Incubator for Best Practices
professional insights on industry direction, future
Markham, ON – May 26, 2005 – NORTHWIND, a provider of enterprise property management and reservation solutions for hospitality, concluded its three-day Maestro Users Group in Florida this April, and weeks afterward participants are still discussing the experience and comparing insights. Users Group attendees were hotel company owners, chain executives, CIOs, and a number of managers who journeyed from as far away as South America and Europe to the Tampa area to meet with NORTHWIND executives and learn how to leverage their technology investment to increase profits and boost efficiency. What they found was a dynamic international forum of peers that stimulated an exchange of information on best practices, market strategies, and a look at the possible future of the industry that benefited everyone involved.
NORTHWIND’s President of US Operations, Warren Dehan, said, “We originally planned the Users Group meeting around requests from our independent and chain clients who wanted classroom and one-on-one instruction in the new Maestro global rate management, GDS interfacing, CRM, and ResEze Web booking engine functionality; what happened was three days of serious discussion between operators from completely different regions and markets about the state of hospitality, effective business strategies, and industry trends. It was as educational as anything we had scheduled and the findings were revealing.” The Maestro Users Group took place April 19 – 22 at the Mainsail Suites Tampa and included a golf tournament, poolside reception and gourmet wine pairing dinner event in addition to comprehensive instruction on Maestro profitability tools and presentations on new technologies and services.
Unique Properties, Similar Challenges
Dan DeLaughter, CIO for the State of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, who operates over 40 properties and full-service lodges on a single-database Maestro Enterprise system, was impressed with the Users Group. “The most valuable take-away I received was a big-picture objective view of what other operators are doing to boost efficiency and profitability. We met as a group of professionals who shared many of the same challenges; the cooperative give and take showed me that our concerns are not unique, although our operation at Arkansas Parks is.” DeLaughter explained his organization’s objective is to stay on top of ‘the guest service curve’ to deliver the services vacationers expect when they travel. “Competition is tough for all of us; it is essential to attract new guests intelligently and to keep them coming back. The cost of losing a guest is extremely high, and learning this is a major on-going issue facing operators everywhere was refreshing. Once we all understood it was a global challenge we were able to exchange ideas that worked in different markets. Pulling the NORTHWIND team into the discussion helped me identify how to apply existing Maestro CRM functionality to address many of my organization’s marketing issues.”
Maestro Analytics, the new Business Intelligence system from NORTHWIND, provided attendees with a plug-in solution to their ‘repeat business marketing’ challenge through its ability to drill down into property data and generate reports that reveal hidden sources of revenue. Operators quickly learned who were their most valuable clients, markets, and guest origins, and were shown how to easily create mailing lists based on the results for more effective marketing campaigns. Chris Shroff, owner of Seaside Properties said, “We received lots of valuable information and excellent insights during the Users Group. The exchange of ideas on business practices was excellent.” Shroff also noted that his six-property chain has begun using Maestro Analytics business intelligence to mine its guest database for the most valuable guests and areas of the county for Seaside’s email marketing campaigns.
The 800-Lb Gorilla
Lance Echols, rooms director for La Fonda Santa Fe, in New Mexico agreed with a number of attendees that the Internet is becoming the most powerful tool for influencing property revenue. “The eye opener for me at the Users Group was the importance to everyone of how Web marketing can impact your guest mix. A few years ago independent hotels needed intermediary third-party travel sites to build occupancy. This is all changed. Now independent properties like ours are looking for ways to drive guests to their own booking sites. Other Maestro users and I came to the same conclusion; it is time to be self sufficient. Intermediary sites are too costly and inefficient. The objective is to be like the old days when guests made their own reservations over the phone. The only difference is that now we want them to use the property’s website booking engine to do the same thing.” Echols noted that the big chains can motivate guests with million-dollar advertising campaigns, but independent properties have to do it smarter. Many operators are working on gaining an understanding of how to motivate guests to book their own reservations directly. The NORTHWIND team offered Web marketing consul to the group and provided a spectrum of tools including effective Web strategies, search engine optimization counsel and other assistance through its Four Diamond Service Program.
Help for Employee Turnover
A noteworthy dialogue between Maestro users and the NORTHWIND team focused on the high employee turnover at many properties and the need for regular Maestro refresher training for new hires. Attendees expressed concern about system understanding among new front office staff, and agreed that system proficiency resulted better guest service and greater efficiency. Since technology training can be costly and time consuming, the NORTHWIND team gave an in-depth description of its Four Diamond Service program and its use through the re-designed NORTHWIND website. The new site is a single point of contact for Four Diamond Service that provides on-line systems training to users without travel expenses or time away from the property. Four Diamond Service also delivers online upgrades, custom report building, technical support and a variety of special services such as rate management strategy consulting and web-based marketing classes.
At the Users Group wrap up session many attendees believed the forum was so valuable they decided to make an effort to create an online users discussion group to continue the dialogue. Arkansas Parks CIO Dan DeLaughter summarized the meeting this way, “When a group of hotel operators can set aside time to take off their uniforms and talk business one on one the result is a valuable exchange. NORTHWIND did a great job of creating an environment at the Maestro Users Group where hoteliers could benefit from each other’s lessons and experience.”
NORTHWIND, known in the hospitality industry for its service and state-of-the-art technology, is widely respected for providing hotels, private organizations, and corporate management companies with flexible software solutions.
Based in Markham, Ontario, Canada, with a network of dealers and offices worldwide, NORTHWIND is a leading supplier of software for all types of hospitality operations including hotels, resorts, timeshares, condominiums, seminaries, state parks, and clubs. Maestro applications are engineered for operators who need to manage their enterprise in a real time environment for the utmost operational control and profitability. Designed to maximize the efficiency of any size single hotel or multi-property enterprise, NORTHWIND's Maestro solution offers the most productive working environment, which includes the following suite of products: PMS, Sales & Catering, Club/Spa Management, Corporate Reservations Office, Multi-Property Management, Condo/Owner Management, Yield Management, POS & Online Table Res, GDS Connectivity and ResEze Internet Reservations. This comprehensive multi-platform (Windows 2000/XP, Unix/Linux, Terminal Server & Web Enabled) suite is recognized as the solution of choice for progressive and demanding organizations. NORTHWIND is a total solution provider that offers leading-edge technologies, and unparalleled training and support.
At HITEC 2005 in Los Angeles be sure to visit
Director, Marketing Communications
60 Renfrew Drive, Suite #235
Markham, ON L3R 0E1
Phone: (905) 940-1923 ext - 246
Fax: (905) 940-1925
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