January 8, 2013

In this issue…

People on the Move

Reservations

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

Guest Services

Back Office

DECEMBER 12, 2012 – JANUARY 8, 2013

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • 2012 In Review

Looking back at 2012, we saw some interesting new marketing approaches being tried and several new vendor entrants into the revenue management and guest services markets, which isn’t too surprising given the critical role of effective revenue management and outstanding guest service in attracting guests these days. Guests’ insatiable demand for Internet bandwidth is one of the biggest challenges hotels face, and it seems that tiered service and pricing are the only rational solution at present, much to the chagrin of those guests who expect unlimited bandwidth for free. Social networks continue to be of interest, but have yet to show any real impact on booking levels.
Certainly the most widely-publicized story of the year – how often does hotel technology show up on national TV’s breakfast shows? – was the demonstrated vulnerability of Onity’s mag-stripe guestroom door locks to a hack developed by a curious techie and posted on the Internet. Onity didn’t help itself with an ineffective initial response of a cover plate over the vulnerable data access port and the suggestion that hotels should pay for a more substantial fix, but it was disheartening to see how hard some competitors tried to exploit the problem for their own gain. Every guestroom lock needs to have a way of being opened from the outside in case of emergency, which means that every system on the market is vulnerable to hacking to some degree. Onity’s design may have been more so than most, but it takes a very self-confident vendor to point fingers in this environment.
Finally, hospitality companies have once again demonstrated that they can innovate with the best of them, showing exceptionally well in this year’s InformationWeek 500. This annual listing recognizes business technology teams that have made a notable improvement to how their companies operate, and this year 11 hospitality companies were listed in the top 250, up from 7 last year. Go team!

Proactive Marketing/Upselling
There were a couple of interesting developments in pro-active marketing and the check-in process. Nor1’s patented PRiME and eStandby Upgrade modules dynamically analyze detailed guest data as soon as a reservation is made to identify specific upsell offers to be sent to the guest; if he or she expresses interest and the offer is still available at check-in, the guest is upgraded and the additional rate collected. This novel approach was integrated with MICROS Systems’ OPERA, Worldhotels’ ResMaster 3 booking engine and Travelport’s itinerary tools, and Six Senses rolled it out for its properties in the Middle and Far East.
B4Checkin gained success and recognition for its software, which provides pre-arrival upsell e-mails, post-stay surveys and, uniquely, online check-in 24 hours before arrival; the latter allows the hotel to pre-key the guest, who can then swipe a credit card to retrieve the key from a kiosk on arrival. B4Checkin was adopted by Le Crystal Hotel & Spa, Sarova Hotels, Resorts and Game Lodges and others, and it received the Editors’ Choice Award for Technology at this year’s International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show (IHMRS) in New York.
Travel Tripper added Email Retargeting of abandoned bookings to its RezTrip online booking engine, allowing hotels to send personalized offers to shoppers who abandon the booking process to encourage them to return and complete a reservation.

Guest WiFi – Demand Never Stops
One of the biggest challenges for all properties continues to be satisfying the huge demand for in-house Internet bandwidth. A TripAdvisor survey reported that the availability of WiFi is a critical selection factor for 85% of travelers, and demand is made worse both by the increasing number of devices guests want to connect and those devices’ increasingly heavy bandwidth needs. As an example, the Mandarin Oriental New York had to supplement its existing distributed antenna system – already an advanced approach to property-wide coverage – with a Ruckus device in every room providing four additional wired network ports and a WiFi access point.
It seems that more flexibility in Internet access options is inevitable, with guests having to pay for faster download speeds. One option came from Quadriga’s new Personal Media Network, which allows hotels to configure multiple service level and price options to guests on both TVs and personal devices. The Personal Media Network received the Equip’Innov Award for most innovative technology product at Equip’ Hotel, and Concorde Hotels selected it for all 25 hotels in Europe.

Social Networking – Interesting But How Effective?
Attempts to leverage social networking for increased bookings continued, though with mixed success.
Pipeline Social Media Solutions’ SocialCEO Facebook booking and management application helps hotels measure ROI and monitor “friend” interactions, and several GMS vendors offered FaceBook engines. Flip.to lets hotels offer coupons or other incentives to guests who comment favorably online about bookings they’ve just made, with additional incentives for referrals converted into bookings. Brilliant integrated Flip.to into its RezExchange channel management and distribution system, Pelican Hotel Solutions integrated it into its booking engine and The Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas also implemented it.
Appnostic announced a similar “Plus-U” add-on for its SocialBooker marketing and in-Facebook booking platform, allowing Facebook users to receive commissions for booking travel for groups of friends.  Lodging Interactive subsidiary CoMMingle announced its Social+ service to manage a hotel’s social presence on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and other social media channels, and Newmarket released a MeetingBroker app for Facebook to help hotels and venues connect directly with meeting and event planners there.
However, a RateTiger-sponsored survey by Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL) Research reported that despite interest in social media as a marketing channel most hotels were still focused on offline and direct sales. While social networks were recognized as new forms of digital marketing and very much worth tracking, their actual impact on bookings was seen as still uncertain.
The importance of monitoring a hotel’s online reputation was unquestioned, though. REBEL Travel released its Social Profile Manager to help properties manage their social media profiles, Milestone Internet Marketing released its 3rd generation eBuzz Connect social media/reviews monitoring software and Wyndham Hotel Group announced its own WynReview consumer comment management tool. Circos Brand Karma made its Blackbook analyses of the online reputation of destinations and individual hotels available in two editions, and newBrandAnalytics released version 3.0 of its social market intelligence software, which analyzes and categorizes unstructured online customer feedback. Taking a different tack, Infor released TrustYou-based social sentiment measurement widgets for its HMS dashboard, allowing properties to track individual guests’ postings as well as general sentiments.

Revenue Management becomes even more critical
The wild proliferation of distribution channels, ever- narrower market segments and the shorter lead times brought about through mobile bookings has made revenue management even more essential, both to set rates appropriately and to distribute them to the right channels at the right time, and this is reflected in last year’s strong activity. EzRMS had an excellent year; NH Hoteles extended its use of it to an additional 100 properties, bringing its total to over 200 sites, AMResorts picked it for its 30 resorts and Far East Hospitality implemented it at all 8 properties. EzRMS announced that it had over 1,000 properties using its Product Suite, and was acquired by Infor.
Perennial rival IDeaS also did well, landing strategic planning contracts with China’s BTG-JIANGUO Hotels & Resorts (100 hotels) and Jin Jiang International (810 properties). Lindner Hotels & Resorts extended IDeaS to its remaining 11 properties, and Thompson Hotels, Rocco Forte Hotels (13 hotels) and Macdonald Hotels & Resorts (40 hotels) all committed to IDeaS portfolio-wide.
RateGain had a good year; Accor selected its PriceGain rate intelligence for all Motel 6 and Studio 6 properties, Swiss BelHotel International picked it for 80+ properties, Best Western chose it for Asia & Middle East and Marina Hotels signed for its 10 hotels. RateGain also launched its RezGain channel management software. Relative newcomer SiteMinder saw its channel management services adopted by Britain’s De Vere Group (37 properties), Rocco Forte Hotels (13), Lifestyle Retreats (3), Regal Hotels Group (6), Bespoke Hotels (properties in the UK, Europe, Thailand and the Caribbean), ONYX Hospitality Group (22 properties in Thailand) and Genares chose it for direct, two-way connectivity with leading booking sites.
Hyatt significantly expanded its use of Maxim’s Revenue Management at U.S., Canada and Caribbean properties. Wyndham announced its MyRequest self-serve tool to help properties manage rates, inventory and content to the right distribution channels. Amadeus launched its Hotel Optimisation Package of services and technologies for large travel agencies and travel management companies; Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India installed RateTiger at 40 properties, both Premier Hotels of the World and Spain’s H-Top Hotels Group partnered with Availpro, and Vincci Hoteles implemented EZYield’s Fuzionlink across all 35 properties
Among new products were TravelClick’s Rate360 rate shopper, Duetto Research’s cloud-based Duetto Edge (being tested by Sonesta’s new ES Suites), Travel Tripper’s channel management functionality for its RezTrip CRS, and Rainmaker’s GroupREV group forecasting and pricing software (in pilot test with Omni Hotels & Resorts). GMS vendors also got into the act; IQware launched its IQlink, Prologic First released integrated channel management for its WISH GMS, Hetras announced a channel management module and IDS NEXT launched its RezNext division. Inntopia extended the reach of the technology with YieldView, offering yield management for activities, lift tickets, etc.
Integration between vendors continues: EzRMS partnered with Availpro to apply its rate recommendations instantly, online, via all distribution channels, and RateGain partnered with The Rainmaker Group, InnLink, Reconline AG and Thomas Cook’s Hotels4u.com.

Guest Services
Personalization of the guest experience continues to be a major battleground, as every property strives to stand out through personal service. Intelity’s ICE continued to be a popular choice, being implemented by the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago, Aloft Hotels (lobby kiosks planned in all 26 hotels) and Peninsula Hotels. Intelity extended ICE to cover all western and double-byte character-based languages, has fully-certified integrations with twenty-five hospitality management systems, and launched ICE Instant, a Web-based service allowing hotels to create their own version of Intelity’s ICE virtual concierge for guests to download for guest service management. Ritz-Carlton launched a mobile app with GPS recognition of when a guest enters a Ritz Carlton property (to provide location-specific information and offers) and the ability to display personal guest-experience advice and information by scanning QR codes at each property.
Other guestroom suites also proved popular. Hyatt signed a master agreement with Roomlinx to provide its iTV integrated in-room entertainment, high speed Internet and High Definition TV programming in up to 60,000 rooms.  In addition to the usual TV channel, Internet and guest service offerings, Roomlinx provides include the ability to send directions to a mobile device, and to edit and print documents. KoolConnect announced its VU offering, which converts a regular hotel TV into an Internet-equipped “Smart TV” and includes an Electronic Programming Guide (EPG), direct channel tuning from the programming grid and an array of TV “Apps” such as Netflix, Pandora, USA Today, etc.  SuiteLinq introduced a single-platform range of digital services, including Mobile on-site amenity purchases and room environment control, and the new Revel resort in Atlantic City installed SuiteLinq’s Q|Vision and Q|Touch services in all 1,898 guestrooms. Allin Interactive ported its integrated cruise ship DigiHD ITV and DigiMobile platform to the hospitality industry, starting with The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City. Otrum launched Otrum Touch, its first hospitality application for smart devices and Smart TVs.
The ability to control a guestroom TV from one’s smart phone arrived with LodgeNet’s Mobile App, which also displayed an Interactive Program Guide, allowed booking of in-house and local dining and entertainment options, ordering room service and checking-out from the hotel. Guest-tek followed with its similar myAway mobile application, also including personal calendar integration, flight information and world radio connectivity. FCS Computer Systems integrated its i-Guest mobile application with Swisscom Hospitality’s ConnectedHotel TV & IPTV systems, replacing the TV remote control with the guest’s phone and linking guest service requests placed through ConnectedHotel with FCS’ e-Connect and c-Connect for staff fulfillment.
Guest-request management systems saw some new arrivals. Q’d Up Systems released its Bell Desk/ Valet Automation System, India’s DigiValet launched a guest service integration application based on guestroom-located Apple devices, Prologic First launched its @Your WISH guest response management system, as did Digital Alchemy with its iNeed module. Blynk Systems launched its Blynk iHotel guest services mobile app, and Monscierge announced its Monscierge|Connect system.
JANUS added impressive glasses-free 3D technology and content creation services to its digital signage products through a partnership with Dimenco Displays. And two of the quirkier offerings this year were the Aloft Hotel Charlotte Ballantyne testing a holographic concierge with stick-on QR codes for hotel/local information and special offers, and the Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel adding Pay-Touch finger-print recognition technology to allow registered users to pay for items at the hotel’s outlet POS terminals with a single two-finger swipe.

Mobile is Everywhere
All management systems now need to be usable on mobile devices, be they phones or tablets, as their convenience makes them ubiquitous for guest access and for staff admin purposes. Online bookings of leisure/unmanaged business travel reached 47% in the UK, accounting for 28% of total European online leisure/unmanaged business travel gross bookings. Gogo partnered with same-day booking specialists HotelTonight to offer last-minute deals to in-flight passengers, and more than 300 Preferred Hotel Group properties implemented Sabre’s Mobile Guest Connect booking engine.
Radisson Edwardian Hotels implemented Optii Solutions’ Optii Keeper iPod-based housekeeping management system in all 14 company-owned sites; Kempinski also chose Optii for its Hotel Adlon property in Berlin. Newmarket announced a partnership with TripCraft to develop mobile applications for the hospitality industry, and integrated Intelity ICE into its Cloud Services platform for Event Data. Omni Hotels & Resorts released a customized tablet application for meeting planners to use while conducting meetings at any of its hotels. Digital Alchemy introduced its Mobile Life suite of four cloud-based mobile applications: iNeed guest requests, MXPRESS mobile site, XPRESSGUIDE meeting/conference info and mSurvey for guest feedback.

Chain-wide systems standardization continues.
Chains continue to implement standard systems across their portfolios wherever practical, for greater uniformity of data and reporting and easier support. Amongst other deals, MICROS was favored by Aston Hotels & Resorts (OPERA Enterprise in 27 properties), Moran & Bewley’s Hotel Group (MICROS cloud-based systems for 10 hotels), Orient-Express Hotels (OPERA Sales and Catering system in 37 hotels) and Portugal’s Pestana Group (OPERA for 9 properties in Brazil). Protel was designated as an approved supplier for Design Hotels AG’s 200 affiliated partner properties, and Clarenco and Cheval Residences each implemented protel’s Multi-Property Edition (MPE) for six properties. Shearings Holidays deployed Infor’s Classic Starlight GMS at 48 properties, centrally hosted, Carefree RV Resorts picked RDP for 39 RV resorts, and the UK’s Champneys chose ResortSuite for its four resorts and eight day spas. Starwood chose Newmarket’s HIS Premium View market intelligence for its 1,100+ properties worldwide.
Passkey’s GroupMAX was the choice for The Info Salons Group across its event portfolio throughout Asia, China & the Middle East, and InterContinental launched it in 23 Australian and New Zealand properties. Highpointe Hotel Corp implemented hotel SystemsPro’s hotel SalesPro across its 15 properties. Krushiker Hospitality Group chose Aptech’s Profitvue and Webvue enterprise accounting software for seven hotels, Strand Development upgraded Aptech’s Execuvue Business Intelligence system for its 65-property operation and Texas Western Hospitality implemented Execuvue at 53 properties. Island Hospitality Management picked M3 Accounting Services’ business intelligence and analytics software in over 80 additional hotels.

Room Key launches, Other CRS Activity Continues
The biggest change in the booking environment came with the launch of the Room Key booking engine, a joint effort by six major chains – Choice, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott and Wyndham – and with Pegasus founder John Davis as CEO. Other than offering low rates by pulling inventory and rates directly from the chains’ own-brand sites, Room Key has built traffic by referring travelers leaving its Web site without making a booking to the brand sites of its members, to see if they can find an alternative there. Best Western joined Room Key almost immediately, followed by Preferred Hotel Group, and Trust International and Sabre implemented interfaces to their own CRSs. In October RoomKey added La Quinta Inns & Suites, Millennium Hotels & Resorts and The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), effectively doubling the number of properties available, and later Vantage Hospitality added its 1,000-plus inventory.
Other than Room Key, there was the usual round of new and renewed CRS deals. Desires Hotels chose Whiteboard Labs’ Windsurfer CRS, and Sceptre Hospitality Resources migrated its 600-plus hotels to Windsurfer before acquiring Whiteboard Labs itself a month later. Germany’s ACHAT Hotels switched its 27 properties to Sabre Hospitality’s SynXis CRS, and the Hotel Okura Co. added its 25 member hotels in Asia, North America and Europe to SynXis to join the 54 hotels it acquired with the JAL brand.
Amadeus gained 250,000 hotels from corporate accommodation specialist HRS, and Travelodge brought 490+ properties more from the UK, Ireland and Spain. Steigenberger Hotel Group moved back to Trust International’s CRS after a five-year hiatus; the Ringhotels consortium transferred all 130 of its members to Trust, as did ONYX Hospitality Group (34 properties in Asia) and Far East Hospitality.
Pegasus Solutions launched a Vacation Rental Switch (VRS) in partnership with the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA) and completed a connection with China’s TravelSky Technology, making Pegasus’ inventory of nearly 100,000 hotels available for booking in China by the 7,000 agents using TravelSky. Centric Hospitality Group has switched its CARINO Hotels and Resorts Worldwide properties to its own myCRS system, with two-way guest management system integration and OTA direct connects.

New GMSs Gained Traction
The new generation of GMSs saw growing acceptance during the year, with the sad exception of Agilysys’ Guest 360, which was pulled off the market for rework. The Hotel Diva in San Francisco, CA implemented PAR Springer-Miller Systems’ first ATRIO guest management system, which later also found a home at the Lahaina Inn on Maui. Pegasus’ ResView NG was added to the ATRIO Platform Partner Exchange (APPX) program as Atrio’s preferred central reservations system.
Infor’s HMS Hotel Management System met with steady demand all year, ending up with close to 100 customers worldwide. Infor released its latest version, Infor10 HMS, with a more consumer-style UI, as well as a versatile HMS Hotel Check-In iPad app. HMS received an Equip’Innov Award for one of the most innovative technology products at Equip’ Hotel, and was triple-listed as a Champion, Trend Setter and Best Overall Value in this year’s Vendor Landscape reports from the Info-Tech Research Group.
Hotel Concepts – Brilliant enhanced its cloud-based iTesso system, including an integrated channel management and booking engine, a complete switch of the user interface from Silverlight to HTML5, the introduction of an integrated eLearning Module and a staff-facing Web app. hetras’ cloud-based HMS went into the citizenM Bankside hotel, hetras’ first London installation and citizenM’s fourth hetras system; citizenM has committed to use it for three additional hotels in London, two hotels in New York City, plus one each in Paris and Rotterdam. Multi-Systems, Inc. (MSI) released its CloudPM next generation cloud-based guest management system, and integrated it with Sceptre’s Windsurfer CRS.
ERP systems began to be more appreciated for their end-to-end control of complex hotel operations. Cenium’s system found customers in The Mark Anthony Group in Canada, for its Mission Hill Family Estate winery in the Okanagan Valley and five retail locations across British Columbia, and at the Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa, Bellingham, WA, where it replaced twelve separate systems and became Cenium’s first interface to a casino player tracking system at a North American property. India’s Prologic First and IDS Next and Spain’s Indra all introduced their ERP systems to the North American market at HITEC.
And just to emphasize the point that cloud-based GMSs are reliable, Choice Hotels International deployed the 5,000th instance of its choiceADVANTAGE cloud-based guest management system.

Kiosks
There’s a renewed interest in kiosks with the emergence of more on-line check-in options, but more as table-top key-issuing devices for pre-registered guests rather than full-service (and bulky) floor-standing devices. NCR launched its NCR Express Key device, which allows guests who have checked in online or via a mobile device to collect their key by scanning a printed or mobile-delivered barcode, or using an NFC-enabled mobile device or a mobile acoustic key. Concorde Hotels & Resorts launched its Smart Way e-check-in /check-out system based on Ariane Systems’ technology and plans to roll out the system throughout its hotel portfolio. At the smaller end of the scale the 78-room HomStay Suites in Williston, ND also installed interactive Ariane kiosks, integrated with its Micros Opera GMS and Onity locks. The kiosks offer full check-in and check-out functionality, along with keycard delivery and credit card payment.

Data Security
Concerns over the security of credit card and personally identifiable information increased, with many vendors upgrading their encryption/tokenization offerings and much attention being focused on moving credit card processing off-property to minimize the burden of PCI compliance. Merchant Link’s Payment Gateway, TransactionShield encryption and TransactionVault tokenization were popular; Transaction Resources, Inc. (TRI) integrated them for more secure payment transactions for lift ticket sales, food and beverage, hotel bookings, spa services and more. MICROS Systems announced Point-To-Point Encryption (P2PE) and Tokenization for its OPERA Enterprise and Restaurant Enterprise systems, using new encrypting and tamper-resistant card readers and Merchant Link’s software, and XPIENT Solutions also integrated Merchant Link modules into its restaurant POS system. Merchant Link also partnered with Phoenix Managed Networks to let it offer its customers Phoenix’s PCI DSS firewall service coupled with breach insurance, and added support for ID TECH’s encrypting card readers to its TransactionShield encryption service.
Shift4 was also busy, integrating its payment services with eBay’s Magento e-commerce platform to provide an outsourced tokenization service, announcing a Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) service for the secure processing of credit, debit, third-party gift cards, and split-processing direct to American Express and partnering with FoundryLogic to provide secure mobile payment to users of Retail Pro versions 8 and 9. Shift4 also released its 4Res and 4Word software to help hotels remove cardholder data (CHD) from their environment. 4Res sits between Central Reservation Systems and hotel properties, removing any clear-text CHD from reservations before they enter the hotel environment and optionally providing Shift4’s encrypted TrueTokens in their place before being sent to the property; TravLynx integrated 4Res into its InnLink and InnVite CRSs. 4Word is a secure way to share payment data with an authorized third party that may be outside of Shift4’s North American service area.

POS
The concept of remotely-hosted POS systems became more acceptable (there is no system more demanding of being on-line for customer satisfaction than an F&B POS) with MICROS Systems Simphony POS system being selected by both Moran & Bewley’s Hotel Group (10 hotels in Ireland and the UK) and Wynn Resorts (for its Wynn Las Vegas and Encore casino resort properties, covering over 100 revenue centers across the two properties). Payment by mobile phone also made an introductory appearance, with MICROS integrating Isis’ SmartTap into its Simphony POS (ARAMARK’s Basking Ridge location was the pilot F&B site for this). Google Wallet was integrated into MICROS POS systems (for yogurt retailer Pinkberry) and Shift4 announced Google Wallet interfaces for four Ingenico PIN pads.

RFID
RFID technology made great strides into the industry last year, in two main areas: the rapid spread of RFID guestroom door lock systems, and for linen/staff uniform tracking. InvoTech Systems’ GIMS UHF-RFID uniform tracking was implemented by the Statler Hotel on Cornell University’s campus, the new Revel resort on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the Odawa Casino Resort and the Mandarin Oriental, Boston. InvoTech also added a portable UHF-RFID handheld reader to its system. FOUNDATION Logic Systems’ RFID Uniform Manager was implemented in the Star Casino Australia and Vail Resorts.
RFID locks have become almost a de facto choice for their convenience and security, and showed increasing versatility in integrations with other systems. The Hyatt Regency New Orleans implemented Saflok Quantum RFID locks, interfaced with Schindler Elevator PORT Technology, and the Grand Hyatt San Francisco selected VingCard’s Signature RFID locks. The Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla, California, upgraded to VingCard Elsafe’s Classic RFID locking system, and VingCard Elsafe interfaced its RFID hotel systems with SKIDATA, an Austrian provider of access-management and ticketing for ski resorts, airports, sports venues and tourist attractions, letting skiers use their RFID-enabled ski pass as a guestroom key at surrounding hotels and resorts.
Kaba Ilco’s RFID locks were chosen by Les Hôtels JARO (5 properties), Sun Suites (all 20 properties), Loews Hotels & Resorts (all existing and new-build properties over the next 3 years) and Insignia Hospitality Group (all future properties plus 12 to be retrofitted). OpenWays announced its MOBILE KEY TRIO option, which combines RFID and Pure NFC card-reading functions with its unique CAC (Crypto Acoustic Credential) access.
And to really emphasize what an integrated world we’re approaching, VingCard Elsafe, BMW and Micros showcased the ability of BMW drivers to book rooms at Micros-equipped hotels from their cars, and then by-pass the hotel front desk by using their NFC-equipped car keys to access their guestrooms.

M&A
I thought last year’s tally of mergers and acquisitions was unusual; this year has been busier still.
– Expedia’s Egencia division acquired French Web/mobile developer Traveldoo and VIA Travel, the largest travel management company in the Nordic countries.
– ezRez took over Topguest, which helps users earn loyalty points on Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram and Twitter from check-ins, photos and updates.
– Whiteboard Labs partnered with R&D Intelligent Hospitality’s HotelIQ business intelligence, and was then acquired by Sceptre Hospitality Resources’ parent company, City e-Solutions Limited.
– The Active Network bought StarCite to be a leading component of its new Business Solutions division, and promptly signed Worldhotels’ 500 affiliated properties.
– Ericsson completed its acquisition of BelAir Networks.
– Infor purchased Easy RMS, adding revenue management functionality to its Infor10 hospitality offerings.
– Newmarket International acquired MeetingMatrix.
– Honeywell International tokk over INNCOM.
– Back office system vendor Fourth acquired Adaco.
– TigerTMS acquired Innovation Technologies Worldwide.
– Lodging Access Systems picked up RFID Hotel, a supplier of RFID keycards and credentials to the hospitality industry.
– HotelTonight bought PrimaTable, and will incorporate its restaurant demand forecasting and pricing tools into its own last-minute hotel yield management system.
– Kelso & Company acquired Swank Audio Visuals, merging it with PSAV.
– ZENO Controls acquired Verve Living Systems.
– France-based IPTV provider Locatel took over Docomo Intertouch Europe.
– Priceline.com purchased meta-search engine KAYAK.
– NAVIS acquired LMG Data Mining.
– RedPrairie merged with JDA Software.
– GoConcierge.net acquired Gold Key Solutions

Don’t Forget The Human Element
Finally, a cautionary word on technology; new research confirms that you only get the best out of your investment if you train your staff in how to use it, regularly, and the difference is measurable in the bottom line. According to new research from Hilary Murphy and Karolin Pucciani at Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, hotels show higher occupancy levels when they allocate more budget to training for their GMSs, and are higher still when a combination of both in-house training and GMS vendor training is employed. Statistically significant relationships also indicated that as the GMS training budget is increased, hotel revenues increase as well and in a much higher ratio than the input budget. Revenues of hotels are much higher as the GMS training budget rises above 5,000 Euros per year.
So there you have it. Keep an eye on how mobile technology will affect your operations – because it will – and on how you integrate your property systems more effectively, and for Pete’s sake, once you’ve invested in new technology keep your staff thoroughly and regularly trained on it.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Mark Holzberg joins Swisscom Hospitality Services as VP, The Americas and Global Managed Services
  • Roman Aluisy is new Director of Business Development at Lodging Interactive
  • Bob Post joins The Knowland Group’s board of directors
  • Joe Flynn  promoted to VP Sales, North America at Newmarket
  • Raymond Schruijer  promoted to VP Corporate Accounts at Newmarket
  • Gregg Hopkins is new VP Marketing at Newmarket
  • Nikolai Balba appointed to VP and CTO for Force.com at Newmarket

Mark Holzberg has joined Swisscom Hospitality Services as Vice President, The Americas and Global Managed Services. Mr. Holzberg brings over 20 years of hospitality technology experience, most recently as Vice President & Group Executive, Hospitality / Travel / Leisure for AGC Networks. He had earlier served as CEO of managed services pioneer Lorica Solutions, subsequently running XETA Technologies’ hospitality division after XETA acquired Lorica in 2010. Previously, Mr. Holzberg had served as President, Americas for Bartech Systems International and as CFO for TravelClick. **
Roman Aluisy is the new Director of Business Development at Lodging Interactive; he most recently served as sales manager for InnVite CRS and director of business development for REZlink International. Mr. Aluisy’s background also includes periods as sales and marketing consultant to Vantage Hospitality, regional vice president of franchise sales and development for Country Hearth Inns & Suites, and director of franchise sales and development for both Suburban Lodges of America (Southeast) and Cendant Corp. (now Wyndham Hotel Group).
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Robert Post has joined The Knowland Group’s board of directors; he is also one of Knowland’s co-investors.  A 20-year veteran of the travel and hospitality industry Mr. Post is the retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TravelCLICK, and was earlier an executive and corporate officer at MICROS Systems.
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Newmarket International has announced several key appointments to its sales, marketing, and product development organizations:
– Joe Flynn has been promoted to Vice President of Sales, North America.
– Raymond Schruijer has been promoted to Vice President of Corporate Accounts. He was earlier VP of Global Sales at Meeting Matrix, which Newmarket acquired in June 2012.
– Gregg Hopkins takes on the new role of Vice President of Marketing. A co-founder of Libra OnDemand, Mr. Hopkins joined Newmarket when it acquired Libra in 2011.
– Nikolai Balba has been appointed as Vice President and CTO for Force.com; he was also a co-founder of Libra OnDemand.
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RESERVATIONS

  • Expedia acquires metasearch company trivago

Expedia has acquired over 60% of trivago, a metasearch company headquartered in Dusseldorf, Germany. Founded seven years ago, trivago covers over 600,000 hotels across over 140 booking sites in over 30 countries. The deal is anticipated to close during the first half of 2013. The trivago co-founders and management team will continue to operate independently based out of trivago’s headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany. (www.trivago.com, www.expedia.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • GCommerce Solutions receives three HSMAI Adrian Awards
  • Best Western International extends relationship with VFM Leonardo
  • ReviewPro unveils configurable guest survey tool
  • USA TODAY Travel Media Group launches HotelMe authenticated hotel review site
  • Grand Pacific Resorts upgrades SPI Software’s Orange Version 7 Sales and Marketing system

GCommerce Solutions has received three HSMAI Adrian Awards:
– Website Category: a Silver Award for the Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina at Holiday Isle website.
– Social Media Category: a Bronze Award for the Zermatt Resort’s Endless Summer Social Media Campaign.
– Email Category: a Silver Award for the Postcard Inn on the Beach Winter Email Campaign.
(www.GCommerceSolutions.com)
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Best Western International has extended its relationship with VFM Leonardo for all hotel visual content on its recently redesigned Web site.  The new agreement expands the use of VFM Leonardo’s VScape to manage digital assets both within the organization and on the Web site, plus implementation of VFM Leonardo’s VPowered Multi-Media display technology, used as the media gallery on the Web site’s hotel details pages. Best Western has also implemented the Room Types Module to associate Best Western room type codes with individual media items, a Single Sign On and Workflow Approval Engine to integrate VScape into the Best Western intranet and a Text Translation API to move content between VScape and the company’s approved translation provider. (bestwestern.com, ww.vfmleonardo.com)
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ReviewPro has unveiled a configurable guest survey tool for hotels to collect direct feedback from guests by email or via any browser-enabled device, developed in partnership with Market Metrix to add direct feedback to travelers’ comments on review sites and social networks. (www.reviewpro.com)
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USA TODAY Travel Media Group has announced the beta launch of HotelMe, an authenticated hotel review site developed in a joint venture with District Hospitality Partners that displays verified reviews from hotel guests who paid and stayed at the hotel. Hotel brands including Hyatt, Best Western, La Quinta, Trump, Preferred Hotels, Omni, and Radisson have already signed on to verify whether review writers actually stayed at their properties, regardless of how or where they booked the room. (www.hotelme.com)
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Grand Pacific Resorts has upgraded to SPI Software’s Orange Version 7 Sales and Marketing system. Grand Pacific Resorts is headquartered in Carlsbad, California and manages 12 properties in Southern California. (www.grandpacificresorts.com, www.spiinc.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • ONYX Hospitality Group picks RateGain rate intelligence for 33 properties
  • RateGain releases new version of RG Bridge
  • Rainmaker Group acquires Grasp LLC
  • Orient-Express Hotels implementing IDeaS’ Pricing System

ONYX Hospitality Group has chosen RateGain rate intelligence for its portfolio of 33 properties across four brands – Saffron, Amari, Shama and OZO.
RateGain has released a new version of RG Bridge, which integrates with the PMS / CRS / IBE systems of hotels and hotel groups to enhance their updates on consolidated availability, rates and inventory.
(www.onyx-hospitality.com, www.rategain.com )
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The Rainmaker Group has acquired Atlanta-based Grasp LLC, and will offer Grasp’s flexible analytics and data visualization to its customer base. (www.LetItRain.com)
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Orient-Express Hotels is implementing IDeaS Revenue Solutions’ IDeaS Pricing System across the core of its portfolio, with some hotels remaining on IDeaS’ Revenue Management and Forecasting Management Systems. The Pricing System leverages IDeaS’ advanced analytics to forecast demand and set Best Available Rates through an intuitive user interface, allowing users to review metrics and distribute pricing decisions with a single click. Orient-Express portfolio includes 45 hotel, restaurant, cruise and luxury rail businesses in 22 countries. (www.orient-express.com, www.ideas.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Lanyon acquired by Vista Equity Partners
  • Newmarket releases HRM Winter ’13
  • Owensboro Daviess County CVB implements Passkey’s GroupMAX
  • Crown Melbourne installs Passkey’s GroupMAX

Lanyon has been acquired by Vista Equity Partners. Lanyon’s senior management team will continue to lead the company along with Steve Cornell, as Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Cornell was previously VP Finance at P2 Energy Solutions. Founded in 1984, Lanyon has long been a leading facilitator of the hotel RFP process for group business, and currently serves over 725 corporate clients and more than 340 hotel companies. (www.lanyon.com, www.vistaequitypartners.com)
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Newmarket International has announced the general availability of HRM Winter ’13, the latest version of its Hospitality Relationship Management suite built on the Force.com platform. The new release allows every feature of HRM to be available to users via a Web browser from any computer, anywhere in the world. Current HRM Apps include Delphi.fdc (group sales, catering and events), Sales Automation, Guest & Social Relations, Loyalty Management and Multi-Channel Marketing. Each app can be used individually or as part of a comprehensive solution. (www.newmarketinc.com)
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The Owensboro Daviess County CVB has implemented Passkey’s GroupMAX to handle its hotel booking service. The County’s expansive festival schedule includes ROMP, a local Bluegrass music festival that has consistently attracted over 30,000 visitors, and the International Bar-B-Q Festival, which draws tens of thousands of attendees annually. The county is also investing in a 169,000 square foot convention center, scheduled to be open in January 2014.
The Crown Melbourne has installed Passkey’s GroupMAX to augment its group business offerings. One of Australia’s most-integrated entertainment resorts, the 560,000 square meter complex includes 7,350 square meters of meeting space and 1,600 guest rooms across three hotels – Crown Towers, Crown Metropol and Crown Promenade Melbourne. It also includes the Palladium (Australia’s largest ballroom), a convention centre, over 50 restaurants and bars, boutiques, 14 cinemas, two nightclubs and a live entertainment theatre.
(www.crownmelbourne.com.au, www.passkey.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • LodgeNet files for bankruptcy, reorganizes under Colony Capital
  • LodgeNet to work with DirecTV to market LodgeNet services to hospitality and healthcare companies
  • Intelity partners with Hotelinnovativ for ICE sales, support in Switzerland, other European countries
  • Thistle Hotels launches free, unlimited Wi-Fi at its ten London Hotels
  • iRiS announces Lobby interactive digital concierge tablet
  • Accor installs DOCOMO interTouch internet services to 26 hotels in Morocco
  • Sofitel is deploying Zyken’s NightCove sleep and wellness systems
  • Control4 now delivering Operating System v2.3
  • Melia’s Paradisus Resorts brand launches mobile application
  • GoConcierge.net acquires Gold Key Solutions
  • Concorde Hotels & Resorts picks Quadriga integrated guest services for 25 properties

LodgeNet will file for bankruptcy under an expedited Chapter 11 process and will reorganize with Colony Capital as the company’s majority stockholder, receiving $60 million in funding from Colony Capital. Colony Capital’s hotel holdings include the Fairmont and Raffles hotel brands.
LodgeNet has reached an agreement to work with DirecTV to market LodgeNet services to hospitality and healthcare companies.
(www.lodgenet.com, www.colonyinc.com)
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Intelity has partnered with Hotelinnovativ, a system integrator catering to luxury hotels in Switzerland and several other European countries, to bring Intelity’s ICE technology to hotels throughout that region with customized, local service and support. (www.hotelinnovativ.ch, www.intelitycorp.com)
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Thistle Hotels has launched free, unlimited Wi-Fi at its ten London Hotels in partnership with BT Wi-Fi, following significant investment in the Wi-Fi infrastructure in these hotels. All guests and meeting delegates will be able to benefit from free access to BT Wi-Fi. (www.thistle.com)
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iRiS has announced its Lobby interactive digital concierge. Displayed on both the iPad and larger format touchscreens, iRiS Lobby is intended to provide information about the property and surrounding area, including current weather forecasts, transportation schedules and latest hotel offers, and allows guests to print directions to recommended restaurants as well as their airline boarding passes. (www.irisvalet.com)
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Accor has completed installation of DOCOMO interTouch FREEDOM high-speed wired and wireless internet services to 26 hotels in Morocco, including the new Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea and Spa. The Moroccan hotel, Sofitel’s second in the Bay of Agadir, includes 125 rooms and 49 suites.
Sofitel is deploying Zyken’s NightCove sleep and wellness systems in selected hotels worldwide. NightCove combines various cycles of light color and intensity to influence physiological parameters such as the body clock and melatonin levels by simulating fading evening light and growing dawn light, along with mood-appropriate music sequences. New programs can be loaded via a memory card to provide seasonal variations; the device can also be connected to an iPod/iPad charging dock.
(www.sofitel.com, www.docomointertouch.com, www.nightcove.com)
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Control4 is now delivering its Operating System v2.3, offering a new lighting user interface, new personalization features, new applications for commercial installations, feature enhancements and updated certified drivers to boost performance and interoperability. OS 2.3 allows consumers to customize and adjust specific preferences themselves; homeowners and business owners can also add or swap out smart phones and tablets within their Control4® MyHome account. The MyHome app now includes optimized start-up and reconnect time, better Rhapsody Music Service integration and additional language support. (www.control4.com)
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Meliá Hotels’ Paradisus Resorts all-inclusive hotel brand has launched a mobile application, created by Spanish app design and development company Mobail. The app allows guests to view property maps, book restaurant reservations and spa treatments, reserve activities and access additional information about off-site tours and events and more, and is available for Apple, Blackberry or Android devices. Paradisus manages seven resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. (www.paradisus.com)
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GoConcierge.net has acquired its California neighbor and rival Gold Key Solutions. Through the acquisition GoConcierge.net will expand its market base to more than 1,000 hotel locations throughout the United States and more than 50 countries around the world. (www.goconcierge.net/home)
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Concorde Hotels & Resorts has picked Quadriga to deliver integrated guest services including in-room entertainment, High Speed Internet Access and HD TV programming in all 25 of its properties across Europe. Quadriga will implement its Sensiq IPTV-based guest communications platform, Qvalet digital mobile platform, Qconnect Internet services and a range of LED TVs from leading brands. Quadriga’s Sensiq includes a sales and promotional channel which enables the delivery of high impact marketing and advertising campaigns to targeted guests. Qvalet allows guests to interact with their hotel before, during and after their stay, to view information, make bookings and purchase products and services via their mobile devices. (www.concorde-hotels.com/en/, www.quadriga.com)
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BACK OFFICE

  • Prologic First adds Thai language support to Web ProL’IFIC Inventory and Financial system
  • Santa Ana Star Casino in Albuquerque implements InvoTech Uniform System

Prologic First has enhanced the multi-lingual capabilities of its Web ProL’IFIC Inventory and Financial application to include the Thai language. (www.prologicfirst.com)
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The Santa Ana Star Casino in Albuquerque has implemented the InvoTech Uniform System to manage its inventory of 9,000 uniforms. (www.santaanastar.com, www.invotech.com)
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