Those High Flying PMS Years - By Dave Berkus [inactive]
HITEC - Celebrating 30 Years of Hospitality Technology
The first Computerized Lodging Systems' (CLS) hard drives in the early-'70s were a combination of 2.1 MB fixed and 2.1 MB removable 15-inch platters. You could hear the sound of the heads positioning for a read or write, sounding like a ratchet wrench — clicking, clicking, clicking — laboring to the data-point. Typically we would design a system, placing the hotel's data on the fixed disk and the programs on the removable disk, so that the data could be backed up with a new removable pack. Good enough. But to backup the programs, you had to copy the programs over the data on the fixed disk, wiping the data out, then copy to another removable, then restore the data. Talk about a heart-stopping operation!
It was 1976… I had created the first "Hotel CompuSystem" front office to complement our existing back office system and had just installed it at the Miramar Sheraton Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif. The day after a successful installation, I walked into the hotel office, up the stairs, and straight into the unwavering gaze of an imposingly large John Pignataro, visiting from Sheraton corporate offices in Boston. "This better work, or else" were the first words I heard from one who would become a fast friend over the years.
Want to prove the mettle of a company and establish a culture of "can do" in a hurry? Respond to a devastating hotel fire with a replacement system overnight — snatched off the assembly line, destined for another hotel in a hurry. Add international flavor, and pull it off with the help of two airlines and hundreds of people's help. The year was 1984. The property was Hamilton Island off of the Australian coast. The machine snatched was destined for the Diplomat Hotel in Florida. Well, Roger Lane of the Diplomat proved understanding — at least enough to give us three days to create a replacement for the machine originally destined for him. His replacement became the 1,000th large MAI model 8000 off the assembly line, cause for quite a celebration at the plant. To commemorate that event, over 500 MAI and CLS employees met in the shipping area of the parking lot and signed our names to a fifty feet long continuous computer paper greeting card, which we stuffed inside the packing crate, destined for Roger Lane and his hotel staff. We still talk about that one.
"Dave" around the world. I still get a kick watching the expression on the faces of hotel front desk clerks around the world when I check into a hotel and tell them that I know their computer password. Invariably, many of the passwords in the CLS system are left as "Dave" from the original software as delivered in preparation for on-site training. I created that password to make it easy for anyone to recall — back in 1976. Over 2,000 systems are out there today with , I guarantee, quite a few places where "Dave" gets you into some critical functions. It's worth the trip just to see the expressions on their faces…
And finally — growth, wonderful growth. I cannot tell you how exciting it has been to witness an explosion of computing in hotels, worldwide. And to travel throughout the world to witness the rapid acceptance of the automated front office in many lands, many cultures, many languages. Almost 2,000 hotels worldwide — all with "Dave" as the secret password. What could be more gratifying or more fun? It's been a great ride, and it surely ain't over yet…
Dave Berkus is the founder of Computerized Lodging Systems (CLS) and president of Berkus Technology Ventures, LLC. Berkus is an inductee to the HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame.
Click here for more HITEC 30 Years Coverage!
HITEC®, produced by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®), is the most comprehensive meeting of its kind in the hospitality industry. It addresses the use of technology in the industry and brings together buyers and sellers of technology under one roof. Each year, more than 5,500 hospitality executives and exhibitors from around the world attend this three-day conference and exposition. For more information go to www.hitec.org.
The Bottomline, published bimonthly, is the official publication of HFTP, and is received by HFTP members as a member benefit. The editorial content of The Bottomline is determined by a team of experts. Members of the HFTP Communications Committee represent a variety of industry segments and areas of expertise in accounting, finance and technology. Besides the magazine's six regular issues, two special issues are published yearly. The Bottomline is an HFTP member benefit and is only received regularly by members. Go to www.hftp.org to get more information on HFTP membership.
Based in Austin, Texas, HFTP is the professional association for financial and IT personnel working in hotels, resorts, clubs, casinos, restaurants, and other hospitality-related businesses. The association provides continuing education and networking opportunities to more than 4,300 members around the world. HFTP also administers the examination and awards the certification for the Certified Hospitality Accountant Executive (CHAE) and the Certified Hospitality Technology Professional (CHTP) designations. HFTP was founded in 1952 as the National Association of Hospitality Accountants.