August 14, 2006

In this issue…

People on the Move

Property Management Systems

Reservations

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

F&B / POS

Spa/Golf/Leisure

Guest Services


TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • More thoughts on SoftBrands’ acquisition of HIS

After the surprise of the initial announcement – and both parties are to be commended for keeping this deal out of the usually all-seeing rumor mill – SoftBrands’ acquisition of HIS makes a great deal of sense. HIS’ leadership has done a tremendous job in turning around a once-dominant company that had lost its way; they gave it a sense of direction and confidence, and kept it afloat while excellent new products were developed, but they lacked the resources to take full advantage of these. SoftBrands has also had its challenges in the past few years, and while strong internationally had never achieved the North American presence it desired.
So now SoftBrands gets its US presence and modern-technology .Net-based systems well-adapted to the US market. HIS gets a stronger international presence (especially European) and access to SoftBrands’ Bangalore development team. HIS’ core and epitome.Net systems will be the main products, targeted at group clients, with SoftBrands’ Medallion PMS focused on smaller and independent properties. SoftBrands’ Portfolio PMS will continue to be available to existing customers in Europe.
The HIS name will be phased out, which is sad in a sense but is appropriate. The new company combines the installed bases (and support revenue) from many of the most successful brands of the past – HIS, LANmark, CLS, Encore, Lodging Touch and more – but is really a new entity with enough resources to be a viable international competitor to Micros-Fidelio. M-F has been our dominant vendor for many years; to its credit it has not been complacent but has continued to enhance and refine its Opera software to a high degree. Nonetheless, the emergence of a serious, well-funded competitor can only be good for everyone.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Ken Voss appointed to Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Certain Software
  • Dave Tahan promoted to Chief Operating Officer at KoolConnect

Ken Voss has been appointed to Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Certain Software. Mr. Voss brings more than 20 years of sales and marketing management experience, most recently as one of the founders of Spear Technologies. He had earlier served as Vice President, Sales and Marketing for TENERA, Inc., and had also held executive positions at Enlighten Software and SHL Systemhouse.
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Dave Tahan has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer at KoolConnect Technologies. Previously Executive Vice President, Mr. Tahan joined KoolConnect following its April, 2005 acquisition of General Dynamics Interactive, which he had led. He had earlier served as Chief Procurement Officer and Chairman of GTE’s Strategic Supplier Council; GTE was acquired by Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) and the Government Systems group was divested to General Dynamics.
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PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Marriott testing mobile wireless check-in at the Marriott Town Center in Redmond, WA

Marriott International is testing mobile wireless check-in at the Marriott Town Center in Redmond, WA. Using software downloaded from Arrive.Marriott.com, travelers with Microsoft Windows Mobile-powered Smartphones can connect to the hotel’s property management system and check in while in transit to the hotel. They will also be able to change room types, receive welcome information and reconfirm their room rates, and will retrieve their room keys from an automated key dispenser in the lobby. The software was developed in conjunction with Intel and Microsoft. (www.marriott.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Pelican Systems announces Flexi-Package application
  • The Venetian introduces on-property airline baggage check and boarding pass generation
  • TripHub adds Trip Blogs and Event Schedules to trip planning service
  • Sabre launches TripTailor wholesaler application for customized trip packaging
  • Number of UK travelers self-packaging their holidays rises 500% over 2005
  • Sofitel to list inventory on all Expedia and hotels.com sites
  • Lodging Interactive adds point-to-point directions to HotelMASHUPS mapping service
  • Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor selects iHotelier CRS, TravelCLICK reports and advertising
  • InterContinental launches Business Choice travel management portal for small- and medium-sized enterprises

Pelican Systems announced its “Flexi-Package” application, targeted at hotels already using yield management/revenue management techniques and wanting to offer packages that adjust flexibly to changes such as room rates per market segment and per room type, number of adults and children, etc. Hotels will also able to set booking lead time, minimum/maximum length of stay and close to arrival/departure parameters. (www.pelicansysem.com)
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The Venetian in Las Vegas has introduced an Airport SpeedCheck Advance kiosk, allowing guests to check luggage and receive boarding passes directly on the property. The service, administered by Bags To Go Inc., is available at a kiosk in the Convention Center. (www.venetian.com)
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TripHub has added Trip Blogs and Event Schedules to its trip planning service, which is targeted at helping small groups organize and share information on any gathering that involves travel. Trip Blogs provide a centralized forum for and record of discussions, including announcements, lists, idea sharing, decision-making and post-travel follow-up. Event Schedules provide a consolidated, shared view of all trip-related activities such as dining plans, entertainment, events, and tours, including dates, times and locations. (www.triphub.com)
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Sabre Holdings has launched TripTailor, a travel wholesaler application focused on creating customized trips to over 1,500 destinations worldwide and combining air, hotel, car and travel extras. (www.sabretravelnetwork.com)
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Emphasizing the demand for such tools, a Travelocity survey reports that the number of UK travelers self-packaging their holidays has risen 500% over 2005, with by far the majority (70%) using the money they save by doing this to book a higher grade of accommodation. Another 12% would choose to upgrade their board basis and 8% would opt to add transfers. A massive 90% would rather treat themselves to a more luxurious break than spend the extra cash on pre-holiday shopping (4%) or in-resort entertainment (6%). (www.travelocity.co.uk)
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Sofitel is making inventory from its nearly 200 properties in Europe, the Middle East and Africa available on all Expedia and hotels.com sites. (www.sofitel.com)
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Lodging Interactive has added point-to-point directions to its HotelMASHUPS interactive mapping service. A hosted service accessed via a link added to a hotel’s Web site, HotelMASHUPS uses annotated Google maps to pinpoint a hotel and show interactive links to local attractions and other points of interest. (www.LodgingInteractive.com)
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The historic Hotel Windsor in Melbourne, Australia, has selected TravelCLICK’s iHotelier central reservation system for website reservations and GDS connectivity. The hotel will also use TravelCLICK’s market intelligence and travel agent advertising. (www.thewindsor.com.au, www.travelclick.net)
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InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has launched its Business Choice hotel reservation and travel management portal targeted at travel planners for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in its Priority Club Rewards program. Travel planners can create and customize their company’s own travel portal, to centralize corporate travel policies. BusinessChoice includes an online reservation channel and allows travelers to guarantee reservations directly to the hotel without requiring a credit card, using pre-established direct-bill relationships with individual hotels for locally-negotiated rates. Travel managers can also post messages and travel information to employees on the portal to help communications during a crisis or natural disaster. (www.ichotels.com/businesschoice)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • Starwood’s aloft to place an interactive virtual property inside the online game Second Life
  • Rosewood selects Digital Alchemy
  • Preferred expands relationship with Leonardo for rich content management and distribution
  • Kayak.com contracts with Leonardo for online image content management and distribution
  • SideStep adds virtual tours, video and other rich media from VFM Interactive
  • New Castle Hotels and Resorts chooses VFM PhotoMontages

In a new first for product placement, Starwood’s aloft brand is placing a 3-D computer generated version of a typical property inside the virtual world of the online game Second Life. Second Life is a virtual environment in which players create digital alter egos and exchange virtual currency for digitally rendered goods and services, and is currently accessed by more than 350,000 players worldwide. From September, players will be able to enter an aloft hotel and interact with others as they move through it. The first aloft in the real world is not scheduled to open until early 2007. (www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels)
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Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has selected Digital Alchemy’s email marketing and customized guest relationship management tools for its twenty luxury properties worldwide. (www.rosewoodhotels.com, www.data2gold.com)
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The Preferred Hotel Group is expanding its relationship with Leonardo Media to cover the synchronized management and distribution of rich content to the GDSs, switches and travel channels for its four brands. Preferred Hotel Group represents more than 340 hotels in 52 countries.
Kayak.com has contracted with Leonardo for online content management and distribution of images from Leonardo’s hospitality partners.
(www.preferredhotels.com, www.kayak.com, www.leonardo.com)
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SideStep has added virtual tours, video and other rich media from VFM Interactive to its Hotels category.
New Castle Hotels and Resorts has chosen VFM to provide many of its properties with PhotoMontages, rich media that uses motion graphics, voice-over and music tracks with existing still photographs. New Castle properties will include the PhotoMontages on their own Web sites, and will distribute them electronically to the GDSs and search engines through VFM’s Vscape service.
(www.sidestep.com, www.newcastlehotels.com, www.vfmii.com)
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Hotelrooms.com and Xotels have a European partnership to increase their clients Website traffic and revenue. Hotelrooms.com guarantees a minimum amount of visits directly to a hotel website; Xotels works with the same hotels to optimize conversion and total revenue through its Revenue Management and Distribution seminars. (www.hotelrooms.com, www.xotels.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Pan Pacific installs IDeaS V5i at Singapore property

Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts has installed IDeaS ASP-based V5i for revenue optimization at its flagship Singapore property. (www.panpacific.com, www.ideas.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • StarCite and OnVantage merge
  • Marriott expands At Your Service pre-arrival planning to meetings and events worldwide

StarCite and OnVantage have merged their on-demand corporate meetings and events management companies under the StarCite name. Michael Boult, president and CEO of StarCite; will remain in that position with the new company. Existing clients will be able to use either system through 2007, after which StarCite’s Global Meeting Solution will be phased out in favor of OnVantage’s products. Both systems are web-based. (www.starcite.com, www.onvantage.com)
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Marriott International is expanding its At Your Service pre-arrival planning to meetings and events worldwide. The service, which was launched last year, allows meeting planners to send attendees details of their stay five days prior to arrival (14 days for resorts), including a reservation confirmation, information on property-specific amenities, the weather forecast, maps, directions and transportation from the airport and local area information. (www.marriott.com)
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F&B/POINT OF SALE

  • Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls installs MICROS’ 9700

The Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Canada, owned by Ripley Entertainment, has installed MICROS’ 9700 Hospitality Management System, with 27 MICROS workstations with integrated RFID readers. The property implemented property-wide integrated RFID, which allows guests wearing waterproof RFID wrist bands to make payment at any MICROS POS workstation without having to carry cash or other forms of payment. (www.greatwolflodge.com, www.micros.com)
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SPA/GOLF/LEISURE

  • Chase Business Systems appoints TierOne as Premier Spa+ distributor in North America

Chase Business Systems has appointed TierOne Hospitality Solutions as the distributor for its Premier Spa+ system in the North American hospitality market. (www.premiersoftware.co.uk, www.tieronehospitality.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • Chenega Federal Systems selects StayOnline for HSIA at 16 US Military bases
  • TeleAdapt releases two new TA-6900 DeskPoint versions and upgrades firmware for VLANs

Chenega Federal Systems has selected StayOnline to provide High Speed Internet Access (HSIA) at 16 US Military bases across the country, where it manages technology under a new US Military contract. The installations are scheduled to be complete within 6 months and involve more than 250 buildings and over 3,000 guest and meeting rooms. (www.chenegafederal.com, www.stayonline.net)
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TeleAdapt has released two new versions of its TA-6900 DeskPoint (an RJ45 socketed version and an under-desk version) and an upgrade of firmware to include 802.1Q-compatible VLAN tagging. (www.teleadapt.com)
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