Micros Systems, an information technology provider for both the retail and hospitality businesses just announced the acquisition of TIG Global, a leading interactive marketing company focused on travel. Though Micros has been in the hospitality business for several decades with its Micros hotel CRS and Opera hotel computerized reservation system/property management system, their real focus has always been in retail point of sale systems, leading many to believe hospitality distribution was an ancillary product line. This acquisition may signal a change in that orientation as they follow in the footsteps of SynXis and TravelClick in acquiring an interactive services group. [more]Theoretically, a hotel distribution player with strong interactive services can provide a more complete solution to its customers. While all major, and many minor, CRS providers have internet booking engines (IBEs) that allow hotels and chains to distribute directly to consumers, the quality of a ‘standard’ CRS booking engine varies widely. Further, the number of configuration options required for a generic IBE makes enhancement a slower and more complex proposition. The result is a lot of IBEs that, aside from cosmetics, provide no differentiation for the hotel brands. At the same time, the IBE channel is extremely important to hotels because it is very inexpensive and can theoretically enable the property to really emphasize its brand and USP--assuming the technology and content are there to do it. Having an in-house interactive service means the CRS provider can offer more highly customized standard IBEs as well as the promise of faster and cheaper development of custom IBEs. Customized IBEs that differentiate the brand were in recent years a luxury, but are now becoming a requirement for many hotels.Another holy grail of hotel marketers (to be potentially deliverable via this union) would be the ability to track search engine optimization and search engine marketing programs from first click through booking and, via the integrated Opera CRS/PMS, down to the folio level. This would give hotel marketers a highly detailed view into the results of their campaigns, covering not only the booking but also the spend at the hotel. Ah, but we’ll believe it when we see it.The pace of innovation on the hospitality side has never been blindingly fast at Micros. We recall the many, many years that elapsed between their announcement of Opera and its first commercial implementation. Still, the acquisition of such a strong player in the interactive community may indicate Micros no longer sees the market for retail POS as its dominant focus. It may be truly setting its sights on the CRS space which, despite a few major players, is still largely up for grabs. These insights are excerpted with permission from the Hudson Crossing blog.