The Resurrection of Old Themes
and a Payment Solution
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|By Gary M. Eng
A-S-P. “Application Service Provider.” Hmmm, seems like
we’ve come full circle.
ASP technologies will lower the entry barrier of technology costs so more people can take advantage of powerful computing applications. (Hmm, … sound familiar? Kind of like the same reasons we heard for buying mini-computer then personal computer technology? I wonder how many times we can save those man-hours? ) The ASP model can be substantially more efficient operationally reducing replication of facilities and maintenance tasks. Larger more powerful applications can operate centrally so they may be efficiently managed by highly trained technical staffs and offered inexpensively to their users. These traditional service bureau tactics will allow very powerful ASP applications to be offered to a broader market place because they lower the costly entry barrier by sharing those costs with other users.
Shared application processing has always lowered the cost to access powerful technologies allowing a larger market access to expensive solutions. This year at HITEC, we should expect to see more implementations of ASP technology than ever before. Virtually the entire travel and entertainment (T&E) industry (lodging, restaurant and auto rental) is seeking to exploit an ASP strategy. Property management systems will be marketing and installing Web-based ASP service offerings, as will restaurant management, auto rental counter automation and retail point-of-sale systems. They’re all going to be extolling the benefits of ASP applications. Some Web sites in the travel industry will continue to evolve functions that Internet companies, like priceline.com, have revolutionized from the past – auctioning.
Auctions could be perceived as a more formal commercial event, the kind where James Bond would purchase an expensive collectible and find some beauty to deliver it. On the other hand, auctions could be perceived as a loud, noisy informal gathering where the sales activity would coincide with loud, fast, unrecognizable verbiage spoken with some artificial Southern drawl and followed with the bang of a gavel and the recognizable sound of the word “sold.”
Well, the dot-coms have unquestionably made auctioneering more tame and common place. To many of us, the use and functionality of the auction sites isn’t something to be confused by or to marvel at, it has actually become institutional, commonplace and accepted. Priceline.com, unquestionably among the best known of the T&E auction sites, supplies auction-type travel services. Others operate not so much as auctions but more travel service-oriented Web sites like Expedia and Travelocity. Even the flags themselves have advanced their Web-based applications as a one-stop shop to organize and purchase an entire trip. Other flag Web sites are evolving to support the same functionality.
The success of priceline.com is most commonly associated with a lower cost purchase of airline tickets; this Web application also supports room sales functionality and appears to have benefited the hoteliers as the last minute sale of empty rooms increases.
The Web auctions’ success has drawn the attention of a number of flags that are developing these types of applications to service their franchisees. The Web applications provided by many flags are great candidates to host a last room sale auction function. But with that development comes the question what’s the best way to take payments over the Web for my franchisees?
There are a number of ways to address this challenge so here is one of them. The initial goal should be to exploit the Internet’s ability to facilitate sales for the property/franchisee. The ease of access by which consumers can complete a travel transaction at a reasonable cost was proven by the popularity of the travel Web sites. Auction sites are great places for consumers to find a bargain, but frequency, familiarity, habit and creature comforts may fall by the wayside if auction sites sell a competitor’s service to your regular customer.
So, presume that your flag’s Web site is being auctionized. Seems to make sense doesn’t it? A number of the flags are working on this very function, but the auction function developers should be aware to avoid becoming commercially in conflict with your customer’s business. A flag should be cautious to avoid the perception that it has become competitive with his franchisee and to help make a sale for its customer and avoid becoming involved with their money.
Recently the flag of a multi-thousand member retail organization failed to remain alert to that critical line. It resulted in a very expensive failure in its investment in the technology of its Web-based strategy and an even greater cost to the trust it had established with its member organization. The initial introduction of its strategic Web-based application created great interest with its members, but by the rollout of the application, the flag came much too close to the line of trust established with its members. It was perceived that the flag’s Web-based sales application was directly competitive with its responsibility to support sales activity for its members. Its members found that the revenues associated with the sales generated off of the Web application were controlled exclusively by the flag and the benefit to the members became vague. Members rejected the support of the Web-based application and the substantial investment in its Internet strategy failed. But the worst has yet to come, because the members no longer have a strategy to address their competition and remain defenseless against competitive Internet strategies, especially ones that work.
This scenario may be applicable to the flag-operated ASP travel sites. As those applications are expanded to support last room sale auctions, they should support the payment services to their franchisee’s/member’s provider. Here are some tips for the developer of your auction service provider:
If you have questions about this article or other topics on electronic payments, please address them to Gary Eng at Plastic_Money@ProtoBase.com.
Hospitality Upgrade magazine
and the Hospitality Upgrade.com website
|Also See:||Choosing a Reservation Representation Company / John Burns / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2001|
|The Rise and Fall of hsupply.com / Lessons Learned: Life after a Dot-bomb / Mark Haley / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2001|
|Your Bartender is Jessie James and He Needs to Pay for College / Beverly McCay / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2000|
|Understanding and Maximizing a Hotel’s Electronic Distribution Options / by John Burns / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2000|
|The Future of Electronic Payments - From Paper to Plastic and Beyond / J. David Oder / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Summer 2000|
|Timeshare Technology Steps Up / by Elizabeth Lauer / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / July 2000|
|Biometric Payment: The New Age of Currency / by Geneva Rinehart / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Mar 2000|