June 16, 2010

In this issue…

People on the Move

Hospitality Management Systems


Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning



Guest Services

Back Office

Inventory / Purchasing





  • It’s HITEC time!
  • HTNG reports industry interest in sharing technology across brands

The obvious first – HITEC is next week, and it looks like being a great show (despite being in my least-favorite convention city). From all the news I’ve been hearing there’s a definite excitement about new directions and products. Cloud computing options are springing up everywhere, and this strong interest can only speed vendor cooperation in resolving interface challenges.
Last year’s prevalent theme of mobility was driven by the iPhone and the many interactive information, booking and guestroom control functions that could be placed on it. This mobile focus is even stronger this year, and the platform of choice has been expanded from smart phones to the iPad. This certainly emphasizes the power of good user interface design, given that connected tablet PCs have been available for years, but it’s an undeniably hot product. It’s going to be hard to find a booth NOT offering an iPad application (and a giveaway) this year, linked to other management systems in creative ways.
Among the most anticipated events are next-generation Hospitality Management System (HMS) announcements from three major players: Agilysys with its Guest 360, Infor/SoftBrands with its HMS (“S” as in “Solution” in this case) and PAR Springer-Miller with its “next-generation technology platform”. Many other vendors also have new products or enhancements, of course, and as usual the challenge will be to get around them all in the short few days. There’s no finer opportunity to see new developments and make good industry contacts than HITEC. See you there!
As usual, there’ll be a huge number of vendors each offering its unique approach to specific management opportunities, and each will certainly have its pros and cons. Inevitably, though, there’s considerable overlap between many of them – do you remember a recent HITEC where 56 vendors each offered high-speed Internet access services? – and there’s been some discussion recently about whether some of these offerings may be simplified into cross-industry standards.
Many hotels do consider the specific applications they adopt to be a significant strategic advantage and have no desire to share them, especially those handling guest interactions. However, Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) research among hotel chains has shown a strong level of general interest in not having to re-invent the wheel every time they want to add new capabilities or to implement similar approaches in different parts of the world. More than 80% of the surveyed IT executives said they were willing to share such applications as guest-room device management, concierge, point of sale, housekeeping, facilities management, and applications for several back-office and human resource functions. In these areas, what you do with the tools matters at least as much as the tools themselves.
HTNG’s report proposes some potential “first steps” towards those shared services seen as most desirable, and it has identified two areas for initial efforts: shared-service application(s) to manage interfaces to guest-room devices, and a global hospitality data network. The latter is a particularly interesting proposal; instead of each hotel chain having to negotiate with multiple data network carriers in different regions of the world (or even within the USA), why not pool resources and set up a single worldwide network themselves that each property could subscribe to? It’s a model that’s worked for the airlines with their SITA network, and may just usher in a new era in systems cooperation.

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  • Michael Schubach joins Agilysys as Associate Vice President of Product Management
  • Trevor Zabel hired by The Knowland Group as Assistant Chief Learning Officer
  • Kristin Intress promoted to CEO and President of InnLink
  • InnLink sales team hires David Leitner, Matt Hughes, Gigi Filippi and Marie Ainsworth: promotes Kelly Gale, Sissy Armstrong and Laurie Bechler
  • Bjorn Hanson appointed as divisional dean of NYU’s Preston Robert Tisch Center
  • Scott Brodows hired by Travel Tripper as Executive Vice President
  • Mick Talbot hired by EZYield.com to lead expansion in United Kingdom, Ireland
  • Susan Jones joins Clear Sky Software as Customer Care Representative
  • Hiroshi Shimizu promoted to Worldspan’s Commercial Head in Japan, South Korea and Guam

Michael Schubach has joined Agilysys as Associate Vice President of Product Management. Mr. Schubach brings thirty years of hospitality and information systems experience to his new role, gained most recently as Chief Information Officer at the Trump Hotel Collection and earlier as VP Resort Technology at ClubResorts /Pinehurst Resort. In 1983, he founded the Educational Services Group, which became the exclusive installation team for Computerized Lodging Systems, and was made Vice President of Technology at CLS when it acquired the Educational Services Group in 1986. Mr. Schubach later spent two years as VP Operations with Micros-Fidelio and two more as VP Education for QuickStart Technologies, a Microsoft education center. He joined Club Corp. in 1997 with IT responsibility for its five resorts, and moved to Trump in 2008.
Trevor Zabel has been hired by The Knowland Group as its new Assistant Chief Learning Officer. Mr. Zabel has more than 18 years of experience in the hospitality industry, most recently as a corporate manager for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company overseeing sales technology training and development. Before that he was a corporate trainer in charge of overseeing sales and catering training and support at nearly 50 Ritz-Carlton properties.
Kristin Intress has been promoted to CEO and President of InnLink; she previously served as President, with responsibility for sales and marketing, strategy and organizational growth.
InnLink has also made several hires and promotions in its sales management team:
– David Leitner has been hired as Regional Sales Manager for the InnVite CRS. He brings over 20 years of hospitality experience, gained as US regional director of business development for PassKey International, director of franchise development for Hilton Hotels Corp. and in numerous positions with Promus Hotels.
– Matt Hughes has joined as Regional Sales Manager specializing in the BridgeLink program for hotels transitioning from brand operations; he has eight years of franchise experience with LaQuinta, Choice and Cendant.
– Gigi Filippi joins as Regional Sales Manager for California, Nevada and Hawaii, with over 20 years of hospitality management experience in several operational and sales roles.
– Marie Ainsworth has been hired as Product Manager, a role she previously filled for TravelClick; she served earlier as Director of Electronic Distribution at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.
– Kelly Gale has been promoted from Sales Manager to Director of Sales; she has 10 plus years of managing sales teams.
– Sissy Armstrong has been promoted to Director of Account Management, building on her ten years of experience with InnLink.
– Laurie Bechler has expanded her role as VP of Operations; she has been with InnLink for 15 years.
Bjorn Hanson has been appointed as the new divisional dean of the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management, beginning with the fall 2010 academic semester. A widely-recognized industry expert and scholar, Mr. Hanson succeeds Lalia Rach, dean of the Tisch Center for the past 15 years; he joined the Center in 2008, where he is a clinical professor teaching in the graduate and undergraduate hospitality and tourism programs and directing applied research projects. He was previously Global Industry Leader, Hospitality & Leisure at PricewaterhouseCoopers for nearly 20 years.
Scott Brodows has been hired by Travel Tripper as Executive Vice President. Mr. Brodows previously held several management positions at Sabre Holdings, including Chief Operating Officer of its SynXis division. He has also served as Chief Operating Officer at Higher Ed Holdings (a service provider to public Universities) and worked in the financial services and marketing research industries.
Mick Talbot has been hired by EZYield.com to lead its expansion in the United Kingdom and Ireland markets; he is a former director for an international OTA and former director and VP for InterContinental Hotels Group.
Susan Jones has joined Clear Sky Software as Customer Care Representative; she brings considerable experience in the areas of inventory management, product testing, end-user training, and corporate reporting.
Hiroshi Shimizu has been promoted by Travelport to be Worldspan’s Commercial Head in Japan, South Korea and Guam. Mr. Shimizu joined Worldspan in 2007 and has served as Airline Sales Manager, Pacific and most recently as Business Development Manager (Supplier Services), Pacific. He had earlier spent almost 20 years in airline roles including more than a decade with Qantas and Qantas Holidays.

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  • Choice deploys choiceADVANTAGE web-based HMS to 3,000th franchised hotel
  • Auris orders protel MPE system for ten properties

Choice Hotels International has deployed its proprietary choiceADVANTAGE web-based HMS to its 3,000th franchised hotel in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Choice anticipates full deployment of the system to its entire domestic hotel portfolio of nearly 5,000 hotels by 2012, and plans to roll it out to its properties in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France and Germany beginning later this year.
Dubai-based Auris has contracted with protel hotelsoftware to use the protel MPE multi property edition to operate its hotels and hotel apartments, starting this month with the 286-room Al Nawras hotel. Auris has targeted ten operational hotels in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by the end of 2010, all managed from a central database. (www.auris-hotels.com, www.protel-hotel-software.com)

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  • NORTHWIND launches mobile-capable version of Maestro’s ResWave Booking Engine
  • Mandarin Oriental first client for TripCraft’s enterprise-level smart-phone booking application
  • HRS joins Availpro’s distributor network
  • Project Interactive launches interactive agency for independent and boutique hotels
  • Destination Hotels & Resorts rolls out on-line condominium/vacation home reservations for guests to book specific units

NORTHWIND has launched a mobile-capable version of the ResWave Booking Engine for its Maestro Enterprise HMS, which now lets guests book room and dining, spa or other activity reservations from most mobile devices, including the Apple iPad. ResWave has also been enhanced to include reservation capability directly from social media sites such as Facebook. (www.maestropms.com)
TripCraft has launched an enterprise-level mobile application for the delivery of rich hotel content, real-time reservations, on-property services and local destination information via smart phones. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has signed on as its first customer, and will use TripCraft to complement its existing mobile Website. TripCraft was founded by Bill Nicholson and Mike Murray. Mr. Nicholson is known for major development work at Pegasus Solutions; Mr. Murray was CEO at interface specialist HubX, later led the development of SynXis’ RedX CRS and was vice president of airline reservation systems at ITA Software. Initially available for iPhone/iPad, TripCraft expects to rollout its application to Android and Blackberry handheld devices early next year. (www.tripcraft.com)
HRS (Hotel Reservation Service) has joined Availpro’s distributor network, making its 250,000+ hotel inventory available to Availpro’s distribution extranet. (www.hrs.com, www.availpro.com)
Project Interactive has launched an interactive agency to help independent and boutique hotels capture greater market share and revenues through social media and digital marketing. Founded by Brian Dass, co-founder of Open Hospitality, the company will be headquartered in London, England with satellite offices in New York City, Barcelona and Singapore. (www.projectinteractive.com)
Destination Hotels & Resorts has launched a custom condominium/vacation home reservations program that allows guests to select and book specific units online, integrated with its PAR Springer-Miller SMS|Host HMS. The program system was piloted at Sunriver Resort and will be rolled out at Wild Dunes in June, Hawaii later this summer and other condominium properties over the next year. Guests can search by specific criteria and view multiple units and price points within a single search. The booking engine was developed in partnership with Saber Hospitality Solutions and PAR Springer-Miller Systems. (www.destinationhotels.com, www.sabrehospitality.com, www.springermiller.com)

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  • Alloso Technologies announces hospitality-focused business intelligence iPhone app
  • Genesis Global Technologies releases Phone Optimized Website program for mobile marketing
  • RateTiger partners with Travelscream to incorporate online advertising and marketing management
  • West Paces Hotel Group implements UniFocus’ GUESTScope and MEETINGScope for Solís and Capella brands and eight independent properties

Alloso Technologies has announced a business intelligence iPhone app for the hospitality industry, featuring a dashboard of real-time summary information for General Managers, Regionals, and Executives and including key performance indicators, P&L data, budget comparisons, revenue segments, expenses, competitive set data and links to guest reviews. The app is an extension of Alloso’s Portfolio One web-based financial reporting and business intelligence platform that consolidates information across different hospitality and hotel brand systems, and leverages MicroStrategy technology to deliver business intelligence reports and dashboards on mobile devices. (www.alloso.com)
Genesis Global Technologies has released a Phone Optimized Website program for mobile marketing, working in conjunction with an organizations traditional website to provide a phone-friendly website for those using a cell phone to find products and services. (www.genesisgt.com)
RateTiger has partnered with Travelscream to incorporate online advertising and marketing management, allowing hoteliers to create digital marketing placements alongside other online travel websites in RTSuite and adopt marketing campaigns across multiple distribution channels including travel websites, email newsletters, RSS feeds and social networks. (www.travelscream.com, www.ratetiger.com )
West Paces Hotel Group has implemented UniFocus’ GUESTScope and MEETINGScope survey tools for its Solís and Capella brands and eight independent properties, to identify key issues surrounding the guest and meeting planner experience. (www.westpaceshotels.com, www.unifocus.com)

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  • RateTiger’s RTSuite iPhone app now available at Apple Application Store
  • Postcard Inn On The Beach implements EZYield.com
  • Seminole Gaming picks Rainmaker’s revolution revenue management for Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, FL

RateTiger has announced that its RTSuite iPhone app is now available at the Apple Application Store. (www.ratetiger.com)
Postcard Inn On The Beach, located in St. Pete Beach, Fla., has implemented EZYield.com’s channel management system to distribute rates and inventory to its online distribution channels. (www.postcardinn.com, www.ezyield.com)
Seminole Gaming has selected The Rainmaker Group’s revolution Product Suite to automate revenue management at its Seminole Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, FL. Implementation is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter 2010. (www.seminolehardrock.com, www.letitrain.com)

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  • Lanyon announces availability of Total Hospitality Spend Management application
  • hotel SystemsPro launches mobile capabilities for hotel SalesPro system
  • Hyatt completes deployment of Passkey’s GroupMAX at all Hyatt-branded properties in U.S., Canada, Caribbean

Lanyon has announced the availability of its Total Hospitality Spend Management application, which consolidates all aspects of corporate hospitality spend from transient hotels, meetings and events, engagements and projects, and incorporates rate integrity capabilities. Travel buyers can source properties by location, category, ratings and many other criteria; combining all sourcing activities within the platform allows a unified view of sourcing and savings activities across the business enterprise. (www.lanyon.com)
hotel SystemsPro is launching mobile capabilities for its hotel SalesPro and hotel ServicePro systems, available for the iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices. (www.hotelsystemspro.com)
Hyatt has completed the deployment of Passkey’s GroupMAX online group reservations system at all Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt and Park Hyatt hotels and resorts in U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. (www.hyatt.com, www.passkey.com)

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  • Amway Grand Plaza Hotel implements Volanté’s POS system in eleven outlets, convention center
  • CityCenter Las Vegas picks Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS, Stratton Warren inventory/procurement for ARIA, Vdara and Crystals retail area.

The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Grand Rapids Michigan has implemented Toronto-based Volanté Systems’ Linux-based POS system in its eleven food and beverage outlets. The installation includes 54 POS terminals throughout the property and 12 terminals in the adjoining Devos Place convention center. Future plans include the use of Volanté’s wireless POS capabilities and expansion into the hotel’s retail operations. (www.amwaygrand.com, www.volantesystems.com)
CityCenter in Las Vegas has selected Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS system and Stratton Warren System inventory and procurement application for the ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa and Crystals dining, shopping and entertainment venue. ARIA and Vdara use the InfoGenesis POS system in their restaurants, bars and gift shops; vendors at Crystals use tablet PCs running the InfoGenesis POS wireless application to post charges for guests staying at the two hotels. (www.citycenter.com, www.agilysys.com)

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  • TAC wins European Health & Spa Award for second time

The Agency for Wellness and Health has presented the European Health & Spa Award to TAC Digital Signage for the second time. TAC’s Digital Signage system was nominated for “Best technical product innovation”. (www.reservationassistant.com) **

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  • KoolConnect, Deuromedia partner to introduce Canvís guestroom video with 3-D movies, PC-like Web browsing
  • NORTHWIND launches mobile-capable version of ResWave Activity Booking Engine for Maestro
  • Choice designates Uniguest as business center vendor for all franchised Comfort Suites properties in USA
  • PCH Hotels & Resorts transitioning eight properties to Guest-tek’s OneView HSIA
  • ZDirect releases Mobile Passport interactive personalized mobile web portal for every guest
  • Elfiq announces two new link balancer units
  • Vecima Networks announces Concierge Gateway, provides encrypted HD channels over coaxial networks
  • F&F Realty implements TTI Technologies Business Center at Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center
  • INNCOM unveils RF touch-screen tabletop/bedside controller
  • Flyte Systems releases FlytePad iPad-based version of airport flight information system
  • TrackIT announces iPad version of package tracking application
  • Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel installs Quadriga’s Sensiq guest communications portal on Philips flat-screen HD televisions

US-based KoolConnect and Austria-based Deuromedia have partnered to introduce Canvís, a guestroom video services offering that includes 3-D movies and a PC-like TV Web browsing experience (via its TrueWeb set-top box) to stream Web content from sites such as Hulu and YouTube to the in-room TV. Canvis claims to deliver 3-D content using existing HD sets, and includes streaming Internet radio (with access to over 15,000 stations from AOL SHOUTcast), the ability to interface with non-hospitality grade TVs and deploy in a mixed environment of both SD and HD TVs, TV wake-up calls and guest surveys, VOIP integration including TV caller ID, live weather reports for the surrounding area and the guest’s hometown, in-room dining menus and ordering, automated in-room requests and loyalty program integration. (www.deuromedia.at, www.koolconnect.com)
NORTHWIND has launched a mobile-capable version of the ResWave Booking Engine for its Maestro Enterprise HMS, which now lets guests book dining, spa or other activity reservations and guestrooms from virtually any mobile device, including the Apple iPad. ResWave has also been enhanced to include reservation capability directly from social media sites such as Facebook. (www.maestropms.com)
Choice Hotels International has signed a three-year agreement designating Uniguest as the business center software and service vendor for all franchised Comfort Suites across the United States. Uniguest has created a custom-branded software interface for the chain; each public computer includes Uniguest’s SecuredAdvantage software to protect users from identity theft, unsolicited downloads, viruses and unwanted exposure to adult content, ands which restores the system after each session. All Comfort Suites Hotels are required to purchase the software for their business centers by June 2011. (www.choicehotels.com, www.uniguest.com)
PCH Hotels & Resorts is transitioning all eight of its properties to Guest-tek’s fully-converged OneView HSIA platform, following a pilot installation at The Battle House, Mobile, AL. The PCH hotels range from 90 to over 400 guest rooms. (www.pchresorts.com, www.guest-tek.com)
ZDirect has released its Mobile Passport, an interactive personalized mobile web portal for every guest. The portal is automatically generated by a reservation, is fully integrated with the hospitality management system and allows the customer to interact with the property before arrival and whilst on property for travel planning, electronic concierge, advance check-in, room upgrades, and more. (www.zdirect.com)
Elfiq Networks has announced the availability of two new link balancer models (LB-800E, LB-1600E) offering increased connectivity performance and maximum Internet access reliability. The units are equipped with multiple gigabit Ethernet ports and can balance loads across six (800E) or sixteen (1600E) ISP or private links, including low-cost circuits such as DSL and cable modems and wireless links like 3G mobile access and WiMAX, for a total throughput of 480Mbps and 800Mbps, respectively. (www.elfiq.com)
Canada-based Vecima Networks has announced its Concierge Gateway device, a Pro:Idiom encryption-based IP to QAM converter compatible with satellite, cable and IPTV that provides HD channels over standard RF coaxial networks. This approach allows system integrators to reduce the cost per HD stream and eliminates the need for set-top-boxes in guest rooms. (www.vecima.com)
F&F Realty has implemented a Business Center from TTI Technologies at its recently-renovated Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center in Rosemont. (www.crowneplazaohare.com, www.ttitel.com)
INNCOM International has unveiled a Radio Frequency (RF) touch-screen Tabletop/Bedside Controller as part of its Integrated Room Automation System (IRAS). The unit includes customizable guest control of room temperature, lighting, drapes and alarm clock, and can display guest services information, online communications, automated CRM information delivery and easy staff reporting. (www.inncom.com)
Flyte Systems has released FlytePad, an iPad-based version of its airport flight information system, which allows hotel guest service staff to provide guests with real-time information from any location including an airport shuttle (with the 3G version). (www.flytesystems.com )
TrackIT has announced an iPad version of its package tracking application to help staff locate where parcels are stored and expedite payment and delivery. TrackIT uses bar code technology to record each phase of a package’s movement, and interfaces with most HMSs for guest interaction and billing. (www.trackit.cc)
The 764-room Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel has installed Quadriga’s Sensiq guest communications portal on its new Philips flat-screen HD televisions. The multi-language (including Japanese) portal offers a variety of HD-quality content, entertainment options and hotel information that is fully customized to reflect the hotel branding, and will be used to promote the hotel’s facilities and services. (www.novotel.com, www.quadriga.com)

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  • InterContinental endorses Merchant Link as approved credit card gateway and payments security provider
  • Aptech celebrates 40 years in business

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has endorsed credit card gateway and payments security provider Merchant Link as an approved provider for its franchisees in the United States, covering more than 3,000 hotel properties. (www.ihg.com, www.merchantlink.com)
Aptech Computer Systems is celebrating 40 years in business. Founder Jay Troutman began his career by opening a coffee business at Cornell University’s college of engineering with partner Dave Hamilton, and then wrote a computer program to assist Hamilton with his country club’s golf handicapping and accounting needs. The company built a clientele of 50 country clubs before being hired by Interstate Accounting Services to create a computer program to run the back of the house. Interstate became Interstate Hotels, for whom Aptech developed a front office system; it also created a golf tee-time reservation system that was later sold to Golf Digest. (www.aptech-inc.com)

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  • CityCenter Las Vegas picks Agilysys’ Stratton Warren System application for ARIA, Vdara and Crystals retail

CityCenter in Las Vegas has selected Agilysys’ Stratton Warren System inventory and procurement application and InfoGenesis POS system for the ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa and Crystals dining, shopping and entertainment venue. ARIA and Vdara use the InfoGenesis POS system in their restaurants, bars and gift shops; vendors at Crystals use tablet PCs running the InfoGenesis POS wireless application to post charges for guests staying at the two hotels. (www.citycenter.com, www.agilysys.com)

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  • hotel SystemsPro launches mobile capabilities for hotel ServicePro

hotel SystemsPro is launching mobile capabilities for its hotel ServicePro and hotel SalesPro systems, available for the iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices. (www.hotelsystemspro.com)

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  • Spotlight 29 Casino implements NEC’s UNIVERGE SV8500 communications server and UC for Enterprise (UCE) system
  • PhoneSuite announces phone system rental program
  • CityCenter Las Vegas deploys InnerWireless distributed antenna system (DAS), claims largest in North America

Spotlight 29 Casino, a business venture of the 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians in Coachella, Ca., has implemented NEC’s UNIVERGE SV8500 communications server and UC for Enterprise (UCE) system for improved contact center customer service and front desk productivity. (www.spotlight29.com, www.necam.com)
PhoneSuite has announced a phone system rental program, claimed to be the first of its kind, with a two-year commitment followed by options to continue renting, purchase the system at a prorated cost (80 percent of rent goes to purchase price) or return it to PhoneSuite. (www.phonesuite.com)
CityCenter Las Vegas has deployed what is claimed to be the largest distributed antenna system (DAS) in North America, using InnerWireless to cover more than 13.5 million square feet of its facilities. The system provides cellular coverage to guest smartphones and BlackBerry devices throughout the complex and guest towers, including guest rooms, hotel hallways, lobbies and even showrooms. Public safety agencies connect to the system at 700MHz for added security. The DAS also allows CityCenter employees use their smartphones’ push-to-talk functions to communicate instead of having to buy two-way wireless equipment. The InnerWireless DAS uses a passive hybrid architecture design that requires only 22 powered locations across the entire CityCenter complex. (www.citycenter.com, www.innerwireless.com)

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  • Intercontinental Phoenicia Beirut installs VingCard VISIONLINE wireless system and Signature RFID locks

The 446-room Intercontinental Phoenicia Beirut in Lebanon has completed the installation of VingCard’s VISIONLINE wireless RF-online system and Signature RFID contactless electronic door locks. (www.ichotelsgroup.com, www.vingcard.com)

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