What you are about to read is a true story of how backwards the lodging industry can be, even in an era of technological breakthroughs. Though names will be kept confidential, I’m sure many readers can recount similar experiences. I encourage anyone and everyone to share ‘em if you’ve got ‘em.
I live with my family in Southampton; however, the quickening pace of growth at innRoad demanded we move company headquarters from Southampton to NYC. I’ve been staying in hotels for two to three nights per week ever since, on average. Considering the commitment we’ve made to our clients, I typically stay at our client properties and in fact, we maintain a policy that all innRoad employees pay to stay at client hotels, when available. But every now and then, typically due to poor planning on my part, I find myself shopping for a room in the online marketplace.
One such evening a few months ago – a meeting ran late and I found myself too tired to trek the 100 mile journey home. Our client hotels in NYC were at full occupancy (good work team!) so I found a 4 star hotel in Manhattan for $99 on a popular online site. Although the name of the property was not revealed until after, I knew exactly what hotel it was based on past bids, so I confidently booked my room. I grabbed dinner, hailed a cab, and arrived at the front desk approximately an hour after booking. That should be enough time for a 4 star hotel in Manhattan to process a reservation, right? After all, innRoad takes roughly 5 seconds to receive a reservation from an OTA, process the reservation, and correct all other third party channels with the updated inventory. Sadly to say, that was not the case for this hotel.
I placed my credit card on the counter and waited patiently for the front desk agent to locate my reservation. After an unsuccessful search, he asked how I booked my reservation. I showed him the confirmation on my iPhone. The clerk was professional as he thanked me and asked me to be patient as he placed a call to reservations to locate my reservation. So far an unfortunate, but familiar, experience. But I am not writing this because I had to wait a few minutes to check-in; read on.
As I waited, another gentleman arrived at the hotel and asked for a room. The clerk searched, and then apologized, “It seems the hotel is sold out.” The man, fairly agitated, explained that he called from the cab less than 10 minutes ago. How could they all-of-a-sudden be sold out? The clerk, frustrated and embarrassed, attempted to shed light on the process; he said that he couldn’t check his system and needed instead to check the hotel’s own website to get the proper rate and availability – and the website was telling him the hotel was sold out.
At this point, the front desk manager who had been watching from a distance, disappeared into a back room – perhaps to the reservations department where someone was probably trying to keep up with inputting reservations streaming in via email and fax into the hotel PMS system and clearly having a hard time at it. And of course these incoming reservations are for that night, the next night, and nights weeks away. They are for standard rooms for single guests or double doubles for families of four. But the real-time processing a computer can do is far from the capabilities of an underpaid backroom operator of a fax machine.
Good news for me back at the front desk… The manager returned and whispered something to the clerk, who promptly began to check me in – they had located my reservation. The other gentleman would have to wait, however, as they had to temporarily close out the hotel website as they caught up on incoming reservations, and it would [only] be another 10 minutes or so before the hotel could tell him if they had a room to sell him.
I didn’t wait the 10 minutes to see how this played out. I just gave my business card to the manager and told her that there was a better way. Mind you, this was not some amateur operation, this was a 4-Star Manhattan hotel -- a market that commands $400,000 per key. This was a hotel operating with an online booking engine that can be integrated. (I am friendly with their management and know their systems.) This hotel has a property management system which costs six figures and a leading CRS, both of which can be integrated. The truth remains that this type of unsatisfying check-in is all too common an occurrence.
There is a lesson here; it’s that the mere availability of technology is not enough. Even hotels spending top dollar to buy the most expensive systems often fall short of their potential. What’s missing is the technical and operational expertise to make it all work together, seamlessly and reliably. While it is a complex and expensive endeavor to make disparate systems work together, it’s typically 5 times more expensive over the useful life of that technology to keep it working. And that’s the information that systems vendors in the marketplace don’t usually tell you.
That’s the problem innRoad solves. We didn’t invent integration; we just deliver it, better than anyone else – as a fully integrated PMS, CRS, Booking Engine and Revenue Management system delivered as a web service – so you can service your guests.
If the above sounds like your hotel, share your story, as there are many sympathetic GMs who can commiserate. And once the weight is off your shoulders, contact us. There is a better way.
While today's hotel and motel owners have more avenues for marketing and promoting their establishments than ever before, they also have more expenses than ever before. Near the top of that list is technology costs related to hotel information systems and IT staffing.
In today's world, it's nearly impossible to run a mid-sized hotel or motel without sophisticated, networked information systems for tracking room inventory, making reservations, and for marketing through Online Travel Agencies or your own hotel website. (We'll talk a lot more about that in this blog in the future!)
For some hospitality venues, this may mean hiring specialized, trained IT staff to implement, operate and maintain IT systems, especially if you’re using pre-packaged property management software. There are several hidden costs associated with pre-packaged hotel and motel software that managers don't think about. Often, you may not see these costs until you view your balance sheet at the end of the month and realize that huge information system upgrade or roll-out sent IT costs skyrocketing.
How Much Do Hotel Information Systems Cost You?
Here are just a few of the costs associated with pre-packaged hotel and motel software. Think about these, calculate how much they're costing (or will cost) your company, and then we'll reveal a practical solution to these rising hotel IT system costs.
“HIdden” Hotel Information System Cost #1: Hardware upgrades to run pre-packaged hotel software - If you're using legacy hotel and motel management software, chances are an upgrade or new software package will not run on your older machines. This means you'll pay to upgrade individual workstations and also your server or servers.
“Hidden” Hotel Information System Cost #2: Heating, cooling and power to server rooms - If you're already running your hotel software locally on servers, you won't notice any increase in costs with an upgrade, as today's servers are more energy efficient. But if you're upgrading from “paper-and-pen” room inventory tracking or hotel property management software running on a single host machine and plan to upgrade to a more robust, server-based solution, you can expect to pay at least $100 more per month just to power your servers. Add to that HVAC systems for that room, plus the actual real estate space required -- space that could be used for personnel, storage, or anything else you need within your hotel. Locally hosted hotel IT systems are not cheap.
“Hidden” Hotel Information System Cost #3: IT staff to roll-out your hotel and motel software solution and train employees in its operation. - This hidden IT cost actually has additional “hidden” costs disguised within it! Not only are you paying IT specialists (whether they are on staff or hired specifically for the project) to complete upgrades, install the software, customize it and make sure it works, but you're also paying employees during training time. This takes your staff away from their regular duties, or you wind up paying overtime so they can complete training during off hours. Either way, it costs you, the hotel operator, in time or money.
If you don't already have an IT department in your organization, you'll have to take the time and money to find, and hire, IT specialists to implement your hotel software systems.
We understand that all these factors are almost enough (just almost!) to make hotel owners stick with their outdated legacy software or paper-and-pen tracking systems. But when you consider the rewards, such as increased employee productivity, no double bookings, extended marketing opportunities through OTAs and the Web, and happier customers, you might realize there is significant upside to modernize your hotel and motel software.
What's the answer?
Web Based Hotel Information System Software that can actually Reduce Costs
Online hotel information system software addresses many of these “hidden cost” issues with a cloud-based software solution that is easy to implement and even easier to use. We've just touched on a few of the advantages of online hotel and motel software in this blog. If you'd like to learn more, we put together a white paper, available free to our readers, outlining six of the benefits of web based hotel information system software. Download it now to see how you can upgrade your hotel's property management system without all the costs of a traditional hotel IT systems upgrade.
Hotel property management has never been simple, but there was never so much to worry about as there is today, when hotel management software must interface with your own independent hotel's website, OTA booking engines and more. That kind of flexibility, scalability and feature integration often comes with a high price if you're looking to upgrade to traditional pre-packaged hotel systems software.
Web based hotel management software has several advantages over traditional solutions. Let's look at just a few of the benefits
- A web based hotel PMS costs less in the long run. - You may pay one flat price for your traditional “in a box” hotel management software solution. But if you believe that's the only cost, you're not considering the price for implementation, including any necessary hardware upgrades, software licensing fees for additional users, and even the added infrastructure that might be required when you upgrade your hotel management software.
Web based hotel software, however is scalable, you're only paying for the features and functionality you need, when you need it, in a monthly subscription price.
- Web based hotel PMS solutions are easier to implement - Not only does a web based hotel management software solution cost less, it’s easier to implement, requiring very little training for your staff. You don't need to tie up your entire IT department (that is, if you have one!) or bring in extra personnel to install the software. If you've ever set up an email for yourself, you can walk through the steps to install web based hotel management software. And if your employees have ever shopped or banked online, they're just a few steps away from knowing how to use a web based hotel management platform.
- Online hotel property management solutions put all the information about your business at your fingertips, 24/7, from any secure, Internet-enabled device. As an online application you can share information between hotel managers within a multi-property company, employees and partners (including your OTA marketing partners). You begin to see the convenience of having all hotel systems, from room availability to rates, payroll, customer relations management all available through one interface allowing you to view and update data whenever you need to, from virtually anywhere in the world. All you need is the login, password, and a secure Internet connection using the browser of your choice to manage your hotel business from anywhere, at any time.
Many proprietors struggle to find cost-effective ways to replace their outdated hotel property management systems, whether it's software- or simply paper-based. As online services such as banking, shopping and even personal computing move more towards the cloud, it is natural that there is a hotel management online option as well.
Want to learn more about the many benefits of Web based hotel software? We've outlined six benefits in our free whitepaper. Download it today, [link here]. The information we share will help you determine if online hotel management software is the right solution for your independent hotel or motel.
Our blog is coming soon. innRoad's experts are looking forward to offering tips and solutions for independent hotel & motel owners to manage and market their businesses more efficiently. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us and tell us what questions you'd like us to answer on our blog. Also, visit our site to learn more about hotel management system software from innRoad.