October 6, 2009

In this issue…

People on the Move

Property Management Systems

Reservations

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

Guest Services

Back Office

Security

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • How will Twitter become profitable?
  • HTNG releases 2009B specifications

Twitter continues to intrigue me. Yes, many of the postings there are boring and narcissistic, but it’s been adopted widely enough as a general communications tool that you have to take it seriously. Various filtering tools and search engines let you focus on messages that are relevant to your own interests or business, and for generating immediate responses it has few peers.
Some hoteliers have taken to it well. The Los Angeles Bonaventure made headlines as one of the first to offer a limited number of discounted rooms only on Twitter, and the Rancho Bernardo Inn’s John Gates is building a good following with his often whimsical offers as the GMGoneMad. The ROI may be low so far, but because the investment itself is a minimal amount of time any return at all is beneficial and the positive PR impact is significant. And now a provider of short-term hotel bookings has opened a Twitter channel (see news item below).
But while many companies are making money off Twitter, how on earth will Twitter itself keep going? As a free service it hasn’t turned more than a minuscule profit since it started, and the strict 140-character message format that’s the key to its success doesn’t lend itself to carrying advertising. I asked this question at a HITEC seminar, and received the somewhat callous response that if Twitter itself fails, something else will pop up to take its place, so don’t worry. I’m sure that attitude isn’t shared by those who have funded it so far, nor by those who reportedly just injected another $100 million into the company to keep it going while it comes up with a viable business model. That will buy them time to think of ways to make it pay without killing its appeal, but they’ve had plenty of time already and this clearly can’t go on for ever.
Twitter has become universal and useful as a free service, but unless its backers are philanthropic enough to run it as a public service at some point it will have to morph into something else. Maybe if we have to pay per message the flood of “what I had for breakfast” postings will evaporate. Let’s hope so.
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Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) has released its 2009B specifications, covering:
– links between PMSs and guestroom devices such as door locks, thermostats, televisions and telephones, for check-in/out signals and guest preference setting.
– delivery of hotel rich descriptive content to distribution channels and websites.
– improved security for credit card processing, helping PCI compliance through storing credit card data in one secure system, replacing it with a substitute number (“proxy”) that can be shared with other systems without compromising security. As the proxy can be configured to look like a valid credit card number, much of the existing card-processing logic in the connected systems can remain unchanged.
– enhanced reservations connectivity processing so that the receiving system may “pull” rate and availability update messages on request, rather than being required to “listen” for them in real time.
(http://www.opengroup.org/htng/specs/)
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Robert Bayless hired by Genares as Chief Technology Officer
  • Todd Davis promoted to chief technology officer at Choice Hotels International
  • Kathy Bannasch joins hotel SystemsPro as vice president of sales and marketing
  • John Chaffin, Kelly Miller, Adam Smalarz join INNCOM sales team

Robert Bayless has been hired by Genares Worldwide Reservation Services as Chief Technology Officer. Mr. Bayless was previously Vice President of Reservation Technologies for Pegasus Solutions, and earlier was a founding partner and Vice President of Technology for Unirez after serving with Lexington Services.
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Todd Davis has been promoted to the new position of chief technology officer at Choice Hotels International; he most recently served as vice president of property systems development and administration. Before joining Choice he served as an advanced systems engineer for Electronic Data Systems (EDS) focusing on hotel industry solutions, and earlier had designed global reservation solutions for Cendant Corp.
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Kathy Bannasch has joined hotel SystemsPro as vice president of sales and marketing. Ms. Kathy brings more than 25 years of hospitality experience with companies including Walt Disney, Marriott, Intercontinental and Hilton, in positions ranging from concierge to corporate regional manager. Most recently she was with Hampton Inns in New York, New Jersey and New England, and was a partner and co-creator of Hilton’s Focused Service Brands General Manager Leadership Training Program.
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INNCOM has added three new members to its sales force.
– John Chaffin becomes Director of Sales for the Southeast Region. A 22-year industry veteran, Mr. Chaffin most recently served 12 years with ASSA ABLOY Hospitality as Southeast Regional Sales Manager, and had earlier held sales-executive positions with AT&T Corp., GE Capital ResCom and Visual Edge Systems Inc.
– Kelly Miller takes over as Director of Sales for the Western Region. Ms. Miller comes to INNCOM from MIWA Lock where she was Western Region Sales Manager; she had previously served as Western Region Sales Executive for Bartech Systems International.
– Adam Smalarz is now Administrator of Project Sales and Sales Programs; he most recently worked as a sales executive for Cintas Corp.
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PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Barnbougle Dunes chooses Agilysys’ Visual One, GolfPro
  • Treasure Island picks Agilysys’ LMS, SWS, GeM and DataMagine, expands InfoGenesis
  • SPI Orange Systems announces development of Rules Engine
  • Focus Hotels implementing protel PMS from Xn in all properties
  • MSI releases version 2.2 of WinPM, focused on Best Western
  • Hotel San Carlos in Phoenix installs TTI’s Scan2PMS
  • Smoky Mountain Resorts implements Maestro for seven properties

Barnbougle Dunes in Bridport, Tasmania has selected Agilysys’ Visual One suite and GolfPro module; its sister property, Bandon Dunes in Oregon, USA is also a Visual One user. In addition to a golf course Barnbougle Dunes includes beach cottages, conference facilities, a restaurant and lounge, and plans to add a second golf course, 50 guest rooms, a sports bar and spa next year.
Treasure Island in Las Vegas has selected Agilysys’ Lodging Management System (LMS), Stratton Warren System (SWS) inventory/purchasing, Guest eMarketing (GeM) and DataMagine document management system, and is expanding its use of InfoGenesis POS from F&B into the Retail outlets. The 2,885-room property includes nine restaurants, seven bars, a spa, salon, pool, 90,000 square feet of gaming space, 18,000 square feet of meeting space, numerous retail shops and a 1,600-seat showroom.
(www.barnbougledunes.com.au, www.treasureisland.com, www.agilysys.com)
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Systems Products International (SPI) Orange Systems announced the development of a ‘Rules Engine’ to help resort operators manage exceptions to their standard owner usage conditions, e.g. by allowing non-gold owners to upgrade to gold-status units by paying a fee. Rules can be set either by the resort technology staff or by SPI. (www.spiinc.com)
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Focus Hotels is implementing protel’s centralized Multi-Property Edition PMS from Xn Hotel Systems in all eleven properties across the UK by November 2009. The project also includes protel Conference and Banqueting and protel Sales and Marketing. (www.focushotels.co.uk, www.protel-hotelsoftware.com, www.xnhotels.com)
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MSI (Multi-Systems, Inc.) has released version 2.2 of its WinPM system, which includes several enhancements specifically for Best Western members, such as:
– Enhanced package flexibility, locally enforced restrictions, DOW (Day of Week) rates and accounting functionality
– Blacklist “Do Not Rent” functionality
– Enhanced reports, including room revenue category reporting
– Best Western Rewards look up and enrollment
– Qualified rate designations and commissionable rate codes
(www.bestwestern.com, www.msisolutions.com)
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The Hotel San Carlos in Phoenix has installed TTI Technologies International’s Scan2PMS system to capture guest information such as name, address and picture from driving licences. (hotelsancarlos.com, www.ttitel.com)
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Smoky Mountain Resorts has implemented NORTHWIND-Maestro’s enterprise Property Management and reservation software for its seven properties, which include Country Inn & Suites, Ramada Inn, Rodeway Inn and independent properties. Other modules installed include ResWave online booking software, Sales and Catering, Condo and Timeshare Owner Management, and Yield Management. (www.smokymountainresorts.com, www.maestropms.com )
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RESERVATIONS

  • Inoqo launches Twitter-based hotel booking engine
  • getaroom partners with Travelocity
  • HotelREZ launches Trust-based CentralREZ CRS
  • WestCord Hotels moves to SynXis’ RedX for 12 properties in the Netherlands
  • JAL Hotels switches 58 hotels to SynXis’ RedX
  • WIKIO contracts with Sprice.com for hotel search and rich content

Inoqo has launched a Twitter-based hotel booking engine for last-minute travelers looking for hotels in the USA, France, Portugal, England, Scotland, Ireland and South Africa. The service consolidates last-minute deals (48-hour availability or less) into several “CityStream” Twitter feeds such as @2LondonHotels; reservations are ordered via Inoqo’s own booking system. (www.inoqo.com)
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getaroom.com has contracted with Travelocity to provide rooms inventory for locations outside its core markets, which include New York, Orlando, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Anaheim and Miami. (www.getaroom.com, www.travelocity.com)
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HotelREZ has launched its own CentralREZ CRS, based on Trust’s yourVoyager. Multiple new PMS Interfaces will be implemented, and CentralREZ will go live in early November. (www.hotelrez.net)
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WestCord Hotels has switched from a representation company to launch its own brand, using SynXis’ RedX Distribution Management System for GDS/IDS and Web booking for its 12 properties in the Netherlands. The properties will also use SynXis’ Property Connect for two-way integration to their Hotel Concepts property management systems.
JAL Hotels has switched its 58 hotels to SynXis’ RedX Distribution Management System for GDS and IDS connectivity and brand website bookings in multiple languages including English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. JAL Hotels will also use SynXis voice services in more than a dozen languages (including Arabic) to address its expansion in the Middle East.
(www.westcordhotels.nl, www.jalhotels.com, www.synxis.com)
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News aggregator and search engine WIKIO has contracted with Singapore-based Sprice.com to power its hotel shopping section. Sprice.com will provide its ‘deep search travel technology’ backed by rich content on over 120,000 hotels, including hotel reviews and photographs posted by travelers. (www.wikio.com, www.sprice.com)
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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • Vistera Systems now an Authorized Affiliate of the Avalon BUZZ Report
  • TripAdvisor adds management dashboards to property owner pages
  • Milestone Internet Marketing wins two Web site awards
  • TravelCLICK wins 20 WMA International 2009 WebAwards
  • SynXis picks VFM Leonardo’s VScape, VBrochure
  • White Lodging Services selects VFM Leonardo’s VBrochure
  • Travelport GDS extends relationship with VFM Leonardo to cover Worldspan
  • SIM Partners’ FilterStream widget streams filtered TripAdvisor reviews to hotel’s website

Vistera Systems has been designated as an Authorized Affiliate of the Avalon BUZZ Report, enabling Vistera to provide customers of its operational/financial data reporting tools with a simple way to track the influence of customer reviews within the VisteraView Portal. (www.avalonreport.com, www.visterasystems.com)
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TripAdvisor has added personalized customer satisfaction management dashboards to each property owner’s page. Each dashboard includes:
– Customer Satisfaction Index, which rates each review from 0-100 on seven factors: overall, value, recommended by traveler, cleanliness, service, room, location.
– Recent reviews, categorizing the eight most recent reviews by key metrics with quick identification of issues with cleanliness, service, etc. ,br>– Trends, comparing a property’s rank against its competitors and against the aggregate rank of nearby properties.
(www.tripadvisor.com)
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Milestone Internet Marketing has won WMA’s 2009 WebAward for Outstanding Hotel and Lodging Website for the Best Western Tuscan Inn – Kimpton Hotels, and the 2009 IMA Award for Outstanding Achievement for the Hotel/Resort Category for the InterContinental Boston. (www.tuscaninn.com, www.intercontinentalboston.com, www.milestoneinternet.com)
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TravelCLICK has won 20 Web Marketing Association’s International 2009 WebAwards, including Best Hotel and Lodging Website for the Albert Hotel in Riga, Latvia. It’s iStay booking engine was also named the best web interactive application for the hotel and lodging industry. TravelCLICK received four Hotel and Lodging Outstanding Website Awards and fifteen Standard of Excellence Awards. (www.alberthotel.lv, www.travelclick.net)
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SynXis has picked VFM Leonardo’s VScape as its preferred digital asset management system to distribute still images for over 10,000 hotels to VNetwork. Hotels using RedX to manage and distribute their rooms, rates and availability will be able to manage and distribute their visual content using VScape. SynXis also designated VFM Leonardo’s VBrochure as its preferred method for hotel members to distribute richer forms of media.
White Lodging Services has selected VFM Leonardo’s VBrochure Online Merchandising System to distribute 15 photos and 5 virtual tours for each of its USA hotels.
Travelport GDS has extended its relationship with VFM Leonardo to cover visual hotel content on Worldspan, using VFM Leonardo’s VScape; VFM Leonardo is already the sole distributor of hotel visual content on the Galileo system. Under the new agreement, Travelport GDS hoteliers will be able to upload their visual hotel content onto both platforms at the same time.
(www.synxis.com, www.whitelodging.com, www.travelport.com, www.vfmleonardo.com)
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SIM Partners has launched FilterStream, a free widget for the hotel industry that streams filtered TripAdvisor reviews about a specific hotel to the hotel’s website. (www.simpartners.biz)
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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Apical Resource Group partners with inspire for revenue/distribution management service
  • Trust International announces Complete Rate set of rate maintenance tools

Apical Resource Group has partnered with inspire resources to enhance its Revenue Management Service (ARMS) offering. Inspire will assess and analyze a hotel’s revenue related operations to develop a revenue management/distribution strategy for the client; Apical Resource Group will then guide the hotel through implementing the strategy. (www.inspireresources.com, www.apicalresourcegroup.com)
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Trust International announced its Complete Rate program, a set of rate maintenance tools to help hotel companies manage contracted and public flexible rates in the Voyager|CRS central reservation system and disseminate them to the various distribution systems. Rates can be structured and linked in various ways to reduce maintenance effort, such as linking them all using flat amounts or percentages to a single set rate such as a BAR or LAR, linking them to a rate recommended by a revenue management system (RMS) or to the lowest public rate for each day. Pilot hotels include several Leading Hotels of the World properties. (www.trustinternational.com)
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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) selects Passkey
  • Valorem Group signs with StarCite’s Destination Solutions
  • Acclaim Meetings partners with StarCite to launch AcclaimCite portal
  • Elite Meetings International launches SpeedRFP on-line RFP management tool
  • GetThere announces Collaboration Suite tools to minimize travel/meeting costs

The Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has selected Passkey to handle its group housing requests, and will offer it as a complimentary service to groups using two or more Pasadena hotels with 400 room nights on peak. (www.visitpasadena.com, www.passkey.com)
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The Valorem Group has signed with StarCite’s Destination Solutions to list its client list of over 180 international hotels, DMCs and CVBs seeking to enhance their presence and service in the United States.
Acclaim Meetings has partnered with StarCite to launch AcclaimCite, a portal offering Acclaim’s network of independent meeting planners and travel agents access to StarCite’s meetings planning and procurement process and online marketplace of more than 93,000 hotels, venues and meeting suppliers.
(www.valoremgroup.com, www.acclaimmeetings.com, www.starcite.com)
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Elite Meetings International has launched SpeedRFP, an application for creating, submitting and tracking RFPs online with support from the Convention Industry Council’s (CIC) Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX). Starwood Hotels & Resorts is integrating SpeedRFP into its www.StarwoodConventionCollection.com website; Destination Hotels & Resorts is also in the integration phase. For websites that are not yet SpeedRFP-enabled, users can submit an RFP to any hotel in the world via www.SpeedRFP.com. SpeedRFP Community Edition will be available at no charge to all properties; Enterprise and Pro versions will be available to hotel chains and independent hotels for a monthly fee. (www.EliteMeetings.com, www.starwoodhotels.com, www.SpeedRFP.com)
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GetThere has announced its Collaboration Suite, a collection of tools to help corporations and the travel agencies that serve them maximize their Return on Investment (ROI) on travel and virtual meeting services. Features include:
– Return on Invested Collaboration (ROIC) Calculator, working from a combination of trip value inputs by employees, policy controls configured by corporations and back-end calculation models developed by Sabre Research, GetThere’s parent.
– Social networking community, Sabre’s “cubeless”, to facilitate knowledge sharing, networking via questions, answers and exploration tags, and destination advice, including opt-in GetThere itinerary sharing choices for ride-sharing, itinerary matching, etc. across a broad employee base.
– GetThere Meetings, for planners and attendees to book and manage meetings at significant savings and to track and control meeting and associated travel costs while driving compliance with policies and contract commitments.
– Collaboration Inventory Management with content from both travel-related and non travel-related sources.
(www.getthere.com)
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GUEST SERVICES

  • Hotel 1000 implements 100MB Internet connection
  • Nokia acquires trip itinerary consolidator Dopplr
  • Casa Dorada Resort & Spa installs Roomlinx
  • runtriz integrates Hotel Evolution phone application with MTech’s HotSOS

Seattle’s Hotel 1000 has implemented a 100MB fiber optic Internet connection to the property, significantly increasing the bandwidth available to guests and administrative systems. The service is provided by XO Communications. (www.hotel1000seattle.com, www.xo.com)
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Nokia has acquired Dopplr Oy, which provides trip itinerary consolidation and sharing services with offices in London and Helsinki. The current Dopplr service will continue to operate under its own name. (www.nokia.com, www.dopplr.com)
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The Casa Dorada Resort & Spa in Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas has installed Roomlinx in all rooms and suite, becoming Roomlinx’s first Mexican client. (www.casadorada.com, www.roomlinx.com)
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runtriz has integrated its Hotel Evolution mobile phone application with MTech’s HotSOS, enabling guest requests for food, drinks, guest services, transportation, entertainment, etc. sent from their Web-enabled phones (or units loaned by the hotel) to be managed within HotSOS. HotSOS sends the requests in real-time to service and maintenance personnel who use similar devices to receive, complete and note the completion of the tasks. Both Hotel Evolution and HotSOS integrate with property management systems to provide reports on all orders and responses. (runtriz.com, www.m-tech.com)
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BACK OFFICE

  • River Hospitality Management installing Aptech’s Profitvue

River Hospitality Management is installing Aptech Computer Systems’ Profitvue Enterprise Back Office Accounting Solution in its Concordia Hotel in Washington, D.C. and Kirkley Hotel and Conference Center in Lynchburg, Virginia. The companies will utilize Profitvue Version 13 for daily back office financial procedures and to provide ‘flow through’ analysis of operational data to track variances between revenue and gross operating profit (GOP). (www.aptech-inc.com)
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SECURITY

  • Grand Millennium Sukhumvit, Bangkok, installs VingCard Signature RFID locks
  • Onity integrates CT30 offline locks into Lenel Systems’ OnGuard security software

The Grand Millennium Sukhumvit in Bangkok, Thailand has installed VingCard’s Signature RFID door locks with NFC cell phone compatibility. (www.millenniumhotels.com, www.vingcard.com)
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Onity has integrated its CT30 offline locks into Lenel Systems International’s OnGuard security software platform, allowing them to be programmed, managed, encoded and monitored from within the OnGuard environment, simplifying the control of both interior and exterior door locks. Both Onity and Lenel are part of UTC Fire & Security. The CT30 lock includes both magnetic stripe technology and a PIN-code keypad. (www.lenel.com, www.onity.com)
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