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Jun 29, 2013

News :: European R&D leader in travel and tourism calls hoteliers to embrace innovation with them

Amadeus has yet again ranked as the European Research & Development (R&D) leader in the travel and tourism industry, according to the 2012 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard – an annual European Commission report that ranks the largest 1,000 European companies by total investment in R&D. 

This award recognises Amadeus’ commitment to R&D and emphasis on innovation, which is one of the drivers behind Amadeus’ progress and growth. With a team of over 4,500 people split across sixteen centres around the world (Nice, London, Sydney, Antwerp, Aachen, Frankfurt, Munich, Boston, Miami, Toronto, Strasbourg, Tucson, Bangalore, Bogota, Warsaw and Bangkok), the desire for innovation spreads throughout all sectors in Amadeus.
Amadeus invested €347.5 million during 2011, an increase of 6.7% on 2010, to research and develop technologies for use in the travel sector. This investment represented 12.7% of revenues and helped the company maintain it number one position in Europe by total R&D investment in the area of travel and tourism.
Hervé Couturier, Executive Vice President, R&D, Amadeus IT Group, said: “Naturally we are very pleased to see that our investment in R&D has been highlighted again by this important European Commission study. Equally we are very proud to be ranked again as a leader in the travel and tourism area. This further emphasises our reputation for innovation”.

Innovation in hotels

In recent years, Amadeus’ R&D efforts have particularly focused on the hospitality industry.
In 2010, Amadeus launched the Amadeus Hotel Platform, an integrated and centralised hotel IT solution for hotel chains that is set to transform the way hotels do business. Available as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, it combines central reservation system, above-property management solution, call centre, distribution to any channel, e-commerce, m-commerce and business intelligence into one fully integrated platform.

This platform is designed to support hotels in the current era of globalisation and expansion, enabling them to respond to changing traveller demands. Amadeus Hotel Platform is not only a unique solution in the industry but is also an excellent example of a platform conceived from an Open Systems approach and developed with the proliferation of cloud computing in mind.

Innovation in the cloud

In January this year, Amadeus Hotels published Clearing the Cloud; Best of Open Systems and Cloud for hotel business optimisation, a report that makes the case for hoteliers to embrace the Open Source Software revolution in order to benefit from greater innovation.
Whether the hotelier is battling with unwieldy legacy systems, trying to reduce costs across IT systems or looking for that something extra to gain competitive advantage, the report examines the suitability of Open Source Software. The report also outlines the specific benefits to be gained from switching to Open Source software which include: innovation, cost-efficiency, security, scalability and responsiveness.

The future

Amadeus has not only pioneered the use of open systems within Amadeus Hotel Platform but also within Amadeus’ own business making them a clear example of the benefits from innovation. 

Hervé Couturier said, “Nonetheless, our desire for innovation has not yet been satisfied and R&D will continue to inspire our evolution as a large-scale technology pioneer in 2013 and beyond”.

Jun 28, 2013

News :: What are the five essentials global hoteliers should demand from IT providers?

Technology is changing – particularly in the hospitality sector. Guests demand greater online interaction and more tailored offers. Shareholders want greater cost savings to drive profitability following the sluggish performance of the hotel sector in the last two years. Hotel groups need to relentlessly search for new revenue opportunities, and need to act quickly to secure them. In this era of change, hoteliers face a crucial question: what to demand of IT providers?
With IT becoming an essential component of effective corporate strategy, it is important to get fundamentals right. Through discussions with industry analysts, commentators and hotel groups, analysing surveys, and considering recent research, five key themes have emerged on what global hoteliers should demand from IT providers:

The ability to cope with global expansion and business consolidation as the market demands – even when these shifts happen rapidly

Over the past decade, the technological demands of hotels have grown significantly. Such demands occur on two levels: the growing extent of information surrounding each guest; and the need for operational agility. Relating to the first, hoteliers have increasingly focused on developing specific customer relationship management programs to foster cradle-to-grave brand loyalty, requiring capturing and storing information on guest activities and preferences. Simultaneously, guests themselves have increasingly demanded more sophisticated technological facilities, mostly before and during their stay. Relating to the second, unpredictable markets and shifting economies require hotels to adjust accordingly. IT providers must be able to meet these adjustments in an agile, responsive manner. For instance, advertising sites and search engines are increasingly able to propose leads to hoteliers in real time, requiring hoteliers to accept or reject these leads in real time too. This requires not so much a large amount of data as it does the ability to process quickly the qualifications of a lead against an extensive amount of data – which in turn requires IT providers suited to the task. Such operational agility is particularly important for growing hotel chains.

A vision towards the future and a focus on innovation

While Hoteliers focus on their own business, they may not have the possibility to focus so much on technology. Hoteliers may struggle to transform and develop IT technologies themselves. Indeed, in the past, hoteliers tended to be almost reluctant to invest in IT, arriving late to technological change. Yet now the consumer is pressing for technological development, and the e-commerce/mobile trend in the market is becoming an increasing reality.

Given this, hoteliers must look for IT providers that both integrate new technology, and that possess a future-oriented vision to determine what technological actions should be taken. Integrating new technology refers to the ability of IT providers to work with new applications, keeping up with and driving change. Studies have shown that hoteliers should expect the next decade to demand enhanced websites, upgraded Central Reservation Systems and internet booking engines, new means of promotion, and an increased interaction with technology. Customisable website booking options is thought to be the number one emerging technology trend. Artificial Intelligence-based technologies used to forecast food and beverage demand more accurately will become more common. Mobile technology is increasingly being used by consumers to interact with hotels, leading to pressure for specialised websites and interfaces.

Can the IT provider handle these approaching demands? Indeed, can they not just meet these changes, but actually drive change forward, operating as a proactive rather than reactive force for the hoteliers? Understanding such trends and future developments require constant immersion in the IT world, combined with a serious focus on the omnipresent question of ‘what is next’. Hoteliers deserve IT providers that can both respond to, and lead, innovation.

Present a track record of success

IT providers should have demonstrated in the past that they have the delivery capabilities and know-how to take on major industry challenges. They need to be able to handle global, complex implementations and on-going support for clients. How many dedicated client-facing and research and development staff do they have? How many years of experience do they possess managing portfolios? What is their track record in dealing with heavy transaction processing? The absence of such a background could be dangerous for hoteliers. For instance, the web often has a high ‘look to book’ ratio. If IT providers have been unable to handle heavy transaction processing in the past, this suggests they will continue to do so in the future – meaning this ‘look to book’ ratio will struggle against bad technology, and the hotelier would lose business. Again, hoteliers require IT providers that are future-proof – and in this case with the background to prove it.

Possess robust, stable and secure systems

A hotelier needs to be able to rely on their IT provider. They must be able to trust that the IT provider’s system is at once stable, secure and robust. A recent study indicated that more than 55% of credit card fraud comes from the hospitality industry. Unpatched systems, storing prohibited data, using low-strength passwords, and operating via unsecured web applications have all been cited as leading to credit card fraud. Security is crucial to protecting the reputation of the hotel brand. What can the IT provider offer to ensure guests are protected? Likewise, what happens when complications arise that challenge the stability of an IT provider, such as a natural disaster or a power outing? Infrastructure, system strength and security must be at the top of any priority list, providing not simply stability but high level stability within a heavy transactional environment.

Thus IT providers should offer innovative, forward-looking solutions. Data monitoring and data surveillance are obvious steps. Increasingly important to security is the use of hybrid-cloud technology. The managed nature of certain cloud structures helps ensure that important data is stored within a secure, stable location outside the hotels. Should a natural disaster or power outage occur, stressing the infrastructure of the hotel or the IT provider, cloud computing helps ensure data is housed within a stable cloud environment. IT providers should also offer systems secure not only in the present, but in the future, considering projected security developments like ambient intelligence, knowledge mining, biometrics and predictive analytics.

Offer development that is conscious of expenditure

For hoteliers, budgets inevitably factor into cohesive business plans. IT providers should be conscious of this, operating in such a way that a hotelier’s investment is maximised. A recent study determined that not having the budget to make necessary improvements was the biggest challenge for IT departments, even as such developments and improvements were considered to be crucial. Likewise, projects supporting both cost-savings and revenue generating were ranked first (97%) as the main driver for technology initiatives. Thus hoteliers should ask: what is the IT provider doing to accommodate financial realities? How are they addressing expenditures without hindering development? For instance, some IT providers invest their own extensive funds into a centralised system, enabling hoteliers to access the benefits of these systems without having to likewise expend such capital upfront. Hoteliers should consider the capex versus the opex commitments required to modernise their systems.
Inevitably, this is only the start. There will be other things hoteliers should demand from IT providers – such as sector experience and an ability to quickly meet needs, to name only two. But the five demands listed above are crucial as hoteliers consider their IT needs. They allow hoteliers to work with IT providers towards future-proof, secure, client-focused, business-aware development. They encourage advancement with stability and affordability with innovation. In short, they are demands worth making.

Technology :: Genetic survey sheds light on Oceans' lean, mean microbial machines

Planktonic bacteria inhabiting the world's oceans have streamlined their genetic makeup to become lean, mean survival machines, according to new research by an international team of researchers, including microbiologists at the University of British Columbia.

The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first direct evidence of widespread genome reduction—organisms evolving to cast off superfluous genes and traits in favor of simpler, specialized genetic make-ups optimized for rapid growth.

"Microbes are the dominant form of life on the planet and comprise a huge proportion of the oceans' biomass, but we know next to nothing about how populations exist, evolve and interact outside of the lab," says UBC microbiologist Steven Hallam, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Genomics and author on the paper.

"This widespread, signal cell genome sequencing of marine bacteria in the surface ocean has uncovered a surprising amount of metabolic specialization. This tendency toward genome reduction has profound implications for how microbial communities develop metabolic interactions that couple nutrient and energy flow patterns in the ocean. It could be a matter of survival of the most connected."

Says Ramunas Stepanauskas, director of the Bigelow Single Cell Genomics Centre and the paper's lead author: "We found that natural bacterioplankton are devoid of 'genomic pork' such as gene duplications and noncoding nucleotides, and utilize more diverse energy sources than previously thought."

Samples of planktonic bacteria were targeted from the Gulf of Maine, the Mediterranean, the South Atlantic and other sites. Data from northeast subarctic Pacific samples—taken over a six year period from the waters between Saanich Inlet and Ocean Station Papa along the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Line P transect was provided by Hallam's team.

Jun 26, 2013

Nano :: Fast pollutant degradation by nanosheets

Waste from textile and paint industries often contains organic dyes such as methylene blue as pollutants. Photocatalysis is an efficient means of reducing such pollution, and molybdenum trioxide (MoO3) catalyzes this degradation. Researchers from Bangalore, India, led by C. N. R. Rao now report no less than four methods to produce nanosheets made of very few layers of MoO3. This material is more efficient as a photocatalyst than bulk MoO3, they write in Chemistry—An Asian Journal.

Read more at: n-type semiconductor molybdenum trioxide is used widely in heterogeneous catalysis. The Indian team prepared nanosheets of MoO3 by oxidation of MoS2 nanosheets, by using graphene oxide as a template, and by intercalation with LiBr into the bulk material or its ultrasonication. When used as a photocatalyst in the degradation of methylene blue, a heterocyclic aromatic dye, the researchers found few-layered MoO3 to afford nearly complete degradation of the dye in less than 10 minutes, whereas only about one-third of the dye was degraded during this period with the bulk compound.

"As MoO3 holds great potential in applications ranging from gas sensing to energy storage, our study will likely spur further research on few-layer MoO3," says Rao. Indeed, further results reported in their study suggest that a composite of this material with a borocarbonitride is promising as an electrode material for supercapacitors. It will be interesting to see what is coming next for this intriguing few-layer nanostructure.

Read more at:

Jun 25, 2013

Hotel Technology :: 8 Hotels for Geeks of All Ages

You know how much we love cool hotel technology here on HotelChatter but today we're spotlighting some hotels that go far beyond offering giant flat-screen TVs, bedside control panels, TVs in the bathroom mirrors and even gold iPads. While we've yet to find a hotel that allows guests to borrow a pair of Google Glasses during their stay, these hotels are truly forward-thinking in their amenities and their experiences,except for the one that offers a cassette tape player in the room. But we had to include that one. We had to!

Whatever sci-fi fantasy tickles your pickle—perhaps plugged into the grid like in "The Matrix," abducted and organ-farmed by aliens—the 9hours Hotel in Kyoto, Japan is about as close to it in real life as you can get. The property is a simple, nearly windowless building in an alley near Kyoto's Kawaramachi Station and, like other Japanese capsule hotels, it specializes in giving the weary worker or traveler one solid night of bare-bones rest in a sparkling clean, sex-segregated environment.
Unlike other Japanese capsule hotels, however, it's prime focus is on good living through good design. Alarms are soundless; ambient lighting gradually awakens the sleeper without disturbing other capsules. Pajamas and basic toiletries are provided, and the WiFi is free (but kept out of sleeping quarters). We paid 4,900 JPY ($48) just a few days ago and would do it again, sci-fi fantasies or no.

Speaking of capsule hotels, Japan has actually expanded upon the concept to create a small chain of sleeping pod rooms called The First Cabin. Modeled after the semi-private quarters of airplane first-class suites, each guest is assigned one room identical to the rest. Inside is a large Sony flatscreen TV (only watchable by using the provided noise-cancelling headphones so as not to disturb others), pajamas, basic toiletries, a lockable storage drawer and several power outlets and free WiFi.
Since it's a chain, we chose the Osaka location as the geekiest owing to its libraries of manga novels and its location near Dotonbori, a mecca for foodies. Even better is they're growing; First Cabin currently has branches in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo's Haneda Airport, but this June they'll debut in central Tokyo's Akihabara district, a name synonymous with "otaku" or geek culture. Rates start at 3,300 JPY ($32) in Osaka and only 2,800 ($27) in Kyoto.

Technology : America's 10 highest-tech hotels

Whether you're on business or vacation, if you're sleeping in anything more sophisticated than a zippered sack, staying connected is a necessary part of travel.

For years, a crusty USB jack and some intermittent Wi-Fi were enough to constitute a full suite of technological hotel amenities.

How 2.0.

Today's future-forward lodge has to offer in-room nightclub lighting and 3D television just to keep up with the Skywalkers.

The new breed of techie lodging is no less a hotel than a Best Buy with blankets.

These 10 wired hotels are tops among the gadget set.

Hotel 1000, Seattle

Don't be fooled by the design-intensive vibe of this downtown Seattle hotel. Behind the chic décor and furnishings it's a fully networked technolodge.

Highlights include a silent infrared doorbell with sensors that detect body heat (so housekeeping knows when not to interrupt), smart climate control settings, a digital do-not-disturb button and a 40-inch LCD HDTV that doubles as a digital art gallery, displaying works that you can personally select.

There's video-on-demand, surround sound, satellite radio, high-speed Wi-Fi (included with room) and a slew of media hubs for every gadget imaginable.

What's more, innovative plumbing enables the bathtub to fill from the ceiling, an intelligent mini-bar notifies the front desk when it needs stocking, Cisco video phones float around the hotel and a virtual reality Golf Club is swing-ready with more than 50 courses from around the world.

1000 First Ave., Seattle; rooms from $219 per night; 206-357-1000;

Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

This 4,000-plus-room mega-resort lets you customize everything about your stay but the hangovers.

Guestrooms greet you as you enter -- literally addressing you by name -- while the lights and TV turn on and curtains open to reveal spectacular views.

From a single control panel, you can personalize every aspect of your space, including a "good night" button that cuts the lights, shuts the drapes and activates the do-not-disturb sign.

You can customize the lighting, temperature and tunes to wake you in the morning.

The hotel also has wireless Internet (included in room charge) it says is eight times faster than the average U.S. guestroom, along with a 42-inch LCD with a "smart panel" for connecting laptops, game consoles, cameras, MP3 players and more.

Replacing the conventional keycard, RFID (radio frequency identification data) cards sense when you're near your room and unlock the door as you approach.

3730 Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas; rooms from $138 per night; 702-590-7111;

Hotel Zetta, San Francisco

How many gigabytes is a zettabyte? Ask the technorati flooding this new San Francisco residence that lives up to its data-inspired name.

Each guestroom features integrated technology that allows music, movies, emails and more to stream wirelessly from your mobile device to an Internet-enabled, 46-inch flatscreen TV. This, additionally, comes with a library of apps, web browsing capabilities and loads of high-def channels.

A sort of physical "social network," the Playroom is a 1,500-square-foot adult space equipped with the latest gaming consoles, as well as old school classics like Atari and Nintendo. An antique red telephone booth is rigged so you can video chat, snap a profile pic or order drinks and food from the bar.

In case you weren't getting the whole retro-tech vibe, décor includes old floppy-disks-turned-artwork, interactive wall hangings and an art installation made from obsolete hardware like cell phones, computer chips and game cartridges.

55 Fifth St., San Francisco; rooms from $265 per night; 415-543-8555;

Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles

After a two-year, multi-million-dollar overhaul, this Hollywood Hills icon is wired with the latest tech to keep up with a demanding clientele that has ranged from Marilyn Monroe to Oprah.

Upon arrival, in-room check-in includes a tutorial by the bellman on the use of all guestroom gadgetry -- ensuring you don't freak out later about how to operate the smart toilet.

As you approach said throne -- aka the Neorest 600 -- its motion-activated lid opens automatically and features a control panel for flushing and other functions, like a seat heater and deodorizer. The bathroom also has heated floors and an in-mirror LED television.

Guests book massages or dinner reservations from in-room iPads -- pretty much the luxury hotel norm nowadays -- and there are Bang and Olufsen HD flatscreen TVs, smart lighting with mood settings and a touch-screen phone that lets you control everything from room temperature, lights and media to curtain height.

701 Stone Canyon Road, Los Angeles; rooms from $530 per night; 310-472-1211;

Yotel New York, New York

An homage to luxury airline travel, this Times Square hotel is unapologetically futuristic. White walls backlit in purple create an ultramodern atmosphere as you check in at touch-screen kiosks similar to those found at airports, only cooler.

Guestrooms (or "cabins") are decked out with purple mood lighting, near-silent heating and cooling systems, a Techno Wall fitted with a flat-screen LCD TV, lots of power points for laptops and other devices, Wi-Fi (included in room charge), an iPod or MP3 connection for playing music through the TV speakers and a motorized bed that expands to full size at the push of a button.

The hotel's tech de resistance is the world's first-ever robotic luggage handler. A 15-foot robotic arm towering in the lobby behind a glass window, the Yobot picks up your luggage and safely stores it in a wall of drawers before or after check-in.

No tip necessary.

570 10th Ave., New York; rooms from $149 per night; 646-449-7700;

Scarp Ridge Lodge, Crested Butte, Colorado

Staying at Scarp Ridge Lodge is like renting an entire boutique hotel for yourself and your 10 best buds.

This seven-bedroom luxury ski property comes with a private chef, indoor saltwater pool, game room, cinema ... and piped-in oxygen?

Yep, at an elevation of 9,000 feet, altitude headaches can be an issue. So all guestrooms are tricked out with on-demand oxygen systems, complete with touch panels that let you create the exact altitude you'd like the rooms to simulate.

Address undisclosed; rooms from $12,500 per night; 970-349-7761;

Omni Dallas Hotel, Dallas

This 23-story, 1,001-room hotel may be connected to the Omni Dallas Convention Center, but it's a long way from conventional.

Having broken ground just a year and half ago, the place is decked with tech.

Interactive reader boards with touch-screens fill the lobby and let you check everything from flight info to area attractions, news, weather, meetings and events.

Gadgetary highlights in the rooms include all of the usual bells and whistles, plus a 42-inch LCD high-definition television, another TV hidden in the bathroom mirror and motion-sensor LED nightlights underneath the bed.

Outside, 4.3 miles of LED building lights surround the LEED Gold-certified hotel's exterior, allowing it to project brilliant light shows and convention logos.

555 S. Lamar St., Dallas; rooms from $113 per night; 214-744-6664;

Epic Hotel, Miami

Forget that this 52-story hotel sits on prime Miami waterfront with rooms featuring floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading to private balconies, it's the geeky gadgets that draw all the attention.

The experience begins before you enter your room.

Outside each guestroom door is an INNtouch notification device. Press the privacy button from inside the room to illuminate the LED do-not-disturb indicator, or let housekeeping know to make up your room with the push of a button.

For those annoying times when you have to mix business with pleasure, all 411 rooms have desktop PCs with high-speed Internet, Microsoft Office and a connection to the printer in the lobby.

There's also an Apple gadget docking station to charge your iDevice.

In the 29th-floor Club Lounge, a touch-screen Surface Station map akin to a ginormous smartphone lets you surf the 'Net, listen to music, watch videos and scout local hotspots.

270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami; rooms from $389 per night; 305-424-5226;

theWit Hotel, Chicago

This trendy hotel features jaw-dropping city and lake views, a vibrant urban setting and an IP-based infrastructure networking everything from the elevators to room sensors to the basement boiler room.

Within guest rooms, sensor-activated climate controls detect your location and adjust to your body heat. A VoIP touch-screen phone lets you call housekeeping, valet and more without speaking a word; with staff members all connected to the system via iPhone or iPod Touch, they're alerted to your needs ASAP.

In common areas, expect to hear birds chirping during the day and crickets at night, powered by the hotel's digital audio system.

There's also a private movie theater boasting an oversized HD screen.

Notching up the nightlife, the hotel just installed a 3D digital wall inside ROOF, its 27th-floor lounge. Typically reserved for large-scale concerts, this image-mapping system delivers resplendent visuals as you rock out to world class DJs and performers.

201 N. State St., Chicago; rooms from $189 per night; 312-467-0200;

citizenM Times Square, New York

Opening in October 2013, this Times Square hotel is set to follow in the footsteps of its affordable high-tech, high-design European counterparts.

Bringing to life the hotel's namesake "M" for mobile, as in "mobile citizen of the world," you're greeted by self check-in computers.

By the time the machine has programmed your personal RFID keycard, your room is waiting for you to enter.

Tech addicts will geek out over the handheld, electronic mood pad that lets you design your entire space. From colored lighting and ambient music to digital art (on your TV), temperature, window blinds and specially designed mood-enhanced wake-up calls (like "wake me gently" or "wake me wildly"), you can direct the room's whole look and feel, all without having to get out of bed.

Bonus: iMacs dot the hotel and there's Wi-Fi throughout.

citizenM Times Square, 216-218 W. 50th St., New York; room rates and phone to be announced;

Technology :: Researchers use nanoparticles to speed up or slow down angiogenesis

Researchers at the University of Southampton in the U.K. have devised a means for using nanoparticles to cause angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels) to speed up or slow down. In their paper published in ACS Nano, the researchers describe how they coated gold nanoparticles with peptides to allow for altering the speed at which new blood vessels develop in specific locations in the body.

The development of new blood vessels is critical while wounds are healing. It's also important in helping people recover from accidents or who have tissue damaged by disease. Speeding up angiogenesis can help to speed up recovery times. Sometimes however, angiogenesis can progress incorrectly resulting in the growth of tumors. In these instances, doctors would like to slow or stop the angiogenesis process. In this new effort, the research team has found a new way to accomplish both goals with one new treatment option.

The new technique revolves around the use of nanoparticles—very small objects generally not found in nature. In this case, the particles created were made of gold. Because nanoparticles can so easily move around inside the body, the thinking was that nanoparticles could be used to deliver drugs to specific areas of the body where they are needed. In this case, the drugs were peptides that have been shown to speed up angiogenesis when appropriate and to slow the process when tumors have developed. The ability to deliver the drug only to areas where they are needed reduces side-effects.

In order for angiogenesis to occur, endothelial cells must be activated by the presence of certain molecules engaging with receptor cells. Over time, researchers have developed various drugs to either stimulate or repress angiogenesis by activating the receptor cells or block them. Such drugs have only been useful for a short duration, however, and most often come with unwanted side effects. In this new effort, the team used nanoparticles to carry and deliver such drugs only to the parts of the body that needed them. They found they could target specific receptor cells that allow for focusing on different diseases. Specifically, they developed three types of peptides for delivery via nanoparticles: those that bind and promote cascade growth of blood vessels, those that block receptors cells from receiving signals, and those that serve as a control and do nothing. They report that they were successful in delivering all three types to target areas and that doing so caused the expected changes in angiogenesis rates.

Explore further: Cholesterol sets off chaotic blood vessel growth

More information: Manipulation of in Vitro Angiogenesis Using Peptide-Coated Gold Nanoparticles, Dorota Bartczak, Otto L. Muskens, Tilman Sanchez-Elsner, Antonios G. Kanaras, and Timothy M. Millar, ACS Nano Article ASAP.

We demonstrate the deliberate activation or inhibition of invitro angiogenesis using functional peptide coated gold nanoparticles. The peptides, anchored to oligo-ethylene glycol capped gold nanospheres, were designed to selectively interact with cell receptors responsible for activation or inhibition of angiogenesis. The functional particles are shown to influence significantly the extent and morphology of vascular structures, without causing toxicity. Mechanistic studies show that the nanoparticles have the ability to alter the balance between naturally secreted pro- and anti-angiogenic factors, under various biological conditions. Nanoparticle-induced control over angiogenesis opens up new directions in targeted drug delivery and therapy.

Technology :: The Future of Hotels: How technology can move us forward

Amadeus interviewed Anton Hell about how technology can help hotels drive their business objectives better. Hospitality technology expert Anton Hell has a thorough understanding of the hospitality industry having spent more than 20 years of his career in the hospitality and travel sector. Born and raised in Austria, he has lived and travelled extensively in Europe, America and Asia and held executive positions with major international hotel companies and cruise operators such as Marriott, Penta and Cunard Line.

Given his extensive background in the industry, he carries within him a passion to develop new business solutions that result in more efficient and cost-contained hotel operations. For him, technology exists to serve a greater purpose in fulfilling business objectives. Currently, he is the Managing Director of Berlin-based hit-CONSULT GmbH. The company aims to help its clients to strengthen their competitive edge in the industry by optimising processes in the areas of operations, controlling as well as marketing and distribution.

What are the key drivers that make hotel companies consider adopting new technologies?
The first key driver is reducing complexity within our technology. A full service hotel operation has easily three or four operational systems for specific functions, i.e. Property Management System (PMS), Sales and Marketing, Catering, Point of Sale (POS), with mostly proprietary interface technologies connecting them. Since these on-property systems generate both vital business intelligence data as well as customer relationship relevant information, they in turn are connected to above-property systems (Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions, Business intelligence tools, finance, etc.). 

The questions that hotel companies need to answer are: how can we reduce complexity, how can we increase system availability and how do we obtain business relevant data to market and run our hotels effectively? The concepts of cloud computing is a great way of putting critical systems “above property”, hence eliminating proprietary interfaces and increasing data security. Another important initiative that is developed by European Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) - an organisation aiming at standardising interface specifications and thus simplifying system to system integration.

Another key driver is the rapid evolution and change of the distribution landscape. Can our existing technology infrastructure and operational processes easily adapt to both emerging distribution channel and/or changed customer shopping behaviors? Among other things, the market penetration of internet-enabled mobile devices will have a huge impact on how we distribute, how we engage with our guest and how we enhance guest service.

Last but not the least, product differentiation. I believe that a well-defined and understood target customer group(s) (who are our guests), a product definition serving key needs of the target group (what is important to our guests) along with a defined business strategy and objectives (how are we going to deliver it and measure our success) are key to success. We see this happening as more and more hotel companies create sub brands to that effect. In that respect, CRM will continue to play an important role to help hoteliers better understand their customer needs and to effectively engage with their customers in pre-stay, during their stay and post-stay.

Since changing technology is also a means to achieve strategic business objectives, how should hotel companies get prepared for that?
Systems and technology alone do not solve issues, they provide a framework to support vital business processes. Thus technology needs to be adapted to your business needs and not vice versa.
I believe that first of all companies should clearly define their business objectives with regards to new technology or change of systems. Based on our experience, implementing a new technology usually affects various departments, if not the entire company. We very often see that individual key players within the organisation have different understanding/opinion of what exactly the objectives are and what these new technologies should enable.
Secondly, make sure all key players support the agreed objectives and understand their individual responsibilities.

Thirdly, establish and agree on a realistic cost/benefit and return-on-investment (ROI) calculations. Going through the process ensures that the new technology and its functionality are tailored around your business needs, that systems are not under- or over-engineered, and that technology positively contributes to your business success.
Finally, measure and monitor your success. Based on the business objectives and the ROI, derive appropriate key performance indicators (KPI’s), and monitor them regularly. This allows hoteliers to adjust implementation strategies if the KPI’s show underperformance and/or to determine early in the process when to abandon the project.

How can hotel companies bridge the gap between technology, operations and controlling?
When we help customer, we always first go back to the fundamental questions: Who is the customer, what are his needs, and why is he buying my product/service? Once these questions are answered, operational requirements are clear, as well as what kind of technology is required to best support the operation, and what financial and operational controls must be implemented.
Focusing on the customer greatly benefits the company in making sure that they do not over-engineer certain processes and that the key processes that are important to the customer are optimally supported by technology.

How can hotel companies define new business and IT processes, and align them with their organisation’s overall business goals?
Again, I believe customer focus is crucial when answering most of these questions. How does my customer buy the product? How does he experience it? How do I make him return? These questions should be at the center of every technology re-engineering process or any IT project to stay focused on the real value of what any new technology should deliver.

What key industry trends will be the most impactful for the next 3 years?

The whole mobile computing trend will continue to have a major impact on distribution channels, more precisely on how customers shop and buy travel products, and will consequently change customer booking behavior. Most of our customers see 80%+ of all bookings made from a mobile device being made on the day of arrival. Time window of booking will shorten. For example, there will be instances when larger companies will abandon global contracting and will give more freedom of booking back to individual travelers as long as they stay in a certain price range. This is a key change of how the industry will distribute and this will impact technology greatly in terms of how product information and prices are presented.
Providing solid and good internet connectivity in every property will be a MUST. The role of in-room entertainment will diminish and may even go away eventually since people will bring in their own entertainment with them.
The whole energy theme will become an issue in itself too. Energy and energy saving technology will come increasingly into play. Within the next three years, management companies will start adding energy saving-related requirements into their management contracts because of operational cost concerns. Before, it was not as an issue but now it will be.
CRM is going to be more and more prominent especially for products that do not necessarily compete over price like niche products. More and more hotels will refocus their distribution strategies, defining better their customer segmentation and how to take care of them, for example by setting up smart loyalty strategies. Adoption of CRM systems is still in its infancy in the hotel industry simply because of system complexity. It will require superior guest recognition improvements to meet the needs of hoteliers in their guest strategies.
Pressure to consolidate will increase. Focusing on brand and brand value will also be a major trend.

NEWS :: International Hotel Technology Forum 2014

1-3 April 2014, Spain

Welcome to the Eleventh International Hotel Technology Forum (IHTF) 2014, the leading face- to-face event for the hotel technology industry. All delegates will be offered the exclusive opportunity to engage in pre-arranged, private business meetings with selected organisations of their choice. All IHTF registrants will be individually matched according to their business needs and immediate and future priorities. A Meetings Manager will be specifically assigned to co-ordinate this. 2014: the exclusive IHTF meetings model will now run in parallel to a fully comprehensive conference programme, featuring presentations on the latest strategic thinking, business model evaluation and technological advances such as CRM, PMS and RMS, TV & Audio, which in turn will enhance their competitiveness and profitability in the marketplace.

Technology :: Teens and Technology 2013

Smartphone adoption among American teens has increased substantially and mobile access to the internet is pervasive. One in four teens are “cell-mostly” internet users, who say they mostly go online using their phone and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.
These are among the new findings from a nationally representative Pew Research Center survey that explored technology use among 802 youth ages 12-17 and their parents. Key findings include:
  • 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones. That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.
  • 23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
  • 95% of teens use the internet.
  • 93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.
“The nature of teens’ internet use has transformed dramatically — from stationary connections tied to shared desktops in the home to always-on connections that move with them throughout the day,” said Mary Madden, Senior Researcher for the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and co-author of the report. “In many ways, teens represent the leading edge of mobile connectivity, and the patterns of their technology use often signal future changes in the adult population.”

About the Survey

These findings are based on a nationally representative phone survey of 802 parents and their 802 teens ages 12-17. It was conducted between July 26 and September 30, 2012. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and on landline and cell phones. The margin of error for the full sample is ± 4.5 percentage points. This report is the second in a series of reports issued in collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. The first release, “Teens, Parents and Online Privacy,” was published in November 2012 and is available at:

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