Posts

Towards Humanless Revenue Management: The Role of PMSs

Homo Sapiens or Homo Algorithmus?

According to McKinsey, AI-based pricing can deliver between $259.1B to $500B in global market value. But the critical question remains: can Revenue Management be completely automated? The answer is: theoretically, yes, but, in practice, things are a little more nuanced. But let’s step back for a second and try to reword the original question, at least slightly: should Revenue Management be completely automated? The answer, in this case, is a big, resonating, capital letter YES. A recent study by MIT-BHI showed that companies that “undertook AI-driven pricing transformations achieved more than $100 million of revenue improvement 70% more often than companies that focused on another area.”

Self-learning algorithms are evolving fast, becoming highly sophisticated, and they already have a high impact on operational efficiencies and increased yield. As a result, there is no doubt that the future of revenue management will be fully automated,” says Alexander Edström, CEO, Atomize.

The pieces of evidence are all around us, and not only in travel. Some examples? Amazon uses artificial intelligence to drive dynamic pricing; Starbucks adopts predictive analytics based on its data from over 90 million weekly transactions, and multinationals such as Coca-Cola or Johnson & Johnson have been using AI pricing for years. During the 2019 edition of the Revenue Management & Pricing in Services Conference, hosted by the prestigious Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Kevin Hof, Data Scientist at RoomPriceGenie, shared several case studies where hotels experienced an average of 22% increase in revenue by adopting RMSs, and similar results can be found on dozens of similar publications.

The hospitality industry is very fragmented when it comes to tech adoption and AI implementation in revenue management. Many hoteliers are still very protective of their own pricing and strategy; they believe that their historical knowledge and gut feelings know better than any algorithm. The truth is: that they don’t trust what they don’t necessarily know, understand, and cannot control (like a Human Revenue Manager). That’s when tech Vs. human becomes a dilemma, and that’s when we need to go back to basics and work on the “tech it easy:” step by step education followed by measurable results. Revenue Management is a hybrid human+tech cooperation, and the future is already now,” says Silvia Cantarella, Commercial Strategy Expert & Founder Revenue Acrobats.

PMSs, GIGO, and adoption blockers

Based on these facts, we can all agree that autonomous intelligence (in the sense of automation of price decision-making processes with little or no human intervention) is likely the direction towards where revenue management is headed. However, this is not going to be particularly easy, and not (or, at least, not only) because modern RMSs are not up to the task, but because, oftentimes, PMSs’ are the real adoption-blockers. GIGO is a concept most revenue managers know way too well: the quality of the output is determined by the quality of the input. Garbage data in produces nonsensical (garbage data) outputs. And RMSs’ rely heavily on PMSs’ data. These systems can fail to provide the correct information for a number of reasons:

  1. Human data entry errors. That’s the main issue when it comes to PMSs’ accuracy. Frighteningly enough, the error rate in clinical data repositories can be as high as 27% and, in our industry, a study by eHotelier pointed out that up 50% of hotel databases are either corrupted or incomplete;We need to rethink market segmentation or rate architecture with data quality in mind. Data need to be actionable and allow us to effortlessly and effectively uncover opportunities. But more than anything, the setup needs to prevent data entry errors,” says Christoph Hütter, non-traditional Revenue Manager.
  2. Poor API design. Tyler Charboneau calls this the Instant Gratification Trap“: “This potential short-term gain is attractive.” Charboneau says, “we can discuss the ideological war between engineering and marketing, (and) chasing instant gratification is understandable, but dangerous. It’s like developing a tentpole API when your core services really require thick rebar. Ideally, the design process would include thorough stress testing and optimization. Reliability is also crucial.It’s not uncommon for PMS companies to heavily market how “open” their systems are, yet we should remember that quality always beats quantity when it comes to integrations. We cannot stress this enough;One thing that is often forgotten, when the benefits of RMS systems are calculated, is the RM maturity of the organization. Installing any simplest algorithms will bring great returns when you start from zero revenue-mamagement-know-how. I have unfortunately witnessed a top RMS with poor human setup run property market share below its quality position due to poor know-how on RM strategy,” says Hanna Lak, Tourism Knowledge Management and Total Revenue Ambassador,  Founder Nordic Revenue Forum.
  3. Lack of functionalities on the PMS. Well, this is quite obvious, yet, if your property management system has not been developed to collect a specific piece of data, the RMS (and even the human revenue manager, for that matter) will not be able to pull the proverbial rabbit out of their hats.While we still largely discuss room revenue where the data granularity from a PMS is pivotal and where automation should already be the status quo, the industry should focus on total revenue management, investing on how to integrate data from different revenue sources (the so-called ancillary revenues, such as SPA, golf, food outlets, etc.) into one solution, a single source of truth,” says Damiano Zennaro, Hospitality Senior Advisor.

To automate or not to automate? Act 3, Scene 1

Full automation of your revenue management strategy is tempting. Not only because it can (and usually does) increase your overall revenue, but because it also dramatically reduces costs. The average salary for a revenue manager is $81,399 per year in the United States, while an entry-level RMSs’ cost $50 per month. Well, you do the math. 

Given that a typical hotel will make roughly five million pricing decisions every year, it is not humanly possible for any revenue manager to get every decision right, every day, without the support of an automated system. Especially considering the sheer volume of data to be gathered and analyzed. A robust RMS not only generates prices that adapt to market changes but actually anticipates these variations in advance. In a changing hotel market, slight pricing changes can have a big impact on demand. Therefore, any hotelier operating without systems that can analytically decipher the impacts of a specific price change on occupancy and the resulting revenue benefit (or lack thereof) for their property is operating at a disadvantage,” says Klaus Kohlmayr, Chief Evangelist & Development Officer, IDeaS.

Moreover, revenue managers can rely less and less on historical data, especially after the pandemic. In this new paradigm, external data (such as weather reports or public events information) became crucial for a solid RM strategy. First, however, humans have to collect and aggregate them, bringing us to square to problem #1. But these data could automatically be retrieved on services such as OpenWeatherMap, Picatic, or Allevents.in. They’re, literally, one API away.

Typically revenue management systems (RMS) and revenue managers use historical, comp set pricing and market data and combine this with forward-looking demand signals like pacing to recommend the optimum rates. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, historical data has become irrelevant. I also believe comp set pricing data has also diminished in value – how sure are you that your competitors are competent in their revenue management practices and use the right RM tools and not just plagiarizing each other’s rates in a suicidal downward spiral?

The need to adjust the property’s rates dynamically, based on real-time travel demand, is the reason why the pandemic put an end to the most favorite revenue management tool: the Excel spreadsheet – and created the urgent need for an AI-powered cloud RMS to handle the complexities of the post-pandemic era,” says Max Starkov, Hospitality & Online Travel Tech Consultant & Strategist.

Conclusions: where do we go now?

A recent pricing maturity assessment conducted by BCG and the Professional Pricing Society, revealed that more than 50% of all industrial goods companies still use Microsoft Excel to build their primary pricing tools.

It’s clear an AI-powered RMS with human supervision is an essential starting point for today’s hotelier.  As revenue tech moves closer towards marketing functions we should expect to see more integrations between the RMS and marketing tools to optimize the guest journey on the hotel website, on the guest mobile device, and other important digital touchpoints that are currently ‘out of reach’ for today’s RMS solutions in isolation,” says Erik Muñoz, Chief Revenue Officer, Userguest.

It’s not surprising, because revenue managers often are forced to fill the blanks with the little information they have, and that’s mainly the vendors’ fault and responsibility. However, a new, easier, more effective, and more accurate way of doing revenue management is knocking at our door, and it’s time we all team up and, finally, open it.

RMSs – a modern way to make more money

The technology in hospitality is constantly changing. Currently, the evolution is driven by the rise of cloud-based systems which among other things considerably widens the integration possibilities for hotels. Nowadays hoteliers can choose between various types of systems and build their hotel tech stack according to each hotel’s needs. Revenue Management Systems (RMSs) are one of these types.

Although they are very closely related to PMSs (most of them need to be integrated with a PMS to work correctly), and they help hoteliers increase their hotels’ revenue significantly, RMSs are not yet commonly implemented. Speaking from our experience, most of HotelTime Solutions’ clients don’t use a revenue management system. But regardless of this, we think there will be a time when almost every hotel will implement one.

The invention and functions of RMSs 

Simply said, RMSs help hoteliers set up and optimize rates. Historically this was done differently – a hotel would set prices for the upcoming year and would publish them through available channels which meant typically a travel agency catalogue or a GDS connection.  Because the catalogues could not change during the year and there was no online distribution, prices had to be set as fixed. 

After some time, hotel technology evolved and with the rise of OTAs the number of channels where hotels published the prices increased. Hotels still signed contracts with travel agencies (with fixed, net rates), but they also published pricing through OTAs simultaneously. Later, channel managers came which enabled hotels to sell rooms through many more OTAs at the same time. Thanks to this, hotels became more visible, and people started to book rooms directly online via hotel websites or various channels like Booking.com.

Online distribution also allowed hotels to change their rates even daily, as there was no fixed contract managing prices for the whole year. Hotels have realised the potential in optimising their rates based on demand (or expected demand) and started employing Revenue Managers – people responsible for setting and updating prices to maximise total revenue of the hotel. But because making these decisions was becoming more and more complex, Revenue Management Systems were created to make the work of Revenue Managers easier and more accurate. 

Compared to Revenue Managers, RMSs can make better pricing decisions and also make them more often (even a couple of times a day). RMSs are also able to consider more data points and more complicated factors than a human being. The priority of hoteliers could be now shifted from maximising occupancy (for fixed prices) to setting the right rate for each night and therefore maximising total revenue. 

Types of RMSs

Not all RMSs are the same. They differ quite a lot. Depending on their features we can divide them into three groups: 

  1. We call the first type “rule-based RMSs”. These RMSs change the price per night according to pre-set rules or criteria. Rule-based RMSs differ according to the complexity of rules that can be set. A relatively simple rule would be changing the price according to the occupancy of a room type. A more complex rule can be, for example, considering the pricing of competitors. Rule-based RMSs may or may not be connected to the PMS (if so, it is typically a 1-way connection) to get more information about the hotel’s inventory (amount of total and available rooms per room type).
  1. The second type is a more complex kind of RMS which takes multiple data points into account and can make significantly more complex decisions. The data points considered could typically be: competitors’ pricing, booking pace and pick-up of reservations, performance compared to the past, and expected future demand (e.g. will there be an event taking place in the area?). These RMSs would also consider hotel segmentation as a factor, such as a group or corporate bookings. That is why this type of RMS typically needs to have a solid 2-way integration with the PMS that provides it with complex booking and inventory data while the PMS can receive updated prices back.
  1. The third type is the most complex one where the RMS would make the most complex decisions, typically for the largest hotels or resorts. These very complex systems are able to consider many more data points, including other (non-accommodation) revenue centres, calculate group displacement costs (decide if accepting a large group is desirable or not), or consider the hotel’s budget and P&L. These types of RMSs will always have a very complex integration with PMS and possibly other systems providing various data points.  

Benefits brought by RMSs 

There are two main benefits of using an RMS. 

Firstly, an RMS can set prices very effectively based on a lot of different data – the amount of data it is considering depends on the concrete type of RMS – which can maximize the total revenue.

Secondly, an RMS helps Revenue Managers with day-to-day decisions, saving them a lot of time they would need to evaluate data manually and helping them make sure pricing decisions are as effective as possible to achieve planned revenue.  

HotelTime Solutions and RMSs 

At HotelTime Solutions, we believe that RMSs will become an essential part of a future hotel tech stack. We also believe that a complex 2-way integration with PMSs is essential to maximise any RMS potential. That’s why we have, as an open platform, developed a set of APIs available for RMS partners to use, are already integrated with various RMSs, and are committed to integrating more in the future.

Nowadays we have partnered with the following RMSs: Atomize, OutPerform, D-EDGE, RateGain and HotelPartner while we are continuously talking to more potential partners to offer a wide range of RMSs to our customers. 

Case Study – Asten Hotels

HotelTime Solutions software has enabled Asten Hotels to manage all properties more flexibly, automate internal processes, and it also minimized manual work allowing personnel to devote maximum time to guests. 

Main benefits 

  • easier and more flexible management thanks to the accessibility of the system from anywhere 
  • reduced costs for IT administration 
  • modern and efficient operation of hotels thanks to great possibilities of integration with other systems 
  • more automation, less manual work, and more time for guests 

 Originally 

  • legacy on-site system 
  • significant IT and server costs 
  • limited integration and automation possibilities 
  • complicated group reporting 
  • complicated remote access to on-site systems in hotels 
  • a large amount of time spent doing manual work 

About Asten Hotels 

Asten Hotels is a chain of 5 boutique hotels that are located in Prague and Špindlerův Mlýn. Asten Hotels focus both on individual and corporate guests and offer first-class service to meet the demand of these guests who can also enjoy many great F&B and Spa outlets.

“After years of experiences with other PMSs, HotelTime Solutions’ system was the first cloud-based we decided to try. Our 5 properties in Prague and Špindlerův Mlýn rely on it, and we are all completely satisfied. The degree of automation that their software provides (for example in the form of automatic payments) saves a lot of time for all our staff who can pay full attention to our guests.”

Jiří Gajdošík
Managing Partner, Asten Hotels

Asten Hotels and HotelTime 

Efficiency 

HotelTime Solutions software has brought Asten Hotels‘ management the level of efficiency required, especially when travelling between hotels. Because it is cloud-based software, information from all properties is available from anywhere, both via PC and via mobile phone. Management can therefore make decisions based on up-to-date information and is also able to consider reports the software creates that can be adapted to their needs. 

But it’s not just the management of Asten Hotels that benefits from greater efficiency brought by HotelTime PMS. In practice, a cloud-based solution also means having a shared database of guests. The hotels’ staff, therefore, has one place where all data about guests from all 5 hotels are saved – including their previous stays and preferences. These Information are shared amongst hotels and thank to that all personnel have a perfect overview of guests and their needs. This allows hotel staff to provide the best service possible and it also speeds up check-in/out processes. 

Integrations 

The change of PMS and the transition to a cloud-based solution meant a great step forward for Asten Hotels. Since HotelTime PMS is an open platform, it enabled better integration options. Asten Hotels have decided to use D-EDGE channel manager. D-EDGE & HotelTime PMS offer 2-way interface (1 or 1.5-way is also possible) which enables a fully automatic transfer of inventory, pricing and reservation data between the PMS and platforms such as Booking.com. In addition, D-EDGE also enables payment automation.  

Automation 

Thanks to HoteTime PMS, Asten Hotels could start automating payments. The integration of HotelTime PMS to D-EDGE channel manager allows the PMS to receive and tokenize credit card numbers. Thanks to that, credit cards can be automatically pre-authorized and/or payments can be automatically taken at a pre-set time. The staff does not have to set payments manually, which saves a lot of time and significantly speeds up the hotel processes.  

Also, the follow-up procedure is automated. HotelTime PMS is connected to the accounting software and automatically sends all accounting information to this software removing the need to input data manually. 

In addition, HotelTime PMS and our e-concierge application enable automation of the check-in process. Guests can check-in online and avoid delays at the reception. 

Automation is an important step for a chain of luxurious properties such as Asten Hotels which provides services primarily focused on the guests and their maximum satisfaction. Automation minimizes manual work of the staff, who can then focus more on their guests – which means both the staff and the guests benefit.

The perks of payment automation

The simplification of payments is one of the signs of the world we live in. As customers, visitors or guests, we barely need to carry cash as we handle our money with a mere wave of a card next to the machine. But this experience could be even more frictionless if the payments were automatic. And that is precisely what HotelTime offers – automatic payments for hotels that do not bother staff or guests.

The process is pretty simple – guests book an accommodation (typically online),  fill in the payment details, and from that moment on, everything runs automatically.

For the hotel itself, this means that it gets the money without -literally- having to lift a finger. There is no need to write down the card number or to set the payment manually. Instead, the system takes the card information the guest provided, saves this information, and then automatically charges (or preauthorizes) the card according to the rules set in the PMS.

Saving the card information (card tokenization) is a completely secure process. The card number is hidden, and the system is PCI compliant.

As the payments run automatically, it assures zero error rate. Therefore, in practice, the hotel staff does not have to solve a problem with denied payment from a virtual card or a wrong payment from a regular card.

The only moment someone has to say anything else than “enjoy your stay” and must ask for the guests‘ card is when they come with no previous reservation. But in this situation, as well, the process is pretty simple and secure – the hotel employee just enters the card number into the system, and everything runs automatically.

Last but not least, a crucial aspect is that thanks to payment automatization, the hotel has the card information saved and can use it for other payments – for example, when a guest needs to pay for the goods from the minibar.

All these advantages lead to higher work efficiency because the receptionists do not waste the hotel’s precious time punching in numbers but -instead- can be fully concentrated on the guests’ wishes.

That means not just the hotel but also the personnel benefits from the payment automatization. As they do not need to ask guests to present their credit cards or write down the numbers, the check-in/out process becomes fast and smooth. Therefore, the staff does not have to deal with overloaded reception. And that is not just because of the automatization of the payment process; the invoices are automatically sent as well.

The system does everything on its own; employees do less manual work -ergo- make fewer mistakes and have more time for guests.

Finally, automatic payment systems bring significant advantages for the guests themselves. As the hotel staff is more effective, the processes in the hotel are faster, and guests do not need to wait indefinitely for check-in/out. They are also less bothered at the reception because they are not asked to present their credit card and thus, their satisfaction is guaranteed.

The system ensures security for them, too. They can be sure that the payment information they provided will not be misused in any way.

So, to cut a long story short, one very small step in the form of payment automatization means a considerable improvement of the hotel services and a significant move towards the future.

 

If you would like to know more, use the contact form below, please:

5 ways your PMS should be helping you naviagate Covid (and Post Covid) landscape

  1. Providing the correct Self Check-In options

Self Check-In is a generic term that has been floating around Hoteliers to-do lists for a while. It mostly settled somewhere towards the bottom.   Meanwhile “Seamless Digital Guest Journey” seems like the most recent buzz-phrase that has sprung up around the Covid-19 Pandemic. Whilst Pre-registration seems like the poorer cousin of the aforementioned. And then Pre Check-In sounds like it may be associated with an airline.

In reality they are all versions of the same thing.

However not all Check-Ins are created equal.

Your PMS should facilitate different Check-In options that work well for your property.

HotelTime have several options available to suit different types of property with different requirements.

These options range from

  • HotelTime’s own Self Check In module,     to
  • Integration with ‘Digital Journey’ specialists AeroGuest     to
  • Open API’s for Kiosks (such as x) and other Third parties whom facilitate check in as part of their product (such as Criton)      to
  • Integration with Mobile Phone key cards (such as Salto)      to
  • Integration with Document Readers (such as Granus)

  1. Protecting your staff

“If you look after your staff, they will look after your Guests”

Richard Branson may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But its hard to argue with the sentiment. Whilst your guests may be reticent about returning to travel activity – your staff will probably feel the same.

So how can your PMS aid you to make your staff feel more safe?

In HotelTime Modules such as our ‘HSK App’ and ‘FOH reports’ means that all members of staff are able to access the information they need and update the system from their own device.

No printed reports for running the 10@10 meeting, no need for Housekeeping to touch phones in the room or visit reception after section cleaning and no need for printed Breakfast reports to be touched by many hands.

  1. Guest Communication

Guest expectations are changing fast and regularly. New government regulations released at giddying speed. Hotels are adapting and Innovating more than ever.

Its crucial that you are able to communicate all the hard work you are putting into making your Hotel as safe (yet hospitable) to your Guests.

With Guest profiles and reservation information stored there the PMS seems a good place to manage this.

HotelTime offer their Hotel Concierge module allowing pre, post and during stay emails – as well as guiding the guest through the online check-in process.

However – as always we acknowledge that all hotels are different and some may prefer a different solution. Therefore our open API allows your CRM  provider to connect to and the depth of data transfer will allow for super-charged Guest communications.

You are working really hard to make you hotel Covid -secure ; so let your guests know about it.

  1. Cloud based access: Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere

 

During Lockdown life was anything but ‘normal’.  However some things were able to continue as normal.

Logging into your Gmail account. Watching something on Netflix. Making a playlist on Spotify.

In 2020 and all the crucial data and information contained in your PMS should be constantly available.

Whether it be due to another government enforced lockdown (lets hope not) or due to you taking that well deserved holiday on the beach (lets hope so!) – access should be anytime, anywhere.

If your PMS is not in the cloud it should be.

Enough said.

 

  1. Enabling sophisticated Revenue management

There are many unknowns surrounding Covid-19 and its impact. 1 things is clear – it has impacted global demand for Hotels.

However, as always, the localised picture is different. Rural locations have reported booming demand. City centre locations are pivoting to new business models. Demand patterns can vary wildly according to government regulations or flight operator announcements.

So how do you price your hotel in this challenging environment?

Your PMS should allow you to quickly and easily conduct in-depth analysis of your business – enabling you to make informed decisions and connect to your choice of Revenue Management and/or Distribution partner.

HotelTime has an advanced reporting module allowing you to create reports and analyse the data you need at that moment. Additionally deep integrations with Revenue management systems such as Atomize or Hotel Partner and market leading distribution platforms such as Siteminder allow you to price dynamically and distribute intelligently.

 

  1. (Bonus: Not doing a sub-standard of any of the above by trying to keep it ‘in-house’)

It can be tempting for PMS to try to develop the platform in all areas to keep their clients happy (trust us – we know!!). But this can end up in a “Jack-of-All trades but master of none” situation. If your provider doesn’t have the right solution for you in their suite of products – they should connect to a 3rd Party that does.

HotelTime offers a fully featured PMS with complex functionality for hotels of all sizes. Meanwhile our open API’s allow you to connect to your choice of 3rd party to build your chosen Hotel Tech Stack.

 

Automation in Hospitality

HotelTime Solutions - GDPR

Hospitality is a Vulnerable Industry: A Closer Look at GDPR

FORMAT OBSOLESCENCE: SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR DATA

Every time a new music format takes over the market, we lose 90% of the albums, singles, and demos previously recorded. From 8-track tapes to cassettes, from vinyl to CD, from MiniDisc to mp3, fifty years after its original recording, you can still stream Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever on Spotify, while 9 musicians out of 10 never survived this evolution.   Just like music, data moved from support to support over the years and, by now, chances are that the average hotel possesses Gigabytes of data all over external hard disks, USB sticks, servers, clouds or, even worse, paper. And, whether they like it or not, they will have to let a lot of these data go. For good.

 

WHERE’S THE BUG? GDPR SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES WITH Y2K

In 1999, Y2K bug reshaped the technology industry. “The sheer scale of the problem, coupled with the fact that the entire world was up against a hard and inflexible deadline meant that organizations around the globe were forced innovate and change the way they conducted business in an unprecedented way”, wrote Roman Stanek, Founder and CEO at GoodData. What makes GDPR different from Y2K, however, is the fact that companies were way less prepared to face the imminent deadline than they were 18 years ago.


THE NUANCES OF GDPR

Another huge difference is that, unlike Y2K, the GDPR is subject to human interpretation, and lawyers are known to have a hard time when dealing with new laws, mainly because of the lack of precedents. If the regulation is an attempt to increase data protection and security, in fact, the definition of personal data itself is remarkably broad. And with the risk of huge fines, human interpretation is no bueno.  It is true that, for too long, hotels kept a pirate approach with data, but would you risk up to 4% of your annual gross revenue because of legislative nuances? First of all, what are exactly personal data? Unlike sensitive data (information about race, political views, religion, sexual orientation, etc.), personal data are simply the ones that indicate a specific individual. The main problem is that they are not limited to the person’s name. In fact, address, date of birth, email address (both personal and professional), phone number, IP address, and cookies are all considered personal. You’ve probably already read extensively about the topic, maybe joined a few webinars or even consulted with your lawyer, so you have a good understanding of what GDPR implies: you need your guests consent in order to use their data, this consent needs to be explicit and unambiguous and, more important, guests can ask you to delete all the data you have about them.

 

A VULNERABLE INDUSTRY?

Even though interesting, this is just theory.  “When it comes to data, the hotel industry is very vulnerable”, Marion Roger, Senior Vice President Operations at Upflex, once said. According to Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, for example, hotels account for 92% of all POS breaches. Guests book online, join loyalty programs and share a ridiculously high amount of personal data while traveling, and GDPR will not only affect the way hotels interact with their guests, but it will force them to review their company policies and procedures tout court.

HotelTime Solutions - GDPR

HOW WE CAN HELP?

Now, more than ever, hoteliers must make sure that guests data are well protected. That does not simply mean knowing which PMS user has access to what kind of data, but it also means protecting the actual storage where data are.  With on-site systems, hotels must suddenly deal with questions such as: “is the server room with the secured (locked)?” or “Who has got physical access to the server?” or “ Is the server on the same network as the public hotel wifi?”.

With cloud-based system, on the other hand, these IT problems are completely outsourced. All the local IT challenges, simply, disappear. HotelTimeSolutions, with its native cloud-based, secure system, is your ally in this new challenge. We have dedicated staff and technology to protect your guests’ information. We understand that data belong to the customers and that we are here to take care of it, and we built HotelTime Solutions with this approach in mind way before GDPR was even introduced.

Get in touch today to know how we can help you secure your data in our cutting-edge property management system!

The days of Leonardo Da Vinci are over: The current state of hotel technology and infrastructure

INTRO

“The days of Leonardo da Vinci are over”, wrote social scientist Etienne Wenger, adding that “today’s complex problem-solving requires multiple perspectives”. Even though the original quote refers to human interaction and team working, it can be easily applied to every ecosystem where communication and synergy are not only possible, but preferable. This is obviously the case with hotel tech, especially in today’s particular landscape, where problems are, in fact, “increasingly complex” and “multiple perspectives” are needed in order to solve them. And one of the problems hanging over hoteliers’ heads like the proverbial sword of Damocles is, unsuprisingly, the tech infrastructure one.

THE EVOLUTION OF TRAVEL TECH

If you have been in the industry long enough, you may remember when the infrastructure specifications required to keep all the hotel’s technology interconnected were minimal. Software used to be way more insular than today and third-party connectivity was not at the top of vendors’ priorities, who were more focused on developing new features from scratch to have a competitive advantage. Software (and, to some extent, hardware) worked individually and they rarely contributed to the success of the hotel as a whole.  Over the years, anyhow, it became clearer that the strength of any hotel software is directly proportional to the number of third-parties it can flawlessly connect to. The current average tech vendor approach, therefore, became increasingly decentralized, with more and more features outsourced to third-party systems, rather than developed internally.

THE INNOVATOR’S DILEMMA

The PMS industry is a perfect example of this new trend: instead of developing advanced features (such as, let’s say, reputation management systems, RMS or CRM) internally,  more and more vendors started focusing on what they do best, leaving the rest to external third-party software, to whom they connect via direct integration or API-connector companies. But here’s the catch: because, even though this is currently a pretty standard practice, over the last decade new systems started to be created at an alarming speed, generating a wide gap between the real needs of hoteliers, established technologies and overhyped Next Big-Things. Our industry is experiencing, a real “silicon obsession”, and it is important to stay grounded and remember that all that glitters is not gold, especially in tech, where adjective such as disruptive are overused and the risk of a bubble is always lurking on the corner. In travel, you certainly don’t want to be a laggard, but it turns out that you don’t want to be an early adopter either. This does not mean that you should not innovate or be over-conservative, but choosing the wrong tech provider or blindly running towards anything glimmering could be risky, as you could be left with a piece of unusable technology just one year from now.  According to several studies, the average lifespan of a software is around 6 to 8 years, with increased longevity for larger programs, so picking your infrastructure should be a decision not to take too lightly.

HOTEL INFRASTRUCTURE: A ROADMAP

Key criteria, when leaving an old provider, integrating a new one or upgrading to newer systems are:

  1. INTEGRATION:

Will this new technology flawlessly integrate with your existing infrastructure? Remember that the strength of any software is proportional to the number of third-parties it can connect to;

  1. MOTIVATION:

Will this technology still make your day-to-day work easier one year from now? Next-Big-Things come and go, often without leaving any trace behind but you will still need to extract booking window data next year;

  1. REGULATION:

Is this technology compliant with new laws? The hospitality industry has always been data-centric, so you want to avoid bad surprises when it comes to new data regulations;

  1. PRACTICALITY:

Is this technology easy-to-use? Switching to a new software is easily one of the most stressful, yet important, decision you have to make: possible data loss, staff (re)training, etc. Make sure not to go through this struggle in vain;

  1. ROI:

We all want to increase our ROI with every business decision we take, and the choice of technology is no exception. Even though it is harder to measure the return of a software than the one of, let’s say an Google Ads campaign, this factor should not be overlooked;

  1. LONG-TERM VIEW:

According to Statistic Brain, 1 out of 2 startups go out of business within five years from its creation, and travel startups are no exception. Do some research on your providers before choosing them.

WHAT CAN HOTELTIME SOLUTIONS DO FOR YOU?

At HotelTime, we know very well that “more connections” usually equals “better system”,  but we want to make sure to integrate highly reliable, selected trusted partners only.  We strongly believe that hoteliers should have full control over their hotel tech stack, but we are also concerned about the security of your data. Our open platform (and our business model) makes it very easy and quick for us to connect with the right partner for you, so you can get the integration you need, with partners that match our security and quality standards.

Have more questions? Get in touch with a HotelTime Solution specialist today here.