Hotel Management — August 2012
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HITEC Special Report
C. Elliott Mest

The latest technology products and services

System integration products, cloud-based services and more kept HITEC visitors engaged on the show floor


The newest advances in hospitality technology were on display at the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference 2012 in Baltimore. The biggest topics this year revolved around multi-system integration between phones, tablets, laptops and the hotel’s systems, as well as bigger steps taken with cloud-based services. Here is a rundown of the major technology news to know from this year’s HITEC vendors:
Aptech Computer Systems released its next-generation cloud-based business intelligence system for all media formats and operating systems. The Execurve Version 10.1.1 offers Active Report capability, allowing users to interact with the system regardless of whether they become disconnected from the system.
AT&T showcased its carbon calculator tool used to monitor its client’s overall carbon output, as well as an enhanced educational program for avoiding data loss. AT&T also displayed new content delivery networks, digital signage solutions and video delivery systems.
Bulk TV & Internet was recognized as the DirecTV Commercial Free-to Guest Provider of the Year for the fourth consecutive year. The reward is designated to the top DirecTV providers, with Bulk TV & Internet handling 372 free-to-guest activations in 2011, as well as 312 activations in the public, private and business viewing sectors.
Cetis’ OneTouch Voice Mail Retrieval Technology, available on Cetis’ Teledex E Series telephones, instantly activates a guestroom phone’s speaker, autodialing the guest’s voicemail while checking for missed calls. OneTouch also encourages guests to use the guest-service keys on in-room telephones in order to generate telecom-related revenue.
Comcast is providing three new TV+ products: WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney XD and WATCH Disney Junior. The products are available over applications for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as through a web browser. These are the first products to provide users with live network streams as well as on-demand episodes.
CSI globalVCard Playsystems discussed its electronic payables program, a web-based accounting software solution that allows for the setup of user restrictions and software integration.
Culinary Software Services debuted the ChefTec Waste Tracking Module to track food waste in order to control cost and prevent over-purchasing. The system tracks waste by station, loss reasons, disposition, employee and shift. This information is interpreted by the system and reproduced visually.
EcoManaged is a provider of in-room occupancy sensors that use carbon measurements to detect the presence of guests. The sensors use carbon dioxide readings and predictive technology to keep a hotel guestroom at optimal temperatures while using less power.
Elavon’s Safe-T Suite now includes support for EMV, allowing hotels more security for their stored cardholder data. Safe-T Suite uses tokenization to replace card data with identifiers, allowing incomplete data to remain with the merchant while still allowing it to be used by the guest in future transactions.
Enseo displayed its line of digital media players, which are capable of integrating with multiple brands and vendors. Currently, Enseo is providing education on the DMP purpose and process, as well as clarifying that Internet Protocol Televisions (IPTVs) don’t come with the primary DMP components, and are therefore open to customization and specialization.
Hotel Concepts revealed the iTesso cloud-based integrated property-management system, distribution platform and central reservations system that can connect between a hotel’s CRS and global distribution systems, alternate distribution systems, or act as a PMS.
Hotel Systems displayed a browser-based service to check property information through automatically developed reports that are paperless and interactive.
iRiS Software Systems displayed a tablet application with banner management to provide advertisements from local businesses. The application is delivered from a private cloud-based server. Additionally, the company displayed a paperless newspaper and magazine service that wipes content between stays to remove traces of previous guests.
Kaba showcased new mobile phone-based check-in applications, allowing guests to use their mobile phone as a room key. The application also works with tablet computers.
LodgeNet is using applications accessible over mobile devices and tablets to allow guests to control guestroom TVs without the use of the in-room remote. LodgeNet also discussed conference services being offered for room blocks, as well as the continued expansion of its POS systems.
Maestro recently launched its Maestro Mobile PMS to cater to the needs of hotel GMs on the go. The company’s mobile systems also allow for mobile check-in and check-out.
MICROS eCommerce is working with Strategic Hotels and Resorts to launch a series of websites designed specifically for tablets, featuring a new visual format and layout and a focus on hotel and area amenities. Data collected by MICROS showed that guests are more likely to use websites that are interactive, facilitating the development of new tablet applications.
Morrow Technologies is a digital signage provider that is offering glasses-free 3D digital signage displays. Morrow also showcased 2D to 3D content creation services as well as glasses-free 3D video content creation services through its Janus Displays product. Janus Displays can also convert 2D video into 3D video and restructure 2D content in 3D.
Multi-Systems, Inc., selected Windsurfer CRS to integrate with CloudPM, MSI’s next-generation, cloud-based property management system. Windsurfer, developed by Whiteboard Labs, allows hotels to interface with mobile applications and access branding features unavailable on legacy systems, and is customizable to fit multiple hotel portfolios.
NCR displayed its Express Key solution, which allows guests using online check-in to acquire their room key without visiting the front desk. A self-service key dispensing device expedites the process and can be placed anywhere throughout the hotel to reduce wait times at the front desk.
NewspaperDirect offers a digital newspaper and magazine delivery service to hotels through mobile devices, tablets or e-readers. NewspaperDirect’s PressDisplay.com web portal and PressReader application create newspaper and magazine images that are reminiscent of their physical copies as opposed to text-based recreations. The SmartEdition application allows publishers to customize the digital edition platform from content to advertisers.
NXTV Quadriga previewed its Personal Media Network, which consolidates several applications of the hotel guestroom under one setting, and across the guest’s mobile phone, table, laptop and the guestroom TV. These functions already exist in Quadriga’s Sensiq TV and QValet mobile platform, and include the ability to access content stored on both mobile devices owned and operated by the guest and information stored on cloud-based servers.
Onity’s on-point keycard encoder is designed specifically for the hospitality industry, and offers wireless connectivity and a touch-screen interface. The on-point encoder works alongside Onity’s HT RFID lock solution that was detailed at last year’s HITEC.
Pegasus Solutions’ Pegasus Connect allows hotels to pick and choose services to fit specific online marketing and distribution needs. The service is available for individual purchase or as a completely integrated solution.
Philips showed its X-cite Series of LCD HD televisions with complete DirecTV capabilities built in. The TV models allow residential-experience DirecTV in guestrooms as well as commercial DirecTV solutions in public spaces.
Prologic First is a provider of integrated hospitality software that displayed 20 integrated hospitality applications at HITEC, including its web-based Integrated Software for Hospitality (WISH) system that uses a single server to control hotel operations and data access for all of a hotel’s processes. The software controls aspects such as sales and marketing, distribution, product management, food and beverage, point-of-sale, back office, guest relationship management, finances and inventory.
Quadira is offering integration between mobile phones, tablets and TVs by allowing guests to seamlessly move content from their devices onto the TV. The application communicates directly with the TV, requiring a smart TV to perform the tasks, and operating the service is folded into the cost of the TV.
RateTiger is launching an educational campaign in September 2012 to assist hotels with revenue management, as well as on how to maximize their visibility across as many channels as possible. “Education is important to understand how the market is evolving,” said Ryan C. Haynes, VP of marketing at RateTiger.
RoomKey’s property-management systems are focusing on conversion and managing occupancy and average daily rate through profiling information. The PMS will work to provide information to hotels so they can in turn provide more relevant messaging for guests. Additionally, RoomKey is providing webinars for training and education on how to get the most out of their systems.
Samsung announced Samsung LYNK, a Digital Rights Management technology that allows encrypted content to pass through channels securely and be displayed on the hotel guestroom TV. This DRM is an alternative to hardware-based content protection systems, and allows hotels to choose from a variety of head end equipment supported by Samsung LYNK. Udates are also made to the system automatically and remotely.
Smith Micro is working with broadband solutions provider Guest-Tek Interactive Entertainment to offer television capabilities to tablet and mobile device users at hotel properties, using the Guest-Tek OneView application. Smith Micro’s VIDIO service is also integrating with the Allin DigiMix platform to provide a higher video quality over mobile devices.
Stark Service Solutions launched the Housekeeping and PM Touch System bed bug inspection and tracking tool, which was created in cooperation with Orkin. This software provides real-time tracking, documentation and monitoring of bed bug inspection activity.
Stevens Digital partnered with eTab to supply restaurant and room service technology to companies in the United States and Canada. eTab’s technology allows diners at restaurants and bars to pay through a digital menu available at their table, using a touch-interface to wirelessly connect to wait staff equipped with a handheld device. The technology accesses the hotel’s existing POS system and can be altered instantly through the back of the house.
SuiteLinq is offering a new laptop portal with all the functionality of a full-service suite, including access to transportation, restaurants, reservations and outside services. The portal is browser-accessible and allows for digital check-in and check-out.
The portal also works with hotels that allow gaming in the guestroom, with SuiteLinq’s set-top box to feature a slot machine in any room. The gambling component features a Q-Wallet for use in the hotel and hotel casinos at the same time, and also ties into hotel reward systems and monitors guest buying patterns.
Symon Dacon’s LobbyView plug and play digital signage for lobby areas is a smart board designed for advertising. The most recent addition to the board’s features is a ticker line capable of displaying information at the control of the hotel, and can operate as a live, real-time news feed.
TripCraft revealed its new cloud-based mobile application designed specifically for each hotel that TripCraft works with. The application changes style according to the hotel and guest, and can create a bridge between the operational side of the hotel and guest side.
Uniguest displayed several solutions designed to make a hotel’s lobby area and public spaces more sociable, such a focusing on the use of the lobby’s digital concierge station. According the Joe Moore, VP of digital signage, Uniguest recently added a screensaver to its concierge station to encourage touch.
VingCard Elsafe’s new RFID locks have a higher range and power, allowing them to be placed inside the standard guestroom door as well as inside wider and deeper doors. Additionally, the company’s new RFID door cards cannot be de-magnetized. VingCard Elsafe’s new systems also allow hotels to remotely extend room stays or remotely remove access seamlessly.
Windstream is rolling out a service to host voice on cloud-based servers. The service will be purchased over monthly payments and will replace private branch exchange phone systems. Operating this cloud-based system would reduce the staff requirements for the service, according to the company. ■HM
emest@questex.com

Agylysis debuted the Elevate cloud-based POS system, which is currently in pilot testing and will be released in late 2012. The portable InfoGenesis POS tablet has also been made more rugged, and its shape has been optimized so it can fit properly in an employee’s apron.

Agilysys’ InfoGenesis point-of-sale solution was on display as both a fixed desktop or for use on a mobile tablet.

Bartech is a provider of electronic minibars that use pressure points to determine when a product is removed from the minibar, and automatically bills the guest for what they took after 60 seconds. The guest is credited if housekeeping is able to locate an unopened amenity. This allows housekeeping to cut down on the labor involved in tracking minibar charges. Bartech’s Green Automatic Minibar uses less energy, is insulated with environmentally friendly components, is constructed with an eutectic plate allowing for 12 hours of cooling without requiring additional power and contains a remote cooling monitor that detects when a room is vacant, occupied or out of order and adjusts its temperature remotely.

Bartech’s electronic minibars use pressure plates and infrared detectors to determine when something is taken from the display, automatically charging the guest.

BirchStreet Systems is a provider of web-based hosted solutions that automate a property’s product purchases and bill payments. BirchStreet revealed a new spend-intelligence dashboard that allows users to selectively identify their spend data, and also announced plans to add a contract-management tool for vendor interaction later this year.

Doug Sanbourn, president and COO of BirchStreet Systems, presented the company’s new spend-intelligence dashboard that allows users to selectively identify spend data.

HM | ALL PHOTOS ELLIOTT MEST

Flyte Systems provides digital boards displaying up-to-date flight information in any area of a hotel. The boards operate through the use of a touch screen and are updated through a web portal in real time. Guests also can print their boarding pass at the board, and Flyte Systems offers a tablet application for staff use to better manage the technology.

Digital signage stations are a growing trend in the hospitality industry, and Flyte Systems’ digital boards display airline information and tactile navigation support.

Four Winds Interactive showcased its GoBoard digital signage systems for use in hotel lobbies. The newest development for the GoBoard is its ability to display scannable QR codes that allow guests to scan the screen with mobile devices and walk away with much of the same functionality that was available on the digital board.

The GoBoard was just one of Four Winds Interative’s interactive digital boards on display for use in the hotel lobby.

LG showcased its LT 770 series of LED TVs for more energy-efficient options compared to CCFLs. The LT 770 series is Energy Star-compliant, backlit and Pro:Idiom-capable.

LG’s new series of televisions are lighter and thinner than previous models, allowing them more flexibility for compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

InvoTech Systems displayed RFID chips that can be sewn into hotel linens or uniforms and scanned to expedite the counting process, saving time on inventory tracking and managing losses. The tags can also be used to keep a record of when the last time linens have been washed to reduce the number of unnecessary washes.

Invotech’s RFID scanners look for computer chips sewn into linens, speeding up the scanning process by comparing the number of scanned items to the number of items required to be fully stocked in seconds.

Hotel Communications Network provides in-room computer terminals to convention hotels in Chicago. These terminals allow for interaction between guests, with back-end controls allowing for messages to be displayed either at all terminals or at terminals in select groups. These terminals are offered to hotels for free, with HCN’s business model making revenue off of local advertisers and guests. The terminals also track guest use and deliver information based on what advertisements users are seeing and reacting to.

Kevin Bidner of Hotel Communications Network is working to expand his company’s services outside Chicago, where it currently is finishing a trial phase for in-room computer terminals targeted to convention hotels.

Merchant Link provides a credit card gateway that helps to manage credit card transactions while safeguarding customer data. The Merchant Link gateway supports card-swipe, and the system also provides web-based reporting that offers a complete view of all credit card activity. Proactive system alerts also are available for hotels.

Laura Kirby-Meck, EVP of sales and marketing; Dan Lane, CEO and president; and Beth Farris, marketing manager for Merchant Link, providers of a payment security system for hotels holding customer credit card information.

Nomadix announced its Internet traffic optimizer that deals in deep packet inspection and data retention, telling the hotel in detail which guests are using the most bandwidth, where they are using it and what it is they are doing to consume the bandwidth. The optimizer has the option of blocking the largest bandwidth users—Netflix, Microsoft, Apple and Adobe updaters—and allows for bandwidth controls to be set specifically by app, user, room, device and time of day.

Nomadix APAC regional channel sales manager U Kim, and chief commercial and operating officer Fred Reeder.

Panasonic is deploying a new ruggedized tablet built for B2B services that is dustproof and uses the Android operating system, with a Windows 8 device being deployed later this year. The company also is working to develop a more robust selection of ADA-compliant thin TVs.

Panasonic also debuted its new security system that allows for comprehensive control over multiple systems at once.

Y!kes revealed its Bluetooth-enabled proximity-aware guestroom locks that interact with a downloadable smartphone application, allowing guests to bypass the front desk and go directly to their room for check-in. The door locks detect when a guest is inside the room, and will not unlock the door from inside. The application can be controlled by the hotel via the back end, and the application also remembers and tracks room climate preferences between locations that use Y!kes’ technology.

The Y!kes door locks use Bluetooth airwaves to interface with guests using Y!kes’ mobile applications, allowing guest’s phones to work as key cards.
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