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Siegel Sez

July 27, 2018

Siegel Sez

by: Rich Siegel

I love this time of year – not because it’s vacation season, but because of the nonstop conversations I’ve had with industry leaders about technology and what technology projects they’re doing today. Since we are a little over a month from our 17th CIO Summit, right now it is all about the program, and the feedback this year has been eye opening. We’ve been talking with all the major hotel companies like Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Hyatt, Wyndham and just about every other hotel company around the world, and what they share with us is amazing. The management companies, vacation ownership and those in the gaming world have similar issues but also very unique. It can be challenging to create a program that has value, but is also fun. Does voice belong in the room? Is it needed? Are there risks? What we learn from these technology leaders, who are taking three days out of their schedules, is enough reason to come back year after year. I had to laugh when I talked to the CIO from Boeing who will be speaking at the CIO Summit. I asked him how many employees he oversees, and his answer was 4,000! Is it harder to build airplanes than run hotel companies? I don’t know, but we’ll ask him. It will be fun to be in Seattle for the first week of September. The event is going to be incredible this year with many firsts. For now, the stress level will continue to grow.

However, it is summer and since it can’t be all about work, I’m taking this weekend to escape to America’s best kept summer secret, Michigan. I will get to cheer on my favorite sports team, Liverpool, as they kick the butt of Manchester United at a sold-out University of Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. I’ve never been in a stadium that holds 105,000 people, so this should be interesting. Soccer has been growing in popularity here in the States especially post-World Cup. It was quite the experience to watch England play Croatia in an English pub in Las Vegas. Who would have guessed there were so many people from England living in Las Vegas? Anyway, Michigan, here I come!

The only other trip I want to take this summer is to Saratoga Springs, N.Y. In the horse world, you don’t tell the horses when to be ready, they tell you when they’re ready. Hopefully Hoboe will be ready before Labor Day. We did get to live the dream there last year when Hoboe won at Saratoga Springs. All we can do now is hope that lightning will strike twice. Dreaming is fun, but it is reality that can be a bit harsh. Wish us luck!

And now for the real reason we’re here, the latest technology happenings in the industry. It might be summer, but where we are and where we’re going continue to change throughout the year. Ron Hardin will open the technology news with his thoughts on how technology in hotels should be supported and I’ll see you at the end with this week’s attempt at ‘you-know-what’. Go Liverpool!


by: Ron Hardin

What do water, electricity, and tech support all have in common?  They all tend to follow the path of least resistance.  Ask anyone in business operations what they want from tech support.  I wager that virtually all the responses would be: better, faster, and with less involvement from the operations team.  There is a wonderful British sitcom, circa 1980, called To The Manor Born, in which a widowed member of the nobility is forced to sell the ancestral family estate to a rich businessman.  As part of the deal, she gets to remain on the estate and live in the guest house.  In one episode, a visitor asks how she manages to keep up the old guest house and its gardens by herself.  She smiles and says, “Oh, we have a little man who comes ‘round.”

That is what operations wants for IT support: a little man who comes ‘round.  Since we first started putting computerized systems and other technology solutions into hotels, there has been a divergence between operators who include on-site IT support in their staffing models and those who don’t.  I, and many of my fellow hotel IT veterans, started out with Sheraton (pre-Starwood, to further date myself...) because Sheraton’s model included local IT managers at their properties, so that’s where the hotel IT jobs were.  Many hotels had two IT staffers.  After a few years with Sheraton, I was trying find a job in the Washington, D.C. area.  I vividly recall interviewing with a Marriott corporate recruiter who, when she saw “Hotel IT Systems Manager” for Sheraton on my resume, asked if that was actually a full-time job.  At the time, Marriott was almost completely dependent on centralized or vendor support.  I was doing an installation for a systems vendor in 1990 at the 1,966-room New York Marriott Marquis. The on-site IT support consisted of a front-office manager who had been taught how to reboot the PMS system, but only if he was on the phone with the Wichita support desk.  Both support models worked, and both have evolved over time.  Starwood Hotels & Resorts, successor to Sheraton, still had a great deal of on-site hotel-based IT staff up until the Marriott acquisition of Starwood. Marriott over the last 30-ish years has added on-site IT support at some of its larger properties as it has added more and more systems and technology.  Marriott has also created an extensive field IT organization that provides local and regional support on a shared-services basis.  Under the “law of unintended consequences”, both IT support models were developed for the hotels operated by these two large brand companies had ripple effects for franchise operators.  On the plus side, Marriott started offering IT support shared services to franchise operators.  This was particularly beneficial to operators tasked with taking over management of a hotel previously operated by Marriott as it facilitated a very smooth transition of IT support services.  An example of the downside was working with Starwood on initiatives related to information security and PCI compliance, as Starwood guidelines and SOPs assumed hands-on local IT management and support at the property level.  This didn’t translate well to a franchise scenario without on-site IT staff.  The bottom line on IT support is that there is no magic wand – i.e., no single perfect solution.  It can be done effectively with in-house staff or out-sourced, either local, regional, or centralized.  The continued trend of having less technology “stuff” installed on-site at the hotel is helping offset the need for on-site staff, but whatever approach you take, make sure you still have the option of “a little man who comes ‘round” when needed.
Ron Hardin, CHTP
RonHardin.TECH Consulting


- AAHOA and GlobalHotelNetwork.com Announce Strategic Partnership
- Golden Entertainment to Acquire Edgewater Hotel & Casino Resort and Colorado Belle Hotel & Casino Resort from Marnell   Gaming
- Veturis Travel Partners with SiteMinder to Fuel Europe and Asia Growth

For More Information on Mergers and Acquisitions For 7/27/18


- BirchStreet Systems Announces Steve Markle as the New CEO to Drive Scale, Growth and Execution

BirchStreet Systems Announces Steve Markle as the New CEO to Drive Scale, Growth and Execution
BirchStreet Systems Inc., a cloud-based procure-to-pay platform serving the hospitality industry, announced the promotion of Mr. Stephen Markle to chief executive officer, reporting to Sushil Garg, the chairman of the board. In his position Mr. Markle will work closely with the executive committee and the board to pursue the goals set out as part of the strategic plan to scale the company for revenue growth and profitability. 


- Evention Debuts New and Expanded Solutions

Evention Debuts New and Expanded Solutions
Evention's newly developed solutions include Group Billing by Evention and Credit Card Reconciliation by Evention. In addition, Evention's solution for cash recycling now offers a small-volume hardware option. Group Billing by Evention has been specifically designed for and tested by hospitality brands. Evention has partnered with two world-wide hotel companies to develop this all-encompassing solution. 


- Visual One® Property Management System Adds Mobile Guest Check-in and Check-out and Improved Global Features
- The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts Deploys Infor HMS and SunSystems to Streamline Operations and Expand Global Reach
- Guest Loyalty Technology Gets Personal at Rodd Hotels & Resorts


For More Information on Guest Management Systems For 7/27/18


- Palacina Berlin Puts Luxury Apartments on the Global Stage with Online Booking Technology by SiteMinder

Palacina Berlin Puts Luxury Apartments on the Global Stage with Online Booking Technology by SiteMinder
An increase in online bookings for a boutique hotel offering luxury apartments in central Germany is showing a rising popularity of extended-stay accommodation in Europe and the material benefits of using cloud-based technology. Months after adopting the global hotel industry’s leading cloud platform, SiteMinder, Palacina Berlin, which offers a home away from home for travelers inside a 134-year-old residence, reveals that an improved presence in the market has resulted in a surge in reservations through its hotel website and selected distribution channels.


- The 2018 J.D. Power North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Released, Satisfaction Increased

After Mastering Product Offerings, Hotels Must Turn Attention to Services, J.D. Power Finds

It’s a good time to be a hotel guest. Across the board, hotels are making their customers happier than ever, according to the J.D. Power 2018 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index (NAGSI) Stud.SM Driven by increased approval of guest rooms and hotel facilities, overall satisfaction for the industry increases 8 points to 825 (on a 1,000-point scale). Service areas are also improving, but at a slower rate. According to Corwin, in consideration of economic cycles, hotels should emphasize refining their service effort which represents greater opportunity for improvement and requires less investment than capital improvements.


- ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Enhances VingCard RFID Door Locks with Support of NXP's MIFARE Plus EV1 IC
- GDPR Compliance Deadline Has Come and Gone; What Does it Mean for Hotels?
- Urgo Hotels and Resorts chooses VENZA® for InfoSec Training


For More Information on Security For 7/27/18


- HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe Honored as Most Influential Hospitality Association CEO 2018
- AHLA Reacts to New York City Passing Strong Short-Term Rental Ordinance
- HFTP Annual Convention 2018 Online Registration Now Open, Keynotes Announced
- HSMAI Welcomes Nominations for Lifetime Achievement and Top 25 Minds Awards
- OTA Insight Gains Momentum Heading into NoVacancy Expo
- HFTP Announces Three New Global Chapters and Expands Student Chapter Networks
- HSMAI and Level60 Partner on Revenue Management Curriculum Tools and New Student Certification

For More Information on Hospitality Events For 7/27/18


- You Can Now Check In With A Facial Scan At Marriott China
- UAE Hospitality Industry to Reach $7.6 Billion by 2022
- How Many Followers Did Resorts and Hotels Lose During the Recent Twitter Purge?


For More Information on Piqued Our Intrest For 7/27/18


And now for you-know-what …  A few points to ponder ...
There was a young Scottish boy called Angus who decided to try life in Australia. He found an apartment in a small block and settled in. 

After a week or two, his mother called from Aberdeen to see how her son was doing in his new life. 

“I'm fine,” Angus said.
“But there are some really strange people living in these apartments. One woman cried all day long, another lies on her floor moaning, and there is a guy next door to me who bangs his head on the wall all the time.” 

“Well, ma laddie,” says his mother. “I suggest you don't associate with people like that.” 

“Oh,” says Angus, “I don't, Mam, I don't. No, I just stay inside my apartment all day and night, playing my bagpipes.” 

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