April 7, 2009
|In this issue…
People on the Move
Property Management Systems
Marketing / Management
Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning
F&B / POS
TOP O’ THE NEWS
- Do “Support” Fees need to be so high?
- LA Bonaventure targets Twitterers
Everyone’s looking to minimize their costs these days, and all areas of operations are under review. Working with a client last week brought up an area that’s a regular topic of discussion as to “why it costs so much”, namely support costs for hotel software.
Most vendors seem to charge between 22% and 30% of their software price for annual support, a figure that often causes raised eyebrows. Many hoteliers ask why they’re expected, in effect, to re-purchase the software every three to four years. It’s especially contentious for those properties that make sure their staff are well-trained and who invest substantially in providing a well-managed, reliable and up-to-date operating environment for their systems. After all, why should they pay as much for support as a hotel that hasn’t trained its staff in three years and calls the vendor for every problem on its poorly-maintained systems?
The answer, obviously, is that these payments cover more than just problem support, and I believe the question – and the mild resentment at the level of charges – could be diverted effectively with a simple change in terminology. Despite every hotelier’s desire to get the best possible deal, it’s generally agreed that vendors do need a revenue stream to stay in business – and hoteliers do want them to be there to answer the phone when disaster strikes. They also do want to take advantage of regular bug fixes and functional improvements made over time with input from many different hotels, as the cross-fertilization of ideas makes the systems more functional for every user.
So is it too much to ask for vendors to make this clearer in their pricing? Could we see separate fees for support and for the enhancement program needed to keep the product moving forward? If that’s not practical, can we at least re-name “Support” more openly as “Support and R&D Fee”?
While not wanting to give anyone more encouragement to spend their days glued to Twitter reading its never-ending stream of social “news”, I do applaud The Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles for a highly-focused piece of niche marketing. Giving away free room nights to 25 Twitter users not only increased its “cool” factor with them but also generated considerable publicity for the hotel in general. As I said before, I personally don’t see a lot of point in much of the messaging traffic Twitter carries, but a lot of people do and they’re a definite marketing segment. Kudos to the Bonaventure for recognizing and acting on it.
- Rob Bender joins UniFocus as Regional Sales Director
- Neil Blidner promoted to Vice President of Operations at TTI
Rob Bender has joined UniFocus as Regional Sales Director, based in Texas. Mr. Bender brings over 20 years of hospitality industry experience, most recently from 13 years as Director of Sales & Marketing for PMS vendor CSS Hotel Systems. He had earlier served as an Account Manager with Geac Computers, and as Sales Manager for the Doubletree Lincoln Center.
Neil Blidner has been promoted to Vice President of Operations at TTI Technologies International. Mr. Blidner began working at TTI in 2004 as a field technician, and was later promoted to maintenance supervisor.
- Springer-Miller releases next-generation SMS|World XA online booking engine
- Aliante Station picks Agilysys’ LMS, InfoGenesis and Guest eMarketing
- Northwind-Maestro announces multiple new customers
- RoomZZZ City in Leeds City Centre to install Protel from Xn Hotel Systems
PAR Springer-Miller Systems has released its next-generation SMS|World XA online booking engine. In addition to its existing integrated Web booking functions, SMS|World XA supports unlimited images and videos, detailed descriptions and online reservations for classes and tours. (www.springermiller.com)
Station Casinos’ 202-room Aliante Station in North Las Vegas has selected Agilysys’ Lodging Management System property management solution, InfoGenesis POS and Guest eMarketing solution. (www.aliantecasinohotel.com, www.agilysys.com)
NORTHWIND-Maestro PMS announced several new customers for its Maestro PMS, including:
- Banff Lodging Company with eight resort properties
- Millcroft Inn and Spa
- Stephanie Inn
- Hay Creek Hospitality with two properties
- the Allison Inn and Spa in Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine country
- Cooper Guest Lodge
- Wonder Valley Ranch Resort and Conference Center.
Banff Lodging Company and Hay Creek Hospitality both installed Maestro’s Multi-Property Management Suite on a single-image database to cross-sell between properties and manage their operations centrally. (www.maestropms.com)
RoomZZZ Serviced Apartments, a UK-based Aparthotel Brand, has ordered Protel and Xn Hotel Systems for RoomZZZ City in Leeds City Centre. The 36-apartment development will open in May 2009. (www.roomzzz.co.uk, www.xnhotels.com)
- WRI contracts with Pegasus for UltraDirect distribution service
- Barrhead Travel launches web booking engine powered by Amadeus’ TravelTainment
- Amadeus releases Amadeus Vacation Link for travel bookers in U.S. and Canada
- Gekko starts beta test of profile-based location finder
- GetThere introduces Demand Management Suite
- Trust adds HBSi’s iDemand Gateway to Distribution|Unlimited services
- Choice releases iPhone version of Choice Hotels Locator application
- myfidelio.net signs with WPS for commission processing
- Genesys report identifies two trends in review of travel agency technology
Web Reservations International (WRI) has contracted with Pegasus Solutions for its UltraDirect distribution service to provide content, rates and availability for WRI’s travel search/peer review website boo.com. (www.webresint.com, www.pegs.com)
Glasgow-based travel agent Barrhead Travel has launched a web booking engine powered by Amadeus’ TravelTainment, offering direct connectivity with package operators and bypassing the viewdata networks. Barrhead claims to be the first UK travel agent website to have direct connectivity to book with Thomas Cook and other operators for cruises, shore excursions, tours, consolidator fares, rail, activities, entertainment and more from one platform regardless of their GDS affiliation.
Amadeus has released its Amadeus Vacation Link for travel professionals in the U.S. and Canada. A free, one-stop booking portal, Amadeus Vacation Link enables travel agents to book commissionable vacation travel for their clients including cruises, shore excursions, tours, consolidator fares, rail, activities and entertainment, and much more.
Gekko has announced the start of beta testing for its Gekko.com service to identify locations suited to travelers’ tastes based on their profile and the preferences of likeminded people. Gekko filters possible matches to 20 spots (initially hotels and restaurants) that the traveler is most apt to like and shows recommendations from other Gekko community members with similar profiles and tastes. Gekko’s matching algorithm (developed with marketing intelligence firm MI Company) reduces the 40+ criteria people usually use when choosing a hotel or a restaurant to nine choices with different relative weights. (www.gekko.com)
GetThere has introduced its Demand Management Suite, a set of technologies and travel management practices that can be quickly deployed to travelers and travel arrangers and carries a guarantee that a corporate customer will save double the program cost in the first year. The Suite covers planning, shopping & booking, ticketing and expense reporting with seven components:
* Workflow Integration
* Travel Validation
* Dynamic Messaging
* Cost Center Validation
* Booking Notification
* Pre-Trip Approval
* Expense Integration
Trust International is adding HBSi’s iDemand Gateway to its current Distribution|Unlimited offering for channel management to provide access to HBSi’s global distribution network, which connects hotels chiefly with tour operators and large online travel agencies. (www.TrustInternational.com, www.hbsconnect.com)
Choice Hotels International has released an iPhone version of its Choice Hotels Locator application. The application uses the iPhone’s capabilities to help users find hotels based on GPS location, get door-to-door directions and see street view images. (www.choicehotels.com)
MICROS Systems’ myfidelio.net has signed a preferential agreement with Worldwide Payment Systems (WPS) for commission processing to any travel agent, offline or online, for all hotel reservations made. These commissionable reservations can be generated by any distribution channel, GDS, Internet portals or the hotel’s website. Pilot clients for this new service include Thon Hotels, Kempinski Hotels, Martin’s Hotels, Reval Hotels and several independent hotels. (www.wpsnetwork.com, www.micros.com)
Travel technology consultant Genesys has identified two significant trends in its latest review of travel agency technology: (a) travel companies developing their own technology and then seeking to gain a return on the investment by selling the technology to others, and (b) online booking engines are now the fastest growing segment of the travel agent technology sector. The Genesys 2009/10 Travel Agency Technology Review features details of over 40 suppliers. (www.genesys.net)
- Nordic Hotels selects ZMail
- USA TODAY launches Hotel Check-In online forum for business travelers
Nordic Hotels has selected ZDirect’s ZMail as the eCRM platform to manage its electronic marketing initiatives worldwide. The group comprises Nordic Light Hotel, Nordic Sea Hotel with the Absolute Icebar Stockholm, Nordic Blue Hotel & the Seglarhotellet Sandhamn & Hotel Skansen Stockholm. (www.nordichotels.se, www.zdirect.com)
USA TODAY has launched Hotel Check-In, an online news and discussion forum for business travelers, moderated by Barbara De Lollis. This site will provide hotel news, consumer advice and information on hotel industry trends aimed at frequent business travelers. (hotelcheckin.usatoday.com)
- Mandarin Oriental switches to SynXis’ RedX for distribution services
- SynXis upgrades RedX to version 6.6
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has switched its hotels to SynXis’ RedX Distribution Management System for all channels. SynXis has provided Mandarin Oriental with a customized booking engine since 2000. The Group will also install Property Connect to integrate RedX with its standard Springer-Miller property management systems.
SynXis is upgrading its RedX Distribution Management System to version 6.6. Enhancements include:
* Itinerary Bookings for guests making multiple reservations at one property or across multiple properties in a chain.
* Channel Independent Stay Controls
* Improved Group Block Management
* New Facilities Codes for Amadeus
* Firefox Browser Support
- GroupRes launches meeting planner support tools
- Lodgian implements hotelSalesPro across all properties, brands
- Great Wolf Resorts implements Passkey
- Newmarket partners with EasyRMS to help hotels optimize group booking revenue
- Bridgeport Conference Center picks UniFocus’ MEETINGScope
- Benchmark Hospitality releases annual “Top Ten Meeting Trends”
GroupRes has launched its Web-based GroupRes product to support meeting planners in managing and creating rooming lists for their clients. The system can upload a pre-existing rooming list to book all reservations instantly or can create a rooming list based upon the uptake of rooms by the event attendees. GroupRes can also provide a fully branded web page for each meeting. (www.group-res.com)
Atlanta-based owner and operator Lodgian has implemented hotelSalesPro as its Web-based multi-property hotel sales application for tracking all prospecting, booking and contract activity by property, region, flag and staff. It is also Lodgian’s standard property-level sales and catering system for managing meeting rooms, function requirements, banquet event details, menu selection, BEOs and contract printing as well as sales call tracking and follow up activity. Lodgian’s Hilton properties synchronise guestroom availability with Hilton’s OnQ PMS via a custom interface. (www.lodgian.com, www.hotelsystemspro.com)
Great Wolf Resorts has implemented Passkey to offer meeting planners and attendees a hotel booking and event management services. Over the past 3 years Great Wolf has added conference centers to six of its resorts. (www.greatwolf.com, www.passkey.com)
Newmarket International announced a partnership with EasyRMS to help hotels optimize their group booking revenue. Sales representatives will use the integration to evaluate group booking information from within their Delphi system. (www.EasyRMS.com, www.newmarketinc.com)
Bridgeport Conference Center at Charles Pointe, in Bridgeport, West Virginia has selected UniFocus’ MEETINGScope survey tools to help enhance the meeting planner experience and create greater awareness of its facility. (www.bridgeportconference.com, www.unifocus.com)
Benchmark Hospitality released its annual “Top Ten Meeting Trends” for 2009, as observed by its properties.
1. The Business of Meetings is Business, with less time for leisure and extracurricular play. Meetings are serious, focused, strategic and often more regional.
2. It’s Not Easy to be Green … Planners care more about the right property at the best price than about its green credentials.
3. We’ll Get Back to you in Six Months… in the first half of 2009 more in-the-month-for-the-month meetings are being booked, pricing push-back is universal and meeting lengths are being shaved by a day, on average. Booking pace is in recovery for the second half of the year, though, with 2010 on target and looking healthy.
4. Strong Package Demand – but they’re expected to offer value, add-on benefits, and, often, double occupancy.
5. Teambuilding remains strong, unlike previous soft economies, and is projected to increase in 2010. Teambuilding programs often include corporate social responsibility initiatives that also benefit a local or national charitable organization.
6. Tea for Two (make it herbal), Tee Times for Twenty – but on attendees’ own dime and not scheduled over a conference session. In 2009 it’s about perception.
7. Planning is increasingly loaded onto already overwhelmed administrative personnel and department heads, so third party planners are re-emerging to help.
8. Three Squares a Day, That’s it! Welcome receptions, theme dinners and special luncheons are going away and refreshment breaks scaled back to downplay perceptions of extravagance.
9. The Silver Lining in select market segments where meeting demand is growing: government, military and defense-related meetings, plus education, state associations and religious market gatherings.
10. It’s All About Learning. In a business environment where every dollar is expected to yield a measurable ROI, dedicated meeting environments like conference centers are in high demand.
- Squirrel recognized by Epson with award for innovative technology
- SCI announces remotely-hosted configuration for FOOD-TRAK
Squirrel Systems has been recognized by Epson with an award for innovative technology for its Squirrel in a Box system, which leverages partnerships with Epson and other hardware providers to deliver a reliable, affordable point-of-sale hospitality solution with a small footprint, bundled software and integrated credit card processing. (pos.epson.com, www.squirrelsystems.com)
SCI announced a remotely-hosted configuration for its FOOD-TRAK software. Clients pay a monthly, quarterly or annual fee to use the software over the internet. (www.foodtrak.com)
- Courtyard by Marriott Princeton installs Thompson/DIRECTV HD distribution over co-ax
- Venetian implements Concierge Assistant to coordinate 70+ staff at six desks
- Acentic Panorama passes 4000 guest room installation milestone
- Noble Investment Group implements Flyte Systems products at two Atlanta airport properties
- Bardessono Hotel first US site to deploy MTech’s REX housekeeping room expeditor
The Courtyard by Marriott Princeton in Princeton, NJ has installed Bulk TV & Internet’s first implementation of its new Thompson/DIRECTV HD distribution head end system. The system allows the hotel to serve guests with 24 DIRECTV HD channels, using Thomson’s COM100 Server and COM24 Card to offer a Pro:Idiom-compliant solution over a coaxial cable infrastructure. (www.marriott.com/courtyard, www.bulktv.com)
The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas has implemented Gold Key Solutions’ Concierge Assistant to coordinate guest service activities by its 70+ concierge staff at six full-service locations. The system includes automated booking and invoicing links with The Venetian’s preferred car provider, ODS Limousine, handling more than 50 requests daily for guest transportation. (www.venetian.com, www.goldkeysolutions.com)
Acentic announced today its Acentic Panorama in-room hotel entertainment and information platform has reached an installation milestone of more than 4000 guest rooms throughout Europe within six months of launch. Customers include the Sofitel London Heathrow, Le Méridien Piccadilly, Pullman Paris Bercy, Hilton Berlin and Hilton Park Lane London. Acentic Panorama provides standards-based end-to-end digital for both iTV and broadcast TV to hotels equipped with coaxial networks. (www.acentic.com)
Noble Investment Group has implemented Flyte Systems’ FlyteBoard airline flight information display, FlyteChannel guest room TV airline feed and FlytePass boarding pass printing kiosks at two properties it manages, the Courtyard by Marriott Atlanta Airport West and the Hampton Inn and Suites I-285 and Camp Creek. (www.marriott.com, www.HamptonInn.com, www.flytesystems.com)
The 62-room Bardessono Hotel in Napa Valley’s Yountville has become the first in the USA to deploy MTech’s REX, an iPhone/iPod Touch-based housekeeping room expeditor system using MTech’s Hotel Service Optimization System (HotSOS) and Quality Inspection Console (QIC) for guestroom inspection. Housekeeping assignments are based on a point system with cleaning priorities varied by guest requests, preferences and status. Room attendants also have access to guest histories and preferences, to allow personal greetings and attention to set-up preferences such as room temperature and amenities. (www.bardessono.com, www.m-tech.com)
- Hermani installs Aptech’s Profitvue Back Office at two properties
- PAS partners with Infinium to offer financial management suite for tribal casinos
- PAS launches design, financial reporting and analysis services based on USALI 10th Revised Edition
Hermani has installed Aptech’s Profitvue Back Office accounting software at the Holiday Inn Select in Trevose, PA and the Fairfield Inn in Chambersburg, PA. (www.hermanimanagement.com, www.aptech-inc.com)
Professional Accounting Solutions (PAS) has released a custom financial management suite tailored to tribal casinos, partnering with gaming software vendor Infinium to extend Infinium’s standards, templates and performance into PAS’ Tribal Gaming Core, leveraging the Microsoft platform to provide faster and lower-cost deployment. The Tribal Casino Suite will have four main components:
- Infor’s FMS SunSystems with the PAS Tribal Gaming Core
- Infor PM10 Budgeting/Forecasting with the PAS Tribal Gaming Core
- pasUnity for Web-based integration between back office and revenue-generating/operational systems
- pasHosting for casinos looking for a remotely-hosted configuration.
PAS has launched a new business service providing integrated core design, financial reporting and operating analysis to hotels and resorts based on the USALI 10th Revised Edition.
- NEC launches UNIVERGE Sphericall for Hospitality
NEC Unified Solutions has launched UNIVERGE Sphericall for Hospitality, a lower-cost, software-based IP communications system offering hotels basic and advanced communications with self-service voice applications for guests. Built on the Sphericall enterprise softswitch platform, Sphericall for Hospitality integrates with many existing Property Management Systems and third-party in-room telephone handsets. Features include: * Self-service wake-up calls in seven languages with snooze option * Direct-room dialing * Streamlined guest check-in and check-out * Direct E911 connection from guest rooms Automated notification of hotel management and call recording when emergency calls are made * Unified messaging for email, voicemail and fax * Click-to-dial calling and conferencing * Presence with IM and texting capabilities * Customized reporting for room status (through integration with PMS solutions) and wake-up call status * Broad support for an array of IP voice solutions, on-property wireless networks and property management systems (www.necunified.com/hospitality)
- Pullman at Sydney Olympic Park opens with Onity’s ADVANCE
The 212-room Pullman at Sydney Olympic Park has opened with Onity’s ADVANCE by Onity electronic locking system. Onity was also selected to provide the locking solution for the Formula 1 at Sydney Olympic Park, using its HT24 Magnetic Stripe system for both guest room doors and car park access. (www.sydneyolympicpark.com.au, www.onity.com)