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Siegel Sez

September 28, 2018

Siegel Sez

by: Rich Siegel

I love Ron Hardin’s commentary that opens the technology news. For those of us who have been around the industry for a while, you have to laugh as he called the owner’s request for “the fastest hotel Wi-Fi in the country” terrifying! There will always be terrifying questions when it comes to hotel technology. I mention this because I had the honor of moderating the technology session at this week’s Lodging Conference in Phoenix. I think the Lodging Conference is one of the more unique events I participate in throughout the year. Most of the attendees are industry CEOs or the “money people” who buy and sell hotels. Now imagine this serious group in a session on technology led by not-as-serious me. To many that is truly terrifying. On my panel we included executives from a varied group of suppliers; Larry Birnbaum from Ruckus Networks, Jeff Fox from AT&T Business Solutions, Robert Stevenson from KEYPR, Geoff Toffetti from Frontline Performance Group, David Goldstone from DigiValet and Pam Barnhill from MyKey Global Accommodations. There was some overlap, but everyone had strong opinions where the industry is going and where it should be going. Just like Ron mentions in his opening, connectivity is always an important issue. The session went in different directions which was great. However, there was a bit of uncomfortableness when I mentioned that in the upcoming issue of Hospitality Upgrade there is an article by Ted Horner about how little the hotel industry spends on technology, compared to other industries. Ted writes that as an industry we spend so little that it is embarrassing.  Thank you, Lodging Conference, for inviting me to moderate the panel especially since this is their last event at the Arizona Biltmore after many years as they move to the new JW Marriott in Scottsdale next year. Who knows, maybe they will invite me to come back.
Next on the calendar is the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas. G2E is always an interesting event both from the technology standpoint but also where the gaming industry is going. Walking through the exhibit hall you can be overwhelmed as so many companies showcase new games they hope will make it onto the casino floor.  Many years ago, there was an idea for a slot machine tied into the Wheel of Fortune television show. Who would have thought it would become as popular as it has today? After G2E it is a quick trip up to Minneapolis for the HITEC Advisory Board meeting. I am honored to be part of the 25 industry leaders who work together to create a program for next year’s conference. If you have any topic suggestions to be included in next year’s educational program, please send an email to me at rich@hospitalityupgrade.com. It is always fun to think a bit outside the box which I have a habit of doing.
Here now is the real reason we are here, the latest technology news. I hope you have seen our offbeat video news we do on Hospitality Upgrade featuring the Liz and Liv Show. If you haven’t, take a moment and click here (https://www.hospitalityupgrade.com/Liv-and-Liz). Read Ron’s opening. He was absolutely spot on. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what.



by: Ron Hardin

This week, HTNG (Hospitality Technology Next Generation) announced the creation of a new workgroup focusing on improving the guest Wi-Fi experience. As a member of HTNG, I applaud the move and have joined the workgroup. Quoting from the HTNG press release:

Hospitality companies do not have an accurate, consistent or objective measure of the Wi-Fi or the high-speed Internet access (HSIA) quality from a guest's point of view, making it difficult or impossible to utilize real time data or historical analysis for evaluation. Due to this, hotel companies are not able to effectively predict a positive or negative guest experience.This results in reduced guest scores, owner frustration with brand standards, negative experiences with technology ecosystem providers and the inability to effectively manage this component of the guest experience.

This is an incredibly important initiative. Guest HSIA has been a thorn in the side of hospitality operators since its inception. In the “normal” IT world, the techies have some level of control over all the components in a system, including the end-user devices like laptops, smart phones and tablets.  In the HSIA scenario, the guests’ devices (and the guests) are largely unknown quantities. Reviewing a typical support-call log from a guest HSIA support provider is illuminating. A significant percentage of issues are due to user device settings, user error or limitations of the user device. A great example of the latter was at one time Apple iOS, the operating system of the iPhone and iPad. For a long time, there was a known issue with IOS-based devices related to their ability to easily roam from one Wi-Fi access point to another on the same network. At the time, 70 percent to 80 percent of mobile devices on the hotel Wi-Fi network were Apple iOS, so it was a real problem with no effective solution other than to wait for Apple to improve its product. I will go so far as to say that guest HSIA introduced a crisis of confidence in hospitality technology management. Operations and executive management struggled to understand why their technology leaders and vendors could not fix the problems and deliver a solution that would end the guest complaints.

On top of the structural deficiencies of guest HSIA, there is the ever-present global issue of what it actually costs to implement a robust, well-engineered HSIA solution (and keep it up-to-date) versus what a hotel owner is willing to pay. Over the years, this has been compounded by hotel brands who either did not have adequate standards for HSIA or did not enforce the standards they did have.  This aspect has improved greatly in recent years, as exemplified by Marriott’s program of aggressive technical standards plus active certification and validation of approved vendor solutions. Many other brands are following suit to some extent. And if having an overly frugal hotel owner is not bad enough, consider the alternative: I recently had a hotel owner ask what needed to be done for him to be able to market his new hotel as having “the fastest hotel Wi-Fi in the country.” What a terrifying question.  But it is this very desire to provide a superior guest online experience, backed up by quality controls and metrics, that has led HTNG to create this new workgroup.  I very much look forward to participating in the discussion and working towards a framework for better solutions.

Ron Hardin, CHTP
RonHardin.TECH Consulting


- Going Global: Wingate by Wyndham Expands in Three Countries with 14 Hotels 

Going Global: Wingate by Wyndham Expands in Three Countries with 14 Hotels
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest hotel franchisor with nearly 9,000 hotels and 20 powerhouse brands, is bolstering its network of midscale hotels and extending the global footprint of its award-winning Wingate by Wyndham® brand with the recent opening of 14 locations across both hemispheres, including the first Wingate hotel in China and new additions to the brand’s established presence in the U.S. and Canada.


- Infor Acquires Vivonet
- Shiji Completes Acquisition of StayNTouch

Infor Acquires Vivonet
Infor, a leading provider of industry-specific cloud applications, today announced it has acquired Vivonet, Inc., an industry leader in cloud-based hospitality solutions.

Shiji Completes Acquisition of StayNTouch
Shiji announced it has acquired StayNTouch, Inc.  The addition of StayNTouch’s innovative and cloud-based hotel management tools to Shiji’s growing hotel technology stack will enable both StayNTouch and Shiji customers to seamlessly integrate across multiple hotels and travel technology systems.


- Omni Hotels and Resorts Appoints Two New Executive Leaders
- BirchStreet’s New Executive Hires, CCO Paul Rantilla and CFO Jeremy Grosgebauer, Increase the Pace for Global Procure-to-Pay Growth

Omni Hotels and Resorts Appoints Two New Executive Leaders
Matthew Adams joins Omni Hotels & Resorts as executive vice president of operations, while Omni welcomes Andrew Rubinacci as senior vice president of revenue management & global distribution.

BirchStreet’s New Executive Hires, CCO Paul Rantilla and CFO Jeremy Grosgebauer, Increase the Pace for Global Procure-to-Pay Growth
BirchStreet Systems, the market leader in P2P software for the hospitality industry, announce the additions of Paul Rantilla as the company’s chief commercial officer (CCO) and Jeremy Grosgebauer as the company’s chief financial officer (CFO).


- Latin American giant TOTVS signs on as SiteMinder’s 250th PMS connectivity partner
- RLH Corporation Streamlines System Connectivity with Hapi Data Platform HAPI
- Springer-Miller Systems Strong Growth Drives Business Revitalization

For more information on Guest Management Systems for 9/28/18


- SHR Integrates with Rainmaker Guestrev® to Provide Advanced Revenue Optimization Tool
- Vertical Booking USA Continues to Increase Its Client List in North America
- SHR Announces New CRS Product Features, Plus PMS and OTA Integrations


For more information on Reservations for 9/28/18


- AccorHotels Deploys Infor Revenue Management Solution across France  

AccorHotels Deploys Infor Revenue Management Solution across France
Infor, a leading provider of industry-specific cloud applications, announced that its revenue management solution dedicated to the hospitality industry, Infor EzRMS, has been deployed by AccorHotels in France.


- KEYPR and Intelity to Participate in The Lodging Conference
- Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel Goes All-in With Knowcross
- Marriott Selects Volara as the Official and Exclusive Partner for Its Voice Pilots

For more information on Guest Services for 9/28/18


- Meriton Suites partners with ReviewPro
- Benbria and GCommerce Announce Strategic Partnership
Meriton Suites partners with ReviewPro
Meriton Suites have partnered with ReviewPro to centralize the management of online reviews. 

Benbria and GCommerce Announce Strategic Partnership
Benbria, a leading provider of customer experience management technology, and GCommerce, a leading provider of digital marketing services to the hospitality industry, announced a strategic partnership to bring a full-suite of marketing and customer engagement solutions to the hospitality industry.


- Marriott International’s Newly Unified Loyalty Programs Celebrate with the First Ever Promotion Rewarding Members with Bonus Points Across All 29 Brands
- North American Hoteliers Kick Off Second Half of 2018 with Continued Steady Rates and Bookings; Q2 2019 Shows Signs of Softness
- Cendyn Is North America’s Leading Hotel CRM Technology Provider & Data Driven Marketing Agency for 2018, as Voted by Prestigious World Travel Awards

For more information on Marketing/ Management for 9/28/18


- FreedomPay, A Leader in Global Commerce Technologies, Creates a World-Class Experience for Philadelphia Eagles Fans

FreedomPay, A Leader in Global Commerce Technologies, Creates a World-Class Experience for Philadelphia Eagles Fans
FreedomPay, a global leader in secure commerce technology for stadiums, lodging, gaming, retail, restaurants, and other hospitality merchants, is pleased to announce a multi-year partnership with Lincoln Financial Field, home to the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles. 


- HFTP Announces 2018 Paragon Award Recipient – Anna McFarland, CPA, CFE, CHAE, CHTP
- HFTP Heads to Orlando in 2019 and Minneapolis in 2020 for its Upcoming Annual Conventions
- HSMAI and Cvent Release White Paper on Value of Real-time Data for Group Bookings
- Key Takeaways: AHLA & AAHOA’s – Legislative Action Summit 2018
- HFTP and Naseba Announce HITEC Dubai 2018 Advisory Council

For more information on Hospitality Events for 9/28/18


- This 24-Year-Old Built a $5 Billion Hotel Startup in Five Years
- How Artificial Intelligence Is Revolutionizing the Travel Industry
- Blurred Lines Between Hotels and Airbnb
- How African Luxury Tourism Is Heading off the Beaten Track

For more information on Piqued Interest for 9/28/18


And now for you-know-what …  A few points to ponder ...
I took four tires to a friend’s garage sale and was asking $35 apiece. I needed to step away for a bit so I asked him to watch them for me.

"Sure," he said, "but just in case someone offers less, how low are you willing to go?"

"Try for more, but I will accept $20 each," I said, and left.

When I returned, my tires were gone. "How much did you get for them?" I asked excitedly.

"Twenty dollars each."

"Who bought them?"

"I did!"

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