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Industry News - January 14th 2011



Double Duty POS: Italian Eatery & Retailer Talks System Flexibility Needs

Whether you visit Eataly to shop, eat, drink or just browse, chances are you’ll run into Radiant Systems technology while you’re there. The company announces the successful implementation of Radiant Systems’ retail and hospitality point-of-sale (POS) solutions within the store’s retail operations and seven independent restaurant concepts. 
Encompassing more than 50,000 square feet, Eataly opened in September 2010 as a joint effort between partners Mario Batali, Joe and Lidia Bastianich, Alex and Adam Saper and Oscar Farinetti. The food and wine marketplace sells groceries, specialty food, coffee and wine imported directly from Italy. It also runs seven restaurant concepts based solely around areas of the store, such as produce, pizza, pasta and seafood. Eataly’s unique business concept requires a flexible POS solution that maximizes speed of service and offers advanced information management tools, and the combination of Radiant’s retail and hospitality technology works well to support all areas within the store’s operations. The solution was installed by two of Radiant’s local New York resellers; Retail Business Management Systems (RBMS) managed the implementation process within the retail operations of the business, and Retail Automation Products (RAP) installed the software and handheld ordering devices within the casual and fine dining restaurants. Overall, Eataly’s 500+ employees operate Radiant technology on 44 of the company’s POS terminals and six handheld terminals located throughout the store.
“The Radiant product family has been extremely valuable in helping us run our business successfully, especially the flexibility of the CounterPoint retail POS solution,” says Alex Saper, partner and general manager at Eataly. “From inventory and purchasing to fast and secure transaction processing and hundreds of customizable reporting options, we are able to accomplish anything we want with support from the teams at RBMS and RAP.”

Forget the Front Desk: Norwegian Comfort Xpress Opens with Automated Check-ins

Nordic Choice Hotels has implemented Ariane Systems’ Allegro Online/Mobile/Kiosk check-in solution with the launch of the hip new Comfort Xpress brand concept. The first Comfort Xpress branded hotel, which opened January 10th in Oslo, Norway with 180 compact rooms, features a 100% automated check-in solution.
Through Ariane’s Allegro Web-based platform, Comfort Xpress guests are invited to check-in prior to arrival, using the Allegro Web/mobile check-in platform. By simply clicking on the link received by e-mail or SMS on their preferred Web-enabled device, such as personal computer, laptop, PDA, cell phone or iPad, guests can set up an automatic check-in time, manage room preferences, update their profile, and pre-pay online with a choice of payment options. On the day of arrival, guests receive another e-mail/SMS with their room number and options on how to access the room, either via OpenWays Mobile Key—using their personal cell phone to go straight to their room and activate the door lock— or by obtaining an RFID keycard through Ariane’s self-service check-in/out kiosks.
Through a recently completed integration with KABA’s Saflok door locking system, the Ariane kiosks installed at Comfort Xpress are equipped with a RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) key encoder that dispenses encrypted RFID keycards. These cards provide secure entry to guests’ assigned rooms simply by passing the card in front of a reader on the door lock.
Cell phones as room keys
A second phase of technology at Comfort Xpress will also integrate the OpenWays Mobile Key cell phone-based front desk bypass system, which will allow guests to directly access their assigned rooms using their personal cell phone as a key. OpenWays’ patented solution turns any cell phone into a secured room key using the principle of Crypto Acoustic Credentials and SMS to securely deliver a key code to the correct user anywhere in the world via a unique, encrypted sound pattern. At Comfort Xpress, the OpenWays system will be integrated with the Saflok RFID electronic door locks and the Ariane Allegro web-based check-in solution, maximizing the benefits of all three advanced technologies.
“When we began to develop our new Comfort Xpress brand, we decided to start from scratch and totally abandon the traditional rules by which most hotels today operate, instead pioneering new technologies that are designed to increase cost-efficiency and guest convenience, while also promoting environmental responsibility,” says Thomas Westergaard, senior VP of Comfort Hotels for Nordic Choice Hotels. “The airline industry automated the check-in process 10 years ago, and we feel it is time that the hotel industry follows suit. By maximizing the use of new technologies and offering increased self-service options, we are able to cater to the needs of our guests while saving operational costs that can be passed along to them in the form of lower rates. Our 100% self-service check-in process allows guests to check-in where, when and how they want, and represents a first in the hospitality industry. We are proud to be setting a new standard.”
In order to create the fully automated self-service check-in/out solution for the Comfort Xpress brand, Nordic Choice Hotels initiated the development of a best-of-breed solution, integrating the most advanced technologies available from the hospitality industry’s leading suppliers. One criteria was that the technologies had to work seamlessly within Cenium, Nordic Choice Hotels’ centralized property management system that is used chain-wide to manage all aspects of each hotel’s operation.
“Nordic Choice Hotels has always had a corporate culture of innovation, and with Comfort Xpress, we had to push the envelope even further to create an entirely new breed of hotel,” says Westergaard. “The vendors chosen for this technology integration had to be absolutely top-notch. Ariane Systems, OpenWays and KABA have each contributed significantly to the development of this concept, and we look forward to working closely with them as we roll it out to our guests.”
Beyond the automated check-in
In addition to the automated check-in/out solution, Nordic Choice Hotels is also differentiating the Comfort Xpress brand through the use of other unique guest-service concepts, such as a digital concierge in the lobby, pinball and football tables in common areas, graffiti wall art, live music concerts and even their own rock music channel. Social media is used as a primary communication channel for the brand, allowing guests to play an important role in decisions, ranging from wall color to which musical artists to play in the lobby.
“Located in downtown Oslo near many music venues, we offer a great urban setting, and we designed the brand to appeal to a dynamic urban professional who wants a nice, efficient stay at a hotel that allows them to utilize their mastery of technology – and one that appeals to all their senses at a fair price,” says Simen Vinge, general manager. “We are moving toward the future of hospitality, and the way to do that is by looking into the mind of the guest of the future. Our new automated check-in/out is an important aspect of that evolution.”

Your Hotel's Success Story Deserves Recognition: HT Opens Nominations for 2011 Visionary Awards

Hospitality Technology magazine is now accepting nominations for the 2011 Visionary Awards, to be presented at Hotel Technology Forum, an invitation-only event that brings senior-level executives from high-growth lodging companies together to share-real world strategies for excelling in a dynamic business climate.
The Visionary Awards seek to honor hotel companies for their outstanding achievement in technological innovation. HT is currently accepting nominations in two categories:
  • Customer-Facing/In-Room Technology Innovator: This award is presented to a hotel company that has leveraged customer-facing and/or guestroom technology innovations to differentiate and/or improve customer service. Results should reveal an increase in guest service, satisfaction or loyalty, and/or brand reputation. Technologies can include, but are not limited to, televisions, kiosks, display boards, mobile phone apps, in-room Internet access, etc.
  • Infrastructure & Back-Office Technology Innovator: This award is presented to a hotel company that has leveraged technology beyond standard practices to improve overall hotel operations. Results should reveal an increase in efficiency and/or cost savings. Technologies can include: PMS, revenue management, bookings, CRM, infrastructure/networking, and additional applications/hardware solutions that empower back-of-house operations.
To nominate a company, please fill out the nomination form no later than February 4, 2011. Winners will be chosen and notified on or about March 1, 2011 and the awards will be presented at the Hotel Technology Forum, April 20-22 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (CityCenter), Las Vegas.
The Hotel Technology Forum is an invitation-only event that brings senior-level hotel executives from high-growth hotel companies together to share strategic insights and tactical analyses for leveraging next-generation hotel technologies and practices. Past Hotel Visionary Award winners include:
  • CityCenter (2010)
  • Courtyard by Marriott (2010)
  • JHM Hotels Group (2010)
  • InterContinental Hotels Group (2009)
  • Harrah’s Entertainment (2009)
  • Hyatt Place (2009)
  • Thayer Lodging Group (2009)
  • MTM Luxury Lodging (2008)
  • The Peninsula Hotels (2008)
  • Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (2008)
  • Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (2007)
  • Ginn Resorts (2007)
  • Hilton Hotels Corporation (2007)
  • Rosewood Hotels & Resorts (2006)
  • Harrah’s Entertainment (2006)
  • MGM Mirage (2006)
  • Wyndham International (2005)
  • Sea Island Company (2005)
  • Marriott International (2005)
  • Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (2005)
  • Hyatt International (2005)

Revamped Loyalty Program Marks Shift in MGM Resorts' Guest Engagement Strategy

MGM Resorts International has launched a new loyalty program, called M life, which leverages the combined power of its resorts in Las Vegas, Mississippi and Detroit. Members can enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences exclusive to MGM Resorts, insider privileges, personalized rewards and a tiered approach with escalating earning potential. M life is launching as a casino rewards club; later this year, it will expand into a full loyalty program recognizing guest spend on hotel stays, shopping, dining and more.
Among many benefits, M life members can earn unique M life moments, including selecting The Fountains of Bellagio songs for a day, enjoying a cameo role in Cirque du Soleil’s Viva ELVIS at ARIA Resort & Casino, serving as a guest DJ at one of Vegas’ hottest clubs at MGM Grand, becoming a dolphin trainer for a day at The Mirage, cooking lessons with Bravo’s Top Chef Masters celebrity chef Rick Moonen at Mandalay Bay, receiving one-on-one dance lessons with world-famous Jabbawockeez at Monte Carlo, and much more.
In combination with its offerings, M life uses proprietary analytical technology that better track consumer preferences to create individualized rewards that are meaningful to members. If someone attends a Madonna concert, they may receive an offer to Lady Gaga; a George Strait concertgoer may receive an invite to the Country Music Awards at MGM Grand. A fine-dining connoisseur may receive an offer to a private wine dinner. A slot player may receive a FREEPLAY offer, while a table games player will be offered promotional chips.
“M life represents a major shift for MGM Resorts in the way we are engaging our guests,” says Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts. “We’ve listened to our customers and designed M life to deliver on their preferences, leveraging a caliber of assets no other resort group can offer. In terms of business impact, M life will enable us to retain a larger share of existing customer spend, activate new customers, increase customer frequency and provide better return on investment for promotional expenditure.”
Key M Life Elements
  • 15 World-Renowned Resort Destinations: M life members enjoy privileged access to ARIA, Bellagio, Vdara, MGM Grand, The Signature at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor and Excalibur in Las Vegas; Beau Rivage and Gold Strike in Mississippi; and MGM Grand Detroit.
  • Ease of Use: Part of M life’s benefit is its real-time ease-of-use. M life offers players the convenience of a single cardfor both slots and table games when playing at any participating MGM Resorts casino
  • Tier Levels: M life has four member tiers: Sapphire, Pearl, Gold and Platinum. New members start at the Sapphire tier and can play their way to higher tiers, earning more rewards at a faster pace.
  • Tier Benefits: Members will enjoy special hotel offers, pre-sale access to entertainment tickets, priority reservations, upgrades, VIP services and more, based on their Tier Level. As guests graduate to the next level, they unlock even greater rewards. Gold and Platinum members have accelerated point earning for their play, enabling them to earn benefits even faster.
  • Express Comps: Real-time Express Comps are the fastest and most convenient way for customers to comp themselves at MGM Resorts’ hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. If a guest is playing at a slot machine and gets the urge to grab a bite to eat or wants to purchase a show ticket, they can take their card and instantly redeem rewards at participating venues. Express Comps appear as dollars, making redemption transparent and simple.
  • M life Moments: Members can utilize Express Comps to take advantage of these once-in-a-lifetime MGM Resorts’ experiences (examples in second paragraph). 
  • Custom Rewards: M life’s advanced technology tracks hundreds of variables to determine member travel patterns, preferences – from hotels, restaurants, concerts, shows, spas to casino play – and more accurately predicts future behavior. By doing so, the company can pinpoint a guest’s favorite hotel, if they’d prefer to see Barbara Streisand or Bon Jovi, if they love to visit Vegas at a certain time every year, and more, all to develop personalized rewards.
  • POINTPlay: POINTPlay gives players more of what they like best – FREEPLAY at most slot games. Players can redeem for FREEPLAY right at their favorite slot machine.
  • Transparency: Players easily can view the amount of rewards they’ve earned by visitingmlife.com, kiosks at select resorts, on slot machines or on the new M life phone app. The customer has control of his comps and can use them on demand with Express Comps. 
  • mlife.com: This website helps players manage their accounts in a simple, accessible manner. With a personalized login, players can view points and Tier Credits, manage and book personalized offers and promotions, explore M life moments, and get the latest information on upcoming shows, events and concerts.
  • M life TV and M life magazine: M life TV, available on mlife.com, YouTube and on a dedicated in-room hotel channel, is a behind-the-scenes look at the hottest restaurants, shows, celebrity events, and more. M life magazine, available in all MGM Resorts’ hotel rooms, lets guests know about the latest happenings within the resort group.
  • Employee Ambassadors: M life will be integrated into MGM Resorts’ employee culture. Formerly a culture of competition among sister properties, M life will become the umbrella brand across all properties, incentivizing guests to enjoy the diverse experiences at each of its resorts. The company currently is undergoing the largest company-wide training initiatives in its history, educating its more than 60,000 employees to become experts on M life. 

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