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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.

 

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How to choose your next PMS

It isn’t straightforward today for hoteliers to choose a PMS. There are so many technical words that you can get lost. If you should give a piece of advice to hoteliers when picking a system, what would it be?

It would be to try to make qualified decisions, not solely based on brand or marketing, but based on identifying your software needs and finding a PMS that matches them. Moreover, you may have specific software needs at the moment, but, as a hotelier, you should try to identify your future needs in the next three to five years.

So you think the main complexity when choosing a PMS is that you have to think long-term, while with other software, it’s not necessarily the case?

It’s a combination of trying to identify future needs and identifying the current, exact needs of every department. And flexibility, of course. Pick a platform that’s open and gives you many options. Medium and large-sized hotels may prefer a stable tech stack, while smaller properties may want to change their providers more frequently. It’s way easier to implement something new for the latter, but in larger, more complex environments, you can’t replace software every month. Changing that environment is difficult and costly and, if you do it, you’re not concentrating on your guests. Lastly, you should be picking a partner that evolves with you as well, and that rules out most legacy systems, because you do only get what you see now.

It isn’t easy to compare apples to apples when it comes to PMSs. What do you think is the main problem?

There’s no universal answer. With PMS systems features, even though we’re talking about the exact same functionality (let’s say, group bookings), each system can have a very different approach to how to solve that problem. It’s crucial to sit down and have a meticulous demo or more demos, because you want to understand how that PMS is solving that group booking problem. You want to make sure that it’s the most effective method for your operations. As a manager, I would like to make sure that my staff isn’t spending hours with something that another PMS can solve in minutes but, to be able to do it, the PMS has to understand the hotel needs. Then there’s the guest side: you probably nowadays want a PMS that’s guest-oriented, so it can give you tools that you can use to make your clients happier. It may be a built-it online check-in solution, or you may want to improve your reputation, so you should know that you’ll need a review management system at some point. So you should pick a PMS that can integrate a that tool

Do you think one of the problems is that PMS choices are usually taken at executive level without considering the operational needs of the staff?

Absolutely. Sometimes the systems get chosen by a particular role in the hotel, without really going into detail or consulting the end-users. We prefer to talk to various positions within the hotel first, understand their needs before we talk to the management, and say “hey, we really think we’re a good match.” You need to try to understand how the operation works.

In the book, I talk a lot about the need for a more open API industry…

Yes, but I think that the quality of an API is more important than the quantity. At the end of the day, as a hotelier, you want the system to function properly: if you uh integrate a revenue management system, you definitely need a two-way integration; if you integrate a channel manager,
you probably want as quick updates as possible, so you don’t have your inventory updates to happen every two hours, but immediately or every two minutes. You may want to be offering room upgrades to specific room types only: the available ones. Why would you be offering a room type upgrade when it’s not possible? Most of the upside platforms offer room type upgrades not knowing if those rooms are available or not, because those upselling platforms didn’t spend enough time developing the integration. They did the easiest thing they could have done, and they say “that’s fine, it’s done! We’re integrated with the system!” Clearly, there are various ways to integrate. From a marketing perspective, it’s probably appealing just to say “Okay we’ve done the integrations,” but nobody talks about the nature of these integrations. The quality of integration affects what you can do with the system. I honestly believe that third-parties connecting to the PMS should get certified first… We want to make sure that our customers will get a robust integration.

What do you think are the features that should be built-in a PMS?

Again, there’s no universal answer. It depends on what type of a hotel that PMS is built for. You cannot just create one PMS and think it’s suitable for all kinds of properties. Newly built PMSs tend to be ideal for smaller properties with less complexity, and they usually offer less built-in features. If you have 50 rooms or 100 rooms, on the other hand, the list of features that should be built-in starts to be very extensive. For instance: I think that the housekeeping module, reporting, and benchmarking of your housekeeping staff should be integrated. Not everybody can clean the room at the same pace: some people will take 20 minutes, some 40, etc. If you’re running a large property, it’s a difference if you employe 30 housekeepers or 27. That’s three full salaries. A PMS that can give you that benchmarking can make you save these three salaries by laying off the three least competent housekeepers. If you are running a 20 room hotel, one member of the staff can go to the room with the housekeeper and see for himself without the need for an in-built feature. But it’s impossible with larger properties. You always go back to the needs of the hotel. There’s no black or white answer here. Sometimes we do even recommend our competitors to some of our leads! Most smaller properties only need a nice-looking, easy-to-use system, not too many features, an easy learning process, two or three integrations, and they’re ready to go. But this approach is not suitable for larger properties with F&B, SPAs, MICE, etc.

Is your PMS designed for the clouds?

BORN AND RAISED IN THE CLOUD
After reading our articles, you should have a good understanding of why cloud-based systems are superior to on-premise ones. In today’s scenario, where good internet connectivity is available pretty much everywhere, there is really no reason to run on-premise PMS systems.

WHY CLOUD?
Cloud-based systems outsource the IT part tout court, meaning increased data security, no hardware hidden costs, easier third-party integrations, real-time data access anywhere, anytime, on any device, and so on. That being said, the term “cloud” is still open to interpretation. There is a subtle, yet decisive, difference -in fact- between “designed for the cloud” software and “converted to the cloud” ones.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
PMSs that have only been converted to the cloud often have too many limitations, ranging from speed of the system to the need of having a piece of software still installed on the users’ computers, making the PMS -de facto- just a hack. These hybrid systems, in fact, are nothing but on-premises software connecting to a cloud database, which is (eventually) accessible through an API. Here at HotelTime, on the other hand, we are “born and raised” in the cloud. Since our foundation, in fact, our technology was created without even thinking about on-premises.

THE CHALLENGES OF MOVING FROM LEGACY TO CLOUD
Technically, the cloud environment poses different challenges to the PMS developer and cloud-based systems usually must have a different structure from the very first line of code written. That is why so many well-established on-premise PMS struggle to move entirely to the cloud. That being said, hoteliers should not pay for their mistakes, do they?

WHAT TO CHOOSE?
So, if you’re in doubt, make sure that your PMS has been designed for the cloud and not simply converted. Here at HotelTime, we are more than happy to answer all your questions about the subject. Get in touch here.

Big data or smart data? Reporting in PMS

THE DATA PARADOX
Property Management Systems process and store large amount of data every day, but having “a lot” of data do not always mean having “the right” data. As we already stated in our previous articles, hotel data come from several separate sources, such as channel managers or reputation systems, meaning that a good PMS should be able to integrate and standardize all these info, in order to make it understandable for the final user.

TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE?
Data allow hoteliers to take strategic decisions, both in terms of pricing strategy and advertising investments, so you have to make sure to get proper reports at your fingertips whenever needed. On-premise PMS systems usually offer predefined reports, regularly updated during the night audit. These reports are usually very specific, yet hard to read. With hundreds of different reports, in fact, it becomes nearly impossible to recognize which one is the “right” one. On the other hand, most of newly introduced cloud-based systems provide a very limited number of reports, showing an insufficient breakdown of the data. Some of these systems don’t even run a night audit, don’t calculate ADR based on each night’s rate, don’t split packages (or even VAT, or meal plans included in the rate) and they generally lack of all those reports which are needed in medium/big-size hotels or in a multi-property environment.

SMART DATA vs BIG DATA
Here at HotelTime, we understand this dichotomy and created reports featuring several filtering criteria, allowing users to search for specific information, combining dates, segments, sources of business, etc. exactly as found in on-premise systems. We believer that hoteliers should be able to access their data in real-time anywhere, anytime and on any device. On top of that, we provide automatically delivered daily reports in printable pdf format to start up your working day with all the key data at glance, providing you an instant snapshot, without having to log in the system at all.

CONCLUSIONS:
“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion”, said W. Edwards Deming. At HotelTime we agree, that is why we offer a state-of-the-art reporting system for any kind of property. If you want to know more about our reports, get in touch here.

How to choose your next PMS

Of all the choices hoteliers have to make, choosing the right Property Management System is one of the most stressful, yet crucial, one. If you already replaced your PMS at least once, you know the amount of strain the process brings. Hotels regretting their PMS decision is a cliché in our industry, but the truth is that, with all the companies out there claiming to be the best solution, it’s easy to get confused, so what should you look for in a PMS? Here are five essential features:

1. THIRD-PARTY INTEGRATIONS
That’s the number one variable when choosing a PMS. Write down a list of all the third-party software you work with and check how many of them can and cannot be integrated into the system chosen. Having this information in advance will save you a lot of headaches later on.

2. CLOUD TECHNOLOGY
Back in the 90’s, PMS were physically installed on computers, with their central data stored on a server in the hotel’s basement. The costs of buying the hardware, plus the maintenance charges, and the lack of easy integrations put to rest this technology almost entirely, yet some PMS still offer on-premise solutions. Always choose a cloud-based software, deployed over the Internet and accessible from any computer without the need of installations nor hardware backups.

3. EASE OF USE
Even to advanced users, it can take some time to get accustomed to new technologies, especially if your hotel offers multiple services such as meeting rooms, restaurants, SPA, etc. Ease of use should always be a priority when picking up a PMS. Make sure the system chosen offers a lean, clean and concise user interface.

4. PRICE TRANSPARENCY
With several modules and integrations available it is easy to take the bumpy road of hidden costs. Make sure you understand all the included and not-included PMS features before signing the contract.

5. REPORTING
PMS process large amounts of data, but you may need to extract just some information without getting lost in the background data-noise. Take a look at the PMS’ reports before choosing your next system.

CONCLUSIONS
Getting the right PMS from day one is the best investment you can make in the long term. Take your time and compare all the features, so you will have no surprises. Here at HotelTime Solutions, we are happy to answer all your questions, get in touch with a specialist here.

PMS in today’s industry

WHAT IS A PMS?
We all know that PMS stands for Property Management System, but what do PMS mean in our industry today? Property Management Systems are often referred to as the “heart” of any hotel, a system to which all the other ones are connected to. In today’s oversaturated travel tech landscape, in fact, PMS started focusing on what they do best (being at the center of the hotel tech ecosystem) rather than developing new technologies from scratch. There are countless intelligent software out there, and they are superior to PMS in their specific domains but, still, they need to be connected to a PMS in order to give their 100%. With more and more features outsourced to third-party systems, integrating information from and to the PMS is getting crucial. Hoteliers should be able to operate on a unique, centralized system, without the need to log in each extranet. But is it always the case?

THE API PROBLEM
Because of the need for external connections, PMS strength is proportional to the number of tools it can integrate to. In a perfect world, in fact, PMS should be able to communicate with every single software/hardware in the hotel, but connections between PMS and third-party systems can be (and often are) challenging. Some companies are trying to fill the gap by creating “connectors” between PMS and other software, but direct 2-way real-time integrations will always be needed. So, what’s the answer?

OPEN PLATFORMS
At HotelTime, we opted for a completely open approach: our customers can choose third-party systems based on their liking, so they are not limited to modules developed and/or sold by a specific vendor. These systems include a whole range of different tools such as channel managers, revenue management systems, reputations management systems, rate shoppers, accounting systems, etc.

BE OPEN, STAY OPEN
We understand that the right choice of tech stack is different for each hotel, based on their size, location, management, personal taste, previous positive experiences with different systems etc. So, being an open platform is not only about connecting as many third-party software as possible, but it is also a commitment to stay open and integrate more systems as they come. We know that PMS choice is a long-term decision, but the hotel tech space is changing rapidly, PMS need to keep up.

CONCLUSIONS
Historically, PMS had the bad tendency of being inflexible, closed eco-systems. And, even though some limits are required to guarantee high-quality standards integrations, the travel tech space moves too fast to keep this rigidity. If you want to know more about our open systems, get in touch here.