September 9, 2008

In this issue…

People on the Move

Property Management Systems

Reservations

Marketing / Management

Revenue Management

Sales & Catering, Meeting Planning

Guest Services

Communications

Security

TOP O’ THE NEWS

  • Some travel Web sites get it, some surely don’t…

Encounters with two different travel Web sites this week have really emphasized to me the massive gulf that separates those who understand what’s useful to a visitor and those who have no clue.

The Good: when planning a couple of trips for later this month I decided to take a look at TripIt (www.tripit.com) to help pull all the details together. This site is the epitome of simplicity and helpfulness; you just forward to one generic address the e-mail confirmations you receive for all your hotel, airline, car, etc. bookings, for multiple trips, and it sorts them for you into the appropriate, complete itineraries. All the details are listed in order, along with other helpful information such as links for on-line check-in, flight status, maps for the hotel area, driving instructions from the airport, weather forecasts for the cities and dates you’ll be visiting, local restaurants and activities near your hotel, and so on. Relevant information, clear presentation, and free. Someone has put real thought into making this a truly useful site, and it shows in every way.

The “Other”: I was trying to book an overnight trip for a house guest who’s staying with me this week. The tour company’s Web site (I’m not naming it since I’ve already written to them directly) is poorly laid out and slow to respond. It doesn’t display accurate information; the trip was listed as available “daily from May 16-Sep 28”, yet when I phoned (having given up on the Web site) I was told that in September it only runs on weekends. More importantly, it responds to unsuccessful searches in the most unhelpful way possible, saying “The package you requested is no longer available for the dates you specified,” with a link back to the general search page for all trips and packages they offer. Not a word on other dates when the requested trip is still available, nor on alternative destinations available for the requested dates. Not even “Sorry”.

What’s so hard about this? In effect what they choose to say to potential customers is, “The trip you requested is unavailable. We do know what other trips are still available, but we’re not going to tell you what they are. Just keep trying other dates and destinations at random and see if you get lucky.” Is this any way to sell your products?

Certainly an object lesson to all of us using Web sites to promote our businesses.

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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

  • Phil Stiles, Shamieka Williams hired by RateTiger for new North American office
  • Don Jensen joins ASSA ABLOY as SVP Sales and Marketing, North America
  • Scott Young named President of LodgeNet’s Hospitality division

RateTiger announced two hires for its new North American office, in Florida.

Phil Stiles has been hired as Vice President of Sales for North America; he has previously worked with Expedia and American Express.

Shamieka Williams joins as Senior Sales Manager, having previously served as an international sales and marketing manager for Dynetech Corporation.

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Don Jensen has been hired as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for North America for ASSA ABLOY Hospitality. With more than 20 years of hospitality sales and management experience, Mr. Jensen most recently served as National Sales Director of Hospitality for Wayport.

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Scott E. Young has been named President of LodgeNet’s Hospitality division; he was previously Chief Marketing Officer. Mr. Young joined LodgeNet in August 2006 after seven years at Best Buy Corp, during which time he held the positions of Vice President Entertainment, BestBuy.com; Vice President Merchandising, Music; and Vice President of Digital Entertainment.

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PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

  • Golden Gate Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas picks Visual One, InfoGenesis
  • WORLDHOTELS designates MICROS’ OPERA as its preferred PMS
  • West Coast Timeshare buys SPI’s Orange Systems for Point to Point Destinations timeshare resorts

The 106-room Golden Gate Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas has selected Agilysys’ Visual One property management system and InfoGenesis POS. (www.goldengatecasino.net, www.agilysys.com)

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WORLDHOTELS has designated MICROS’ OPERA property management system as its preferred PMS for its almost 500 member hotels. (www.worldhotels.com, www.micros.com)

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Canadian-based West Coast Timeshare has purchased Systems Products International’s (SPI’s) Orange Systems vacation ownership enterprise software suite for its Point to Point Destinations timeshare resorts. (www.ptpdestinations.com, www.spiinc.com)

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RESERVATIONS

  • Kuoni Destination Management contracts with Pegasus for UltraDirect distribution services
  • Home Inns signs with DerbySoft for worldwide connectivity for its 300+ properties
  • Granvia switches to SynXis’ RedX for GDS, IDS connectivity and Website bookings
  • SynXis releases Version 6.4 of RedX Distribution Management System

Kuoni Destination Management has contracted with Pegasus Solutions for its UltraDirect distribution services, to link Kuoni’s KOBRA online reservation platform directly to hotel central reservation systems. (www.kuoni-dmc.com, www.pegs.com)

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Chinese budget hotel chain Home Inns has signed with DerbySoft for connectivity to hotels and online travel agents worldwide for its 300+ properties. The direct connection link between the companies’ platforms was recently completed by Derbysoft’s engineers. (http://english.homeinns.com, www.derbysoft.com)

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Granvia, the Japanese hotel chain owned by West Japan Railway Company, has switched to SynXis’ RedX Distribution Management System for seamless connectivity to the GDSs, Internet Distribution Systems and bookings from its own website.

SynXis has released Version 6.4 of its RedX Distribution Management System. Enhancements include: – New revenue management functionality to set up BAR rates where only the lowest available “BAR” rate will be sold, using the existing stay restrictions and pricing controls to introduce a tiered option. – Hotel reviews from TripAdvisor. – The ability to configure a “teaser display” embedded within a hotel’s website. – Expanded historical reporting from 24 months to 37 months.

(www.hotels.westjr.co.jp, www.synxis.com)

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MARKETING / MANAGEMENT

  • Sea Island Resorts selects TIG Global as exclusive Internet marketing provider
  • Circos unveils Brand Karma reputation management tool for hotels and restaurants
  • Outrigger signs with ClickSquared for marketing communications programs
  • DerbySoft picks VFM Interactive for digital media management services

Sea Island Resorts has selected TIG Global as its exclusive Internet marketing provider. TIG recently designed and launched a new website for the Resorts and created an accompanying online marketing plan. (www.seaisland.com, www.tigglobal.com)

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Circos unveiled its Brand Karma analytics tool to help hotels and restaurants manage their online reputation. By monitoring online communities, review sites and blogs, Brand Karma offers a variety of macro and micro reports, including a digest of all reviews and conversations on their brand. (http://brandkarma.circos.com)

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Outrigger Enterprises Group has signed with ClickSquared for marketing communications programs. ClickSquared will assist with strategic program planning, campaign development, data management, and measurement and analysis services. (www.outrigger.com, www.clicksquared.com)

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DerbySoft has signed with VFM Interactive for digital media management services. Chinese hotels will be able to use VFM’s Vscape platform to store, manage and distribute their hotel images and other rich visual content to VFM’s distribution network. VFM will also provide rich media production services to participating properties. (www.derbysoft.com, www.vfmii.com)

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REVENUE MANAGEMENT

  • Cornell survey emphasizes key role of human resources support in revenue management success

Emphasizing that effective revenue management depends on a properly-focused operations philosophy and staff training, a survey conducted by Cornell professor Sheryl Kimes reports that as revenue management is increasingly integrated in hotel sales, it will need stronger human resources support. The 186 revenue managers responding to the survey cited issues relating to human resources as key factors in effective revenue management, and anticipate that revenue management will be extended to other areas of the hotel sales such as spas and function spaces. The revenue managers believe that an integrated approach will be necessary, combining the technical or quantitative process with appropriate pricing strategy and competitive tactics. The report, “Hotel Revenue Management: Today and Tomorrow,” is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. (http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/research/chr/pubs/reports/2008.html)

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SALES & CATERING, MEETING PLANNING

  • Newmarket International passes 12,000-installation milestone, moves to new offices

Newmarket International reported significant growth achievements, including primary offices now located in Shanghai, London and Singapore, and a jump in its customer base mid-year to over 12,000 installations.

Newmarket has also completed the move into its new LEED-certified offices in Portsmouth, NH. (www.newmarketinc.com)

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GUEST SERVICES

  • LXR installing MTech’s HotSOS in all properties
  • Barceló UK implements Swisscom’s Premium Internet guest services at 21 properties
  • LodgeNet re-organizes into three business units

LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels is installing MTech’s HotSOS guest-services management system in its properties. (www.LuxuryResorts.com, www.m-tech.com)

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Barceló UK is implementing Swisscom’s Premium Internet guest services at its 21 properties in England, Scotland and Wales, covering the guest rooms, meeting rooms and hotel lobbies. Using Swisscom’s Guestroom 2.0 web portal, hoteliers will be able to offer various added-value services to their guests including remote printing, real-time flight information and online access to hundreds of enewspapers. Internet services will be available in all hotels by the end of September. (www.barcelo-hotels.co.uk, www.swisscom.ch)

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LodgeNet Interactive Corp is re-organizing into three business units: Hospitality, Healthcare and The Hotel Networks. The Hotel Networks media marketing division will continue to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company. (www.lodgenet.com)

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COMMUNICATIONS

  • Thing5 completes 1,500th installation of its hosted PBX services for hospitality

Thing5 has completed the 1,500th installation of its SIP trunking and hosted PBX services for the hospitality industry. Services are offered at a fixed monthly rate with no charge for excess services to support isolated, peak traffic periods. Thing5’s services, which include voice mail, automatic call distribution, audio conferencing, faxing and instant messaging, are hosted in geographically redundant data centers and delivered as managed Internet protocol (IP) services over the Web. A Web-based dashboard gives the property management a graphic overview and control of the services. (www.thing5.com)

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SECURITY

  • Safemark introduces XL Desk Drawer Safe for laptops with up to 17 inch displays

Safemark Systems has introduced its XL Desk Drawer Safe, a larger version of its existing drawer-installed safe designed to hold laptops with up to 17 inch displays. The metal, top-open drawer safe is secured to the desk by steel-wire cables. (www.safemark.com)

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  • Jon Inge & Associates
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