January 21, 2014

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

Inventory / Purchasing

JANUARY 8 – 21, 2014

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • Whither mobile payments?

More than most, the payment industry is seeing very rapid changes at the moment. A number of high-profile data breaches in recent years led to the hospitality industry becoming known (for a while) as the preferred “soft” target for thieves. Tightening some basic security precautions improved things quite a bit, but the USA’s continued reliance on magnetic-stripe cards still leaves it more vulnerable than Canada or Europe, for example, which adopted the more secure chip-and-pin cards some years ago. The recent massive breach of data from Target stores may finally swing the tide towards chip-and-pin cards here, although Target did try to introduce them a few years back; resistance from the retail and banking industry over the costs of adoption killed the project.
Some USA banks do issue chipped cards, but their implementation is still a challenge. I acquired one ahead of a recent trip to England, but while the card was accepted in readers everywhere none of them asked for the PIN I’d established before leaving. I had to sign the charge slip instead, which was a bit of a nuisance at self-service stations. When I called the bank to ask why, they said the card was actually a chip-and-signature card “because we haven’t yet figured out a way to do chip-and-pin without making you liable in case of fraud.” So what’s the PIN for? “In case you want to draw money against the card from a European ATM.” Hmm; I don’t think I’m going to be doing that given the interest rates. There’s clearly still work to be done here for seamless international banking, which is odd given that debit cards seem to work the same way everywhere. A simplification, I know, but from a consumer viewpoint it does seem incongruous.
How about mobile wallets such as Google Wallet on our smart phones? Launched with much fanfare, Google recently reversed course on Wallet; instead of putting the contents of your wallet into your phone and paying with that, it announced a Google Wallet Card to carry (along with all your other cards) in a physical wallet, so you can buy things against your Google account. Another debit card? I already have too many.
Well, how about card consolidators such as Protean Echo and the new Coin card? These let you store the details of multiple individual cards on a single smart card; pressing buttons on its surface lets you choose which virtual “card” you want to use for payment. These may reduce bulk in your wallet but they’re still only mag-stripe, not chip-and-pin, there’s no guarantee yet that merchants will accept them instead of the “real” cards, and they stop working if they can’t connect with your phone. This is helpful to make sure you don’t walk off without your card, certainly, but if your phone battery runs down you can’t make payment. Why not just use your phone?
It’s chicken and egg, of course. None of these new technologies will take off unless enough places accept them for payment, and the banks and retail outlets are reluctant to invest in the hardware until enough people want to use them. Hopefully, the Target breach will finally begin the push.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Mike Blake joins StayNTouch Board of Directors
  • Craig Warner promoted to IT Director at Wyboston Lakes 
  • Delfo Melli appointed Sales Director EMEA at Infor|EzRMS

Mike Blake has joined the StayNTouch Board of Directors. With more than 20 years of experience in finance and technology, Mr. Blake is currently CIO at Commune Hotels. He had earlier served as CIO at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, as Senior Vice President of IT for First Data, VP of IT Finance at Kaiser Permanente, Director of IT Finance for Sears and Director of Financial Planning for United Airlines.
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Craig Warner has been promoted from CIO to IT Director at Wyboston Lakes in Wyboston, Bedfordshire, UK. Mr. Warner has more than 18 years’ experience in the hospitality IT sector.
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Delfo Melli has been appointed Sales Director EMEA for Strategic Revenue Management System Accounts at Infor|EzRMS, based in London, UK. Mr. Melli started his career with Micros-Fidelio as Senior Account Manager, gained further experience with Ramesys Hospitality in CRS and web-based PMS system sales before moving to Optims SA and then Amadeus as their head of sales for Revenue Management Systems.
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GUEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Micros announces mobile versions of Opera, Simphony and Xstore

MICROS Systems has announced a global collaboration with Microsoft, Dell and Intel to offer tablet-based mobile functionality for its software modules, starting with MICROS’ Opera, Simphony Enterprise F&B POS and Xstore for Retail. The MICROS software will run under Windows 8.1 on new tablets from Dell incorporating Intel Atom processors; staff and managers will be able to perform multiple activities from one device. Docking the tablet to the MICROS mStation will provide connectivity to peripherals such as cash drawers, scanners, scales and customer facing displays. (www.micros.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Marriott implements DerbySoft for hotel metasearch connectivity & caching
  • Valencia Group lists two more hotels with Pegasus’ RezView NG
  • Magnuson launches CRS1 reservation system in USA

Marriott International has implemented hotel metasearch connectivity & caching from DerbySoft to help it manage online bookings from metasearch sites such as Kayak, Roomkey, Trivago, Qunar and others. DerbySoft’s proprietary smart cache system analyzes historical booking patterns and rate changes, and interrogates shopping message results in order to determine how often it needs to query its hotel customers’ CRSs for rate and availability updates. (www.marriott.com, www.derbysoft.com)
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Valencia Group has listed its two newest hotels with Pegasus Solutions’ RezView NG, the Lone Star Court in Austin, TX and the Hotel Sorella Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, MO. (www.valenciagroup.com, www.pegs.com)
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Magnuson Worldwide is bringing its low cost and widely connected hotel reservation system to the USA market. Launched in the UK last October, the CRS1 platform is based on Sceptre’s Windsurfer CRS software, and includes Magnuson’s optional hotel property management system, PMS1. (www.magnusonworldwide.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • New York Palace implements ZMail
  • Vizergy receives gold Adrian Award for digital marketing excellence for Brown Hotel Web site
  • Infor adds TrustYou’s TrustScore to EasyRMS
  • Best Wester, Carlson work with Google to add street-view photos of properties

The 909-room New York Palace hotel has implemented ZDirect’s ZMail for guest communications following its recent major renovation. (www.newyorkpalace.com, www.zdirect.com)
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Vizergy has received a gold Adrian Award for digital marketing excellence from the HSMAI for its work on the Brown Hotel. (www.brownhotel.com, vizergy.com)
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Infor has added TrustYou’s TrustScore ranking to its EasyRMS application. TrustScore is an aggregate ranking based on online review feedback from over 250 sites. TrustYou will supply Infor EasyRMS with its Meta-Reviews (an analysis of various sentiment scores from all reviews across the web) and its popularity rankings as part of this collaboration. (www.infor.com, www.trustyou.com)
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Google is adding 360-degree, high-resolution panoramic photos to its hotel search, similar to the street view in Google maps. Best Western is rolling out photos of its 2,200 North American properties; Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is also reportedly working to load photos of its 100 Radisson and Country Inns & Suites hotels across the U.S. and Canada. Carlson is also testing a feature in Google Maps that will let guests move through a floor plan of the hotel, starting with the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Minnesota. (www.bestwestern.com, www.carlsonrezidor.com, www.google.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Bali Hotel Guide signs with RateGain
  • Goibibo.com developes two-way connection with RateGain’s RezGain
  • Infor adds TrustYou’s TrustScore ranking to EasyRMS
  • Indra adds SiteMinder as channel partner for distribution services
  • TouristOnline completes 2-way XML interface with eRevMax’s RateTiger & Connect
  • Restel Hotel Group implements IDeaS RMS in five more properties
  • RezNext enhances ReX channel management to handle package bookings

Destination site Bali Hotel Guide has signed with RateGain for distribution services for its 800+ hotel properties. Bookings will be delivered through the RezGain interface to the hotel’s GMS, and hotels using RezGain can update rates across a range of channels in one step.
OTA Goibibo.com has developed a two-way connection with RateGain’s RezGain.
(www.balihotelguide.com, www.goibibo.com, www.rategain.com)
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Infor has added TrustYou’s TrustScore ranking to its EasyRMS application. TrustScore is an aggregate ranking based on online review feedback from over 250 sites. TrustYou will supply Infor EasyRMS with its Meta-Reviews (an analysis of various sentiment scores from all reviews across the web) and its popularity rankings as part of this collaboration. (www.infor.com, www.trustyou.com)
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Indra has added SiteMinder as a channel partner for distribution services through SiteMinder’s crsXchange, an interface it developed in less than two weeks. The link ensures two-way integration to a hotel’s PMS, rate parity through all sites, management of online inventory from one place and reduced risk of over-bookings. (www.siteminder.com, www.indracompany.com)
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Danish OTA TouristOnline has completed a 2-way XML interface with eRevMax’s RateTiger & Connect distribution platforms. TouristOnline will also use eRevMax’s Reservation Delivery service for the automatic transfer of reservations directly to the hotel management systems (CRS/PMS). TouristOnline lists 350,000 hotels and over 50,000 holiday homes in Europe. (www.touristonline.dk/en, ww.erevmax.com)
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Restel Hotel Group has implemented IDeaS Revenue Management System (RMS) in a further five of its 49 properties, including sites in Helsinki and in Tampere, Finland’s second largest city. (www.restel.fi/en_GB/home/, www.ideas.com)
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Distribution services vendor RezNext has enhanced its ReX channel management module to let hoteliers create packages such for honeymoons, adventures, beach vacations, pilgrimages and more based on room types and real-time availability in ReX, and can share this with all their distribution channels. Consumers can book these packages directly without calling the OTA or hotel; confirmations are received into the hotel’s GMS, which sends the booking voucher to the guest. The new functionality also allows hoteliers to create manage and publish an itinerary against the packages and make it available on their website and on distribution channels. (www.reznext.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Hilton introduces getplanning interactive meeting planning platform
  • Marriott Hotels has launched Meetings Imagined site with emphasis on creativity

Hilton Worldwide has introduced its getplanning interactive meeting planning platform for Connect+ properties globally, allowing planners to connect with hotel staff, vendors and partners in real-time. Connect+ hotels are located in destination cities and feature more than 450 guest rooms or over 40,000 square feet of meeting space.
getplanning features include an organized and detailed approach to planning, real-time communications, centralized document access, single-click to planning assets (floor plans, menus, Passkey and more), management of third-party vendors and activities, the use of mobile devices on-site and a systematic approach to managing meetings and events. (www.hilton.com)
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Marriott Hotels has launched Meetings Imagined, an online platform that provides expert tips, information on meeting trends and hundreds of inspirational images to spark creativity based on the meeting objective. Customers can collaborate with hotels to design custom experiences or view others featured at the participating test hotels, as well as post favorite images on social media sites. The site bases its approach on seven purposes for meetings: celebrate, decide, educate, ideate, network, produce and promote. Five US and four European Marriott Hotels will be testing the Meetings Imagined concept: Chicago Marriott O’Hare, Tysons Corner Marriott, Gaithersburg Marriott Washingtonian Center, Orlando World Center Marriott, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, London Marriott Grosvenor Square, Paris Marriott Rive Gauche, Munich Marriott Hotel and the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel. (MeetingsImagined.com)
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F&B/POINT OF SALE

  • Country Club of Naples installs Clear Sky Software’s Beverage, interfaced with Jonas
  • Agilysys announces InfoGenesis Flex mobile POS based on ThinkPad Tablet 2
  • Micros announces mobile versions of Simphony, Xstore and Opera
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The Country Club of Naples in Naples, Florida has installed Clear Sky Software’s Beverage perpetual inventory system, integrated with CCN’s Jonas club management software. Clear Sky product receiving information is exported to the Jonas accounts payable module; Jonas revenue data is exported to Clear Sky for beverage cost reporting. (www.ccnaples.net, www.clearskysoftware.com)
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Agilysys has announced InfoGenesis Flex, a mobile POS based on Lenovo’s ThinkPad Tablet 2. (www.agilysys.com)
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MICROS Systems has announced a global collaboration with Microsoft, Dell and Intel to offer tablet-based mobile functionality for its software modules, starting with MICROS’ Simphony Enterprise F&B POS, Xstore for Retail and Opera for hotels. The MICROS software will run under Windows 8.1 on new tablets from Dell incorporating Intel Atom processors; staff and managers will be able to perform multiple activities from one device. Docking the tablet to the MICROS mStation will provide connectivity to peripherals such as cash drawers, scanners, scales and customer facing displays. (www.micros.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • LG Electronics USA to recommend G-LINK as preferred compatible hospitality connectivity device

LG Electronics USA plans to recommend G-LINK as a preferred compatible hospitality connectivity device, phasing out its “Remote Jack Pack” (RJP) in favor of G-LINK’s auto-sensing panels with a single HDMI connection to the LG TVs. G-LINK’s connectivity panels include built-in Apple docks and enough AV ports to support smartphones, tablets, personal gaming consoles and laptops, with power ports to let guests play and charge simultaneously. (www.glinkconnect.com, www.lgsolutions.com)
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BACK OFFICE

  • Infor acquires PeopleAnswers
  • M3 Accounting + Analytics completes fifteenth year in hospitality industry, passes 3,000-client mark

Infor has acquired PeopleAnswers, maker of a predictive talent analytics engine. The cloud-based service analyzes 39 behavioral traits for job candidates and produces a fit rating to predict how well a candidate will match the position requirements, helping reduce turnover, improve customer service and increase revenue by qualifying applicants more thoroughly and analytically. Key attributes predictive of a new employee’s performance include ambition, discipline, energy, acceptance of authority, attention to detail, flexibility, conscientiousness and empathy; PeopleAnswers administers online interviews to 20 million applicants annually across multiple industries, job roles, and geographies.
(www.infor.com)
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M3 Accounting + Analytics has completed its fifteenth year in the hospitality industry. Its flagship hotel accounting platform, AccKnowledge, now has more than 3,000 active hotels online; nearly 500 hotel management companies in North America are using M3’s products. (www.M3AS.com)
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INVENTORY/PURCHASING

  • Le Duff America picks Agilysys’ Eatec and Workforce Management for 145 Mimi’s Café locations

Le Duff America has selected Agilysys’ Eatec inventory and procurement system and Agilysys Workforce Management Solution (WMx) for 145 Mimi’s Café locations across the country; it already used the products at 66 la Madeleine Country French Café restaurants nationwide. (www.groupeleduff.fr/en, www.agilysys.com)
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