January 31, 2012

In this issue…

People on the Move

Guest Management Systems


Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning


Guest Services

Back Office

Communications / Infrastructure


JANUARY 18 – 31, 2012


    • ALIS acknowledges critical value of technology, so why is it under-funded?
    • OpenTravel publishes 2011B schema

As you’ve read elsewhere, this year’s ALIS conference was a happily high-energy event, with a palpable sense of confidence in the recovery of business – in this case, the business of buying and selling hotels. It’s by no means a technology conference, but a couple of break-out sessions brought out how critical technology is to hotel operations, and how little that fact is appreciated by owners.
One was a presentation of the recent AH&LA/STR-sponsored Distribution Channel Analysis survey, given by Cindy Estis Green and Mark Lomanno, both of whom absolutely know what they’re talking about in this area. Their key findings were that marketing doesn’t generate new business overall, it just shifts it from one hotel to another and one channel to another, and that each new entrant into the distribution game (e.g. Google, and possibly Apple) will inevitably add new intermediary costs to the room inventory it offers. Hotels’ distribution costs are therefore likely to increase to generate the same level of traffic. The only way to stay ahead is to know your guests’ profiles and preferences in enough detail to make specifically-appealing offers to them on their preferred channels, and to be very thorough in including all channel costs in deciding how to price and where to place each offer. And the only way to be successful at that is through good technology, to collect and analyze the data and to act swiftly on its findings.
The other session was a discussion on what asset managers have learned from the challenges of the last few years. The panel included representatives from a hotel chain, a management company, two owners and an asset management consultant, and their universal response was the same: “we didn’t use technology as well as we ought to have done.” Yet when asked why their CapEx plans never included funds for management technology (though they do for regular re-painting of the door trim in the front desk area, according to a CapEx survey), the responses were “no-one ever tells me when I need to spend money on it” and “we know we have to spend funds from time to time to bring it back up to scratch, but beyond that…”
The sad part of this is the general perception that despite giving face value to the need to do a better job with it, technology is apparently still too often seen as a burden that will only be addressed when it’s fallen so far behind as to be embarrassing. There’s a real case to be made for a technology CapEx reserve as well as an FFE one, to provide funds for regular updates to stay competitive. Any property or chain occasionally “bringing it back up to scratch” will always be out-performed by competitors who recognize its essential contribution to effective management in a complex and fast-changing world, and thus invest in it regularly.
The OpenTravel Alliance (OpenTravel) has published the 2011B version of its messaging standards. Hotel-specific changes focus on a subset of the 2010 ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) legislation requiring electronic hotel reservations to identify and describe accessible features, book accessible guest rooms, ensure that they are then removed from inventory and guarantee a specific accessible guest room. The 2011B version also contains updates to hotel, airline, tours/activities and golf messages, along with new messages for railways and ground transportation companies.

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  • Jonathan Reynolds joins Libra OnDemand as Professional Services Director
  • Eric Oppegaard is new Marketing and Communications Manager at Libra OnDemand
  • Ian Brown hired by Guarded Systems as Chief Executive Officer
  • Jason Price one of HSMAI’s “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing” for 2011

Jonathan Reynolds has joined Libra OnDemand as Professional Services Director. Mr. Reynolds was most recently the Director of Information Technology at The Setai South Beach by GHM, and the Viceroy Miami, and brings over seven years of experience from previous positions at MICROS Systems in Senior Project Management and Senior Product Specialist roles.
Eric Oppegaard is the new Marketing and Communications Manager at Libra OnDemand. Mr. Oppegaard has over ten years of experience in marketing and new media, gained through positions at The Walt Disney Company, ESPN, Madison Ambulance and Fairview Research.
Ian Brown has been hired by Guarded Systems as Chief Executive Officer. Previously a consultative advisor, Mr. Brown has over 30 years of technology-industry experience, most recently as Vice President of North America Sales for Nomadix. He had earlier served in Vice President positions with Martin Marietta International, Sawtek and Winnet MCS, and Senior Management posts at NSA, Masscomp, Harris, Netspeak, Wellfleet-Bay Networks and Cacheflow.
Jason Price, Executive Vice President of HeBS Digital, has been named by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) as one of the “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing” for 2011. Prior to HeBS Digital, Mr. Price served as VP of Business Development at two travel Internet start-ups and for top advertising agencies in New York City, and has authored two books.
Tom Walker has been appointed Director of Sales for The Rainmaker Group’s Gaming/Hospitality Division. Mr. Walker was previously with Rainmaker from 2004 to 2007, and returns to the company after serving as a senior industry consultant for lodging at Teradata. He had served earlier as Vice President of Revenue Management for Omni Hotels, a Rainmaker client.

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  • HomStay Suites, Williston, ND installs Ariane interactive kiosks
  • Three Western Inns properties migrate from MSI’s NovaPLUS to WinPM
  • Hawkwell House Hotel implements protel’s PMS from Xn Hotel Systems
  • Worldgate Timeshare in Kissimmee, Florida picks SPI Software’s Orange

The 78-room HomStay Suites in Williston, ND has installed interactive kiosks from Ariane Systems, integrated with its Micros Opera guest management system and Onity locking system. The kiosks offer full check-in and check-out functionality, along with keycard delivery and credit card payment. (www.homstaysuites.com, www.ariane-systems.com)
Three Western Inns properties have migrated from Multi-Systems, Inc. (MSI) NovaPLUS to its WinPM guest management systems, assisting their conversion to an independent flag with a two-way interface with the iHotelier CRS. (www.westerninnshotels.com, www.msisolutions.com)
The 66-room Hawkwell House Hotel in Iffley Village, Oxford, has implemented protel’s PMS from Xn Hotel Systems, interfaced with IDeaS Revenue Management System. (www.hawkwellhouse.co.uk, www.xnhotels.com, www.protel.net)
The 429-room Worldgate Timeshare property in Kissimmee, Florida, has chosen SPI Software’s Orange Software as its enterprise IT application. (www.spiinc.com)

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  • B4Checkin announces six new customers
  • NAVIS announces four new clients for reservation sales system
  • Sceptre migrating 600-plus hotels to Whiteboard Labs’ Windsurfer CRS

B4Checkin has announced six new customers for its online booking engine and feedback application:
– Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts, Aruba
– Coconut Court Beach Hotel, Barbados
– Avila Hotel, Curacao
– The Flamboyant Hotel, Grenada
– Club Orient Resort, St. Maarten
– The Carlton Savannah, Trinidad.
NAVIS announced four new clients for its reservation sales system:
– Pinehurst Resort, North Carolina
– The Biggest Loser Resort, California and Utah
– Resort Collection of Panama City Beach, Florida
– Vail Resorts, Colorado
Sceptre Hospitality Resources is migrating its 600-plus hotels to Whiteboard Labs’ Windsurfer CRS program early this year.  Services to be provided by Whiteboard will include GDS connectivity, Internet Booking Engine, iPhone/iPad apps and a Facebook-specific booking engine.  (sceptrehospitality.com, www.whiteboardlabs.com)

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  • Wilshire Grand Hotel implementing Lodging Interactive’s Guest Review System
  • TripAdvisor launches Management Dashboard
  • Red Lion Hotels picks TravelClick for web and mobile booking platforms
  • REBEL Travel expands PropertyVIEW suite to include direct interfaces to search sites
  • buuteeq integrating AdReady’s platform to deliver online advertising and demand generation services

The Wilshire Grand Hotel is implementing Lodging Interactive’s web-based Guest Review System to verify, review and display customer comments on its Website and post management responses. (www.wilshiregrand.com, www.LodgingInteractive.com)
TripAdvisor has launched its Management Dashboard, which provides reporting on multiple aspects of a property’s business from total reviews and current popularity ranking to its most viewed competitors and the countries generating the most traffic to its TripAdvisor page. A more comprehensive version to be released soon to properties with Business Listings subscriptions will add other metrics and information, including graphics depicting a property’s Business Listings performance both over time and relative to their competitors in the same geographical region. (www.tripadvisor.com)
Red Lion Hotels has contracted with TravelClick for web and mobile booking platforms.  Each hotel property will have its own online storefront with information tailored to its region, using mobile, social media and interactive map technologies.  Once the web and mobile platforms have launched, TravelClick will provide search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) and display marketing. (www.redlion.com, www.TravelClick.com)
REBEL Travel has expanded its PropertyVIEW suite to include direct interfaces for faster listing updates on local search sites, maps, and mobile apps including Yahoo Local, Citysearch, MapQuest, Super Pages, Foursquare, and more. REBEL’s Content Verification Services include OTA, Local Search, Social Profiling, and Reputation Management. (www.rebel-travel.com )
Digital marketing vendor buuteeq is integrating AdReady’s software platform to deliver online advertising and demand generation services to hotels worldwide. AdReady’s platform simplifies the creation of digital display advertising, giving brands the power to connect quickly with online prospects using publishers such as Facebook, Yahoo!, Google and others. (www.adready.com, www.buuteeq.com)

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  • One King West Hotel & Residence implements EzRMS
  • FastBooking announces Updater Premium channel management tool
  • Vincci Hoteles implementing EZYield’s Fuzionlink across all 35 properties

Toronto’s One King West Hotel & Residence has implemented Easy (Ez) Revenue Management Solutions’ EzRMS. Modules selected include the EzRMS Core Module and Ez-COMPETE, with an upload to PAR Springer-Miller’s GMS and an interface to EZ-Yield channel distribution. (www.onekingwest.com, www.EasyRMS.com)
FastBooking announced its Updater Premium channel management tool. New features include more powerful reporting tools, a centrally managed inventory with initial allotments adjusted according to incoming bookings to ensure even distribution across all channels, and automatic, real-time booking feed into the hotels’ GMSs.  An available option can automatically load bookings collected from the hotel’s Internet distribution sites into the GMS. (www.fastbooking.net)
Spain’s Vincci Hoteles is implementing EZYield’s Fuzionlink across its entire hotel group of 35 luxury properties in the Iberian Peninsula and Canary Islands, as well as locations in the United States and North Africa, following a six week pilot installation at its Vincci Via 66 property in Spain. (www.vinccihoteles.com/eng, www.ezyield.com)

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  • Knowland Group expands Readers reader board service to Hamburg and Dublin

The Knowland Group has expanded its Readers reader board service to Hamburg, Germany and Dublin, Ireland. Readers consolidates group meeting activity nightly from researchers’ digital photographs of hotel reader boards for reporting to subscribers the next day. (www.knowlandgroup.com)

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  • ResortSuite partners with SelfOptima

ResortSuite has partnered with SelfOptima to integrate SelfOptima’s GEMS (Guest Experience Management System) with ResortSuite’s guest management system to provide an integrated online wellness environment for guests to stay connected with the resort after their stay. GEMS provides information on resort therapies, personalized recommendations and activity plans through an interactive optimum health assessment, as well as goal setting, tracking and focused social networking functionality for guests to set up support groups to reach their wellness goals, and connections with the health experts at the resort. (www.selfoptima.com, www.resortsuite.com)

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  • Trip[Advisor survey shows WiFi as top amenity preference
  • Quadriga adds Direct2Guest and PromoDirect options to Sensiq platform
  • Quadriga appoints MSR IT Solution as Sensiq distributor in India
  • Seaport Hotel & Seaport World Trade Center deploys Enterasys OneFabric Edge network
  • JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton at LA Live implement LodgeNet Envision interactive HDTV platform
  • Hotel Technologies named “Innovations Honoree” at CES for iHome HiDM5 Executive Workstation
  • Locatel launches Eclipse MiRa portal for Philips MediaSuite TVs, allows revenue-driving interactive services
  • OTRUM signs worldwide partnership agreement with TV manufacturer Loewe
  • Embassy Suites Boston, Logan Airport installs FlyteBoard display
  • Mandarin Oriental New York upgrades Wi-Fi infrastructure with Ruckus switches in each room
  • OpenWays introduces MOBILE KEY DUAL with Pure NFC technology

A survey by TripAdvisor of more than 1,000 U.S. travelers and over 600 U.S. hotel representatives on amenities emphasized guests’ strong preference for WiFi Internet access and for breakfast to be included with booking. Travelers valued loyalty points and a shuttle service noticeably higher than owners/managers, whereas owners/managers valued their provision of room service and a pets-allowed policy higher than did travelers. Over half (54%) of the respondents said they have canceled a reservation because of better amenities at a different property.
The top five “most important” amenities were:
– WiFi Internet access : 85% travelers, 99% hotel owners/managers
– Breakfast include with booking: 78%, 79%
– Guest loyalty points: 72%, 55%
– Restaurant: 71%, 70%
– Shuttle service to local attractions/airport: 66%, 41%.

The least important “bottom five” were:
– Turn-down service: 87% of travelers, 83% of owners/managers
– Pets allowed: 85%, 38%
– Spa: 79%, 75%
– Tours/Excursions/Activities: 76%, 65%
– Room Service: 72%, 49%
Quadriga has added Direct2Guest and PromoDirect options to its Sensiq guest communications platform. PromoDirect enables hoteliers to promote services such as new spa facilities, partner services and guest special offers on TVs in public areas, using text banners on the screen. Direct2Guest offers similar functionality for the guestroom TVs, allowing banner campaigns to be pushed out at selected times to a choice of screen locations to target specific guest profiles.
Quadriga has appointed MSR IT Solution Pvt Ltd (MSR) as its exclusive distributor in India for its Sensiq guest communications application. Products to be added later include its SmoovieTV platform and a range of new internet services. India’s first Sensiq installation is at the 66-room Park Visakhapatnam, one of the Apeejay Surrendra Group’s Park Hotels, and offers entertainment and information content as well as both wired and wireless Internet access.
(www.theparkhotels.com, www.quadriga.com)
The Seaport Hotel & Seaport World Trade Center in Boston has deployed a Siemens’ Enterasys OneFabric Edge network for Internet access for hotel and conference guests.  The network is managed proactively by the property’s IT staff using Enterasys’ isaac, which allows them to interact with it using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and SalesForce.com Chatter.  The guest network was planned to also provide the infrastructure to integrate in-room guest entertainment systems and, eventually, a VoIP phone system.  (www.seaportboston.com, www.enterasys.com)
Both the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels at the LA Live complex in downtown Los Angeles have implemented LodgeNet Interactive’s Envision interactive HDTV (iHDTV) platform and Envision apps. Envision offers a cloud-based interactive television service, with apps for checking weather and current flight information as well as learning more about on-site amenities and local attractions. Additional apps will include InRoom Dining and automated Guest Requests. (www.lalivemarriott.com, www.ritzcarlton.com, www.lodgenet.com)
Hotel Technologies was named an “Innovations Honoree” at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for its iHome HiDM5 Executive Workstation, a wireless Bluetooth keyboard with microphone and stereo speaker phone intended to provide a better videoconferencing and media enjoyment experience for uses of iPads, iPhones and other Bluetooth-equipped mobile devices. The HiDM5 was also named “Best in Show” by iLounge, and will be available to the hospitality industry in March exclusively from American Hotel Register. (www.hoteltechnologies.com)
Locatel has launched its Eclipse MiRa portal, bundled with Philips MediaSuite TVs, targeted at 3- and 4-star hotels wanting to offer revenue-driving interactive services. Based on the HbbTV (Hybrid broadcast broadband TV) standard for connected TVs, the portal includes news and information feeds, customized language interfaces and messaging, a range of TV and radio channels and on demand movies. Hotels can further tailor onscreen content and add targeted in-house promotional offers and advertising. (www.locatel.net, www.philips.com/hoteltv)
OTRUM has signed a worldwide partnership agreement with TV manufacturer Loewe, following the installation of Loewe screens at the Corinthia Hotel London. (www.otrum.com)
Embassy Suites Boston at Logan Airport has installed an enhanced FlyteBoard display from Flyte Systems. (embassysuites.hilton.com/Boston, www.flytesystems.com)
The 248-room Mandarin Oriental New York has upgraded its Wi-Fi infrastructure, supplementing its existing DAS (distributed antenna system) with a Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex 7025 Wi-Fi switch integrated Wi-Fi into standard wall outlets in each room. Each unit provides four wired network ports and a WiFi access point. (www.mandarinoriental.com/newyork, www.ruckuswireless.com)
OpenWays has introduced its MOBILE KEY DUAL with Pure NFC technology, in cooperation with Nordic Choice Hotels, NOKIA and NXP. MOBILE KEY DUAL combines OpenWays’ CAC™ (Crypto Acoustic Credential) technology with both RFID and NFC technologies. After Nordic Choice Hotels’ pilot test of NFC keys in 2010 at the Clarion Hotel Stockholm property determined that a better user interface was required, as well as multi-carrier delivery, it deployed OpenWays’ Mobile Key in several hotels but required an NFC capability to cover future technology developments. (www.choicehotels.no, www.openways.com)

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  • Maybourne Hotel Group implements Kronos’ employee-scheduling at headquarters and three London hotels
  • Revel resort in Atlantic City picks InvoTech’s GIMS UHF RFID uniform tracking system
  • FOUNDATION Logic Systems  announces five new clients for its Uniform Manager technology

The Maybourne Hotel Group has implemented Kronos’ employee-scheduling technology at its headquarters and three hotels in London: Claridge’s, The Berkeley and The Connaught. The system will be used at these four sites by nearly 1,500 employees. (www.maybourne.com, www.kronos.com)
The new Revel resort on the Atlantic City Boardwalk has selected InvoTech Systems’ GIMS Ultra-High Frequency RFID uniform tracking system for the thousands of garments to be worn by its 5,800 staff members.  The 1,500-room property is scheduled to open this spring. (revelresorts.com, www.invotech.com)
FOUNDATION Logic Systems has announced five new clients for its Uniform Manager technology, which will be installed in all Ameristar Casinos, Horseshoe Hammond Casino and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (all using bar-code technology) and the Star Casino Australia and Vail Resorts (using RFID technology). (www.foundlogic.com)

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  • Guarded Systems announces XcessPro Multi Services Controller all-in-one gateway/firewall/load balancer

Guarded Systems has announced its XcessPro Multi Services Controller (MSC), a single cloud-hosted unit that provides an Internet gateway, firewall, WAN load-balancing, traffic shaping and a guest management system interface. (www.guardedsystems.com)

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  • VingCard updates RFID locking technology for greater reading speed and distance

VingCard has updated its RFID locking technology with a newly optimized internal antenna that increases its reading speed by almost 50% and enables RFID locks to read keycards from more than twice as far. (www.vingcardelsafe.com)

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