Booking USA – a leading reservation technology provider to hotels around the globe – is launching a new, mobile, app-based version of their Central Reservation System (CRS) and an updated version of their Central Reservation Office (CRO) solution.  
- Springer-Miller Systems Takes Direct Bookings and Online Sales Strategy to the Next Level
WorldNXT is a comprehensive platform of browser-based and mobile booking solutions that is customizable to cater to the unique needs of a wide variety of hotels and resorts.


- Rainmaker Announces New Website Launch 
- Duetto, RMS Cloud Enter Technology Partnership
- Minneapolis Star Tribune Names IDeaS a 2019 Top Workplace
- Duetto Releases Whitepaper Based on Revenue Manager Feedback
- Infor Announces New Solution for Hoteliers to Simplify Pricing


For more information on Revenue Management for 6/28/2019


- SORA from SONIFI Brings Interactive Platform to Next Level
- INTELITY to Introduce the Newest Addition to its In-Room Tablet Offerings at HITEC Minneapolis
- Hotel Internet Services Named In-Room Entertainment Technology Champion by Info-Tech Research Group
- Percipia Collaborates with Lenovo to Debut Lenovo Smart Tab for Hospitality
- GuestTek Launches Its OneView Internet Cloud Platform
- AEi Communications Announces New Partnership with Percipia to Debut Percipia’s Software on AEi Smart Display Phones
- Hotel Zetta Now Featuring Volara-Powered Alexa Technology in Every Guest Room
- MCOMS Teams with Volara to Offer Revolutionary Voice Control of Guestroom TVs
- Angie Hospitality to Unveil Expanded Line of Hospitality-Focused Virtual Guest-Room Assistants at HITEC 2019
- HIS Showcases Latest Advances in Guest Casting Abilities with BeyondTV GuestCast™ at HITEC 2019
- The Westin Buffalo Is First Hotel Worldwide to Give Guests Access to Personal Playlists from Their Hotel Rooms
- GuestTek Launches GuestFlix - Its New Cloud-Streaming Video on Demand App
- Leading by Example with Customer Service Experience


For more information on Guest Services for 6/28/2019


Lodging Interactive Launches All-Inclusive Website, Social Media and Reputation Management Packages
Digital marketing packages include website design and digital marketing, social media marketing and engagement, and guest review responses services.


Springer-Miller Systems Partners with iVvy Venue Management Solution
New Integration with iVvy to provide SMS with new generation advanced sales and catering capabilities.
- SalesAndCatering.com Partners with Visrez to Offer State of the Art 3D Event Graphics
The partnership enables hotel company users of SalesAndCatering.com’s STS Cloud system to provide clients with realistic event graphics and floor plan diagrams to help close more business.
- Beach Retreat & Lodge at Tahoe Installs STS Cloud to Manage Groups and Events at Full-Service Destination Resort
STS Cloud is a full-function, cost-effective hotel sales and catering software system used by hundreds of properties and multi-property hotel groups.


ProfitSword Unveils Superior Data Management and Business Planning Efficiency with New User Interface
ProfitSword, one of hospitality's premier developers of business intelligence and data integration software, has announced the release of a new user interface for its industry-leading suite of data management and business intelligence solutions.


- Nomadix Integrates New Passpoint™ Hotspot 2.0 Technology Powered by Global Reach Technology to Simplify and Ensure Seamless Hotel Wi-Fi Network Connectivity
- CallTek Introduces the Odyssey Cx Comprehensive Call Center Platform at HITEC
- Cloud5 Demonstrates AI-Powered HDX Platform at HITEC 2019
- Broadband Hospitality to Demonstrate New Interactive Platform Features at HITEC 2019
- Nomadix Launches New Cloud Offering to Provide a Single Source for Managing Guest Wi-Fi across Multiple Properties 
- Martello Partners with GuestTek to Power Internet for Hotel Guests 
- Allbridge Develops Robust Data Service Portal to Enhance Network Management
ADB selected by Foxtel to deliver a premium hospitality solution for the Australian market 


For more information on Communications/Infrastructure for 6/28/2019


- Ruby Hotels Selects Shiji’s Infrasys Cloud for Its Point-of-Sale Platform
The native cloud-based platform makes it easy for Ruby to track revenue, manage pricing and much more, anytime, anywhere.
- Clear Sky’s Beverage Inventory Control Software Up and Running at the New Westin Irving Convention Center in Dallas
Called Clear Sky BEVERAGE, this system is a comprehensive, perpetual inventory system that tracks and controls all beverage products.


- Knowcross to Unveil New App and Showcase Latest Innovations at HITEC Minneapolis
Attendees at this year's HITEC in Minneapolis were to be introduced to the latest inspiring products and advancements from Knowcross®, a preferred service quality management platform of the finest hotels across the globe.

- New Hilton Washington DC National Mall Uses RFID Technology to Manage Entire Linen Inventory
Hilton Washington DC National Mall to manage high cost linen inventory with InvoTech RFID linen system.


- SIXTY Hotels Seeing Success with New Mobile Shift Schedules from Beekeeper
Luxury boutique hotel brand says accessing ‘Shift Schedules’ is easy via mobile app.


- 1,000-Room Plaza Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Upgrades Magstripe Door Locks to dormakaba USA Inc RFID
- ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions Unveils Vostio Location Solutions with Staff Safety Alert Features at HITEC Minneapolis
- Allbridge Announces Introduction of TraknProtect Staff Alert Solution with Ruckus Networks IoT Suite Integration
- TraknProtect Captures Coveted "Judges' Choice" Award at E20X (Entrepreneur 20X) Competition at HITEC 2019 
- TraknProtect Unveils New Staff Alert Button with Enhanced Design and Expanded Functionality
- dormakaba USA Inc Launches RT Plus BLE-enabled RFID Lock for Easy Magstripe Upgrades 
- Onity Simplifies Path to In-room Connectivity with Mobile-centric, Cost-effective Approach
- Angie Hospitality Offers Integrations and Support for Staff Alert Technology to Ensure Hotels' Ability to Prioritize Employee Safety and Comfort


For more information on Security for 6/28/2019


- Kerten Hospitality Partners with Ireckonu
The alliance will support the group’s technology strategy for the development of mixed-use projects.


- Oyo plans $300 million U.S. Expansion with Focus on Major Cities
- RateGain Acquires BCV to Help Hotel Chains Maximize Guest Lifetime Value
- Burning Questions: Too Many Brands? Too Much Tech?
- At HITEC, CEOs Long on Opportunity, Short on Risks


For more information on Piqued Our Interest for 6/28/2019


And now for you-know-what …  

A married couple were enjoying a luxury South Sea cruise until their liner was shipwrecked and they were washed ashore on a desert island, the only survivors. 

Day after day, they looked hopefully out to sea in the hope of spotting a passing vessel but none came. As boredom set in, they started to think about their home back in Arizona. 

The wife asked, “Did you remember to pay the final installment on the car loan before we came away?”

“No, honey, I clean forgot. Sorry.”

”Did you remember to pay the electric bill before we left home?”

“No, I completely forgot. Sorry.”

”Did you remember to pay the gas bill?”

”Do you know, that slipped my mind, too. Sorry.”

“And did you remember to pay the six-month tax bill?”

”I knew there was something important I had to do. I’m really sorry honey.”

”Well, at least there’s one good thing,” sighed the wife. 

“What’s that?”

”They’ll find us.”

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