Interface Newsletter - December 2011 - Hotelier Edition
The content of articles on this page is best suited for Industry Partner members, aka Vendors. Product/Service Vendors: Read this Version for content that is better for you.
Click on the headlines for this edition to read the article below.
- Don’t Miss Out! HTNG’s North American Meeting to Include Anniversary Event
- HTNG Helps to Drive Unique Global Identifier Effort Across Associations
- New Workgroup Connecting Guestroom Device Connectivity to Assess Room Health
- New Interface Specifications Available for Travel Agency Commissions, Device Management
- Product Distribution Recharters to Address Dynamic Packaging
- Governance Council Launching Review Cycle Process for Specifications
- Sign up Today to Join Your HTNG Peers in Kuala Lumpur, February 6-8!
- North American Infrastructure and Device Forum – A Focus on Networking
- Bandwidth Management Infrastructure Webinar – Did You Miss It?
- Events Calendar - Save These Dates
Be sure to block out April 2 – 5 to join your fellow members at HTNG’s North American conference, our biggest gathering of the year. The event plan features a special 10th Anniversary Celebration event to help kick off what looks to be one of our best North American meetings yet. You are probably aware of the uncommonly powerful networking opportunities, the growth from our thought-leadership sessions, and the excitement of the Innovation Award, but this year we have three new initiatives to draw even more of the top hotel IT executives to our event: a half-day Hotel IT Leaders’ Roundtable, waiver of the HTNG membership requirement, and dramatically lower registration rates. These changes are only for hoteliers, enhancing the value of the conference to all our members by drawing more hoteliers. Non-member vendors still cannot attend, so these changes enhance the value to vendors who are members.
The event website has more details, but here is a quick overview of the week’s schedule.
Monday, April 2
Daytime – HTNG Forum and Workgroup meetings. Individual workgroup and forum meetings will take place during the day for both the Software and Infrastructure and Device Forums. We will announce the detailed schedule in coming weeks after individual workgroups decide whether and for how long to meet.
Evening – HTNG 10th Anniversary Celebration. This is not just a typical Welcome Reception. HTNG turns ten years old this year, and we are celebrating our first Decade of Innovation with a festival in Latin American style at famed Chicago establishment, Carnivale! In addition to great food and drink, there will be a variety of entertainment to go along with the networking with other attendees. Be sure that you get in town early enough to make this event! (Approximate start time 7:00 pm, transportation will be provided from/to the hotel)
Tuesday, April 3
Daytime - Main conference sessions, exhibits
Early Evening – Reception, heavy hors d’oeuvre and light meal, exhibits
Mid-Evening -Vendor-organized events may start at or after 8:00
Wednesday, April 4
Daytime – Main conference sessions, exhibits; Innovation Award Ceremony in afternoon.
Evening – Open for vendor-organized events
Thursday, April 5
Morning (includes lunch) – Hotel IT Leaders’ Roundtable (Hoteliers Only)
Hoteliers - Experience Targeted Sessions at Unmatched Savings
If you’ve never attended the North American meeting, this is the year to experience one. Our board of directors has reduced your registration rates to about 1/3 of prior year costs, relying more on funding from the vendor community. In addition, nonmember hoteliers can now attend and learn why industry leaders rate this their “must attend” event.
IT Leaders’ Roundtable – This half-day meeting for senior hotel IT leaders only (CIO, CTO, SVP, VP, or equivalent) has earned rave reviews in Asia-Pacific and Europe, and now for the first time we are including it in our North American meeting. Where else can you sit in a room with other senior technologists (there are no commercial sponsors, and no vendors are permitted) to share ideas, perspectives, and expertise with your peers from around the world. Registration (opens early January) to attend the Roundtable event is free to those who qualify to attend and is separate from the Main Conference. There is a limit of two attendees per member company. Non-members are also eligible subject to HTNG’s approval (approval is based primarily on seniority).
HTNG is actively participating with other industry associations to address the challenge of uniquely identifying a hotel property in cross-company transactions.
Efforts to resolve this issue started with the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA), which is contributing its work to-date on the Unique Global Identifier project. HTNG will provide support, third-party recruitment, and collaborative development to bring together the various parties. Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) will focus on educating technology professionals about the program and its benefits. Other associations, including the Convention Industry Council, the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), and the OpenTravel Alliance, have also pledged their support to the effort.
The plan is to create a property registration system, similar to how Internet domains are managed. Like Internet domain names – governed by an independent organization – a governing board would delegate authority to one or more “registrars” to handle the registration and assignment of unique identifiers to different types of entities. The program will allow hotel owners (or a designated agent) to update hotel information just once, and then have the update automatically propagated to all relevant parties. The system would be required to maintain the property’s identity correctly through rebranding and ownership changes.
The supporting associations have already identified several potential commercial partners who believe they could operate a registration service at minimal additional cost. Registrars will have to share all data provided by hotels in real time to legitimate inquiries. Depending on the outcome of negotiations, registrars would offer registration to hotels either for free, or at a nominal cost.More detailed information is available from this joint press release issued by the associations. The group is interested in hearing from qualified companies that would like to serve as registrars. To register interest, please contact HTNG at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Workgroup and Forum Updates
Hoteliers, how much could you improve guest satisfaction if you could identify technical failures in guest rooms….before the guest found out? There’d be far fewer urgent calls from guests to front desks, and maintenance and housekeeping personnel would have fewer “guest waiting” issues to deal with. That idea is the driving factor behind the new HTNG Intelligent Guest Room workgroup.
This new workgroup, open to participation from any HTNG member, hopes to capitalize on the progress made by our Guest and Room Status Messaging workgroup to be able to conduct “room health” checks in real time. The effort will use communications to/from the devices in the room, leveraging prior work from the Device Controls Integration workgroup, to make sure that all monitored devices are working properly before the guest checks in. The effort has the potential to significantly increase guest satisfaction, while lowering costs by allowing work to be done when maintenance and housekeeping staff are not busy.
This group is just getting underway as an active workgroup. If you are interested in joining this workgroup, there are three ways in which members can participate.
To join as a full participant, visit the Join a Workgroup form and check the box for Intelligent Guest Room.
Alternatively, if you are a hotelier or consultant, and have limited time and/or technical expertise, but would like to help define the deliverables and review the proposed solutions, you can register to become a Business Advisor to the workgroup by completing the Provide Direction to a Workgroup form and selecting the box by Intelligent Guest Room. In this role, the workgroup will ask you to provide input and review the workgroup’s direction and progress about four times annually.
If you just want to keep aware of workgroup progress, you can subscribe to the workgroup’s mailing list by completing the Monitor Progress form. You will receive all correspondence sent to workgroup members, including meeting agendas and minutes, technical documents, and e-mail discussions among members.
HTNG workgroups have just completed three new interface specifications, released as part of our second annual cycle (“2011B”). The new specifications are now in the public domain for hotels to request in RFPs, and for vendors wishing to certify their products.
Back Office - Travel Agent Commission Payments
Hotel systems can benefit from this new Back Office specification, which supports the transmission of the commission amount and supporting details to a server that manages commission payments.
Guest & Room Status Messaging Spec Adds Notifications
Version 2.0 of this popular specification for provisioning guest-room devices adds several new capabilities to the existing check-in, check-out, and room move notifications, and information changes. The newly-added notifications are:
- Wakeup Call Scheduling – used to create, modify, or delete a guest wakeup call. Once a wakeup call is entered into the wakeup notification system, it a notification can now be provided to any systems that wish to subscribe to the wakeup call info.
- Room Restrictions - used to change the availability of services available to a guest in their room. Services may be restricted due to payment arrangements (e.g. cash only), parental control preferences, or similar requirements.
- Room (Status) Search – this message can be used to obtain a list of rooms having a set of defined characteristics or status (such as housekeeping status). The search can be by room number, room type, floor, wing, status, alias (for instance, a phone extension), etc. The result then can be used, for example, to synchronize information between systems that need updated housekeeping statuses.
- Message Waiting Notification - alerts subscribing systems of a new text message or voicemail. When a PMS, PBX, or other system records a new message (text or voice), those systems can notify other systems so that guests, staff, etc. can be appropriately notified on different devices.
- Update Room (Housekeeping) Status - The Update Room Status message is used to notify associated systems that the status of a room has changed. This allows all systems to maintain a complete, current view of room statuses. For example, a housekeeping staff member can go into a room and update the status of a room on a hand-held device. The information then flows to the housekeeping system, which sends a message to other systems about the update.
Product Distribution Specification EnhancementsThe latest version (2.5) of this specification adds several enhancements to the reservation delivery messages, including the ability to specify charges that should be routed to a group master folio, more flexibility in defining age buckets, meal plans, and reservations for multiple rooms.
HTNG’s Product Distribution Workgroup, which created one of HTNG’s most widely used specifications, has rechartered to begin work on Dynamic Packaging, which will allow hoteliers and distributors to offer, and guests to buy, packaged travel that is fully customizable, while synchronizing the transactions across multiple systems.
The planned specification will allow hotel guests to create their own package of services “on the fly,” building from both existing packages and a-la-carte components (accommodations, meals, spa, golf, show tickets, city tours, etc.). It will support brand websites, CRSs, and distributors wishing to create packages consisting of components, including those managed by other systems and/or fulfilled by other suppliers. These packages may be created as needed to meet a particular guest’s need, or may be pre-bundled for sale as an advertised package. The packager maintains control over pricing, and the rules and pricing engine would allow hoteliers, other service providers, and distributors to take excess supply and sell it through packaging, without cannibalizing regular business.
Over the past several months, five new workgroups have started addressing new industry issues, and are getting into the full swing of weekly or bi-weekly meetings. If you are interested in these efforts, see the options [LINK] at the end of this article for the different ways in which you can participate! High-level summaries follow.
Secure Payments Framework Aims for Industry Solution to Payment Card Security
This hotelier-only workgroup, in which virtually every major hotel company is participating, is defining an industry framework for secure processing of credit card transactions. The objective is to get every possible hotel system out of the scope of major PCI requirements by shielding them from real credit card numbers. This workgroup solution entails defining a framework that will enable hotels to concentrate the storage of sensitive card data in a single secure system, managed either by a vendor or the hotel company. Because credit-card transactions pass through several companies and systems between initial reservation and final checkout, the workgroup is focusing on a solution that is interoperable across the entire industry: brands, franchisees, owners, vendors, OTAs, and payment service providers. While some existing solutions work within a single company, no solution currently exists that supports the tokenized transmission of card data between unrelated parties (such as an OTA and hotel brand, or between a hotel brand and a franchisee using a different payment gateway). The initial goal of this workgroup is to document the framework so that all hotels can present it to their preferred vendors and partners as their vision of the path forward. Workgroup wiki site.
Folio Detail Exchange Workgroup Will Enable Sharing of Folio Data
This workgroup is standardizing the extraction of folio line-item detail from PMSs, for use by VAT recovery, loyalty, expense reporting, and analytical programs. The group is also creating an invoice dematerialization (an electronic replacement for paper invoicing) solution that will facilitate rapid settlement between hoteliers and travel agencies/tour operators. This will be especially beneficial for hotel companies that use multiple PMSs, or vendors offering analytics, loyalty, corporate expense reporting or other products across multiple PMSs. The finished specification will also support electronic reporting of VAT to corporate clients, a major issue for hotels and corporate travel departments doing business in Europe in particular. Workgroup wiki site.
Customer Profile Workgroup to Standardize a Single Customer View
Exchange of customer information is difficult, expensive, and time consuming largely due to the numerous definitions of a customer profile in use across hotel systems. This effort will provide the industry with a common definition of customer profile and enable products to exchange guest and other profiles out-of-the-box with minimum customization. OpenTravel Alliance recently completed work on a basic specification to meet some of this need, so this workgroup is looking at creating enhancements and/or extensions to the OpenTravel specification and providing more prescriptive guidance for its use. Workgroup wiki site.
Enabling Automation of Event RFP Submissions
With automated delivery of RFPs from meeting planner systems directly into hotel sales and catering systems, hotels can improve automation, reduce costs and shorten response times to meeting planners. Most of the major sales and catering systems in use by the hotel community, as well as several meeting planner systems, are supporting this effort. Hoteliers, you can ensure that your needs are met by supporting this workgroup. Workgroup wiki site.
Helping Hotel Systems Avoid PCI/PA-DSS Requirements
Systems such as CRSs and booking websites need to capture and tokenize credit card information, but don’t actually need to use it for payment transactions; they simply pass it on. To enable them to avoid falling within the scope of the Payment Card Industry’s (PCI) Payment Application Data Security Standards (PA-DSS), they need a way to enable a secure third party, such as a payment gateway, to collect the credit card number on their behalf and tokenize it, without the actual card number ever touching the hotel system. The Hosted Payment Capture workgroup will provide a defined means to collect payment information from a customer on a secure system (hosted by a gateway, a brand, or a third party), and tokenize it for delivery to the hotel system (CRS, booking engine, etc.). The design approach expects to allow public-facing sites (e.g. brand.com sites) to maintain their existing website look and feel, while handing off the screens for acquiring credit card information to the third party. Workgroup’s wiki site.
How to Get Involved
There are three ways in which HTNG members can participate in these workgroup efforts.
- Anyone can join as a full participant by using this Join a Workgroup form and checking the box by the name(s) of the workgroup(s) that are of interest. Vendors with regular corporate memberships that include only the Infrastructure & Device Forum need to add the Software Forum to their membership in order to participate.
- Hoteliers or consultants with interest in the solution but limited time and/or technical expertise to offer, can still help define the requirements and review the proposed solutions. Register as a Business Advisor to the workgroup by completing the Provide Direction to a Workgroup form and selecting the appropriate workgroup(s). In this role, you will be asked to provide input and review the workgroup’s direction and progress about four times annually.
- Anyone who just wants to keep aware of workgroup progress, can subscribe to the workgroup’s mailing list by completing the Monitor Progress form. You will receive all correspondence sent to workgroup members, including meeting agendas and minutes, technical documents, and e-mail discussions among members. Or if you prefer, you can view each workgroup’s material on the collaboration site (need a login and work for a corporate HTNG member? Request one).
Have you used an older HTNG specification that you think needs updates or enhancements? The HTNG Governance Council is now implementing a formal review process for older HTNG specifications. The Council is launching a new annual review period for any specifications older than three years.
In this first cycle, four Property Web Services specifications are due for review:
- Digital Signage (Part 3) – 2008A creation, no modifications since (some minor enhancements were approved for 2012A)
- Food & Beverage Ordering (Part 7) – 2008B creation, no modifications since
- Single Guest Itinerary (Part 2) – 2007A creation; 2008B modification (along with an addendum)
- Web Services Framework (Part 1) – 2007A creation; 2008A and 2008B modifications
We invite your comments, suggestions and feedback on these specifications until 14 February 2012. At that time, the Governance Council will review and summarize the comments, then the Software Forum will assess the priority of suggestions at the spring face-to-face meeting. The result could be creating revisions or adding functionality to the specifications, potentially through reinstating a retired workgroup or chartering a new one. To provide your input, please visit our collaboration site page for these specifications, read and review the materials, and submit your feedback to email@example.com.Thank you in advance for your careful review. This is your opportunity to contribute to this process by sharing your experience and expertise
|Members' Meetings and Events
Join your industry peers at HTNG’s 4th Conference in the Asia-Pacific region. We are assembling a great program that will include presentations from several prominent hoteliers in the region as well as a number of other industry experts. Below are some of the sessions and speakers that we already have lined up to enlighten you on the latest technologies for hospitality:
- Passive Optical Networks for Hotels
- Trends in Hospitality Technology
- Envisioning Future Technology
- Payment Card Security and PCI
- Converged Network Deployment Best Practices & Pitfalls
- Social Media in Hospitality
- Hotel Mobile Strategies that Work
- Technology Lessons from Gaming Hotels
- Entertainment Systems & Convergence with Guest Mobile Devices
- Energy Management through Intelligent Technology
- Technology Innovations
Speakers confirmed to date:
- Andre Baljeu, Director of Field Technology, Asia-Pacific, Marriott International
- Floor Bleeker, Vice President-IT, Jumeirah Group
- Dave Cunningham, Manager Business Development, Corning Cable Systems
- Greg Dawes, Senior Sales Engineer, Zhone Technologies
- Tom Dillon, VP of IT-Asia, Las Vegas Sands
- Fraser Hickox, Managing Director, The Conceptual Group
- Ted Horner, Managing Director, E. Horner & Associates Pty. Ltd.
- Mark Kendall, Practice Lead-Hospitality & Connected Real Estate, Cisco Advisory Services
- Matt Muta, Global Hospitality Managing Director, Microsoft Corp.
- Nick Price, former CIO/CTO, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
- Anand Rao, CIO, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts
- Terence Ronson, Managing Director, Pertlink Limited
- Morris Sim, Co-Founder & CEO, Circos Brand Karma
- Harbans Singh, Managing Director, UBIQ Global Solutions
- Richard Stagg, Director and Managing Consultant, Handshake Networking Limited
- Grant Wilkins, Product Manager, In-Room Entertainment, DOCOMO interTouch Pty. Ltd
Hoteliers, don’t miss this unmatched opportunity to learn from these industry leaders through their enlightening presentations as well as excellent networking. We’re making it very easy for hoteliers to attend this year. Registration for any hotelier is only US$195 through December 31 and US$250 if you register in 2012. In addition, our board has opened up the event to ALL hoteliers, whether HTNG members or not. So invite your hotelier friends to attend what you already know is one of the most content-rich conferences for hospitality technologists.
Plus, if you are a CIO, CTO, IT Director, regional IT VP, or hold a similar position, sign up for the Hotel IT Leaders’ Roundtable on Monday afternoon. This afternoon event has earned rave reviews from past attendees. Where else can you sit in a room with other senior technologists from across the region (with no vendors!) to share ideas, perspectives, and expertise? Register to attend the Roundtable event, which is also open to non-members, on the Roundtable page of our website. There is a limit of two attendees per HTNG member company. Participants who are not members of HTNG may also attend subject to HTNG’s approval (based on seniority).
The HTNG Infrastructure and Device Forum will hold a two day meeting on Monday / Tuesday, 16 - 17 January 2012 in San Jose, CA. The meeting will run each day from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm PST. The Forum meeting will include external speakers and workgroup face-to-face meetings for the Infrastructure Resource Team, Cellular Coverage, and Device Control Integration workgroups. The new Intelligent Guest Room workgroup, which is part of both the Software and Infrastructure & Device Forums, also plans to meet face-to-face. Cisco Systems, Inc. is hosting the meeting and they will demonstrate hospitality specific solutions for Collaboration, Virtualization and Borderless Networks for event attendees.
Each member company of the Infrastructure and Device Forum, who holds a corporate or hotelier membership in HTNG, can register one person at no charge. Members companies of the Software Forum may do the same for the meeting of the Intelligent Guestroom Workgroup. Fees to help defray our costs may apply in other cases (multiple persons from one company, or attendees for the Intelligent Guestroom Workgroup who want to stay for the full Infrastructure & Device Forum meeting). Primary participants from each company attending should email firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate that you will be attending the meeting. Any additional company participants should use their HTNG login and password to register online.Additional information, including updates to the agenda is available on our collaboration site..
One of our most popular webinars offered to date unfortunately reached maximum capacity earlier this month. We apologize to those who were unable to attend the live meeting, but fortunately we have a recorded version available for you to educate yourself on the state of bandwidth management for hotels. The session focused on managing bandwidth in hotels and had content designed to be of most value to hoteliers responsible for networking and HSIA.
The Infrastructure Resource Team prepared the Bandwidth Management webinar which we offered as a free resource for all HTNG members.
Summary: With guests increasingly depending on Internet service and often visiting properties with more than one device, hoteliers who are trying to keep up with guest demand are invited to join a free webinar discussing this topic. This webinar outlined what guests are expecting from their hotels’ HSIA, reviews current and future technology trends and shares strategies on how to improve this guest and corporate amenity. The session outlined best practices and what other properties are doing in the small-to-midsize hotel space as well as the larger properties. Presenter: JP Hebert, Vice-President of Business Development, Elfiq Networks.
Viewing Instructions: This webinar is now available for member-download from our collaboration site (HTNG login required - Don’t have an HTNG login? Request access on our website.) The links to download the full webinar (MP4) or just the presentation (PPTX) are towards the bottom of the page.
Here is a brief summary and links to three other webinars that we have run this year. Click the title for each webinar to visit the collaboration site page (HTNG login required - Don’t have an HTNG login? Request access on our website.)
Hospitality Optical Transport (GPON): The bandwidth needed to support guests is ever-increasing and the convergence of multiple services over an IP infrastructure is adding to that increasing demand. The increased cost of traditional copper wiring, coupled with the decreasing fiber-optic cable costs and increasing bandwidth demand, has made the use of optical fiber more attractive. Greg Dawes of Zhone Technologies presents different fiber deployment options like Active Ethernet and PON, the equipment required for each option, and an analysis of when a fiber deployment makes sense.
Virtualization: This webinar helps explain what virtualization is and how it might benefit your organization (particularly small-to-midsize hotels) when planning for new services and technologies. Iain Kenney of LG-Ericsson leads this webinar to provide clear information about network design options and discuss several technologies and their applicability – or lack thereof.LTE Cellular Technology: How will the introduction of LTE-enabled smart phones and tablet PCs impact the guest's expectations of in-room entertainment services (i.e., voice, Internet access, and TV services)? Cathy Zatloukal of 5thGenWireless provides a general review of LTE technology, discusses the impact of LTE on the hotel's existing LAN, WLAN, and cellular infrastructure, reviews possible new business models that carriers might be open to, and discusses migration/conversion options?
- 16-17 January 2012 – North American Infrastructure and Device Forum Meeting, San Jose, CA. Registration.
- 6-8 February, 2012 – Fourth Asia-Pacific Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- 6 Feb afternoon - Hotel IT Leaders’ Roundtable (Hoteliers)
- 6 Feb (evening) – 8 Feb – Asia-Pacific Conference
- 2-5 April, 2012 – North American Members’ Meeting Week, Chicago, USA.
- 2-4 – Eighth annual North American Members’ Meeting. Registration will open soon, but sponsorship and exhibit opportunities are now available. See article above [Anchor LINK]
- 2 April, ~9 am – 5 pm –Forum and Workgroup Meetings – groups tbd.5 April, ~9 am – 1 pm – IT Leaders’ Roundtable. (Hoteliers only – includes lunch)
Note that only members of forums and workgroups are automatically entitled to attend forum/workgroup meetings, but we can often accommodate other members who wish to attend (please contact our workgroups mailbox if you would like more information). All other meetings are open to all HTNG members unless indicated otherwise.
After avoiding any dues increases last year, the HTNG board of directors recently revised membership dues pricing for 2012. For most members, dues will remain the same, or increase a maximum of 7%. The only members facing larger increases are be the larger hotel companies. Since those companies dominate, and are mostly represented on, HTNG's board of directors, this means that they bore the brunt of this year's increase themselves. This action allowed HTNG to plan for continued growth, while holding the line on dues for other members.
We sent full information regarding these changes to the primary contacts for each corporate member; it is also posted on the membership section of our website). Here are the most significant changes:
- For hotel companies, corporate memberships are now tiered by company size, and range from $2,500 to $10,000, versus a flat $3,500.
- The “five-pack” membership option for hotels has been discontinued, although hotels can still buy five individual memberships at a similar price.
- Corporate industry partner (vendor) memberships will see increases of 4% to 7% at the Regular and Platinum levels.
- Individual memberships and Benefactor memberships are unchanged.
- Individual Industry Partners now have an option to buy a membership package that includes face-to-face meeting participation.
Member Services – Update your Contact Info, Register for an Event
Meeting and Event Calendar
Join a Workgroup
Monitor Workgroup Progress by Subscribing to a Workgroup Mailing List
Provide Direction by Becoming a Business Advisor to a Workgroup
Register Interest in a Prospective Workgroup
Register for Access to Collaboration Site (Enroll under an existing corporate membership)
Workgroup Current Status
Workgroup Organization Chart
Workgroup Business Level Description – (Note: We will post an updated version in early October)
Specification Adoption Tracker
Board of Directors
Do you have HTNG Interface newsletter feedback or ideas? Email Brian Larson