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Industry News - October 1st 2010



Five Trends that Will Shape Social Media

The past few years have seen some spectacular changes in the technology that embeds itself in our daily lives. The perfect storm of social media, smart phones and location awareness is only beginning to take full effect. We've gazed into crystal ball and considered how we think these technologies will combine to become such an established fabric of our lives that in the next few years what we've written here won't be considered amazing at all.

Identity will become embedded in your devices
Your social media identities (Twitter username, Facebook profile, LinkedIn profile, Digg profile, etc.) will be entered as part of setting up your devices and propagated into all applications. Apps will then be able to access social network functionality through APIs and be able to use embedded identity without need for entering credentials.

You'll no longer have to enter your Twitter or Facebook credentials to access Twitter and Facebook functionality on mobile phone apps, they will seamlessly access your profile in the same way that a "mailto:" link opens an already configured email client on your desktop. The recently rumoured Facebook phone is an example how this approach could be applied.

The sign of success for a major social media platform will become whether device manufacturers and browsers include its identity as part of their configuration settings.


Skip the Front Desk. IHG Pilots Cell Phone Check-ins

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is piloting of a mobile-based front desk bypass solution that gives guests at the Holiday Inn & Suites Chicago O'Hare Rosemont and the Holiday Inn Express Houston Downtown the freedom of choice. As part of the pilot that began this month, travelers visiting the two locations can choose between MobileKey access to their guestroom or continue to check-in the traditional way and obtain a plastic keycard prior to going to their room.

"Through technology we are able to find new ways to enhance the guest experience at our hotels. More and more of our guests - especially Gen Y and business travelers - are looking for simpler, more efficient ways to check-in and get to their rooms," says Bryson Koehler, senior vice president of revenue and guest technology, IHG. "Due to the proliferation of mobile devices, a MobileKey could be a great option. With all the interest in MobileKey, we've created a blog called IHG Innovation Center. The blog will help our guests and consumers stay up-to-date about the latest news surrounding the pilot, interact with us directly and ask questions. We also hope that our guests will tell us what they think about MobileKey."

During the pilot, guests will have the option to "enroll" for MobileKey via the e-mail sent prior to their check-in date or at the front desk. If they choose to participate in the pilot, they will be among the first guests to use MobileKey. Participants will be rewarded with a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card for filling out a short survey after their stay.

OpenWays, the company that created the MoblieKey technology, uses the principle of Crypto Acoustic Credential (CAC) and text messaging (SMS) to securely deliver an encrypted tone or "credential" to the right user anywhere in the world. Installation of the technology at hotels involves a simple upgrade to all existing room locks with an OpenWays CAC decoding device. The solution is compatible with the latest smartphones (including the new Apple iPhone 4 and 3GS, the Google Android-based phones, Blackberry's, etc.) and every other cell phone and carrier worldwide as well as all the major electronic-locking systems and access-control systems. The easy-to-use MobileKey invites each guest via e-mail to "enroll" for the mobile room key service before their check-in date. The day of arrival the guest receives a text message containing both the room number and a secured link to retrieve the room key. When the guest arrives at the hotel, the guest can bypass the front desk, go directly to the room, and via cell phone open the door lock. Each CAC "aural" key produced is encrypted, unique and becomes obsolete from the moment it is used for optimum security.


One&Only Resorts Banks on Pegasus Solutions' Global Commission Processing Services

One&Only Resorts has chosen Pegasus Solutions' agent-preferred Global Commission Processing Services to handle commission tracking and payment for five of its six luxury resorts worldwide. The award-winning brand is a portfolio of resort properties in exotic locations including Mexico, The Bahamas, Mauritius, Maldives, Cape Town, and Dubai.

The partnership between Pegasus and the One&Only brand (GDS brand code OO) currently includes the following resorts: One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico; One&Only Le Saint Géran in Mauritius; One&Only Reethi Rah in Maldives; One&Only Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa; and One&Only Royal Mirage in Dubai. In October 2010, One&Only The Palm will open in Dubai. Each offers a distinctive experience tied to sense-of-place with outstanding service, spa, entertainment and culinary offerings in equally idyllic natural settings.

Pegasus will support the One&Only brand in recognizing the value of high levels of customer satisfaction in order to attract repeat business and enhance its strength as a hospitality brand.

Pegasus Global Commission Processing through the five One&Only Resorts offers agents weekly commission payments via check or direct deposit in any of 37 currencies. As the preferred commission payment provider for more than 60,000 travel agencies worldwide, Pegasus processes more than $500 million in commissions annually, serving more than 35,000 properties, as well as the majority of travel distributors in more than 200 countries.


Hilton, IHG Join Advisory Board to Guide Development of Check-in/out Technologies

Ariane Systems has established a Technical Advisory Board (TAB) consisting of some of the top hotel companies in the world to examine how to best enhance the guest check-in/out experience. Executives from InterContinental Hotels Group, Hilton Worldwide, Louvre Hotels, Choice Hotels Scandinavia and The Rezidor Hotel Group are among the hoteliers that are lending their expertise and guidance to this important technological initiative.

Ariane Systems is facilitating the work of the TAB and its members, who will confer and provide input on a regular basis to determine the best methods of leveraging technology to improve the guest experience, while also increasing revenue opportunities related to hotel check-in/out processes.

The advisory board will also discuss ways to better utilize future technology developments to improve guest satisfaction, while boosting upsell opportunities for hoteliers. The panel considers various guest service scenarios and how Ariane's check-in/out solutions can be customized to address the hypothetical issues. TAB members also collaborate on technical issues, ensuring that all Ariane Integrated Hotel Systems, including the web/mobile check-in/out solution that is currently in development, will maintain complete security and data integrity.

"We strongly believe that mobility is essential for the hotel industry," says Svein Krakk, CIO/Vice President IS/IT for Choice Hotels Scandinavia. "Mobility is the key to giving our customers a better hotel experience and adjusting to their wish for increased flexibility and efficiency. From a hotel perspective, mobility is essential in increasing efficiency and focusing on a better customer experience."

Ariane Systems' web/mobile solution is scheduled for release later this year. Designed to offer increased flexibility associated with check-in/out processes, it will enable guests to check in or check out when and where they choose -- at a hotel kiosk, from their personal computer prior to arrival or via smartphone or other mobile device, such as an iPad or Android device.


Tacoma Regional CVB Launches Online Housing Reservation System

Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) announced the signing of an agreement withMeetingmax Systems to handle its online housing reservation needs. The CVB made the decision in order to meet the growing calls from meeting planners for a simplified housing solution.

"Meetingmax's system has an excellent reputation within the travel industry," says Shauna Lunde, director of sales and marketing for the Tacoma Regional CVB. "Meeting planners have had positive experiences with the system in other destinations and have been requesting the service from us."

With 87 hotels and 6,000 hotel rooms, the Tacoma Regional CVB was looking for a system that could simplify the process of reserving room blocks at a variety of hotels. Instead of having to use each hotel's system to track bookings, a meeting planner can secure blocks of housing through the CVB and manage their bookings through one central portal. Conference attendees are sent a link which allows them to explore participating hotels and book their own rooms.

Meetingmax's system was selected based on its user-friendly interface and the fact that it does not have minimum booking requirements. The system has received positive feedback from other Washington destinations and is now used by CVBs in Spokane, Tri-Cities, and Yakima.


$200,000 in Credit Card Fraud Linked to Fla. Restaurant

As reported from BankInformationSecurity.com, a summertime spike in credit card fraud in the Tallahassee, Fla., region is linked to one restaurant that had its point of sale software targeted by hackers, resulting in $200,000 in fraud losses.

Julie's Place, a Tallahassee eatery, was identified by the Leon County Sheriff's Office Financial Crimes Unit as the source of the card compromises, which involve more than 100 consumer accounts. This incident is only one of several payment card crimes reported in Florida this summer.

The twist in this case: The hackers targeted the data somewhere between the network and the restaurant's processor. This breach has prompted the major credit card companies to request a full forensic investigation of the incident. Meanwhile, the manufacturer of the payment software says its system was not the cause of breach.

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