December 2, 2014

In this issue…

People on the Move

Guest Management Systems

Reservations

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

Guest Services

Back Office

Communications / Infrastructure

Security

NOVEMBER 19 – DECEMBER 2, 2014

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • Choosing replacement systems: aim high, but remember the essential need for compromise
  • Melia announces three-year digital initiative

Defining requirements for a replacement system is a tricky exercise for any property. Usually the process is triggered by a bad experience, or a series of them, and this inevitably colors the priorities. It might be the need for some new functionality that the current vendor can’t provide, or perhaps one too many support calls that have been handled badly. Sometimes it can be that the vendor of an essential system has suddenly gone out of business, and a replacement must be found quickly.
All of these triggers are valid reasons, but it’s important not to make them the only criteria for a replacement. They’re highly useful in generating momentum for change, but they also present a grand opportunity to take a look at the whole operation and see if there’s a better way to go forward than just addressing the one major problem. As someone else said, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
This leads to a new challenge of its own: the need to balance the blue-sky possibilities that suddenly seem to be available against the limitations of the real world. On the one hand, most new systems looked at will introduce many opportunities that simply weren’t available with the old ones, and that can generate all kinds of new ideas as to how the property can reorganize take advantage of them. On the other, these ideas may need new interfaces that haven’t been developed yet, and the vendors with the most attractive new concepts may not have been around long enough to give a good feeling about their staying power.
I always encourage hotels to take the widest possible view of what can be achieved, but to temper it with a pragmatic approach to real world implementation issues. Whether it’s taking a multi-phase approach to a major change when you’d rather do it in one shot, or accepting that no vendor is guaranteed to be around forever, compromises to one’s initial goals are always necessary. That’s why there’s no one “best system” for any hotel; each operation must balance the trade-offs in its own way and make sure everyone in the operation understands why the eventual solution was chosen, accept that balance and work together to make it the right way forward. Context is everything.
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Following Accor’s announcement last month of its major technology investment, Meliá Hotels International has now launched its Meliá Digital initiative to lead the digital transformation of the company over the next three years. The project has a budget of around €100 million and will focus on three key areas:
– Customers: improving interactions with guests through the development of melia.com and mobile applications, with professional customers by developing the MeliaPro program, and for business trips thanks to Business Travel by Meliá. Customers may, amongst other innovations, check in using their phones or tablets.
– Employees: a new tablet-based Meliá Sales App includes all tools needed by the sales team, digital projects are planned in all areas of management including Finance, Expansion and Human Resources.
– Hotel owners and investors: a new Owner Portal with extensive information about the Company and its products, access to owner benefits and to their personal reservations.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Frédéric Barou promoted to VP Distribution, Products and Operations for Amadeus/Asia Pacific
  • Janssen Choong joins Groupize as CTO
  • Venkat Korvi appointed VP Product Management at Groupize
  • Elvin Lai named Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year by the Asian Business Association of San Diego
  • Jeffery Busch, Shawn Harris, Thomas Castleberry join RSI’s Board of Directors

Frédéric Barou has been promoted to Vice President of Distribution, Products and Operations for Amadeus in Asia Pacific. Based in Bangkok, he has been at Amadeus since 1999 and previously held the post of Vice President, Sales and Account Management for Amadeus North America. Prior to joining Amadeus, Mr. Barou worked in consultancy with SAP and IBM.
**
Janssen Choong has joined Groupize as CTO. Mr. Choong brings over 15 years of tech experience, most recently with Booster, a company focused on group based fundraising, and with Hotwire.
Venkat Korvi has been appointed Vice President of Product Management at Groupize. He has previously worked with TripAdvisor and in search engine design.
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Elvin Lai, CFO and Co-founder of HOTELbeat, has been named Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year by the Asian Business Association (ABA) of San Diego. Mr. Lai, a first generation immigrant from Taiwan, has founded several successful businesses before the age of 30, including HOTELbeat, the Cork and Craft restaurant in Rancho Bernardo and a winery. He is also the owner/operator of the Ocean Park Inn Hotel.
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RSI International Systems has added 3 new Directors to its Board:
– Jeffery Busch, President and CEO of Safe Blood International Foundation, and previously an Investment Banker and a US Delegate to the UN.
– Shawn Harris, CEO of Skywire with more than 20 years’ experience in software sales management.
– Thomas Castleberry, COO of Skywire and former General Manager of MICROS Systems.
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GUEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Nordic Choice implements Cenium’s FastTrack self-service kiosk and mobile app at two hotels
  • Mews Systems announces Navigator mobile check-in/guest service app
  • RoomKeyPMS releases interface with JackRabbit’s Book › Direct engine
  • Turtle Bay Resort implements Maestro iPad Xpress Check-In
  • Windward Management / Gresham Hotel Group picks CheckMate’s mobile check-in/guest service app for five properties
  • GuestDriven launches Mobile Check-In and Upgrades app
  • Vive Hospitality picks ATRIO for Qliq Damansara Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Nordic Choice Hotels has implemented Cenium’s iPad Air-based FastTrack self-service kiosk and mobile app at two hotels within its Comfort Express brand. Cenium FastTrack combines SMS communication prior to arrival with guest identification by QR code, name or other secure information at the kiosk for check in upon arrival. The check-in/-out process can include key card encoding, chip and pin preauthorization or payment, folio e-mailing and capturing of information, as well as providing service options to the guest. (www.cenium.com)
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Mews Systems has announced its Navigator app for iOS and web use, to help travelers communicate directly with their hotels and navigate different cities around the world. Modules include:
– Online check-in to help hotels prepare for the guest and eliminate on-site credit card pre-authorizations and registration cards.
– City guides with maps with searchable points of interest which can be personalized by the hotel.
– Messaging as a direct line between guest and hotel staff, for guest service requests and general concierge information. – Multilingual functionality.
(www.mewsnavigator.com)
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RoomKeyPMS has released an interface with JackRabbit’s Book › Direct engine, which specializes in developing custom travel search engines for destination and travel portal websites. The interface allows properties to display their rates and availability on local city and/or state tourism websites, and allows travelers to book directly with the hotel at no commission. (www.jackrabbitsystems.com, www.RoomKeyPMS.com)
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The 452-room Turtle Bay Resort, on Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii, has implemented Northwind’s Maestro iPad Xpress Check-In, fully-integrated with its Maestro PMS to perform all aspects of front office functionality and guest service. (www.turtlebayresort.com, www.maestropms.com)
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The Windward Management / Gresham Hotel Group has selected CheckMate’s mobile check-in and guest service app for its five properties in Ireland, Belgium and Germany. (www.gresham-hotels.com, www.checkmate.io)
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GuestDriven has launched its Mobile Check-In and Upgrades app through its new GuestDriven Express mobile web service. GuestDriven Express allows guests to check-in up to 24-hours before arrival, upgrade rooms, access personalized upsell promotions for amenities, check-out or instant message front-desk personnel. (www.guestdriven.com)
**
Vive Hospitality has selected PAR Springer-Miller Systems’ ATRIO PMS for its 271-room Qliq Damansara Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (www.qliqhotels.com, www.partech.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Amadeus integrates Conferma’s virtual-card payment into e-Travel Management online self-booking
  • Amazon to begin testing online reservations in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle

Amadeus announced that Conferma’s payment technology is now available in its e-Travel Management online self-booking tool. With Conferma now integrated into Amadeus Billback, TMCs and corporate clients can now use virtual card numbers (VCNs) as a payment method for Amadeus GDS hotel bookings. The system automatically faxes a VCN to the hotel on completion of the booking; at check-out, the booking is charged back to the VCN by the hotel, triggering an automated process that matches payment data to booking data, eliminating manual reconciliation processes.  All data for every transaction captured by Conferma’s VCNs is available to TMCs and travel managers through Conferma’s SNAP management information and reporting tool. Controls such as credit limits and charge validity dates allow TMCs to enforce compliance with corporate policies. (www.conferma.com, www.amadeus.com)
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Amazon announced that it will begin testing an online reservation service in January with a selection of mostly independent hotels of 4-star or higher rating in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. Reservations would be forwarded by email and it is the hotelier’s job to keep reservation planning up to date. Travelers can pay through Amazon, which pays the hotels minus commission. (www.amazon.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • Nor1 launches Merchandising Platform to boost revenue throughout guest’s trip
  • Leonardo launches Vizlly multi-channel digital marketing system
  • Pinnacle implements Aptech’s Targetvue Budgeting and Forecasting software for 26 properties
  • Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center  implements nSight
  • Vizergy partners with Flip.to
  • UniFocus integrates Cognos into Enterprise Solutions dashboard and business intelligence platform

Nor1 has launched its Merchandising Platform, a pricing and analytics engine to help generate revenue throughout a guest’s trip. The Platform includes Nor1’s eStandby, eFDU (Front Desk Upgrade) and eReach suite:
– At booking via eStandby offers on a travel company’s website
– Pre-arrival through upsell and upgrade offers via eStandby and ground transportation offers via eReach.
– On arrival through front desk upgrades and upsells (via eFDU and eReach) of on-property amenities and third party in-destination services.
– In Destination through tour and activity, retail and dining offers via eReach.
– Post trip through loyalty and other guest engagement offers via eReach.
(www.nor1.com)
**
Leonardo has launched Vizlly, a cloud-based multi-channel digital marketing system to help hotels create and publish hotel websites, mobile websites, social media apps and digital brochures for third party travel websites. Reporting and analytics functions track where and what consumers are engaging with, to identify the top channels and strategize accordingly. (www.leonardo.com)
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Pinnacle Hotel Management has implemented Aptech Computer Systems’ Targetvue Budgeting and Forecasting software for 26 Marriott, Hilton, and independent properties. (www.pinnaclehotelmanagement.com, www.aptech-inc.com)
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The 515-room Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center in Breckenridge, CO, has implemented nSight’s consumer search and booking intelligence software. (www.beaverrun.com, www.nsightfortravel.com)
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Vizergy has partnered with Flip.to, offering it within Vizergy’s suite of marketing services and integratibg it with Vizergy’s Secure-Res booking platform. (www.vizergy.com, www.flip.to)
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UniFocus has integrated IBM’s Cognos business engine into its UniFocus Enterprise Solutions dashboard and business intelligence platform to provide more extensive customization and on the fly ad-hoc reporting on data across multiple systems. (www.ibm.com, www.UniFocus.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Best Western integrating Revcaster’s rate shopping tool into BestREV revenue management for 2,100 properties
  • Kamp Group implementing IDeaS’ RMS at five properties
  • Brazil Hospitality Group picks eRevMax’s RateTiger Channel Manager for 49 properties

Best Western International is integrating Revcaster’s hotel rate shopping tool into its BestREV revenue management program for all 2,100 North American properties. Next year BestREV will integrate Revcaster’s rate data with Best Western’s JDA Software system to make the final pricing recommendations for all future dates at each hotel. (www.bestwestern.com, www.Revcaster.com)
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Kamp Group is implementing IDeaS Revenue Solutions’ Revenue Management System (RMS) across five of properties, including Hotel Klaus K. (www.kampgroup.fi/en/, www.ideas.com)
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The Brazil Hospitality Group has selected eRevMax’s RateTiger Channel Manager to update rates and availability across multiple online sales channels for its 49 properties, which include Golden Tulip, Tulip Inn and Royal Tulip brands. (www.bhg.net, www.erevmax.com/)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Mohegan Sun selects Groupize Solutions’ GBE
  • InnSuites Hotels and Suites picks Groupize for its flagship properties
  • NH Hotels unveils High Tech Made Easy virtual meeting service with 3D holographic projection technology

Mohegan Sun has selected Groupize Solutions’ GBE for bookings for small corporate and leisure groups. The 1,200-room property includes over 300,000 square feet of gaming within three casinos and more than 100,000 square feet of meeting and function space.
InnSuites Hotels and Suites has picked Groupize for its flagship properties.
(mohegansun.com, www.innsuites.com, www.groupize.com)
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Chatrium Hotels & Residences has selected Newmarket International’s Delphi.fdc for its six properties in Thailand. (www.chatrium.com, www.newmarketinc.com)
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NH Hotel Group has unveiled High Tech Made Easy, a new virtual meeting service that combines video conferencing with interactive collaboration capabilities and 3D holographic projection technology. Currently being tested in Madrid and Berlin, the new service is due to be rolled out across many of NH’s 400 hotels “in the near future”. High Tech Made Easy includes the next generation SMART Room System for Microsoft Lync online videoconferencing and enables the participation of as many as 250 virtual attendees in a given video call. (www.nh-hotels.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • Electric Mirror named one of 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Washington State
  • The Brando resort deploys Intelity ICE tablets from McLaren Technologies in all 35 villas
  • Delta Hotels and Resorts launches Intelity ICE-based guest service app for all 38 properties
  • Down Town Association, New York, picks Guest-tek’s HSIA, OneView Media and OneView Voice iACT services

Electric Mirror has been named one of the 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Washington State by the Puget Sound Business Journal. (www.electricmirror.com)
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The Brando resort in Tetiaroa, 30 miles north of Tahiti, has deployed Intelity ICE tablets in all 35 villas for guest request services. The tablets were implemented by McLaren Technologies; guests can use ICE to make direct requests to the hotel staff for services such as 24-hour in-room dining, housekeeping needs and more. The resort was once owned by Marlon Brando.
Delta Hotels and Resorts has launched an Intelity ICE-based guest service app for all 38 hotels and resorts throughout Canada. The app offers brand- and property-focused content in both English and French to users at any point in their travel experience, from planning to post-stay, and will be the first Intelity-created app to include 360-degree virtual tours and videos. Guests can view property-based content, select from a menu of concierge services, access local information such as weather, seasonal events and tourist attractions, use the app for express check-out with options for taxi service upon departure, breakfast on the morning of check out and an emailed copy of all hotel charges. Two-way communication allows staff to market hotel services and promotions to guests and lets guests provide feedback and express preferences. Loyalty program members can access general account details.
(www.thebrando.com, www.mclarenint.com, www.deltahotels.com, www.intelitycorp.com)
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The Down Town Association in Lower Manhattan, New York, has contracted with Guest-tek for its HSIA, OneView Media and OneView Voice iACT services in its clubhouse and newly-added hotel rooms. Founded in 1859, The Down Town Association is the fifth oldest club in New York and the second oldest purpose-built club building in the U.S. (www.thedta.com, www.guest-tek.com)
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BACK OFFICE

  • Major Food Group selects UniFocus’ Time and Attendance

Major Food Group, a New York based restaurant and hospitality company, has selected UniFocus’ Time and Attendance system. (www.majorfood.com, www.UniFocus.com)
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COMMUNICATIONS/INFRASTRUCTURE

  • The Marker Waterfront Resort Key West deploys Thing5’s T5 Voice services

The Marker Waterfront Resort Key West has deployed Thing5’s T5 Voice services (selected by Enterprise Solution Providers), including flat rate SIP Trunking (VoIP inbound and outbound calling, local and long distance), Cloud-based PBX, Voicemail, Call Accounting and Auto-attendant services. (www.themarkerkeywest.com, www.thing5.com)
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SECURITY

  • OpenKey  launches mobile application for smartphone entry to hotel rooms
  • Hotels in Delhi’s Aerocity district installing facial recognition software

OpenKey has launched a mobile application allowing keyless entry to hotel rooms via a guest’s smartphone. The application concept has been strongly backed by HOFTEL, an association of hotel property investors representing thousands of hotel properties worldwide. OpenKey works with different types of existing guest room electronic locks (RFID, NFC and Bluetooth-based locks), potentially allowing a single mobile application to open guest room doors at any participating hotel. OpenKey’s opt-in service includes encryption that lets guests safely share or revoke key access to their rooms as needed. (www.hoftel.com)
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Hotels in the Aerocity hospitality district near the Delhi airport in India, including the Ibis and Lemon Tree properties, are reportedly installing facial recognition software, as required by the Delhi Police. Security agencies provide a black list of people they consider a security risk; hotels can create their own white lists of regular guests. Other security requirements for the hotels in Aerocity include boom barriers at entrances, crash bollards, under-vehicle surveillance and fish-eye cameras in basements. The project is considered a security risk because of its proximity to the airport runway.
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