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Hospitality Upgrade Magazine Opens Second Round of Ground-breaking
Hospitality Industry IT Benchmarking Survey
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The Survey will be re-released in a new format designed
to broaden and encourage participation

ATLANTA – December 7, 2007 – Hospitality Upgrade, the leading technology magazine published for hotel, travel and foodservice professionals, announces the re-opening of the Hospitality Industry IT Benchmarking Survey. Based on feedback from industry leaders committed to the success of the project, the Survey will be re-released in a new format designed to broaden and encourage participation. 

The Hospitality Industry IT Benchmarking Survey has received widespread support from influential members of the hospitality community, including: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide; Global Hyatt; Carlson Hotels Worldwide; The Marcus Corporation; Denihan Hospitality Group; Wyndham Hotel Group; Noble Investment Group; Accor North America; Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines; Omni Hotels; and Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group. 

This by the industry—for the industry survey began at the 2005 CIO Summit, where the vast majority of CIOs said the current comparative spend data available was poor and inadequate. Meaningful comparative data regarding costs, productivity, efficiency and cycle time are simply not available to the hospitality community. This causes organizations to guess where they stand versus relevant competitors. The Survey is intended to fill this informational gap and arm industry executives with meaningful data. It will serve as a credible operational tool that will take the industry from “I think” to “I know” relative to industry benchmarks. 

The need for the Survey is best summed up by Jim Lamb, SVP IT of Global Hyatt. Lamb said, "Like most technology leaders in the hotel industry, I am under constant pressure to increase the value derived from our IT expenditures.  Accurate spending benchmarks for the industry will allow me to assess our spending on IT from the perspective of external market competitiveness as opposed to internal cost containment – a distinction which is critical to delivering strategic value from investments in IT.”

Tom Peck, SVP and CIO of MGM Mirage, usually doesn’t participate in spend studies, but he plans to take part in the Hospitality Industry IT Benchmarking Survey. “I am constantly approached by companies asking me to participate in spend surveys and politely decline their overtures, however, in this case, I have made an exception. Having been part of the Survey development process, I believe the Hospitality Industry IT Benchmarking Survey is well conceived and well executed. The data the Survey will provide will enable me to gauge our success in delivering strategic value from our IT investments to our customers, shareholders, and business partners. I plan to participate in the Survey and encourage my colleagues to do the same.”

Todd Thompson, CIO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc, is relatively new to the hospitality industry and recognizes the need for IT spend data. “As a relative newcomer to the hospitality industry and as someone with an airline background, I was amazed at the lack of available data regarding IT spend and industry-specific best practices. As a CIO in this industry, I am charged with achieving Starwood’s strategic objectives and delivering both value and world-class performance from our IT investments. Benchmark data from our own industry is really the only way for me to ‘learn by example’ from strong performers so I can create a culture of continuous improvement. The Survey is an extremely efficient way to obtain this data.”

Mike Sutten, VP/CIO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Survey Steering Committee member, said, “Many of us benchmark our organizations using the venues that are commercially available. We probably all have had similar reactions—why is this so different from my spending profile?  After further examining the details, we find that the base data is generated from an oil company conglomerate or an aerospace firm with little or no ties to our hospitality market. Although the cruise industry is a subset of the larger hospitality industry, I am confident that a benchmark comprised of hotels and casinos would more closely approximate my cruise line scenario and provide valuable insights.”

Management ownership companies are also finding great value in the Survey. Jane Durment, CIO of The Marcus Corporation, said, “As a management company, I and my executives and owners want to know that I am delivering a very high quality of IT services in a very efficient manner; be it opening new built hotels, or upgrading PMSs for PCI, or HD TVs for greater guest experience. This Survey will provide an excellent industry benchmark to test our own results against.”

Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) is one of the exclusive sponsors of the Survey. HFTP’s CEO Frank Wolfe believes the industry is long overdue for a benchmarking instrument such as this. Wolfe said, "As the only global professional association for hospitality finance and technology professionals, our goal is to be the source or resource for industry information related to our specialty areas.  One of our strategies to accomplish that mission is to increase the availability of high-quality hospitality technology benchmarks. It is our belief that the results of this technology spend survey could help establish benchmarks that could become as important to a CIO as the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry is to the CFO.  HFTP is strongly encouraging its members to complete the survey and is in the process of developing an online appeal to explain its importance.  The industry is long overdue for a benchmarking instrument like this because of the resources required to make it a success.  HFTP is pleased to join our forces with Hospitality Upgrade and KPMG to make this project a reality." 

IT organizations require access to in-depth IT benchmarking and best practices that compare organizational processes and practices to those of relevant peers and world-class organizations in terms of costs, productivity, efficiency and cycle time. Traditional IT benchmarking has centered around technology silos such as desktop, mainframe, operating systems and networking. As IT executives have continued to demonstrate their critical role in supporting the business, organizations concluded that focusing on the process of IT can yield high returns. This makes the need for a horizontal view of IT processes increasingly important.

A third-party research firm, Performance Monitor www.performancemonitor.net, will ensure respondent confidentiality and data integrity. Performance Monitor will act as data custodians assuring the highest level care in data handling and storage. The initial Survey results will be released at the HFTP European Hospitality Technology Educational Conference (EHTEC) in February of 2008, www.ehtec.eu. Results will be available to Survey participants on March 1, 2008. If you did not receive a Survey and would like to participate, please contact Sally Kelly sally@hospitalityupgrade.com.

Two webinars will be held to go over the Survey processes and benefits. Anyone interested in attending may join one of the following webinars: Wednesday, December 19, 2007, at 1:00PM ET or Wednesday, January 9, 2008, at 1:00PM ET. The URL for webinars is www.hftp.org/techbenchmark.

About Hospitality Upgrade
Established in 1992, Hospitality Upgrade is the leading technology magazine published for hotel, travel and foodservice professionals including management, independent operators, executives and chains. Published three times a year, Hospitality Upgrade educates hospitality professionals on the latest technology software and hardware solutions. Regular coverage focuses on new industry trends and products, in-depth analyses by leading hospitality consultants, insider news and gossip, interviews with top industry executives, and profiles from many of the industries' solution providers. Specific topics include purchasing and maintenance of the following hospitality systems: point-of-sale, property management, back office, sales and marketing, Internet, in-room, restaurant management, central reservations, guest response, handheld/wireless technologies, executive information and more. 

With more than 28,000 readers in 88 countries, Hospitality Upgrade is committed to shaping and defining the future of the hospitality technology industry. For more information or to sign up for a FREE subscription, visit www.hospitalityupgrade.com.

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Contact:

Hospitality Industry IT Benchmarking Survey
Sally Kelly
sally@hospitalityupgrade.com
 

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