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July 10, 2012
AH&LA SmartBrief Special Report
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HITEC: Post-Show Report
Pressure from online travel agents and other third-party distributors is forcing hoteliers to distinguish themselves and create unique and memorable guest experiences, said Gary Loveman, chairman, CEO and president of Caesars Entertainment. Loveman, the keynote speaker at the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference in Baltimore, told the conference audience that he believes that online agents have transformed hotel roomnights into commodities. In his opinion, online agents are "the place customers go who don't care about what you do, Loveman said. "We need to distinguish ourselves from all of our competitors and provide consistency for our guests."

Hoteliers must earn the loyalty of their guests and impress them with superior service, Loveman said. "We have to constantly surround the decision-makers with reasons to make their next decision at our facility," he said. "We do it with brands like Harrah's, Caesars Palace, Horseshoe, the World Series of Poker and, ultimately, the Total Rewards Program." He noted that guests at Caesars are rewarded right after joining the loyalty program. "You gamble, you get what you want today. In fact, we'll give you the comps in advance," he said.

Looking ahead, Loveman said that hoteliers must customize guest experiences to ensure that third-party distributors are not the first choice for consumers or businesses. "I get discouraged when I see IT people who are focused on how people are buying travel rather [than] making the travel experience itself memorable," Loveman said. Read more at HotelNewsNow.com.

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Innovation & Trends 
  • Hotel firms innovate with public spaces to boost revenue
    Public spaces are gaining increased attention from hotel owners and operators because of their potential as additional sources of revenue, this feature says. Property owners are refurbishing rooftop bars, dining venues and nightclubs to draw more crowds, while new-build hotels are touting optimized space distribution to raise earnings. "What we're seeing is a more active pursuit for alternative revenue streams. ... It's about diversifying and not putting all your eggs in one basket," said Neil Shah, president and chief operating officer of Hersha Hospitality Trust. Bloomberg Businessweek (7/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Business travelers inspire hotels' "green" revolution
    More hotel firms are taking steps to manage their carbon footprint in response to growing attention to the issue from the business-travel segment, this feature says. Hotel chains such as InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Wolrdwide have launched initiatives to ensure environment friendliness at their properties. A universal standard for measuring carbon-dioxide emissions of properties has been proposed by a group of 23 hotel firms to better measure the effect of greenhouse gases at hotels. Travel Weekly (7/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Tight funding forces boutique brands to become creative
    Boutique hotel chains including 21c Museum Hotels, Trust Hospitality and B Hotels & Resorts have turned to creative means to secure funding for expansion in the face of the tight financial environment, this feature says. "In our experience, the underwriting is substantially more detailed and sophisticated than it has ever been (at least in our environment). The combination of these factors combined with lenders applying more stringent lending requirements and shortage of workable deals makes the investment world tougher to navigate," said Patrick Goddard, president and chief operating officer of Trust Hospitality. HotelNewsNow.com (7/2) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Olympics can spell boom or bust for hotels in host cities
    The Olympic Games undoubtedly represent a significant boost for the tourism and hotel industry of the host city, even helping to establish the presence of former host cities such as Salt Lake City and Beijing on the global travel market, this feature says. However, some cases also serve as a warning for future host cities, including that of Turin, Italy, which faces oversupply in the face of muted tourism demand, and of Athens, Greece, which experienced a business decline when the country's economy slumped. HotelNewsNow.com (6/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Survey: Vacationers' travel budgets are increasing
    Wyndham Hotel Group reports in the second round of its survey findings that more than 70% of travelers around the world intend to either increase or maintain their vacation budget in 2012 compared with the previous year. The survey indicated the greatest rise in travel budgets among Chinese travelers, with 58% planning to raise their spending from last year. TravelPulse (7/2) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
Connectivity & Technology 
  • Tech firms at HITEC tout hotel amenities of the future
    The Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference in Baltimore showcased some of the newest innovations in hotel-room technology. One of the highlights was the mobile key, which applies Near Field Communication technology in mobile phones to enable their use as secure room keys. Other attractions included "moving mural" art installations and the "Guestroom 20X" exhibit, which featured various high-tech amenities. MSNBC (6/25) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Hoteliers discuss need for open-standard technology
    The hotel industry needs to adopt universal connectivity standards for the devices they use in operations as an explosion of new technology in the market is making integration a potentially serious problem, a panel of hoteliers and travel industry experts said during the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference in Baltimore. "We need to exchange information in a matter that is efficient, fast and everyone can understand it. Right now we are horrible," said Sebastien Leitner, a director at Expedia. HotelNewsNow.com (6/27) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Room Key, Sabre reach deal for central reservation system
    Room Key has signed an agreement with Sabre Holdings to integrate Sabre's SynXis central reservation system with Room Key's booking website. With this deal, Room Key will become the first booking website to provide access to SynXis' real-time hotel content. Travel Weekly (6/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • 2 Hyatt Place hotels receive energy-saving technology
    Chartres Lodging Group has agreed to install energy-management systems developed by Wisconsin-based technology firm Telkonet Inc., in two of its Hyatt Place properties. The Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach in Honolulu has already finished installation of the system, and the Hyatt Place in El Segundo, Calif., is set to deploy the technology upon its opening this year. In place at three additional Chartres properties, the system is able "to track HVAC efficiency, monitor energy savings, and make changes to thermostat settings from any Web-connected device," says a statement from the El Segundo hotel's developer. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (tiered subscription model)/Plugged In blog (6/26) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Casino industry's technology is growing, execs say
    Casino executives say the technology used in the casino industry is evolving. John Bollen, vice president of technology at MGM Resorts International, said slot machine makers are hiring additional staff and are working to provide better technologies. The introduction of electronic table games in some casino markets is evidence of the technological advances in the industry. "We deploy PokerTek in Mississippi and Indiana and now it's a source for revenue," said Scot Campbell, vice president and chief information officer with Pinnacle Entertainment. Hotel Interactive (6/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
SmartPulse 
  • Poll: Which in-room technology is most important to you?
    Internet connectivity -- wireless or wired  73.88%
    TV offerings, such as cable or pay-per-view  13.43%
    The basics -- coffee maker and microwave  8.96%
    Eco-conscious options, such as sensored thermostats or CFL light bulbs  3.73%
  • Poll: Should hotels offer free Wi-Fi?
    Both wired and wireless connections should be available for free  80.67%
    They should offer the capability, but charging for it is acceptable  10.92%
    Hotels should not be obligated to offer any free Internet connections, wired or Wi-Fi  8.40%
  

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