February 1, 2011

In this issue…

People on the Move

Hospitality Management Systems

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

Guest Services

Back Office

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • Customer Service (contd.)

Guaranteeing a specific response time to correct problems is good, but sometimes focusing too hard on that metric can distract you from your real objective – doing what it takes to satisfy the customer. Take my recent laptop experience.
I bought a Lenovo ThinkPad 15 months ago, with a three-year on-site 24/7 extended warranty. Recently it began spontaneously rebooting itself, randomly and frequently, 38 times last Sunday alone. As it sometimes happened when it was waiting for me to sign back in, I was pretty sure it was a hardware problem, not software. I called for support; Lenovo told me that their records didn’t show an extended warranty and they couldn’t help me, despite my offering to fax them a copy of the purchase order showing the warranty. Only the warranty department could correct the error, and they weren’t available until Monday – when I had an early morning flight to Las Vegas. As I was going to be on the road Monday-Thursday that week and the same the following week, I _had_ to make sure the laptop was fixed on Friday. As I believed the warranty covered support at my home office site, where I’d registered the laptop, I left it behind on the trip and just relied on my phone.
I called Lenovo’s warranty department from Las Vegas on Monday, had the coverage error corrected and was transferred back to customer support. They confirmed that it sounded like a hardware problem that would need the system board to be replaced, and would have a technician call me to arrange to visit the next day – if the part was in stock. However, when I asked if I could schedule the visit for Friday I was told that this couldn’t be guaranteed “because you are not conforming to the terms of the warranty, which state that you must have the laptop with you when you call. If someone else calls in a problem on Thursday, that would take priority over yours for the technician’s time.” Apparently the warranty covers the laptop wherever I happen to be, not only at my home address. Good to know.
I tried to explain that I absolutely needed it fixed on Friday, and that it seemed that giving four days notice would guarantee both that the technician could visit and that a replacement board would be available. “Sir, may I remind you that you are not in conformance with the terms of the warranty. I advise you to hang up and call back on Thursday.” “But what if the part’s out of stock?” “Then the service call would be re-scheduled for the following week.” “But I’ll be traveling then.” “We would arrange for the call to be scheduled in the city you’ll be visiting.” “But that would interrupt a very tightly-scheduled visit. Look, we both have the same objective of fixing my computer; doesn’t my giving four days notice make that simpler to achieve?” “Sir, I remind you again that you are not in compliance with the terms of the warranty, and so the call cannot be guaranteed.” Going nowhere, I asked him to log the call and crossed my fingers.
Happy ending; the technician called on Thursday, confirming the part was in stock and saying he could actually fit it that afternoon. He seemed surprised when I told him I was in the airport on my way home (so when did he get the call? And what details of my availability was he given?), but we set an appointment for Friday morning and all is now well.
Why was this so difficult when we were both trying to achieve the same end goal? The only possible reason I can think of was that delaying the correction would have thrown off Lenovo’s statistics on the number of trouble tickets corrected within the 24-hour window they guarantee – even though that would actually have resulted in better customer service.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Ric Leutwyler recognized by HSMAI as one of the “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing”
  • Doug Schmitt hired by Uniguest as director of technical support

Ric Leutwyler, COO of Pegasus Solutions and president of Utell Hotels & Resorts, has been recognized by the HSMAI as one of the “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing” for 2010. The eighth annual list recognizes the leaders in the hospitality, travel and tourism industries, judged by a panel of senior industry executives on their creativity and innovation, cutting edge sales or marketing campaigns, triumph in challenging situations and sales efforts that resulted in dramatic gains. Mr. Leutwyler joined Pegasus in 2008 after six years with Best Western International in a number of senior executive positions; he had earlier held various leadership positions with Cendant Corp.
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Doug Schmitt has been hired by Uniguest as director of technical support. Mr. Schmitt is the former manager, application and product support, global tier 3 technical support for Hilton Worldwide in Memphis.
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HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Gotham Hotel on 46th Street, New York is first non-beta install of Agilysys’ Guest 360
  • Resort Collection of Panama City Beach selects Springer-Miller for six condo properties
  • Springer-Miller upgrades SMS|World XA Online Booking Engine with usability enhancements from RTP Interactive

The Gotham Hotel on 46th Street in New York City has installed Agilysys’ Guest 360 Hospitality Management System. The 66-room hotel opened last October; this is Agilysys’ first production, non-beta implementation of Guest 360. (www.thegothamhotelon46street.com, www.agilysys.com)
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The Resort Collection of Panama City Beach has selected PAR Springer-Miller’s SMS|Host Hospitality Management System for its six condo properties (the Edgewater Beach & Golf Resort, Majestic Beach Resort, Long Beach Resort, En Soleil, Emerald Beach & Golf Resort, Grand Panama Beach Resort and the Hombre Golf Club), which together comprise over 1000 condominium units and 16 F&B outlets. Modules to be implemented include SMS|Owner Fulfillment, SMS|Work Order Management, SMS|Host front office system, SMS|Multi-Property Management, SMS|Touch Fine Dining, SMS|Golf Tee Times and SMS|Spa/Resort Scheduling.
PAR Springer-Miller has released an upgrade to its SMS|World XA Online Booking Engine incorporating usability enhancements developed in partnership with RTP Interactive. The first implementation of this version is at MTM Luxury Lodgings Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland, WA.
(www.resortspcbeach.com, www.rtp.com, www.springermiller.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • Open Hospitality releases new mobile multi-lingual website options
  • Swiftrank launches 13 new market-specific travel-planning websites
  • Pegasus receives Silver Adrian Award, Utell a Bronze Adrian Award
  • Libra OnDemand releases several enhancements

Open Hospitality has released new mobile multi-lingual website options in support of their hotel online marketing efforts on mobile devices. Language choices currently include Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Chinese. (www.openhospitality.com)
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Singapore-based Swiftrank has launched 13 new market-specific travel-planning websites: BostonHotels.com, CapeTownHotels.com, FlorenceHotels.com, HongKongHotel.com, JerusalemHotels.com, HotelLondon.com, MontrealHotels.com, RioDeJaneiroHotels.com, StockholmHotels.com, SeattleHotels.com, SydneyHotels.com, TelAvivHotels.com and VancouverHotels.com. Swiftrank’s websites provide featured hotels with direct links to their own proprietary websites; it caps the number of hotels listed on each site at 20 to maximize their exposure. (www.swiftrank.com)
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The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) has awarded Pegasus Solutions a Silver Adrian Award for trade show marketing campaign excellence (for its HITEC 2010 marketing campaign), and Utell Hotels & Resorts a Bronze Adrian Award for Email series excellence (for its high profile Utell Showcases marketing member hotels to travel agents in Paris, Frankfurt, London, Rome, Milan, Madrid and New York) in the 54th annual Adrian Awards Competition. (www.adrianawards.com, www.pegs.com)
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Libra OnDemand has expanded its Libra OnDemand Hospitality Management System. Enhancements include:
– a newly designed Concierge Desk module to manage all guest activities, track service requests, follow incident reports and note customer comments, all from a Single Guest Itinerary
– an enhanced Sales, Groups & Events module to let Users generate group sales proposals, contracts and BEOs via Google Docs for sharing with a client online or downloading in Word and PDF formats.
– upgrades to the Loyalty & Rewards module to generate rewards automatically based on the number of stays, nights, dollars spent or frequency of visits, and for reward certificate lifecycle tracking.
– an expanded CRM & Email Marketing module with more integration options to systems such as PMS, POS, CRS, etc.
– Libra HMS Portal, a new employee collaboration tool to provide users with custom designed, specific use case access to module screens via iPad, phone or other mobile device.
(www.libraondemand.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Hoteles Silken selects RateTiger’s RTCorp and RTConnect
  • RateTiger releases Blackberry version of its RTSuite

Spanish hotel chain Hoteles Silken has selected RateTiger’s RTCorp and RTConnect applications to help manage its online sales channels. The RTCorp rate shopping software has been implemented at group level to monitor all properties rates across all relevant sales channels. RTConnect provides the group with greater control over its distribution network, and is interfaced with Micros’ Opera Hospitality Management Systems at 25 hotels. Hotels without the Micros system are subscribed to RateTigers RTSuite Channelmanager Pro.
RateTiger has released a Blackberry version of its RTSuite channel management application for smartphone, which was previously available for Apple’s iPhone.
(www.hoteles-silken.com, www.ratetiger.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Benchmark Hospitality releases annual list of “Top Ten Meeting Trends”
  • PSAV named a Finalist in 5th Annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service
  • Nexus adds five new chains to hosted sales management platform

Benchmark Hospitality has announced its annual list of “Top Ten Meeting Trends” as observed by its 30 properties.
#1 – Business Is On The Move Again! Booking pace for most properties is outperforming last year’s results, though customers remain highly rate conscious, are value focused and demand fast Internet connectivity.
#2 – Planners Want Choice. They still see the value of all-inclusive packages but want them customized to suit their needs and budget.
#3 – Heads In Beds. Hotels plan on growing occupancy while maintaining rate integrity (which is generally comparable to last year) by including added-value options such as free Internet access, cancellation/attrition flexibility, forgiving resort fees, and more.
#4 – The Pace is Positive. Although still short term, more companies are projecting increased business needs in every business quarter, especially the latter part of the year. Meetings are increasing in quantity, but not size.
#5 – Only Connect. Social Media usage is beginning to take hold but is not dominant. Exceptions are LinkedIn and YouTube, with groups posting videotaped sessions online for office-bound colleagues, for reviewing key points going forward and to encapsulate business concepts addressed in the meeting.
#6 – Cost Still Trumps Green. Planners still look for properties to have “green” initiatives in place and generally assume they do. Government meetings and, increasingly, the pharmaceutical industry demand it. But if asked to choose between being green or providing maximum cost savings, budgets still take precedence.
#7 – Taking Time For Teambuilding. Demand for teambuilding is back though uneven across the country. Planners asking for it want unique programs delivered within tight budgets; options may include culinary events, Reality TV-style programs or other concepts, but not ropes courses.
#8 – Why So Serious? For the first time in a long while groups are interested in offering more than a strictly serious meeting experience and are making more inquires for entertainment options as diverse as theme parties, comedians, “meeting camps” and “think tanks,” etc.
#9 – They’re Back! Stalwart conference industries over the past decades – insurance, financial, consulting, high tech, healthcare and education – are coming back after a brief and deep retreat nationwide in 2009-10, though still on a somewhat regional basis. As they step up hiring, training related meetings are becoming more prevalent.
#10 – It’s No Longer Anyone’s Guess. Planners and meeting customers are making extensive use of the Internet to learn about locations, destinations and individual properties. With iPads, smart phones and apps readily available to promote every product and service, communicating with customers online has never been more available, more complex, or more important.
Bonus Trend – Planners May Be Making A Comeback. Many planner positions were streamlined or eliminated over the past years, but with a recovering economy and improved business conditions we may be seeing a renewed focus on the value of these professionals.
(www.benchmarkhospitality.com)
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PSAV Presentation Services has been named one of eight Finalists in the 5th Annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, in the category for “Front-Line Customer Service Team of the Year.” (www.psav.com)
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Nexus has added five new chains to its hosted sales management platform for 2011, including Barcelo Hotels and Resorts of Palma de Mallorca, Spain; HMH Hospitality Holdings of Dubai, UAE; SC Continental Hotels of Bucharest, Romania; Qubus Hotel Management of Wroclaw, Poland and Axis Hotels & Golf of Viana do Castelo, Portugal. (www.nexusworldservices.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • Holiday Inn Resort Orlando – The Castle completes implementation of Roomlinx’ Interactive HD TV
  • Benchmark installs FlyteSystems flight information displays in two properties
  • MTech releases Android app for H2GO
  • Holiday Isle Resort and Marina, Islamorada, Florida Keys, selects UniFocus’ GUESTScope
  • UniFocus announces version 5.0 of GUESTScope

The 216-room Holiday Inn Resort Orlando – The Castle, a Kessler Collection hotel in Orlando, FL has completed its implementation of Roomlinx’ Interactive HD TV (iTV) and Free-to-Guest TV programming, Roomlinx’s third iTV install with The Kessler Collection. 48 of the rooms are also equipped with Roomlinx’ SmartRoom 3-in-1 printer, scanner, and copier. (www.kesslercollection.com, www.roomlinx.com)
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Benchmark Hospitality International has installed FlyteSystems real-time flight information displays and boarding pass printers at the 296-room Lansdowne Resort in Virginia and the Eaglewood Resort & Spa, close to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Midway Airport. (www.lansdowneresort.com, eaglewoodresort.com, www.flytesystems.com)
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MTech has released an Android app for H2GO, the mobile version of its HotSOS application, allowing users to create, respond to and maintain work orders via any Android mobile device. (www.m-tech.com)
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The Holiday Isle Resort and Marina in Islamorada, in the Florida Keys, has selected UniFocus’ GUESTScope for its facilities, which include 178 rooms, suites and cottages, multiple F&B outlets and a marina.
UniFocus announced version 5.0 of GUESTScope, which includes tools to identify what factors are most important to guests and impact their intent to recommend, analyze verbatim comment data to find out what is being said most often about a property and in what context, identify revenue at risk based on guests’ intent to return, relate revenue at risk to problem incidence and service recovery performance, and encourage loyal guests to post online reviews
(www.holidayisle.com, www.unifocus.com)
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BACK OFFICE

  • TTI Technologies combines 3M full page document reader with its Scan2PMS software
  • Fairmont Pittsburgh implements UniFocus’ Watson, R.M. Labor Management System and EVENTLabor

TTI Technologies launched a new system for the hospitality industry, combining a 3M full page document reader with its Scan2PMS software. (www.ttitel.com)
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The Fairmont Pittsburgh has implemented UniFocus’ Watson, R.M. Labor Management System (LMS) and EVENTLabor. The property, which opened on March 29, 2010, includes 185 guestrooms, 12,000 square feet of event space and a 6,000 square-foot health club. (www.fairmont.com, www.unifocus.com)
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  • Jon Inge & Associates
    9301 236th Street SW
    Edmonds, WA 98020

    office: 206-546-0966
    fax: 206-337-1355
    cell: 206-355-3111

    jon@joninge.com