October 14, 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

Security

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • Troubled times: take the time to fine tune your operation and systems
  • User interfaces: paging Steve Jobs

Never has it been more true that we live in interesting times. Given that no-one really knows where the current credit crunch will end up, it’s likely that CapEx funds for systems expansions may be even less available than usual, at least for a while. So what’s a property to do?
Fine tune your operation and your systems. You need as much accurate information as you can get on how the property’s doing; explore the business intelligence/ad hoc reporting function in your systems, and make sure they’re reporting relevant, consistent and accurate data. You need to target potential guests as precisely as possible; explore your systems’ CRM functions in depth. Across the operation, invest in refresher training for all the staff using your systems. It’s probably been a while since they had any, and this is a great opportunity to bring them up to speed and perhaps learn about some useful new features that have been added to the systems since they were last trained. And hang in there.
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I’ve been thinking about user interfaces a lot lately, based on comments from a number of clients on how old-fashioned many current systems look and after reviewing several vendors’ recent updates without seeing a significant improvement. User interface design is notoriously difficult to get right, but there ought to be a middle ground between having a few “busy” screens crammed with everything that might be useful and having dozens of very simple confusingly similar screens for the user to work through for even the simplest function.
One frustrated hotelier recently asked why he can’t get a system as appealing and functional as an iPhone. Well, one reason is that our systems do quite a bit more than an iPhone, but he’s certainly right that Apple sets the bar for clarity and usability. Does any PMS vendor out there want to step up to that challenge? Thousands of systems users would thank you.
There used to be a debate as to whether using a mouse to check in a guest slowed down the process compared to using the keyboard. Recent research seems to indicate that the younger front desk agents are now faster with the mouse, which is pause for thought. Now Hilton announces that it’s launching video game-based instructional videos. Maybe for real check-in speed we should work out how to hook up video game controllers to the PMS.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Jules Sieburgh installed as global president of HFTP
  • Terry Price installed as HFTP Global Vice President
  • Dr. Ravi Mehrotra appointed President of IDeaS
  • Jennifer Ranno promoted to Vice President of Accounts for the Americas at SynXis
  • Rune Venaas promoted to President of ASSA ABLOY Hospitality
  • Scott Gutz returns to Amadeus North America as Chief Operating Officer

Jules Sieburgh was recently installed as global president of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP). Currently a hospitality consultant with O’Neal Consultants, Mr. Sieburgh has been active in hospitality for over thirty years with organizations such as Sonesta Hotels, InterContinental, PriceLine, Host Marriott and Atlantis. He is the chief technology consultant and integrator for HITEC’s Guestroom 20X exhibit, and is a member of the HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame.
Terry Price was installed as HFTP Global Vice President. Also a long-standing supporter of the effective use of technology in hospitality, Mr. Price is the executive IT manager at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, N.C.
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Dr. Ravi Mehrotra has been appointed President of IDeaS Revenue Optimization. IDeaS’ co-founder (in 1989) and chief scientist, Dr. Mehrotra had taught electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State and held engineering roles at Texas Instruments and Anderson Consulting.
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Jennifer Ranno has been promoted to Vice President of Accounts for the Americas at SynXis. For the last eight years Ms. Ranno has served as Managing Sales Director for SynXis; prior to joining SynXis, she held sales and customer relations positions with Westin Hotels/Starwood Hotels & Resorts and the Dallas Convention Center.
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Rune Venaas has been promoted to President of ASSA ABLOY Hospitality, responsible for all activities in North America. Mr. Venaas joined the company in 1991, and was most recently as managing director of Iberica and vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, regions he will continue to support.
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Scott Gutz has returned to Amadeus North America as Chief Operating Officer after completing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan Fellows Program in Innovation and Global Leadership. Mr. Gutz formerly served as Senior Vice President, e-Commerce for Amadeus North America and CEO of e-Travel Inc. He was earlier Vice President and Assistant Corporate Controller at Oracle Corp. and also worked for Arthur Andersen LLP.
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PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • MICROS launches Operetta, a bundled software, hardware and services Opera package
  • Riverwalk Casino Hotel picks Agilysys’ LMS
  • InnPoints integrates TTI Technologies’ WebScan into MyHMS

MICROS Systems has launched Operetta, a bundled software, hardware and services Opera package targeted at smaller hotels. The package includes the basic PMS functions (front desk, housekeeping, cashiering, and end of day processing), reservation blocking, a central dashboard, standard reports, standard property level interface options and internet bookings either through GDS or the hotel’s website, plus two HP workstations running Windows XP, a laser printer, backup services and five days of installation, training and database configuration effort. (www.micros.com)
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Riverwalk Casino Hotel in Vicksburg, Miss. has selected Agilysys’ Lodging Management System (LMS). The 80-room property is scheduled to open this fall, and includes two restaurants, a VIP club, a large meeting and events center and 27,000 square feet of gaming space. (www.riverwalkvicksburg.com, www.agilysys.com)
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InnPoints Worldwide has integrated TTI Technologies’ WebScan system into its MyHMS web-based property management system, to allow front-desk staff to capture guest information from their driver license or passport and download it into their MyHMS profile. WebScan can capture a guest’s photo, name, address, date of birth and nationality, and provides proof that the guest actually stayed at the hotel. (www.myhms.com, www.ttitel.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Pegasus upgrades nearly 5,000 properties to RezView NG
  • Hotels4U.com signs with Travelport for GDS connectivity
  • Intercontinental integrates Google Earth into Web site for visual planning and booking

Pegasus Solutions has now upgraded nearly 5,000 properties to its RezView NG next generation central reservations system, over halfway to its goal 9,000 hotels before year end. (www.pegs.com)
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Accommodation-only website Hotels4U.com has signed with Travelport GDS for GDS connectivity worldwide for its 1,000+ hotels, apartments and villas worldwide. (www.hotels4u.com, www.travelport.com)
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Intercontinental Hotels Group has integrated Google Earth technology into its Web site to allow guests to plan and book their travel visually. Travelers can zoom in on their destination city, town or landmark, see where IHG branded hotels are located and book their hotel room directly. The tool enables guests tosee local weather conditions and traffic updates, see their hotel in 3-D to view and navigate roads around the hotel and beyond, and identify local “places of interest” at their destination. (www.ichotelsgroup.com, www.google.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • TIG Global, Milestone Internet Marketing each win five Web Marketing Association awards

TIG Global and Milestone Internet Marketing each won five awards in the Web Marketing Association’s 12th Annual WebAward competition. (www.TIGglobal.com, www.milestoneinternet.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Premier Inn rolls out Amadeus’ RMS across 556 hotels

The UK’s Premier Inn chain has rolled out Amadeus’ RMS across all 556 hotels, bringing the number of hotels using Amadeus RMS to 1,450. Premier implemented a new version of the system, which is hosted at Amadeus’ data center in Erding near Munich, Germany. (www.premierinn.com, www.amadeus.com/hotels)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • PSAV, X20 Media receive Digital Signage Expo East 2008 Content Award

PSAV Presentation Services and X20 Media recently received the Digital Signage Expo East 2008 Content Award in recognition of their collaboration in creating an interactive touch screen digital-signage network for the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill. The project enables guests to interact with any of 13 46-inch digital touch screen displays, using X2O’s Xpresenter platform to integrate them into the hotel’s content-management system to show the most current meeting location information. Guests can access information about scheduled events, facilities, concierge services, amenities and airline arrivals/departures; the application includes a 3D map showing how to navigate from one area to another. (www.x2omedia.com, www.psav.com)
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F&B/POINT OF SALE

  • Oryx Digital’s PerfectTablePlan seating planner software passes two million guest milestone
  • AM/PM Service expands reseller partnership with Squirrel Systems to include Arizona

Oryx Digital announced that its PerfectTablePlan seating planner software has now been used to seat an estimated two million guests at gala dinners, fundraisers, weddings receptions, bar mitzvahs, award ceremonies and other events. Launched in 2005, the software is used in more than 50 countries. (www.perfecttableplan.com)
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AM/PM Service is expanding its reseller partnership with Squirrel Systems to include Arizona. (www.ampmservice.com, www.squirrelsystems.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • Runtriz launches Hotel Evolution product
  • Entiretec selects Anagran’s flow-based traffic management products
  • iBAHN opens new office in Cairo, Egypt
  • Metromedia migrates HotelEXPERT to.NET
  • MTech appoints McLaren International as HotSOS distributor for Asia and Oceania
  • Hotel 1000 installs Microsoft’s Surface customized by IdentityMine
  • Preferred Hotel Group selects iBAHN for Alliance Partner Program
  • Fairmont Chicago and Hyatt Regency Phoenix installing Flyte Systems on DisplayIQ platform
  • Mirage Las Vegas installs 3,000 TeleAdapt MediaHub connectivity panels

Runtriz has launched its Hotel Evolution product at the Malibu Beach Inn in Malibu, CA, a hotel-focused Web application that can be downloaded into a guest’s iPhone or iPod Touch. Guests without their own devices are given a 16gb iPod Touch with the application pre-loaded for the duration of their stay. Entering the room number and security code provides access to all of the hotel’s service offerings, including ordering room service, setting a wake up call, requesting luggage, dry cleaning, a car, linens or toiletries, message checking or setting the room to “Do Not Disturb”. The program also provides information about nearby nightlife, attractions, and shopping. (www.runtriz.com)
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Entiretec has selected Anagran’s flow-based traffic management products to control custom HD video, voice and data services for a group of ultra-luxury hotels, starting with the Movenpick Hotels and Resorts in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Anagran’s FR-1000 control all key network traffic by managing end-to-end flows based on their behavior to ensure required quality and performance levels, regardless of application, protocol, or format. (www.anagran.com)
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iBAHN has opened a new office in Cairo, Egypt, covering the Egypt, Near East and North Africa (ENENA) region and complementing its Dubai office. This follows iBAHN’s acquisition earlier this year of Menacom, the largest provider of digital Internet services to hoteliers in Egypt. (www.ibahn.com)
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Metromedia Software has migrated the latest version of HotelEXPERT to the .NET platform, offering improved navigation and multi-window capability. (www.hotelexpert.com)
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MTech has appointed McLaren International Pty Ltd as a HotSOS distributor throughout Asia and Oceania. The hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) system will be sold and deployed by McLaren International while being hosted and maintained by MTech. (www.mclarenint.com, www.m-tech.com)
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Seattle’s Hotel 1000 has installed a version of Microsoft’s Surface applications, customized by IdentityMine to offer information on 100 Seattle-area points of interest (with a printer for directions, maps and other visitor information), browsing of previously loaded photo and video albums as well as images on guests’ own digital camera memory cards, and browsing through music from up to 100 previously-loaded albums. (www.identitymine.com, www.hotel1000seattle.com)
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The Preferred Hotel Group has selected iBAHN for its Alliance Partner Program, a collection of exclusive recommended providers of hotel services and amenities to Preferred’s member properties worldwide. (www.preferredresidences.com, www.ibahn.com)
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The Fairmont Chicago and the Hyatt Regency Phoenix are installing Flyte Systems airport flight information on DisplayIQ’s interactive digital signage platform. (www.displayiq.com, www.flytesystems.com)
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The Mirage in Las Vegas has installed about 3,000 TeleAdapt MediaHub connectivity panels to let guests play their personal media devices through the hotel room television. The MediaHub can connect laptops, iPods, MP3 players, iPhones, digital cameras, PDAs, camcorders, DVD players and game consoles to the hotel room TV and sound system. (www.mirage.com, www.teleadapt.com)
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BACK OFFICE

  • Hilton Garden Inn launches employee training program on Sony’s PSP game players

Hilton Garden Inn has launched HGI Ultimate Team Play for PSP, an interactive employee training program developed by Virtual Heroes, Inc. for use on Sony’s PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld game players. In addition to providing employees with realistic guest simulation experiences, Hilton Garden Inn will use the program as a recruiting aid. The game puts team members in a 3-D, graphically-intensive virtual Hilton Garden Inn hotel where they must respond to a number of different guest-related requests by a specific deadline. The game is scheduled to launch at all HGI locations in January 2009 and will include positions in housekeeping, food and beverage, engineering/maintenance as well as front desk. (www.hiltongardeninn.com)
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SECURITY

  • First Aloft hotel installs Elsafe safes, TimeLox DC-One locks

The Aloft Montreal Airport in Dorval, Quebec, the first of Starwood’s new Aloft brand, has installed ASSA ABLOY’s Elsafe Sentinel Advanced (41) digital in-room safes and TimeLox DC-One dual-card (magnetic stripe and smartcard) locks in each of its 136 guestrooms. (www.starwoodhotels.com, www.timelox.com, www.elsafe.com)
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  • Jon Inge & Associates
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