January 22, 2013

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

JANUARY 9 – 22, 2013

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • Am I a technology jinx, or does everyone’s technology constantly malfunction at some level?
    – HTNG recognizes three hotel companies with EMEA Technology Innovators Awards

I’m an optimist. Always have been, always will be. I’m always intrigued by the next new thing, the next promise that a new gadget or software app will make my life even easier and even more fun. By and large that optimism is well-placed, as witness the many apps and utilities on my phone and laptop and the hundreds of things we can do that we used to just dream of.
But in the mad rush to get new stuff to market before the competition it seems to be generally accepted that things won’t be quite as fully-developed or tested as they might be, leading to a constant level of minor issues that undermine the promises. The trick is to keep that misfiring to an acceptably low level, such that while our tools mostly help us, the apparently-inevitable pain level is kept below the threshold that would push us to throw up our hands, uninstall the thing and look for something else.
Consider these issues: my Bluetooth phone sometimes refuses to synch with my car’s hands-free unit and must be re-booted (the phone, not just the Bluetooth function) before the pairing actually connects. While rotating some portrait-format photos on my laptop vertically for easier viewing, Windows Photo Viewer refuses to save a few, claiming a problem with the pictures’ file properties (there isn’t; they’re identical to the rest). A link in the error message box promises to answer the question “Why can’t I save this picture?” but only displays another so-called “Help” box stating that “The topic is not available in this version of Windows.” Then why offer the promise of Help? Which lazy or sadistically-minded programmer wrote that, and which manager authorized it as acceptable for release?
Like many people, I have the TV in my den hooked up to my home network so I can look at the photos on my office PC in comfort. Sometimes when I add a new folder of photos I can see them on the TV immediately; more often, the folder doesn’t show up on the TV directory for several days, and even then it takes days or weeks before all the photos are viewable. I have no idea why. Then there’s the software for my new graphics tablet which promises that a tutorial will open upon completion of installation (it doesn’t, and isn’t listed in the file directory), the Adobe software updates that Secunia PSI reports are “in progress” but never actually happen (with no progress or error messages), the cell-phone signal extender I bought for our poorly-served house which makes no detectable difference, the Garmin GPS that sometimes seems to get half a step behind reality so that it tells me to turn at the junction I just passed, and so on.
My school physics teacher once commented that on days when lab test results just don’t make sense he sometimes wonders if he should have allowed for the phase of the moon, or whether Mercury was Retrograde. In the field of quantum physics it’s proven that the observer affects the event being observed, so I have to ask: does everyone else also surf along on this tide of perpetually-malfunctioning technology, or is it just me?
I’m still an optimist – the next release will surely make things better! – but sometimes I think I’d be better off writing this column with a goose quill on parchment.
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Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) has recognized three hotel companies with its EMEA Technology Innovators Award for the creative and innovative application of existing technology within their hotels.  The winners were Rotana Hotels and Resorts (for deploying a strong IT services foundation that delivers private services via a SaaS model in a private cloud and in countries with challenging telecommunications reliability), Hotel St. Gotthard Basel (for its identification of a Channel Blanket Technology to centrally manage the pairing of WiFi devices with access points; the technology is not new but was not known to have been deployed elsewhere in the hotel industry ) and Kempinski Mall of the Emirates, Dubai (for its innovative approach to providing on-demand, burstable bandwidth to guests, particularly for meetings, in Dubai’s heavily controlled and very expensive telecommunications market).

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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Cynthia Roberts, Tracy Connors join Flip.to as Business Development Managers
  • Michael Cavanagh appointed CIO at Amway Hotel Corp
  • Peter Klebanoff joins Monscierge as chief sales and marketing officer, VP Sales/Americas
  • Rob Torres is first member of Regatta Travel Solutions’ Advisory Board
  • Brian Brooks named director of operations at RFID Hotel’s new center in Nashville
  • Nigel Allport joins Digital Alchemy as VP Sales for EMEA
  • M3 Accounting Services announces Customer Advisory Board

Cynthia Roberts has joined Flip.to as Business Development Manager, responsible for the western half of North America. She brings extensive hospitality sales and marketing experience, including as director of sales at a major hotel Internet marketing firm, and spent four years as director of sales and marketing for hotels in California and Maryland.
Tracy Connors has been hired by Flip.to as Business Development Manager for the eastern half of North America. Ms. Connors has 15 years of hospitality experience including a stint as sales manager for five hotels in the Orlando market, and also has experience as an independent travel agent and meeting planner.
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Michael Cavanagh has been appointed as chief information officer at Amway Hotel Corp. Mr. Cavanagh brings more than 15 years of experience in aligning IT practices with business strategy for higher education institutions, most recently as senior engagement manager of cloud services at Ellucian Fairfax, a provider of higher education software for universities.
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Peter Klebanoff has joined Monscierge as chief sales and marketing officer, VP of sales for the Americas division. Before joining Monscierge Mr. Klebanoff had served 18 years with Lodgenet, culminating in his role as Vice President, International and Hospitality Business Development.
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Rob Torres, Managing Director of Travel at Google has become the first member of Regatta Travel Solutions’ Advisory Board. Mr. Torres has been with Google since 2006; he was previously VP of Strategic Accounts at Expedia, and was earlier Director of Real Estate Development at Yum! Brands.
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Brian Brooks has been named director of operations at RFID Hotel’s new sales office and order fulfillment center in Nashville. He is the former regional sales manager for electronic locking technology distributor Lodging Access Systems.
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Nigel Allport has joined Digital Alchemy as Vice President of Sales for EMEA, and will head up the company’s sales office in London, its first outside North America. Bringing more than 20 years experience in hospitality technology, Mr. Allport joins Digital Alchemy from Agilysys, where he was Director of Business Development – Hotels & Resorts, EMEA. He had earlier served ten years with SoftBrands in various senior sales and marketing roles, culminating in GM and VP EMEA, and started his career in sales positions with Misys.
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M3 Accounting Services has announced its newly formed Customer Advisory Board, whose members are:
– Michael Attenborough, director of information systems, Pyramid Hotel Group
– Dr. Cihan Cobanoglu, dean at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee School of Hotel & Restaurant Management
– Neil Cohen, chief financial officer, Windsor Capital Group
– David Emery, chief financial officer, InterMountain Management
– Aimee Fyke, chief operating officer, Tharaldson Hospitality Management
– Jack Fritsche, senior vice president and chief financial officer, Donohoe Hospitality Services, LLC
– Randy Meyer, principal and chief financial officer, The Hotel Group, Inc.
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GUEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Hotel Concepts and Brilliant complete integration, change name to iTesso
  • NORTHWIND announces seven new clients for Maestro
  • Agilysys releases latest upgrade to Visual One

Hotel Concepts and Brilliant Hotelsoftware have completed their integration process, and the combined company has officially changed its name to iTesso, taking on the identity of its new cloud-based iTesso Enterprise Lodging System product. Both existing product lines, Hotel Concepts’ IDPMS and Brilliant’s PMpro, will continue to be developed and supported. (www.itesso.com)
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NORTHWIND has announced a further seven customers with 13 properties for its Maestro suite:
– the Northern Hotel in Montana
– an independent resort company with seven properties on the New England coast
– the Inn at Darden – University of Virginia
– the Castle Hill Inn in Newport, Rhode Island
– Lenape Heights Golf Resort in Pennsylvania
– Equinox Villas & Apartments Ltd, in Turks and Caicos
– an Orlando-based hotel company.
(www.maestropms.com)
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Agilysys has announced the general availability of the latest version of its Visual One suite. Enhancements include:
– Rental functionality in GolfPro that allows for cart rental management and maintenance;
– Spa Management pricing strategies that enable hotels to set service prices based on demand;
– Improved statistic and tax exemption tracking within the property management system;
– Two-way TravelClick interface that supports inventory items and service requests;
– New rate and availability calculator for easier agent booking;
– Enhanced interface to the Agilysys InfoGenesis™ POS system that displays guests’ credit limits, payment methods and package codes; and
– An online shopping cart that enables guests to book rooms, spa appointments, tee times and activities with a single itinerary.
(www.agilysys.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Travelport adds inventory from Huntington Travel to Rooms and More booking engine

Travelport has added inventory from Canadian hotel consolidator Huntington Travel to its Rooms and More hotel booking engine. In operation since 1973, The Huntington Travel Group offers global destinations through more than 60 airlines, adding 65,000 properties to Travelport Rooms and More. (www.huntingtontravel.net)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • MGM Grand Ho Tram Beach deploys buuteeq’s Cloud DMS
  • Lodging Interactive introduces central hospitality gift card website
  • London Brand Management announces RoomComment real-time hotel feedback service
  • Valencia Group  selects Vizergy as online marketing partner
  • IDS NEXT launches Guest Dynamix loyalty/feedback management application based on Salesforce
  • Park Group  chooses Blynk for mobile marketing and guest request management apps

The 541-room MGM Grand Ho Tram Beach has deployed buuteeq’s Cloud DMS digital marketing services on its website and online presence, and is already seeing over 10,000 daily unique visitors despite not being schedule to open for some months.  The Ho Tram is the first MGM property to deploy buuteeq’s Cloud DMS, though more are scheduled to deploy it this year.  (www.mgmgrandhotrambeach.com, www.buuteeq.com)
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Lodging Interactive has introduced a central hospitality gift card website called “Gift Hotel,” allowing hotels, resorts and spas to create gift card listings and receive qualified sales directly to their websites. Consumers search the site based on their criteria and are returned a list of properties that meet their needs; when ready to make the gift card purchase, Gift Hotel links them to the business’ website where they buy direct. Gift Hotel also includes integrated Google mapping, guest reviews and social networking components for sharing listings with family and friends. (www.gifthotel.com, www.LodgingInteractive.com)
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London Brand Management has announced its RoomComment real-time hotel feedback service, and reports that two significant accommodation providers in London are due to start using it “within weeks”. The system is text or app-based and uses artificial intelligence to determine the content of the hotel guests’ message and direct it to the right person or department in the hotel for action before the customer publishes the complaint on other review sites or social media networks. (www.londonbrandmanagement.com)
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The Valencia Group has selected Vizergy as its online marketing partner for services that include hotel website design, search marketing and web analytics & tracking. Valencia’s staff is also using Vizergy’s Hotel Web Management Platform to review marketing performance metrics, change website content, monitor their social media presence and more.  Vizergy’s client services team also provides strategic guidance and market intelligence to each of Valencia’s properties, the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk in San Antonio, Hotel Valencia Santana Row in San Jose, and Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE in Houston.  (www.valenciagroup.com, www.vizergy.com)
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IDS NEXT has launched Guest Dynamix, a browser-based loyalty and feedback management application based on the Salesforce Platform designed to help users streamline and simplify loyalty and feedback processes and improve customer acquisition. The Loyalty Management module lets users create loyalty programs, set loyalty point conversion and point redemption slabs, define point redemption methods and more; the Feedback Management module provides a variety of email templates and guest satisfaction reports, and can be integrated with SMS and social media to allow for paperless feedback. A central guest information feature lets chain hotels track guests across multiple properties to help analyze guest spend, point accumulation and reward redemption. A portal allows guests to create their own log-in, view accrued points and redeem them for free nights and suite upgrades. (www.idsnext.com)
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The Park Group of Hotels has chosen Blynk’s apps for mobile marketing and guest request management at its 12 properties in India. (www.theparkhotels.com, www.blynk.it)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Reno Nevada Peppermill Resort Spa Casino to implement Rainmaker’s GuestREV
  • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi to implement Rainmaker’s GuestREV system as part of expansion project

The Reno Nevada Peppermill Resort Spa Casino will implement The Rainmaker Group’s GuestREV software in the first quarter of 2013.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi will implement The Rainmaker Group’s GuestREV profit optimization system as part of a 154-room hotel tower expansion project. The 12-story hotel tower addition is expected to be completed in late December 2013, and will take the property’s inventory to close to 500 rooms.
(www.peppermillreno.com, www.hardrockbiloxi.com, www.LetItRain.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Roosevelt Hotel, New York picks TTI Technologies for new business center
  • Digital Alchemy releases XpressGuide conference communication tool
  • Marriott launches Workspace on Demand on-line booking service

The 1,015-room Roosevelt Hotel in New York, NY has selected TTI Technologies International to design and install its new business center. (www.theroosevelthotel.com, www.ttitel.com)
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Digital Alchemy has released its XpressGuide conference communication tool, which serves as an interactive mobile conference guide or a customized group website. The application delivers key event details such as session schedules, information on speakers and sponsors and transportation options directly to attendees’ smartphones or tablets. XpressGuide is also interactive, providing users with scrollable exhibit floor maps, click-and-call phone numbers, live email addresses, links to social media sites and a direct connection to Digital Alchemy’s mSurvey for feedback. Advertising space on the mobile event sites can be used by the hosting venue or sold to exhibitors to lower the cost per visitor. Authorized staff can update the conference guides anytime from a web-enabled mobile phone or tablet. The cloud-based XpressGuide is instead displayed in the device’s browser and can be accessed through QR codes, pre-show emails, signage or the conference website. (www.Data2Gold.com)
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Marriott has launched its Workspace on Demand service for clients to book small meeting spaces, lobby seating areas and communal tables on-line, in a collaboration with LiquidSpace. Workspaces can currently be booked at more than 30 Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels and Courtyard by Marriott hotels, primarily in the Washington, DC and San Francisco areas but also at select hotels in Atlanta, Houston, St. Louis and Redmond, WA. (liquidspace.com, workspaceondemand.marriott.com)
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F&B/POINT OF SALE

  • NCR integrating PayPal digital payment into mobile POS units for hospitality and retail
  • Revel Systems claims to be first iPad POS system to provide EMV compatibility in the USA
  • Blynk launches range of tablet-based E-Menu apps
  • MICROS ships one millionth Point-of-Sale terminal
  • Ingenico adds Shift4’s gateway service to Point-to-Point Encryption devices
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NCR is integrating PayPal’s digital payment technology into its mobile POS units for hospitality and retail, starting with the recently announced NCR Mobile Pay application and NCR Aloha Online Ordering. NCR Mobile Pay enables restaurant patrons with a smartphone to browse their bill, re-order menu items, alert their server, complete surveys and pay; the new integration displays PayPal appears as a payment option alongside credit or debit card choices. Initiatives are planned to integrate NCR’s Advanced Marketing Solution (AMS) loyalty and offer management system with the PayPal digital wallet, to allow users to “check in” on their devices as they start shopping to take advantage of shopping lists as well as digital redemption of coupons and special offers. (www.paypal.com, www.ncr.com)
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Revel Systems announced that it has become the first iPad POS system to provide EMV compatibility with “chip and PIN” cards in the United States, and also offers it in Australia. Revel’s integration includes providers Ingenico Group and Australia-based Quest Payment Systems, with VeriFone Systems, the Genius platform and Tyro Payments to follow soon. The company also plans EMV integration in the UK, the EU and Japan. (www.revelsystems.com)
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Blynk has launched a range of tablet-based E-Menu apps for restaurants, bars, cafes and lounges, allowing customers to place orders at the property or for home delivery. Offered on a subscription-based pricing model, the apps include site design in the set-up fee and include a simple web-based Content Management System. (www.blynk.it)
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MICROS Systems announced that it shipped its one millionth MICROS Point-of-Sale terminal on December 31, 2012. Its first terminals, the 200/300/400 Series based on the 8080 microprocessor, were launched in 1977. (www.micros.com)
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Retail POS vendor Ingenico has added Shift4’s gateway service to its Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) devices.  Ingenico’s Telium 2 series units combined with the P2PE service reduce previous PCI-compliance concerns and include multi-lane signature capture, retail PIN pad and mobile payment devices, allowing them to securely accept and process all forms of payment including magnetic stripe, EMV chip card, contactless, and NFC-enabled mobile transactions.  (www.shift4.com, www.ingenico.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • Hyatt implementation of Roomlinx passes 20,000 room mark
  • Sofitel installs Quadriga in 26 properties across EMEA
  • The Restoration on King, Charleston, launches Runtriz-based mobile app
  • Some Ibis hotels in London offering Monscierge
  • Bartech achieves certified minibar integration with INNCOM’s INNcontrol 3
  • Concord Hospitality Enterprises certified by Marriott to provide HSIA in North America

Hyatt has implemented Roomlinx in over 20,000 rooms under its Master Service Agreement, which covers up to 60,000 rooms. Installations to date have focused on key markets including Orlando, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Maui; 22,000 additional rooms are under contract. (www.hyatt.com, www.roomlinx.com)
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Sofitel as now installed Quadriga guest communication and entertainment services in more than 4,000 rooms and 26 properties across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Quadriga’s Sensiq TV-based guest communications platform is installed in approximately 2,600 rooms in 16 of these sites; most are also equipped with Quadriga’s High Speed Internet Access services. Sofitel has selected Quadriga to provide new technology supporting the use of guest mobile devices, including QDelegate, Quadriga’s mobile application for conference delegates, which is now available in the Sofitel Roma Villa Borghese and Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam properties. Accor is planning to pilot test Quadriga’s Personal Media Network in a Parisian hotel early in 2013. (www.sofitel.com, www.quadriga.com)
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The Restoration on King (The ROK) in Charleston, a boutique property with 16 apartment-style suites, has launched its Runtriz-based mobile app for Apple and Android devices. The app enables guests to order pre-arrival grocery services, request spa appointments, make hotel or restaurant reservations, see tour information and local weather conditions; guests can communicate directly with The ROK Concierge Staff and receive messages by email, text message, or phone call when requesting any service. Guests can also use the app to connect to local businesses, order tickets, make appointments, peruse menus and have food delivered to their suite from area restaurants. (www.restorationonking.com, www.runtriz.com)
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Some Ibis hotels in London are now offering the Monscierge virtual concierge service, which it claims offers information on nearly three-quarters of guests’ typical front desk questions regarding local recommendations and information and offers access to the details in a range of languages. Weather and flight information is live for guests’ current or future destinations. (www.ibis.com/London, www.monscierge.com)
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Bartech has achieved certified integration for its minibars with INNCOM’s INNcontrol 3 system, allowing for remote monitoring of the minibars over the existing IT infrastructure of a hotel using INNCOM room controls. (www.inncom.com, www.bartech.com)
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Concord Hospitality Enterprises has been certified by Marriott International to provide high speed internet service to all Marriott-branded hotels in North America.  (www.marriott.com, www.concordhotels.com)
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BACK OFFICE

  • Five technology companies combine to form Red Book Connect

Five technology companies have combined to form Red Book Connect, a cloud-based technology company offering many common management tasks such as hiring application processing, labor scheduling, recruiting and onboarding, and inventory management.  The member companies – Red Book Solutions, MacromatiX, My Recruiting Center, HotSchedules, and SchooX – already serve the top 10 largest hotel chains, 75 percent of the top 20 quick service restaurants and 80 percent of the top restaurant chain management companies, and are backed by global investment firm TPG. John Chidsey, former CEO and Chairman of Burger King, will lead the company. (www.redbookconnect.com)
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