January 6, 2009

In this issue…

People on the Move

Property Management Systems

Reservations

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

F&B / POS

Guest Services

Inventory / Purchasing

Engineering

Communications


TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • 2008 News Review

Last year’s news was certainly dominated by the financial challenges of the fourth quarter, but it helps to remember that drama sells newspapers and attracts TV viewers; the actual story is seldom as dire as the headlines. Although the challenges are certainly real, I believe most hoteliers are taking rational steps to maximize their operating and marketing efficiency – and that takes good systems and technology.

There was plenty of other activity to keep us interested. PCI certification was top of mind for most operators, especially now that lack of compliance is automatic grounds for potentially substantial fines from the credit card companies and banks. Ongoing system enhancements will probably be necessary as the compliance standards are revised to counter new threats, and could become another regular expense for hotels to add to the cost of being in business.

More and more marketing, booking and stay management functions moved to the Internet. CRM vendors became highly sophisticated in crafting guest-specific marketing messages, and activities such as spa, golf and dining were more commonly bookable on-line (e.g. through Northwind Maestro’s ResWave). Hyatt extended Internet check-in/out to all guests, and Hilton opened its Homewood Suites online room selection function to all Hilton HHonors members. Hyatt, Hilton and Kimpton partnered with StarCite to offer small-meetings booking online.

The increasingly consumer-driven nature of the Internet and technology in general showed in many initiatives, though still more as isolated instances than as fully-implemented standards. Social networking was seen as a hot area to reach potential travelers, with many vendors offering marketing links to blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Hotel Concepts integrated its CRS with Facebook, and location-based hotel/restaurant finders/bookers were among the first applications released for the new iPhone. Runtriz launched an iPhone/iPod Touch-based application for guests to order room service, set wake up calls, request luggage and other services, check messages or set the room to “Do Not Disturb”, and DOCOMO interTouch showed its similar hYspace prototype. Westin installed Nintendo’s Wii consoles for its WestinWORKOUT program at 10 US hotels; aloft hotels offered PumpOne workout PDA programs in its fitness centers.

Intercontinental integrated Google Earth into its Web site for visual travel planning; Dolphin Dynamics did the same with Microsoft Virtual Earth. New York City’s Algonquin Hotel now loans Amazon Kindles to its guests, the Mondrian South Beach has TiVo recorders in all guest rooms, and Microsoft’s new Surface tables appeared in five Sheratons and in Seattle’s Hotel 1000. Hilton Garden Inn even launched employee training programs on Sony handheld game players.

With so much social comment on the Internet, prudent hoteliers adopted tools to track and manage their on-line reputation, such as Standing Dog Interactive’s ReviewAnalyst (used by Starwood and Hostmark Hospitality Group), Avalon’s BUZZ Report (Outrigger) and Circos’ Brand Karma. At a minimum, though, tracking comments on TripAdvisor and Expedia.com became mandatory for all properties.

2007 was the first year in which more travel was purchased online (51%) than off-line in the U.S., according to PhoCusWright, with that percentage projected to increase to 56% in 2008 and 60% in 2009. Technology usage covers all age groups, too; a Radisson survey revealed more similarities than differences among different generations when rating life on the road, and PhoCusWright reported that tech-oriented travelers are just as likely to be over 40 as under 30.

Last year’s two top trends of growth in centrally-hosted systems and in the use of business intelligence to improve efficiency both continued strongly. Millennium put 14 US hotels on a single Opera system, and Spirit Group implemented Guestline’s RezLynx PMS at 36 sites. Vienna International ordered Amadeus’ PMS to manage 44 hotels, purplehotels selected it for 15, and Scandic picked MICROS’ OPERA Enterprise Solution for 130+ sites. Outside the PMS arena, Hilton centralized all telephone accounting and call logging for nearly 80 UK and Ireland hotels on SDD’s JAZZ Fusion.

Business Intelligence was never more important, as witness major sales by Aptech (35 Coral Hospitality properties, 600 La Quinta Inns and Suites, nearly 100 Inland American Lodging sites), ProfitSword (23 Larkspur Hotels & Restaurants, 67 Hersha Hospitality properties, 49 Sage Hospitality sites) and Datavision (now a Mandarin Oriental standard). Several properties announced guest/staff survey initiatives to improve service and efficiency levels, using UniFocus or Market Metrix. Micros released its own Opera BI module.

Revenue Management also saw continued strong interest, with significant orders for EzRMS, IDeaS and Amadeus RMS and an equal focus on channel management using EZYield, Guestline’s RoomLynx and Rate Tiger’s RTAllocator Pro. The integration of RMS with PMS and S&C systems for more comprehensive and accurate forecasts also gained momentum; IDeaS and Newmarket integrated Delphi seamlessly with IDeaS’ V5i, and Micros released its own RM module as an integral part of its Opera suite.

As for guestroom technology, bandwidth demand showed no signs of slackening, and adequate Internet service became even more critical when travelers and meeting/conference coordinators look for accommodation. Zigbee emerged as an interesting option for wireless networks, with SAFLOK launching its Messenger ZigBee e-locks and Hotech Edge offering its G-Mesh Zigbee-based wireless mesh network. WiMax didn’t progress as far as had been predicted, but watch for it in 2009.

Ecologically-sound “green” initiatives became much more prominent last year. Marriott was ranked #10 on Computerworld’s first “Top 12 Green IT Companies” list, Hilton reported over 10% energy savings in Europe from its “we care!” initiative, and Intercontinental posted a virtual Innovation Hotel on its Web site to generate comments from potential guests. Sofitel purchased wind-generated energy for all nine US locations, and Xanterra implemented one of the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems in the USA on five acres in Death Valley. “Green” didn’t have to mean technologically complex, though; VingCard introduced keycards made of recycled plastic, and Sustainable Cards donated over 70,000 wood hotel key cards to Denver hotels during the Democratic National Convention. And at the Hilton Cebu Resort & Spa in the Philippines, a simple piping system change to recycle the water used to cool three ice machine compressors showed an ROI of just 20 days.

RFID is still struggling to make an impression, though Capton’s RFID-based Beverage Tracker is a prominent and successful application and RFID-based identification wristbands have been adopted for some resort POS and access-control applications. The previously-forecast widespread adoption in inventory and purchasing applications hasn’t materialized, however.

Vendor consolidation slowed down a little, except among on line suppliers, and especially booking engines. Venere.com acquired Worldby.com, then was itself acquired by Expedia; Wotif.com Holdings acquired Asia Web Direct (HK), Thomas Cook bought hotels4U.com, and TripAdvisor acquired Holiday Watchdog, VirtualTourist.com and OneTime.com. IBS Software Services acquired the controlling interest in Hotel Booking Solutions, Inc, (HBSi), while Microsoft bought online travel search engine Farecast. Travelport GDS acquired G2 SwitchWorks’ key applications. VFM Interactive took over Leonardo Media, and AT&T picked up Wi-Fi provider Wayport.

Among property-systems suppliers, Agilysys acquired Eatec in March, and Lanyon bought RFP Express. Hotel Concepts and Brilliant agreed to merge their internal services departments but keep two sales organizations and product lines. SAS took over IDeaS in August, and MICROS Systems acquired e-commerce provider Fry, Inc.

So what happens in 2009? With business tight most hotels will probably focus on the basics of running more efficient operations, which I expect to translate into strong investment in business intelligence, CRM and revenue management and less on consumer electronics-derived initiatives. “Green” projects will still be prominent where they have clear cost-saving benefits. There should be some bargains to be had, with many hoteliers looking to maximize the return on their funds and many vendors willing to offer discounts to help a sale along. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see some significant vendor mergers, either under duress or to offer a stronger, more comprehensive system set. It’s certainly going to be an interesting year.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Ram Badrinathan promoted to PhoCusWright’s General Manager, Asia Pacific
  • Frank Wolfe to continue as HFTP’s CEO through 2012
  • Michael Boettcher appointed to global quality director and ACE manager for Onity
  • Christopher Freeman hired as Onity’s commercial product manager
  • David Chestler joins Birch Street Systems as Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing
  • Charles Wilson hired as DB Technology’s new CEO

Ram Badrinathan has been promoted to PhoCusWright’s General Manager, Asia Pacific, based in Mumbai. Prior to joining PhoCusWright in 2002 as senior director, research, for the Asia Pacific region, Mr. Badrinathan was senior associate with Ion Global, a subsidiary of ChinaDotCom.
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Frank Wolfe has accepted Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals’ (HFTP’s) offer to continue as HFTP’s CEO through 2012, a job he has held since 1994. Mr. Wolfe started with the association in 1991 as its director of education.
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Michael Boettcher has been appointed to global quality director and ACE (Achieving Competitive Excellence) manager for Onity’s worldwide operations. Mr. Boettcher has worked for United Technologies Corp (Onity’s parent company) for over 25 years in a variety of operations and engineering roles, most recently as product manager in Pratt & Whitney’s Rocketdyne group.
Christopher Freeman has been hired as Onity’s commercial product manager, based at its world headquarters in Duluth, Ga. Mr. Christopher brings over 10 years of sales and marketing leadership experience in consumer goods and commercial products; he was brand and product manager for all golf related products at PrideSports, and previously served as product manager for the pneumatic and powered equipment division at Hitachi Koki, USA.
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David Chestler has joined Birch Street Systems as Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing. With nearly two decades of hotel industry sales experience, Mr. Chestler has managed sales at three hotel technology providers (Pegasus Solutions, Utell International and Visual Data Corp.) and was most recently Senior Vice President of Corporate Business Development for Pegasus Solutions. Prior to joining Pegasus and Visual Data/Hotel View, he served for nine years in sales and development with Utell International.
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Charles Wilson has been hired by DB Technology as its new CEO. Mr. Wilson brings nearly 30 years of experience in software sales, services and operations, most recently as president of workload automation company UC4 Software. He had earlier held various executive level positions with IBM Tivoli/Unison Software, Macro 4 and Boole & Babbage.
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PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Colonial Williamsburg picks Agilysys’ Visual One suite
  • Columbia Hospitality standardizing property management on NORTHWIND – Maestro
  • Jersey’s Atlantic Hotel deploys MICROS’s OPERA Xpress
  • U.S. Navy extends contract with SoftBrands for systems at Navy Gateway Inns & Suites

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Williamsburg, Va. has selected Agilysys’ Visual One suite for its five properties — Williamsburg Inn, Colonial Houses, Williamsburg Lodge, Woodlands Hotels & Suites and Governor’s Inn. Modules implemented are the Visual One Property Management System, Retail POS, GolfPro and Spa Management System. The Colonial Williamsburg Resort Collection includes over 1,000 guest rooms among five hotels, four dining taverns, six restaurants, 66,000 square feet of conference space, a 20,000-square-foot spa and three golf courses. (www.colonialwilliamsburgresort.com, www.agilysys.com)
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Columbia Hospitality is standardizing its property management automation on NORTHWIND – Maestro’s ASP Multi-Property Management Suite, starting with the Kenwood Inn and Spa in Sonoma, California and the Talaris Conference Center in Seattle in 1Q ’09. Columbia installed Maestro PMS and Sales and Catering in the Cedarbrook Conference Center, near Seattle, Washington in 2004 and plans to bring five more properties online in the future. The system will be hosted by Northwind. (www.columbiahospitality.com, www.maestropms.com)
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The Atlantic Hotel in Jersey (in the UK’s Channel Islands) has become the first Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) property in Europe to deploy MICROS’s OPERA Xpress Property Management System (PMS), including a direct interface to Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s proprietary central reservations system. (www.theatlantichotel.com, www.micros.com)
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The U.S. Navy Commander Navy Installations Command has signed an extension of its existing contract with SoftBrands to continue the implementation and support of its property systems at Navy Gateway Inns & Suites. The contract covers the deployment of SoftBrands’ Core central reservation system, Reservation Portal and Management Console along with a global upgrade to Epitome.NET property management system. (www.softbrands.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Omni Hotels has deployed its new reservation system, powered by Micros’ OPERA
  • Trust International launches Release 14 of Voyager|CRS
  • Menzies Hotels switches to SynXis’ RedX for distribution and web booking services
  • OpenTravel Alliance publishes 2008B version of travel data integration specifications
  • Search engine HotelsCombined.com signs supplier agreement with Travelocity
  • Thomas Cook UK & Ireland allows travelers to post personal reviews at new Web site

Omni Hotels has deployed its new brand-wide reservation system, powered by Micros’ OPERA Enterprise Solution, including the OPERA Reservation System (ORS), Customer Information System (OCIS) and Web Suite (OWS). Omni will now collect and manage guests’ preferences and profile information in a single image database, including guest history and membership information for Omni’s Select Guest loyalty program. (www.omnihotels.com, www.micros.com)
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Trust International has launched Release 14 of its Voyager|CRS centralized reservation system for hotel groups. Enhancements include Chain-Wide Rate Loading, allowing a rate to be loaded across an entire chain in a single step, Chain and Hotel Bulletins text message broadcasting to all agents in the Trust|CRO call center application, and new reports in the Trust|View data analysis tool on the integrated Trust|Com commission handling program. (www.trustinternational.com)
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The UK’s Menzies Hotels has switched to SynXis’ RedX Distribution Management System for GDS/ADS distribution and web booking services for its sixteen properties. Menzies will also use RedX’s Property Connect application to integrate data with its Opera PMS and IDeaS Revenue Management System. (www.menzieshotels.co.uk, www.synxis.com)
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The OpenTravel Alliance has published the 2008B version of its library of standard travel data integration specifications, which include dynamic packaging messages supporting availability, book and modify business functions. (www.opentravel.org)
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Hotel price comparison search engine HotelsCombined.com has signed a supplier agreement with Travelocity, allowing visitors to HotelsCombined.com to search and compare hotel rates from Travelocity against major travel sites. (www.HotelsCombined.com, www.travelocity.com)
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Thomas Cook UK & Ireland has added the ability for travelers to post personal reviews to its new Web site platform. (www.thomascook.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • Benchmark selects Aptech’s Execuvue for 30 sites
  • Lodging Interactive rolls out HuBBub Travel 2.0 Marketing Services
  • Tidan Hospitality Group picks VIZERGY for Web site design and marketing services
  • One to One Hotels selects TIG Global as Internet marketing partner
  • Schweitzer Mountain Resort to implement UniFocus’ STAFFScope at all facilities
  • Setai San Diego to use UniFocus’ full suite of business intelligence tools
  • Dolphin Dynamics integrates booking management with Pancentric’s Enabler email marketing
  • Foxwoods picks Netezza Performance Server and SAS Marketing Automation software to improve data collection, analysis
  • Hospitality eBusiness Strategies (HeBS) receives five Interactive Media Awards (IMA)
  • InnPoints Worldwide contracts with ICE Portal for rich media services

Benchmark Hospitality International has selected Aptech Computer Systems’ Execuvue Business Intelligence system to automate data gathering and performance management processes for its 30 properties; roll out will begin in 1Q ’09. (www.benchmarkhospitality.com, www.aptech-inc.com)
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Lodging Interactive is rolling out its HuBBub Travel 2.0 Marketing Services to help hotels maximize their online reach through social media websites. HuBBub combines blogging, RSS feed syndication, Twittering and e-mail harvesting with hotel profiles on Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Twitter, Photobucket, Squidoo, Wikipedia and others. (www.lodginginteractive.com)
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Montreal’s Tidan Hospitality Group has contracted with VIZERGY for Web site design, search engine marketing and SECURE-RES reservation services. (www.tidanhotels.com, www.vizergy.com)
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Abu Dhabi-based One to One Hotels has selected TIG Global as its exclusive Internet marketing partner. TIG Global will add interactive meetings pages, custom RFP forms and interactive maps to One to One’s website, and improve its usability and messaging features. TIG Global will also provide search engine optimization services, pay-per-click marketing campaigns executed on all major search engines, e-mail marketing, strategic linking, revenue tracking and statistical reporting, and consultative account management. (OnetoOneHotels.com, www.tigglobal.com)
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Schweitzer Mountain Resort will implement UniFocus’ STAFFScope at all of its facilities as part of an employee engagement initiative, building on its experience with UniFocus’ GUESTScope by correlating all survey analytics together. This should allow it to identify critical staff issues and relate that knowledge to guest satisfaction.
The 184-room Setai San Diego will use UniFocus’ suite of business intelligence tools, including the GUESTScope, MEETINGScope and STAFFScope survey tools, correlated to produce actionable information and compared with mystery evaluations using SERVICEScope to compare standards with actual perceptions.
(www.schweitzer.com, www.setaisandiego.com, www.unifocus.com)
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Dolphin Dynamics has integrated its booking management module with Pancentric’s Enabler email marketing software to allow its users to generate trackable e-mail bulletins and promotions to prospects and clients. (www.enablermail.com, www.dolphind.com)
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Foxwoods Resort Casino has chosen the Netezza Performance Server (NPS) data warehouse appliance and SAS Marketing Automation software to collect and analyze its gaming and hotel data in more detail. Foxwoods includes six casinos, 1,416 guest rooms in three hotels, more than 30 restaurants, a spa, over 50,000 square feet of meeting and event space, 24 retail shops and five entertainment venues. (www.foxwoods.com, www.mgmatfoxwoods.com, www.netezza.com, www.sas.com)
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Hospitality eBusiness Strategies (HeBS) has received five Interactive Media Awards (IMA) for excellence in website design and development, including a ‘Best in Class’ website award (for the Luxe Worldwide Hotels site) and four ‘Outstanding Achievement’ awards. (www.hospitalityebusiness.com)
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InnPoints Worldwide has contracted with ICE Portal for rich media services for its clients’ promotional efforts. (www.innpoints.com, www.myhms.com, www.iceportal.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Peninsula Hotels deploying OPERA Revenue Management at all ten hotels
  • HotelsCombined.com adds FastBooking’s inventory to search database
  • Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago implements EzRMS’ Internet Suite
  • Royal Yacht Hotel implements Xn’s globalRES distribution/channel management
  • Amari Hotels & Resorts picks EZYield.com for channel management at 12 properties
  • ReservHOTEL contracts with Rate Tiger for XML-based RTConnect interface

The Peninsula Hotels is deploying the OPERA Revenue Management System (RMS) at all ten of its hotels after successful pilots at The Peninsula Hong Kong and Peninsula New York, as part of a general upgrade to OPERA v5.0. The deployment will be complete by mid 2009. (www.peninsula.com, www.micros.com)
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Hotel price comparison search engine HotelsCombined.com has added FastBooking’s inventory to its search database, allowing visitors to HotelsCombined.com to compare real-time availability and rates from FastBooking’s portfolio with 30+ other online accommodation reservation sites. (www.hotelscombined.com, www.fastbooking.net)
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The 339-room Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago has implemented EzRMS’ Internet Product Suite, the 3rd Trump property to go live. (www.trumpchicago.com, www.easyrms.com)
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The 110-room Royal Yacht Hotel in St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands, has implemented Xn’s globalRES distribution and channel management application, integrated with its protel PMS. (www.theroyalyacht.com, www.xnhotels.com)
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Bangkok-based Amari Hotels & Resorts has selected EZYield.com as the channel management provider for its 12 properties in Thailand. (www.amari.com, www.ezyield.com)
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ReservHOTEL has contracted with Rate Tiger to use its XML-based RTConnect interface, which allows multiple reservation systems to consolidate updating of rates and inventory on different IDS channels, eliminating the need to update and monitor several systems separately. RTConnect also allows the retrieval of booking information from connected extranets, processed automatically through ReservHotel and sent directly to hotel PMSs or CRSs. ReservHOTEL is working closely with Rate Tiger to develop a more integrated solution. (www.reservhotel.com, www.ratetiger.com/us)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Doyle Collection picks Nexus’ HotelworX sales force automation system
  • MarketTools awards Newmarket third consecutive CustomerSat Achievement in Customer Excellence (ACE) Award
  • Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau selects Passkey

The Doyle Collection has chosen Nexus’ HotelworX sales force automation (SFA) system to support its international sales team, integrated with the Nexus RFP (Request For Proposal) contracting applications. (www.doylecollection.com, www.nexusworldservices.com)
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MarketTools has awarded Newmarket International its third consecutive CustomerSat Achievement in Customer Excellence (ACE) Award in the areas of support and project management. Newmarket won four ACE awards in total, in Platinum Support, Worldwide Support, US Support and Project Management. (www.markettools.com, www.newmarketinc.com)
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The Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau (PA Dutch CVB) has selected Passkey to manage its online group housing requests. (www.discoverlancasterpa.com)
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F&B/POINT OF SALE

  • Amadeus offers Socket Mobile SoMo 650 handheld computers with POS system

Amadeus now offers Socket Mobile SoMo 650 handheld computers with its Restaurant Management System POS system. Amadeus has already implemented the mobile POS in several hotel restaurants, including the Ringberg Hotel in Suhl, Germany and the Spa Therme Blumau, Austria. (www.socketmobile.com, www.amadeus.com/hotels)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • Fraunhofer Institute testing a “hotel room of the future”
  • DiamondHead Beach Resort implements Intelity’s ICE self-service system
  • Personality Hotels selects GuestWare’s Enterprise Guest Recognition system
  • iBAHN, Business Travel World ask traveling public to help design a hotel room online
  • Elsafe launches Sentinel II in-room safe series with RFID/NFC and RF-online options
  • Fontainebleau Las Vegas picks Tri-Power Group and MobileAccess for wireless infrastructure
  • Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago signs with RCN Corp for guestroom video services
  • Sheraton in Bellevue, WA installs HP Touchsmart PC as its public Internet kiosk

The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering and Organisation has developed one of the more interesting approaches to a “hotel room of the future” in one of its laboratories, with an emphasis on identifying new technology that can help guests relax. Amongst the current technologies being evaluated are:
– all rounded surfaces (no straight lines), to promote mental calm.
– integrated light-changing sequences to bath the room in the guest’s choice of color washes
– a bed that gently rocks from side to side.
– an “intelligent floor” with sensors that work out where the guest is heading and automatically turn on the lights to help him or her get there.
– a jacuzzi tub with infra-red heating elements in the wall.
– a bathroom mirror which doubles as a computer screen for checking emails or general Internet access.
– a vapor pot pumping aromatherapy steam.
– a mini-bar with a mini-robot to bring the drinks to the guest.
– a voice-activated wall-mounted control unit to manage the above, and to respond to hotel-information questions such as “What are the dinner specials tonight?” or “What time is breakfast served?”
– electronic windows that turn from transparent to opaque at a single command and then function as a giant video display for movies, TV, etc.
(www.iao.fraunhofer.de, video at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7802945.stm)
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The 31-suite DiamondHead Beach Resort on Ft. Myers Beach, FL is implementing Intelity’s ICE self-service system in all rooms. The ICE touch-screen interface allows guests to make reservations at a spa or restaurant, arrange a taxi, room service, equipment rentals and any other special request. (www.sunstream.com, www.intelityICE.com)
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Personality Hotels has selected GuestWare’s Enterprise Guest Recognition system to recognize and reward members of its Personality Perks guest loyalty program visiting its seven hotels. The new Personality Perks Web profile sign-up screen has a Web services link to GuestWare to collect guest preference information such as preferred hotel, room location, bed and pillow type, and whether or not a guest wishes to receive a complimentary newspaper or snack. GuestWare Enterprise consolidates these preferences as well as the history of every guest’s stay into one database to manage the loyalty program and help the hotels consistently meet or exceed guest expectations. (www.personalityhotels.com, www.guestware.com)
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iBAHN is partnering with Business Travel World magazine to promote Our Hotel Room, an initiative that offers the traveling public the chance to help create the first hotel room developed collaboratively online. The aim is to use these suggestions to plan and build a showcase hotel room, focusing on technologies and services that are available now but not installed in hotels, as well as those to be released over the next year. People can suggest services for the room or choose from a wish-list online. (www.ourhotelroom.co.uk, www.ibahn.com)
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Elsafe has launched its Sentinel II in-room safe series, which introduces both RFID/NFC technology and RF-online options. The Sentinel II RFID/NFC can only be opened with the designated RFID guest device or an NFC-equipped cell phone. (www.elsafe.com)
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The 3,815-room Fontainebleau Las Vegas, due to open in fall 2009, has selected Tri-Power Group and MobileAccess to design and implement its wireless infrastructure. Using MobileAccess’ Universal Wireless Network, Tri-Power’s network is intended to support any combination of wireless operators, ensuring reliable coverage for public safety radio, serving as a backbone for Fontainebleau’s enterprise and Wi-Fi communications, and supporting high-speed wireless connectivity for guests’ mobile devices and the hotel staff’s private two-way radio and VoWi-Fi applications. (www.fontainebleau.com, www.tripower.com, www.mobileaccess.com)
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The 311-room Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago, IL has signed a multi-year service agreement with RCN Corp for guestroom video services. RCN will provide all-Digital Cable TV and High-Definition (HDTV) service (with over one hundred channels of video and audio programming, including a selection of all-digital music channels) on 42 inch flat screen plasma televisions. (www.conradhotels.com, www.rcn.com)
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The Sheraton in Bellevue, Washington, has installed an HP Touchsmart PC from Uniguest as its complimentary public Internet kiosk offering. (www.sheraton.com/bellevue, www.uniguest.com)
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INVENTORY/PURCHASING

  • YourBuyer Inc. files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

YourBuyer Inc., a purchasing company established by two former managers at failed PurchasePro.com, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Mark McNally, a former data processing manager at PurchasePro, and Chief Operating Officer Doug Miller, another former worker at PurchasePro, started the company six years ago.
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ENGINEERING

  • Marriott switching to “greener” products as older inventories deplete

Marriott International is replacing the 24 million plastic key cards that it purchases annually in the U.S. with alternatives made of 50 percent recycled material, saving an estimated 66 tons of plastic from being discarded (so to speak). Among other items being replaced with new, greener products as current inventories become depleted are Eco-Smart pillows filled with polyester micro fiber made from 100 percent recycled PET bottles, coreless toilet paper rolls (eliminating 2 million cores a year) made of 20-40 percent recycled fiber, and recycled paper products such as desk notepads and the folders holding guests’ key cards and folios. Additionally, in the Middle East and Europe, more than 100 Marriott, Renaissance and Courtyard hotels are purchasing 43 tons of oxo-biodegradable plastic laundry bags annually; these disintegrate in two to five years if not recycled and reused first. (www.marriott.com)
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COMMUNICATIONS

  • Call Management Products (CMP) celebrates its 20th year

Call Management Products (CMP) is celebrating its 20th year of designing and manufacturing telecommunication products. Founded in 1988 by a group of Bell Laboratory engineers, in 1998 CMP launched its PhoneSuite telephone system for the hospitality industry. (www.callmgmtprod.com)
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