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CRS-Looking Back, Looking Forward

H & A Report, Volume III, Issue 6 May/June 1996

If the past year appeared one of non-stop action in hotel central reservations (and it did), 1996 promises to be even busier.

While the number of reservation systems activated was about average, 1995 saw developments with far reaching consequences.  Anasazi, Inc. (Phoenix, AZ) and Fidelio Software (Munich) both outlined programs at HITEC '95 to achieve full product integration.  Following the pattern established by software giants such as Microsoft, each will link and package their CRS, PMS, revenue management and data base management capabilities into "suites", providing very welcome one-stop shopping, one-stop service to their clients.

Speaking of Fidelio, that company saw major changes in several areas.  Not only was it acquired by Micros (Beltsville, MD) but Fidelio itself purchased Executive Technologies (ET, Naples, FL) vendor of the Gold One CRS.  ET promptly re-christened Fidelio Technologies (FT) and under that new moniker the ET team continued work on completion and activation of Best Western International's new CRS.  Negotiations continued with several hotel companies for use of that system.  Intelligent Networks Inc. (INI) of Herndon, VA, a potential CRS rival to Anasazi and Fidelio was, however, interestingly and conspicuously absent from the CRS scene following its acquisition by Holiday Inn Worldwide of Atlanta.

1995 was the year Anasazi added a new member to its client family with activation of its systems at Red Lion Hotels (Vancouver, WA) now operating in a sparking new reservation center under the very capable direction of Elliott Winit.  And we'll remember 1995 as significant in CRS outsourcing, of course, for the decision by HFS (Parsippany, NJ) to sever its facilities management contract with EDS of Plano, TX.  Finally, last year was notable for the appearance of a host of new Internet presentation opportunities, linked to CRSs for bookability, led by THISCO's TravelWeb (Dallas, TX) and WizCom's TravelWiz (Garden City, NY).

Think that was busy?  1996 is off to an even faster pace.  Those negotiations Fidelio had underway bore fruit in January with the announcement by Wyndham Hotels (Dallas, TX) of selection of the FT product for its new reservation center, which will open later this year under the management of Scott Pruner.  In a move with potentially far-reaching consequences, SupraNational Hotels (London) selected WizCom International's Wizdom CRS to replace its current reservation software.  We can expect Don Hughes and his staff to be knocking on the doors of the individual SupraNational member chains before too long.

After its quiet 1995, the INI system made its reappearance at EUROHOTEC in Amsterdam when IBM (Atlanta, GA), continuing its joint initiative with Holiday Inn Worldwide (HIW), announced the system's availability for immediate installation.  IBM and HIW staff will now work on the system's expansion in preparation for its installation as the next generation of Holidex about the first quarter of 1997.  Meanwhile, Fidelio has decided to consolidate its Opera development efforts in Munich, concentrating its development talent at their headquarters to complete their next generation suite of integrated products.

CLS (Irvine, CA), a long-time provider to the hotel industry, promises to launch a new CRS product in 1996 and Perot Systems (Dallas, TX), having watched the hospitality industry (including the hotel CRS scene) from the sidelines for the past two years, appears poised to play a greater role under the guidance of industry veteran St. John Murphy.

And this is just the half of it.  If the reports, rumors and rumblings are true, 1996 will be a year of major decisions, acquisitions and breakthroughs in CRS.  My advice -- hang on for a remarkable ride.