June 24, 2008

In this issue…

People on the Move

Property Management Systems

Reservations

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

F&B / POS

Guest Services

Back Office

Inventory / Purchasing

Engineering

Security

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • HITEC stimulates a sense of anticipation
  • AH&LA Technology Use study shows good awareness of IT’s value among managers

Another year, another good HITEC, but one with more of an air of anticipation of what’s coming than of what’s new and here now. Two different keynote speeches on trends in technology and how they’re affecting our social and business lives were equally entertaining and stimulating, but emphasized that integrating these trends into the products on the exhibition floor is still a work in process.
Some indications could be seen, including Hotel Concepts’ integration with Facebook, M-Tech’s use of the iPod Touch as a versatile WiFi-based communicator for housekeeping staff, and a general awareness of the need for all systems to integrate with each other. This year’s hot technology seemed to be guestroom interactive services – IP phones, IP-TV, touch-screen WiFi tablets for concierge-style services, etc. –but I had the sense that it’ll be next year before we see all these truly working together effectively.
The crossover of consumer technology into the guestroom was emphasized by the attendees’ choosing three such vendors among their five favorite technology solutions (Lodgenet Interactive, Wii and Sony), along with a fourth (Elfiq) which ensures enough guestroom bandwidth to use them. The fifth choice, Micros’ Opera PMS, is an interesting comparison to last year’s PMS favorite, Agilysys’ then-new Guest 360 PMS project. In a time of looking forward to new developments, I’m not sure what it says when attendees vote for the biggest vendor’s most well-established product line.
As for location, Austin lived up to its reputation as one of the hottest music centers around, in every sense! With temperatures flirting with 100 degrees it was a blessing that so many great restaurants and music venues were within easy walking distance of the convention center and hotels. Frank, if you can just dial the temperature down a bit it’d be great to return to HFTP’s home city for another HITEC soon.
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The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) released its 2008 study of Current and Future Technology Use in the Hospitality Industry, based on 244 responses chiefly from managers (61 percent) and directors of hotel operations (11 percent) with more than 10 years experience in the hospitality industry (81 percent). Among the major findings, the survey reported an overwhelming agreement that IT is important for increasing customer satisfaction (82.4 percent), increasing employee efficiency (79.9 percent) and generating revenue (71.3 percent). Let’s hope that hotel owners are similarly aware and fund technology appropriately.
Guests’ top priority, by far, was Wi-Fi services (82 percent of respondents), followed by in-room entertainment systems (48 percent) and airline check-in kiosks (38 percent). Eighty-six percent of responding hotels offered Wi-Fi services, and 20 percent of those not offering it plan to do so within the next five years. These figures match AH&LA’s 2008 Lodging Survey, which reported 91 percent of hotels offering wireless Internet access, up 35 percent from just four years earlier.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Fraser Hickox joins Lorica’s Advisory Board

Fraser Hickox has joined Lorica’s Advisory Board. With over 20 years of industry experience, Mr. Hickox is General Manager of Research and Technology for The Peninsula Hotel Group in Hong Kong, an active member and executive advisor of Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG), and was inducted into the HFTP Technology Hall of Fame at this year’s HITEC.
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PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Agilysys’ Guest 360° to be beta-tested at Hutton Hotel, Nashville
  • Magnolia Hotels chooses Hotel Concepts’ IDPMS product suite
  • Hotel Concepts launches Facebook widget to take bookings from Facebook pages
  • Hotel Concepts and Brilliant Hotel Software to merge, will keep both PMSs
  • Hotel Concepts and Brilliant launch RezExchange distribution platform
  • innRoad’s innCenter now in use by 70 properties worldwide
  • innRoad releases enhancements to innCenter
  • Cape Resorts selects Northwind’s Maestro suite for seven properties
  • InnLink and SoftHotel develop two-way PMX interface

Agilysys has announced its Guest 360° next-generation property management system will begin beta testing in November 2008 at the 250-room Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., which is scheduled to open in early 2009. (www.huttonhotel.com, www.agilysys.com
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Magnolia Hotels has chosen Hotel Concepts’ IDPMS product suite, including Central Reservations System, PMS and Web Interface, for its historic-luxury hotel properties in Dallas, Denver, Houston and Omaha.
Hotel Concepts has launched a Facebook widget, which users can include on their Facebook home page to receive special offers seamlessly from a hotel’s Hotel Concepts’ IDCRS. Facebook users can convert these offers into reservations with minimal interaction, and can use the widget to invite their Facebook friends and family to the location of a special event. For example, couples organizing a wedding could allow invitees to book hotel accommodations straight from their Facebook page.
Hotel Concepts and Brilliant Hotel Software have agreed to join forces, merging their holding companies into a single entity by the end of 2008 that will then own and manage Hotel Concepts, Brilliant Hotel Software and RezExchange, Hotel Concepts’ new distribution division. Both sales organizations and product development teams will continue to operate independently. Customer support, project delivery and internal services departments will merge in the near future.
Hotel Concepts and Brilliant Hotel Software have launched RezExchange, a distribution platform for hotel rates, availability, content and reservations that links the two PMSs with their GDS, CRS, ADS and branded Web site channels.
(www.magnoliahotels.com, www.hotelconcepts.com, www.myhotelsoftware.com)
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innRoad announced that innCenter, its software as a service (SaaS) Web-based PMS, is now in use by 70 properties around the world. Two recent additions are the 26-room Chelsea Pines Inn in Manhattan and the 95-room San Juan Beach Hotel, in the Condado area of Puerto Rico’s capital.
innRoad has released several enhancements to innCenter, including Night Audit functionality, a Condo/Hotel module, Housekeeping & Maintenance scheduling, and customized Confirmation Messaging. The Night Audit function includes an audit control dashboard that allows the hotelier to customize and control criteria determining how the daily transactions are settled and balanced. The Condo/Hotel module manages owner revenues, expenses and profit-sharing between condo owners and the management company. Housekeeping & Maintenance now includes a communication and task management tool to record and track guest service requests on a real-time basis, thereby reducing response time and follow-up. Confirmation Messaging manages the generation and transmission of personalized and branded reservation and reminder responses to the guest.
(www.innroad.com)
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Cape Resorts has selected Northwind’s Maestro suite for its seven properties, including PMS, spa, activities management, sales and catering, multi-property database marketing and central reservations services. The resorts comprise over 500 rooms, four dining rooms, more than 10,000 square feet of meeting room and banquet space, various lounges and a nightclub. (www.capemayresorts.com, www.maestropms.com)
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InnLink and SoftHotel have developed two-way interface between their respective CRS and PMS products, to deliver reservations from the CRS to the PMS and provide a single point of entry for rate and availability exchanges between them. The Web-based SoftHotel PMS offers integrated revenue management via its PMX (Property Managed Exchange) module to control rate/room distribution to all channels. (www.innlink.com, www.softhotelpmx.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Advantage Reserve launches private label voice reservation service and Web Booking Engine
  • Utell launches mobile hotel booking service
  • Hilton opens online Homewood Suites Selection to all HHonors members
  • Trust launches version 12 of Voyager central reservation system
  • InnLink announces gLINK Group Reservation Service
  • Omni implementing Micros’ OPERA Reservation System (ORS), Customer Information System (OCIS) and Web Suite (OWS)

New York-based Advantage Reserve has launched a private label, toll-free voice reservation service, including a Web Booking Engine for hotel websites with full GDS and ADS connectivity. Hotels receive booking confirmations by e-mail, fax or via a one-way or two-way PMS interface. Real-time availability, rate, arrivals and production reports are available 24 hours a day. (www.advantagereserve.com)
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Utell has launched a mobile hotel booking service designed by Mobile Travel Technologies (MTT) for travelers to view hotel information, images and rates on their mobile devices. The simplified reservation process offers real-time booking and provides a secure environment for the transfer of credit card and personal information. (mobile.utell.com)
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Hilton as opened its online Suite Selection function to all Hilton HHonors members booking Homewood Suites on line. The tool, originally restricted to HHonors Diamond and Gold members, allows guests to view the hotel floor plan and images of the suites available, choose request a specific suite and check-in online before arriving at the property. (www.homewoodsuites.com)
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Trust International has launched version 12 of its Trust|Voyager central reservation system. Enhancements include an improved channel-specific rate and room type description, an enhanced calendar module with dynamic mouseover pop-up of the values loaded for each room type for a rate, for single, double or rooms with extra beds, a new summary screen at the end of the booking process with all reservation details on a single screen, cancellation policies available in multiple places and written in complete sentences, and total pricing for online distribution database (ODD). (www.trustinternational.com)
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InnLink has announced its gLINK Group Reservation Service for small to medium chains and independent hotels. Customers signing up for gLINK define their group travel parameters; InnLink Group Sales Specialists in the call center work directly with tour operators, TAs and group leaders to answer questions quickly, provide a proposal defining group rates, availability and amenities and follow up until the reservation is completed. (www.innlink.com)
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Omni Hotels is implementing Micros’ OPERA Enterprise Solution, including the OPERA Reservation System (ORS), Customer Information System (OCIS) and Web Suite (OWS) modules. This will allow Omni to collect and manage guests’ preferences and profile information for the entire brand in a single database. As part of the implementation, Omni’s online booking tool will be integrated with the reservations system for the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the hotel brand alliance Omni helped found and which now includes ten hotel brands. (www.omnihotels.com, www.micros.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • TravelCLICK releases several Travel 2.0 online tools
  • HotelSafeGuard links database of guest compensation reports with PMSs, CRSs
  • TIG Global and ICE Portal partner to offer each other’s services
  • Cendyn and Newmarket integrate eInsight and Delphi for Sunstone
  • Aptech rolling out new version of Execuvue with role-based report delivery
  • Dolce International contracts for Avalon’s BUZZ Report for reputation management
  • Avalon designates EZYield as an authorized BUZZ Report reseller
  • AmericInn contracts with ZDirect for electronic CRM platform
  • Milestone Internet Marketing launches Galexi hosted content management system

TravelCLICK has released several Travel 2.0 online tools to take advantage of social networking trends. Real Guest Reviews allows a hotel to review and post actual ‘featured guest reviews’ from major travel websites, picked up by TravelCLICK’s SearchVIEW reputation management system. The Destination Guides with Trip Sharing engage visitors to keep them on the property’s website longer by providing pre-populated and regularly updated destination information and opportunities for social media trip sharing. Mobile-Optimized Web pages provide key information to both travelers using smart phone devices such as Palms and BlackBerries. The RSS Manager lets guests sign up to receive news and promotions via email, and can be used to keep the press up to date on the hotel’s news. (www.travelclick.net)
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HotelSafeGuard announced that its global database of guest compensation reports now integrates with property management systems (PMS) and central reservation systems (CRS). Guest names entered into these systems are automatically run through HotelSafeGuard’s database; if the guest has a history of requesting compensation, the information is provided to the hotel staff at that moment for appropriate action. (www.hotelsafeguard.com)
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TIG Global and ICE Portal are partnering to offer each other’s services. TIG Global will offer its clients ICE Portal’s web-based rich media management and distribution system to help them leverage digital media beyond their own websites and control where media appears across the Internet. ICE Portal customers will gain access to TIG Global’s marketing and design services, including website design and development, search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, strategic linking, email marketing, statistical reporting, and consultative account management. (www.iceportal.com, www.tigglobal.com)
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Sunstone Hospitality Management has selected Cendyn and Newmarket International to deliver integration between eInsight and Delphi and create a guest analytic, forecasting and channel communications tool using transient, group, sales and catering data. The new integration will extract data from both the PMS and the Delphi sales & catering system to generate a comprehensive data mart to help identify the most valuable customers and improve forecasting accuracy. Cendyn’s Cognos-based eInsight tool and eContact module will automate personalized communication and manage email campaigns with integration to Google Analytics. (www.cendyn.com, www.newmarketinc.com)
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Aptech Computer Systems is rolling out a new version of its Execuvue Business Intelligence System based on Cognos 8.3, which allows users to customize information delivery for Blackberry, email or dashboards. Role-based reporting allows each use to specify the data and reports they want to see, as well as the frequency and delivery method. (www.aptech-inc.com)
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Dolce International has contracted to use Avalon’s BUZZ Report for real-time monitoring of virtual guest comments and ratings.
Avalon Report Corp has designated EZYield as an authorized reseller of the BUZZ Report.
(www.dolce.com, www.avalonreport.com, www.ezyield.com)
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AmericInn International has contracted with ZDirect to build an electronic Customer Relationship Management (eCRM) platform for its 230 locations currently open or under development. The AmericInn eConnection System lets hotels send highly targeted and relevant emails to guests based on online profiles to enhance their experience, gain loyalty and increase revenue. (www.americinn.com, www.zdirect.com)
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Milestone Internet Marketing has launched its hosted Content Management System, Galexi, to let hotel and restaurant chains and hospitality associations rapidly deploy and manage websites for their members. Galexi is offered as a hosted solution, can be accessed from any computer and is targeted at multiple applications such as intranets, websites for Cities and Associations, brand websites for hotel and restaurant chains, and database driven websites for individual hotels. (www.milestoneinternet.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Rate Tiger announces RTStrategy for online benchmarking, rate calculation and forecasting
  • WORLDHOTELS designates IDeaS its exclusive revenue management partner
  • Colonial Williamsburg selects EzRMS’ Internet Product Suite for five hotels
  • Great Wolf Resorts implements EzRMS’ Internet Product Suite across all resorts
  • EZYield.com and Rubicon to offer each other’s systems

Rate Tiger has announced RTStrategy to help hoteliers with online benchmarking, rate calculation and forecasting as well as distribution management. RTStrategy assesses price points in comparison to competitors and evaluates distribution outlets to provide a revenue schedule through three strategy options (Position, Occupancy and Parity), all of which can be combined with a Lowest Rate Guarantee. (www.ratetiger.com)
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WORLDHOTELS has designated IDeaS as its exclusive revenue management partner, formalizing its existing partnership. WORLDHOTELS has almost 500 affiliate properties in 70 countries worldwide. (www.worldhotels.com, www.ideas.com)
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Colonial Williamsburg has selected EzRMS’ Internet Product Suite for use at the five hotels that comprise it’s Resort Collection, to be interfaced with the installed Visual One PMS. The five hotels include over 1,000 guest rooms, four dining taverns and six restaurants, 66,000 square feet of conference space, a 20,000-square-foot spa and a golf course.
Great Wolf Resorts has implemented EzRMS’ Internet Product Suite across all its resorts, interfaced with their Micros Opera V 4.0 PMS system.
(www.colonialwilliamsburg.com, www.greatwolf.com, www.ezrms.com)
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EZYield.com and Rubicon have formed an alliance to offer each other’s systems to combine comparative shopping and channel management services. Rubicon’s MarketVision Competitive Rate Position provides forward-looking and historical rates across multiple booking and distribution sources, gathering real-time rates from GDSs, hotel brand Web sites and third-party Web distribution channels. (www.therubicongroup.com, www.ezyield.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Newmarket and Cendyn integrate eInsight and Delphi for Sunstone
  • Kimpton moving RFP response management to Nexus for 2009 rate season
  • Marriott launches QuickGroup booking site for small group customers
  • EliteMeetings.com upgrades Web site
  • Fontainebleau Resorts picks Passkey for Miami Beach and Las Vegas properties
  • Passkey launches Group Campaigns e-mail campaign system
  • Starwood implements Newmarket’s MeetingBroker in all properties worldwide
  • Newmarket announces Newmarket Connex for Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Newmarket links Worktopia with MeetingBroker
  • Nexus announces US launch of HotelworX Sales Force Automation (SFA) system

Sunstone Hospitality Management has selected Cendyn and Newmarket International to deliver integration between eInsight and Delphi and create a guest analytic, forecasting and channel communications tool using transient, group, sales and catering data. The new integration will extract data from both the PMS and the Delphi sales & catering system to generate a comprehensive data mart to help identify the most valuable customers and improve forecasting accuracy. Cendyn’s Cognos-based eInsight tool and eContact module will automate personalized communication and manage email campaigns with integration to Google Analytics. (www.cendyn.com, www.newmarketinc.com)
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Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is moving its Corporate and Travel Management Company contracting to Nexus for the 2009 rate season. Nexus system will solicit rates and information from Kimpton’s properties and allow Kimpton to communicate RFP bid responses quickly and accurately to its clients. (www.nexusworldservices.com, www.kimptonhotels.com)
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Marriott has launched its QuickGroup booking site, which allows small group customers to check availability around the world for group room blocks between 10 and 25 rooms for up to seven nights. (www.marriott.com)
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EliteMeetings.com has upgraded its Web site to include 90-second virtual property tours hosted by a professional meeting planner, starting with the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa and The Broadmoor. Other enhancements include interactive property location maps, peer ratings and reviews of properties, a Community Forum, industry news and hotel updates. (www.elitemeetings.com)
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Fontainebleau Resorts has selected Passkey for group attendee booking services at the 1,500-room Fontainebleau Miami Beach, currently undergoing over $1 billion in renovations, and the 3,800-room Fontainebleau Las Vegas, due to open in late 2009.
Passkey has launched its Group Campaigns e-mail campaign system for groups, meetings and events. Six pre-configured group campaigns are offered (Pre-Arrival, Post-Stay, Up-sell, Announce Event, Quick Notification and Registered/Not Booked Housing Alert); all group campaigns can be customized with company branding, content and messaging.
(www.fontainebleau.com, www.passkey.com)
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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has implemented Newmarket International’s MeetingBroker in all properties, worldwide, to manage the passing of all leads between the proprietary CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system used by its global sales offices (GSO) and the individual properties in North America.
Newmarket has announced Newmarket Connex for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, to allow central sales office staff using Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage customer relationships to exchange requests for proposal (RFPs), responses and business actuals with their individual properties.
Newmarket has partnered with Worktopia to enable booking requests from meeting planners using Worktopia to be distributed directly to venues with Newmarket’s MeetingBroker lead management system. Worktopia helps corporate meeting planners, travel and conference agents book simple meetings for up to 100 attendees, and can now distribute RFPs and leads to MeetingBroker-enabled venues electronically.
(www.starwoodhotels.com, www.worktopia.com, www.newmarketinc.com)
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Nexus announced the US launch of its HotelworX Web-based Sales Force Automation (SFA) system for the hotel industry, replacing its existing account management module. HotelworX enables hotels to manage clients across all segments, plan and track sales activities and measure performance against revenue targets, and is fully integrated with Nexus’ existing Consortia and Corporate RFP and group sales lead modules. (www.nexusworldservices.com)
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F&B/POINT OF SALE

  • HSI and Tiare Technology developing interface to link intelliChaise with Profit Series POS
  • Capton receives 2008 Hospitality Innovator award from Cornell’s Innovation Network
  • MGM Grand at Foxwoods implements MICROS’ 9700 POS

Hospitality Solutions International (HSI) and Tiare Technology are developing an interface to allow orders placed in Tiare’s intelliChaise personal ordering system to be transmitted directly to the property’s HSI Profit Series Point of Sale (POS) system, allowing faster order preparation and increasing speed of service. (web.hsi-solutions.com, www.tiaretech.com)
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Capton received a 2008 Hospitality Innovator award at the inaugural event of the Innovation Network, an industry gathering sponsored by the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Awards recognize the spirit of innovation in terms of the ability to contribute to a customer’s bottom line performance in 2008, the innovative characteristic of the product and/or service, demonstrable industry appeal as evidenced by solid references, and credible ROI results. (www.captoninc.com)
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The MGM Grand at Foxwoods has implemented MICROS’ 9700 POS system for its food and beverage operation. Further, all of the leased outlets within the operation have selected MICROS’ RES 4.0 POS. The property, which opened in May, includes an 825-room hotel, 4,000-seat grand theater, a convention center and ballroom, nightclubs, and 1,500 more slot machines, and now uses 270 MICROS terminals. (www.foxwoods.com, www.micros.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • AltiusPAR releases version 3.0 of Web services-based Guest Experience Ecosystem
  • Kerner New York offers IPTV network for the hospitality environment
  • Colubris Networks enhances Intelligent Mobility Solution wireless LAN system
  • NCR unveils new XpressPort check-in kiosk, Hyatt to install
  • Red Lion contracts with Telkonet for HSIA for 30 properties
  • Taj Hotels signs with Wayport for HSIA at three US hotels
  • Rosewood Mayakobá, Mexico, installs wireless mesh network from BelAir Networks
  • Vertical Systems, Inc. (VSi) releases Rent-A-PC service
  • VSi announces ShipMate self-service shipping station for hotel guests to ship packages
  • China’s Tangula Luxury Trains to include ZVOX Audio virtual surround sound system
  • SuiteLinq and Nighthawk Systems partner on set-top box middleware for hospitality environments
  • Nighthawk releases Verimatrix VideoMark forensic watermarking, Guest-Tek first to use
  • Kessler Collection signs five-year agreement with Roomlinx for interactive video
  • Country Inn & Suites, Merrillville, Ind., contracts with Roomlinx for select guestrooms
  • Lorica to include Control4 room-technology management as option
  • Wit Hotel, Chicago, to install Lorica Room Center for all 298 rooms
  • NxTV announces new converged platform for interactive IP-based in-room entertainment
  • NxTV signs partnerships with BitBand, Verimatrix and Aruba Networks

AltiusPAR has released version 3.0 of its Web services-based Guest Experience Ecosystem (GEE) management system, including enhanced features for its Internet Booking Engine (IBE) which uses the GEE to recognize the guest and automate all the preferences and services to be delivered. The IBE also continuously updates the guest’s preferences with every interaction of the guest at any touch point.
The first implementation the Guest Experience Ecosystem recently took place with citizenM Hotels in the Netherlands. GEE allows citizenM guests to configure their rooms when making their reservations or anytime thereafter, either choosing specific themes such as “relaxation,” “romance” or “business” to set pre-defined parameters or individually selecting from items such as favorite TV content, music, preferred room temperature, lighting scheme and other preferences, all of which are automatically adjusted once they check-in at the kiosk and activate their RFID tag. Changes made during their stay are stored and used to preset the room the next time they check-in.
(www.citizenm.com, www.altiuspar.com)
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Kerner New York is offering an IPTV network for the hospitality environment running both 2D and high-quality 3D TV. Based on technology developed by Siemens Austria AG, Kerner’s network offers hundreds of basic TV channels, scores of national HD channels, more than 40 channels of pay TV, local market broadcast channels, and exclusive entertainment content, and can include ads built into national and regional basic cable programming.
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Colubris Networks announced several enhancements to its Intelligent Mobility Solution wireless LAN system, offering deployment flexibility to support multiple ISP business models, payment vehicles and network deployment models, and allowing services to be delivered via Ethernet or wireless LANs. Enhancements include the ability to integrate Wi-Fi networks with property management and credit-card processing systems, tiered subscription plans and advertising delivery. (www.colubris.com)
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NCR has unveiled a new XpressPort hotel check-in kiosk that will be rolled out in Hyatt Hotels and Resorts. The kiosk allows guests to check in and out, generate room keys, locate and modify reservations, and view and print messages. (www.ncr.com, www.hyatt.com)
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Red Lion Hotels has contracted with Telkonet for managed high speed Internet access (HSIA) for its 30 properties. Roll-out is die to be completed early in Q3. (www.redlion.rdln.com, www.telkonet.com)
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Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces has signed with Wayport for high-speed Internet access at its three US hotels: The Pierre (New York), Campton Place (San Francisco) and the Taj Boston. Wayport will provide Wi-Fi service in guest rooms, meeting rooms and common areas at each hotel, plus a CyberCenter Express unit in each location’s business center. (www.tajhotels.com, www.wayport.net)
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The Rosewood Mayakobá at Riviera Maya, near Cancun, Mexico, has installed a broadband wireless mesh network from BelAir Networks, working with BelAir reseller CLC Networks. The network supports several applications including guest high speed internet access, Point-of-Sale (POS) devices, VoWi-Fi phones and a text messaging rapid response system. (www.rosewoodhotels.com, www.clcnetworks.com, www.belairnetworks.com)
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Vertical Systems, Inc. (VSi) has released its Rent-A-PC service to rent laptop computers to guests, incorporating FreshStart proprietary security software that purges all prior user data to reset the laptop to its original state with a single click. Rent-A-PC also includes pre-loaded Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and other popular software applications.
VSi also announced its ShipMate self-service shipping station for hotel guests to ship packages and other work-related materials at any time.
(www.ver-sys.com)
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The private suites on China’s new Tangula Luxury Trains include flat-screen TVs and a virtual surround sound system from ZVOX Audio, customized to fit the limited space. The Tangula Luxury Trains will commence journeys through the western regions of China in September, 2008. (www.tangulaluxurytrains.com, www.zvoxaudio.com)
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SuiteLinq and Nighthawk Systems have partnered to market new set-top box middleware that delivers both video and interactive content in hospitality environments. The new “SLice” unit combines SuiteLinq’s SuiteVOD and SuiteCast services in a variety of free and pay-per-view standard and high definition formats with Nighthawk’s MediaPro IP set-top boxes. SuiteLinq will continue to use Nighthawk’s IP3000 set-top box for properties using SuiteVOD only.
Nighthawk Systems has released its Verimatrix VideoMark forensic watermarking technology to the hospitality industry; Guest-Tek’s Oneview Media platform, utilizing Nighthawk’s IP3000 high definition set-top box, is expected to be the first hospitality platform to incorporate this technology. VideoMark’s secure and invisible content tracking solution enables forensic, user-specific marking of video within each set-top box client in a pay-TV system. Unlike encryption, which creates an envelope around content that can effectively secure delivery from point to point, a watermark is embedded in the content itself and remains even if it has been decrypted, decoded and possibly re-encoded to another file.
(www.suitelinq.com, www.nighthawksystems.com, www.verimatrix.com, www.guest-tek.com)
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The Kessler Collection has signed an exclusive five-year agreement with Roomlinx for new In-Room Media, Entertainment & Business Solution and high-speed Internet access services for all its new hotels. The first two Kessler properties to go live with Roomlinx are the 104-room Bohemian Hotel Asheville at Biltmore Village, Asheville, N.C., due to open winter 2008, and the 75-room Bohemian Hotel at Savannah Riverfront, scheduled to open 2009.
The Country Inn & Suites, Merrillville, Ind., has contracted with Roomlinx for its In-Room Media and Entertainment & Business solution in select guestrooms; installation is expected to be complete by mid-July. Guests will have instant access to hotel services, movies, international and U.S. television programming, music, local news / weather / business / sports updates, shopping, business productivity tools, concierge assistance, and PC / Web-based games via the in-room television.
(www.kesslercollection.com, www.roomlinx.com)
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Lorica Solutions will include Control4 solutions as an option to customers purchasing its Room Center managed converged network for the hospitality industry. The companies will also integrate the Control4 Operating System into Lorica’s Room Center to offer a more tightly integrated and efficient platform. With C4iQ-approved technology installed, the Lorica Room Center can control lighting, room temperature, security, window treatments, as well as music and video systems. Lorica will also become a Control4 Preferred Distribution Partner, which will allow it to design, sell and install Control4® Suite Systems products within the hospitality market.
The new Wit Hotel in downtown Chicago, due to open in May, 2009, is installing the Lorica Room Center for all 298 rooms.
(www.control4.com, www.thewithotel.com, www.ecdco.com, www.loricasolutions.com)
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NxTV has announced a new converged platform offering various forms of interactive IP-based in-room entertainment and communications services to hotels and consumers, giving consumers completely personalized access to more forms of content and information on a variety of end devices. A key enabler is NXTV’s new NXT1000 Set Top Box, with flexible architecture that allows it to operate over Ethernet today and coax and wireless in the near future.
NxTV has signed partnerships with video server provider BitBand, software-based content security provider Verimatrix and wireless LAN and mobility solutions provider Aruba Networks.
(www.nxtv.com)
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BACK OFFICE

  • MTech unveils REX Wi-Fi iPhone-based system for housekeeping room attendants
  • AH&LA releases PCI Compliance primer booklet
  • Halekulani Corp selects UniFocus’ Watson: R.M. for its Waikiki properties

MTech has unveiled its REX Wi-Fi PDA-based technology for housekeeping room attendants, who use it to be instructed on ‘what is the next most important room’ to clean based on multiple variables such as whether a guest is waiting, physical occupancy, VIP level of the incoming guest and several others. REX uses Apple’s iPhone/iPod Touch hardware and software development kit, and will go to beta test in July 2008. (www.m-tech.com)
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The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) has released a new PCI Compliance primer booklet covering the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). Developed as a “how-to” guide, the primer leads hoteliers through both technology and business processes essential for securing credit card data from misuse and abuse, with the goal of minimizing the estimated 55 percent of total credit card fraud with roots in the hospitality industry. AH&LA members can download a copy via the Members Only section of the AH&LA Website; non-members may purchase it via AH&LA’s Educational Institute by calling (800) 752-4567. (www.ahla.com)
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The Halekulani Corporation has selected UniFocus’ Watson: R.M. Resource Management product suite to provide budget and labor management tools for its Waikiki properties. (www.halekulanicorporation.com, www.unifocus.com)
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INVENTORY/PURCHASING

  • Ritz-Carlton rolls-out DataWorks NeXT retail/merchandising inventory software

Ritz-Carlton has rolled-out of DataWorks NeXT retail/merchandising inventory software in 20 locations. The most recent property to be brought on-line was The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Lahaina, Hawaii; additional locations will be added during the coming months. (www.ritzcarlton.com, www.dataworksinc.com)
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ENGINEERING

  • Telkonet launches advanced Networked Telkonet Smart Energy (NTSE) platform

Telkonet has launched its advanced Networked Telkonet Smart Energy (NTSE) platform, incorporating patented Recovery Time technology. NTSE links Energy Management occupancy sensors and thermostats into a wireless network, sharing information between rooms, floors and even properties, and centralized for detailed reporting and analysis. NTSE uses Zigbee IEE802.15.4 mesh technology and includes monitoring and analysis features. NTSE adjusts and maintains a room’s temperature according to occupancy, and reduces the run-time for heating, ventilation and cooling equipment to decrease maintenance overheads and extend the equipment’s working life. (www.telkonet.com)
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SECURITY

  • SAFLOK launches Messenger ZigBee online bi-directional wireless lock system
  • Starwood selects Vingcard, Timelox as preferred lock vendors for Aloft and Element
  • Starwood selects Elsafe as preferred guestroom safe vendor for Aloft and Element
  • LXR selects VingCard and Elsafe as sole preferred providers of electronic locks and in-room safes
  • VingCard introduces eco-friendly recycled-plastic keycards

SAFLOK has launched its Messenger ZigBee, claimed to be the industry’s first online bi-directional wireless access control system using the ZigBee protocol and to offer significant improvements over the original Messenger system. Messenger ZigBee transmits and receives data at a much longer range than Bluetooth technology, uses 128b AES encryption for secure networking and can support large-scale properties with thousands of nodes. Messenger ZigBee can also integrate with a range of in-room technology so that, for example, when a guest enters her room a message can be sent informing room service that the guest has arrived and a welcome gift can be delivered. The television can also be locked off, the drapes opened and the lights switched on when housekeeping enters a room. (www.saflok.com)
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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has selected VingCard and Timelox as the preferred lock vendors and Elsafe as the preferred electronic in-room safe vendor for its Aloft and Element brands.
LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels has selected VingCard and Elsafe as the sole preferred providers of electronic door locks and in-room safes for its hotels and resorts.
VingCard is introducing recycled keycards to help hotels’ green initiatives. For magnetic stripe or smartcard locking systems it offers the AB RecycledCard, made from Earthworks environmentally friendly plastic, at the same cost as traditional plastic keycards. Non-magnetic stripe cards are made from 100 percent recycled plastic, while magnetic stripe cards are made from 88 percent recycled plastic. VingCard is also suggesting RFID electronic door locks as an option which eliminates the need for keycards altogether for hotel guests with NFC-compatible cell phones and also requires fewer battery changes than traditional electronic locks.
(www.starwoodhotels.com, www.luxuryresorts.com, www.timelox.com, www.elsafe.com, www.vingcard.com)
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