October 16, 2012

In this issue…

People on the Move

Guest Management Systems

Reservations

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

Guest Services

Back Office

Engineering

Security

OCTOBER 3 – 16, 2012

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • Investing in the right tools for your true needs always pays off
  • EyeForTravel highlights four trends among mobile travelers

I’m off to the same couple of conferences as Rich this week, the HFTP Annual Conference in Orlando followed by Micros’ Users Conference in Baltimore. I’m doing him one better by also attending the Travel & Technology conference in Seattle immediately I get back; this is a new event in a sort of mini-“EyeForTravel” format with discussion panels of vendor and hospitality representatives followed by six entrepreneurs making their pitches to a panel of angel investors. Should be fun.
As regular readers know, one of my hobby horses is the crucial role technology plays in increasing a hotel’s revenue and operating profit, and I expect this to come up at all three conferences. Actually, I KNOW it will come up at the HFTP Conference, not only because many of the attendees come from the Financial arena but also because I’m on a panel discussing it! The topic is the classic question of how to make money from IT, and the equally classic answer is that you don’t; you make money from marketing or business changes, and those often require IT changes to be effective.
There are two forces at work in the selection of new technology. Michael Schubach warns in the current “Hospitality Upgrade” magazine against the temptation of giving in to the current Bright Shiny Object syndrome exhibited by many upper management folks. These are the ones who simply “must” have the latest BYOD gadgets, and expect their IT staff to accommodate all of them so that they can be open to any possible source of business from any possible device. That way madness lies. Conversely, there’s the long-standing tendency of hospitality operations (and financiers) to postpone the purchase of any new technology until the last drop of return has been wrung from the old stuff – and that leads to stagnation and loss of competitiveness.
A recent column in Inc. magazine by Jason Fried mentions Henry Ford’s comment that “If you need a machine and don’t buy it, you will ultimately find that you have paid for it and don’t have it.” This is why young start-up companies take over from more established ones; by focusing on revenue rather than costs, they pick the right tools for what they want to achieve. Older organizations tend to concentrate instead on the inevitably smaller marginal costs of continuing to use what they already have, and so lose the ability to leverage new tools into higher returns.
The trick is to understand what your need truly is, with clear, well-defined operational benefits. Failure to invest in the best tool to get you there inevitably dooms the effort to be second-rate before it starts.
**
EyeforTravel has identified four trends in travel consumer behavior from a survey of over 8,000 people from five different countries.  None is really surprising, but it’s worth noting that these appear to be universal and multi-cultural.
1.    Everyone is going mobile. Probably the most obvious trend, but over half of Google searches originate from mobile devices and over 20% of US travel bookings now come from phones and tablets.
2. People are actively sharing their travel ideas and interests on social media and are influenced by those of others. Many travel companies are working with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, Baidu and Renren to sell travel but harnessing consumer intelligence from the social media interaction will be key.
3. Big data equals big brains. The true potential of analyzing “big data” is difficult to achieve given travel’s complex products and convoluted supply chain; it’s expensive and takes considerable expertise. But it’s coming; Priceline and Expedia seem to grasp the benefits and their stock values are performing well above the rest of the industry.
4. New sources of inventory as well as new products and services are key. Consumers have always been willing to buy inspirational, easily bookable online products, and more tours and activities, restaurants (with menus), spas, bars and taxis are being posted in a marketable, bookable format.
The bottom line was that it’s critical to improve the consumer experience, especially on mobile devices, and to use thoughtful analysis of large, accurate databases to generate the most appropriate offer for the right person at the right time and send it to the right device. But it’s not easy.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Phil Beilke hired by hotel SystemsPro as VP Product Strategy
  • Rainer Gruber promoted to SVP client services at Pegasus Solutions
  • Jeff Fox joins Intelity as VP strategic partnerships
  • Vishal Arora hired by eRevMax as VP Product Management
  • Jan Murza promoted to VP Sales for the Americas at eRevMax
  • Tom Barham joins Rainmaker as CFO
  • Digital Alchemy forms advisory board
  • Michael Zetterlund appointed Product Development Director at Swisscom Hospitality Services Plus SA

Phil Beilke has been hired by hotel SystemsPro as Vice President of Product Strategy. Mr. Beilke most recently has held brand director-level positions with Hilton Worldwide and Choice Hotels International, and earlier was general manager at Hilton and Marriott properties.
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Rainer Gruber has been promoted to senior vice president of client services at Pegasus Solutions. Based in Frankfurt, Germany, Mr. Gruber most recently managed global revenue management activities for Pegasus’ hotel clients; he has been with Pegasus for 12 years. He entered the industry as a general manager assistant at Bell Inn and Hill House in Essex, England, followed by ten years with the Accor group in Austria and Germany in roles including front office, sales, and global sales and product management.
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Jeff Fox has joined Intelity’s executive board as vice president strategic partnerships. Mr. Fox brings over twenty years of hospitality experience, including more than 10 years with Hilton Worldwide where he was most recently director of brand innovation and guest technology.
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eRevMax International has appointed Vishal Arora as Vice President Product Management and Jan Murza as Vice President Sales for the Americas.
Mr. Arora has over 18 years experience in the hospitality and travel technology industry, most recently with responsibility for Commercial and Pre-sales Channel Management at Amadeus Hotel IT Solutions. He has also worked for Travelport and Emirates Airlines.
Mr. Murza joined eRevMax in 2009 as Sales Manager; he previously worked as a Contracting Manager with Tourico Holidays for three years.
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Tom Barham has joined The Rainmaker Group as chief financial officer. Mr. Barham brings extensive CFO expertise and 25 years of business experience, in roles including CFO for Miller Auto Parts & Supply Company and at BCD Travel.
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Digital Alchemy has formed an advisory board; key members include Scott Dawson, Area General Manager at Dupont Circle Hotel; Jeff Castner, General Manager at Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa; Matthew Davis, Director of Rooms at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa; Terri Hall, Web Manager at Kiawah Island Golf Resort; Beth Lytle, Director of Revenue at Le Pavillon Hotel; and Ursula Coie, Director of Revenue and Reservations at The Riviera Palm Springs Resort & Spa.
**
Michael Zetterlund has been appointed Product Development Director at Swisscom Hospitality Services Plus SA in Genève, Switzerland. Mr. Zetterlund brings 12 years of experience in various IT management roles at Nordic Choice Hotels, and is co-chair of HTNG’s Infrastructure & Device forum.
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GUEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Pestana Group selects MICROS OPERA for 9 properties in Brazil
  • Adoba Eco Hotel & Suites chooses IQware as official technology partner
  • MSI completes beta testing of interfaces between WinPM/NiteVision and Windsurfer CRS

Portugal’s Pestana Group has selected MICROS Systems’ OPERA for its 9 properties in Brazil, expanding its decade long partnership with MICROS.  Pestana currently owns and manages 90 properties in over 13 countries under the Pestana Hotels & Resorts and Pousadas de Portugal flags. Pestana has also contracted MICROS Consulting Services to perform an OPERA audit for its Central Reservations Office. (www.pestana.com, www.micros.com)
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Adoba Eco Hotel & Suites has chosen IQware as its official technology partner for PMS, POS, Asset Management (Brite), S&C, HO/CRS and online distribution. Adoba Eco Hotel & Suites positions itself as an eco-friendly hospitality brand with an independent LEED-aimed green hotel concept. (www.adobaecohotel.com, www.iqwareinc.com)
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Multi-Systems, Inc. (MSI) has completed beta testing of interfaces between its WinPM and NiteVision PMS software and Sceptre’s Windsurfer CRS. University Park Inn & Suites in Davis, California and the Hotel Current in Long Beach, California are both already using the interface. (www.universityparkinn.com/, www.hotelcurrent.com, sceptrehospitality.com, www.msisolutions.com)
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RESERVATIONS

  • Riande Hoteles launches mobile sites for two locations in Panama City using Pegasus OpenFlex
  • World Rainbow Hotels launches online travel agent booking platform for over 850 GLBT-welcoming hotels
  • Travel Tripper adds direct GDS connectivity to RezTrip
  • HotelTonight acquires PrimaTable
  • Pegasus splits off Utell’s connectivity services under new Pegasus Connect brand
  • ONYX Hospitality Group chooses Trust International CRS for 34 properties in Asia

Riande Hoteles has launched mobile sites for its two locations in Panama City, Panama using OpenFlex from Pegasus’ Open Hospitality division; it has also used the OpenView booking engine to capture bookings on Facebook. Riande has been a Pegasus client for eight years; its properties are the 135-room Riande Aeropuerto Hotel & Resort and the 154-room Riande Granada Urban Hotel. (riandehoteles.com, www.pegs.com)
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World Rainbow Hotels (WRH) has launched an online booking platform for travel agents that connects with more than 850 gay & lesbian-welcoming hotels in 129 destinations. (www.worldrainbowhotels.com)
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Travel Tripper has announced direct connectivity to the Global Distribution Systems from its RezTrip application, allowing hotels to use the XT chain code to be listed on Sabre, Amadeus, Worldspan and Galileo, and on Pegasus’ Alternate Distribution Systems or ADS. (www.traveltripper.com)
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HotelTonight has acquired PrimaTable, and will incorporate its last-minute restaurant demand forecasting and pricing tools into its own hotel yield management system. The complete PrimaTable will join HotelTonight, with co-founders Jamie Davidson and Colin Zima becoming Vice President of Product and Data Scientist, respectively. (www.primatable.com, www.hoteltonight.com)
**
Pegasus Solutions has split off Utell’s connectivity services under the new brand of Pegasus Connect, which combines Pegasus’ distribution, booking and business intelligence applications with Utell’s marketing-related services in three levels:
– Pegasus Connect delivers GDS connectivity.
– Pegasus Connect Gold adds connectivity to TravelSky in China and more than a thousand online channels and also includes PegasusView Market Performance business intelligence. This level also provides the OpenView booking engine as well as sales consulting and improved access to and representation with the travel consortia.
– Pegasus Connect Premium adds a mobile site developed using Open Hospitality’s OpenFlex with responsive design, along with additional sales support targeting three sources of demand business from corporate buyers or Travel Management Companies (TMCs).
(www.pegs.com)
**
ONYX Hospitality Group has chosen Trust International as the CRS for its 34 properties in Asia, which operate under the Saffron, Amari, Shama and OZO flags. (www.onyx-hospitality.com, www.trustinternational.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • Sabre receives 29 WMA WebAwards and 19 W3 awards
  • Milestone Internet Marketing named by Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal as “poised for growth”
  • newBrandAnalytics  releases nBA 3.0
  • TravelClick receives 15 W3 Awards from IAVA

Sabre Hospitality Solutions has received 29 Website Marketing Association’s WebAwards for outstanding achievement in web development, and 19 W3 awards from the International Academy of the Visual Arts. (www.sabrehospitality.com)
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Milestone Internet Marketing has been named by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal as one of the top local companies poised for growth. Milestone has increased its workforce by 65% in the last 3 years. (www.milestoneinternet.com )
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newBrandAnalytics has released version 3.0 of its social market intelligence software, which analyzes and categorizes unstructured online customer feedback. Highlights of nBA 3.0 include:
– nBA Insight deciphers unstructured online customer feedback at local, regional and brand levels and provides deep location performance analytics, benchmarks, and top and bottom themes with detailed reviews.
– nBA Connect allows companies to identify reviews most in need of response, begin a dialogue with reviewers, monitor progress and track customer engagement goals.
– nBA Advantage provides data on what draws customers to a client’s competitors.
– nBA Instant provides a way for consumers to communicate directly with a business at every service touch point, with real-time alerts to let managers to react quickly to problems.
(www.newBrandAnalytics.com)
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TravelClick has received 15 W3 Awards (three Gold and twelve Silver) from the International Academy of the Visual Arts (IAVA) for creativity and excellence in website design.  (www.TravelClick.com)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Vatel Group signs with Availpro for 30 Hotel & Tourism Management Business schools worldwide
  • Rainmaker receives 2012 Gaming & Leisure Business Partner Special Recognition Award
  • Lanyon enhances rate auditing software to validate floating discounts
  • Langham picks IDeaS for Melbourne, Auckland and Beijing Capital Airport
  • Park Inn by Radisson Berlin Alexanderplatz signs with EasyRMS
  • eRevMax restructures customer service for RateTiger Suite and RTConnect

The Vatel Group has signed a new partnership agreement with Availpro to use its online hotel management and distribution software at the group’s 30 International Hotel & Tourism Management Business schools in Europe, Asia, North Africa and America, as well as at the Vatel Group’s four-star, 90-room hotel in Switzerland. Availpro will also deliver e-distribution training directly to students at Vatel schools in France and Switzerland. (www.vatel.com/en, www.availpro.com)
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The Rainmaker Group has received the 2012 Gaming & Leisure Business Partner Special Recognition Award for exemplary performance in the category of Increasing Revenue for Your Customer. (www.LetItRain.com)
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Lanyon has released an enhancement to its rate auditing software that allows clients to validate that floating discounts provided by hotels against frequently-changing Best Available Rates are being fully and accurately applied.  This enhancement automates the verification of contract terms and is available via all of the Global Distribution Systems. (www.lanyon.com)
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Langham Hospitality Group has contracted with IDeaS Revenue Solutions for revenue management software and services at its properties in Melbourne, Auckland and Beijing Capital Airport. (www.langhamhospitalitygroup.com, www.ideas.com)
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The Park Inn by Radisson Berlin Alexanderplatz has signed with Infor’s EasyRMS to implement its EzRMS Core Module, Ez-QUOTE, Ez-BUDGET and Ez-COMPETE software. (www.parkinn.com, www.EasyRMS.com)
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eRevMax International has restructured customer service for its RateTiger Suite and RTConnect to deliver 24/7 technical support on a ‘Follow the Sun’ basis and full service product consultancy for revenue managers. RTSuite & RTCorp users have been assigned dedicated Account Managers to help optimize usage and performance of their subscriptions; hotel groups using RTConnect have been assigned a Strategic Account Manager and Service Manager.  (www.erevmax.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Noble House Hotels & Resorts signs EMI for SpeedRFP
  • Kelso & Company acquires Swank Audio Visuals, will merge with PSAV

Noble House Hotels & Resorts has signed with Elite Meetings International (EMI) to add EMI’s SpeedRFP software to its corporate website to manage online requests for proposals. (www.NobleHouseHotels.com, www.SpeedRFP.com)
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Kelso & Company, owner of PSAV Presentation Services, has acquired Swank Audio Visuals, and plans to merge Swank with PSAV. Swank is currently the preferred outsource service provider to more than 375 hotels and resorts in the United States, Canada and the Middle East.  (www.swankav.com, www.psav.com, www.kelso.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • Arrabelle at Vail Square implements Intelity’s ICE Mobile for guest phones/tablets
  • Intelity study on guestroom iPad usage shows average 82% usage
  • NH Hoteles expands partnership with Swisscom Hospitality
  • Sprint offers 3G/4G/WiMAX reselling options to hotels
  • Heritage Khirasara Palace, Gujarat, India, implements Blynk’s Hotel guest services iPad app
  • Hong Kong’s Hotel ICON introduces smartphone application based on FCS’ i-Guest
  • MVI Systems makes IPTV in-room infotainment service available for Smart TVs
  • MGM Grand Las Vegas completes install of Bartech’s C-32 Automatic Minibars in over 4,200 rooms

The Arrabelle at Vail Square has made Intelity’s ICE (Interactive Customer Experience) Mobile software available for guests’ Android or Apple smartphones and tablets for direct access to hotel services.
A two-year study by Intelity on guestroom iPad usage showed that on average 82% of guests used the tablet during their stays. April had the highest average guest usage at 91%. The average number of transactions per stay was 11. The three most popular services were in-room dining (41% of total requests, with an average check total of $39.89), wake-up calls (21%) and housekeeping requests (7%).
(arrabelle.rockresorts.com, www.intelitycorp.com)
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NH Hoteles has expanded its partnership with Swisscom Hospitality by designating Swisscom its partner of choice for a suite of guest-facing technologies as well as for network management services. Under the new agreement, NH will gradually introduce IP-based integrated systems to save costs and enhance the brand experience, working with Swisscom towards a centralized convergence roadmap. Swisscom will assist NH with the replacement of existing guest room technology reaching the end of its life-cycle and the integration and cost optimization of its existing data lines. Over 280 European NH hotels are currently serviced by Swisscom as their guest technology and network service provider and Swisscom advises them on all technology decisions. (www.nh-hotels.com, www.swisscom.com/Hospitality/)
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Sprint is inviting anyone in the hospitality industry to become a part-time mobile data carrier by reselling its 3G and WiMAX data service to loyalty card holders. Hotels could rent or lend 4G data modems and stores could sell prepaid 3G hotspots, with data services linked to a loyalty program, for example on the basis of one frequent flyer mile for every megabyte consumed. (www.sprint.com)
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The 25-room all-suite Heritage Khirasara Palace in Gujarat, India, has implemented Blynk’s Hotel guest services iPad app, which provides for front desk/housekeeping requests, in-room dining orders, express check-out and much more. The app is available at no charge from the iTunes store. (www.heritagekhirasarapalace.in/, www.blynk.it)
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Hong Kong’s 262-room Hotel ICON has introduced a smartphone application based on FCS’ i-Guest software. The Hotel ICON i-Guest app is available for Apple and Android devices; the hotel is the first in Asia to implement the FCS i-Guest application. (www.hotel-icon.com, www.fcscs.com)
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MVI Systems has made its IPTV in-room infotainment service available for Smart TVs as well as for traditional TV plus set top box (STB) deployments. MVI’s Second Screen software, which converts a guest’s tablet into a multimedia entertainment hub, can also be integrated on the Smart TV platform. (www.mviptv.com)
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The MGM Grand Las Vegas has completed implementation of Bartech’s C-32 Automatic Minibars in more than 4,200 guestrooms and suites. The units were customized to include a fully-attached cabinet door to the minibar door so that when the cabinet door is opened, minibar contents are easily accessible. (www.mgmgrand.com, www.bartech.com)
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BACK OFFICE

  • UniFocus enhances mobile device functionality for Survey Solutions software 

UniFocus has introduced enhanced mobile device functionality that makes the survey process easier for users with smart phones and increases response rates for its feedback Survey Solutions. The dynamic survey link automatically displays either a mobile or standard version of the questions, based on the device the user is viewing when taking the survey. (www.unifocus.com)
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ENGINEERING

  • SAI releases SynergyMMS Enterprise Voice to capture work requests entered by phone
  • ZENO Controls acquires Verve Living Systems

Systems Associates Inc. (SAI) has released SynergyMMS Enterprise Voice, an enhancement to its maintenance management system that captures work requests entered by phone from anywhere on property via a multilingual interface, and creates work orders and dispatches service requests in real-time. (www.synergymms.com)
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ZENO Controls has acquired Verve Living Systems, which develops energy-efficient guestroom controls for hotels. Verve received the “Editor’s Choice Award for Best Green Technology Product” at the 2011 International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show in New York for its self-powered wireless Keycard Switch. With this acquisition, ZENO now supports both EnOcean and ZigBee technologies. (www.vervelivingsystems.com, www.zenocontrols.com)
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SECURITY

  • Insignia Hospitality Group switches to Kaba ILCO 790 RFID locks

Insignia Hospitality Group has announced that all of its future hotels will use ILCO 790 RFID locks from Kaba, and its 12 existing properties (which operate under seven different flags) will be retrofitted with the brand’s products. (www.insigniamgmt.com)
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  • Jon Inge & Associates
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