May 6, 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

Engineering

Communications


TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • Travel costs soar, videoconferencing predictably resurfaces– but with much higher quality
  • HTNG releases 2008A specifications

One topic that pops up every time gas prices soar is videoconferencing. It’s always tempting to think that face-to-face meetings can be held without all the hassles of travel, and Marriott’s recent announcement that it’s installing HP’s new Halo Telepresence technology in several hotels (see Meeting Planning below) is the latest incarnation of this.
By all accounts telepresence is a major step forward. The basis is a series of meeting rooms in the various locations, each outfitted with identical furnishings and equipment and with exceptionally high-quality audio and video. A series of flat screen displays along one edge of the conference table presents life-size images of the various participants, who could all be in different cities but, thanks to the common décor, appear to be just across the table, behind a window. High-bandwidth connections ensure zero time lag in the images and audio, and I’m told by those who’ve tried it that the experience is very immersive. Even more encouraging, although this set up is pricey enough that it makes sense to install it in a shared environment such as a hotel, its cost is well below that of what used to be called high-end videoconferencing.
I think there’s a definite place for this in eliminating a lot of travel for routine meetings, but until they come up with a way for everyone to mingle over drinks afterwards and break off for quiet discussions in the corner of the room there’ll still be great value in being there physically. Teleportation, anyone?
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HTNG has officially released its updated 2008A specifications, with major progress in maturity and coverage over the 2007 releases. The Property Web Services 2008A specification now includes specifications for asynchronous as well as synchronous communications, plus the Single Guest Itinerary and Digital Signage specifications. Preliminary specifications were released for Back Office Integration, Open Data Exchange, and Guest Self Service. The Property/Distribution Solution 2008A specification adds group profiles, Best Available Rate handling and statistics, and adds functionality for sharers, accompanying guests, and services. (http://www.opengroup.org/htng/specs/)
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Ron Anderson-Lehman, Tony Williams recognized with OpenTravel Alliance awards
  • Andrea Kramis joins Miracle TV Corp. (MiTV) as Business Development Director
  • Steve Lyons appointed Global ACE Manager for Onity
  • Bill Oliver promoted to Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing at Onity

The OpenTravel Alliance has recognized Ron Anderson-Lehman with its Tom Grubbs Award and Tony Williams with its Setting the Standard Award.
Mr. Anderson-Lehman is SVP and CIO of Continental Airlines, was awarded the Tom Grubbs Award for exemplifying OpenTravel’s passion and commitment to travel distribution. Mr. Anderson-Lehman was a member of OpenTravel’s board of directors from 2001 until 2007, including one year as Vice Chair.
Mr. Williams is a technology consultant specializing in travel distribution technology and XML. He represents the Travel Technology Initiative (TTI) on OpenTravel’s various project teams and work groups, and currently chairs OpenTravel’s Interoperability Committee. The recipient of the Setting the Standard Award is nominated and voted on by OpenTravel members.
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Andrea Kramis has joined Miracle TV Corp. (MiTV) as Business Development Director. Ms. Kramis has six years of experience in entertainment technology, most recently as a hospitality account executive at Comcast.
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Steve Lyons has been appointed to the newly created position of global ACE manager for Onity. ACE (Achieving Competitive Excellence) is Onity’s parent United Technologies Corp.’s proprietary quality control strategy. Mr. Lyons joined Onity fifteen years ago and has held a variety of operations and engineering roles, most recently as Hospitality Technology product manager in Onity’s Engineering group. Bill Oliver has been appointed to vice president, global sales and marketing at Onity. He joined Onity’s management team in 2003; in addition to heading its North American sales organization, for the past year he also served as vice president of sales and operations for Onity’s North America and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) regions. Prior to joining Onity Mr. Oliver managed a wide range of hotel properties, and has held Board of Director level positions with various Hotel/Motel Associations and regional Convention and Visitors Bureaus.
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PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • SoftBrands works with Microsoft Technology Center to enhance Epitome PMS
  • MICROS and SynXis sign partnership to enhance existing systems integration

SoftBrands is enhancing the scalability and performance of its Epitome PMS using insights gained from working with the Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) in Irvine, CA. The current version of Epitome was built on Microsoft’s .NET Framework and uses SQL Server 2005, but product development is being more closely aligned with Microsoft’s product strategy. The MTC tests of Epitome’s scalability simulated multiple hotels with numerous simultaneous interactive users. SoftBrands is now working with Microsoft to obtain ongoing architecture guidance, support and access to Microsoft’s facilities to benchmark and fine-tune Epitome. (www.softbrands.com)
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MICROS and SynXis have signed a partnership to enhance the existing integration between their systems, to include functionality such as reservation synchronization to provide hotel revenue managers with a true single-image of inventory in both the SynXis CRS and MICROS PMS. (www.micros.com, www.synxis.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • VibeAgent.com search site combines rates, recommendations and social networking
  • Travelocity wins TIA’s “Innovator of the Year Award” for established companies
  • SynXis and MICROS sign partnership to enhance the existing systems integration
  • Hogg Robinson to use Amadeus’ GDS services in Switzerland, Austria and Lichtenstein
  • Amadeus signs 60 hotel brands to Worldwide Commission Manager

VibeAgent.com has launched a booking search site that combines comparison shopping for hotel rates, hotel recommendations based on personalized criteria, and extensive social networking features. The site compares rates from more than 30 web sites for over 120,000 hotels worldwide all on one hotel booking site, and allows searches based on three different categories of attributes – ambiance, activities and “recommended for.” (www.vibeagent.com)
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Travelocity won the “Innovator of the Year Award” for established companies at the Travel Industry Association’s annual TravelCom conference for ExperienceFinder, its travel planning tool. (http://experiencefinder.travelocity.com)
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SynXis and MICROS have signed a partnership to enhance the existing integration between their systems, to include functionality such as reservation synchronization to provide hotel revenue managers with a true single-image of inventory in both the SynXis CRS and MICROS PMS. (www.synxis.com, www.micros.com)
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International corporate services company Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) has contracted with Amadeus for GDS connection services in Switzerland, Austria and Lichtenstein, markets where it already uses Amadeus’ Agency Manager. HRG uses both the Amadeus Selling Platform to help its consultants concentrate on serving their clients and Amadeus’ distribution system to make bookings across Europe.
Amadeus has signed 60 hotel brands around the world to use its Worldwide Commission Manager (WCM) and has now launched the solution in France following an international pilot. More than 20,000 hotel properties in Amadeus have subscribed to WCM, which offers travel agents a web-based single point of information on hotel bookings and the status of commission payments.
(www.hrgworldwide.com, www.amadeus.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • TIG Global wins three Summit Creative Awards
  • LQ implements Aptech Execuvue BI in 600+ La Quinta Inns and Suites hotels
  • Pegasus signs multi-year agreement with VRX Studios for HD rich media distribution

TIG Global has won three Summit Creative Awards for its work with the El San Juan Hotel and Casino (strategic marketing plan), the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa (holiday season email marketing program) and the LXR Luxury Resorts-American Express co-op promotional program (landing page Web site design). (www.tigglobal.com)
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LQ Management has implemented Aptech Computer Systems’ Execuvue Business Intelligence system to automate data gathering and operational performance management for its more than 600 La Quinta Inns and Suites hotels. Custom flash reports show the company’s overall performance and enable data drill down to evaluate individual property contribution. Operating data from the properties is collected during the night audit process and consolidated into a central database, which exports it to Execuvue for reporting and analysis. (www.lq.com, www.aptech-inc.com)
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Pegasus Solutions has signed a multi-year agreement with VRX Studios for distribution of HD rich media hotel content through Pegasus’ Online Distribution Database using Athena, VRX’s new distribution programme. (www.vrxstudios.com, www.pegs.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • New revenue management textbook published
  • IDeaS has appoints new distribution partners in South Africa, Turkey, and Switzerland

A new textbook, “An Introduction to Revenue Management: Principles and Practices for the Real World,” has been published, co-authored by Kimberly Tranter, Assistant Professor and Lead Faculty Lodging for The Hospitality College at Johnson & Wales University, and industry revenue management experts Juston Parker and Trevor Stuart-Hill. Mr. Parker is currently President and CEO of Parker Hospitality Group and EVP of Gusto; Mr. Stuart-Hill is currently Vice President of Accounts and Revenue Management at SynXis.
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IDeaS has appointed three new distribution partners: Parkernology in South Africa, Protel A.S. in Turkey, and RM Solutions in Switzerland. Parkernology is a 20-year established provider of specialist hospitality consulting services and products throughout Africa. Protel has been providing world class hospitality technology solutions in Turkey since 1989. RM Solutions is a Swiss-based specialist in yield management systems and processes, business intelligence, e-marketing and strategic sales support. (www.parkernology.co.za, www.protel.com.tr, www.rmsolutions.ch, www.ideas.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Marriott International implementing HP Halo telepresence meeting rooms
  • Habtoor Hotels picks Newmarket’s Delphi, MeetingBroker for Metropolitan Hotel, Dubai

Marriott International is implementing HP Halo telepresence meeting rooms, available for public use, in several properties in major business centers around the world. With identically-furnished rooms in each location participants see each other in life-sized images projected on high-resolution displays as if they are just across the table from one another, and can communicate with no perceived delays. (www.marriott.com, www.hp.com)
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Habtoor Hotels has selected Newmarket International’s Delphi and MeetingBroker systems for its Metropolitan Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Habtoor has been using Delphi in its Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa for two years. (http://metropolitandubai.habtoorhotels.com, www.newmarketinc.com)
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F&B/POINT OF SALE

  • Sandia Resort and Casino to install Capton’s Beverage Tracker property-wide

Sandia Resort and Casino in Albuquerque, NM is installing Capton’s RFID-based Beverage Tracker property-wide after a pilot test in one bar. (www.sandiacasino.com, www.captoninc.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • Westin installing Nintendo Wii consoles in fitness centers at 10 US hotels
  • aloft hotels to offer PumpOne workout PDA programs in fitness centers
  • KoolConnect launches DVD-like Interactive Video On-Demand module for Intrigue
  • Kokua Hospitality installing FlyteBoard, FlytePass and FlyteChannel at five properties
  • TeleAdapt’s MediaHub connectivity panels compatible with Samsung’s hospitality TVs

Westin Hotels & Resorts is installing a custom version of Nintendo’s Wii console as part of its WestinWORKOUT program at 10 hotels in the United States; it is already operational at The Westin Times Square, New York City and The Westin Bellevue in Washington state. Pre-loaded games include Wii Sports (tennis, golf, baseball, bowling and boxing), Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree and Wii Play. The system will be updated automatically with new games such as Wii Fit as they become available. (www.westin.com, www.nintendo.com)
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aloft hotels has contracted with PumpOne to use its customizable workout PDA programs (for any iPod, iPhone, Blackberry, Treo, etc. with a color screen) in its re:charge fitness facilities. PumpOne’s “a-workout” downloadable fitness programs will be complimentary to guests, and the company will develop 21 customized workouts, three for each of seven fitness programs from cross training to yoga. After downloading the workouts to their computers or PDAs, the devices can be connected to the 42″ guestroom LCD television screens for playback. (www.alofthotels.com, www.pumpone.com)
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KoolConnect Technologies has launched an Interactive Video On-Demand module for its Intrigue HD VOD (High Definition Video On-Demand) system, which will allow guests to watch selected movies non-linearly (by scene or chapter), as well as access many first run Hollywood bonus features and materials such as the director’s commentary, deleted scenes and cast interviews on DVD. (www.koolconnect.com)
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Chicago’s Kokua Hospitality is installing Flyte Systems’ FlyteBoard real-time airline flight information displays, FlytePass boarding pass printing kiosks and FlyteChannel in-room television feeds at five properties. The first installations will be at Kokua’s two Adams Mark properties in Indianapolis, IN and Buffalo, NY, followed by its three properties in Chicago: The Allerton Hotel, Chicago City Centre Hotel & Sports Club, and the Inn of Chicago. (www.kokuahospitality.com, www.flytesystems.com)
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TeleAdapt has demonstrated compatibility between its MediaHub connectivity panels Samsung Electronic’s hospitality televisions, allowing guests to replay their music, photos, videos and other multi-media content from their own portable devices on a hotel room’s flat screen HDTV. The MediaHub comes in two versions: an Active unit that automatically senses the guest plugging in a device such as an MP3 player, and changes the TV to that input, and a Passive unit which relocates the TV’s auxiliary ports and allows guests to select the inputs by tuning to the designated TV channel. (www.teleadapt.com)
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BACK OFFICE

  • B4 Consulting adopts OnState’s CallCenter for Skype for real-time customer support

SAP channel partner B4 Consulting has adopted OnState Communications’ CallCenter for Skype to deliver real-time customer support for the SAP Business One business management system. CallCenter includes concurrent Skype chat and voice, Skype voicemail, dynamic call recording, and callbacks, and is integrated with B4 Consulting’s customer relationship management system. B4 was formerly known as IMG Americas, an S&T company. (www.b4-consulting.com, www.on-state.com)
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ENGINEERING

  • Intercontinental posts virtual “green” Innovation Hotel on Web site, calls for comments

Intercontinental Hotel Group has posted a virtual Innovation Hotel on its Web site, to outline the latest technology in energy and water conservation and recycling, and to generate comments from potential guests on which “green” features are important to them. The various approaches may become standard across all IHG brands within the next few years. The hotel features:
* Solar panels on the roof to heat water
* Wind power to generate electricity
* Household waste to provide heat and power
* Rainwater harvesting to supply water to toilets
* A roof garden with shrubbery to provide extra insulation
* Recycled glass windows
* Furniture and fittings made entirely from recycled materials
* Low emission paint
* Artwork from local artists
* Recycling bins for guests to use.
* Unused food from the kitchens packaged and delivered to local charities or food banks
* Leftover scraps composted for use on hotel plants and lawns
* All bedroom furniture and fittings including towels and carpets made from recycled materials
* Bathrooms with low-flow showerheads and dual flush toilets
(www.ihgplc.com/innovation)
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COMMUNICATIONS

  • Hilton designates Bittel USA as a Preferred Vendor for guestroom phones

Hilton Hotels Corp. has designated Bittel USA as a Preferred Vendor for guestroom telephones, following a six-month testing period at a Homewood Suites property in Tennessee. (www.hilton.com, www.bittelusa.com)
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  • Jon Inge & Associates
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