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I feel sorry for Marriott...

Pertlink Limited · 4 December 2018
THAT'S AWFUL - but in all honesty, it was an accident waiting to happen.All of the major robberies, and with this I include hacks who embark on unapproved removal of an asset - successful or failed, have focused on BIG targets - whether it be the US elections, Beyonce's jewels, banks, Brinks trucks, the Royal Mail train in 1963, UBER, Hyatt, Target, Home Depot, Cathay Pacific, Dunkin Donuts, USPS, DELL, EMC, Yahoo, or an Apple Store. These are all high-profile targets which have been like honeypots to these felons. Marriott, which now includes Starwood, has grown so huge, it inadvertently put itself firmly and squarely in their sights and became a sitting target. It was really just a matter of time before the inevitable happened - and they would be hit.Sadly, but not surprisingly, we live in a world which is also unfortunately populated by people with malicious intent who either do this for kicks or are commercially driven based on the potential value of the data which can be sold or exchanged for crypto on the dark web. One may even be tempted to classify this event as an act of cyberterrorism or espionage. And let's not forget the lawyers - the wolves at the door [aka Ambulance chasers], just waiting to lay stake to a class action claim. It's a sad reality - and so I feel sorry for Marriott.As a Consultant to the industry, [and in full transparency, I have done work for Marriott so I have had a close perspective on how they operate], I know for a fact that this hotel group and so many other companies go to great lengths and expense to exercise duty of care and use their best endeavors to protect the data given to them for safekeeping so they can provide the best services to their clients. They constantly implement and update hardware defenses, employ tokenization and various encryption protocols for PCI DSS compliance as well as perform extensive vetting of software and hardware vendors, hosting/cloud providers and employees who handle the data. And while we are on the subject of vetting perspective vendors, look at the recent hoo-hah surrounding Huawei and the position some governments took in regards using them for their 5G data networks.Some of the data collected by hotels are for Government compliance, and some for marketing purposes - but the overarching reason is to provide great personalized service. The heavy burden of keeping that data safe is only compounded by government legislation imposed in certain countries and jurisdictions, which add yet another layer to the firewall - one of those being the recent GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] introduced in Europe on 25th May 2018. I'm very sure more jurisdictions will follow to include the Cybersecurity laws of China, and who knows what Brexit may bring if they install physical borders for the movement of people, then it's almost foreseeable, data flow controls will follow.But the inevitable reality is that there will be individuals, corporations, some possibly state-sponsored, lurking in the dark with evil intent. Do you really stand a chance against them and their specialized tools? As fast as the security device companies find a new way to secure or encrypt data - someone cracks it with some kind of wizardry or an even bigger hammer. We've seen many instances where companies such as Apple have released a new version of a software, only to have it cracked the next day - and so the process of closing that breach has to happen with panic-stricken Elves working overtime. Don't kid yourselves, this is a full-time problem internally and externally - akin to shoring dikes when flooding occurs. Once you sandbag part of the wall, another crack appears and so on.For the last forty years, hotels have, albeit gradually, embraced technology to help process, control and digest the enormous amounts of personal and transactional data that passes through its walls with one major element being Central Reservations [CRES] often with GDS connections. Some of these systems have been around for a very long time and could probably do with an upgrade - maybe utilizing Blockchain. When people make bookings - we use that data to allocate accommodation, provide various services, and associated logistics. The technology came with a promise to make things better - it was to enhance manpower, provide faster and more accurate access to data, and let's not forget, deliver personal service - every Hoteliers dream, by matching the guest's expectation. However, when you collect something valuable like terabytes, petabytes or even zettabytes of personal data about people - that's such an attractive honeypot.I am hopeful that the data forensics team will comb throughany crumbs or fingerprints that may have been left behind -and do whatever it takes to seek out and bring the infiltrators to justice.One has to ask oneself - Is there a solution? Well, I for one, don't have an answer for this - I suspect though it will get worse before it gets better, and that's a sad fact also. The more data we expose, be it to places like Hotels or on Social Media, the more likely it will be targeted and used for dastardly purposes and so I repeat myself when I say, "I feel sorry for Marriott" and I can feel other hoteliers thinking - "there but for the grace of God, go I".But as is often the case, we need a disaster to happen before things get fixed and so hopefully, this will be a loud enough wake-up call for technology suppliers, governments and industry bodies to find a solution. And to these entities - I throw down my gauntlet 4th December 2018

MORPHEUS the God of Dreams

Pertlink Limited · 7 August 2018
In Greek mythology, MORPHEUS is the God of Dreams. Without doubt, the hotel is just that, since the targeted clientele for the exoskeleton building appear to be dreamers who aim to win big in the casino as they roll up and enter one of the most artistically designed buildings in the world. The atrium lobby seems like an engineering masterpiece, adorned with bright lights and bubble lifts. And to add pizazz to the architecture, scantily clad high-heeled gorgeous Eurasian females fully conversant in Putonghua wait to take care of your every need.This 700 room Hotel is a testament to wealth and yet another example of what one can do, when budgets simply don't exist, and your single objective is to create the best - being one-up over your perceived competitors, and attracting thrill-seeking high rollers waiting for the right place to drop their wads of cash, and take a chance at the roll of a dice or the turn of a card.MORPHEUS has to be seen to be enjoyed - pictures don't do it justice. It's akin to a modern living and breathing exhibition, and that in itself is a legacy to Zaha Hadid who sadly passed away in March 2016 and, therefore, prior to completion. Her memory will live on in this unique creation adorning the Macau skyline.I was fortunate enough to spend a night in MORPHEUS having been in Macau for the previous two nights attending the excellent HTNG Asia Conference, where I took a short cab ride to my new lodgings. Somehow, the folks knew I was coming most probably tipped off by an industry colleague because when I alighted from my cab - I was greeted by name. Not my first time for this to happen (some may recall a blog I wrote a few years back "where everyone knows your name") but it was nonetheless a pleasant surprise. I was then whisked through the lobby and up in a red doored bubble lift to my waiting room - Tower 1 - 35050. Just in case you are curious, I made my own booking via the Hotel's website, and paid for the stay myself.At first glance, the room had the appearance I may have been the first person to have actually stayed in it. Later during my detailed inspection, this suspicion may have proved to be correct.The room was spacious - I would estimate 45sqm, and had a great view of the city, although the only views I was interested in was the room itself, and rest of the Hotel. So, after the registration formalities were completed - like signing a registration card with a very special MORPHEUS pen, being handed my key in the most "designed" key holder I've seen, shown the room facilities, to include the in-house-engineered control center Tablet, Bluetooth ceiling speaker, mini-bar and secret door to the walk-in closet and a wish for a pleasant stay, I was finally left alone.First on the agenda, after kicking off my shoes and walking on the deep tufted rugs, was to explore and photograph every centimeter of the room. That in itself was to be a mammoth task, since I did not want to leave without turning over every proverbial stone and to see what lay beneath. I was not disappointed...From a tech perspective, the room is a candy store - it has nearly all the gadgets you'd want to play with, centered around a room management system that I understand was engineered in-house. A strange thing to do, since there is only one other (Hong Kong -based) Hotel group that I know of who has done this using a LAB full of white-coated engineers - but then again, when you have access to funding and the drive and ego to do this, why not? Well, there are numerous reasons why one should not do this - but that obviously did not deter the COD Tech Team from making this dream come true. After all, this IS the City of Dreams...On the Desk (if one can call it that), and at the bedside are full-sized tablets that allow you to customize the room features: Lights, temperature, sheer curtains, black out blinds and TV. One can also order Room Service and some amenities - like extra soap, towels and tea. Sadly omitted was coffee for the Nespresso machine. But never mind, I had my own back-up supplies just in case. These Tablets sit on charging cradles at a 70-degree angle (just a guess its 70 - I did not measure but they look remarkably like one sees in an Apple store - and they are set at 70 degrees) and simply swop between Chinese and English. Unfortunately, the telephone handset located just beside it, was only in Chinese, and I could not find the way to swop language. So, unlike the Tablet, I did not take that for a test drive.The tablet was intuitive, but not necessarily responsive. Some commands had to be repeatedly pressed e.g. curtain actions, or light settings for these to happen. I don't think it was a signal issue, but more of program response. I put it down to teething troubles. There is also a neat feature of pairing your Bluetooth device to a ceiling speaker, but you may find the option a tad elusive since it's hidden under INFO, and I almost had to call the helpdesk to find out how to do this - after being briefly shown during the registration process. This pairs your device to a ceiling speaker - which is kind of centered into the room ceiling - however, it's always in "pairing mode" and the identifying blue flashing light can be seen at night when the room lights are turned off. It's not disturbing - just something which may be annoying to some folks - especially since its nestled behind the smoke detector, which in turn has its own flashing white light and there is a light reflection on the pole of the table lamp behind the sofa. These need to be looked into - and I just wonder if anyone took this room type for a test run during design phase.The tablet is accompanied with various wall mounted control panels. I counted seven in my room, which includes a DND button next to the auto-flushing toilet, and a thermostat outside of the bathroom, and one to control the TV over the bathtub. These are monochrome and can be slightly confusing as you scroll through the modes and try to fathom out what is actually activated or not. I believe color panels would have been more intuitive - but that's just my two cents.The auto WC, as is often quite standard these days, has a TOTO logo, and a hand-held control which has printed instructions (hidden behind the unit) in both Chinese and English. I'm not a lover of these, call me old school, but I have no problem lifting or closing the respective lids "to do my thing" and pressing or pulling a flusher afterwards. Yes, I know it has all the wash and wipe functions and can give you the cleanest tush in town, but what to do when it fails, as it did in my case? There's no lid at the back to open and yank a chain - you need to either embarrassingly call tech services or leave an apology note for housekeeping - I opted for the latter upon checkout.The WC cubicle also has a wall recessed phone unit - looking similar to an intercom system. Nice design, but I wonder how often this is used! I suppose it's more hygienic, since it accompanies an auto loo - hmm - food for thought. But let me tell you one thing that really made me smile. In the loo was the MORPHEUS embossed toilet roll, very discreetly and stylishly embedded on the first sheet. Blink, or blindly yank and you will miss it. This makes for an interesting CSR policy. If one sheet is used, the roll will, I assume, be replaced. What then happens to the used rolls?On each side of the comfy bed (I may have been the first to sleep in this), are Remedios-designed night stands. Inside each drawer are more touch panels (Master and Night light), as well as charging cables for your gadgets, including Apple, USB-C and micro-USB. And just in case you need it, there are two USB power sockets (5V 2400mA) and a universal power socket. Nice touch!Missing from the room is an ironing board and iron - but these are available on demand. I assume, because the guests who stay here, will simply call housekeeping to have their designer label clothes pressed. Inside the walk-in closet is an electronic safe with a power socket and USB port to charge whatever you may opt to deposit. Adjacent to it is the obligatory emergency flashlight and the wardrobe has plenty of hangers and an umbrella. The mini bar has a selection of booze, some of which I've never heard of before, and the customary own-brand snacks. I'm tempted to say overpriced, but I suspect the high-rolling crowd get all these comp'd, so it's irrelevant. I liked the fruit plate on the desk - complete with some kiwis and cherry tomatoes. Those unfamiliar with Chinese culture may not realize tomato is classified as a fruit, and the small size make it delicate enough (for the petite ladies) to be bite-sized.The Samsung TV is appropriately sized at 65", and this is primarily controlled by the tablet (there is a remote) but is also connected to a jack pack (HDMI / power etc.) elegantly hidden in a unit behind the desk, which raises and recedes at the press of illuminated buttons. Very nice touch! It's most unfortunate that when I pulled the TV out on the swing bracket, the heavy cover protecting the cable management system and conduits, fell off onto the floor - just missing my shoeless toes, but slightly damaging the table beneath it. The locking keys were still inside the unit, and obviously the installers overlooked the locking function and removal of the keys. Such things happen during openings, and I hope all rooms will now be checked.At the best of times, I'm a light sleeper (hence I have now started to use Bose Sleep buds) - with the slightest sound waking me up, and at 4am when some of my neighbors returned to their rooms (perhaps from the casino) they woke me up as their loud voices channeled itself from the corridor into my room. On the bright side - that afforded me another opportunity to continue my research into the workings of the room rather than stare at the ceiling and counting sheep...The bathroom is very spacious and had two circular deep wash basins - one of which had a drawer beneath it housing the Dyson hairdryer (another nice touch), and the other had various amenities. On the vanity itself as in other areas of the room were small bottles of Evian water. I was very happy with this since it's my drink of choice. The selection of amenities was good, and I do like it when there is a real bar of soap and also a little bottle of mouthwash. Towels were fluffy (new of course) and two bathrobes (L & M) were hung on the outer wall of the shower. I did not use the tub, but the rain shower was excellent - nice temperature and full pressure. Definitely no flow restrictor device used here. There was a telescopic make-up mirror, and a stool to sit in for those who need cosmetic engineering. And I would say, for once, the lighting levels were correct. Just a shame there were no other hooks in the bathroom.The bathroom is separated from the bedroom via a heavy looking sliding door - but in reality, a gentle tug sees it close/open on its own and should something like a child get in the path during motion, a light sensor stops it in its tracks. A nicely thought-out idea - and probably one of the many costly items in the room.Well, what else can I say about the room? It was comfortable - but not one I'd use for a business trip. There was no desk per se, but it was light, comfy and well-appointed. It also had plenty of power sockets and toys to play with. There are definitely some teething issues, and it will need a second look over, if only just to remove the protective covers on some of the chair legs, and transparent plastic protective covers on the power socket under the vanity.As to the rest of the Hotel - there is a lot to see! There is an impressive pool area, perfect as a background for Instagram moments. There is also a very fancy looking discreet Chinese restaurant complete with its own Art Space, and yet to open Cigar Lounge (put me on the invite list when it does - hint hint).Celebrity Chef Alain Ducasse has two outlets in MORPHEUS and along with two HTNG colleagues, we tried out Voyages for dinner - the more casual of the two. This was a great experience. The staff, who incidentally wear trainers, were well trained, and each dish was well prepared and tasty. It's a fusion-type fare, with sharing plates and reasonable prices for what you get. Table water is Badoit (would have preferred Evian) and this is served in a designer-glass with an embedded colored marble attached to the base.The menu included an amuse bouche and some homemade chocolates to round off the meal - giving a welcome sugar rush to help you segue into the casino for a late-night session. One of my fellow diners ordered a Negroni and this was prepared table-side from a cart with all the flair you would expect from such a place. The drinks included a huge ball of ice - and my other fellow diner was so intrigued with this that he requested one for his water. Apart from the fact all desserts include ice cream or sorbet, I'd recommend a visit to Voyages. It's not overly pretentious and it has just the right amount of casualness for me and the food was memorable.If you are a high roller aka Whale, its likely you will be treated to a stay in one of their forty duplex villas which I had the unique opportunity to tour. This suite is HUGE - it has a couple of bedrooms, a karaoke room (hopefully sound proofed), giant 4-tile TV in the living space, dining area and a bar complete with cigar humidor, cutter and torch, but sans cigars. There is a Chinese tea ceremony set, kitchen, gym and massage room including his and hers massage tables. I understand the Villa has a private gaming room - but sadly, I did not have the opportunity to see that. To help you get up and down the stairs, there's an elevator - and although the travelling distance is around 30 feet - the journey time is over 1-minute. Views from the villas are as you would expect - sensational, and the Butler will take care of all your needs. I was told a few even have their own internal jacuzzi pool.Whichever way you look at it - MORPHEUS is a dream - for both COD and Zaha Hadid. Together, they've done a great job in making this dream come true. It still needs some polish and refinement (that undoubtedly will happen over time), and the Macau community should be proud to add this to their already glitzy stock of Hotels.

Creating the paperless hotel

Pertlink Limited ·By Terence Ronson
Have you ever thought about how much paper is still in use - mostly needlessly - in your hotel? Terence Ronson has. For The Hotel Yearbook, he makes the rounds and tallies up all the forms, reports, work orders, requests, lists, folios, CVs, POs, menus, forecasts.... The results are not pretty - and certainly not sustainable.

Creating the paperless hotel

Pertlink Limited ·By Terence Ronson
Have you ever thought about how much paper is still in use - mostly needlessly - in your hotel? Terence Ronson has. For The Hotel Yearbook, he makes the rounds and tallies up all the forms, reports, work orders, requests, lists, folios, CVs, POs, menus, forecasts.... The results are not pretty - and certainly not sustainable.
Article by Terence Ronson

The next 12 months in Hotel Tech

Pertlink Limited · 8 September 2017
It's that time of the year again when I gaze deeply into my virtual crystal ball and speculate what the technology trends for the next 12 months in the hotel industry will be - so here goes.Firstly, I believe there will be a tectonic shift at the heart of the industry - Property Management Systems (PMS). For far too long, many have been fixated on the importance of this tool, beholden to less than a handful of players (whom some people allege operate monopolistic practices), locking both corporate and individuals into platforms they do not enjoy using, but are paying highly inflated fees for.Advances in technology - both hardware and software as well as use of Cloud services and the emergence of a plethora of start-ups to replace PMS, will make a significant dent into this space. In fact, the ground is already shifting, exacerbated by the often-bureaucratic policies these major players employ to protect their service contracts.Another area of contention is Point of Sale (POS). For far too long servers have been tethered to fixed terminals for order entry. That will inevitably change when benefits of tableside ordering outweigh this long-held practice. With prices for Android tablets becoming more competitive, everyone can be given their own to use on shift which would greatly enhance the efficiency and service levels of these often-low paid employees. Enhanced service by the server, could lead to better customer satisfaction and can result in a higher tip.Since eWallets have become main stream (they are easily identifiable as they all have "pay" at the end of their branding), cash and credit cards as we know and love will slowly fade away. As use of eWallets increase, QR codes for payments will become more popular.The printing of folios must disappear from the checkout process, and will simply be emailed to the appropriate department for processing. If a guest needs a receipt, then a POS type receipt could be issued similar to those issued in supermarkets or Apple store. One innovative hotel group - Aryaduta Hotels already practice this in Indonesia, and so if they can do it, WHY CAN'T THE REST FOLLOW?Robots are rapidly finding their ways in hotels, not just as fun things behind the Reception counter like we've seen in Japan where a Tyrannosaurus Rex greets you. They are now becoming functional like the Savioke's Relay which delivers housekeeping amenities and I suspect very soon, food. Some hotels already use these for replenishing housekeeping trolleys and supplies overnight when service elevators are used less.Voice activated rooms are still in their infancy, but given the advances of so many platforms developing their own voice and back-end AI systems, these will grow in popularity and usefulness. Concerns will remain about open mics, privacy and language handling, but the commercial opportunities will drive the suppliers to overcome these hurdles. If you have not seen the funny spoof video called "Eleven" whereby two Scotsman try and use a voice-activated elevator, it will make you chuckle. Jokes aside, voice has a place whether for people with disabilities (PWD), or for my favourite -- for integration with phone functions to replace the remaining dinosaur in hotel rooms - the telephone.I know I always talk about Wearables, and hope this year will be the year they finally make it. I continue to be bullish on their usefulness. The next Apple Watch version 3 is rumoured to have a SIM inside, so this will enhance its attractiveness. And once developers step up to the challenge of recognizing this new revenue stream, more apps will be generated. So, it will come... in time.Security is a major concern with threats both externally and internally. I cannot stress enough the importance of focusing on this critical area and making sure the network which every aspect of your business runs over, is nuke-proof. There are a lot of malicious groups out there intent on adding hotels to their Hit list (including the Russians!), so please recruit an ethical hacker to test and certify your defences. Whilst it won't be 100%, your CSR (Client Social Responsibility) will be met.See you in 2018!1st appeared in HOTEL TECH Conference program 7 SEP 2017

Cuba - A land that time forgot...

Pertlink Limited ·19 July 2017
For a photographer, a voyeur of architecture, a history buff, a 50's car enthusiast, a Rum or cigar lover - this has to be on your list of must see - a bucket list item of the highest magnitude. You require a Visa to enter Cuba. Check the Cuban government's website to locate the nearest city where you can obtain one. Before the plane descends into Havana, the crew will spray the cabin for bugs. And be prepared to wait an hour for your luggage after you de-plane (have water and a fan with you - it's hot!). They x-ray everything and bags come out 1-by-1. The ride into town is about 30 minutes, and after sunset, some of the streets are pitch black and riddled with pot holes. They tell me Cuba is a safe place. And they could be right as I never felt threatened while walking the streets late into the night.Don't expect to go to Cuba to bathe in luxury, or experience haute cuisine either. It just isn't there. On the whole, the people seem friendly - but it's one of the world's cultures that they don't know what they don't know - and if you expect a five-star experience, you will be sadly disappointed - especially when paying five star prices for some things such as internationally publicised accommodations and meals at so-called, top restaurants. Going out for a drink - a Mojito, Daiquiri or Cuba Libre - which one must at least try once when in Havana, can vary in taste from place to place - but the prices are very similar. A meal too can vary tremendously in both quantity and quality - regardless of what you pay. There is often a disconnect between cost and product. Veggie options are available, but don't over expect simply because the raw materials lack in availability and quality. Cabbage, carrots, onions, sweet potato and tomatoes are the staple veggies - and long grain rice (that's not the Asian type). For water drinkers like me, Aqua Panna and San Pellegrino are readily available, as well as a local spring water. Tap water is not potable.If you seek international fast food fare - forget it. It does not exist. None of the names populating the high streets across the globe can be found here. Not even a clone. And if you want to use a public toilet (even in a restaurant), best to take your own tissues and wet wipes with you and be prepared to tip the Attendant.One thing you will find is consistent inconsistencies - one day something will be prepared or cleaned in a certain manner, and the next time, it's very different. Yes, this is a Training and Management issue, but like I said earlier, they don't know what they don't know and the talent pool is very thin.Hotels can perform currency exchange, but it's probably best to go to a money changer - "CADECA". However, be prepared to wait in a queue under the hot sun for possibly 30-60 minutes as they process one by one inside a small shop guarded by a security guard sat on a chair inside a cool room, operating the manual lock. Oh, and did I say, they close for lunch? ATM's are few and far between, and reject most international cards especially if they have a US link. You may be best to warn your bank card provider that you are going to Cuba to let them unblock the card. Phone roaming may also be an issue.There are several wonderful watering holes around. Often Hotel lobbies serve drinks and snacks, and they are sometimes accompanied by live music that can be quite outstanding. If there is anything that marks life in Havana - it's the abundance of amazing musical talent in almost ever bar in the city. "No smoking" areas are limited, and so you will likely be seated adjacent to someone enjoying a Cuban cigar - sold at that establishment, and lit by the Cigar Sommelier. That's an interesting experience since they use wooden spills (made from the box liners - Spanish Cedar) to light the cigar versus a lighter, or heaven forbid, a candle or matches. Prices vary from 10-15 CUC for a decent smoke. There are a few Pastelaria's around town (frequented by locals), and a famous one is close by Hotel Inglaterra where you can find a coffee and Palmier type pastry at a very inexpensive price.Taking a ride around the city in a taxi can be quite a treat! Parked along some central city squares are a wide array of colourful vintage 50's automobiles that operate as taxis to choose from, some with open tops (no Aircon). Or you can simply hail a yellow cab. Be prepared to negotiate before taking off on your journey. The vintage cars could be 30-40 CUC per hour. It would be a shame not to take one of these rides having gone all this way. They are an Instagram dream!Probably best to take an arranged tour to see the places of interest such as Revolution Square, the cemetery, museums, old city, Hemingway's hangouts and the cigar factory etc. These can range from half to full day and with or without lunch. Your Hotel concierge will direct you to the Tour Desk ran by one of the government's agencies like Gaviota. Your guide will speak English, and expect a tip. Take water and a hat. Try and take in a performance at the Opera House - it's a fabulous place with superb performances in a world class setting. Quite an experience!Internet is available in some locations and accessed by a pre-paid card - sometimes issued (free) by your Hotel. You need to sign on using 2 x 12-digit access codes, which you have to key in each time your device shuts down, or when you get thrown off the wifi. The card lasts 72-hours. Speed is acceptable. VPN's work...and may be required for some services like Viber. As I said, a visit to a cigar factory can be arranged - we went to Partagas which is very close to the city centre and not far from the Romeo y Julieta factory and shop. Here you will witness the process of leaf selection, rolling and bundling of cigars as well as labels being attached. What you won't see is the final selection process, and boxing - this is something off limits - and I wonder if that's part of their secret sauce. Cigars can be purchased at the RYJ shop -and expect to find the usual suspects - mostly Robusto sizes, and a very limited selection of upscale brands like Cohiba and Trinidad. You can buy single sticks, variety packs in small cello bags, or boxes. They are all fresh in nature, and most likely best to age them if you can avoid the temptation to light up. No limit as far as I can tell in regards the quantity you can buy. Cigars are touted along the streets, but I was not tempted to purchase what could well have been fakes. If you seek an upscale cigar experience, I recommend the newly opened Cohiba Cigar Atmosphere shop and lounge in the Gran Manzana complex. Here you can enjoy a reasonably priced smoke with a Cuban coffee in air-conditioned surroundings and a very comfy chair. The staff will also perform the lighting ceremony for you. If coffee is not your thing, they have alcohol and cocktails. Don't know if they do snacks. Remember, nearly all businesses are government run - so when you buy something or consume a service, you are invariably supporting the regime - something the current US President is very anti. In fact, apart from souvenirs - hats, t-shirts and cotton shopping bags, rum and cigars, as well as cost of Hotel, travel and dining, there is not much else you can spend your money on. There are no malls, or corner shops. Having said that, a small gallery of boutique shops had just opened at the same Gran Manzana complex, but it's unlikely you will shop there as the selection is limited.Better spend your time walking around Old Havana, enjoying the sights of imposing and impressive buildings and imagine what life must have been in its glory days and listen to the lustful sounds of Cuban music drifting from the bars as you walk along the streets willing you to come in and dance to the irresistible beat of the salsa. Cuba - a must see!
Article by Terence Ronson

DO's and DON'Ts of Hotel Technology - v2015

Pertlink Limited · 9 June 2015
With HITEC 2015 just around the corner, Terence Ronson of Pertlink shares a wide-ranging list of tech-related ideas to implement... and mistakes to avoid! Common-sense stuff, and yet pure genius! DO'SUse digital signage instead of printed postersPut some free bottles of drinking water in the mini bar so that they are nice and coolCheck all the peep holes on guest room doors to make sure they are secure and the right way roundMount irons on wall brackets in closets instead of placing them on the floor or shelves - tidier and easier for Guest accessClearly display broadband charges, if your hotel has any - and have a disclaimer sign-on page especially if your Government requires itMake it easy to switch off all lights in the guestroom from the bed - especially the bathroom and Vestibule lightsSimplify the process of plugging in a hairdryer, shaver, or electric toothbrush in the bathroomMake the lighting in the bathroom bright enough for doing makeup/grooming - ask a Woman to check itHave an illuminated make-up mirror in the bathroomHave a de-fogging mirror in the bathroomHave universal power sockets with USB power sockets beside the bed, at the desk, and easily available for guest-use in public areas, especially Lobby Lounges, Dining areas, Club Lounges and Poolside - also have international adaptors handyHave an emergency torch/flashlight in the guest roomOffer free boarding pass printing in Business centersProvide equal quantity of Apple computers in the business center, as Window's PC'sHave a selection of Apple Notebook power adaptors and connection adaptors available for a guest to borrow in case they accidentally forget theirs at home. Same applies to iPhone/iPod, Blackberries and other popular devices.Use wireless mice at the Front DeskHave a smartphone compliant version of your hotel data file available for download on your website at the same time make sure your website is mobile device compliantWork with your system providers so that they produce eForms and not printed reports - especially Registration cards and FoliosMake sure excess power and data and power cables are neatly tied, or cut to the right length. If that is not possible - cover them somehowHave a simple but easy to read digital clock in the bathroomEncourage staff to bring laptops or Tablets to meetings and use them for note taking and not use paper pads. This helps them multi-task and be paperless.Have easily accessible universal power sockets with USB power sockets in Meeting rooms since more and more people bring tech with them and need powerHave a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray lending library if you still have such a player in the guestroomHave your Concierge know where is the Apple Service Center and also other popular brands like IBM, DELL, Lenovo, Asus, Samsung, Xiaomi, HTC and BlackberryHave a person or system to constantly monitor social networking sites for mentions about your hotel and respond appropriately and in a timely manner - make responses sound like they are from humans, and not scriptedHave competent front line staff on-property who can deal with Guest TECH queries - make sure they have the requisite troubleshooting, social and interpersonal skills as wellRealize that when you buy technology - you need a support agreement as well - and this often doubles the Tech cost over 4-5 years. Work out a 5-year TCOPut a notice on your HSIA sign-up screen that your government may block access to certain websites and internet services if they apply to you. Have your IT People know how to workaround this if the Guest asks - such as a VPNCheck your TV channel reception from time to time and make sure it's nice and clear and the sound is in sync with the pictureMake sure the electronic door lock on the guest room door closes quickly when the door shutsCheck the speed, noise and effectiveness of the air-con fan coil in the guest roomPrint your IM address on your Business card like a Skype ID, Whatsapp or WE CHAT - maybe even use a QR codePut an internet browsing station in the Staff Canteen for Staff to check email, and fill up forms or requests during breaksEncourage your Guests to also perform a virtual Check-in to such sites as Facebook and Foursquare when they physically Check-in to your establishmentEncourage your Guests to post photos of their food on Facebook, Foursquare and Instagram - and consider printing your name on the chinaware so it's captured in the photo - free advertisingGet your technology vendors to update you twice a year on their roadmap - maybe under NDAAdd CCTV cameras inside your Data Center - one that is directed to the server racks and the other, to the entrance doorUse electronic locks with audit trails on your Server racks - not just metal keysRemember that guest's trust their mobile phones to wake them up - more than they do your wake-up call service or alarm clock next to the bedPerform regular complete system and data backups and store them off-siteConsider placing a 'dock extender' cable into the cable pack that you may be placing in your rooms so that a Guest can connect an iPad to the iPod/iPhone dock you are providingHave staff who do in-room check-in, offer to help guests connect their computer to the HSIA/Wi-Fi as well as make them an Espresso should you have such a machine in the roomAllow guest's to tailor make their fruit basket if you plan to give them one - not everyone likes green apples and pears - same goes for turndown amenity - not everyone wants or can eat chocolates or sweet items. Do use local fruits where available.Offer ePostcards from your websiteHave a shelf in the toilet cubicle where guest's can place their mobile phone/Tablet and maybe a bookWork in your own guestroom from time to time and see how comfortable and practical it is - especially the height of the chair in relation to the desk - or location of the TV and speed of the internetUse a bio-metric reader or PIN pad for staff entrance/egress that is linked to the Time and Attendance/Payroll SystemMake sure the light inside the wardrobe does switch off when the door is closedMake sure your room safe is bolted down to a floor or wall and cannot be easily removedMonitor the TV volume in the guest room so that it can go down very low and not too high. Some guests like to leave the TV on all night but at a very low background volumeHave the TV sound mute when the phone ringsHave a very low nightlight in the bathroom/toiletDeploy the very best cabling backbone you can - even fiber to the roomAllow Guests of Residential Conferences to use the same LOGIN ID and Password that they use in the Guestroom for access to the WI-FI in the Meeting Room - don't make them pay or Log-in twiceEncourage Guests to communicate with your Hotel through popular Social Networking sites such as Facebook and TwitterHave air-conditioning auto cut-off in the Guest room if balcony doors are left openMake USB power points available at tables in all-day-dining facilitiesInstall Room Control Units (RCU) in guest rooms interfaced to PMS to reduce your energy costsConsider using Motion/Presence [PIR] detectors rather than key cards to control energy in-roomCheck from time to time in-the-floor power sockets - the metal type which are supposed to lift up when the clip if flicked - most often they stick after a while having been covered with floor polish and dustTalk to your HSIA/Wi-Fi provider about 'roaming agreements' and having pass-thru services to such membership services as Boingo and iPassConsider having a secure place where Guests can deposit their valuables and gadgets at the poolside or beach if they want to take a dip in the pool or use the sauna - perhaps make Ziploc bags availableHave Wi-Fi at the poolside and BeachTest your [magnetic] key cards to see if they de-magnetize when placed next to a mobile phone - often they do and is a great inconvenience to the guest as well as an operational choreEncourage Guest contact staff to attach VCF files in emailsConsider using QR codes on your printed materials and special e-Coupon offersPut your Hotel onto Skype and encourage that as a method of communication with GuestsRecycle used laser toner cartridgesThink about installing a LTE/4/3G mobile hotspot in the Airport Limo so the Guest can use the service to/from the airportHave your IT team join such organizations as HFTP, HTNG and CHTP so that they keep up to date with Hotel Technology - you should also sponsor them as well as have them attend various Conferences and ExhibitionsConsider carefully all the implications of Cloud Computing to include: Loss of connection, Data Security and Data PrivacyLooking into MDM - Mobile Device Management if such devices are connected to your network and/or supplied by youRegularly check and install Service Packs and software upgradesDONTsUse Walkie Talkies in public areas without issuing staff with discreet ear piecesConsider PTT (Push To Talk) alternate services/apps that can run on Smartphones i.e. ZelloDeploy connectivity aux or connectivity panels without having in-room cable kits to include up-to-date connectors such as used on iPhone 5/6Put a bedside clock that makes a ticking soundCharge for local phone calls unless you really have toMake it difficult to use a mouse on the Guest Room desk by using one with a glass surface - put a mouse mat in the drawerAutomatically do dynamic currency conversion on credit card transactions - be sure to have the customer approve this in advanceCharge exorbitant rates for printing a couple of A4 sheets in the business center or scanning 1-pageIssue replacement room keys without first seeing a valid photo IDOpen a Guest Room door without first seeing a valid photo ID or some other form of guest ID validationAllow staff to use thumb drives in work computers or connect mobile devices - this is often how data is lost and a virus introducedPrint reports - circulate PDF versions onlySend faxes when you can send PDFs with emailsUse worn out ribbons on printers - especially Point of Sale printers in F&B outletsAssume your backup power generator will auto-start if there is a mains power failure. Test it regularlyPrint folios - only email themUse paper registration cards - use electronic onesInstall both wired and wireless internet in your Guest Rooms when doing a new installation. Just having Wi-Fi is acceptable by most people and will save you a lot of money - the Sales department will guide youAssume all guests use an iPod, iPhone or iPad - believe it or not, there are many other successful products and operating systems in the marketplacePut "last updated..." on your website if you don't do it frequentlyPut the number of visitors to your website - no one really caresPut a chair at the desk which is difficult to pull out, heavy or is uncomfortable to sit in - even if it looks niceJust limit guests to connect two or three items to the Wi-Fi in the guestroom - often guests carry many more devices, especially if a couple are staying and with kids. Usual quantity is 10 devices per room.Clutter the desk with collaterals and printed materials - make them digital and multi-lingual - e.g. in Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and RussianJust believe that by putting loads of technology into your hotel that the guest experience will be enhanced or that the guest will appreciate itPlace a loudspeaker in the bathroom unless it has a volume control and the sound quality is goodJust rely on the technology to operate your business - it will fail and at the worst possible time. Make sure you have a contingency plan in place for ALL systems and test it periodicallyChange any configuration on a guest's computer unless they ABSOLUTELY agree and you have a written record of the changes madeHave multiple phones in the Guest room unless you really need to. One is usually enough.Allow iPods, MP3 players or similar devices in the workplace to be connected to your computersPrint anything - only have electronic versions of all your collateralsMake it complicated for guests to use your technology - they may only stay one night and have no time to learn how to use all the gadgets and may not be as tech savvy as you think they areOvercharge for IDD calls - see if you can connect your PBX to a VOIN (Voice over Internet) service such as Skype to reduce the calling costsLend guest's headsets in the gym unless they have been pre-sterilized and you can prove itAllow social networking connections on workplace computers unless it's for workHave water pipes inside your computer room or data centerJust have a single cooling source for your Data Center - have a backupHave so many TV channels that it's difficult for the guest to quickly access what they really want to watch and make sure then it's re-switched on, it goes back to the last channel watched and only re-sets upon check-outPut a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray player in the Guest room unless there is already a disc inside for the guest to quickly listen to or watchOperate a 1-button Call Center unless the staff who take the call are full trained to handle ALL queries and in various languagesPut a 4-in-1 copier/scanner/printer/fax machine in the guestroom with just 2 or 3 sheets of paper inside for the guest to print on - include at least 20 sheetsUse a cloud printing service to the in-room printer you are providing - some guests are bound by company confidentiality policies not to send data outside of their network and so cannot use such services, even if they are hosted by a reputable company - just add a USB cableHave electronic curtains/drapes unless they can be opened/closed from the bed as well as via a simple wall switch that the guest is aware ofPut a hairdryer in the bathroom that is underpowered - and don't hide it - ask a Woman to check it before selectingPut a reading lamp at the bed which is so powerful and direct that it can burn your Guest's foreheadAdjust the temperature in the Guestroom if the guest sets it at a certain level. Only reset it upon check-out.Use Flash on your website unless you really have to - not all popular Smartphones or Tablets can handle FlashOnly put a keycard reader on one side of the elevator car if you have floor call buttons on both sides. And from time to time, check they both workInstall an LCD TV in such a away that the Guest cannot access the connectivity ports and by doing so, they can directly connect their own devices for playbackCreate an app for your Hotel just for the sake of it - and all it does is make reservations. Let it be informative about your property and a guide to all the various services and amenities you provide. It will after all be your Shop window in the palm of someone's hand and directly reflect your brand values.Write "Data Center" or "Computer Room" on the door of such a place - you are inviting trouble. Better to write "Authorized access only"Use illegal software - do a license audit from time to time

2015 "Do's" and "Don'ts" of hotel technology

Pertlink Limited ·By Terence Ronson
Terence Ronson of Pertlink shares with The Hotel Yearbook a wide-ranging list of tech-related ideas to implement... and mistakes to avoid! Common-sense stuff, and yet pure genius!

The wearables are coming!

Pertlink Limited ·By Terence Ronson
In one sense, wearable technology has been around for a long time. Our grandparents (maybe even our great-grandparents) wore a wristwatch, the most basic of all wearable technologies. But looking at their potential to change the way we compute, analyze, measure and communicate in the not-too-distant future, it seems clear that wearable devices are barely at the threshold of a new era. Terence Ronson of Pertlink shares his thoughts.

All guests want are the Three C's

Pertlink Limited ·By Terence Ronson
In hotels, technology has the power to make things easy for the guests... or make them complicated. Terence Ronson, one of the hotel industry's true polymaths, boils down the needs of our guests to three simple precepts.
Article by Terence Ronson

DO's and DON'TS of Hotel Technology v5

Pertlink Limited ·29 April 2013
On what can be described as the eve of AHTEC@HOFEX 2013, it's the perfect time to update our ever-popular DO's and DON'TSof Hotel Technology.Should you have something to add to the list, please send it to us for our next update.DO'sUse digital signage instead of printed postersPut some free bottles of water in the mini bar so that they are nice and coolCheck all the peep holes on guest room doors to make sure they are secure and the right way roundMount irons on wall brackets in closets instead of placing them on the floor or shelvesClearly display broadband charges, if your hotel has any and have a sign-on page if your Government so requires itMake it easy to switch off all lights in the Guestroom from the bed - especially the bathroom and Vestibule lightsMake it easy to plug in a hairdryer, shaver, or electric toothbrush in the bathroomMake the lighting in the bathroom bright enough for doing makeup - ask a Woman to check itHave an illuminated make-up mirror in the bathroomHave universal power sockets with USB power sockets easily available for guest-use in public areas, especially Lobby Lounges, Dining areas, Club Lounges and Poolside - also have international adaptors handyHave an emergency torch/flashlight in the guest roomOffer free boarding pass printing in Business centersProvide Apple computers in the business center, and not just Window's PC'sHave an Apple Notebook power adaptor available for a guest to borrow in case they accidentally forget theirs at home. Same applies to iPhone/iPod, Blackberries and other popular devices.Use wireless mice at the Front DeskHave a smartphone compliant version of your hotel data file available for download on your website at the same time make sure your website is mobile compliantWork with your system providers so that they produce eForms and not printed reports - especially Registration cards and FoliosMake sure excess power and data and power cables are neatly tied, or cut to the right length. If that is not possible, cover them somehowHave a simple but easy to read digital clock in the bathroomEncourage staff to bring laptops or Tablets to meetings and use them for note taking and not use paper padsHave easily accessible universal power sockets with USB power sockets in Meeting rooms as more and more people bring tech with them and need powerHave plenty of Universal power sockets with USB power sockets by the Guestroom desk, or if not possible, place a small power bar in the desk drawer complete with adaptorHave a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray lending library if you have such a player in the GuestroomHave your Concierge know where is the Apple Service Center and also other popular brands like IBM, DELL, Lenovo, Asus, Samsung, HTC and BlackberryHave a person or system to monitor social networking sites for mentions about your hotel and respond appropriately and in a timely mannerHave competent front line staff on-property who can deal with Guest TECH queries - make sure they have the requisite social and interpersonal skills as wellMonitor what is written about your Hotel on Social networking sites like Trip AdvisorHave easily accessible empty power sockets at the LEFT and RIGHT side of the bed - for Guest use only - with USB power sockets not needing adaptorsRealize that when you buy technology - you need a support agreement as well - and this often doubles the Tech cost over 4-5 yearsPut a notice on your HSIA sign-up screen that your government may block access to certain websites and internet services if they apply to you. Have your IT People know how to workaround this if the Guest asksCheck your TV channel reception from time to time and make sure it's nice and clearMake sure the electronic door lock on the guest room door closes quickly when the door shutsCheck the speed, noise and effectiveness of the air-con fan coil in the guest roomPrint your IM address on your Business card like a Skype ID - maybe even use a QR codePut an internet browsing station in the Staff Canteen for Staff to check email during breaksEncourage your Guests to also perform a virtual Check-in to such sites as Facebook and Foursquare when they physically Check-in to your establishmentGet your technology vendors to update you twice a year on their roadmap - maybe under NDAAdd CCTV cameras inside your Data Center - one that is directed to the server racks and the other, to the entrance doorUse electronic locks on your Server racks - not just metal keysRemember that guest's trust their mobile phones to wake them up - more than they do your wake-up call servicePerform regular complete system and data backups and store them off-siteConsider placing a 'dock extender' cable into the cable pack that you may be placing in your rooms so that a Guest can connect an iPad to the iPod/iPhone dock you are providingHave iPhone 5 adaptors on handHave staff who do in-room check-in, offer to help guests connect their computer to the HSIA/Wi-Fi as well as make them an Espresso should you have such a machine in the roomAllow guest's to tailor make their fruit basket if you plan to give them one - not everyone likes green apples and pears - same goes for turndown amenity - not everyone wants or can eat chocolates or sweet itemsOffer ePostcards from your websiteHave a shelf in the toilet cubicle where guest's can place their mobile phone/Tablet and maybe a bookWork in your own guestroom from time to time and see how comfortable and practical it is - especially the height of the chair in relation to the deskUse a bio-metric reader or PIN pad for staff entrance/egress that is linked to the Time and Attendance/Payroll SystemMake sure the light inside the wardrobe does switch off when the door is closedConsider [carefully] about moving some of your IT Services to the Cloud - make sure you fully understand the small print on the SLA (Service Level Agreement) about 'uptime', 'data ownership' and 'migration' from property based systems - also data privacy and security issuesMake sure your room safe is bolted down to a floor or wall and cannot be easily removedMonitor the TV volume in the guest room so that it can go down very low and not too high. Some guests like to leave the TV on all night but at a very low background volumeHave a very low nightlight in the bathroom/toiletDeploy the very best cabling backbone you canAllow Guests of Residential Conferences to use the same LOGIN ID and Password that they use in the Guestroom for access to the WI-FI in the Meeting Room - don't make them pay or Log-in twiceEncourage Guests to communicate with your Hotel through popular Social Networking sites such as Facebook and TwitterHave air-conditioning auto cut-off in the Guest room if balcony doors are left openConsider using Motion/Presence [PIR] detectors rather than key cards to control energy in-roomCheck from time to time in-the-floor power sockets - the metal type which are supposed to lift up when the clip if flicked - most often they stick after a while having been covered with floor polish and dustTalk to your HSIA/Wi-Fi provider about 'roaming agreements' and having pass-thru services to such membership services as Boingo and iPassConsider having a secure place where Guests can deposit their valuables and gadgets at the poolside or beach if they want to take a dip in the pool or use the saunaHave Wi-Fi at the poolside and BeachTest your [magnetic] key cards to see if they de-magnetize when placed next to a mobile phone - often they do and is a great inconvenience to the guest as well as an operational choreEncourage Guest contact staff to attach VCF files in emailsConsider using QR codes on your printed materials and special e-Coupon offersPut your Hotel onto Skype and encourage that as a method of communication with GuestsRecycle used laser toner cartridgesThink about installing a 3G mobile hotspot in the Airport Limo so the Guest can use the service to/from the airportHave your IT team join such organizations as HFTP and HTNG so that they keep up to date with Hotel Technology - you should also sponsor them as well as have them attend various Conferences and ExhibitionsConsider carefully all the implications of Cloud Computing to include: Loss of connection, Data Security and Data PrivacyLooking into MDM - Mobile Device Management if such devices are connected to your network and/or supplied by youRegularly check and install Service Packs and software upgradesDON'TSUse Walkie Talkies in public areas without issuing staff with discreet ear piecesDeploy connectivity aux or connectivity panels without having in-room cable kits to include up-to-date connectors such as use don iPhone 5Put a bedside clock that makes a ticking soundCharge for local phone calls unless you really have toMake it difficult to use a mouse on the Guest Room desk by using one with a glass surface - put a mouse mat in the drawerAutomatically do dynamic currency conversion on credit card transactions - be sure to have the customer approve this in advanceCharge exorbitant rates for printing a couple of A4 sheets in the business centerIssue replacement room keys without first seeing a valid photo IDAllow staff to use thumb drives in work computersPrint reports - circulate PDF versions onlySend faxes when you can send PDFs with emailsUse worn out ribbons on printers - especially Point of Sale printers in F&B outletsAssume your backup power generator will auto-start if there is a mains power failure. Test it regularlyPrint folios - email themUse paper registration cards - use electronic onesInstall both wired and wireless internet in your Guest Rooms when doing a new installation. Just having Wi-Fi is acceptable by most people and will save you a lot of moneyAssume all guests use an iPod, iPhone or iPad - believe it or not, there are other successful products in the marketplacePut "last updated..." on your website if you don't do it frequentlyPut the number of visitors to your website - no one really caresPut a chair at the desk which is difficult to pull out or is uncomfortable to sit in - even if it looks niceJust limit guests to connect two or three items to the Wi-Fi in the Guestroom - often guests carry many more devices, especially if a couple are staying and with kidsClutter the desk with collaterals and printed materials - make them digital and multi-lingual - e.g. in Chinese and RussianJust believe that by putting loads of technology into your hotel that the guest experience will be enhanced or that the guest will appreciate itPlace a loudspeaker in the bathroom unless it has a volume control and the sound quality is goodJust rely on the technology to operate your business - it will fail and at the worst possible time. Make sure you have a contingency plan in place for ALL systems and test it periodicallyChange any configuration on a guest's computer unless they ABSOLUTELY agree and you have a written record of the changes madeHave multiple phones in the Guest room unless your really need toAllow iPods, MP3 players or similar devices in the workplace to be connected to your computersPrint anything - only have electronic versions of all your collateralsMake it complicated for guests to use your technology - they may only stay one night and have no time to learn how to use all the gadgets and may not be as tech savvy as you think they areOvercharge for IDD calls - see if you can connect your PBX to a VOIN (Voice over Internet) service to reduce the calling costsLend guest's headsets in the gym unless they have been pre-sterilizedAllow social networking connections on workplace computers unless it's for workHave water pipes inside your computer room or data centerJust have a single cooling source for your Data Center - have a backupHave so many TV channels that it's difficult for the guest to quickly access what they really want to watch and make sure then it's re-switched on, it goes back to the last channel watched and only re-sets upon check-outPut a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray player in the Guest room unless there is already a disc inside for the guest to quickly listen to or watchOperate a 1-button Call Center unless the staff who take the call are full trained to handle ALL queries and in various languagesPut a 4-in-1 copier/scanner/printer/fax machine in the Guestroom with just 2 or 3 sheets of paper inside for the guest to print on - include at least 20 sheetsUse a cloud printing service to the in-room printer you are providing - some guests are bound by company confidentiality policies not to send data outside of their network and so cannot use such services, even if they are hosted by a reputable company - just add a USB cableHave electronic curtains/drapes unless they can be opened/closed from the bed as well as via a simple wall switch that the guest is aware ofPut a hairdryer in the bathroom that is underpowered - and don't hide it - ask a Woman to check it before buyingPut a reading lamp at the bed which is so powerful and direct that it can burn your Guest's forehead44. Adjust the temperature in the Guestroom if the guest sets it at a certain level. Only reset it upon check-out.Use Flash on your website unless you really have to - not all popular Smartphones or Tablets can handle FlashOnly put a keycard reader on one side of the elevator car if you have floor call buttons on both sides. And from time to time, check they both workInstall an LCD TV in such a away that the Guest cannot access the connectivity ports and by doing so, they can directly connect their own devices for playbackCreate an app for your Hotel just for the sake of it - and all it does is make reservations. Let it be informative about your property and a guide to all the various services and amenities you provide. It will after all be your Shop window in the palm of someone's hand and directly reflect your brand values.Write "Data Center" or "Computer Room" on the door of such a place - you are inviting trouble. Better to write "Authorized access only"Use illegal software - do a license audit from time to time(c) Pertlink 2013
Article by Terence Ronson

Trends in Technology - Struck by Lightning

Pertlink Limited ·25 October 2012
It's impossible to talk about technology, without mentioning the word trends. The two are super glued together, and none more so than when we talk about Smartphones and the current craze revolving around the iPhone5.But honestly speaking, Hotels are not always so trendy when it comes to tech, often erring on the side of caution. They have painfully realized that trends and associated items come and go, and a current example of that pain is something the whole planet is now experiencing - the Lightning connector which Apple has thrown our way. It has definitely put a spanner in the works...and once again - 5 years on (is that a cycle I wonder), iOS has become a disruptive technology we all have to deal with.Having said that let's look at two of the key tech trends now affecting us:BYODWith such a great percentage of the population owning some kind of smart device (Phone or Tab) the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon is having a tsunami effect in the workplace and Hotel.Staff want to use and connect their devices to Company systems, and Guests want to use them in the Hotel for all manner of reasons. Both of these bring about a whole host of issues surrounding security, bandwidth, risk and cost.Firstly, when a staff member brings his or her own device into the workplace - you have to consider the security aspect of this. It's an expensive and desired object - maybe $500 and small enough to be stolen. Whose responsibility is that? Also, when connected to your network or systems, how do you lock down sensitive materials (like we used to do with thumb drives or portable hard disks) and stop them walking off property? Another issue is tracking bandwidth usage when you can't easily monitor what traffic is being down/uploaded.There is of course an upside to this and that is if the employee has personally expensed the item, then you have saved the $500 cost. Perhaps you have helped the cost burden to the employee by offering some sort of monthly rebate into their salary package, providing they stay with you for a period of time. Whatever the case, it's something that needs to be addressed and offset against the benefits you may be able to realize from their ownership of said unit.And when we talk about the Guest, there comes a whole new game we have to play - and there are, as of now, no rules - we are making them up as we go along.Don't for one minute underestimate how in love the Guest is with their device - it's become an extension to their anatomy - and I'm sure you've observed the new way of walking we've adapted to over the last five years as we hold the device in our hand at about a 30 degree angle from our face so we can see it, and it can be seen. Some people are even more in-your-face as they strut their stuff - holding Tabs and Notes up to their ears or in front of their faces to have a phone call or Face Time chat - you can make your own judgment as to how you feel about that.But seriously, the Guest has yet again become disruptive - and we have to deal with it. This one unlike a few specks of dirt cannot be swept under the rug in the hope it will go away.I know for example that the organization HTNG (Hotel Technology Next Generation) has set up workgroups to specifically deal with "devices" and how they can be managed on the Network. It's got a few very smart folks scratching their heads as to how to best get around this.But apart from the fact the Guest wants to control everything about their stay in your Hotel, like access control, lights, air-conditioning/heating, TV, DVD/BluRay, DND/MUR, order room service and other tasks, they also want to stream the content they have brought with them - and that's the BYOC part of this (Bring Your Own Content).BYOCNot quite as complex as the BYOD scenario, BYOC is when the Guest brings their own Movies, TV shows, music or other items that they want to playback on the devices in the room - mostly the TV, which you have so kindly provided.Traditional methods were to dock the digital device into a standalone player (now defunct thanks to Apple's Lightning connector unless you or your guest has a US$30 adaptor - which will not function on 100% of devices), or to plug it into a Jack Pack or Aux Panel - usually found on the desk which is not always where people want to stream from.But in the true fashion of trends, we now want to be un-wired and stream wirelessly to whatever is the playback unit of choice - be it speakers or a TV, and so there's the rub. Now you have to have Airplay or similar enabled devices to cope with this, and unless you are going through a refurb cycle (which maybe should coincide with Apple's 5-year cycle), then you are going to have to find a fix, to cope with this other trend.Good Luck!First appeared - Hotel Management Asia - Hotel Technology Guide - OCT 2012
Article by Terence Ronson (HITEC 2012 Review)

Where's the Secret Sauce?

Pertlink Limited · 6 July 2012
Walking the aisles is always a treat, you get to see, or at least try to see most of the world's vendors under one roof at one time. The Goliaths take up the center spots, whilst the newbies are parked on the periphery that as I've said before, probably has the next killer app. I admire the determination of those folks.Bumping into long lost buddies is always welcome, and this year was no exception. I think I did more handshaking and hugging in the aisles and at "networking events" than I did on actual booths. One individual was so pleased to see me that he insisted on taking our photo and posting it onto Facebook...Sadly though, I was unable to attend any of the education sessions, which greatly upset me - but there are only just so many show hours, and when you deduct HFTP and HTNG meetings as well as a few private briefing sessions, you are not left with very much availability. Still, I hope some were digitally captured for posterity, and I can play catch-up when they are finally distributed.But what I was in search of was THE SECRET SAUCE. So many folks use this term that I was hoping to taste it, or at least catch a whiff of it - but alas, it eluded me.At HITEC - I was on a mission. I wanted to find out how technology can justify itself in a Hotel. I'm realistic enough to understand that we can't operate Hotels without certain forms of technology, but how do we really measure the effectiveness of it, and justify the expense to Hotel Owners, who are themselves looking for an ROI on just about everything.Over the last 2,000 years that we've been operating Hotels - admittedly, there has been some improvement, or has there? In their most basic form they still provide the same thing - a place to break a journey, get some rest, something to eat and drink, and wash-up. How they do it, comes as many variations as there are colors on a Pantone color chart.A Hotel is simply broken down into two parts: Hardware - the physical building and systems, and Software, the people who make it run and whatever you say or think - give it a unique personality. Again, these come in many flavors, shapes and sizes, but the fundamentals are still the same.The Guest varies by Demographic, but all said and done at the end of the day, the needs and wants are the same - a clean, comfortable and affordable place to stay.So where's the problem in delivering this?Those of you who are regular readers of my BLOG - know that I often point out deficiencies in a Hotel that I have stayed, and my Baltimore and New York experiences were no exception. I will keep the names of the establishments out of the comments - but feel free to speculate:BALTIMOREOne night I wanted a cab. I asked the Bellboy who was standing around at the front of the Hotel (I assume this is his station) to help me get one - his job - I again assume. Few moments later he had hailed one, and it arrived into the Hotel's entrance area. He opened the door (I assume his job) and when I had sat down and told the driver where to take me - he promptly slammed the cab door realizing I was not going to tip him - for doing his job, that admittedly he's already paid to do. He walked away sulking...Then there was the fact that the Hotel does not change towels or linens on a daily basis - apparently to help save the planet... On two occasions they took my wet Bath Towel and hung it on the hook behind the bathroom door - where my dry T-shirt was already hanging, and so the T-shirt became wet, and unusable...Let's not forget the charge for Wi-Fi. I was categorically told by the lady who checked-me in that it was inclusive in my room rate. "Just log-on as normal" she said, and it will be taken care of - it was not. I was charged and not just for one connection in the room, but for multiple devices.Lastly, I sent three shirts to the laundry for cleaning so as not to schlepp too much dirty stuff around with me on the next leg of my journey. Two of the three shirts were returned with black oil stains on the front. *NEW YORKMy choice of Hotel was one that I last stayed at in 1975, and after making a booking on Agoda, I wrote a short note on the Hotel's Facebook page to say how much I was looking forward to coming back. After a few short hours, they responded saying how happy they were I was returning and looked forward to my visit. When I checked in, the Receptionist treated me like "a nobody", did not welcome me back, and gave me a sub-standard corner room. There was no Banana in my room - or even a Welcome back note from the GM. Come to think of it, for the 4 nights I was there, I did not see any Management in the public areas...My room (1448) had a stale odour, chipped wash basin, one of the blinds did not have a pull string, some walls had torn wall paper, one of the photos over the bed had "a stain" on the glass (I hate to think what that was...), one of the air vents was stained, and I had to pay for Wi-Fi although I'm 100% sure Agoda said it was inclusive.I was allowed two bottles of House drinking water per day from the automatic mini-bar. On two days, they were not replenished and I had to request them.One day, I returned to the Hotel after doing some shopping. The cab pulled up at the Hotel entrance and I opened the door in front of the Doorman who was busy counting his tips. To help get out of the cab, I lifted the bags off the back seat on to the ground, in front of the Doorman. Do you think he helped me? Dream on!I invited a friend for Dinner at the Hotel - in one of their signature restaurants - a steak house. Our so-called Waiter was the most un-attentive individual I have ever encountered. It was like it was such an effort for him to serve us. I heavily discounted his tip!OK - enough of that griping - let me get back to the main reason for this BLOG and that is the hunt for the Secret Sauce.Justifying tech expenditure is becoming more and more difficult, and I'm constantly challenging, as well as being challenged as to why we should be adopting certain Tech strategies, and to justify them. One of those might be for example, should we still put a HSIA wired port on the desk when most people connect over Wi-Fi? Another could be - do we need so many standard power sockets when people mostly require USB power. I ask myself, is USB the new Universal power socket?So, when I met up with three leading vendors at HITEC I was trying get a feel for this kind of justifiability. They specialize in the following areas:Point Of Sale and PMSIPTV/In-Room Entertainment and HSIAIn-room Tablet based services and appsWhat was I looking for?I was hoping that these companies could provide me with meaningful metrics on how their systems are being used - for example:1. Point Of Sale and PMSApart from Hospitality - these folks are also heavily involved in the Retail space servicing several leading high street retailers. These retailers' measurement of customer behavior is literally off the charts. They know, for example, what time people come in the store, what are the popular items they look for and buy, how long the average person stays in the store, how they pay, how often they come back, if something is on special what else they may be tempted to impulse buy, where items should be placed in the store, and of course the average transaction value. They also know to play different music at certain times of the day so you are either walking more quickly, or subdued to take more time to wander through the aisles.Questioning this Vendor if they take the info from their own PMS and compare it to the data from the PoS to see if certain demographics have additional purchases and what exactly they purchase, they look back at me with blank faces.With this type of data, could we do predictive analysis based on future business on-the-books and then used with revenue management systems, could support the decision making process as to which type of guest will yield more, and how certain offers in F&B or other areas of the Hotel may be attractive to them. They don't.2. IPTV/In-Room EntertainmentSimilarly, I asked these guys if they could tell me how certain types of Guests used the TV? Could they tell me for example if a specific Guest demographic stayed longer on HBO or BBC than others? How often was the TV remote clicked, how often was the TV used for wake up calls, or the PPV system used, again by a certain guest demographic. They could not.3. In-room Tablet based servicesTheir VP Sales and CTO told me that their solution was mainly used for: Wake up calls, requesting amenities and room make-up or turndown, and ordering room service. When questioned if they could tell me how many Guests used the device versus say calling down or speaking with a real member of staff, they could not. Could they then tell me which type of Guest likes to have a wake-up call, or request a room turndown, they could not!So, using just these three examples, I'm finding it hard to understand the justification process for (certain types of) technology in a Hotel.Saying these are service enablers, or add to the guest experience is no longer good enough - we have to have hard facts and I'm wondering how we can get these. Recently, one CTO of a major Asia based hotel group asked me if I had access to any reports which showed how guests were rating internet access - much like they would the comfort or cleanliness of a room, and I could not produce any. There was just anecdotal evidence to say Guest's need it, but how they enjoy consuming it, or paying for it, was not measured. At least I could not find any information to substantiate this.Then another question is niggling at the back of my mind. If we know that Guests are not using the in-room phone for revenue generating purposes, and that they receive calls on their mobile phone versus the in-room phone, the question is not why do we place so many units in a room, but why do we still install voicemail for Guests, if it's almost never used?Taking these examples, and my comments on the two Hotel experiences - it's definitely time to get back to basics and question why we do things.What are the true benefits these technologies bring to the Guest and business? How can we measure the effectiveness, and to really understand the masses of data that these systems collect, which can better help us provision services to guests, rather than guess which I believe in many cases we still do, and often fail miserably.If you have found the Secret Sauce - please send me some!* After raising these comments to the Hotel, they agreed to refund my HSIA and laundry charges.
Article by Terence Ronson

In-room Technology Changing Hotel Landscape

Pertlink Limited ·18 June 2012
We live in a world full of change. It's one of the constants we can be certain of, and a catalyst to that change rests with technology. Considering this in the context of hotels, one of the significant changes taking place right now is how a guest interacts with the hotel. The Internet was once seen as a key piece to this, and that has now shifted to the device used to access the Internet. We first experienced the Internet through the computer, and today, the smartphone and tablet have come to the forefront.These devices are all over the place. Not only the personal instruments of guests but also-on an increasingly regular basis-as part of the in-room technology, either augmenting and consolidating, or replacing certain traditional items.For example, hotels are using these devices to replace or supplement:Guest DirectoriesPhoto albumsCurrency exchange boardsRoom service menus with ordering functionsTV remotes with electronic program guidesBlu-ray and DVD remotesMusic portalsThermostats /climate controllersLighting controllers with mood and dimming functionCurtains and blinds controllerTelephonesRoom keys that emit music tones or use near field communication technologyGuest feedback/questionnaireAlarm clocksMessage deliveryVideo on demand movie previewsGuest requests such as housekeeping and maintenance servicesRemote viewing stations for door camerasInternet browsing stationsSpa, fitness and leisure facilities menu with booking functionGolf information and tee time booking functionWine ListsRestaurant menusOffers and promotionsOrdering transportationShopping guide including gift shop items and local storesHandheld ordering devices in food-and-beverage outletsConcierge services and information repositoryMeetings and conference informationAudio-visual controllers in meeting and function roomsRegistration cards with eRegistration formsFolio preview at check-outCity and tour guides with interactive mapsWeather informationFlight informationTrain informationElectronic newspapers, magazines and booksAnd the list goes on...In-room technology benefitsOne function that is interesting is making the device (usually a tablet) a second screen to the in-room TV, allowing the guest to watch TV anywhere in the hotel, if connected to the Wi-Fi as though they were in the room.With these relatively inexpensive devices, gone are the days when you would find outdated, dog-eared or dirty folders in the desk drawer. These devices make it quick, easy and relatively hassle free to update the content and will give the user a richer experience versus its printed version counterpart. Imagine a wine list. On a device, the wine list could include tasting notes from a variety of sources, more detailed background of the wine's origin such as the vineyard and production process, along with some form of artificial intelligence for pairing the wine with a specific menu item. This can be particularly useful for the guest who may feel insecure about asking for assistance, and may just make a selection based on price or what they are familiar with instead of trying something different. One of the key benefits of in-room technology I see is the ability to remove all the clutter guests find on a desk and brush it away before getting down to business. Other benefits include the options to create time-sensitive promotions and customize content according to the guest demographic-language, cultural nuances, etc. Devices are fun to use, cost effective to implement and easy to maintain-and there is a big trade off with printing and printed materials replacement costs. Going forward, this technology will likely evolve into an in-house created app. The guest will be able to download it on his or her own device and use its functions to make their stay easier. This reduces capital expenditure for the hotel, but even more importantly, guests will have greater familiarity and attachment with their devices over yours. Furthermore, if they load the app pre-arrival and keep it there post-departure, you have gained some valuable loyalty points, and one you need to work hard on to max out the customer-relationship management value. Realistically, we are only scratching the surface with this new technology, and the benefits to the hotel industry will only be limited by our imagination. (c) Terence RonsonReprinted with permission from where it first appeared.This is the first in a three-part series of articles from the International Society of Hospitality Consultants regarding the ever-evolving technological landscape.
Article by Terence Ronson

DO's and DON'TS of Hotel Technology v4

Pertlink Limited · 1 June 2012
With HITEC 2012 (The world's largest Hospitality Technology Show) just around the corner, the season of Hotel Technology Conferences and Exhibitions has firmly arrived, and so becomes the perfect opportunity to update and re-issue our ever-popular Do's and Don'ts of Hotel Technology. Due to advances in technology, and general adoption of certain platforms and practices, the list now includes over 130 reference items.Not all may apply to your particular business, and certainly some are subjective. They should, however, prove to be a good reminder as to how important this area is, and just how much it can negatively impact the customer experience let alone your bottom line, when implemented incorrectly. DO...Use digital signage instead of printed posters. Chalkboards in some instances, are acceptablePut some free bottles of drinking water in the mini bar so that they are nice and cool for the guest to grabCheck all peepholes on guest room doors to make sure they are secure, and the right way roundMount irons on wall brackets in closets/wardrobes instead of placing them on the floor or shelvesClearly display broadband/Wi-Fi charges, if your hotel has anyMake it easy to switch off all lights in the guestroom from the bed - especially the bathroom lightsCheck that all staff who have Master keys, only have access to the areas they are required to - and no othersMake it easy to plug in a hairdryer, shaver, or electric toothbrush in the bathroomMake the lighting in the bathroom bright enough for doing makeup and to shave - if in doubt, ask a woman to validate itHave an illuminated make-up/shaving mirror in the bathroomHave (international/universal type) power sockets easily available for guest-use in public areas, especially Lounges, Dining areas and Poolside - also have adaptors handy for guests carrying overseas appliancesHave an emergency torch/flashlight in the guest room that's easily accessible in the case of an emergencyTeach Housekeeping to tidy up Guest cables on a desk - but not to disturb any equipmentExercise caution when dimming corridor lights overnight - some people have night blindness, or phobias, and prefer higher levels of lightUse an electronic Picture frame or Tab on the Front Desk to display currency exchange rates and maybe some marketing infoOffer free boarding pass printing in Business centersProvide Apple computers in the business center, and not just Window's PC'sCheck that the Computers in your Business Center or Internet corner, reset themselves each night and clean off any residual files that should not be seen by othersHave an Apple Notebook power adaptor available for a guest to borrow in case they accidentally forget theirs at home. The same principle applies to iPhone/iPod/Blackberries/Samsung/Microsoft etc.Use wireless [Trackball] mice at the Front Desk - it's so much more tidy than having unsightly cables everywhere and moving the thing around the deskHave a smartphone compliant version of your hotel factsheets [datafile] available for download on your website (e.g. PDF)Work with your system providers so that they produce eForms and not printed reports - especially Registration cards and FoliosMake sure excess power and data cables are neatly tied, or cut to the right length. If that is not possible - cover them somehowTie up cables behind the Flat screen TV so that they don't hang below the TV directly in the line of sight of the viewer - like a big UHave a simple but easy to read digital clock in the bathroomEncourage staff to bring laptops or Tablets to meetings and use them for note taking and not use paper padsHave easily accessible (international/universal type) power sockets in Meeting rooms as more and more people bring tech with them and need power - an extension cord or power bar is also handyIf you install a Wi-Fi projector in your meeting room, chances are the person using it has to firstly download a specific driver. Make sure someone is on-hand to explain this and guide them through the processHave plenty of (international/universal type) power sockets by the guestroom desk, or if not possible, place a small power bar in the desk drawer complete with adaptorHave a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray lending library if you have such a player in the guestroom - make sure though that this does not break any laws before doing itHave your Concierge know where is the Apple Service Center and also other popular brands like IBM, DELL, Lenovo, Asus, Samsung and BlackberryHave a person or system to monitor social networking sites (like FaceBook and Trip Advisor) for mentions about your hotel and respond quickly, and appropriatelyHave competent front line staff on-property who can deal with Guest TECH queries - make sure they have the requisite social and interpersonal skills as well - let them also know their limits, and how to escalate the issue if necessaryHave easily accessible empty (international/universal type) power sockets at the LEFT and RIGHT side of the bed - for Guest use only - USB power sockets are a good additionRealize that when you buy technology - you need a support agreement as well - and this often doubles the Tech cost over 5 years - do a TCO analysis before signing any purchase or support agreementPut a notice on your HSIA sign-up screen that your government may block access to certain websites and internet services, as well as track their movements online - if they apply to you. Have your IT People know how to workaround this if the Guest should askCheck your TV channel reception inside a Guest Room from time to time and make sure it's nice and clearMake sure the electronic door lock on the guest room door engages quickly when the door shuts using the auto door closerCheck the speed, noise and effectiveness of the aircon fan coil in the guest roomPrint your IM address on your Business card like a Skype ID or WhatsappPut an internet browsing station in the Staff Canteen for Staff to check email during breaksEncourage your Guests to also perform a virtual Check-in to such sites as Facebook and Foursquare when they physically Check-in to your establishmentRequest your technology vendors to update you twice a year on their roadmapAdd CCTV cameras inside your Data Center - one that is directed to the server racks and the other, facing the entrance doorRemember that guest's trust their mobile phones to wake them up more than they do your wake-up call servicePerform regular complete system backups and store them off-site in a secure location that is accessible if you need to - in an emergencyConsider placing a 'dock extender' cable into the cable pack that you may be placing in your rooms so that a Guest can connect an iPad (as it won't fit) to the iPod/iPhone dock you are already providingHave staff who do in-room check-in, offer to help guests connect their computer to the HSIA/Wi-Fi, check the temperature, as well as make them an Espresso if you have such a machine in the roomAllow guest's to tailor make their fruit basket if you plan to give them one - not everyone likes green apples and pears - same goes for turndown amenity - not everyone wants, or can eat chocolates and cookiesOffer ePostcards from your websiteHave a shelf in the toilet cubicle where guest's can place their mobile phone/PDA/Tablet and maybe a bookWork in your own guestroom from time to time and see how comfortable and practical it is - especially the height of the chair in relation to the deskUse a bio-metric reader or PIN pad for staff entrance/egress that is linked to the Time and Attendance/Payroll SystemMake sure the light inside the wardrobe does switch off when the door is closed - a simple ON/OFF switch is a quick fix to thisConsider [carefully] about moving some of your IT Services to the Cloud - make sure you fully understand the small print on the SLA (Service Level Agreement) about 'uptime', 'data ownership' and 'migration' from property based systemsMake sure your room safe is bolted down to a floor or wall and cannot be easily removedMonitor the TV volume in the guest room so that it can go down very low. Some guests like to leave the TV on all night but at a very low background volumeHave a very low level nightlight in the bathroom/toiletDeploy the very best cabling and network backbone that you canAllow Guests of Residential Conferences to use the same LOGIN ID and Password that they use in the Guestroom for access to the WI-FI in the Meeting Room - and don't make them pay twiceEncourage Guests to communicate with your Hotel through popular Social Networking sites such as Facebook and TwitterHave an air-conditioning auto cut-off function in the Guest room if balcony doors are openedConsider using Motion/Presence detectors rather than key cards to control the energy in-roomCheck from time to time in-the-floor power sockets - the metal type which are supposed to lift up when the clip is flicked - most often they stick after a while having been covered with floor polish and dustTalk to your HSIA/Wi-Fi provider about 'roaming agreements' and having a pass-thru function to such membership services as Boingo and iPassConsider having a secure place where Guests can deposit their valuables and gadgets at the poolside or beach if they want to take a dipHave Wi-Fi at the poolside and BeachExpect Guests to require a lot of Bandwidth when they use the Internet service in your Hotel - they will BLOG, send/receive emails, stream videos, do voice over internet calling, post updates and pictures, as well as transfer business files - uplink speeds should be as good as downloadRealize that a great percentage of your guests are likely to take photos of their meals and room, and then upload them to the Internet. Give them something fun and interesting to capture - preferably with your logo - it's a free marketing opportunityTest your magnetic room-key cards to see if they de-magnetize when placed next to a mobile phone or similar deviceEncourage Guest contact staff to attach VCF files in emailsConsider having the Valet driver put a cold bottle of water into the car when he picks it up from the Car Park and brings it back to the Hotel entrance for the ownerConsider adding QR codes onto your printed materials and advertisingPut your Hotel onto Skype and encourage that as a method of communication with GuestsDisinfect the TV remote control with suitable chemicalsCheck the Mobile signal coverage in your Hotel that's its working properly in all areas - Guests use their devices more and more and need good signal coverage all over - even inside elevators and bathroomsCheck your PMS that you cannot check someone into a room unless it's Vacant/Clean and quite possibly also carries an 'inspected' statusThink carefully about having a MUR (make up room) light as it shows the room may be emptyHave an Employee BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policyRe-examine what means 'a day' in your Hotel if most international flights land or takeoff during the night. Not everyone likes being charged an extra day if realistically your day ends/begins overnightHave information where guests can buy a 3G data card, what it costs, and know how to help install them as well as how to buy top-up cardsConduct regular security checks on your network - making sure you have sufficient defenses againstexternalandinternalthreatsRecycle used laser toner cartridgesFor internal use - print on the reverse side of used printer paper - but make sure what's on the other side is not sensitive or confidentialThink about installing a 3G or 4G mobile hotspot in the Airport Limo or Shuttle Bus so the Guest can use the service to/from the airport or around townHave your IT team join such organizations as HFTP and HTNG in order that they can keep up to date with Hotel Technology. You should sponsor them to them attend various Conferences and Exhibitions [like HITEC] - and have them conduct quarterly internal briefings as to TECH trends, and explore how the business can effectively leverage off these.DO NOT...Use Walkie Talkies in public areas without issuing staff with discreet ear piecesDeploy connectivity/AUX panels without having in-room cable kits available to the GuestPut a bedside clock that makes a ticking soundTell Guests you have an IP phone in the Guestroom - it will be confusing to themCharge for local phone calls unless you really have toMake it difficult to use a mouse on the Guest Room desk by using one with a glass surface - put a mouse mat in the drawer and expect the Guest to take it away as a souvenirAutomatically do dynamic currency conversion on credit card transactions - have the customer approve this in advanceCharge exorbitant rates for printing in the business centerIssue replacement room keys without first seeing a valid photo IDAllow staff to use thumb drives in work computers unless they have suitable security clearanceAllow staff to personally install cloud storage services like Dropbox or SkyDrive on work computers -it's very dangerousand must be ManagedPrint paper reports - circulate PDF versions onlySend faxes when you can attach PDFs to emailsUse worn out ribbons on printers - especially Point of Sale printers in F&B outletsAssume your backup power generator will auto-start if there is a mains power failure. Test it regularlyPrint folios - ask the guest if you can email themUse paper registration cards - use electronic ones and get digital signature captureUnderestimate how many people will want Wi-Fi access in Public areas and Meeting RoomsInstall both wired and wireless Internet in your Guest Rooms when doing a new installation. Just having Wi-Fi is acceptable by most people, and will save you a lot of moneyJust install wireless access points in corridors and expect the signal to pass through the door - consider installing Access Points in every room for improved coverage and densityAssume all guests use an iPod, iPhone or iPad - believe it or not, there are other successful products in the marketplacePut "last updated..." on your website if you don't do it frequentlyDisplay the number of visitors to your website - no one really cares, and the number may be very smallPut a chair at the desk, which is difficult to pull out or is uncomfortable to sit in - even if it looks nice. Get one with wheelsLimit guests on the number of devices they can connect to the Wi-Fi in the guestroom - often guests carry many more devices, especially if a couple are staying, and with kidsClutter the desk with collaterals and printed materials - make them digital and multi-lingual - e.g. in Chinese, Russian and ArabicJust believe that by putting loads of technology into your hotel that the guest experience will be enhanced or that the guest will appreciate itPlace a loudspeaker in the bathroom unless it has a volume control and the sound quality is goodJust rely on the technology to operate your business - it will fail and at the worst possible time. Make sure you have a contingency plan in place for ALL systems and test it periodicallyChange any configuration on a guest's computer unless they ABSOLUTELY agree and you have a written record of the changes madeHave multiple phones in the Guest room unless your really need to - one or two should be enoughAllow iPods, MP3 players or similar devices in the workplace to be connected to your computersPrint anything - only have electronic versions of all your collateralsMake it complicated for guests to use your technology - they may only stay one night and have no time to learn how to use all the gadgetsOvercharge for IDD calls - see if you can connect your PBX to a VOIN (Voice over Internet) service to reduce the calling costsLend guest's headsets in the gym unless they have been pre-sterilizedAllow social networking connections on workplace computers unless it's for workHave water pipes inside your computer room or data centerJust have a single cooling source for your Data Center - have a backupHave so many TV channels that it's difficult for the guest to quickly access what they really want to watch and make sure when it's re-switched on, it goes back to the last channel watched and only re-sets upon check-outPut a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray player in the Guest room unless there is already a disc inside for the guest to quickly listen to or watchOperate a 1-button Call Center unless the staff who take the call are full trained to handle ALL queries and in various languagesPut a 4-in-1 copier/scanner/printer/fax machine in the guestroom with just 2 or 3 sheets of paper inside for the guest to print on - include at least 20 sheetsPut a Fax machine into every room - it's a waste of money! Wheel one in if the Guest really needs itUse a cloud printing service to the in-room printer you are providing - some guests are bound by company confidentiality policies not to send data outside of their network and so cannot use such services, even if they are hosted by a reputable company - just add a USB cableHave electronic curtains/drapes unless they can be opened/closed from the bed as well as via a wall switch - make sure the guest knows they are electric and don't try to pull them closed or openPut a hairdryer in the bathroom that is underpowered - and don't hide it in a drawerPut a reading lamp at the bed which is so powerful and direct that it can burn your Guest's foreheadAdjust the temperature in the Guestroom if the guest sets it at a certain level. Only reset it upon check-outUse Flash on your website unless you really have to - not all popular Smartphones or Tablets can handle FlashOnly put a keycard reader on one side of the elevator car if you have floor call buttons on both sides. And from time to time, check they both workInstall an LCD TV in such a away that the Guest cannot access the connectivity ports and by doing so, they can directly connect their own devices for playbackCreate an app for your Hotel just for the sake of it - and all it does is make reservations. Let it be informative about your property and a guide to all the various services and amenities you provide. Encourage and incentivize Guests to use this an alternate channel to the OTA - ensuring its Win-Win. It will, after all, be your Shop window in the palm of someone's hand and directly reflect your brand values.If you have any suggestions to add to the list, feel free to send them to me. I very much look forward to seeing, and catching up with many of you in Baltimore at HITEC 2012!
Article by Terence Ronson

Wi-Fi Is The New Four-letter Word For Hoteliers

Pertlink Limited ·10 May 2012
Open up any Hospitality or travel related publication these days, and most likely the first story you will see is about Wi-Fi - the subject has become as omnipresent as the requirement for the service itself - everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is talking about it!Check into a Hotel, and before you even get to your room, you have an expectation that this Hotel is worth its stars, and provided you (just like general utilities - water, heat, light, gas and TV) with Internet access. If it hasn't, then you'd better do a U-turn before hitting the lift button and selecting your floor!As mentioned in a previous article, prior to the birth of IOS [Apple's operating system], truthfully, we only scratched the surface and played around with implementing Wi-Fi in Hotels. But now, four years later with millions and millions of IOS devices in the hands of millions and millions of our loving Guests, this has become the most disruptive of technologies in the modern era. That along with the creation of the smartphone and its Big Brother - the TAB - where there are sales predictions of 153 million units next year, and climbing to 232 million by 2016. This has set loose a tsunami of unparalleled demand - for a strangely invisible service! No wonder CIO's call Wi-Fi a four-letter word.That's one of the incredible aspects of Wi-Fi - it's invisible, and yet mission critical in importance. Not just for the Guest, but also operationally - and most especially, revenue generation and customer loyalty / brand enhancement. Just look at the volume and regularity of surveys being released - by all manner of sources - rating Wi-Fi as the #1 amenity Guests' seek - allegedly, even over free breakfast.Gone are the days when we could simply place a network connection at the desk in the Guest room and maybe a few Wi-Fi routers in the corridor servicing a bunch of rooms - with spotty coverage at best. Often with good coverage found only at the front part of the room, near the room door since the Wi-Fi signal would not penetrate through the walls to the back of the room. Surprisingly enough - that's where most desks are located and people want to work - go figure the logic of that one!Sensibly, based on the demand an importance of this service, one should deploy enterprise class, building wide, mobile device supporting networks - just like the TelCos [Telephone Company] would in the street. More on that later.During refurbishment, some Hotels opt to place Wi-Fi routers into every room for maximum coverage. These neat devices about the size of two cigarette packs [No I don't smoke cigarettes only cigars] usually have one LAN port for signal IN, and three or four ports for Signal OUT and a Wi-Fi antenna using the 802.11n protocol. Contemplating the next generation of these devices, likely they will sport USB connections and some other wireless connectivity modules, such as maybe Bluetooth and 802.11ac - the next speed bump for Wi-Fi. Being POE in nature (Power Over Ethernet) meaning no additional electricity power source is required for these since they derive power from the network, they are re-bootable on demand. The IT Team can centrally manage them and be VLAN enabled with multiple SSIDs - a good cost effective solution to an increasing problem.Other possibilities are for IPTV set top box to be Wi-Fi enabled - meaning the service provider can make you a 2-4-1 offer, IPTV and Wi-Fi over the same infrastructure. Also, there is the emergence of the Wi-Fi enabled TV, and when we finally get to the point of having a true Hospitality SMART TV [if ever, since most manufacturers find the sector too small when compared to residential], then maybe, it will have this required functionality built-in. Don't hold your breath though.For the sake of repeating myself, today's Hotel Wi-Fi network [and more critically tomorrow's] is one of the principal areas in which your Hotel will be judged. Supply anything less than perfecto, and you are liable to end up with an UNlike on one, or quite possibly many, of the overabundance of social media sites quicker than you can say it's Happy Hour. Wi-Fi is part and parcel of the guest experience.And don't be so naive in thinking that this problem will go away - or it's a fad. You need a network that is capable of complete support for smart phones and TABs - some of which can be a real pain to deal with - most especially, and surprisingly enough - the iPad. Consider also the number of apps and services that use Wi-Fi - like Skype, FaceBook, WebEx, Email, DLNA, NetFlix and gaming - just to name a few.Reflecting back, when we first put dedicated Internet access into Hotel rooms during the late nineties, the main way a Guest judged the service was by seeing the speed of the connection 10/100/1000 on the screen of their Laptop [now they are called Notebooks] - which actually was the LAN speed and not the Internet pipe. Then quickly followed Wi-Fi, and the Guest started to make comparisons with cell phone signal meters - 1,2,3,4,5 bars - on their mobile device, and on their Notebooks, they saw 'Excellent', 'Good' and the dreaded 'Poor' rating in front of their eyes. So, we didn't need to go round and check rooms - the Guest would simply tell us: "Hey, I've got a poor signal in my room - fix it!"So, is Wi-Fi going the way of some mini-bars - free?As Wi-Fi has technically grown-up, so has the Guest become more tech savvy - originally carrying a clunky notebook and cellphone, now he [no gender discrimination implied] carries a notebook, TAB and one or more phones - usually the smart type - and they all need to get connected to the Hotel's Wi-Fi - simultaneously.Limiting the number of connected devices to the in-room system no longer bauds well for Guest satisfaction. And besides, it's so easy to carry your own wireless router these days, If the Hotel [or service provider] is mean enough to restrict the number of connections, you simply plug a router into the LAN port [if there is one], and Bob's your Uncle - you have your own Wi-Fi bubble. For heavens sake - a MAC can even do it via the built-in sharing function. Admit it - you've likely used one of these options, or are at least considering it...Going one step further - guests are BYOB [Bringing their own Broadband] by using a Wireless Hotspot [MiFi] or paying a daily package rate from their provider back home - which gives them an eat as much 3G data as they want in 24 hours. The great part of that, when compared to Hotel Internet is that it's portable - you can take it around town - and not just leave it idling back in the Hotel room - where you may, at best, only realistically use the service 4-6 hours per day. That is unless you are like me, and leave one of your Notebooks in the room doing something so as to max out the ROI/cost of the bandwidth...One Hotel, the Aloft Bangkok even gives you a Smartphone when you check into their Touch Rooms, and this device includes a Hotspot facility that you can use around town at no extra cost. That's pretty kool!Oh yes, let's not forget the FREE versus FEE issue - which isn't going away.Cast your minds back to when we first put mini-bars into Hotel rooms. Charge a premium for everything based on the convenience factor was the mantra, and this was when compared to buying your own stuff at 7-Eleven and bringing it into the Hotel.Then, as the technology developed, Hotels started to swop out some fridges for the automatic type that would charge a Guest (after a reasonable time) for an item they selected - some of those units based on Guest pushback compromised by having a BYO [Bring Your Own] section where you could chill your own stuff - without being charged. Then came along the totally free mini-bar - not just equipped with a couple bottles of water and soda pop - but to also include some higher cost items like beers, up-scale juices and power drinks - plus a few snacks. Is this starting to sound familiar?Let's compare this to Internet access, or Wi-Fi Mini-Bars started out as a premium 'convenience' based service. The Guest liked it, and the Hotel made some revenue in the process. Then, the Guest discovered a few workarounds and also started to bring in their own stuff - replacing it for items in the mini bar. Some Hotels audaciously competed against the mini-bar by having a convenience store on-property [popular in the U.S. of A]. Then finally, some Hotels said - let's just bundle the mini-bar, Guests only want a few items - so to save all the hassle and get good consumption and higher volumes of sales plus probably better discounts with suppliers - we should give it free. A nice USP for the Sales team when negotiating deals.So, next on the Wish List - is Internet. We first put it in, and charged for it. Yes, there was initial resistance because it was a new line item on the Travel Expense form, but it soon gained acceptance from Finance as the business people said - "I can't function with out it."Just like he did with the Mini-Bar, the Guest started to find workarounds with Wi-Fi: For example, go to a Coffee Shop - buy a Latte and get free Wi-Fi. I even read a recent FaceBook post saying "Starbucks can do great free Wi-Fi, why can't Hotels?" Then there's the pre-paid 3G card; put it into a MiFi gizmo and away you go. Another option is to bring your own Internet with a daily roaming pass from your service provider back home, and use it anywhere. We know only too well, budget/economy Hotels started to provide free Internet as a business driver, and so resistance [to paying for Wi-Fi] was NOT futile. People Power came in the form of migration to competitive brands or Hotels, and this has started to impact the bottom line. Shangri-La Hotels were the first group more than eighteen months ago to declare war by giving free Internet access in all their Hotels. And so the war has begun - some are winning a few battles, but the war is by no means over.So what's the way forward? Honestly speaking - there is no simple answer.Deploying a good quality Wi-Fi infrastructure has a cost. Running the service also carries a cost - and this increases exponentially as bandwidth demand does. Support costs may have reduced, since some Hotels have opted for the DIY mode - and have transformed this into in-house managed IT service. Naturally, service providers will argue that this has to be outsourced for numerous reasons - and I'm not going to debate those merits here. You have to work out your own Pro's and Con's or hire a Consultant [like me] to assist in that process.So perhaps it comes down to pure economics - here's a few thoughts:Do I charge some or all Guests?Do I give it free to negotiated Corporates with a guaranteed number of Room Nights?Should I give it free to certain tiers of Loyalty Club guests, or Club Floor Guests?If I give it free, is it for full bandwidth, or a low speed and the Guest can opt for a premium service?Should I make it free in F&B areas [not the Lobby] - where a Guest has to spend money, and only charge in the room - for the convenience factor? How would this be controlled - Voucher or PIN number?Do I give it free in Meeting Rooms to Residential Conference Guests - or make them pay again?Do I restrict the number of devices that can be connected at any one time?Will it boost my room business if I give it free, and maybe stop free breakfast - or offer the guest the option - one or the other?Should I Capex the cost, absorb the running cost and do the whole thing in-house, or part Capex, and go on a revenue share with a service provider?Do I need a wired connection in the room as well as Wi-Fi?What are the members of my competitive set doing? Should I be the first to go free and rock the boat, or must I follow because that's what they are doing?These are just some of the many questions you may be asking yourself about Wi-Fi going forwards.From a technical point of view, this is what's needed for a good Wi-Fi infrastructure:802.11n AP (or higher) either:Room basedHallway based AP where one AP can provide mobile device coverage in a minimum of 4 rooms (PLEASE do a simple test before committing on one path).DAS solution - Distributed Antenna (supports multiple wireless systems)Wireless LAN controllerShould be able to auto-configure and optimize the systemIf you use voice over Wi-Fi, this system should include a fast-roaming functionVLAN configurable PoE switch portNot an absolute requirement, but the PoE feature makes the system more manageable by allowing for remote reboot of the AP, and the VLAN capability allows for the support of multiple services on a single LAN cable to the room.So now you know why some CIO's can't sleep at night. Wi-Fi is a four-letter word.(c) Terence RonsonReprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from
Article by Terence Ronson, ISHC

Sex for Sale in Las Vegas and The Consumer Electronics Show

Pertlink Limited ·27 January 2012
the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Adult Entertainment Convention (ADULTCON). What is hot and what is not depends on your perspective. Both events attracted massive crowds but my attention was transfixed on the former.There were lots on offer @CES, and I have to tell you, that as much as I enjoy eating candy, there is only just so much you can take! Some of the CES attendees I met post-event claimed to be suffering from 'SOS' - Sensor Overload Syndrome, and with this being my first CES, I was pretty blown away by the excessive consumerism.Parts of my body were thankful that the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) ended after four days (you can also see this from some of my photos of people resting in massage chairs) - and perhaps not a moment too soon - for me. Although the show ran through this time frame, officially four days long (TUE-FRI), it felt a lot longer. There were numerous early morning and late night activities surrounding it and wanting to make the most of it, to see, absorb and experience everything. Actually, the event spanned six days for me, as I attended some pre-show events. Quite honestly, I now feel like a used AA battery - drained of all energy. Often positioned as the world's largest tradeshow, Las Vegas would definitely experience more than a blip on their revenue radar should they ever lose it. The sheer scale of this behemoth is such that it literally envelops everything, with huge revenues to all manner of establishments. One such beneficiary are those involved in the people moving business. Everything from stretched limos to the monorail, to buses and taxis were working flat out with all leave and sick days apparently being cancelled. I was chuffed that on one of the occasions I ordered a car to transport me from my place of lodging to an event, a stretched Hummer turned up. And when I got out at my destination - the venue for an HTNG Board Meeting, people standing outside of the off-strip Platinum Hotel, seemed intrigued who I was. It was a great Kodak moment for me. On the flip side, I was also pleased that on the penultimate evening of the show, I was not one of the estimated 500 people waiting for a cab at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.The importance of the Chinese customer in Las Vegas - Lunar New Year decorations to welcome in the Year of the DragonThe sheer volume of human traffic must have generated some additional heat. Even though this is wintertime in Vegas, the area immediately around the Convention Center seemed to be a couple of degrees warmer than the rest of the town when aggregating all the hundreds of thousands of sweaty bodies. Of course the amount of BS and hot air originating from the mouths of some of the attendees may have also been a contributing factor to this local phenomenon.Here are some interesting facts about CES:The Show is in its 44th yearThere were 3,100 exhibitors showing over 20,000 new productsThe show covered 1.861 million square feet of exhibit space and used three primary venues: The Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), Venetian Hotel and Las Vegas Hotel (formerly The Las Vegas Hilton). Other locations were enrolled as hospitality suites and for Press Events - such as Showstopper at The Wynn, and Keynotes at the Venetian.More than 153,000 Attendees showed up, of which over 34,000 (22%) were International, and 17,000 Press.Normally one has to pay big bucks to attend CES, but I was fortunate to be accredited with Industry Analyst status classifying me as Press, and granted an all areas access pass. This was extremely helpful since it permitted me preferential queuing for Keynotes like Steve Ballmer's where I was number 9 in line, even though this meant I had to arrive three hours early and then wait to get in. Coincidentally it's worth noting that up until a few months ago the two most powerful people in the Computer industry were both called Steve. Now there's just one - but I'm very sure the memory of the other lived on in spirit...One of the many interesting experiences I had @CES was actually queuing up for the Ballmer Keynote and seeing people sitting on the floor and working around me. Some grabbed the opportunity to rest, while others networked as a passing magician entertained them, or someone volunteered to clean and polish your smartphone. To avoid line cutting, control was tight, but if you needed a bathroom break, a smartly dressed individual - usually in a Morning Suit would stand in your space until you got back from doing your business. From time to time, folks also passed by and gave away some premiums like a ballpoint pen, logo stickers, hand sanitizer and breath mints, but alas, no energy drinks, water or snacks. I guess they need a little more Hospitality Service training...Ballmer's Keynote (the last one for a while as Microsoft also takes a break from CES) is available online: Here you can witness his excitement over many things to include the Windows Phone, Windows 8 and what are now termed: Metro apps.Another interesting Keynote I attended was that of Paul Jacobs - Chairman of the Board and CEO of Qualcomm - who appear to power the mobile Internet. Honestly, it's quite astounding when you are a big company and have almost unlimited marketing funds for the type of show you can put on. You have the chance to utilize stupendous graphics, and have guest appearances by A-listers such as Ryan Seacrest the MC for Ballmer, and Stephen Elop CEO of Nokia plus Kermit from Sesame Street for Qualcomm. We were even treated to a musical rendition of Trending Tweets by The Tweet Choir. All manner of peeps are on-hand to lend support to your cause. It's akin to attending a rock concert with a dash of the Shopping Channel thrown in. Qualcomm's keynote can be watched hereTraipsing the aisles as I did for four straight days, and gratefully losing a couple of Kg in the process - I was both surprised and upset that some companies did not like you to take pictures of their booths or products - after all, why are they there if not to show off and promote their wares?One such company that P-d me off, was selling ear buds fashioned as jewelry items. The man in charge was quite offensive until I told him I needed the pics as part of my show review. He insisted on getting my name card (I gladly gave him one) so he could receive a copy - so here you are 'my friend' - and I hope you like what I have to say. "You have a cute and innovative product, but I'm sorry to say - your attitude leaves a lot to be desired!" Actually, I partly blame the CES organizers for not correctly briefing booth holders what the different color badges represent, and the design of them. Regardless of whether I could or could not, I shot over 600 photos some of which I'm sharing with you here in this BLOG and have been regularly posting onto Facebook.As for the badges, pure Press had red color holders, and Industry Analysts (like me) had grey ones - others had less costly clear plastic ones. But another issue was that our badge holders were embossed with the BestBuy logo, so some of the booth holders mistakenly thought we were actually from BestBuy - and you can imagine their sheer delight at the sight of us walking onto their booth, only to have the smile quickly wiped off their faces when told we were not - at least I did. Some others with fewer scruples may have led them on so as to get free swag.... Anyway, perhaps for the 45th CES, the organizers can do a better job at briefing the exhibitors. After all, these things take time to filter through...Talking about ear buds - headphones of all shapes and sizes were everywhere! But I noticed a lot of men sporting oversized earrings - practically the size of M&M chocolates, some even shiny in texture almost like cufflinks for the ears. I wonder why the ear bud and speaker manufacturers haven't colluded into morphing these into mini loudspeakers and maybe using Bluetooth to beam sound to them - these people could become a whole new generation called "Boomears"...Foodservice was far from great @CES - and not surprisingly there were long lines selling overpriced junk food like hot dogs, pizza and burgers. Trying to be smart and sensible, I circumvented this and followed the philosophy of BYO and did so with healthy snacks and a water bottle with built-in filter. Maybe next CES along with some buddies we should open a noodle or dim sum stand catering to the numerous Asian participants many of whom I saw typically eating instant noodles. Could be a chance to get rich quick...As I'm sure you've read in other articles, Apple (the tech industry's superpower) was conspicuous by its absence, but essentially had one of the largest virtual presences because their hardware is everywhere, and companies are designing products and services around their IOS ecosystem and product line.For example, in the North Hall of LVCC, I estimate that 50% of those companies would not have been there if the iPhone or iPad had not been invented. Although I'm told that in previous years this space catered to such devices as the Palm Pilot and perhaps to a lesser extent, the Blackberry - which incidentally did have a large booth at the show - but sadly no one was on-hand to help fix my crapped out Blackberry BOLD which left me with withdrawal symptoms for 10-days. Not surprising that their top two Exec's have just stepped down.In fact, I have never seen or even could imagine that there so many ways in which to cover, charge, connect, clean and polish, make water resistant, listen to, enhance, augment, bling and otherwise accessorize your "I" device. It was truly outrageous! Some companies just purely focus on blinging out I-devices and had humongous booths - and one could think disproportionate to the size of what they were selling. I know the market must be big - but when seeing the stands I was astounded by what must be the potential volume and residual profit.Can't help wonder though if there is some collusion going on between two of the largest Korean CE (Consumer Electronics) manufacturers - Samsung and LG. Why do I say this? Samsung have gained a very strong foothold in the Smartphone and Tablet space, while LG are making spectacular advances with OLED TV. Perhaps somewhere on the golf course or in a downtown Karaoke Bar, policy makers have formed some kind of pact whereby instead of both companies pouring billions of Korean Won into the R&D of all products, they divide the space with one focusing on mobility and the other on TVs... This is pure conjecture on my part, and not substantiated at all. But it does make you wonder.... Doesn't it?One must not lose sight of the fact that CES tries to cover a broad spectrum of age categories from newborns to silver surfers. Newborns? I hear you say - yes, there were even tech products specifically catering to babies like digital weighing scales that can have various sensors attached to them such as for monitoring heart rate and blood pressure etc. And as for Silver Surfers (60+), I saw one system that handled computer-less email - similar to a fax machine in design.Late afternoon of Day Two I walked from LVCC to the Wynn for the Showstoppers event - an invitation-only session for Press to review in one location a few hundred of the products on display at CES - a kind of meet-the-press. During the walk I was attracted to an illuminated sign saying Cigar Shop. Well, as you know I have a passion for all things organic and in my esteemed opinion, cigars are the embodiment, so I made a detour and stopped off at Don Pablo Cigars on Las Vegas Boulevard. While enjoying my freshly rolled cigar (they are rolled in-store by expert Dominican Republic rollers) and chatting with owners Eric Boye and Marlene Moreau, in walked a celeb - John Salley - NBA Champion and TV Host.Anyway, John and I got talking and during the short conversation he mentioned about being a vegan and would in fact be doing a Cooking demonstration the following day with Allison Fishman (Cooking Teacher and Cookbook author) at the Haier booth where he was going to be promoting healthy eating and using their induction cooker - watch the entertaining video here: Thanks John for also remembering me during your interview.A specific device that caught my attention @CES was the Pico projector - these are small tabletop LCD projectors that since their first launch a few short years ago have made leaps and bounds in regards picture clarity and pricing. Several vendors had these on display, and one such company had six connected together in three pairs of two with images stitched together so that they formed a video wall - it was very kool! Gotta get me a new one of those - mine is a 1st GEN.More than one company exhibited Transparent TVs - which are basically clear glass screens which you could look through when the power was OFF, but when ON, showed a regular TV picture. I believe they do this by sending a signal from the sides. I have some difficulty in understanding how to position these (in Hotels) unless you have a beautiful wall behind it, and would allow you to see through under certain circumstances. Having said that, this is one item that's not on my short-term wish list.Some of the vendors operating in the music space and there were quite a few employed DJ's on their booths, and you could witness them at first hand mixing and scratching - combining state-of-the-art MP3s and traditional LPs. Perhaps in another life I could envisage myself doing that...It looked like a lot of fun. Oh yeah and try this one for size. Imagine a Guitar that's really an iPad case, and where you would normally pluck the strings, an iPad has been inserted (into the Guitar) and you actually run your fingers over the iPad screen which then simulates the sound through the Guitars externally connected amplifier.Gesturing and speech control was fairly prevalent at the show - and some companies demonstrated controlling a computer with either brainwaves or the movement of your eyes. Whilst an interesting idea especially for the physically challenged, I question the wisdom and practicality of these devices as this could turn us into even more of a couch potato.A few of the other interesting gizmos included a small 360 degree camera that fits onto the back of a smartphone - these could be particularly useful if you wanted to video a Board Meeting, or perhaps both sides of an Interview using just one camera.Another was the 4G LTE Modem, which can create a mobile hotspot and as one vendor said to me; "very popular amongst business travellers since the user can avoid paying (exorbitant) Hotel Broadband charges". On that note, I believe Bandwidth usage in Hotels will decrease as (SMART) Guests BYOI (Bring Your Own Internet) with these 4G LTE Modems. And as people increasingly tether smartphones (it is rumored Apple is going to release a Gigabit Wi-Fi enabled device very soon) then this will be another game changer.Prototype cars had a special place @CES, with models by Ford, Audi, Kia and Mercedes-Benz. Some other companies exhibited elements of new car designs to include head-up displays and integration with devices like the iPhone (see what I mean about Apple being there even if they weren't). Electric and hybrid seem to be the way of the future for cars.Some of the companies in the car audio section showed off such powerful sound systems that the surrounding floor shook so violently you'd think an earthquake just hit Las Vegas.Another celebrity hit the stands -Justin Bieber made a guest appearance to show off a dancing robot that mimics his moves. This would no doubt be popular with the teenybopper crowd. Sadly, I missed that event. Sob Sob.Thin is in: Meaning we saw a slew of new Notebooks akin to the MBA (MacBook Air) - often classified as Ultrabooks, which actually is a category that does not officially exist - more of a marketing term used by some vendors like INTEL...Some of the popular Tech shows staged live broadcasts from CES to include: TWIT, CNET, Engadget and Gizmodo.... Unfortunately, no one took up the golden opportunity to interview me. Maybe next time... Hint Hint.A little lightheartedness - I thought of re-classifying CES to:Consumer Exploitation ShowConsumer Experience ShowConnect Everything ShowCapitalize Emotions ShowConsume or Conserve Electricity ShowSome of the TECH trends you could glean from CES:Mobility - SMARTer Phones + TabletsWireless Connectivity between devices and to the Internet + Gigabit Wi-Fi 802.11acOLED TV - 2D and 3D - with 8K resolutionGaming on mobile devices + TVSurface and Touch technologyHuman interface - Voice control and GesturingHome automationLarge headphones a.k.a. CansCar Automation - to include mobile connectivity and driver assistanceBlinging your devicesMedTechCollaboration via the Cloud3D PrintingFor me, and I also guess for a lot of others, it was not hard to decide what was the best thing at the show - and I subsequently found out that this was also the case for the voting panel of CES - it was the LG 55-inch OLED TV. Quite stunning and I can envisage this being in the homes of many people in the not to distant future - as well as some Hotels.Now that CES is over, and I've said my goodbyes to Las Vegas, this is one time when I hope the famous saying does not come true - "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"....Hasta la vista!Note: Links in this article do not support or endorse any product or service and are meant for illustration purposes only(c) Terence Ronson ISHC
Article by Terence Ronson ISHC

YO! What's trending?

Pertlink Limited · 9 December 2011
As we near y/e 2011, I can't wipe away the feeling that as far as the economy is concerned, we are still on a wild roller coaster ride. I'm just not sure though if we are on the incline, or just about to reach a peak with yet another stomach churning steep decline in our midst. Whichever way it goes, these are for sure interesting times we live in.Without doubt, one of the most disruptive technologies that we coexist with is Apple's ecosystem - called IOS. It is as omnipresent as the air we breathe, and I doubt a conversation regarding technology goes by, without some mention of this beast. The coming year, will likely see us immersed even deeper with new IOS based devices, and the most interesting one on my radar, is something I previously Blogged about - The Apple TV (maybe called iTV). This is a real TV - maybe in two to three different sizes, you could hang it on the wall - it will be app driven, with content coming from the Web. Definitely a game-changer, and one where Apple fanboys will likely line up days ahead of the launch to get their hands on.In my mind, this along with software and operating systems that we now happily and instantaneously download sounds the death bell for Blu-ray, DVD, CD and the associated players. Since they will no longer be required, it's very likely that Notebooks (such as already done with the MacBook Air) will also drop them in the coming year to save space and cost.While on the subject of media, I can't believe that one PPV provider recently issued a list of Top Ten movies watched in Hotel rooms and there was no porn on the list... Must be a unique group of clients that they have compared to normal trends. Besides that, I just wonder how many people really purchase movies in a Hotel Room versus carrying their own, or sucking it (freely) from the web.One can draw a parallel to the app world we now live in, and the Wild West land grab/gold rush of the bygone era. Everyone is trying to get a piece of the action. Whether you are launching a ninety-nine cents app, or a proprietary one, you are trying to get a slice of the valuable real estate on someone's i-device. It's a bun fight!Saying there is an app for that - is not as ridiculous as it once sounded. There are zillions of them, and all manner of folks are launching them with similar functionality as to what we invented in 2000 - called "Hotelinmyhand" for Hong Kong's Rosedale on the Park and heavily featured on CNN. The only real differences between that and those of today, are made possible by advances in technology.Email, IM and SMS, voraciously erode the art of one on one, face-to-face conversation - and I wonder if your handwriting has become as ineligible as mine. On those occasions when I've stayed in Hotels and receive a nicely handwritten card, I speculate if some form of smart printing was involved to closely resemble the penmanship of a fountain pen. Vocal conversations have been reduced to Tweet sized soundbytes, and the usage of three to six character acronyms has exponentially increased.Web sites are swiftly becoming passe, and if you are a business without an app, a hashtag or some kind of storefront on a SNS [social networking site] - then you might as well pull down the shutters, and hibernate. Even the most popular SNS have apps, with this being an integral part of the mobile world we so enjoyably endure.Hotels continue to struggle to find ways in which they can morph SNS into ATMs'. Turning Lookers into Bookers is an elusive recipe for them. But having said that, apps are taking over the role of the OTA, especially since booking windows are reduced - and being made at the last minute - sometimes on-board the very transport taking them to that destination. Thanks to technology that can sweep up excess inventory, customers can now take advantage of late booking windows, which may sometimes yield better pricing than bookings made 21 days in advance.The Cloud looms large - and there are growing concerns over the viability, stability and security as I pointed out in an earlier BLOG. Interesting development is that the US Justice Department is now raising concerns over the Cloud, and how it potentially impacts data security and could contravene the Patriot Act. Go figure that one!In an increasing effort to trim costs, Outsourcing and the use of Managed Services is on the upsurge. Groups are looking at constructive ways to benefit from both of them, and yet still maintain Company Standards and manage the Guest Experience.The coming year should prove as interesting as the one WE are currently sun-setting, and I for one, can't wait to see what it brings. HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!See you on the other side...
Article by Terence Ronson ISHC

New Kid on the block... 45 Park Lane

Pertlink Limited · 6 September 2011
Good Afternoon Mr. Ronson we've been expecting you - was the unexpected yet pleasant greeting I received from the Doorman of the newly opened 45 Park Lane as I told him my name while handing over my luggage upon arrival at the Hotel.Opened just three days ago on September 1st, 45 Park Lane is the latest addition to the Dorchester Collection and is appropriately located on the adjacent block to the original Dorchester Hotel - in Park Lane, London.I have fond memories of the Dorchester where I spent one summer working in their Pastry department, while still at College during my earlier years training to be a Chef. At a pinch, you could say I'm an ex employee.Although check-in time is officially 3pm, my wife and I were anxious to get settled into our accommodations, and so took a chance at arriving a tad early. We were nicely surprised when the Receptionist said we could be roomed, and graciously escorted us to the 3rd floor, where our room 4533 - was located directly opposite the elevator - hmm I thought as we arrived at the door. However, just before leaving the Lobby, our Host explained that their signature restaurant "CUT" by Wolfgang Puck - whom we had just missed as he was there for the opening - was having his first foray into Europe with this establishment - and suggesting we give it a try. I told her that we'd been to his premiere restaurant - Spago in LA - thanks to some friends of ours, so likely we would give this one a miss. She also pointed out that just up the stairs was what promised to be London's latest hangout - their Lounge Bar.Incidentally, all rooms are numbered 45xx where 45 is the hotel name, and the next two digits relate to the floor and room number.Just as our Host was about to open the door, a Housekeeper popped her head round the corner and said that the cleaner had not quite finished, and that the room would be another few minutes, politely suggesting we go away and come back.So, ushered back into the elevator we proceeded to the Lobby and entertained with some complimentary drinks. I must say this unfortunate incident was well handled, and honestly speaking, I preferred to wait for the room to be fully ready, rather than go in, and as I often do - find faults.The surroundings in which we waited were very pleasant. The Lobby is nicely appointed and has several interesting art deco objects intermixed with very comfy Connolly leather chairs that gave-off a wonderful new luxury car smell.After about 10 minutes, a Host approached us and further apologized for the delay - saying they have a few tech issues with the room and need about another 20 minutes to fix them. We agreed that would not be an issue - although my intrigued peaked as to what they could be.Finally the time came to go to the room, and we were once again escorted - this time making it though the door into the spacious and luxurious surroundings.One of the first things of note apart from the Welcome Fruit amenity complete with a banana and some figs, and a huge wall mounted B&O TV, was the temperature of the room - which I personally found to be uncomfortably hot. Incorrectly believing that could quickly be addressed later, we proceeded with the check-in process and small tour of the room facilities.As part of the rooming process, pointed out to us were the three Alcatel-Lucent touch screen phones - one on each side of the bed and another on the desk, and how one would use these to basically control all of the tech functionality in the room - A/C, curtains, lights. This was going to be fun I thought. Then I was shown where the Teleadapt connectivity panel was (not the cables), plus the safe and hair dryer. Also pointed out was the mini-bar and Nespresso machine - at which point we were asked if we would like to have a coffee - I declined the offer.We thanked the Host for her assistance and she left, saying she could be contacted by phone if required. The luggage arrived quickly, and finally we were on our own. It was now time to analyze the room.First thing first, was to try and cool the room down - and by using the Touch phone which is interfaced to the Control4 Room Control system and Lutron Lighting system, I adjusted the required temp to 20c from where it was being unbelievably indicated as 59c.Next on my mental to-do list, was to walk through the room exploring the different facilities, while taking photos as a permanent record.The first discovery was a most pleasant one - the mineral water and fruit juices in the minibar were supplied with the hotel's compliments. However, the Coconut water - my real favorite, was not. It's a pity that that wooden door attached to the front cover of the mini-bar would not close properly after opening. Never mind I thought, the Housekeeper will discover this during turn down service and fix it.Next was the surprise of finding of an unsecured inspection panel covering the Room Control System - the brains controlling the room. This was a fascinating discovery and the photos will show you just how much investment was made into this complex system. And it was at this juncture where I had to ask my wife to take a look at this discovery and see for her self what I had found - not just the open door, but also the builder's rubble on the floor and left over cable shielding and various miscellaneous pieces of rubbish. Although it's not the first time for me to find such a mess at a newly opened hotel, I was quite surprised as the room was otherwise very clean. After all, they had already been open for a few days before we checked-in, the room was cleaned after being handed back by the Contractors, and then I understand there was a 2-week simulation period where the room should have also been used - I think, as well as snagged/critiqued and cleaned - anyway, more on that later.Next up was the bathroom - complete with double vanity, separate WC with mobile phone shelf, Shower and nice sized bathtub. Pity we were not to have enough time to enjoy all of the facilities. The (Electric Mirror) Bathroom TV was a nice touch and the mood lighting worked well. Absent from the Vanity area of the bathroom was a hook where I could hang my wash bag - so I was forced to suspend it from the illuminated shaving/makeup mirror - not really a great option - just more out of desperation.Click here for photosThinking about working in the room, I then setup my notebook on the desk and connected it to the concealed power sockets - they did not work. I tried a couple of other devices, alas with same result, so I stretched my power cable to the connectivity panel embedded into the side unit under the TV - they worked. The power socket arrangement at the desk is interesting; there are two GB sockets, one US 125V socket and one European type connection. Oh yes, there is also a fax port. Do people still use fax?For some reason I could not connect to the Wi-Fi - but was able to get online with the wired connection at the desk. So I just created my own Wi-Fi network by sharing the Ethernet connection from my MacBook Pro. The Hotel has a strange charging policy - 24hours = GBP19.50, but you can get a free 1-month connection with 192kbps (see screenshot), so I opted for the free one. No one explained the difference, or limitations. I was just happy to save the twenty quid.The TV worked well - with quite a few FTG channels, and a fairly good selection of PPV movies and on-screen Internet - all of course chargeable through the iBahn etvi system.It was now time to go out and meet some friends across town - so we went back to the Lobby and I reported three things at the Reception desk:TemperatureMini-bar doorDesk powerI don't recall the lady apologizing when I mentioned these, just saying they would send an engineer - and we left.Returning around 11pm, we stopped off for a quick nightcap in the 1st floor bar, and then headed up to the room. I noticed some of the Executive Management was also there taking a late supper. My wife was treated to a comp sip of locally distilled Vodka, which the Barman explained was made just round the corner. Nice touch, and the almonds were delicious.Arriving at the room door, I inserted the key in to the lock only to have it rejected, I tried again - same problem so I tried the 2nd one - no luck. So we headed back down to Reception for a new key - lucky our room was by the lift, and it was only three floors to Reception, which was also situated just by the Lift on the Ground Floor. The lady receptionist said I must have placed them near my mobile phone or credit cards - which I had not, but even if I had done so - they should not have become unusable and she should not have chastised me for doing so. Oddly, as she was just about to cut the new keys, she asked me for my room number, although it was clearly written on the key cardholder I gave her. I guess she was just flustered...So, back to the room we went, this time escorted by another Host just to make sure we could get in, and all was good.By this time the room felt a bit cooler, but still warm. The room had been serviced and a small plate of chocolates left for us. I don't eat chocolates but my wife said they were nice - so that's ok.A single bottle of water and glass was placed on one side of the bed, yet there were two of us - I guess we were meant to share....The mini-bar door had been fixed, but when we opened it to get a bottle of cool water - the same issue happened with the door - meaning there must be a design defect.Power had been restored to the sockets at the desk, as well as and the illuminated vanity mirror built into the desk, so an engineer had definitely been to the room - but he had not closed the floor inspection panel by the desk. I later noticed that some of the rubbish materials left by the inspection cabinet had been removed - some that is, not all.Getting into bed, and figuring out how to control the lights and other services was very difficult. Often the buttons were non-responsive when depressed, and when they did work - the response time for the actual function to take place, was fairly delayed. One time, the desk unit auto re-booted with the process taking about three minutes to complete as it cycled through the six-stage process.One of the things I could not work out, was how to just switch on the desk lamp, and no other light - allowing me to work during the night, while not disturbing my wife. I also could not figure out easily how from a totally darkened room, how to just switch on a low light to get to the bathroom. I guess I should have just used the reading light affixed to the side of the bed.During the night, there were several odd sounds in the room - like clicks and beeps, which we think were emanating from the Emergency Broadcast speaker - but could not be sure. We both heard it, and remarked about it after waking in the morning.Still trying to cool the room down, I played with the wall mounted control panel, only to discover that although the day and month were correct, the year showed 1972. Looking at the phone, which should have had the same information, the date and time were correct - how bizarre!The Nespresso machine worked well, although my wife could not have her usual Green Tea in bed since there was no Kettle. She had to settle for plain water.Taking a shower was very pleasant - although a little unusual. The water pressure was good, and oversized amenities nice - excuse us, but we took the excess with us. But what we both noticed was the very soft water and how it was difficult to know if you had actually removed all the soap - ones skin just felt so smooth. I guess we are just used to hard water in Asia.All good things must come to an end, and it was time to check out - so we headed downstairs. I asked my wife to take a seat again in the nice comfy leather chairs while I handled the formalities. During the checkout process there appeared to be some problem printing a copy of my folio, and while that was taking place, I was approached by a lady standing in front of the Reception counter who graciously, yet embarrassingly (for me) introduced herself as Marie-Laure Akdag - Hotel Manager.Somehow I guessed this was who she must be, and frankly hoped she would not want to have to long discussion due to the preceding experience of what had happened upstairs. Anyway, when she asked if we had enjoyed our stay I simply replied, "It was interesting", and did not go into detail. Of course, she could not have asked if we'd stayed there before, but did inquire if we would be returning, to which I replied, "That may be a possibility..." and we left it at that.Click here for photosDate of stay - 3rd/4th September 2011(c) Terence Ronson ISHC Note: Due to various Government's controls of the Internet, some of the hyperlinks in this BLOG may not function.
Article by Terence Ronson ISHC

The Cloud Is Fast Approaching - What This Means To You - The Hotelier

Pertlink Limited · 1 August 2011
Will the Sun in all its magnificence and awesome power break through and shine - turning the clouds into beautiful white and friendly fluffy masses? Will the grey ones morph into something much more sinister - a doom and gloom of black, ready to unleash their hidden horrors of torrential rain, ear-shattering thunder claps and electrifying lightening bolts?Without doubt, the latest trend to grip the global technology industry is The Cloud - you read about it, you hear about it - but in all honesty, do you, a Hotel Industry Executive, really understand it and the associated implications? Do YOU even care?Let me demystify this subject - because it is in this Hospitality Industry Executive's point of view that YOU must absolutely care.So what is The Cloud?Simply put, if on a personal level you are using a web-based email service like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo, then you are already using The Cloud. If you perform web searches through Bing, Google, Wikipedia or Yahoo - you are using The Cloud. If you use applications like Google Apps or Office 365, you are using The Cloud. And if you shop via Amazon or iTunes, you are using The Cloud.This means you access a service usually through a Web Browser (such as Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox) - sometimes referred to as a 'Thin-Client' - a low-end computer with very little localized software needed to perform that task. Some of us can cast our minds back and see some kind of similarity to the bygone era days of Mini-computers where we used something called Dumb Terminals - those boxes with green or amber characters on black screens.Today, chances are high that we might use an app on a Smartphone or Tablet that performs a similar function - also connecting via the Internet.So let's try and understand more about The Cloud, and how it relates to YOU, the HotelierTraditionally, a Hotel has housed all of its technology on-property - in the building, or on campus. You may know this as the local Data Center - a.k.a. the Computer Room or Server Room.This space, however large or small, has grown in importance, sophistication and size as well as cost and demand for it's day to day management. Energy consumption has also exponentially increased.Hotels, depending on size and complexity, can have anywhere from 10 to 50+ systems to manage and maintain, an increasing cost burden to the business. Many predict, and I concur, that this burden will only worsen as we embrace more and more tech in our day-to-day existence.Moving to The Cloud is supposed to help alleviate these problems - But how?First, systems (that includes Applications and Data) will be moved off-property and housed in an external DC (Data Center). This is known as "above-property" - hence the association with The Cloud. This will quickly free up increasingly expensive manpower resources, much-needed physical space as well as reduce energy consumption and costs. I will explain more about the types of Cloud later in this BLOG.Second, since these systems will be DC based, your connection to them will be via the fragility of the Internet - either through a public line or some form of private leased line like MPLS - the latter being more secure and robust, yet operationally more costly.The DC will 'host' these systems in an environmentally controlled space, either one that is just for you, or more likely, in a shared environment - meaning that just not your business will operate from there. The applications and data may reside on your own (Computer) Servers, or on shared Servers using what is termed as 'virtualization' - meaning a single Server can be dissected to operate as though it were many Servers without any degradation to the QOS (Quality of Service) it provides.These DCs are spaces - they could be entire buildings as in the case of what Apple has just constructed in preparation for their upcoming iCloud launch, or they could be whole floors in a building or just rooms.Whatever shape or size they come in, they are supposed to be:Environmentally controlled - Temperature and HumidityEquipped with redundant and clean electrical suppliesEquipped with redundant hardware for auto failoverDesigned with spare capacity for your future expansion to include cabling and raised flooring etc.Super energy efficient and therefore cost efficientSecure from physical and virtual attackEquipped with Fire protection servicesManned with 7x24x365 on-site personnel to handle 'situations'Connected to the outside world via robust and failsafe connectionsAs an end user you may be privileged to know where the DC is located, or quite commonly, just advised of a general location such as the country or maybe a city. In the case of Public Clouds like I mentioned earlier such as Gmail, Amazon etc., you will only know they are in cyberspace and have no idea of a real physical location - this is because they may form part of a Cloud Federation or Intercloud - an interconnected group of Clouds (Data Centers) - cloaking their real physical location for additional security and resilience.Is there just one type of Cloud?No, in fact there are commonly three types of Cloud. For simplicity, let's relate these to the clouds and colors we all see in the sky.White = Private CloudGrey = Hosted CloudBlack = Public CloudWhat do these mean?Private (White)This is a dedicated Cloud that you, or your Company exclusively owns. It is in a fixed location - known to some, and managed/operated by your own people with your own dedicated hardware and software inside - controlling your own data.Those systems will likely interact with data and systems outside of this Cloud and not just other BU's (Business Units) within your organization. Don't lose sight of the fact that this Cloud is the nerve center and potential sole repository for all your Company's business interactions - a single point of failure. Additional security could take place through co-location facilities - meaning a second or additional DC setup in another location to mirror (back-up) the main DC in the event of failure.Hosted (Grey)This is a physical location where your systems and data share space with others - hence my reasons for naming it 'grey' - neither black or white.Likelihood is that you will have a dedicated Computer rack (space) where your equipment operates from, and this is physically secure, accessible only by authorized personnel - such as the hosting company or solution vendor (the company providing the service).However, you may be renting shared capacity on the same system as other businesses (a virtualized environment), and the vendor will try and offer you peace of mind through some form of guarantee for the security of your data.Public (Black)This is a shared environment - a public service that you and numerous others access/use - like the names I previously mentioned. You don't know where it is - nor do you need to - all you know is that it exists and functions.Why do we need the Cloud, and what does it have to offer?Businesses constantly strive to increase efficiencies, streamline costs, have continuity in systems, while at the same time factor in growth requirements - and IT strategists believe that moving data processing off-property to The Cloud will help with all of these. To some extent, that's true.One benefit of centralizing the enterprise with Cloud services is to simplify the process of increasing end users through something called elastic demand, and this, in theory, can give you extra processing capacity in a matter of minutes when you know or forecast that your business demands require it. A bit like extra Housekeeping staff if occupancy suddenly peaks and you outsource these services.Also, when computing requirements escalate, the Cloud service providers can balance your processing needs by tapping into additional computing resources. Both of these help control costs.Proponents of Cloud claim you have the ability to deploy company standards quickly and easily across the enterprise, thereby benefitting branding and marketing.This means that as properties are acquired (flagged) they could simply plug n play into the Network with little fuss or hardship to the operation.What about enhancing The Guest Experience?I've read copious amounts of articles, attended many conference presentations and watched various Podcasts about potential benefits of The Cloud, yet none claim it will enhance the Guest Experience or help drive brand loyalty - even though many of these papers and presentations have been specifically Hospitality focused. Why?All discussions heavily focus on the technology and cost benefits. As a Hotelier or Marketer; does it bother you that the Technologists and Finance people are driving this initiative and not the Front Line Business?Sure, like many things - cost is a key driver - but is this a false economy especially as some of the associated costs will now be shifted away from [Owners] Capex to [Operator's] Opex?Reflecting back - an indulgenceBefore I did what I do now, some of you will know that I was involved in Hong Kong with a leading PMS provider - in a Business Development role. During my time with that company, in 1997 Asia went through a Financial Crisis and not only did people stop buying, but they also stopped talking about buying. Do you recall those dark and cloudy days?Well, for a Salesperson, that's disastrous, and so in order to try and stimulate the market I dreamed up with a sales model (which today would be referred to as SaaS - Software as a Service), whereby we would charge users a transaction fee versus an upfront License fee and recurring annual fees.The model would have a base monthly cost to get Users into the system, and then we (the Company) would charge a transaction fee based on Occupied Room nights - I exercised great imagination over the naming of this concept - finally calling it "PAYS" - Pay as you Sell.It was a simple model - the Customer absorbed the hardware costs - although we could have arranged leasing via a major manufacturer, and then they (the Customer) paid a small upfront amount for getting into the system, which included implementation and training, and then they (the Customer) would be Live. A transaction fee could have been US$1 per occupied room night and billed monthly, or deducted from a credit balance, whichever was more suitable. Control for us to know what was sold, and in turn needed to be billed, was straightforward since we controlled the software, and could generate the billings, turning off the software if the Client failed to pay within a contractual time period.Potentially, it was a WIN-WIN for both sides.For the Customer - it meant reduced upfront costs, only really having to pay for what they used/sold - and the associated materialized revenue - a kind of demand-based billing system. If their business was good - so was ours, if it dipped, then we would be at one with them through that quiet period - as partners, but still assured of a monthly service fee to keep them on the system - and cover our basic costs.For Hotels it was a paradigm shift. Moving some of the costs from Capex to Opex - much appreciated by Owners - and at the same time allowing them to better control the performance and related costs of their Operators - The Hotel Management Company.For the Business - it would have allowed us to grow market share, show empathy with our clients, and be assured of a recurring revenue model over a long-term contract.Sadly, it never got off the ground - Why?Well, after making a detailed business case and presenting it to my Line Manager at the time, it was rejected on the basis that "we were not setup like a mobile phone company, and were more in the business of generating License fees, and not recurring revenue..."You can only imagine how I felt then, and the grudge I still bear up until now at this shortsightedness. I actually think this decision was more personal in nature - being made on the basis of personal compensation for achieved targets. Not recognizing License fee revenue under the traditional model, would have meant a decrease in personal earnings - again, how grossly shortsighted was that?Why do I raise this now?Moving to The Cloud exhibits several similarities to the PAYS model I conceived back in 1997, and the business models some providers are now putting in place today.In fact, because of The Cloud, many new tech terms have entered our daily vocabulary - and here are three more you should get to know:SaaS - Software as a ServiceIaaS - Infrastructure as a ServicePaaS - Platform as a ServiceSaaS - Software as a ServiceThis removes the need to own software - you just pay for it as you use it - a kind of demand-based billing - a utility.IaaS - Infrastructure as a ServiceThis is where you place your systems in to DC - and pay rental for the associated services.PaaS - Platform as a ServiceMostly used by Developers - these are development systems for creating Applications.Moving ForwardsNow you know these systems will be outside of your physical property and handled by others - potentially, you will surrender some direct day-to-day control over them, and you will likely be concerned over the following business issues:Data Security and OwnershipReliability and Availability of the systemDay-to-Day Management of the systemCosts for this serviceData Security and OwnershipLet's not fool ourselves - all systems and therefore by default - data, are vulnerable to attack. Being off-site does not necessarily change this critical fact and suitable precautions need to be put into place. There are as many experts out there to advise on this, as there are un-desirables lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce on your systems and steal the data, which includes the private transactional information of your clients.Also to be considered are jurisdictional rules about data transfer cross-border (Data Protection Act) and local data privacy issues. Add to these concerns over ownership of the data - and (long-term) Hotel Management Contracts will have to be amended in order that this issue is fully transparent to all parties - Owner and Operator. Oh yes, don't also forget Incentive agreements based on amended Opex costs and ultimate profitability.It's often a sticky issue that when a brand pulls out of a property - who actually owns the data held on the systems? This was an issue when systems were on-property, and now with them going off-property, the data may have to be extracted from a Central system, or cluster of systems, and repatriated in-house. Lawyers will love this conundrum and be more than happy to charge for their services.Reliability and AvailabilityWhen you have your Systems (Computers) on-property you will have a natural sense of security that if something untoward happens, like a power failure, data corruption or hardware crash, your local IT Team can jump in and hopefully quickly, and painlessly fix it. With Cloud based systems - that particular feeling will be traded off to others to handle - and you are at their mercy. Likely, contrasting to your local trained and managed team - they will not be Hoteliers (in mindset) - but technicians without that unique embedded Hospitality service culture you so painfully try to embed into employees.Sure, Data Centers/Hosting Companies will give you all the assurances in the world - but what do you do when a Guest is in the Lobby and you can't print a folio, or check them into a room or unlock various services because your Internet connection is down, or 'something' has happened at the Data Center.I'm not so naive to know that similar circumstances can't happen even with on-property based systems, but a quick walk to the Computer Room will allow you to see at first hand with your very own eyes the people trying to fix the particular issue - rather than frustratingly deal with them over a phone line - wherever they may be (different time zone), and in whatever language they speak. Trust issues may ensue.Business Continuity plans must be put into effect to mitigate these issues, when they occur. It's not a matter of if they will occur, because - it's just knowing that when they occur, that they can be dealt with swiftly and efficiently to allow you to continue your business and Guest Services in line with your Customer Service Guarantees.Look very very carefully at the Terms and Conditions of your SLA (Service Level Agreement) - focus on the Service, Support and QOS (Quality of Service) these offer and compensation when they fail. Having a compensation of US$200 per hour that the system is not available is ludicrous, and more trouble to you than benefit, especially when running high occupancy, or when Guest Service and your business reputation is affected.Not only do you need to concern yourself over the availability of the System in the Data Center (Cloud), but also how you connect to it - the Internet, and the relevant costs.In some countries, the cost of Internet connectivity is prohibitive, and on top of that notoriously unreliable. If you have to spend many thousands of US$ per month just for this connection, then the value proposition does not make good business sense - even if Corporate mandates, since your bottom line and profitability - owner returns, will be severely affected. Perhaps that's why many of these Cloud based initiatives have sprung up from developed geographies (like USA and Europe) where Internet connectivity is both stable and affordable.Consider also what can happen if there is a natural disaster, and Internet connectivity is lost such as an undersea cable gets cut, a Typhoon knocks out power, or your Local Government decides at a whim to turn-off the Internet. How will you operate then?Day-to-Day ManagementWith systems now being off-property, the traditional model of system management will change to one that is handled by others. Likely you will downsize your local IT team, and hand-off this responsibility either to a Team managing the DC, your Corporate IT team (via a Help Desk), or directly to a vendor if they are operating a SaaS model.Changes to the system like rates, menu prices, codes, users etc., will be processed via The Center and your request placed in a job queue along with others from your company. Prioritization will take place based on severity, with system faults escalating to the top of the queue, and others falling behind. A Server failure will always carry a higher priority than changing a menu price.Possibly, there will be different teams to handle different types of requests, depending on how the Center is managed and how large is the enterprise and Team.Some of these activities have been around for a while, and have seen the Operation fighting with IT over prioritization and alignment with service levels...CostsAs mentioned earlier, Cloud based computing models will see a paradigm shift in the way these systems are paid for.Under the traditional model, the Owner of your property will pay for all Hardware and Software, including Infrastructure (Capex). Service fees then fall under Opex.Under the Cloud-centric model, the Owner still pays for on-property hardware and software, but this is now much reduced since the Servers and Applications will be off-property. Computer rooms are scaled down in size and complexity, as could be the network infrastructure.But who pays for the DC? You will of course - the Business, and out of Opex. OUCH!Since it's unlikely that the majority of Hotel Groups will build and setup their own DC's, they will opt for the Grey version - Hosted Models, defraying costs across the Enterprise using some kind of pro-rated financial model. This equation will be company specific, and I'm not even going to speculate as to how this be sliced and diced, but suffice to say - you will be paying for it - and it will be a Cost Center - appearing as a recurring expense somewhere on your Financial Statement.Now YOU know a bit more about The Cloud, what type of Hotel Systems do we see moving to The Cloud?Short answer: All, however, let's note some current favorites;PMSHRSales and CateringRevenue Management and OptimizationCRMAccounting to include PayrollMenu and Recipe EngineeringTelephone (PABX)Telephone Call accounting and VoicemailERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)IPTV to include contentService Tracking/Service OptimizationSpa & LeisurePoint of SaleOffice Applications (such as Email and Microsoft Office)Access controlGuest Internet access authenticationFrom a Vendor and Technologist perspective, virtually all Hotel based systems are destined to move to The Cloud.What should be my Game Plan from here?Firstly, you need to mitigate risk. A Hotel in its entirety is a mission-critical operation, and really cannot afford for any of the working parts to go down or fail. As a well oiled machine the fact that the sum of its parts make up the business as a whole - the Guest Experience, means that if one of the systems fail, much the same as could happen if they were on-property, you need to know how to efficiently function without it.Being off-site, and having a single connection to all of them via the Internet, logically means that the likelihood of some kind of failure is increased - so a well thought through Business Continuity plan is essential.Secondly, you need to understand that there will be a cost, financially and operationally. Expenses move from Capex to Opex and all concerned need to be aware of the ramifications.Thirdly, know that support and system management is now out of your-day-to-day control, and some would argue placed into the hands of experts, who are more adept at managing and fixing those systems. Those experts will also take care of upgrades and system patching, which were often burdensome to the operation.The train has left the station as far as moving to The Cloud is concerned. But I predict Hotels will not go 100% into The Cloud - some systems and services will be left on-property - this due to cost, security and practicality.And to echo this thought - I recall hearing someone recently say, "The Cloud is for everyone - not for everything", and I agree with this wholeheartedly.Do YOU?
Article by Terence Ronson

What was your takeaway from HITEC 2011?

Pertlink Limited ·11 July 2011
For those of your unfamiliar with HITEC, it is the leading hospitality technology show, which takes place annually in the US, and in recent years, has expanded to Europe and Asia via sibling events - EHTEC and AHTEC.And what I enjoy the most during these events is speculating what was the take away by the thousands of attendees and exhibitors of this event - or what we term ROI - for the time and money spent in taking part in the show. For example, with all the variety of technologies on display, was it an eye opener? Were there rich pickings to be had from the numerous education and great keynote sessions? Or did the show provide fantastic networking opportunities in casual meetings along the show aisles and rest areas, or the very well attended after-show social events (a.k.a. physical social networking ) or the very selective invites to intimate vendor briefings held on the quiet in hotel suites?Whatever the circumstances, when I make my annual pilgrimage to HITEC - and I've been doing so since early 2000 (not nearly as long as some of those regulars and Hall of Famers), I try to establish a personal connection each year to this event by identifying an underlying theme - a specific technology that is being heavily promoted by either a group of Exhibitors, or the many education sessions to help gain a better appreciation of trends in the market.HITEC ran for four days and was packed to the gills, presenting a number of opportunities to learn, explore, network and benefit from the attendees and vendors who came together in Austin, Texas (home of HFTP the Producers of HITEC) in order to show off their wares and generously share abundant amounts of product and industry knowledge. And unless you were sequestered in your hotel room sheltering from the sweltering Texas heat, or spent all day at the malls and all night enjoying the world famous music scene, then for sure, you must have learnt something about Hotel TECH.Without doubt, this year's HITEC had shown the industry is firmly in recovery mode, and appears to be as optimistic and buoyant about the future as it ever was. This sentiment was echoed by several Exhibitors and Attendees. I was also encouraged by the attendance from my neck of the woods - Asia - up over previous years. Finally many Exhibitors have woken up to the potential of the region - so hopefully I will see some of them @AHTEC 2.0 .... Booths ranged from small to big and the after-show parties corroborated the fact that budgets were back from the doldrums and some I hear, even continued into the wee hours of the following morning.I was delighted that CIO's from many of the global hotel chains were in attendance, and only feedback from Exhibitors can conclusively prove if they were in buying or window-shopping mode. Regardless of that, it was great that they set time aside from their hectic schedules to attend, and on a purely personal level, excellent for me to have had the opportunity to catch up with some of them and participate in a few outstanding mind-sharing sessions.Like all trade shows, it's easy to get drawn and sucked into the glitz and sheer size of the big-boy stands that mostly take center stage or are strategically located by the entrance doors to attract the walk-in traffic. But IMHO, I think the real innovation comes from the small guys on the periphery. These are the people with the entrepreneurial spirit who have grown up from their kitchen tables, garages or college dorms and had the creativity and drive to deliver something new, and hopefully one day, when their product or service reaches the right level of adoption and maturity - springboard to 'something' big and significant. This group have likely borrowed, scraped, burned the candle at both ends and risked all, to deliver 'something' new and innovative to the industry - and I seriously applaud them for their tenacity in trying to break into this space. These all too common scenarios are indicative of the thrilling tech world we now live in - and when you look at some of those mega successful companies, it's exactly the route they took when they first started out. I truly hope they got the kind of ROI they sought.So what was on show - what was new and exciting at HITEC - and was there an underlying theme? Ask twenty different people, and I'm sure you will get twenty different answers, but in my case - let me tell you what I thought.I would say there were six prominent technologies on display, or being promoted/discussed at the education/keynote sessions:Social NetworkingHigh DefinitionThe CloudMobilityConnectivitySecurityThese items were conspicuous at HITEC - either as products or services, and became high-profile subjects for Keynotes and Education sessions. And when you read the HITEC related BLOGs and various news reports that have so far hit the trade media, you will note that in most cases, they have been separately highlighted.Therefore, as part of my observation, I believe there was an unintentional common denominator a simple link that glued all these together - The Internet. Surprised?How did I arrive at this conclusion? Quite simple, really. All of the above - just like in our daily lives - touches the Internet in one-way or another.Social Networking totally revolves around the Internet - just look at Facebook, Twitter, BLOGs, Linkedin, TripAdvisor, Groupon and the OTAs. And the so-called Cloud could not have been formed without it let alone Managed, Hosted, Above-property, and hosted / location based services. Let's also not overlook the recent concept of Crowdsourcing.Mobility for the most part requires Internet connectivity - even ubiquitous Wi-Fi can be loosely considered as the Internet especially since it's the mainstream transport mechanism to the internet along with the various G type networks (2,3,4), and as Guest's carry more and more (connected) devices and bring their own content - mostly derived from Internet services like iTunes, they then want to connect those devices to in-hotel services like the flat screen TV you have so kindly provisioned for them.They regularly by-pass Hotel provided PPV services to enjoy High Definition content derived from the Internet (where the industry continues to struggle over the Free or Fee based model) whether it's Netflix, Hulu, Slingbox or You Tube (the planets most popular source of video) - this even more so as SMART and Connected TVs become mainstream. And when it comes to making phone calls, they (the Guest) gladly circumvent your phone system and use more cost effective Cloud services like Skype. And to capitalize from the guest's expense of buying these devices and increase so-called guest convenience, some Hotels are trying to use these gizmos to open Guestroom doors by using Bluetooth or playing musical tones.The only remaining item from the list is likely to be the biggest - Security. This must be the greatest concern of CIO's and can often be felt as some temporarily change their titles to CISO's (Chief Information Security Officer) in order to deal with those issues - mostly brought about through Internet connectivity and the ensuing exposure to an ever increasing criminal element. I would even go as far as to speculate that this keeps them awake at night.I don't need to tell you that nearly everything we do (tech associated) relies on the Internet, and the (Hospitality) industry continues to grapple with ways at how best to come to terms with its sheer power and enormity.We constantly use the Internet in our daily personal lives - whether it's for information gathering, social networking, financial transactions, communicating and collaborating with friends and family, or getting multimedia content. It's a great part of it - and it isn't going away. And in our professional lives, the likelihood of survival without it is both infinitesimal and unthinkable.Want a comparison? It's like when Man first discovered the Solar System and sent out exploratory missions to see just how far and wide one could travel - and no one knew just how far you could go, and what it contained - dare I say the Internet is very similar? Everyday, we find different ways to use it, many for legitimate reasons, some nefarious. It's a real life Pandora's box, and now we've firmly opened it, we have to find acceptable ways to live with it, and maximize it's potential. We cannot put the lid back and so I often wonder if it has a use by date, or if there is a Big Bang waiting for us at the end...HITEC 2011 was a glimpse into the fascinating yet scary Cyberworld that awaits us all.Go Netizens!P.S. HITEC 2012 will take place in Baltimore, Maryland from June 25 - 28, at the Baltimore Convention Center(c) Terence Ronson ISHC

AHTEC 2011 | Panel Video Coverage

Pertlink Limited · 6 June 2011
With participation from 35 International Speakers representing 8 different countries and over 200 Registrants, AHTEC@HOFEX 2011 held on May 12th and 13th, has quickly become the leading independent Hotel Technology Conference in Asia.Spanning a two-day period, AHTEC@HOFEX took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition center, and attracted a regional audience to include New Zealand, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, Philippines, Thailand and the Peoples Republic of China.

AHTEC 2011 | Keynotes Video Coverage

Pertlink Limited · 6 June 2011
With participation from 35 International Speakers representing 8 different countries and over 200 Registrants, AHTEC@HOFEX 2011 held on May 12th and 13th, has quickly become the leading independent Hotel Technology Conference in Asia.Spanning a two-day period, AHTEC@HOFEX took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition center, and attracted a regional audience to include New Zealand, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, Philippines, Thailand and the Peoples Republic of China.

AHTEC@HOFEX 2011 declared a resounding success

Pertlink Limited ·23 May 2011
With participation from 35 International Speakers representing 8 different countries and over 200 Registrants, AHTEC@HOFEX 2011 held on May 12th and 13th, has quickly become the leading independent Hotel Technology Conference in Asia.Spanning a two-day period, AHTEC@HOFEX took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition center, and attracted a regional audience to include New Zealand, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, Philippines, Thailand and the Peoples Republic of China.The all-encompassing agenda contained 4 Keynote Sessions and Case Studies, 3 Commercial Sessions and 9 Panel Discussions comprising the following Speakers:1. Acme Dong - Deputy Director Information Center - Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town Company - Shenzhen, (PRC)2. Angie Leung - Managing Director - HTTPOOL - (Hong Kong)3. Charles Reed - Global CEO - DOCOMO InterTouch (Singapore)4. Chris Gribble B.Bus., CPA - VP and General Manager - Hospitality Solutions - Infor-SoftBrands, Asia Pacific (Australia)5. Dale Johnstone - Partner - Xione Group Limited & Vice Convenor ISO/IEC JTC1 SC27 WG1 - (Hong Kong)6. Daniel Lam - Business Development Executive - General Business - IBM Greater China - (Hong Kong)7. Dave Shuker - Executive Director - Redwing Consulting (Indonesia)8. Dean Winter - General Manager - Upper House (Hong Kong)9. Dirk Dalichau - Vice President Operation & Development, Miramar International Hotel Management Corp. S.A. - (Hong Kong)10. Dirk Dumortier - VP Cross Industry Solutions APAC - Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (Singapore)11. Eric Du - General Manager - Dragon Hotel, Hangzhou (PRC)12. Eric Tsui - Professor of Knowledge Management, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Hong Kong)13. Frank Wolfe - CEO - HFTP - (USA) - Conference Co-Chair14. Gerhard Zimmer - Hotelier (Philippines)15. Grahame Tate - Managing Director - Asia Pacific, IDeaS a SAS Company (Australia)16. Henri Roelings - CEO - Hospitality Net (Netherlands)17. Howard Field - President - Howard Field (UK)18. Howard Tse - Regional Director, Business Development, Enterprise Systems - Micros-Fidelio Asia Pacific - (Hong Kong)19. James Lee - Director of Finance - Regent Hotel (Singapore)20. Jurgen Meyer - IT Director - Minor Hotel Group - (Thailand)21. Les Spielman - Founder - HACL (Hospitality Automation Consultants Limited) (USA)22. Mark Keith - Managing Director - HVS - (Hong Kong)23. Mark Page - Director of Sales - Enterprise System - Micros-Fidelio (Australia)24. Matt Mitchell - Vice President - Global Accounts - iBahn - (Hong Kong)25. Michael Levie - Founding Partner - citizenM - (Netherlands)26. Michael Sacks - Managing Director - Micros-Fidelio, Hong Kong - (Hong Kong)27. Oliver Winzer - CEO - at-visions - Asia Pacific (Singapore)28. Rajagopal Gampa - Corporate Director of Information Technology - New World Hospitality - (Hong Kong)29. Rudi Leung - Director - AGENDA - (Hong Kong)30. Sean Seah - Director of e-Commerce with Langham Hospitality Group (Hong Kong)31. Siv Forlie - Director of Corporate Revenue Management - Shangri-La International Hotel Management Limited (Hong Kong)32. Tat Meng Chee - Regional Sales Director - Hospitality, Asia Pacific - Avaya, (Singapore)33. Ted Horner - Founder - Horner and Associates (Australia)34. Terence Ronson - Managing Director - Pertlink (Hong Kong) -Conference Co-Chair35. Terry Price - Chief Information Officer - Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa (USA)AHTEC (Asian Hospitality Technology Education Conference) - was created out of a newly formed partnership between HFTP (Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals - USA and owners of HITEC(c)), HKES-Allworld (Hong Kong Exhibition Services / Allworld - owners of HOFEX(c)) and Terence Ronson, Managing Director - Pertlink (a Hong Kong Hospitality Consultancy with a focus on IT). This first show was co-located at HOFEX.Terence Ronson - Managing Director - Pertlink and Co-Chair said, "Our relationship with HKES and HOFEX dates back to 2002, and we are extremely happy to see the Technology Conference held in conjunction with HOFEX mature to this level. Hard work and effort have definitely paid off, with the results of the show fuelling our enthusiasm to do even better next time - it was a magnificent event".General Manager - Daniel Cheung of HKESALLWORLD had this to say about AHTEC@HOFEX 2011, "We have been successfully working with Pertlink for many years now, and are very happy to see them partner with HFTP for this event. AHTEC@HOFEX 2011 was a great success, and complimented HOFEX with this Technology Conference. We certainly look forward to working with AHTEC in the coming years".With participation from Mainland China, a simultaneous interpretation was utilized so that the audience and speakers could share more easily share views and knowledge.All sessions were captured on video, allowing participants to re-live the event and study in more detail the content-rich presentations at their own pace. Furthermore, this allows those who could not attend in person, to 'virtually participate' and also share the knowledge and experience.And as part of the many networking opportunities the conference offered, a unique Welcome Reception was held at the newly opened Hotel ICON. Attendees had the opportunity to join a behind-the-scenes tour and experience at first hand the many great facilities of the Hotel, especially the Classrooms and LABs of the integrated Hotel school where Hospitality students receive a first class education.Richard Hatter, General Manager, Hotel ICON said, "It was an honor and pleasure to have been the selected the venue for this very special party. Our lounge and bar, GREEN was chosen because it's the perfect venue for relaxing intimate gatherings whilst having a 3-storey vertical garden as the backdrop. The hotel only opened a few days prior to the event, and so was a great platform to showcase our property and what we had to offer."Frank Wolfe - CEO of HFTP and C-Chair commented on AHTEC: "HOFEX is the leading Hospitality show in Asia, and being part of that with AHTEC, has been a great opportunity to further HFTP's cause by delivering first class education programs. We are extremely delighted to be part of this, and overjoyed at the outcome of this first event. We are anxiously looking forward to the next Conference".There was an extensive programme for AHTEC@HOFEX 2011 and the subjects included:* Cloud Computing - How to get your head round this elusive subject* Let's use Technology to bridge the generation gap - Social Media* IT & Finance - do they mix together like oil and water* Security is the 8-letter word you should be very very afraid of* What in the world must I have been thinking when I decided to put an ERP system into a hotel?* How to keep your guests entertained in their rooms* Convergence - what does this mean?* Technology in F&B* Adapt, Capitalize and Win - a focus on Sales* Wi-Fi roaming and mobile technology in Hotels* citizenM - re-imagining how a Hotel should be* How to change your old Hotel into a new hi-tech one* Why is internet access so important, and how will you cope with increased bandwidthSponsors included:* at-visions* DOCOMO Intertouch* Micros-Fidelio* Alcatel-Lucent* Avaya* iBahn* IBM* IDeaS* Infor-Softbrands* Square-i InternationalAHTEC was co-located with HOFEX for 2011, and will co-locate with other shows in those years when HOFEX does not happen, since it is a bi-annual event.Videos from AHTEC@HOFEX 2011 will shortly be released to various online media.The first group of photos can be viewed here:
Article by Terence Ronson

Life can be full of (pleasant) surprises

Pertlink Limited · 9 May 2011
I hope you read an earlier BLOG of mine, when I wrote about the great Disney Institute course I attended (Delivering Quality Service), and how their philosophy is to create a series of little WOWs, rather than just one big one - impressing their customers at different touch-points during exposure to the brand. How obviously simple and important I thought that was at the time, and wished the business would pick up and follow this great, yet modest philosophy.Well let me tell you how delighted I was to experience such a Hotel when I recently stayed three nights at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS), Singapore, as part of my participation in the HICAP Conference (4-5 May).I must preface this by saying - they knew I was coming - so it was not an entirely incognito stay - having said that, I really don't think, from a practicality point of view, that they went to the extent of circulating my photo and briefing every employee about me - unlike a certain Shanghai Hotel did on a re-visit. After all, MBS has 2,561 rooms and a suitably sized team to support this.Yes, I got upgraded to a Suite complete with a spectacular City view, in addition to which it had many of the accouterments I have come to look for and enjoy like Bananas in the fruit basket, bottles of mineral water and a Nespresso machine. Thanks! But more importantly, it had a few extra niceties that I want to point out.Firstly, the hairdryer was easy to find - it was attached to the wall next to the double vanity and not hidden like one often finds, and has to be hunted for. This is a pet peeve of my wife - who has been known to say to me on the rare occasions when we travel together on a trip, "I wonder where they have hidden the hairdryer this time?" There was a big shower cubicle - one in which I could easily spread my arms and turn around in - stepping out of the water spray to soap up, and then back into to rinse off. And, in one corner, an alcove with a built-in seat to either sit on, or lift ones leg/foot for ease of cleaning. But, the creme de la creme were the shower amenities where one could easily read the description of the contents without putting on ones glasses. GREAT!Each day the room (OK Suite) was serviced, with the Room Attendant kindly and caringly taking time out to tidy up the wires/cables I left on the desk - neatly coiling them into little bundles. These were my iPod cable and the cable of the power adapter to my Notebook. Very Good!I should also mention that the TV stayed on BBC when switched back on, rather than going again and again to the Hotels' promo splash page of their IPTV system. I know why we do that, but honestly, it can be annoying.Then there was the fact that my Bathroom toiletries were also tidied up - placed in straight rows, and in descending height order - big at the back, and small at the front. And running perpendicular, was my razor. Nice! Each evening at turn down, there was a different "turndown goodie" including Macaroons, local cakes and sweets, and some delicate chocolate cups filled with fresh fruits and berries. I had to exercise very strong willpower to avoid nibbling them all.Outside of the room, I tried the Breakfast Buffet at the Roof Top Club Lounge - which if you have seen or know of the MBS is their piece de resistance - complete with an infinity pool perched on top of the building spanning all three towers. Very good standard breakfast fare supplemented with many goodies to include Gravlax, assorted fresh berries, lots of fruits and nuts, and some very interesting jams and compotes.Overall, I must say that the Staff were friendly and helpful with a few requiring a special mention:Firstly there was Sebastian my Butler who upon coming to my room for collecting the luggage said, "Mr. Ronson I note you are returning on the xxth and can you please let me know your arrival time so I can make sure everything is ready for you." No one told him I was coming back - he had used initiative and flagged that himself.Next was Andrew a Bellman from the Guest Services Dept. He saw me queuing up to check out - came over - made a small bow - and out of the blue offered his services with my luggage and a car to the airport (my luggage was in storage). I said thanks, but I was organized for these - and he proceeded to give me his name card offering any assistance I may need - and to just call him.Lastly, there was Indah the Front Office Clerk - I believe that was her name - who firstly apologized for keeping me waiting to check-out (not so long maybe 5 minutes), and upon noticing I had dined at one of the restaurants in the adjacent Mall - Osteria Mozza, inquired as to whether I had enjoyed the meal. She said she had heard about the place and i think seen it on TV, but not yet had the chance to visit and was curious how it was. She sounded genuine (rather than mechanical) in asking if I enjoyed my Hotel stay - and too also noticed I was shortly to return - saying she looks forward to welcoming me back.In life, it's definately the small things that count! Photo Slideshow can be found here

AHTEC@HOFEX 2011 - Update

Pertlink Limited · 2 May 2011
Carmen Lam - Leisure and Brand Marketing and Sales - Melco-Crown (Macau)Charles Reed - CEO - DOCOMO Intertouch (Singapore)Chris Gribble B.Bus., CPA - VP and General Manager - Hospitality Solutions - Infor-SoftBrands, Asia Pacific (Australia)Dale Johnstone - Partner - Xione Group Limited & Vice Convenor ISO/IEC JTC1 SC27 WG1 - (Hong Kong)Daniel Lam - Business Development Executive - General Business - IBM Greater China - (Hong Kong)Dirk Dalichau - Vice President Operation & Development, Miramar International Hotel Management Corp. S.A. - (Hong Kong)Dirk Dumortier - VP GMO and Verticals Business Development APAC - Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (Singapore)Eric Du - General Manager - Dragon Hotel (PRC)Eric Tsui - Professor of Knowledge Management, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Hong Kong)Frank Wolfe - CEO - HFTP - (USA)Gerhard Zimmer - Hotelier (Philippines)Grahame Tate - Managing Director - Asia Pacific, IDeaS a SAS Company (Australia)Henri Roelings - CEO - Hospitality Net (Netherlands)Howard Field - President - Howard Field (UK)Howard Tse - Regional Director, Business Development, Enterprise Systems - Micros-Fidelio Asia Pacific - (Hong Kong)Ingvar Herland - General Research Manager of the Electronic Services Department - Hong Kong Shanghai HotelLes Spielman - Founder - HACL (Hospitality Automation Consultants Limited) (USA)Mark Keith - HVS - (Hong Kong)Mark Page - Director of Sales - Enterprise System - Micros-Fidelio (Australia)Matt Mitchell - Vice President - Global Accounts - iBahn - (Hong Kong)Michael Levie - Founding Partner - citizenM - (Netherlands)Michael Sacks - Managing Director - Micros-Fidelio, Hong Kong - (Hong Kong)Oliver Winzer - CEO - at-visions - Asia Pacific (Singapore)Rajagopal Gampa - Corporate Director of Information Technology - New World Hospitality - (Hong Kong)Rudi Leung - Director - AGENDA - (Hong Kong)Sean Seah - Director of e-Commerce with Langham Hospitality Group (Hong Kong)Tat Meng Chee - Regional Sales Director - Hospitality, Asia Pacific - Avaya, (Singapore)Ted Horner - Founder - Horner and Associates (Australia)Terence Ronson - Managing Director - Pertlink (Hong Kong)Terry Price - Chief Information Officer - Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa (USA)Apart from the great content that will be covered by the Conference, there are numerous Networking opportunities to include Coffee and Tea Breaks, Lunches and a unique Welcome Reception at the newly opened Hotel ICON - of course, you can also visit the many TECH Exhibits in HOFEX which runs from May 11th - May 14th.Sponsors include:at-visionsDOCOM IntertouchMicros-FidelioAlcatel-LucentAvayaiBahnIBMIDeaSInfor - SoftbrandsSquare-i InternationalSupporting Organizations:HFTPPertlinkIf you have not yet booked a place - please do so NOW - by contacting: Winnie Leung at Hong Kong Exhibition Services.For more details about AHTEC@HOFEX 2011 - click here

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