January 4, 2011
DECEMBER 15, 2010 – JANUARY 4, 2011, 2010
TOP O’ THE NEWS
- 2010 Year-End Review
Although early optimism at 2009 finally being over was soon replaced by the hard reality of a long climb out of the recession, steady progress was made throughout the year by both hoteliers and vendors. Many of the former took advantage of the lull to re-focus their technology on those areas most likely to help when business took off again, and many vendors worked hard on new product development. It was definitely the Year of the iPad, hardware-wise, but last year’s hot topic of social networking has now become more generally integrated into operations.
Hospitality Technology gains kudos
It’s long been said that this industry is very late to adopt new technology, but that’s also true of many other business verticals and we should stop beating ourselves up about it. Importantly, last year several hospitality companies were recognized by the general business and IT trade press for their innovative projects. InfoWorld named Pegasus’ Rezview NG one of its top 100 IT projects of 2009, and CIO magazine included Pegasus, IHG, Harrah’s and Marriott in its Top 100 awards. Further, InformationWeek listed eight hospitality companies in the top half of its annual list of the 500 best companies at using technology in innovative ways, including InterContinental Hotels Group at #2.
Major changes announced for HMSs
Several major new hospitality management systems were announced. Agilysys and Infor/SoftBrands previewed their next-generation Guest 360 and HMS systems respectively, and PAR Springer-Miller released tantalizing details of its new product development. Amadeus formally announced its long-expected Amadeus Hotel Platform, which combines central reservation, property management and global distribution systems in an integrated, centrally-hosted platform. HP announced a new hosted travel management application covering airlines, hotels, trains and cruise lines, and licensed Pegasus’ Rezview NG reservations/networking technology as one of its core elements. On a smaller scale (so far) Micros co-founder Keith Gruen’s new hetras system was adopted by citizenM as its standard HMS.
Significant focus on Revenue Management
Revenue management systems were a strong focus for many properties looking to be as efficient as possible, especially as useful integration with other systems became more common. New products came to market; Xotels launched its own system, RevPAR Guru’s technology and services gained prominence and TravelCLICK released its Hotelligence360 multi-channel reservation, rate and marketing intelligence tool (immediately adopted by Leonardo Hotels and Taj Hotels).
System integration improved, with InnQuest adding SiteMinder channel management to its roomMaster 2000 PMS and RateTiger integrating with Micros’ Opera, MSI’s WinPM and Gubse’s Sihot PMS. IDeaS added JackRabbit’s distribution engine to its V5i system, Springer-Miller interfaced SMS|Host with EZYield.com, as did Rainmaker, and Genares linked its CRS with RevPAR Guru. eRevMax and RevPAR Guru even launched iPhone versions of their apps, though I wonder how much use they’ll get from typical users.
Implementation was strong across the industry. RateTiger won major orders from Spain’s Tradyso (1,000 hotels) and Paradores de Turismo (90+), Mövenpick chose EZYield for 69 properties, as did H10 Hotels for 36. EzRMS was adopted by Choice Hotels Scandinavia (50+), NH Hoteles (75), Chile’s Enjoy Casino & Resort chain, Hong Kong’s Regal Hotels International (6) and Accor UK (80); Jurys Inn picked IDeaS’ V5i for all 30 properties.
Cloud Computing adds to appeal of remotely-hosted systems
A hot topic at HITEC last year, cloud computing was definitely seen as the way forward for future systems even if some interface and security issues remain to be resolved before a fully-integrated management software suite becomes available. In the meantime remotely-hosted systems of all kinds continue to appeal to many hoteliers, as witness Choice Hotels’ deployment of its choiceADVANTAGE web-based HMS to its 3,000th franchised hotel. Pousadas de Portugal implemented MICROS’ full Opera suite for 39 properties, Delta Hotels and Resorts selected MICROS’ centrally-hosted OPERA Enterprise for 45 properties and Virgin implemented protel PMS across its Limited Edition portfolio. Premier Hotels activated Libra OnDemand for 7 properties; Starwood selected Adaco.NET for its procurement and inventory operations.
Vendors confirmed their interest in this direction. Agilysys, Infor/SoftBrands and Springer-Miller all stated that their next-generation products will be available remotely-hosted, and Micros is committed to the same approach. Seven Seas Computers announced the migration of its Momentohs Sprint PMS to Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud; DataWorks announced a SaaS version of its NeXT inventory software.
Hoteliers are also seeing the value of outsourcing much of their technology infrastructure and administration systems. Hilton outsourced its technology infrastructure to IBM and contracted with Accenture for application development and support. Carlson WagonLit explored mid-office/back-office outsourcing with Amadeus, and Hyatt adopted Microsoft’s cloud-based Business Productivity Online Suite for 17,000 desk-based employees and 40,000 “deskless” associates (bell hops, housekeepers, front-desk staff, etc.).
Central Reservations Systems
The major topic at year end was American Airlines’ opting out of the GDS world it created many years ago in favor of direct-booking links, potentially requiring travelers to book only from its own Web site (as they’ve done for years with Southwest Airlines) but more likely just stirring the waters to produce a different paradigm for travel booking. Relative newcomer Genares was on a roll, landing contracts with Jin Jiang International Hotels for 51 properties in China and for Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and releasing a direct-booking link for Facebook. Accor and Carlson Hotels upgraded to Sabre’s DCX direct connect booking platform; Marriott signed a distribution agreement with GTA by Travelport.
Starwood launched its first two Cisco TelePresence sites (W Chicago, Sheraton Sydney) and GetThere offered its corporate clients access to Tata Communications’ public and private Telepresence rooms for virtual meetings. These systems are definitely useful and cost-saving and bring a new level of realism to video conferences, but so far no-one’s found a way to socialize with a remote image after a meeting.
BI was as essential as ever to efficient operations. Aptech released its EV Lite hosted graphical reporting tool and integrated Clarabridge’s sentiment and text analytics into its Execuvue software; ProfitSword announced its ProfitWizard ad-hoc BI reporting software. Alloso Technologies and Datavision released BI apps for the iPhone and iPad, and Springer-Miller added Datavision’s BI reporting to its SMS|Host hospitality management system.
After the explosion of interest in 2009 social media tools became a more mainstream part of life last year, and most hotel chains and many independents now have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Many also released phone-based applications for booking and trip updating, branching out into Android devices after an initial iPhone focus. InterContinental tested the waters of location-based services by offering Priority Club points to members checking-in from Foursquare, Facebook and other sites. Protel released a Room Tweet enhancement for its hospitality management system, letting hotels broadcasting special offers to Twitter with a link to their Web Booking Engine. Revinate and eRevMax released reputation management tools to help hotels monitor on-line comments and reviews.
Tablet, phone applications
Apple’s iPad was the hot device of the year and very many vendors and hotel companies were quick to release apps for it. InterContinental tested iPads with Concierge teams in four properties and Hong Kong’s Langham Place offered free roaming iPad service for its guests. The Plaza in New York offered iPads in all guest rooms, loaded with Intelity’s ICE guest services portal; Guest Tek incorporated Intelity ICE into its OneView IPTV and HDTV services, and Wyndham deployed its Intelity ICE-based Wyndham Connect interactive guest services. Quadriga had success with its Sensiq guest portal, installed in hotels from the 66-room Beau Rivage Hotel in Neuchâtel, Switzerland to the 764-room Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel. GBCblue’s ORION and mobile GORION portals were adopted by hotels including the Hyatt Regency Greenville, Omni Chicago, Hilton San Diego Bayfront and Heathman Portland, and SAI integrated ORION into its SynergyMMS Maintenance Management System to enhance service delivery.
On the management systems side, iPad applications were released by vendors such as hotel SystemsPro (hotel SalesPro, hotel ServicePro), Flyte Systems (FlytePad airport flight information), TrackIT (package tracking) and MSI (Place Point self-service POS). The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (EI) made its Hospitality iCoach training tips and hints available via Apple’s iTunes for download to staff iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices.
iPhone apps continued to grow (released by Harrah’s, Best Western, Mandarin Oriental, Utell, NH Hoteles, Trust International and TRAVELCLICK’s StayHIP for boutique hotels) and Android came on strongly as the next most desirable platform. Starwood released a BlackBerry app, still the most widely-used business smart phone. O’Rourke launched the SmartStay tool to help hotels build their own phone apps (iPhone and Android). MTech released H2GO, a mobile version of HotSOS for the iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as a version of REX for Google’s Android. NORTHWIND launched a mobile version of the ResWave Booking Engine for its Maestro Enterprise HMS to let guests book room and dining, spa or other activity reservations from most mobile devices.
RFID locks gained favor
Interest in RFID locks grew last year, from all vendors and in hotels of all sizes. These included Vingcard (hotels from Le Meridien Qingdao, Venezuela Marriott Playa Grande, Hotel Okura Amsterdam and Intercontinental Beirut to the 40-room Valentines Resort and Marina in the Bahamas), Saflok (5,900 rooms at CityCenter Las Vegas), Onity (126-room Ramada Limited in Santa Barbara, CA) and KABA-ILCO (Le Centre Sheraton Montreal). The Clarion Hotel Stockholm piloted the use of NFC-enabled Samsung mobile phones as keys to Vingcard locks. Starwood tested its Smart Check-In concept at Aloft brand properties, issuing special RFID cards to SPG loyalty program members; InterContinental pilot-tested OpenWays’ mobile phone acoustic keys at Holiday Inn properties in Chicago and Houston.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In a fairly active year MSI acquired REMco Software, Infor/SoftBrands picked up Amadeus’ Property Management Systems division as Amadeus focused on its new Hotel Platform, and SS&C Technologies bought TimeShareWare. Micros acquired marketing specialist TIG Global, and XETA Technologies, best known for call accounting systems, took over Lorica Solutions. Swisscom acquired Wayport’s EMEA operations, Travelport picked up the Singapore-based Sprice metasearch engine, and Kayak added Munich-based flight and hotel search site swoodoo. Newmarket bought market research vendor Hospitality Information Services (not HIS, the former PMS vendor now part of Infor/SoftBrands) and Expedia acquired travel app developer Mobiata.
And this year?
It’s going to be an eventful year as more fully-featured versions of Agilysys’ Guest 360 and Infor/SoftBrands’ HMS appear and Springer-Miller unveils its new management system; I can guarantee that the latter will open a few eyes. The CRS marketplace may not be the same when the dust settles from American Airlines’ move away from the GDSs but on-line booking will undoubtedly become even more dominant. In the Year of the Rabbit I also expect to see tablet and phone apps proliferate in ever-increasing numbers; as with mainstream software applications, those that succeed will focus on useful integration with each other and with other management systems to become truly valuable real-world tools for both guests and management.
- Claire Gilbertson named BAHA Hospitality Revenue Director of the Year
- Stewart Fidom named BAHA Hospitality IT Professional of the Year
- Adrian Orton named BAHA Overall Student of the Year
- Luis Maroto replaces David Jones as president and CEO of Amadeus
BAHA announced awards under its first ever hospitality recognition program.
- Claire Gilbertson, Director of Revenue, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, was named BAHA Hospitality Revenue Director of the Year.
- Stewart Fidom, Corporate IT Project Manager, Dorchester Collection, was BAHA Hospitality IT Professional of the Year.
- Margaret Martin-Cruz, Director of Finance, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, was BAHA Hospitality Accountant of the Year.
- Radisson Blu Hotels and Resorts was awarded BAHA Corporate Employer of the Year for its work in promoting and developing financial education in the hospitality industry.
- Portland Hotels was similarly recognized as BAHA Independent Employer of the Year.
- Adrian Orton, Accounts Assistant at Hellidon Lakes Golf & Spa Hotel, Daventry was named BAHA Overall Student of the Year based on BAHA Education and Training Programme (ETP) examination results.
Luis Maroto, former Deputy CEO of Amadeus, has replaced David V. Jones as president and CEO of Amadeus, a succession that was planned in January 2010. Mr. Maroto has worked for Amadeus for 11 years in a number of positions, for the last two years as deputy CEO. He joined Amadeus in 1999 as Director, Marketing Finance, and was promoted in 2003 to Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining Amadeus, he had held several managerial positions at the Bertelsmann Group.
- Starwood’s Aloft Harlem opens, second Aloft to implement Starwood’s Smart Check-In program
- Roadchef rolls out Guestline’s suite at 14 properties across UK
- Xn Group sells Xn Leisure Systems subsidiary to Jonas Computing
- Margaritaville Beach Hotel opens with Northwind’s Maestro, uses guestroom key cards as room-charge cards throughout the resort
Starwood’s Aloft Harlem has opened, and is the second Aloft property to implement Starwood’s Smart Check-In program. Prior to their stay, members of Starwood’s SPG loyalty program are sent an Aloft-branded SPG card which doubles as an RFID room key and enables guests to bypass the front desk. (www.starwoodhotels.com)
Roadchef has rolled out Guestline’s Rezlynx hospitality management system, Roomlynx channel manager and PCILynx PCI-DSS functionality at 14 properties, hosted on Guestline’s servers. Due to a branding change, all 14 properties went live with the new system simultaneously. (www.roadchef.com, www.guestline.com)
The Xn Group has sold its Xn Leisure Systems Limited subsidiary to Jonas Computing. (www.xnhotels.com, www.jonassoftware.com)
The 162-room Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola Beach, Florida has opened with Northwind’s Maestro application. The system includes the use of extra coding on the guestroom key cards to allow them to be used as ID and room-charge cards at any outlet on the resort. (www.margaritavillehotel.com, www.maestropms.com)
- Genares launches gMobile application for travelers to book, view and cancel reservations from mobile phones
Genares Worldwide Reservations Services has launched its gMobile application, which allows travelers to book, view and cancel reservations from their mobile phones. (www.genares.com)
- Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle social media marketing division releases Facebook applications
- United Nations World Travel Organization unveils Platma collaboration platform
- La Quinta Resort & Club picks Interactive Sites (I-Sites) for website overhaul
Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle social media marketing division has released Facebook applications for the hospitality industry, including sweepstakes and contests, a YouTube video channel, Twitter feed and Blog RSS feed, email sign up, Google interactive mapping, exclusive fan offers and Yelp real time hotel reviews. (www.CoMMingle.me)
The United Nations World Travel Organization has unveiled its Platma collaboration platform. Created with the support of Spain’s State Company for Tourism Technology and Innovation Management (Segittur), Platma is intended foster open dialogue and collaboration among the 400+ UNWTO Affiliate Members, as well as the exchange of experiences, opinions and knowledge. (www.platma.org)
La Quinta Resort & Club has selected Interactive Sites (I-Sites) to provide a complete website overhaul, HandsOn™ Web content management system and a new online strategy. (www.laquintaresort.com, www.interactivesites.com)
- LateRooms.com partners with Availpro for channel management
LateRooms.com has partnered with Availpro to allow its hotel clients to manage inventory via a single Channel Manager. (www.laterooms.com, www.availpro.com)
- iBAHN signs global partnership with Symon Communications for visual communications and digital signage
iBAHN has expanded its current European reseller agreement with Symon Communications, a provider of visual communications and digital signage software, to a global “Gold Level” contract. The partnership aims to optimize and monetize all available screens within a property through an end-to-end digital signage and visual communications technology. (www.symon.com, www.ibahn.com)
- Royal Caribbean selects InfoGenesis for additional seven ships
Royal Caribbean Cruises has selected Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS system for an additional seven ships, bringing to 30 the number of vessels that use Agilysys software. (www.royalcaribbean.com, www.agilysys.com)
- Prime Group’s new Chicago property opens with Roomlinx in all rooms
- InterContinental launches free Concierge Insider Guides for iPad covering 120 destinations
- iPass survey indicates hotels may lose business travelers through bad Wi-Fi offerings
The Prime Group’s new 610-room property in downtown Chicago has opened with Roomlinx interactive TV applications in all rooms. The Prime Group transformed the lower 12 floors of a historic Chicago landmark into a 5-star, luxury hotel with high-end retail space. (www.primegroupinc.com, www.roomlinx.com)
InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has launched free Concierge Insider Guides for the Apple iPad, covering more than 120 destinations. The app provides access to destination-specific concierge videos with insider information, interactive Google Maps of recommended shops, restaurants and local attractions, recommendations and suggested itineraries for morning, afternoon and evening activities and tips on the local culture, what to pack and other facts. The app also facilitates online booking and provides detailed information and images about individual properties. (www.intercontinental.com)
A survey sponsored by iPass indicates that hotels may be losing lucrative business travel customers with bad Wi-Fi offerings, regardless of whether it is a paid or free Wi-Fi service. While over 50 percent of business travelers tell the front desk when they have connectivity issues, for nearly 36 percent a bad experience affects whether they book that specific hotel, and for a further 16 percent whether to book with the same hotel chain again. The survey covered nearly 1,200 business travelers worldwide; 48 percent were from Europe and Asia, and 47 percent from North America. (http://bit.ly/hotelwifi)
- Springhill Suites Las Vegas implements Telkonet’s SmartEnergy platform
The Springhill Suites hotel in Las Vegas has implemented Telkonet’s SmartEnergy platform to optimize energy savings in its 300 guest rooms and 9 conference rooms. (www.marriott.com/laspr, www.telkonet.com)