June 2, 2010

In this issue…

People on the Move

Hospitality Management Systems

Reservations

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

F&B / POS

Guest Services

Inventory / Purchasing

Security


MAY 19 – JUNE 2, 2010

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • Clouds are beautiful but both vendors and hotels need to be prepared for changes in the weather
  • Four hospitality companies’ IT projects honored in CIO Top 100

It’s not just because I live in Seattle (and was born in England) that I’m generally in favor of clouds – cloud computing, that is, as you’ll see from my article in the next issue of Hospitality Upgrade (due out in a couple of weeks). Especially for multi-property operations, the arguments in favor are pretty compelling in terms of speed of deployment, low cost of entry, more consistent data across properties and easier access to comparative reports, and I expect most hospitality technology software to move in this direction.
One challenge to the wider adoption of cloud-based systems has always been their need for interfaces to other systems, which is why they’ve mostly been adopted first by limited-service properties. Their appeal is spreading up-market as more applications become available in a cloud-based format, though, because it’s easier to link systems there. IT consultant and pragmatist Bob Lewis points out, though, that getting systems to work together is only the start; you need to keep them working together as their vendors upgrade them.
If a hotel chain hosts its main applications in its own data center, it can thoroughly test vendors’ (or its own) enhancements to make sure upgraded systems still integrate well before being put into operational use. However, if your main systems are hosted by their vendors, each will need to provide advance notice of planned changes to all its interface partners, as well as a test environment for them to verify any impact on the interfaces. Each should also provide two-version support, for clients who for whatever reason can’t upgrade when the vendor’s ready.
This can raise issues about confidentiality and about vendors’ natural desire to make surprise announcements of new features, but these can be overcome through mutual non-disclosure agreements and a partnership mentality. It also sounds like yet another reason for adopting interface standards (such as HTNG’s) wherever possible, to minimize the rework ripple effort.
We don’t want the Facebook effect to spread to hotels, whereby the vendor changes functionality overnight without notice. Surprises can be fun, but shouldn’t extend to hotels who find that their main system is suddenly on a new version and now doesn’t talk to its peers.
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Four hospitality companies have been recognized in this year’s CIO magazine Top 100 awards for projects that show unique practices and substantial results:
– Pegasus Solutions for its RezView NG central reservation system, now implemented in 8,200 hotels worldwide and increasing bookings by delivering information more quickly to travelers seeking lodging.
– IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) for its mobile.ihg.com mobile phone application, which includes location detection to find nearby hotels, their phone numbers, custom driving and walking directions and which has contributed to a 1500 percent boost in mobile web bookings.
– Harrah’s Entertertainment’s new personalized, episode-based game (developed with slot-machine maker Williams Gaming) that allows a player, if a game is interrupted, to continue where he or she left off at any of Harrah’s slot machines.
– Marriott International for its Direct Connect for External Channels initiative, which simplifies central reservations system connections with its partners’ systems using a service-oriented architecture and Open Travel Alliance standards. This is the eleventh time Marriott has been recognized in the CIO 100.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Rupert Gutteridge joins IDeaS as Regional Director of Sales
  • Annaliese Franzen hired to represent ClubPay on behalf of Jonas Software
  • Tim Hart named Chief Executive Officer at Rubicon
  • Debra Taube hired by Genares as Vice President of Business Development
  • Tony Wright joins IndiCater as Sales Director
  • Wesley Dean joins M3 Hotel Accounting as Vice President of Information Technology

Rupert Gutteridge has joined IDeaS as Regional Director of Sales, EMEA; he replaces Fabian Specht, who was promoted to the role of Regional Managing Director, EMEA earlier this year. Prior to joining IDeaS, Mr. Gutteridge was Sales Director – Central Systems, EMEA, for Micros; he had earlier served as International Business Development Manager for AremisSoft Corp in both the UK and United States, and as Hotel General Manger for Mazard Hotel Management.
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Annaliese Franzen has been hired to represent ClubPay on behalf of Jonas Software, the outcome of a recent strategic alliance formed between Jonas and ClubPay to provide their client clubs with an integrated payroll and human resource management approach. Ms. Franzen earlier served with Ceridian.
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Tim Hart has been named Chief Executive Officer in addition to his current role as President of Rubicon. Mr. Hart was a co-founder of Rubicon in 1999 and has been a member of the board of directors since its inception.
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Debra Taube has been hired by Genares as Vice President of Business Development. Ms. Taube brings over 15 years of hospitality sales and marketing experience, most recently as a Regional Vice President of Sales and Account Management for Trust International and Wizcom International in Frankfurt, Germany. Her previous positions also include vice president of sales and marketing for Travel Tripper, vice president of business development and marketing at TravelWerx, director of global business development and director of change management for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, and regional sales manager at American Express Travel.
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Tony Wright has joined IndiCater as Sales Director; he was previously Sales Director with Fourth Hospitality. He had earlier served with Alternative Business Systems (ABS) before its acquisition by Fourth Hospitality in 2008.
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Wesley “Wes” Dean has joined M3 Hotel Accounting as Vice President of Information Technology. He brings over 20 years of experience, including serving as Senior Vice President for Product Development for Davis & Henderson, LTD. of Toronto, Ontario and Chief Operating Officer for Cyence International of Burlington, Ontario.
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HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort selects Agilysys Visual One, InfoGenesis, GeM and DataMagine

The 85-room Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort in Suquamish, Wash. has selected a suite of Agilysys software, including its Visual One hospitality management system (including Sales & Catering and Spa Management modules), InfoGenesis POS system, Guest eMarketing (GeM) guest correspondence and marketing management application and DataMagine document management. (www.clearwatercasino.com, www.agilysys.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Best Western lists 4,000+ hotels on meta-search engine HotelsCombined.com
  • Nippon Travel Agency adds 500 high-profile properties to HBSi’s iDemand Gateway
  • Hostelworld unveils Hostel WithMe collaboration, search and booking engine for Google Wave
  • Connected Hospitality announces websites for hotels to manage their own smart phone-optimized booking
  • American Express Business Travel releases mobileXtend application for itinerary consolidation
  • Trust International completes implementation of yourVoyager CRS to all group customers in eight months

Best Western International has listed its 4,000+ hotels on meta-search engine HotelsCombined.com. Travelers can choose to be redirected to BestWestern.com to make their hotel reservation without additional fees or mark-ups. (www.bestwestern.com, hotelscombined.com)
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Nippon Travel Agency (NTA) has added 500 of its high-profile properties to HBSi’s iDemand Gateway, which automates real-time connections between hotel inventory systems and travel distribution outlets. NTA has 37 primary locations around the world in 15 countries. (www.ntainbound.com, www.hbsconnect.com)
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Dublin-based Hostelworld has unveiled Hostel WithMe, a real-time collaboration, travel search and booking engine for Google’s Wave platform, developed in partnership with Columbus Internet and its Travel WithMe trip planning service. Hostel WithMe allows a single user to search and browse different properties on the Hostelworld inventory from within a widget alongside their Inbox, highlight different properties and put them into an interactive Google Wave discussion folder. Other selected users will be able to browse each property through Google Maps and Streetview from within the Wave, comment on and vote for a particular property. Any member of the group can go forward to a booking engine in a separate window to book the property. (www.hostelworld.com)
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Connected Hospitality has announced mobile websites for hotels to manage their own smart phone-optimized booking sites. Hotels can modify content in real time, post daily specials, deliver mobile phone screen coupons and more; the technology currently works on iPhone, Google Android and Blackberry smart phones. (www.connectedhospitality.com)
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American Express Business Travel has released its mobileXtend application to consolidate travelers’ itineraries. Using proprietary Digital Travel Record technology and Web services, Amex collects and automatically updates travelers’ itineraries regardless of which GDSs their companies contract with or which corporate-booking tool was used for the transaction, and of whether the booking is made online or offline. Itinerary updates are incorporated without any action from the traveler, such as forwarding confirmation e-mails. mobileXtend also includes dining searches and currency-converter services via SMS text-messaging from conTgo, and the ability for corporations to text employees with general messages or surveys. mobileXtend is a free Blackberry and iPhone app for business travelers whose companies are American Express Business Travel clients. (www.AmericanExpress.com/Business)
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Trust International has completed the implementation of its new yourVoyager CRS with all of its hotel group customers in eight months. (www.trustinternational.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • Aptech releases EV Lite multi-property graphical performance reporting tool
  • Shell Vacations Hospitality rolls out ZDirect eCRM to 16 destinations
  • Boomerang Hotels implements ZDirect eCRM platform for GuestHouse International and Settle Inn brands

Aptech Computer Systems has released its EV Lite multi-property graphical performance reporting tool, built on Microsoft web-based technology and hosted by Aptech. EV Lite can be configured to email selected reports automatically to approved users. EV Lite’s reports include Daily Data Gathering (regardless of the brand or data source system), pre-configured and customized reports and multiple view options, (www.aptech-inc.com)
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Shell Vacations Hospitality has rolled out ZDirect’s eCRM platform to 16 of its property destinations, after a successful trial at 2 locations. Shell Vacations is an independent vacation ownership developer offering 23 resorts, hotels and lodges in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
Boomerang Hotels has implemented ZDirect’s eCRM platform for both its GuestHouse International and Settle Inn brands at nearly 100 locations. The initiative features a centralized data warehouse with automated segmentation, list hygiene and customer preferences, individual property access to a subset of the database for communications with their guests, “intelligent” automated electronic communications including reservation confirmations, pre-arrival information and thank you letters with guest surveys, electronic newsletters, reward programs, electronic marketing techniques such as dynamic content and behavioral profiling, and a mobile CRM.
(www.shellhospitality.com, www.boomeranghotels.com, www.zdirect.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • EZYield.com becomes exclusive North American hospitality reseller of iNNtelligenz

EZYield.com has become the exclusive North American hospitality reseller of iNNtelligenz market intelligence tool for collecting and comparing hotels’ online rates in selected markets from major travel websites. iNNtelligenz pulls online pricing and availability data for the whole market on a daily basis, and converts the data into graphs and charts. Three competitive sets are automatically pre-populated in the reports, for comparisons with direct competitors and those normally positioned below and above the base rate structure. The cloud-based tool alerts the user as soon as any relevant changes occur in their market. (www.inntelligenz.com, www.ezyield.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Harbour & Jones implements IndiCater at 31 sites in 4 weeks
  • StarCite, i-Meet.com launch Online Community meeting planner professional and social network
  • FedRooms selects Cvent as sole technology provider for its Groups and Meetings
  • Marriott to deploy Passkey’s GroupMAX across its 60+ hotel Innovention Network
  • Disney and PSAV provide “World’s Widest Single Blended Video Display System”

UK boutique contract caterer Harbour & Jones has implemented IndiCater’s web-based back office finance and communications software at all 30 sites plus its Head Office in 4 weeks. (www.harbourandjones.co.uk, www.indicater.com)
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StarCite has launched its Online Community in partnership with i-Meet.com’s meeting planner professional and social network, featuring connections to industry-leading technology and a communications platform for users to connect with over 20,000 industry professionals around the world. Through meta-tags, keywords and matching member interests, the community will publish industry and brand information on a one-to-one basis directly to its members. The Online Community will also offer a series of “hot spots” or groups hosted by industry professionals, either private or open and serving as virtual forums for members. (www.i-Meet.info/StarCite.html, www.starcite.com)
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FedRooms, the official USA government hotel program for federal and military travelers, has selected Cvent as the sole technology provider for its Groups and Meetings, including free venue site selection and electronic Request for Proposal (eRFP) tools. The FedRooms program, founded in 2004, includes negotiated rates at more than 11,000 hotels in 2,000+ cities around the world. (www.fedrooms.gov, www.cvent.com)
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Marriott International will deploy Passkey’s GroupMAX online group reservations system across its Innovention Network of 60+ selected Marriott, JW Marriott and Renaissance hotels and resorts. GroupMAX will provide meeting planners customized event booking pages which let guests book the room of their choice; planners can also connect their event registration system directly to hotel reservations to ensure maximum “within-the-block” booking. (www.marriott.com, www.passkey.com)
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Disney’s Yacht & Beach Resort partnered with PSAV Presentation Services and Disney’s Event Group to provide what it billed as the “World’s Widest Single Blended Video Display System” for Transitions Optical’s 2010 Annual Convention. The collaborative effort resulted in a Wide Area Video (WAV) longer than a football field that wrapped the entire ballroom with a 360-degree blank-canvas look, including 315-feet of projection surface. (www.disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/yacht-club-resort, www.psav.com)
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F&B/POINT OF SALE

  • UrbanSpoon launches RezBook iPad app and online reservations platform
  • Hindsight Labs launches ChompStack service for restaurants to build their own iPhone apps

Restaurant review site UrbanSpoon is launching RezBook, an iPad app and online reservations platform that allows restaurants to manage their tables and reservation books and includes a customer relationship management database. It is being tested with 5 restaurants in the Seattle area but is planned to expand nationwide over the next few months. UrbanSpoon’s iPhone app currently claims over 8 million users. (www.urbanspoon.com)
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Hindsight Labs has launched ChompStack, a service that allows restaurants to build their own iPhone apps and upload their menu items, locations, and promotions. ChompStack processes the customization and submits it to Apple’s App Store. Restaurants will be able to update their menus in real-time and notify their customers of new promotions, events and discounts through a web based control panel; customers can browse the menu, search for the nearest location, look up recent promotions and send feedback directly to the restaurant. (www.chompstack.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • InterContinental testing OpenWays smartphone door-lock acoustic keys at two properties
  • Uniguest partnering with Thinix to develop selected new technology
  • Kessler Collection signs Roomlinx for Doubletree Castle Hotel, Orlando
  • Andaz 5th Avenue hotel, New York contracts with Roomlinx for network, iTV, HSIA and FTG programming
  • Sky Ute Casino Resort adds KoolConnect’s Intrigue HD Video on Demand and Interactive TV

InterContinental Hotels Group is testing OpenWays smartphone door-lock acoustic keys at the Holiday Inn Chicago O’ Hare Rosemont and the Holiday Inn Express Houston Downtown Convention Center. Guests will need to download an Open Ways app from an IHG Website to their phone, call up the confirmation email on their smartphone and hold it up to a sensor on the door to unlock it. If successful, IHG plans to equip only about 20% of a hotel’s rooms with the acoustic receivers to minimize its costs; guests will therefore need to request an OpenWays-equipped room when booking. (www.ichotelsgroup.com, www.openways.com)
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Uniguest has partnered with Thinix to develop selected new technology. Both companies already offer security software, self-serve kiosks; Uniguest also offers custom-printed publications, digital signage, advertising sales and help-desk computer support, while Thinix also supplies touchscreen infotainment and entertainment systems, enterprise management platforms and conference and meeting room systems. (www.thinix.com, www.uniguest.com)
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The Kessler Collection has signed a five year agreement with Roomlinx for iTV and free-to-guest HD television programming at the 216 room Doubletree Castle Hotel in Orlando, Florida, the third of The Kessler Collection’s 13 hotels to install Roomlinx’ iTV system and the first for its free-to-guest HD programming. The Orlando hotel installation will be completed in August.
Hyatt’s new 184-room Andaz 5th Avenue hotel in New York City has contracted with Roomlinx to install and manage its network and provide Roomlinx’ Interactive TV (iTV), high speed internet access (HSIA) and free-to-guest (FTG) programming for three years. The property is scheduled to open July 1st 2010. Roomlinx will also be responsible for integrating multiple network applications including point of sale handheld tablets, IP phones, door locking solutions, guest request systems, the hospitality management system, back office systems and the music system into its converged wired and wireless Internet infrastructure.
(www.kesslercollection.com, newyork.5thavenue.andaz.hyatt.com, www.roomlinx.com)
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The Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s 140-room Sky Ute Casino Resort in Ignacio, CO has added KoolConnect’s Intrigue High Definition Video on Demand and Interactive TV system. Guest services include HD movies, resort information and interactive in-room communications about special offers, attractions and promotions. (www.koolconnect.com, www.skyutecasino.com)
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INVENTORY/PURCHASING

  • JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa opens with Adaco.NET

The 1,002-room JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa has opened with Adaco’s .NET procurement application. The resort includes seven restaurants, over 140,000 square feet of indoor space two golf courses, a 26,000 square-foot spa with a café and boutique, and six-acres of water attractions. (www.jwsanantonio.com, www.adaco.com)
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SECURITY

  • Alva Park Resort & Spa installs VingCard Classic locks, Elsafe Infinity II safes

The 86-room Alva Park Resort & Spa in Costa Brava, Spain has installed VingCard Classic door locks and Elsafe Infinity II in-room safes. (www.alvapark.com, www.vingcard.com, www.elsafe.com)
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