August 9, 2011

In this issue…

People on the Move

Guest Management Systems

Reservations

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

F&B / POS

Guest Services

Back Office

JULY 27 – AUGUST 9, 2011

TOP O’ THE NEWS

    • HFTP survey on guests’ tech wish list

An HFTP survey on which technology features guests want when they travel showed that 15% carry at least three devices that need charging overnight, so “sufficient power outlets” is an obvious need! The device breakdown was laptops (90%), smart phones (82%), tablet computers (15%, but watch this one grow), media players (15%) and game systems (3%).
The top answer to the question, “what is the number one piece of technology you’d like to see universally added to the guest room?” was overwhelmingly (and unsurprisingly) a secure, reliable, fast, wireless Internet connection.
As for the guestroom television and the many options available on it, HD programming was the highest-rated desire (79%), followed by a virtual tie between room environment controls (lights, temperature, etc.) at 49% and connectivity panels for guests to replay content from their own (multiple!) devices (48%). On-demand TV shows tied with in-room messaging at 29%; first-run movies showed surprisingly strongly at 27%, followed by consumer subscription services such as Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, etc. (22%). Not really surprisingly given its current lack of quality programming, 3-D came in at less than 3%.
Other guestroom items ranked “important or very important” included:
* A simple telephone for room service, contacting the front desk, etc. (71%)
* Adjustable desk and chair with universal charging plugs (66%)
* A simple alarm clock (65%)
* Bio-metric safe (18%)
* Internet-enabled telephone capable of ads, valet, maps, local attractions, etc. (17%)
* Voice activated lights, curtains, temperature (12%)
* “Find Me” mobile phone issued by the hotel  (11%)
Note the emphasis on “simplicity”; traveling is complex enough without having to wrestle the technology supposed to help you.
One aspect that surprised (and pleased) me was that 86% of the respondents still prefer to check into a hotel with front desk personnel, i.e. to interact with a human being. Only 10% prefer a self-service kiosk, and so far less than 5% would prefer a smart phone or computer method. That may be due to either the slow spread of such options in the industry so far, or to the small number of über-geeks who really do prefer to use their phones for everything. I expect it to rise over time, but the human element at check-in is still overwhelmingly important to a majority of travelers.
The survey was conducted just before HITEC, and received responses from around 450 travelers, 64% of whom spend more than ten nights a year in hotel rooms.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Ayikudy “Sri” Srikanth hired by Passkey as Chief Technology Officer

Ayikudy “Sri” Srikanth has been hired by Passkey as Chief Technology Officer.  Mr. Srikanth brings 18 years of experience, most recently as co-founder and president of energy tech company Acealine. He was previously vice president of engineering and product management at education software vendor Certica Solutions, and had held various roles at start-ups NewRiver, Kubi Software and Crossbeam Systems. Beginning his career at Wellfleet Communications (acquired by Nortel), Mr. Srikanth holds six patents.
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GUEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Springer-Miller expands Las Vegas Operations Center
  • NOVEXSYS integrates Shift4’s DOLLARS ON THE NET to GMS

PAR Springer-Miller Systems has announced the expansion of its Las Vegas Operations Center (LVOC) into a larger, renovated space in Henderson, NV, and plans to more than double the number of employees there over the next two years. In addition to hosting customer support, the new location will also be the development hub for the new ATRIO Hospitality Technology Platform. (www.springermiller.com)
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NOVEXSYS has integrated Shift4’s DOLLARS ON THE NET gateway to its NOVEXSYS Guest Management System (GMS) to help its hotel customers simplify the scope of their PCI compliance audits.  (www.shift4.com, www.novexsys.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Sunshine Mountain Lodge, Windtower Lodge & Suites pick B4Checkin on-line booking engine
  • Google launches Hotel Finder search tool

Two Alberta resorts, the Sunshine Mountain Lodge in the Canadian Rockies above Banff and the Windtower Lodge & Suites in Canmore, have selected B4Checkin’s on-line booking engine. (www.sunshinemountainlodge.com, www.windtower.ca, www.b4checkin.com)
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Google has launched its Hotel Finder search tool (initially only for US hotels), an extension of Google Maps that includes a user-definable search area within the map, the display of full rates for each hotel being considered and hot links to book on the various channels offering those rates. Trust International is the first centralized reservation system (CRS) provider to have its hotels displayed in Hotel Finder.   (www.TrustInternational.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • Stash Hotel Rewards partners with RateGain
  • Cornell students’ software claimed to identify fake hotel reviews

Stash Hotel Rewards, a loyalty program for independent hotels, has partnered with RateGain to allow Stash partner hotels to automate their points redemption rates using ChannelGain channel management, and to offer their inventory to frequent guest members to redeem for points. (www.rategain.com, www.stashrewards.com)
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Researchers at Cornell University  have developed software claimed to be able to identify fake hotel reviews by analyzing their linguistic structure. A test of 800 reviews of hotels in Chicago reportedly picked out “deceptive reviews” with close to 90% accuracy. (www.cornell.edu)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • RateTiger offers wide-ranging one-off Snapshot report service for RTCorp
  • eRevMax expands in China, South Africa and Australia
  • Anantara deploying IDeaS across all 15 hotels
  • RateGain partners with Stash Hotel Rewards
  • SiteMinder integrates SoftBrands’ Epitome into pmsXchange
  • New Century Hotels & Resorts implements EzRMS in Beijing

RateTiger has launched a Snapshot service option for its RTCorp offering, a one-off report specific to a calendar date or an event and location, and which all of RateTiger’s rate data available to online hotel sales channels, hotel chains and corporate buyers.
eRevMax International has appointed two regional sales manager to consolidate its position in the Chinese market, and has formed partnerships with ReserveHotel in South Africa and Hotel Representation Australia to distribute its RateTiger and SimpleDistribution products.
(www.ratetiger.com)
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Thai-based Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas is deploying IDeaS Revenue Solutions across its complete chain of 15 hotels in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Indian Ocean regions. Seven more hotels are due to open by year end. Anantara will deploy IDeaS’ report-based Forecasting Management System (FMS) at some properties and IDeaS RMS at the remainder. (www.anantara.com, www.ideas.com)
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RateGain has partnered with Stash Hotel Rewards, a loyalty program for independent hotels, allowing Stash partner hotels to automate their points redemption rates using ChannelGain channel management and to offer their inventory to frequent guest members to redeem for points. (www.rategain.com, www.stashrewards.com)
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SiteMinder has integrated SoftBrands’ Epitome system into its pmsXchange technology, which links more than two dozen GMS and CRS systems to online booking sites via two-way interfaces updating rates and availability and downloading bookings. (www.infor.com, www.siteminder.com)
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New Century Hotels & Resorts has implemented EzRMS at Gehua New Century Hotel Beijing, located in Beijing’s Olympic Park and business district. Five more properties are scheduled to deploy it in next few months: New Century Grand Hotel Changchun, New Century Grand Hotel Shaoxing, New Century Grand Hotel Xuzhou, New Century Resort Jiulong Lake Ningbo and New Century Resort Qiandao Lake Hangzhou. All will deploy the full EzRMS suite, with an extraction interface to their Opera V5 PMS. (www.kaiyuanhotels.com, www.easyrms.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • StarCite launches Mobile Attendee tool

StarCite has launched its Mobile Attendee tool, which delivers key information (including agendas, logistics, maps and news alerts) directly to meeting attendees’ mobile phones and devices. It will also offer networking tools that let attendees search for and send messages to other meeting attendees. The app will be available in fall this year, for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones. (www.starcite.com)
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F&B/POINT OF SALE

  • Benchmark reports Top Five Dining Trends for 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International has reported its Top Five Dining Trends for 2011, as observed by its 40 properties.
1: Rebirth of the Gentleman Farmer – innovative products coming from an increasing number of individuals turning a passionate love of farming into a second career.
2: Omakase (“have it your way”) with a Mixology Twist – on-the-spot-creation of customized drinks based on specific requests from the customer, including coloring drinks with a guest’s favorite hue or for a color-coordinated wedding.
3: Nose-to-Tail Dining – using everything available so little is wasted, experimenting with unusual preparations of kidneys, tongue, head cheese, etc.
4: The Finish, Torn Between Two Lovers – guests are choosing desserts which are either wildly decadent (e.g. sumptuous pies) or very health conscious (miniature guilt-free desserts).
5:  The World of Wine is Flat – wine drinkers today looking for good but less expensive selections, and willing to explore varietals from unusual countries such as China, India, Russia, Georgia, Moldova, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
(www.benchmarkhospitality.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • Larkspur standardizes all 23 properties on Ruckus Wireless
  • Starwood names Safemark its preferred provider of guest room safes
  • Loews migrating all 18 properties to MTech’s HotSOS
  • Embassy Suites Denver – Downtown Convention Center implements 100-MB Internet service from PSAV
  • Diamond Desmond Hotel and Conference Center installs FlyteBoard, FlyteChannel 
  • Holiday Inn Atrium Singapore installs FCS e-Connect, UBIS and WinVoice
  • Intelity ICE receives the Business Traveler Innovation Award for Best Travel Convenience & Efficiency Innovation
  • New York Helmsley implements ARINC’s microFIDS through TTI Technologies

Larkspur Hotels & Restaurants has standardized all 23 of its properties on Ruckus Wireless’ ZoneFlex Smart Wi-Fi system.  (www.larkspurhotels.com, www.ruckuswireless.com)
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Starwood Hotels & Resorts has named Safemark Systems the preferred provider of guest room safes to all new and renovated Starwood properties.  The agreement covers a variety of in-room safes to meet or exceed the models currently in use, each featuring an internal light and accommodating 15-inch (in some cases, 17-inch) laptops. (www.starwoodhotels.com, www.safemark.com/)
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Loews Hotels is migrating all 18 of its properties to MTech’s Hotel Service Optimization System (HotSOS) by first quarter 2012; several were previously using MTech’s Espresso! (www.loewshotels.com, www.m-tech.com)
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The 403-room Embassy Suites Denver – Downtown Convention Center has implemented Internet services from PSAV Presentation Services, with 100 megabytes incoming service to cover all guestrooms and the property’s 25,000 square feet of meeting space. Event planners are offered a choice of several different levels of bandwidth at different price points. (www.embassysuites.hilton.com/Denver, www.psav.com)
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The 323-room Diamond Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Albany, NY, has installed Flyte Systems’ FlyteBoard and FlyteChannel real-time airline flight information systems. (www.desmondhotelsalbany.com, www.flytesystems.com)
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The 515-room Holiday Inn Atrium Singapore has installed integrated FCS e-Connect, Universal Billing Interface System (UBIS) and WinVoice system to upgrade its guest service communications. WinVoice automates the management of guest wake-up calls; e-Connect and UBIS integrate guest service requests and inter-department work orders through a single call center. (www.fcscs.com)
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Intelity’s ICE (Interactive Customer Experience) system has received the Business Traveler Innovation Award for Best Travel Convenience & Efficiency Innovation, presented by The Wall Street Journal and The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). (www.gbta.org, www.intelitycorp.com)
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The New York Helmsley has implemented ARINC’s microFIDS Flight Information Display System, through TTI Technologies, ARINC’s partner for the hospitality industry. MicroFIDS provides up-to-the-minute flight information for display in hotel business centers and other common areas. (www.newyorkhelmsley.com, www.arinc.com, www.ttitel.com)
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BACK OFFICE

  • Aptech announces three new clients for Profitvue

Aptech Computer Systems announced three new clients for its Profitvue ASP back office system for financial accounting:
– Hilton Garden Inn Temple, Texas
– 30-room luxury boutique Mayflower Inn and Spa in Washington, CT
– 112-room Gold Eagle Lodge in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada.
(www.hiltongardeninn.hilton.com, www.mayflowerinn.com, www.goldeaglelodge.com, )
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  • Jon Inge & Associates
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