February 18, 2015

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

Communications / Infrastructure

FEBRUARY 5 – 18, 2014

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • Make IT part of the team and everyone benefits

I’ve been working with a lot of different properties lately, and was recently struck by an irony. In an age when we place more and more emphasis on integrating our systems and the data used across all operational departments, the one exception is often the one underlying all of this: the IT Department.
This isn’t always the case; in many properties IT is a valued partner, and the IT Director – or, in smaller operations, the senior operations officer with responsibility for IT – reports directly to the highest levels and is a valued member of the corporate steering committee. In other situations, however, IT is kept at a distance, and this handicaps everyone. Let’s take three examples:
– Support: I hear the comment that “it’s ITs job to fix all our system problems” surprisingly often, and this can never be the case. Just as vendors have to accept that their customers know the systems better than they do themselves, simply because they use them intensively every single day, so hotel operational departments cannot expect IT to understand the circumstances when a software problem was first noticed, nor its impact on operations. IT may well be a critical part of the solution, especially if interfaces, servers or communications are involved, but they cannot be the drivers of it. That responsibility can only lie with the operational department most affected, which is best suited to contacting the vendor(s) and describing the symptoms, and has the most to gain by bird-dogging the issue all the way to resolution.
– Strategy: In the corporate steering committees deciding hotel priorities, most discussions must necessarily be led by operational needs, unless there’s some specific technical issue affecting the operation’s security or legality. But this doesn’t mean that IT has nothing to add; its involvement is essential to ensure that the full ramifications of operational decisions are understood. The business reasons for introducing a change will always take precedence, but (for example) knowing that a desired approach is incompatible with the existing systems and will require a new database or some custom interface development is an important factor in that discussion.
– Security: Finding the right balance between security and usability is always an exercise in risk management, but the refrain that “IT won’t let us do X” needs a broader perspective. IT doesn’t make the rules about which systems or data sets are worth the tightest protection, upper management does; IT just enforces them. If an operational department has a genuine need to do “X” there must be a way to allow that, but that solution has to be worked out together. Perhaps there’s a different piece of software that has equivalent functionality but is easier to protect, or maybe the security barriers can be dropped for a specific time and circumstance, such as unblocking a USB port temporarily to import some key information. But there’s a reason the barriers are in place; deciding what level of risk can be tolerated is a team effort, and requires understanding of the needs and the risks by both sides.
IT needs to reach out, too, and not take any of this personally. If someone asks for something but it needs some clarification and there’s no response, IT needs to be persistently pro-active, diplomatically pursuing the issue until they know the problem has been resolved – and should find out what else they can help with along the way. Bridges get built from both ends.
One of the big “aha” moments in my career was going through a department-wide Myers-Briggs evaluation. For the first time (I’m a slow learner) it became apparent to me that people weren’t being deliberately antagonistic or stupid when I wanted them to do something; they were just looking at the situation from a different viewpoint and different mindset. It was suddenly OK for everyone to be different; each of us had worthwhile skills and experience, but different ways of expressing them. Understanding that Joe got more satisfaction out of working on a problem than out of completing it but Mary wanted to get a decision made as quickly as possible, made it much easier to work out how to combine their talents effectively, and we all became much more productive as a result.
All aspects of a hotel operation have something to contribute. Make sure IT’s part of the team.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Pam Angelucci joins RoamingAround as SVP Operations of RoamBoost division
  • Christine Tan is new SVP Sales and Marketing APAC for FASTBOOKING
  • Daniel Ives joins Optii Solutions as CEO
  • Toni Portmann appointed to CEO and Executive Chairman of the Board at DHISCO

Pam Angelucci has been hired by RoamingAround as Senior Vice President of Operations of its RoamBoost division. A former CIO of Ritz-Carlton, Ms. Angelucci has directed the IT divisions for several leading companies including Baker-Worthington, Whittle Communications and the Arizona Department of Commerce in Phoenix. She established her own consulting practice in 2003.
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Christine Tan is the new Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing APAC for FASTBOOKING. Most recently VP Sales Asia Pacific for Trust, Ms. Tan earlier served as Director of International Reservation System/Revenue Management for ANA Hotels International, as well as Director of Business Development Americas, VP Service Delivery ASPAC and then VP Sales & Account Management for Pegasus Solutions.
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Daniel Ives has joined Optii Solutions as Chief Executive Officer. With an extensive career in the Information and Communications Technology industry and the Casino & Resorts sector, Mr. Ives has previously worked in senior executive positions with Prelytics, JBA Consulting Engineers and ABSi.
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Toni Portmann been appointed to serve as CEO and Executive Chairman of the Board at DHISCO, formerly the distribution division of Pegasus Solutions. Ms. Portmann brings over 30 years’ experience, most recently as CEO and managing partner of LIT OnLine. She previously served as CEO of Stream, Inc., and has held leadership positions at IBM and Diebold.
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GUEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Spooky Nook Sports complex picks Agilysys’ Visual One, InfoGenesis and Eatec
  • Best Western Plus Executive Residency Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada, deploys MSI’s WinPM

The Spooky Nook Sports complex, Manheim, Penn., has selected Agilysys’ Visual One for property management, InfoGenesis for point-of-sale and Eatec for inventory and procurement at its 700,000-square-foot sports facility, 135-room hotel and 225-seat restaurant, all scheduled to open this spring. (www.spookynooksports.com, www.agilysys.com)
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The new Best Western Plus Executive Residency Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada, has deployed Multi-Systems, Inc.’s (MSI’s) WinPM guest management system, the first of its kind to deploy MSI solutions. (www.bestwesterndraytonvalley.com, www.msisolutions.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Conrad lets travelers book rooms by clicking on Instagram photo of a property
  • Expedia buying Orbitz

Conrad Hotels and Resorts is now allowing travelers to book rooms at its 24 hotels by clicking on an Instagram photo of a property, which then leads them to the reservations page. Conrad is using Like2Buy technology by Curalate, a visual marketing firm, to turn its Instagram photos into bookings. (conradhotels.hilton.com, www.curalate.com)
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Expedia is buying Orbitz, less than a month after acquiring Travelocity. (www.orbitz.com, www.expedia.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • Maestro PMS launches GEM Highlights streamlined guest response tool
  • Sabre  announces SynXis InstaSite digital marketing tool to help hoteliers build booking-enabled website
  • FRHI Hotels & Resorts picks Revinate for all 113 properties

Maestro PMS has launched GEM (Guest Experience Measurement) Highlights, a streamlined, web-based guest response tool which reduces the time needed to provide feedback and is optimized for use with mobile devices. At check-out, GEM Highlights automatically sends guests an invitation to go online and provide feedback in real time; responses are collected on a secure website and are immediately available to operators for same day reply. (www.maestropms.com)
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Sabre has announced SynXis InstaSite, a digital marketing tool that helps hoteliers launch a customized, fully responsive, booking-enabled website in as few as three business days. InstaSite will initially be available in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Japanese and German. (www.sabre.com)
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FRHI Hotels & Resorts has selected Revinate for online reputation management for all 113 Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissotel hotels globally, plus additional on-property restaurants. (www.frhi.com, www.revinate.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Sonesta implementing IDeaS’ G3 RMS across 16 Sonesta ES Suite properties
  • Rainmaker introduces more powerful version of GroupREV 
  • Rainmaker announces 20+ new system sales already booked  in 2015
  • Destination implementing Revcaster across all 40+ properties

Sonesta International Hotels is implementing IDeaS Revenue Solutions’ G3 Revenue Management System (RMS) across 16 Sonesta ES Suite properties. The company already uses IDeaS’ flagship RMS in its full-service portfolio. (www.sonesta.com, www.ideas.com)
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The Rainmaker Group has introduced a more powerful version of its GroupREV group pricing software, with upgraded functionality to import and use relevant meeting space and sales & catering data.
Rainmaker announced more than 20 new system sales already booked in 2015, including the New Tropicana Las Vegas, Golden Nugget Lake Charles, as well as two properties within GF Management and three within the Wind Creek portfolio. All of the relationships are new customers and all include GuestREV; many also include GroupREV.
(www.LetItRain.com)
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Destination Hotels has implemented Revcaster’s rate shopping tool across its portfolio of over 40 luxury and upscale properties. (www.destinationhotels.com, www.Revcaster.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Groupize Solutions announces six new clients

Groupize Solutions announced six new clients: Lancaster Arts Hotel in Pennsylvania, Wyndham New Yorker Hotel in New York City, Lions Gate Hotel and Conference Center in Sacramento, CA, Distrikt Hotel in New York City, San’s Boutique Hotel & Suites in historic Savannah, GA and the University Inn in Minneapolis, MN. (www.groupizesolutions.com)
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F&B/POINT OF SALE

  • Spooky Nook Sports complex picks Agilysys’ InfoGenesis, Visual One and Eatec
  • SkyWire integrates Shift4’s encryption and tokenization into POS, PMS and Spa systems
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The Spooky Nook Sports complex, Manheim, Penn., has selected Agilysys’ InfoGenesis for point-of-sale, Visual One for property management and Eatec for inventory and procurement at its 700,000-square-foot sports facility, 135-room hotel and 225-seat restaurant, all scheduled to open this spring. (www.spookynooksports.com, www.agilysys.com)
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SkyWire has integrated Shift4’s True P2PE encryption and TrueTokenization into its POS, PMS and Spa systems. Both Shift4 and SkyWire’s software are housed at Switch’s SUPERNAP datacenter. (www.skywire.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • RHW Hotels selects  ElevenGC as business center computer standard
  • HOTELbeat releases Guest SMS text-based two-way communication tool
  • SkiStar deploys Zaplox mobile keys at additional properties
  • All Hyatt hotels and resorts now providing free Wi-Fi to all guests
  • Renaissance Allentown Hotel opens with Intelity’s ICE on iPad minis in all guest rooms
  • AC Hotels by Marriott picks Bittel’s JACOB JENSEN HT series guestroom phones as standard for U.S. launch
  • Swisscom Hospitality announces Connected TV service over wireless broadband

RHW Hotels has selected Eleven Wireless’ ElevenGC as the business center computer provider at 15 of its 18 properties, with plans to install ElevenGC at all future projects. (www.rhwhotels.com, www.elevenwireless.com)
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HOTELbeat has released its Guest SMS text-based two-way communication tool to link guests to hotels directly for operational service requests such as housekeeping, maintenance and room service, leveraging HOTELbeat’s ticket tracking functionality. The cloud-based tool lets staff receive, transmit and update the status of any task requiring attention, in any language. Guests who provide their mobile phone number upon check-in can use their phone (or other SMS-enabled device) to submit requests or concerns. All guest text communications are logged in HOTELbeat and then directed to the appropriate department. HOTELbeat users can directly respond to a message, convert requests into tickets within HOTELbeat or create tasks for other staff members to follow up on.  (www.hotelbeat.com)
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SkiStar has deployed Zaplox mobile keys at additional properties, having used them in SkiStar holiday dwellings since 2011. (www.zaplox.com)
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All Hyatt hotels and resorts worldwide are now providing free Wi-Fi to guests at Hyatt-branded hotels, independent of booking method or loyalty program participation and on an unlimited number of mobile devices or laptops in guest rooms and social spaces. Platinum and Diamond Hyatt Gold Passport members will receive a free upgrade to premium Wi-Fi service wherever available; other guests can purchase premium service in those locations. The free Wi-Fi offer does not extend to meeting rooms. (www.hyatt.com)
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The 170-room Renaissance Allentown Hotel has opened with Intelity’s ICE loaded onto iPad minis in all guest rooms, replacing traditional alarm clocks and printed materials. (www.renaissanceallentown.com, www.intelitycorp.com)
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AC Hotels by Marriott has chosen Bittel’s new JACOB JENSEN HT series guestroom phones as the standard for the U.S. launch of the brand. The first property opened in New Orleans in November at the Cotton Exchange Building; it will be followed by properties in Kansas City, MO, Miami and Chicago. More than 30 AC Hotels by Marriott are scheduled to open within the next three years throughout the U.S. and Latin America. (www.achotels.marriott.com, www.bittelamericas.com)
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Swisscom Hospitality announced the availability of its Connected TV service over wireless broadband. The Fusion Connected TV has been launched for the latest series of Samsung direct LED hospitality TVs, the Samsung HD 590, available in 32-inch and 40-inch sizes across Europe, the Middle East and South Asia. Fusion Connected TV offers Over-the-Top (OTT) web-based programs and enables content mirroring from the guest’s own devices, as well as providing other IPTV system feature such as a fully interactive program guide, RSS feeds and other real-time information services like flight information and weather forecasts, and a fully branded Graphical User interface that dynamically adapts to the guest profile as stored in the hotel’s property management system. (www.samsung.com, www.swisscom.ch/en/business/hospitality)
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BACK OFFICE

  • Aptech receives Prophix’s Independent Software Vendor Award for 2014 for Targetvue
  • Hershey Entertainment & Resorts selects Infor’s Learning Management module
  • Marriott to migrate much of core IT systems, applications to IBM’s open cloud platform
  • InvoTech Systems announces three new international clients

Aptech Computer Systems has received Prophix’s Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Award for 2014 for its Targetvue Enterprise Budgeting and Planning software, which Aptech began developing on the Prophix platform in 2012. (www.prophix.com, www.aptech-inc.com)
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Hershey Entertainment & Resorts has selected Infor’s Learning Management module to provide employees with access to flexible training options. Hershey already uses Infor’s HR Service Delivery as a secure environment for employees, managers and HR staff to obtain information. (www.hersheypa.com, www.infor.com)
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Marriott will migrate a significant portion of its core IT systems and applications to IBM’s open cloud platform over the next few years. The SoftLayer infrastructure-as-a-service is intended to provide a flexible, scalable platform to minimize the need for on-site IT support and upgrades, and enable faster deployment of new Marriott digital capabilities.  IBM will also provide Managed DevOps Services to enable the development of cloud-native applications. Marriott will also deploy IBM Big Insights analytics software-as-a-service software. (www.marriott.com, www.ibm.com)
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InvoTech Systems has announced three new international clients:
– the Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku, Azerbaijan installed InvoTech’s RFID Uniform System, linked to a White Conveyors U-Pick-It garment delivery system to manage and deliver 3,000 uniforms to a staff of 300. InvoTech’s Uniform System is used by 5 other Trump properties.
– City Hotel Ljubljana, Slovenia, selected InvoTech’s Linen Management System to manage and track 15,000 items.
– Paradis Hotel & Golf Club in Mauritius installed InvoTech RFID Linen and Laundry Systems to manage 70,000 luxury linens and its offsite laundry
(www.invotech.com)
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COMMUNICATIONS/INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Royal Caribbean deploys ElevenOS guest Internet on all 22 ships

Royal Caribbean International has deployed ElevenOS as the guest Internet management platform for all 22 ships, with custom branded portal pages, guest authentication, billing, and advanced reporting. With ElevenOS and its satellite communications partners, Royal Caribbean can now offer unlimited Internet based on a per-day rate, as well as tiered bandwidth options. (www.royalcaribbean.com , www.elevenwireless.com)
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