INTRODUCING THE QUARTERLY DEBATES
Twice a month, our CEO, Jan Hejny, publishes a debate on LinkedIn, where he talks about the hottest topics in the industry. Over the months, these posts became a kind of tradition in HotelTime Solutions, and an engaging way to “take the temperature” (no pun intended) of the industry. What is more interesting than the debate per se, however, is the feedback from other LinkedIn users. These discussions heat up fast, and it’s not uncommon to find fascinating, unexplored points of view. At HotelTime Solutions, we are pragmatic, but never dogmatic, so these little discussions help us put things into perspective and, when needed, adjust our strategy accordingly. Because, in the traditional Plato’s way of thinking, The only thing we know is that we know nothing. Not to lose these intellectual exchanges with other users, we decided to publish a recap of the debates for each quarter, together with the best comments by the users. We hope you enjoy them!
DEBATE #1: INDIRECT BENEFITS OF CLOUD SYSTEMS
“Of all the decisions a hotelier has to make, choosing the right #PMS can be the most stressful, yet, it is a responsibility that transcends the four walls of hotels. The 1st question when implementing is, usually: #cloud or #legacy? The DIRECT benefits of cloud systems are nothing new: hotels can effectively outsource the IT part of the technology, resulting in higher #datasecurity, no hidden costs for infrastructures, simpler integrations, and regular updates without the need for maintenance on local servers. What is often left unsaid, however, are the INDIRECT benefits. One above all: for years, now, only cloud-based coding has been taught in technical institutes and universities. This means that finding a programmer who comprehends on-premise languages will become more and more difficult, if not impossible, in the next 5-10 years. And the language is not even the main barrier, as these programmers will have to deal with the lack of a proper #framework, making programming hard and unscalable. Working on legacy systems integrations will be like explaining Facebook’s main idea to the ghost of William Shakespeare: you may use the same shared vocabulary (coding language), yet he would not grasp the nuances of #socialnetworking without proper context (framework)…”
Interestingly enough, the phrase that recurred most in the comments is “a good balance,” together with the terms “functionality” (x3) and “integrations/integrate” (x4), highlighting the need for a more open, balanced and functional industry.
Monica Lira, Chapter Relations & Marketing, EMEA
“Great metaphor indeed. I would also add that statistics show that >90% of cybersecurity breaches occur due to human error. Legacy systems are usually on-site. That means that the hotel will need to invest a lot in security measures and may be held 100% responsible in case of breach.”
DEBATE #2: WHAT IS A PMS?
“The other day I was discussing with a friend about what #PMS means in today’s industry, and whether the name itself is still adequate. Literally, a PMS is a “System” that “Manages” a “Property.” Semantically, therefore, a PMS should be able to take care of every aspect of hotels’ operations. Yet, a new trend is emerging, and PMSs started transforming from turnkey platforms into simple hubs for 3rd-party integrations. The whole conversation started with: should a housekeeping module be in-built within PMSs or provided by an external company? If a PMS “manages” the “property,” then the housekeeping module should definitively be in-built. Otherwise, the central notion of what a PMS is (or should be) becomes inaccurate. Sure, there are gray areas: should PMSs build self-check-in/out kiosks? Probably not, but they could offer an in-built app or a tablet. Some fundamental features should be, IMO, provided natively. I see more and more companies converting their products into basic room allocation/dashboard systems, and some of them even started abandoning the PMS name, in favor of “Front Desk Systems,” or “Experience Platforms.” I am curious to know your opinion: is the term PMS still accurate in 2020? What should a PMS do natively? And what should be integrated via third-parties?”
Even here, the terms
“develop/development/developers” recurs often (9x)
in the comments, followed by “integrate/integrated/integrators/to integrate” (7x) and the term “API” (6x). What can be learned from the comments is that there is no such thing as black and white when it comes to defining what a PMS is.
Alar Ülem 1st degree, Co-founder @ GuestJoy
“The question is though, what are those core functionalities that a PMS should have, instead of just telling customers to pay for a 3rd party system. To me, this is a product management question. Should we partner up or develop our own? Of course, you can follow industry trends like in the small hotel or vacation rental segment where a channel manager in PMS is becoming a norm, but I would create a basic litmus test for those ideas: 1. do most of my customers want it? 2. does it need to be tightly integrated with my core product? 3. is the complexity for us as a company manageable.
Now you can test it against some ideas:
Review management – 1 yes, 2 no, 3 no
Upsell – 1 no, 2 yes, 3 yes
Housekeeping – 1 yes, 2 yes, 3 yes. Etc.”
DEBATE #3: ON MARKETPLACES
“Are #MarketPlaces the future of our industry or just a buzzword? Most of the #traveltech platforms out there have been developed decades ago, so I doubt this #plug&play approach could work, at least in the short term. What’s your take on the topic?”
Guess what? “Integration/integrate” is still one of the most used words (x5), together with “partnerships” (x3).
Martin Soler, Partner, Soler & Associates
“For a PMS to offer a marketplace is a bit of a buzzword. It exists, it’s called integrations. It is a duty of a PMS provider to offer easy connectivity to all solutions out there. For a third party to make a marketplace is interesting.”
DEBATE #4: PMS LIFECYCLE
“Just curious here: what do you think should the average lifecycle of a #PMS be? I hear many hoteliers complaining about the high costs involved with #cloudbased solutions, yet rarely I see them compare apples to apples. Is the total cost of running and maintaining a legacy system underestimated? Should cloud-based systems really be that expensive?”
The word “support” is used quite extensively (6x), together with the term “provide/provided” (6x). What can be extrapolated by the comments is that many of the hidden costs of legacy systems go completely unseen.
David Ganly, Experienced Hotel Technology Expert
“Hoteliers with legacy PMS systems underestimate the hardware support, typically outsourced, data backups – I often ask to see a DRP, which if exists has rarely or never been executed. The cost of software upgrades, the cost of integration, the cost of the additional software for security, monitoring, etc. The advantage of accessing the cloud app from anywhere on any device. The ability to easily connect to other cloud services. When an on-prem PMS goes down, you get the person on duty when the other P1 issues are dealt with. When a cloud system goes down, you can be assured all the company’s best people are attending the incident! The issue with lifecycle has traditionally been the lack of real IT budgets and disruption to the operation involved in change. Legacy on-premises PMS still running on 10+ year hardware is commonplace. If it still works, why would you change it? The logical transition is moving to a cloud SaaS solution. Comms are more stable than ever. In my opinion, holding the decision back is functionality anxiety. For sure cloud-native applications are closing the functionality gap to win deals. Ask the “on-prem” hotelier to put a cost on the loss of revenue due to the previous downtime!”
See you next quarter for another update on Jan’s debates!