March 24, 2009

In this issue…

People on the Move

Property Management Systems

Reservations

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

F&B / POS

Spa/Golf/Leisure

Guest Services

Communications


TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • Social networking re-visited
  • Twitter has its uses

I had a several good comments in response to my last column on keeping my FaceBook and LinkedIn contacts separate. Most agreed strongly that they are indeed different communities and so really should be kept distinct – but then those who commented were all pretty much of my own generation! No doubt if any Millennials disagreed they wouldn’t have responded by e-mail anyway.

Tech guru Robert Scoble addressed this in a recent blog entry discussing what he sees as FaceBook’s inevitable extension into the business and commercial world (http://tinyurl.com/d39zrw). Sadly, I think he’s right on both counts; the advertising opportunities presented to commercial FaceBook users are just too enticing. Do you remember the huge outcry when the Internet and e-mail were first used to send advertising messages, “betraying” the community spirit of it all? Look where that got us.

As I said last time, I’m probably tilting at windmills to try to keep FaceBook just for my family and friends, which means we may need to find a different, more personal on-line community instead. Or we may just need to accept that fewer people care about personal privacy any more.
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Incidentally, several people mentioned that they saw no use at all for Twitter, and from a personal viewpoint I agree that it’s hard to see a business justification for sending out 140-character “tweets” of self-promotion to the universe. But a consumer-service business like a hotel needs to keep an eye on what consumers are saying about it, and whatever their motivation Twitter-users tend to be the technically literate, mobile and relatively well-off. Good customers, in other words. Set up a Twitter search for your hotel name and check out their comments.
Take this example from Monday: “My hotel won’t check me in because the system is rebooting. Waiting 15 minutes in the lobby at 2am for an empty bed upstairs!” That feedback is more immediate than TripAdvisor and was just sent to all of Twitter’s ten million users who are interested enough to check for messages containing “hotel.” A quick response from an alert hotel manager could ease the guest’s feelings while he/she is still on property and correct a front desk training issue at the same time. Not bad for 140 characters.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Mike Kistner named chairman of the Board at Pegasus
  • HTNG recognizes ten individuals for major contributions during 2008
  • Dhiren Fonseca and Gary Fritz promoted to lead Expedia’s Partner Services Group
  • Olivier Dombey joins HotelTravel.com as Chief Information Officer

Mike Kistner has been named chairman of the Board of Directors at Pegasus Solutions. Mr. Kistner was named CEO of Pegasus in June 2008, having joined the company in 2005 as senior vice president of operations and service delivery. He had earlier served as chief information officer (CIO) and senior vice president of distribution at Best Western International, senior vice president at Cendant Corp., executive vice president of operations for Super 8 Motels, and vice president of management information systems and reservations at HFS Inc.
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Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) recognized ten individuals for major contributions to advancing the state of hotel technology during 2008.
The top annual award, the HTNG Directors’ Leadership Award, was presented to Lew Harasymiw, Director of Interface Solutions at SynXis, and to Christopher Laffoon, Software Engineer at IBM Corp. Mr. Harasymiw was recognized for his technical leadership of HTNG’s distribution efforts and his contributions to establishing HTNG’s Governance Council. Mr. Laffoon was honored for his many contributions, including extensive review of most technical specifications released in 2008, development frameworks for several HTNG efforts, key artifacts contributed to HTNG’s reference architecture, short-notice assumption of leadership of HTNG’s Food and Beverage Ordering effort and leadership of a critical initiative to standardize communications between property management systems and guest room devices.
A special Five-Year Technical Leadership Award was presented to Sophie Grigg, Chief Operating Officer of Lorica Solutions, in recognition of significant and ongoing contributions since the formation of HTNG’s first workgroup in December, 2003.
HTNG also recognized the workgroup contributions of seven other individuals:
– John Bell, Enterprise Architect at Marriott International, for project management skills
– David Blancard, Architect, Distribution Technology at Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, for best overall progress by a workgroup
– Robin Coker, Software Engineer at Amadeus Hospitality, best overall team player
– Bill Euler, President of Professional Accounting Systems, project management skills
– Monika Nerger, VP-The Americas for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, and Neil Schubert, VP-IT Strategy for Marriott International, as “Master Cat Herders” for leadership of the In-Room Technology Workgroup, which has 150+ senior-level participants from 69 companies, and
– Greg Pasetta, President and COO at Tangerine Global, best creative contribution, in recognition of short-subject videos produced for the In-Room Technology workgroup.
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Dhiren Fonseca and Gary Fritz have been promoted to lead Expedia’s global Partner Services Group (PSG). They were both previously senior vice presidents of corporate development.
Mr. Fonseca helped found Expedia.com while at Microsoft in 1995, where he was already a long-time employee. He served in several roles at Expedia, including leadership of its supply strategy and supplier relationships.
Mr. Fritz joined Expedia prior to its acquisition and subsequent spinoff by IAC, and has served in a variety of corporate strategy, development and long-range planning roles. He was earlier with McKinsey & Co. in both Washington, D.C. and London.
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Olivier Dombey has joined HotelTravel.com as Chief Information Officer, based at its corporate headquarters in Phuket, Thailand. Mr Dombey brings over 20 years experience, most recently as Board Advisor for Shanghai-based DerbySoft. He was earlier Regional VP Asia Pacific for Pegasus Solutions for four years, Managing Director and founder of China-based Ou Yang Business Consulting, and before relocating to China spent seven years as Partner and co-founder of UK-based travel distribution and marketing consultancy, Partners in Marketing.
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PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Eglinton Arms Hotel orders SoftBrands’ Medallion with 2-way Best Western CRS interface

The 35-room Eglinton Arms Hotel in Eaglesham, has ordered SoftBrands’ Medallion property management system (PMS) with a two-way interface to the Best Western GB LYNX reservation system, the first hotel in Scotland to select this combination. (www.eglintonarms.co.uk, www.softbrands.com/hospitality)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Hotwire.com’s monthly Hotel Rate Report lists cities with ten largest price reductions
  • Travelport looking for travel industry companies to fill vacant space at data center
  • OpenJaw Technologies opens new subsidiary in Oslo
  • Yapta.com extends price monitoring service to include hotels
  • Kayak.com now available on iPhone
  • Sabre Travel Network adds inventory from hotel aggregator hotel.de
  • Xotels launches XBooker hotel reservation system and booking engine
  • Britannia Hotels implements Eptica to convert fax bookings to inbound e-mails
  • Trust International celebrating its 20th anniversary

Discount travel site Hotwire.com has announced its Hotel Rate Report, which will be published monthly and feature the 10 U.S. and Canadian cities with the largest reductions in hotel prices since the previous year. The initial report shows that mainstay cities in both Canada and the US are suffering as much as warm-weather winter destinations. The March 2009 report is headed by Las Vegas (-34%), followed by Phoenix, New York, Montreal and Orlando, FL (all down 28%), Miami/Fort Lauderdale (-27%), Oahu, HI (-26%), Vancouver, BC (-23%, Toronto (-23%) and San Francisco (-18%). (www.hotwire.com)
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Travelport GDS is looking for other travel industry companies to fill the vacant space left at its Greenwood Village, CO data center after moving its Apollo GDS to Atlanta. (www.travelport.com)
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OpenJaw Technologies has opened a new subsidiary in Oslo, OpenJaw Technologies Scandinavia AS, to support its growth and clients in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. (www.openjawtech.com)
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Yapta.com has extended its airline ticket price monitoring service for travelers to include hotel prices for national and international properties. Yapta allows travelers to designate a specific hotel and date period and to be alerted automatically when the rate drops. Other features include a daily graph of a given hotel’s lowest published rate over time, tracking several hotels for price comparison, customized threshold & target alerts, and filters to sort by property rating (one thru five stars), price, amenities and hotel brand. (www.yapta.com)
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Meta-search engine Kayak.com has ported its application to the iPhone. (http://www.itunes.com/apps/kayak)
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Sabre Travel Network has added inventory from hotel aggregator hotel.de to its GetThere online travel application. The new XML connection will provide Sabre agents and corporations with real-time access to hotel.de’s 210,000 hotel properties. (www.sabre-holdings.com)
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Xotels has launched its XBooker hotel reservation system and booking engine, priced on a per-transaction fee basis with a maximum-fee cap regardless of volume. XBooker allows multiple rate levels with allotment buckets, can operate as both a hotel booking engine and a CRS, and interfaces with multiple GDS providers and PMS systems. (www.xotels.com/en)
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Britannia Hotels has implemented E-mail Management technology from Eptica to convert fax hotel bookings automatically into inbound e-mails for faster processing. The software was deployed across 33 hotels last December. Bookings received by fax are automatically read and converted into e-mails, then prioritized by the guests’ arrival date. (www.britanniahotels.com, www.eptica.com)
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Trust International is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. (www.trustinternational.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • Kayak.com takes on TripAdvisor with TravelPost.com hotel information Web site
  • MTech integrating CRM tool Libra OnDemand into HotSOS
  • TripAdvisor launches owners’ center to help properties manage on-line presence
  • Gullivers Travel Associates picks VFM Leonardo for visual content distribution
  • Resource Technology Management introduces Hercules Document-Management System
  • TravelCLICK announces Social Media Optimization (SMO) for hotels
  • Hart Hotels deploying UniFocus’ GUESTScope at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel

Kayak.com has launched its TravelPost.com hotel information Web site listing hotel reviews, content and rates for over 140,000 hotels collected from 200+ travel sites. The site includes descriptions, photos, maps and reviews from travelers and professionals, and is integrated with Kayak.com’s rate search engine. New tools scheduled to be added over the next few months include hotel rate alerts, the user’s recent search history displayed on the homepage, improved mapping capabilities, the opportunity to rate reviews as helpful or not helpful and the ability for hoteliers to track and respond to reviews. (www.travelpost.com)
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MTech is integrating CRM tool Libra OnDemand into its HotSOS application to help hoteliers consolidate customer information beyond the guest profiling and stay history data available through HotSOS’ PMS integration. MTech also has become a full-service reseller of Libra OnDemand, which is a hospitality-specific tool based on Salesforce.com that provides profile cleansing, centralization of all guest-related information, e-mail marketing and management of customer-related activities. (www.libraondemand.com, www.m-tech.com)
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TripAdvisor has launched an owners’ center to help hotels, restaurants and attractions manage their presence on TripAdvisor, including the provision email alerts of new reviews for their property and a reviews panel for their Web site that includes excerpts from guest reviews, ratings and photos of the property or destination. (www.tripadvisor.com/owners)
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Travelport’s Gullivers Travel Associates (GTA Travel) has selected VFM Leonardo as the exclusive provider of visual content distribution for its 40+ travel websites. These include bookTravelBound.com, OctopusTravel.com and travel/tour operator sites covering 23,000+ partner hotels. (www.gta-travel.com, www.vfmleonardo.com)
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Resource Technology Management has introduced its Hercules Hospitality Document-Management System, an Internet-based tool for managing digital document and graphics storage. Online image libraries can be created to store, retrieve and share high-resolution graphics and property photos important to marketing and publicity efforts but difficult to exchange by e-mail. (www.herculesdms.com, www.rtm-inc.com)
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TravelCLICK announced its Social Media Optimization (SMO) for hotels, intended to use social networks such as Facebook, Bebo, and StudiVZ to connect hotels with new target audiences worldwide. SMO offers research to determine the most appropriate sites depending on a hotel’s profile and target guest demographics, creation of customized profiles on at least 10 sites (social networking sites, consumer review sites, media sharing sites, mapping and CGC business sites, and user-generated content sites), submission of content and reviews on all target sites, and quarterly reporting on interactions and responses. (www.travelport.com)
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Hart Hotels is deploying UniFocus’ GUESTScope at the 104-room Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, on Seneca Lake in upstate New York. (www.harthotels.com, www.unifocus.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Grand Hospitality deploying IDeaS V5i at Soho Grand and Tribeca Grand in New York
  • RateTiger launches RTStrategy revenue management tool
  • Carlson picks JDA’s Travel Price Optimizer as foundation for its SNAP initiative

Grand Hospitality is deploying IDeaS V5i On-Demand revenue management at its Soho Grand and Tribeca Grand hotels in New York, integrated with their Softbrands Epitome property management and SynXis RedX reservation management systems. (www.grandhospitality.com, www.ideas.com)
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RateTiger has launched its RTStrategy revenue management tool to help hoteliers determine optimal rates on a daily basis for all connected distribution channels. RTStrategy consolidates competitor rates and ranking information to recommend optimal rates for revenue strategies selected from Position, Relative Position, Occupancy, Parity and Lowest Rate Guarantee (LRG). Users can define different strategies for different date ranges; a calendar display alerts hoteliers to changes if they haven’t used the tool for a time. (www.ratetiger.com)
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Carlson Hotels Worldwide has selected JDA Software’s new Travel Price Optimizer as the foundation for its SNAP (Stay Night Automated Pricing) initiative for 700+ properties in the United States and Asia Pacific. The Travel Price Optimizer dynamically optimizes prices based on competitive rates, capacity constraints, local market demand, and economic and company factors. (www.carlsonhotels.com, www.jda.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Doubletree Guest Suites Fort Shelby/Detroit Downtown installs PSAV audiovisual systems
  • Knowland Group announces patent-pending group rating for new MYYco SFA tool
  • 122 properties this year install hotelSalesPro S&C and hotelServicePro applications

The 203-room Doubletree Guest Suites Fort Shelby/Detroit Downtown hotel, which first opened in 1917, has installed modern audiovisual systems from PSAV Presentation Services in 16 of its 20 meeting rooms as part of a $90 million renovation completed last month. Each meeting room now includes, at a minimum, an LCD video monitor (ranging from 52 to 65 inches), a Crestron Quick Media Controller, DMX digital satellite music, an iPod in-wall dock, satellite television feed, high-speed Internet service and wall-mounted and ceiling mounted speaker systems. (http://doubletree.hilton.com, www.psav.com)
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The Knowland Group has announced patent-pending group rating technology for its new MYYco sales force automation tool to be launched in mid-2009. Users can set ten indicators to specify how important certain aspects of a group’s past meeting activity are to their efforts, including:
* Price Segmentation
* Size Compatibility
* Brand Affinity
* Time of Year Propensity
* Time of Week Propensity
* Geographic Compatibility (Regionally, by market and by tract)
* Hotel Type
* Amenity Affinity
(www.knowlandgroup.com)
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hotelSystemsPro announced that 122 properties this year have installed its Web-based hotelSalesPro sales and catering system and hotelServicePro guest request/maintenance management applications. (www.hotelsystemspro.com)
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F&B/POINT OF SALE

  • Dinerware releases version 2.8.2 of its POS
  • IndiCater secures orders for web-based catering management software from 170 new users
  • Lecere Corp completes merger/acquisition with Full Circle Image

Dinerware has released version 2.8.2 of its POS system. Enhancements include audit reports on over/short amounts and edits to timesheets, a Spanish language version and a Virtual Client XML-based Application Programming Interface (API) that allows third-party applications to extend the Dinerware platform into such areas as web reporting, online ordering and enterprise-level integration. (www.dinerware.com)
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UK-based IndiCater has secured orders for its web-based catering management software for 170 new users across five organizations. These include IndiCater’s first National Health Service contract (for Great Ormond Street Hospital, London), its first restaurant chain (based in Liverpool) and two more contract caterers (the Catering Academy in Tamworth, and Thomas Franks in Hook Norton). (www.indicater.com)
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Lecere Corp has completed its merger/acquisition with Full Circle Image, Inc. Lecere’s FIRMS (Fully-Integrated Resource Management Software) Software as a Service (SaaS) software offers individual, on-demand modules for Point of Sales (POS), Reservations, Accounting, Mapping/ Geocoding and Data Mining. Additional modules under development include customer-accessible web and cell phone interfaces for reservations, dining room optimization and customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities. (www.lecere.com)
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SPA/GOLF/LEISURE

  • Kempinski names SpaSoft the preferred system for all its owned or managed spas
  • One&Only Cape Town, South Africa installs PAR Springer-Miller’s SpaSoft

Kempinski Hotels has selected PAR Springer-Miller Systems’ SpaSoft as the preferred system for all spas it owns or manages globally. The first SpaSoft system will be installed at the new Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras, Slovakia, scheduled to open this spring. Kempinski owns and operates 55 hotels, with a further 57 under final development or construction in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The One&Only Cape Town, South Africa has installed PAR Springer-Miller’s SpaSoft system, the first such installation in South Africa and the sixth Kerzner International property to install SpaSoft. The property is due to open in April.
(www.kempinski.com, www.oneandonlyresorts.com, www.springermiller.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • Sleep Inn & Suites, Minot, ND, installs Roomlinx Interactive TV services including free VOD
  • 122 properties this year install Web-based hotelServicePro and hotelSalesPro applications
  • MTech integrating CRM tool Libra OnDemand into HotSOS
  • iBAHN opens Americas headquarters office in Denver Technology Center

The 80-room Sleep Inn & Suites, Minot, ND, has signed a 5-year agreement with Roomlinx for its Interactive TV services, which, including Video On Demand, will be offered to guests free of charge, claimed to be a first in the industry. Guests have instant access to hotel services, on-demand movies, international and U.S. television programming, music, business productivity tools, concierge assistance, games and more via the in-room television. Roomlinx receives additional revenues from adult content and e-commerce purchases through the Roomlinx Interactive TV solution. (www.sleepinn.com, www.roomlinx.com)
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hotelSystemsPro announced that 122 properties this year have installed its Web-based hotelServicePro guest request/maintenance management application and hotelSalesPro sales and catering system. (www.hotelsystemspro.com)
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MTech is integrating CRM tool Libra OnDemand into its HotSOS application to help hoteliers consolidate customer information beyond the guest profiling and stay history data available through HotSOS’ PMS integration. MTech also has become a full-service reseller of Libra OnDemand, which is a hospitality-specific tool based on Salesforce.com that provides profile cleansing, centralization of all guest-related information, e-mail marketing and management of customer-related activities. (www.libraondemand.com, www.m-tech.com)
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iBAHN has opened its Americas headquarters office in the Denver Technology Center, as a base to expand in North, South and Central America. iBAHN’s worldwide corporate headquarters will remain in its current location in Salt Lake City. (www.ibahn.com)
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COMMUNICATIONS

  • Hotetur chain deploys VoSKY’s Exchange PBX-to-Skype gateway

Group Marsans’ Hotetur chain has deployed VoSKY’s Exchange PBX-to-Skype gateway at its 30+ sites in Spain, Cuba, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Skype was initially installed on employees’ PCs, followed by a pilot test of the VoSKY PBX gateway at Hotetur’s head office in Majorca. Currently 60-80 hotel employees use the system for calls between offices and hotels in different countries. Hotetur is considering offering guests in-room Skype connections, and integrating a “Click-to-Call” button on its website. (www.hotetur.com)
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