Hotel Management Systems. A Buyer s Guide

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1 Hotel Management Systems A Buyer s Guide InnovationPMS 2012

2 Contents Executive summary What is Hotel Management Software? What are the key features you require? About ihotelligence

3 Contents Executive summary What is a Hotel Management System? What Are The Key Features You Require? About ihotelligence

4 Executive Summary Today s hotel industry is hugely competitive. You have to provide an excellent, customer-focused service that delights your guests without happy customers there is no business. Secondly, you have to run an efficient operation where costs are kept to a minimum otherwise you generate less profit and have less to invest in the growth of your business. Thirdly, you have to be excellent at sales and marketing. You have to ensure you drive a regular stream of new guests to your hotel, while also driving repeat visits from your existing customers. And you have to do this while managing an ever-increasing range of channels, from your hotel website, through to Online Travel Agents and Facebook. In order to compete effectively in terms of customer service, operational efficiency and marketing, you need to automate wherever you can. There are a number of systems that can help, from the Property Management Systems (PMS) that run your day-to-day operations through to your Booking Engine and Channel Manager and including the marketing and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems you use to market your properties. However, in the past a lot of these systems have been complex, expensive to install and use, and hard to integrate with your other IT systems. Where you have multiple properties the headaches can get worse different CRM systems, multiple PMS systems, a fragmented view of what is going on and multiple costs and suppliers. There is now a new breed of Hotel Management systems and a new approach to pricing. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) has reduced the complexity and cost of automating your core operations. And a subscription-based approach to pricing means you don t have the huge up-front costs typical of older hotel management systems. It also means that enterpriseclass software is now within the reach of mid-size hotels. There are compelling reasons to move to new systems, both to generate savings and compete more effectively. By making the move, you can drive sales, reduce costs and eliminate inefficiencies

5 Contents Executive summary What is a Hotel Management System? What are the key features you require? About ihotelligence

6 What is a Hotel Management System? A Hotel Management System is a software system that helps you run your hotel. It can include some or all of these components. Hotel s own website Online Travel Agents Booking Engine Accounting system Property Management system Channel Manager Customer Relationship Management Devices cash register, POS, key cards etc. GDS Global Distribution system

7 What is a Hotel Management System? Property Management System (PMS) Customer Relationship Management Manages Rates and Availability for all Sales channels Manage Guest History and Guest Details Manages Room Allocation Improve Guest Communication Both Prior to and Post- Manages Guest Check-in and Folio Management Stay Manages Guest History and CRM Improve Quality of Marketing by Incorporating HTML Manages Guest Billing Technology in Guest Communications Manages Debtors, City Ledger, Deposit and Gift Vouchers Maximize Hotel Review Ratings By Managing the Review Process Integrated Booking Engine, Channel Management and GDS Management Reporting and Business Intelligence Automatically Synchronizes All Rates, Availability and Flexible Reporting That s Easily Tailored To Your Needs Reservations With Your PMS Export Data Directly to Your Accounting System Support Yield Management Functionality Integrated Competitive Set Analysis of Rates and Support Integration with Social Media Sites Reviews Support Mobile App Technology Integrated Business Intelligence Tools to Enable You To Offers Commission-Free Booking from Your Own Website Manage and Utilize Your Data Manage Distribution and Leverage Commission-Free Forecasting And Budgeting Bookings From Other Sources

8 Contents Executive summary What is a Hotel Management System? What are the key features you require? About ihotelligence

9 What Are The Key Features You Require? 1. Flexibility 2. Ease of Use 3. Integration 4. Performance and Reliability 5. Scalability 6. Training 7. Future proofing 8. Pricing model 9. Support 10. Online bookings and commissions

10 What Are The Key Features You Require? 1. Flexibility Every hotel and lodging establishment is unique. From large corporate chains down to family run hotels, each business has its own procedures and management style. As a result, hotel management systems have to be flexible to deal with these different management and reporting requirements. Hotels also usually have custom requirements when it comes to reports you want to be able to define the reports that suit you and your business. So the system you choose must have a flexible reporting tool that is easy to use and can generate a range of reports You also need to be able to respond to the rapid changes in the hotel market from dealing with the OTAs through to promoting your hotel via Facebook and taking bookings from mobile phones..flexibility is especially important when it comes to working with the other systems your hotel already uses a point we will touch on again when talking about integration. You want a hotel management system that is easy to plug in to your existing infrastructure. A good hotel management system will enable several ways to complete the same task, depending on your preferences. And the ability to quickly make certain common changes, such as changing guest cards and customer folio layouts, is particularly important.

11 What Are The Key Features You Require? 1. Flexibility How would you rate the ability of your hotel to implement changes needed by the business?

12 What Are The Key Features You Require? 2. Ease of Use Hotel management systems are complex packages with a lot of options and features. The original design of each application determines how easy it will be for new users to learn and use the system. Easy-to-use software should be intuitive, clutter-free and quick to learn. The screens should be as simple as possible, and the use of the buttons and menu options should be self explanatory. A new user should not require extensive training or large help manuals in order to use the system. Many hotel management systems and property management systems have dozens of fields and check boxes on single screens which make them awkward to learn and use. A rule of thumb is that a new hotel receptionist / reservations clerk should be able to learn all the features they need within an hour. One simple way to test the ease of use of a system is to set yourself a simple task such as taking a booking and see how long it takes a member of staff to identify how to complete that task unassisted. If they keep getting stuck or confused, you are looking at the wrong system.

13 What Are The Key Features You Require? 3. Integration Hotels operate in one of the most competitive and transparent marketplaces of any industry. The way a customer chooses a Hotel today is unrecognisable from the approach they used less than a decade ago. OTA s (online travel agents), Review Sites, Mobile Booking platforms and last-minute incentives have all changed the way we work and travel today. Automation is no longer a desire but a necessity you have to have joined-up systems that talk to each other. Revenue and Reservations Management is about making smart decisions and implementing them immediately, then reviewing them and making better decisions tomorrow. Automation of the booking process is critical to freeing your human resource to guide and manage your business. Business Intelligence requires that all of your business performance data be managed in one place, so it can be easily searched, manipulated, compared and contrasted for the benefit of the business. Integration with all of your revenue systems is a must have.

14 What Are The Key Features You Require? 4. Performance and Reliability Hotel management systems are essential for the day-to-day management of most hotels. You can t afford to have a system that periodically slows down at time of high demand, or that frequently requires downtime or where your database is vulnerable. Computer systems, platforms and software can fail due to an accident, design problem or incorrect installation. When talking to potential vendors, ask them for information on their performance and reliability characteristics terms that have a specific meaning for IT systems. You need to ensure you are buying a robust system that has been adequately tested, has a low rate of failure and where you will not experience poor response times or lost data during periods of heavy usage. You should also look for off-site system back-up and recovery Where possible, speak to reference sites to confirm the vendor s performance and reliability is as good as they say it is.

15 What Are The Key Features You Require? 5. Scalability It is important that the hotel management system that you choose can be expanded to meet your needs as your business expands. For example, what happens if you succeed in significantly growing bookings or you acquire another hotel? Some systems are limited to a maximum number of rooms or properties they can adequately manage and may not be able to cope with a significant growth in business. Scalability has to be designed into the system from the start for example, the software should use modular components that can be easily multiplied. All the software components should be separated from the database using an n-tier architecture to allow for easy expansion of storage capacity as the system grows. The type of database technology is a very important factor. Older databases such as Microsoft Access should be avoided. The most common databases today are relational databases such as Microsoft SQL Server. Oracle databases are recommended for very large projects such as hotels with greater than 1000 rooms or multiple chains. Ideally your selected system should support both Oracle and Microsoft database systems.

16 What Are The Key Features You Require? 6. Training Hotels often spend as much on staff training for new systems as they do on the actual software licenses. And every time you take on a new member of staff there is an additional training cost. You want a system that is easy and intuitive so staff training requirements are kept to a minimum. Ask potential vendors what their typical training and implementation charges will be. Can they provide training remotely? Do they have a minimum charge per training session? Many industries have adopted e-learning technologies to provide training to end-users via their own PCs or laptops at a time that suits them. This is less disruptive to the business and enables staff to learn at their own pace. Be sure to find out if your hotel management system vendor has developed an e-learning suite for their product. Most good e-learning systems include an online assessment to test the end-user s understanding of the system. This is an important feature you need to know that your staff are fully competent to use the system.

17 What Are The Key Features You Require? 7. Future proofing Software is one of the fastest moving industries globally. Innovative new technologies are launched on a daily basis and significant shifts occur more and more frequently. For example, in the past decade we have seen the spread of broadband access, the birth of social networks such as Facebook and the increasing use of smartphones and tablet devices like the ipad. Firstly, ask your vendor how old their system is has it been developed using the latest architecture, or is an older system that has corresponding technical limitations? You also need to be confident that your hotel system vendor has a clear view of the future. They should have a product roadmap that ensures you can take advantage of upcoming technologies. Ask if you can have some input into the roadmap - how responsive is the vendor to customers feature requests? And ask what your vendor will charge for ensuring your software is up to date the maintenance costs. Do you have to pay an annual fee? What do you get for your money?

18 What Are The Key Features You Require? 7. Pricing model Obviously cost is a major factor when purchasing a new software system. Vendors may charge for some or all of the following: Software licenses Database building Training On-site live cover and support Software support / helpdesk Software updates Depending on the vendor some of these will be up-front capital costs while others will be an ongoing cost. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a new pricing model where instead of purchasing a software package you pay a monthly or annual subscription. This reduces your up-front costs and the risk of adopting a new system.

19 What Are The Key Features You Require? 9. Support The quality of support you get from your vendor is critical. Not only will you need support in the event of a system failure such as a power outage, but you may also need regular help when re-configuring your system or bringing in new IT hardware. Does your vendor s support contract recognise the realities of the hotel business, or do they go home just when you get busy? Most software support can now be carried out remotely via broadband internet connections which saves on call-out charges. Find out if your vendor can provide this remote access support in your native language. Also find out if the vendor provides additional support services such as regular database backups. The operational hours of the support line and call centre locations are also important factors. And you need to clarify any time zone and language issues up front. For example, it is not uncommon to find hotel system vendors who provide limited or no support at weekends. Make sure you can get appropriate support in your country and in your native language at a reasonable cost.

20 What AreThe Key Features You Require? 10. Online bookings and commission Many hotels pay unnecessary commission for reservations taken online, particularly from their own website. You need to engage with OTAs and Review Sites while at the same time developing strategies to optimize direct bookings via your own website or by live links from your website. Check with the hotel management system vendors if they have an integrated online booking engine. Have a look to make sure it is customer-oriented and very easy to use. Does it give ample opportunity to up-sell rooms and packages? Check what commission vendors charge for reservation. Based on the pricing model and commissions the vendors provide, work out what the cost will be to your hotel over the next 3 years, using typical booking rates. Is there a clear Return on Investment?

21 Contents Executive summary What is a Hotel Management System? What are the key features you require? About ihotelligence

22 Why Choose ihotelligence? ihotelligence is a scalable, flexible and reliable integrated Hotel Management solution for Hotels, incorporating, PMS, Integrated Booking Engine and Channel Management, CRM, Rate & Yield Management, BI and reporting functionality and finance suite. The system helps you improve sales, reduce costs and eliminate inefficiency. All-in-one Improve Sales Reduce Costs Eliminate Inefficiency Property Management System (PMS) Integrated Commission Free Booking engine Fully Integrated Channel Management CRM and Marketing Suite Rate and Yield Management BI and Reporting Functionality Finance and Reporting Low installation and training costs Unlimited number of users No Commission Fees on direct bookings No Support Charges Free Software Upgrades Bespoke Reporting Simple Monthly Charge Per Room Future Pricing Guarantee Improved Market Penetration Immediate Response To Demand Fluctuation Improved Competitor and Market Awareness Improved Rate and Revenue Management Improved Guest Communication better sales and retention Reduces administration and manual inputs Automates Inventory and Rates to Booking Engines and OTAs Streamlines and Improves Guest History Management Improves Accuracy and Value of Marketing Campaigns Improved and Relevant Reporting Allows Quicker and More Accurate Decision Making

23 Why Choose ihotelligence? We needed a flexible system that would dovetail with our accounting systems. ihotel is an innovative and very manageable system. David Hennessy General Manager, Moy Valley Hotel and Golf Resort

24 Why Choose ihotelligence? THE BENEFITS OF ihotelligence COST SPEED SIMPLICITY Fixed charge per room, not up-front license or commission charge Instant upgrades to latest versions Can standardize on company wide systems No software installation or upgrade costs Instant rollout to new users No need for major upgrade projects Reduced operational costs Easy to add new functions and services Reduced IT maintenance requirements From Capex to Opex Available anywhere, any time

25 Why Choose ihotelligence? At a time when we are all focusing on costs and margins, ihotelligence has helped us increase profitability. Katharine Smyth Caer Beris Hotel, Wales

26 Why Choose ihotelligence? FEATURES SaaS Software as a Service means lower costs, improved ease of use and immediate access. Seamless integration you have a single, consolidated view of your business from one central, easy-to-use system. Flexibility the system is designed to integrate easily with your existing IT systems such as accounting and POS sytems; features like reports and guest marketing s can be tailored to your specific requirements. Commission Free Booking Engine you pay a standard monthly charge per room, there are no commission charges for bookings from your own website. Yield Management the system monitors fluctuating demand and helps you drive room occupancy through appropriate rate management and guest marketing. CRM & Channel Management- Full integration of your CRM and Channel Management will allow you to increase activity and grow revenue. Mobile & Facebook the Booking engine supports mobile devices such as smart phones or ipads; you can also use our Facebook widget to book direct. E-Learning ease-of-use and our unique online training modules mean staff can be trained at a time which suits your business. Security ihotel provides secure remote offsite back-up of your data. Support outstanding technical support, from 7am to 11pm, 7 days per week as standard.

27 Why Choose ihotelligence? Some of the 40 Channels ihotel Works With

28 Why Choose ihotelligence?

29 Innovation Software 6F Network Enterprise Park Kilcoole County Wicklow Ireland Tel Making hotels profitable Innovation Software 2012

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