I will encourage you to read Doug Rice’s column that follows which includes the latest technology news. This week Doug talks about the technology changes inspired by COVID-19, which will stay, and which won’t. For those of you who have been out to eat – would you really want to look at a menu any other way than holding it in your hand when COVID-19 is behind us? Doug brings up some good points as to possibly why you wouldn’t, especially if you owned the restaurant.

There will be a transition in the world and especially in the hotel industry as the recovery gains legs. Leisure travel will probably set records this year and groups and conventions kick in the last quarter of this year and next. I am what most would consider a frequent traveler, the lack of cars available at the rental car companies and the rates that they are charging have amazed and pretty much flipped me out. If you haven’t checked recently, you should. Cars that you would expect to pay $40 a day are now often near or more than $100 a day. Wow! The COVID-19 experience will create hangovers for many in the travel industry, especially hotels. But time after time when I speak with the hotel higher-ups regarding business, it is almost always enthusiasm and optimism. This of course trickles down to the vendors, and with the need to update antiquated technology already starting, this should make for some interesting times. I once again refer to Doug’s comment in his column about how slow the hotel industry has historically been to adapt new technology, but I think now that is going to change. Now, if hotels could just get staffed appropriately as the recovery kicks in that would help. I still think the best thing I ever did when young, was pursue a career in the hotel industry. I used to tell friends when I started out that I am in an industry where I deal with people who need a place to eat, drink and sleep. What could possibly be better than that? What a wild ride it has been.

I must mention that the Hospitality Upgrade Executive Vendor Summit is going gangbusters with our biggest challenge being how to let hoteliers know that the event is for the vendors. We traditionally close EVS with three or four CIOs sharing their thoughts and visions on technology for their company and the industry. This year that session will be a State of the Industry with technology leaders from Aimbridge, Highgate, Hyatt, Wyndham, Marriott and Loews joining the nearly 60 vendors for one of the most unique industry roundtable sessions ever. I can’t wait.

And lastly, a big thank you to all those companies that shared our Hospitality Upgrade Spring issue cover where we featured this year’s 10 technology Rock Stars. The views on social media were great, but the comments were amazing with one being absolutely hilarious. It was a great deal of work with lots of input to pick this year’s 10. We can’t wait to work on next year’s list.

Here now is the real reason we are here, the latest technology news along with Definitely Doug. I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what. For the record, I will always want a paper menu in my hand!

[email protected]

Definitely Doug

The COVID Year – What Tech Changes Will Last?

In my 33 years in hotel technology, never has there been a year that brought more change than the past one. Obviously COVID was a major factor, generating new solutions or simply accelerating adoption of preexisting ones. But other factors were at play as well.

This week I want to review the changes and offer some thoughts as to which technologies will be permanent, which will fade, and which might evolve to something else. And why.

One thing that has changed permanently is hotels’ attitude towards technology. For as long as I can remember, hotels have adopted technology only at a glacial pace, and often slower. This was especially true for technologies that might substitute for personal service. At the property level, managers feared it would undermine guest satisfaction, alienate staff, and scare non-technical managers. COVID has shown that while these fears might have some basis, there are also many technologies that can support service perceptions by giving guests the choice of whether and how they interact with staff; that can allow staff to focus on the most impactful tasks; that can reduce the time managers spend on busywork; and that can service guests faster. It has also shown that many customers sometimes prefer interacting digitally, even at five-star hotels, and that offering them that option cannot hurt. Specific individuals may choose the digital option never, rarely, sometimes, or frequently, but most guests will value having the choice.

In the past year, many hotel groups have restructured how they manage technology and/or brought in new technology leaders to drive change. As a result, the “technology quotient” in hotel leadership ranks has risen almost across the board, more than I can ever recall in such a short time. Hotels cut staff during COVID, and many adopted targeted technologies to help limit the impact on service. I now hear more rumblings from the C-suites of major hotel groups about longer-term plans to shift to more and better technology and less labor.

Many hotels today cannot find enough staff for the looming recovery. While labor shortages are caused in part by short-term issues resulting from government subsidies and immigration restrictions, many executives believe that hospitality (and more broadly, travel) lost a lot of its appeal as a stable and desirable place to work. If so, it may never fully regain the ability to employ the pre-pandemic levels of workers (which even before COVID were often insufficient). In the coming year and beyond, tech spending may increase both because of the recovery in travel, and because it can often help compensate for labor shortages.

So where will hotels spend their money on tech? While some spending will go to the traditional categories, my primary focus this week will be on solutions and approaches that first appeared, or that gained significant traction, during the past year. With the understanding we now have of how COVID has changed consumer behavior and hotel operations, I am ready to predict some approaches that will be future winners, and some … well, not.

Click here to read more of Doug’s column on The COVID Year – What Tech Changes Will Last?

A lot has changed in the past year, most importantly the attitude toward and the rate of adoption of new technologies by hotels. We are very early in this change and can only see the tip of the iceberg. The next few years should be very interesting!

Douglas Rice
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @dougrice
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ricedouglas/

Recent Technology News, from Hospitality Upgrade and Hotel Online

Corporate News

– IDeaS Awards 2021 Cornell Revenue Management Sponsorships
IDeaS, a world leading provider of revenue management software and services, announced the 2021 IDeaS Cornell Revenue Management Sponsorship recipients, continuing its ongoing program to foster professional development in the field of revenue management.

– Cloud5 Earns Top Hospitality Partner Recognition by Mitel With Technical Excellence for 2020 Award
Cloud5 Communications, a leading provider of communications solutions for the world’s top hotel brands and management companies, has been named the winner of the Technical Excellence Award for 2020 by Mitel, a global leader in telecommunications technology.

– Virdee Announces Strategic Financing From Leading SaaS Investors, Bringing Total Seed Funding to $4 Million
Virdee, a SaaS company delivering digital check-in and virtual concierge services to the hospitality and commercial real estate industries, has added a strategic round from seasoned SaaS investors to further accelerate its growth across hospitality, multifamily, student housing and medical verticals where demand has been strong.

– ResortSuite Named a Winner of the 2021 ISPA Innovate Award in Technology
ResortSuite was named a winner of the 2021 ISPA Innovate Award in the technology category for the company’s ResortSuite MOBILE property-branded app solution. The 2021 ISPA Innovate Awards were given to spa industry leaders who implemented successful solutions and innovations to adapt and manage through the COVID-19 pandemic.

People on The Move

– AAHOA Hires New VP of Government Affairs
AAHOA, the nation’s largest hotel owners association, is pleased to welcome Dean Heyl as its new Vice President of Government Affairs. He will lead AAHOA’s Washington, D.C. office and join the association’s Executive Leadership Team.

– Phonesuite Direct Promotes Jamie Prestileo to VP of Sales & Marketing
Phonesuite Direct, a leading provider of hospitality communications and a subsidiary of Phonesuite, is proud to announce that Jamie Prestileo has been promoted to Vice President of Sales & Marketing.

– StayNTouch Appoints Prabol Bhandari as CTO to Accelerate Innovation of Guest-Centric Cloud PMS
StayNTouch, a leader in cloud hotel property management systems (PMS) and guest-centric technology, announced the appointment of Prabol Bhandari as chief technology officer.

– Bill Doak Joins Stockdale Capital Partners as Head of New Hospitality Platform
Stockdale Capital Partners (“Stockdale”), a Los Angeles-based, vertically-integrated real estate investment firm, announced that hospitality veteran William “Bill” Doak has joined the company as a Managing Director and Head of Stockdale Hospitality.

Guest Management Systems

– Maestro Is Making a Difference for Hotels via Advanced Two-Way CRS Integration
Ensuring a frictionless guest experience from booking to check out and beyond is critical in today’s new normal. Thankfully, Maestro is one of only a few property-management system providers with enhanced two-way integration to Pegasus CRS and other leading Central Reservation System providers. Built on Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG) standards, this joint technology initiative is making it easy for guests to book rooms and make changes to existing reservations on command — regardless of where the booking originated.

Reservations & Distribution

– SiteMinder Enables Digital Transformation of Ona Hotels
Ona Hotels has selected SiteMinder, one of the world’s largest open hotel commerce platform, to support the process of digitally transforming its 25-year business and consolidating its technology as it prepares for future growth. The appointment will see Ona Hotels adopt a more dynamic pricing strategy with SiteMinder and distribute its portfolio of 8000 rooms through SiteMinder’s platform.

– Onyx CenterSource Expands Partnership With Preferred Hotels & Resorts
A 10-year client, Preferred Hotels & Resorts designates Onyx CommPay service as Preferred ProTool for member hotels to facilitate payment of commissions.

– ROOMDEX, A Hotel Upsell Innovator, Partners With Aries Living
ROOMDEX, the leader in hotel upselling automation, is happy to announce that Aries Living has activated ROOMDEX’s Upgrade Optimizer™ software in four hotels: Ithaca of South Beach Hotel, (Miami, FL), Villa Paradiso Apartment Hotel (Miami, FL), Treehouse Apartment Hotel (Miami, FL) and Apple Tree Inn (Lennox, MA).

Revenue Management & Analytics
– Cora Cora Maldives Selects IDeaS G3 RMS to Maximise Revenue and Provide Pricing Decisions in Uncertain APAC Market
IDeaS, a SAS company, the world’s leading provider of hotel revenue management software and services, announced today its partnership with Cora Cora Maldives to implement IDeaS G3 Revenue Management System (RMS) at the Maldives’ most anticipated new resort opening of 2021.

Guest Facing Technology
– Radisson Hotel West Memphis Adopts BeyondTV for Enhanced Guestroom Entertainment Personalization and Contactless Convenience
Soon to open full-service hotel leverages HIS technology to address guest preferences for access to streamed subscriptions while boosting in-room contactless service abilities.

– TTI Technologies Offers Trade-In Program for Windows 7/8 Computers
As many capex improvements have been put on the back burner, TTI Technologies is giving hotels the opportunity to upgrade to a Windows 10 computer by trading in their old Windows 7 (or 8) computer with a credit of up to $200 per computer.

– Virdee and dormakaba Partner to Provide Seamless Solution for Digital Check-In and Access
Virdee, a SaaS company serving the lodging, multifamily and commercial real estate industries, announced today an integration with dormakaba’s mulithousing smart lock access control solutions. The partnership provides customers and third-party integrators with a seamless solution for digital check-in and visitor engagement at buildings with dormakaba products.

– The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real by Meliá Invests in Interactive TV
Attentive to the latest hotel trends, the resort sought out a complete TV solution that would also serve as a channel of communication with its guests.

Sales & Catering, Groups & Meetings

– Lodging Interactive’s RFPAssist Generates SMERF Event Leads to Hotels
Originally developed to capture wedding sales leads, the service has now been enhanced to capture opportunities in other SMERF markets.

– Gillis Disrupts Traditional Sales Model With Dynamic Sales Solution
Gillis, a consulting, training and sales performance partner organization for hoteliers, announced today that key investments in its employees, training programs and technology resulted in $12 million in actual revenue for its clients while maintaining a 95 percent retention rate since the pandemic began. Its Dynamic Sales Solution (DSS) provides a full-service, turnkey virtual sales team that flexes to meet its clients’ relevant needs while actively pursuing sales opportunities on a local, regional and national level.

– Great Hotels of The World Launches #MICEBEAT
Great Hotels of the World, a leading representation company for independent upscale and luxury hotels, in partnership with techtalk.travel is launching the Collective #MICEBEAT – a series of informal, data-driven MICE talks, featuring leading international industry partners.

Back Office

– ProfitSword Implements Full Suite of Business Intelligence Solutions at Regal Hospitality
ProfitSword, a premier developer of business intelligence and data integration software, has announced the successful implementation of its advanced suite of business intelligence solutions by Regal Hospitality.

Food & Beverage
– Oracle MICROS Doubles Partner Integrations to Help Restaurants Rebound
Ensuring customers could adapt to the needs to the moment, Oracle Food and Beverage doubled its MICROS Simphony Point-of-Sale (POS) integrations in the past year alone. Restaurants can now choose from an extensive and pre- validated ecosystem of partner applications in the Oracle Cloud Marketplace to plug-in everything from online ordering to contactless payment apps.

– View Hotels Revolutionizes Operations With Infor for Enhanced Business Agility and Workplace Flexibility
Infor, the industry cloud company, announced today that View Hotels has deployed Infor Hospitality Management Solution (HMS) and Interfaces across its three Australian Hotels to better leverage the cloud for data insights, marketing and remote working.
www.viewhotels.com     www.infor.com


– SALTO Systems and Livly Partner to Deliver Smart Electronic Locking Solutions for Multifamily Housing
SALTO Systems, a leading manufacturer of wire-free smart electronic locking solutions, and Livly, a Chicago-based developer of operating systems for multifamily rentals, have partnered to deliver SALTO’s robust electronic access control features from within Livly’s multifamily management platform and resident app.

– React Mobile Leading Discussions on Employee Safety During AHLA’s 2021 Virtual ‘Safety Summit’ Today
Today at the American Hotel & Lodging Assn.’s 2021 Virtual Safety Summit, hoteliers will gather to discuss top safety concerns that are critical to the future of the hotel industry. This “can’t-miss” event is designed to help prepare and protect owners and operators from what lies ahead.

Hospitality Events and Association News

– AAHOA Charity Golf Tournaments Raise Nearly $100,000
AAHOA’s two most recent charity golf tournaments raised nearly $100,000 for six charities. The inaugural Southeast Texas Charity Golf Tournament, held in Houston, raised more than $40,000 to benefit the Houston chapter of Sewa International, Rise Against Hunger, and Nora’s Home.

– Entrepreneur 20X, HFTP’s Hospitality Technology Start-Up Pitch Competition Featured at HITEC Dubai
The competition will be held on 1 June 2021 at HITEC Dubai at the Hotel Show Dubai. Competitor application deadline is 15 May, mentor and judge application deadline is 20 May.

Piqued Our Interest

Travel’s Labor Problem Now as Surge in Demand Leaves Operators Scrambling

Kiosk Technology Catches Up with Hotel Guests’ Desire for Contactless Check-In

CBRE: Vaccinations, Stimulus Spur Stronger H2 for U.S. Hotels

The Lost Year: How COVID-19 Has Altered the Hotel Industry

And now for you-know-what.…

A lady goes to her parish priest one day and tells him, “Father, I have a problem. I have two female parrots but they only know how to say one thing.”

“What do they say?” the priest inquired.

“They say, ‘Hi, we’re two hot chicks. Do you want to have some fun?'” the woman said embarrassingly.

“Oh Lord!!” the priest exclaimed, “I can see why you are embarrassed.”

He thought a minute and then said, “You know, I may have a solution to this problem. I have two male parrots whom I have taught to pray and read the Bible. Bring your two parrots over to my house and we will put them in the cage with Francis and Job. My parrots can teach your parrots to praise and worship. I’m sure your parrots will stop saying that…that phrase in no time.”

“Thank you,” the lady responded, “this may very well be the solution.”

The next day, she brought her female parrots to the priest’s house. As he ushered her in, she saw his two male parrots were inside their cage, holding their rosary beads and praying. Impressed, she walked over and placed her parrots in with them. After just a couple of seconds, the female parrots exclaimed out in unison, “Hi, we’re two hot chicks. Do you want to have some fun?”

There was a stunned silence. Finally, one male parrot looked over at the other male parrot and said, “Put the beads away, Francis, our prayers have been answered!”