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Industry News - October 29th 2010



Motel 6 Revamps Mobile Site

Motel 6 has unveiled its newly-designed mobile Web site, making it quick and simple for guests to find and book rooms at more than 1,000 locations in the United States and Canada using their mobile devices. Like www.motel6.com, the mobile Web site is sleek, stylish, and reflects many of Motel 6's "Phoenix" design elements."We know our guests are often on-the-go and rely on their mobile devices to provide quick access to important information," says Olivier Poirot, CEO for Accor North America, Motel 6 and Studio 6. "The design of our mobile Web site offers guests a simple and quick way to locate the right Motel 6 for their travel needs."

The mobile Web site enables users to log into their My Motel 6 account, accessing their most recent stays and viewing future bookings. New navigation will take users easily to the most convenient Motel 6 for their needs, while allowing for easy online booking with just a few clicks. The mobile site also provides guests with pertinent details for their visit, including each location's amenities and brand policies.



Groupon Promotion Tests Food Provider's Online Ordering System

When Gourmet Prep became Houston's first ready-to-cook meal service they knew they were onto something. According to co-founder Gur Tsabar, "Gourmet Prep had great momentum from the beginning. To further promote awareness and acquire new customers, we decided to offer a significant discount via a Groupon feature." In addition to a tremendous surge of customers, Gourmet Prep's customer database is now filled with discount-seeking patrons hungry for their latest coupons and sales.

Gourmet Prep relies solely on online ordering for processing orders. According to Tsabar, "The fact that we use BigHoller for our online ordering made the Groupon promotion seamless. BigHoller has already proven that they can handle hundreds of orders a minute if necessary. When the Groupon promotion closed, we used BigHoller's LoyaltyConnect to upload all of the individual discount codes within seconds. We were ready for the onslaught."

For high-tech-bargain-hunting foodies, Groupon is the deal-of-the-day phenomena sweeping the U.S. and Canada. The service is famous for driving a large influx of customers to any business with the promise of deep discounts for consumers. According to a recent article published in Businessweek.com, "Restaurants account for nearly half of Groupon's deals."

BigHoller Online Ordering is a powerful tool for local and small businesses that are considering Groupon to drive new customers to their doors. Larger ticket sizes and more repeat customer visits are the trademark of a truly mature and effective online ordering system. To this effect, through online ordering's ability to capture e-mails, one-time bargain-hunting customers can be enticed to become repeat customers with online coupons and deals via e-mail. Strategic up-selling and combo deals can also increase ticket sizes and introduce different menu items to customers interested in savings. Capitalizing on the newfound Groupon customers could prove overwhelming on an in-store basis as owners and employees hurry to get orders out the door, but online ordering makes it easy to make the most of it. Post-sales and customer data generated can guarantee sales for months to come.



Dolce Taps Online Res System for Management of 30,000 Yearly Events

Dolce Hotels and Resorts (Dolce), an operator of hotels, resorts and conference centers in North America and Europe, announced its brand-wide initiative to offer Passkey's GroupMAX online reservation technology to power its group operations.

Dolce hosts north of 30,000 events and 4 million clients globally each year. With more than 65 percent of its business in the group sector, the brand recognizes the importance of capturing a strategic advantage over competitors in the meetings market.

"The GroupMAX solution puts Dolce at the leading edge of technology that our customers are demanding. Not only is it a useful business tool, it is the essential ingredient to complete our meetings offerings," says Barry Goldstein, chief revenue officer, Dolce Hotels and Resorts. "We strive to create extraordinary experiences for our guests and meeting planners. GroupMAX allows us to personalize each event, while delivering tangible results to each of our planners and hotels."

Dolce's decision to add a brand-wide application to manage group operations across the portfolio represents the company's commitment to elevating service levels to meeting planners and providing group guests a superior event experience. Meeting planners will benefit from an online toolset that uses a consistent interface at every Dolce property worldwide.

Of particular importance to both meeting planners and Dolce staff is GroupMAX's innovative reporting capabilities which offer the ability to track room block and reservation trends throughout the event lifecycle via intuitive online dashboards, email alerts and mobile applications. These tools help planners and hotel staff optimize their room blocks, mitigate attrition risks and offer guests a top notch booking experience.

In addition, GroupMAX provides Dolce with an integrated marketing application that allows it to market room upgrades, promotional offers and amenities to group guests in a highly professional and predictable manner. This has proven to generate substantial incremental revenues for hotels from the sale of room upgrades, extended stays and hotel amenities.



Le Centre Sheraton Montreal: Environmentalism Key Factor in Upgrading to RFID Locks

Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel in Quebec, Canada takes a Twenty-First Century technology approach to ensure its guests with an advanced, reliable and secure guestroom door locking systems. When the property recently completely renovated all 825 of its guestrooms, it implemented KABA's ILCO 790 RFID contactless hotel locks on every hotel room door.

"Since we implemented KABA's ILCO RFID locks in March we have had no keycard issues because RFID locks always work and cannot be demagnetized; this is a big accomplishment for a 825-room hotel," says Daniel Verner, financial controller for Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel. "We found RFID locks are superior to the older units we replaced. Our new ILCO hotel door lock technology works every time and it eliminates the need for guests to make the journey back to the front desk for a new key."

Prior to implementing KABA's RFID door locking system, Le Centre Sheraton Montreal used mag-stripe keycards, as do most hotels. Although mag-stripe cards are the most widely used form of keycard today, they are not perfect. If the coded surface of a mag-stripe keycard is scratched, or if the key comes in contact with some types of handheld devices, they may be unable to unlock a guest's door. RFID keys, wristbands and fobs communicate with door locks and other code readers by radio signals that are not influenced by magnets.

Environmentally friendly
RFID keycards are more than guest friendly; they are also environmentally friendly. This was an important factor in the Centre Sheraton's decision to upgrade its lock system. RFID cards are more durable and can be reused many times rather than be discarded. Additionally, RFID locks are convenient because guests only have to flash their key in front of the RFID door reader or unlock their guestroom. The key does not need to be inserted.

"We wanted to promote recycling and reuse of as many keycards as possible," says Verner. "To accomplish this Le Centre Sheraton Montreal developed prominent signage requesting guests leave their keys in their rooms at check out. We have a similar message on the RFID keys themselves and have to purchase far fewer keys now." If guests should forget or miss the message to leave the key in their rooms, the property also has well-marked keycard recycle drop boxes near the hotel's front doors.

"We want to provide our guests with the most stress-free and enjoyable stay possible. KABA's innovative ILCO RFID technology allows us to do that," says Verner. "Providing self check-in kiosks also lets guests bypass long lines and gets them into their rooms quickly the first time around."



Starbucks Expands Mobile Payment Test to 300 NYC-area Locations

Starbucks has expanded its Starbucks Card Mobile payment test to nearly 300 company-operated stores in New York City, and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. This builds on the successful launch of Starbucks Card Mobile App for select BlackBerry smartphones, iPhone and iPod touch, and the Starbucks mobile payment test which started in fall 2009. Now, Starbucks next mobile move will offer customers in the New York City area an enhanced Starbucks Experience, including the ease and convenience of paying for their favorite Starbucks beverage with their mobile phone.

"Mobile technology is part of our customers' daily routine and with the expansion of mobile payment in our test cities, we're seeing more and more customers using their smartphones as their mobile wallets," says Brady Brewer, vice president Starbucks card and loyalty. "We've heard from our customers on My Starbucks Idea that they want a faster, more convenient way to pay. Now we're inviting customers in New York City and Long Island to experience mobile payment and the fastest way to pay at Starbucks. Mobile is just one of the ways we continue to innovate and enhance the experience for our customers."

n response to customer feedback, the Starbucks Card Mobile App was first developed for select BlackBerry smartphones and iPhone as these devices are used by more than 71 percent of Starbucks smartphone-carrying customers. To experience mobile payment at participating New York City-area Starbucks, customers just need to download the free Starbucks Card Mobile App on their supported BlackBerry smartphone, iPhone or iPod touch. In addition to the mobile payment feature, the app allows customers to manage their card account, reload their card balance directly from their smartphone with a major credit card, check their My Starbucks Rewards status, or find nearby Starbucks stores. With the Starbucks Card Mobile App, customers will have a barcode on their screen that they'll hold in front of a 2-D scanner on the counter to pay for their purchase.

Program to date
The expansion of mobile payment into New York City builds on the successful test program currently in 16 stores in Seattle and Northern California and at more than 1000 Starbucks in U.S. Target stores. The overall Starbucks Card program is experiencing impressive growth and performance, and currently almost one in five of all in-store transactions are paid for with a Starbucks Card, an activity made even more convenient with the introduction of Starbucks Card Mobile App. Customers are on track to load more than $1 billion on Starbucks Cards this year, and at the end of the third quarter, sales of cards were up 17 percent over last year and the reload on existing cards was up more than 59 percent compared to last year.

"With the expansion of mobile payment to New York City, we expect to see more and more customers trading their plastic Starbucks Cards for the digital version on their mobile phone. In addition to the payment capability, customers can also keep track of their My Starbucks Rewards status and reload their card while they are on the way to Starbucks or in line," says Brewer. "Expanding our mobile footprint gives our customers a new way to connect with Starbucks on the go and transforms the way customers experience their Starbucks Card through the mobile app."



Knowland: Hotels Slow to Act on Mobile Apps despite Belief in Their Future

The Knowland Group, a data firm in the global meetings and conventions industry, today released a survey on hoteliers' and meeting planners' attitudes and experience with mobile apps. Results show that while the majority believe mobile apps are the wave of the future, few have any firsthand knowledge of them. This inexperience means hotel sales professionals are currently unable to fully capitalize on the popular new technology.

A majority of respondents agree that mobile apps are here to stay. Sixty-seven percent said they believe apps are useful tools that are going to be around for a long time. "I think they are going to have a very big impact and are just now starting to break through with business," said one event coordinator for a Colorado Springs association.

However, 54 percent said they had not had any exposure to mobile apps for the hospitality industry. In addition, 20 percent said they had only heard about these types of mobile apps once or twice and only six percent said that they used them all the time. One Director of Sales at a San Francisco Hotel said she has had no exposure to mobile apps for the hospitality industry; they are not even allowed to use their cell phones at work. Mobile apps, she explained, are, "for the younger generation."

While hoteliers and meeting planners for the most part agreed that mobile apps will be important in the future, 50 percent said they are not having an impact on the meetings and convention industry today. Those who have seen an impact recognize the benefits of using mobile apps to enhance the attendees' experience. Of the half who believe mobile apps are having an impact, 100 percent said that it was either very positive or somewhat positive.

The Knowland survey was conducted over a three day period from October 20-22, 2010.


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