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Siegel Sez

July 10, 2020

Siegel Sez

If there is one positive thing I can find about the pandemic is that it seems to be easier to schedule phone calls these days. And yes, I prefer phone calls to nonstop emails. I recently shared a less than professional video I did from a trip to Florida and what it was like to check into three different hotels. I received a great deal of feedback and comments about how the three hotels from three different brands handled the check in process and addressed concerns about cleanliness and ensuring that guests and employees are kept safe. AHLA launched the Safe Stay program and a short time later the television show Inside Edition released an exposé as to how three different New York City hotels didn’t change sheets and pillowcases and didn’t quite clean the rooms as advertised. The challenge with the hotel industry is a hotel can have a flag, be managed by a hotel management company and each owned by a different --or sometimes the same-- ownership. It makes it difficult to get everybody onboard when change is needed.
I recently had a phone conversation with Westgate Resorts CEO Mark Waltrip. I only knew Westgate Resorts as a vacation ownership/timeshare company and didn’t realize how big the company is and also how many restaurants it operates with the resorts. Waltrip believes that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If 90% of hotels and/or restaurants handle COVID-19 safely but 10% do not, what impression does this leave on the guest? Waltrip’s belief is the bigger companies need to help the smaller companies that might not have the same resources, and I believe he is right. Even in the hospitality industry we are all in this together, and I applaud Westgate for trying to get everyone onboard. Westgate will be launching a series of webinars starting next week with many industry leaders taking part to share best practices, what they are doing and what still needs to be done. Take a look at what Westgate Resorts is doing at www.westgatecares.com. The company wanted to start the ball rolling by sharing so that others might also incorporate it to their businesses. We had a great conversation and I love the idea of getting the industry onboard. Nothing worth doing should ever be easy but we all need to try to do what needs to be done to get travelers confident in traveling again.
Many of my industry conversations are concerning technology, not just COVID-19. In this week’s Definitely Doug column, Doug Rice does a great job sharing his thoughts on the future of AI in the hotel room. Needed or not? It is a great read. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what, based on so many challenging conversations in the industry today I think we can all use a reason to smile.
Be well!


Definitely Doug

Alexa, Should I Buy a Voice Assistant for my Hotel?
Over the past few years, there has been much media hype around the concept of a voice-controlled hotel room. It’s not hard to see why: voice assistant devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home achieved remarkable penetration in the consumer market in just a few years. Statista reports that about 157 million smart speakers were installed in U.S. households as of December 2019, an astonishing 1.22 devices per household. I haven’t found hard numbers on penetration in hotels, but based on the companies in the market and what I know of their size and success, it’s still very low, probably still under 1% of US hotel rooms. Is that about to change? Should it?
COVID-19 has created a rush toward contactless technology for hotels, so it seems like a good time to take a deeper dive into voice assistants and voice control technologies. What can hotels expect if they start to explore this option? What are the considerations? Will voice become the “must-have” for hotels that it has already become in most homes?
There aren’t a lot of commercial solutions in the field – Volara, Angie and Intelity are the three that have been most visible. I wouldn’t describe any of these as truly mature voice technologies. Certainly, they can do some useful things, but they also fail (or provide a poor guest experience) at some things you’d really like them to be able to do. But each has had some success, and they represent different approaches worth considering. There are also at least a few custom solutions that have been built on toolsets provided by Amazon, Google, and others. I will not review any of these products in detail here today; rather, I will highlight some of the things I think are important in evaluating a voice-assistant solution.
I will start with a blanket prediction, that at some point in the not-too-distant future (my bet is 5-10 years), voice control will be ubiquitous – a must-have for virtually every business. It will be smart enough to pass the Turing Test most of the time – meaning that you won’t be able to tell if you’re talking to a human or to a machine. The underlying technology is not there yet, but it is improving significantly every year. To be sure, there will be consumers who will choose not to use it, whether out of privacy concerns, habit, or other reasons. But if you look at generational data, it’s clear that usage will increase as the population ages.

Douglas Rice
Email: douglas.rice@hosptech.net
Twitter: @dougrice
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ricedouglas/


- Revenue Matters and MPA Digital Merge
In an ambitious drive to maximize revenue for current and future hospitality clients, Revenue Matters, with its unique, holistic approach to revenue management is proud to announce the merger with MPA Digital, a firm with over 30 years of CRM and loyalty marketing experience serving independent properties.


- Co-Founder and Industry Pioneer Ron Peterson to Retire Effective July 1, 2020
Blueprint RF, a Cox Business company, announced two new executive appointments as the company pursues continued growth and celebrates the retirement of its CEO and founder, Ron Peterson. Jady West, an industry veteran with Cox Business/Hospitality Network, will assume the role of vice president of hospitality for all of Cox Business’s hospitality operations while Blueprint RF co-founder, James Tubo, will directly manage the Blueprint RF business overseeing its operations and serving as its vice president.


- Oracle Ecosystem Ignites Innovation to Accelerate Hospitality Recovery
Oracle Hospitality is committed to helping the hospitality industry get back to business. To support this effort, Oracle, with support from HTNG, recently hosted Innovation Week, a collaborative event dedicated to accelerating the industry’s recovery and accommodating the rapidly evolving demand for low or contactless guest and employee interactions.

- Jonas Chorum Announces Launch of Chorum Mobile in Partnership with Fuel
Jonas Chorum, a suite of streamlined, intuitive and flexible property management solutions, announced the launch of Chorum Mobile in partnership with Fuel, a leading provider of software and marketing solutions for the hospitality industry. Under this partnership, Jonas Chorum will be selling Chorum Mobile, which is powered by Fuel’s mobile app technology featuring contactless check-in and digital key.


- Hotel Internet Services Publishes New Research Report Analyzing Latest Trends in Guestroom Entertainment and Virtual Assistant Technology
In-depth White paper leverages guest and hotelier survey results to demonstrate rapidly growing demand for comprehensive solutions able to address preferences for personalized entertainment and voice-activated service.

- MCOMS And Swisscom Unite to Provide Powerful Guest Experiences At Schweizerhof Luzern Hotel
MCOMS, a leading guest-facing solution provider for the hospitality industry is proud to announce that has partnered once again with Swisscom, Switzerland's leading telecom provider and IT company, to provide Schweizerhof Luzern Hotel with powerful in-room and mobile guest experience.

- INTELITY and JTB Corp Join Forces to Elevate Guest Experiences in the Hawaiian Islands and Asia Pacific
INTELITY®, the provider of the travel industry’s most comprehensive guest engagement and staff management platform, announced today a new partnership with JTB Corp, Japan’s leading hospitality and travel service, to create VIP travel experiences for guests globally. The initiative will deliver robust digital capabilities and custom content in Japanese to guests through the INTELITY platform, giving JTB’s travelers personalized experiences crafted for their specific needs.


- Luxury Resort in France, Lily of the Valley, Selects Cendyn
Cendyn, a leading innovator in CRM, sales and revenue strategy for the hospitality industry, announces that Lily of the Valley has selected Cendyn to power CRM at their luxury resort in the South of France.


The MAPP Report, by myDigitalOffice Gains Momentum
- ProfitSword Provides Focus Hospitality Management with Latest in Business Intelligence Technology and Revenue Management Efficiency
- Hulsing Enterprises, LLC Partners with ProfitSword to Maximize Data Management, Business Intelligence and Strategic Planning Abilities
- Horizon Properties Group Maintains Business Continuity with Aptech’s PVNG During COVID-19


For more information on Back Office for 7/10/2020


- Maestro PMS + Silverware POS Bringing Contactless Phone-to-Table Guest Dining Experiences to Hotels and Resorts; Integration is an Industry First
Long-time integration partners Maestro PMS and SilverWare POS will unveil a new, customizable, mobile tableside ordering and payment platform to customers this month during its free touchless guest journey webinar series. The “In-Seat Contactless Platform” goes beyond conventional PMS/POS integration to give guests touch free control over their dining experiences.

- Clear Sky's Beverage Inventory Control Software Implemented at the W Montreal Hotel
Called Clear Sky BEVERAGE, this system is a comprehensive, perpetual inventory system that tracks and controls all beverage products.


- CLEANtracker Technology Gives Hotel Guests Confidence with Certainty of Cleanliness via Dynamic Visual Proof in the Palm of Their Hands
Guests want certainty that their room is being precisely cleaned and sanitized every single time. To aid hotels in this challenge of the post-pandemic era, a Miami-based tech innovator, Creating Revolutions, has launched its groundbreaking CLEANtracker technology.


- Hotel Effectiveness Introduces New Team Wellness Check-In
Hotel occupancy is rising, and hotel staff have begun to return to work. While safety and health are always top priorities for the industry, concerns about COVID-19 and the ongoing pandemic make daily wellness even more important. To address these concerns, Hotel Effectiveness has launched a powerful new enhancement to the MyHotelTeam application, Team Wellness Check-In.


- VENZA Thrives During Economic Downturn
VENZA is not only surviving during the economic downturn but thriving as it secures capital to expand its operations in 2020. “Extraordinary companies find a way to grow during a downturn,” says Jeff Venza, chairman & CEO “and we have big plans for expansion with this new infusion of cash,” said Venza. VENZA is expanding its MSP division through a combination of hiring new staff and the acquisition of another MSP business that will provide not only complementary services but also reinforce the services VENZA already provides its customers.

- New World, New Employee Safety Culture Webcast Series Launching from React Mobile
Even before COVID-19, a new safety culture began emerging in hospitality that placed employee protection at the core of operations. As hoteliers readied to meet legislative mandates or honor commitments to the American Hotel & Lodging Assn.’s 5 Star Promise, the 2020 pandemic hit.

- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood in Florida Selects ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions to implement Latest in Guest Security and Convenience Technology
ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions has announced the successful implementation of its advanced VingCard Essence and VingCard Signature RFID door locks at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida. A world-renowned integrated resort known for its hospitality and musical entertainment, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood selected the stylish VingCard Essence to be implemented at its recently opened Guitar Hotel while ensuring the maximum safety of guests at The Oasis Tower with the installation of VingCard Signature RFID.


- Revenue Optimization Professionals Globally United to Fuel Recovery During HSMAI ROC@Home
During one day-long global experience, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) leaders collaborated to exchange industry recovery ideas and revenue optimization revitalization strategies during ROC@Home, on Wednesday, June 17, 2020.

- 2020 AAHOA Convention Goes Virtual
AAHOA, the nation's largest hotel owners association, announced that its 2020 Convention & Trade Show will not proceed in person due to new health and safety guidelines for combatting COVID-19 issued by the Florida Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday, June 20.


- Shift4 Payments: Merchant Transaction Volume Continues to Grow
Shift4 Payments, a leader in integrated payment processing solutions, has revealed that merchant transaction volume continues to increase across the country despite surging cases of the novel coronavirus. In the third of a series of updates since the pandemic began to impact the U.S., the data suggests that businesses are finding ways to drive sales even in the face of difficult economic and social conditions.


- Ten COVID Features for Hotel Management Software
- Hotels Reimagine Food and Beverage Service with New Models
- How Hotels Are Changing Everything from Room Service to Restaurants
- What It's Like to Stay in a Luxury Hotel Right Now


For more information on Piqued Our Interest for 7/10/2020


And now for you-know-what.… 

My diary has had some very interesting entries during Corona-virus. As a sportsman, many of my entries during the suspension of sports have been sport oriented...

For example, here is my entry for June 17, 2020: “Day 97 of no sports. Watching birds fight over worms. Cardinals lead the Blue Jays 3-1.”

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