HOT BUZZ Is Building

The topics show continuity but the format will change with the times when Lodging Hospitality and BearingPoint present the 2006 Strategic Conference on Hospitality Operations & Technology in Dallas March 8-10.

The sixth version of this prestigious conference will again take place at the Anatole, now being run by Hilton Hotels Corp. The venue may be familiar, but the structure of the conference has changed. In addition to the customary general sessions featuring CEOs/COOs and CIOs, there will be 12 interactive, topic-specific panels, down from 16 last year. Brand-new this year: 12 Roundtables, opportunities for clients and vendors to share insights into how well they work together. The Roundtables will focus on such lodging-industry perennials as property management systems, telecommunications, revenue management and guestroom entertainment.

HOT 2006 will feature old friends and new. Among the company heads set to address the get-together are Vantage Hospitality Group CEO Roger Bloss, a long-time attendee, and newcomer Joseph Wheeling, the tech-savvy COO of Red Roof Inns.

Returning to address the confab are technology experts Scott Gibson, Best Western CIO, and Robert Bansfield, assistant vice president of IT for Hyatt Hotels Corp. Also taking a seasoned hand are consultants Jon Inge, John Burns and Chris Hartmann.

The conference will have a soft opening on Wednesday, March 8, with registration and badge pickup from 2 to 6 p.m. and a reception starting at 6 p.m. It starts in earnest the following day. After a 7 a.m. continental breakfast, LH publisher Gary Dietz and Donald Gallagher, managing director of BearingPoint, will welcome attendees, formally launching the event with the 8:15 a.m. general session, “COOs Check In.” Moderated by Gallagher, that panel will feature luminaries such as Atef Mankarios, head of the Mankarios Partnership; Red Roof Inns COO Wheeling; and Bloss, a long-time LH supporter whose Americas Best Value Inns is a perennially fast-growing brand. Panelists will discuss such evolving fields as online distribution, customer relationship management and the ways the hotel industry can make technology user-friendlier.

After a 9:45 a.m. break, the interactive sessions begin. These 10:30 a.m. breakouts will cover topics such as brand erosion by intermediaries, the evolving Internet business model, the shifting nature of room distribution, and revenue enhancement.

Highlighting the lunch hour Thursday will be an address by futurist-analyst Peter Yesawich, chairman and chief executive officer of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, an integrated marketing communications company specializing in the travel industry. A widely published columnist and much-in-demand speaker, the nattily dressed Yesawich is sure to punctuate his insightful address with piquant PowerPoint presentations.

The first HOT Roundtables will take place between 1:30 and 3 that afternoon. They will give hotel companies and vendors an opportunity to trade information and advice about the industry's issues and areas of interest. Roundtables on PMS, CRS, POS, CRM, telecommunications, energy management and more are scheduled. Open to all, the Roundtables are designed to showcase the latest technological solutions to operational problems.

Thursday's schedule will end with interactive sessions on topics such as how to refresh the PMS field, how the technological needs of branded hotels and independents differ, and the increasing presence of guest-empowerment technology such as self-service kiosks and remote check-in. These will take place between 3:45 and 5:15. A reception will follow.

The following day, BearingPoint managing director Gallagher will moderate the second signature panel of HOT, “CIOs Check In.” This will feature such luminaries as Best Western's Scott Gibson and Vio Nicola, vice president of Information Technology at Ameristar Casinos, a Las Vegas-based gaming company. Nicola has 18 years of experience in IT infrastructure design, support, service management and project delivery.

Once again, interactive sessions will dominate the day. Among the topics for the 11 a.m. events: What technology do you apply to maximize profits, what the hotel room of the future might look and feel like and emerging technologies.

The conference concludes at 12:30 p.m.

Two-for-one registration to the 6th Strategic Conference on Hospitality Operations & Technology costs $795. The event will be held at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas March 8-10. Call Bobbi Moran at 216-931-9504 or e-mail bmoran@penton.com for more information. Also, register online at www.lhonline.com.

Technologies Innovation Preview

WAYPORT

Wayport is the largest provider of WI-FI wireless and wired high-speed Internet access to mobile travelers in the United States with service at nearly 12,000 locations in 28 countries.

SYNXIS

SynXis, a Sabre Holdings company, enables hotels to maximize revenue and reduce costs through innovative, market-driven technology combined with outstanding customized support. The RedX Distribution Management System, at the solution's core, empowers hotel operations to consolidate and manage hotel inventory from all sources -seamless GDS connectivity, popular Internet travel sites, private-label central reservations systems, and full-service hotel websites.

MICROS SYSTEMS

MICROS Systems, Inc. is a leading developer of enterprise applications for the hospitality industry. MICROS has over 20,000-property management and central systems installed under the brand name MICROS-Fidelio.

KOOLCONNECT

KoolConnect Technologies, Inc. is a leading provider of compelling multi-media solutions and system integrations to the hospitality industry. Globally recognized, KoolConnect's innovative platform provides interactive media services in both standard and high definition over digital IP networks and offers a host of scalable turnkey solutions and products. Customized Video On-Demand, Virtual Concierge Services, state of the art equipment and targeted marketing services are all a part of the KoolConnect.

ONITY

As the world's leading provider of electronic locks, in-room safes and energy management solutions, Onity offers a full spectrum of advanced facility management technology. With an integrated range of products and a vast global support network, we provide the power of innovative thinking to maximize the efficiency of your operations today and into the future.

GUESTWARE

GuestWare is a customer relationship management (CRM) program designed specifically for the lodging industry. GuestWare provides software for both property and enterprise CRM. GuestWare provides unique integrated applications for guest recognition, loyalty, service delivery and quality management. Over 750 hotels and resorts use GuestWare worldwide.

UNIFOCUS

UniFocus is an industry innovator that provides applications and systems for labor management, budgeting and CRM for hotels, resorts, and casinos.

IBAHN

Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Salt Lake City, iBAHN is the leading provider of secure managed broadband services — wired and wireless — for travelers and groups at hotels and conference centers worldwide.

NEWMARKET INTERNATIONAL

Newmarket International, Inc., creator of Delphi, helps book and manage more group business than any other hospitality solution in the world. Founded in 1985, Newmarket International's software solutions are used by thousands of properties in 67 countries to generate new business and run their daily operations. Newmarket's software solutions enable hoteliers to automate their sales and catering needs, cross-sell, generate leads automatically, create and distribute account information and proposals electronically, and manage their enterprise more efficiently.

HOTEL TECHNOLOGY NEXT GENERATION

Hotel Technology Next Generation has joined the HOT Conference lineup this year as a supporting sponsor organization. Founded in 2002, HTNG brings together technology vendor groups and hotel executives to develop the industry's next generation of customer-centric technology. Using HTNG's unique workgroup model, vendors and hoteliers collaborate to create standards in a wide range of hotel industry technologies. HTNG will hold its annual member conference at the Hilton Anatole in the days preceding this year's HOT conference.

MTECH

MTech develops enterprise level, Internet-based guest incident tracking and workforce automation tools specifically for the hospitality industry. It serves over 1,300 customers in 40 countries.

OPEN TRAVEL ALLIANCE

The Open Travel Alliance is dedicated to helping the travel industry take full advantage of the near universal access to the Internet. Internet and related technologies can significantly affect the way the travel industry operates and reaches customers throughout the global economy. Travel industry business and technology leaders responsible for product distribution are working together through the OTA to transform the travel industry into one global supermarket of products and services. This will be realized through development of a commonly accepted communications process using XML.

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