Pace with the Hospitality Marketplace?
- (November 2005) One of the most exciting aspects of the hospitality
industry is its dynamic nature. Distribution Channels, Hotel Software,
In-Room Technologies, and Networking are currently undergoing dramatic
changes. In addition, the methods in which you reach your guests and consequently
meet their expectations are also changing rapidly. Add to this mix the
fact that Condos, Fractional ownerships, Spas, and Waterparks are continuing
to create new business processes and revenue streams for todays hotelier,
and it is evident that there is a need for appropriate technologies to
help support these new opportunities. Over the coming weeks, Software Strategy
will explore the technologies available to support these changes. In this
article we will start with Property Management Systems (PMS), and touch
on their interactions with both Central Reservations Systems (CRS) and
Internet Booking Engines (IBE).
First, we will address what the typical PMS can deliver today, despite the changes that are afoot. To do this, we need to break down the available products into three broad categories, based on the features they commonly offer.
Select Module Systems (SMS): Provides a solid, single-property reservation-handling platform without all of the features or modules of a Multi-Module System. A portion of these systems has ventured into highly-utilized modules like Point of Sale and Internet Booking Engines. In fact, some of these also provide connectivity to a limited set of distribution channels. The typical property using these systems can range from a small hotel or resort with a focused set of guest amenities, to a larger hotel offering a limited service customer experience. Pricing for this software can start as low as $1,000 or as high as $10,000 (850 or 8,500 EUR) with charges for additional feature sets and modules.
Basic Reservation Systems (BRS): Offers a more basic reservation processing capability for hotels and motels with less complicated operations. These systems are designed for a single property and can handle most standard reservation related features. These companies purposefully keep their products simple to use. These systems target smaller hotel, motels, and bed and breakfasts that only require software to support basic reservation handling. Pricing for this software often starts as low as $200 (170 EUR).
These classifications provide you with an easy guide to understanding the available PMS options as you begin your search. However, as the PMS companies enhance their software, and software companies in other categories do the same, your software decisions continuously become more complex.
The Lines Begin to Blur
As software products continue to mature, and acquisitions create new product combinations, the lines separating Central Reservation Systems (CRS), Property Management Systems (PMS), and Internet Booking Engines (IBE) continue to blur. PMS are adding CRS functionality to support multiple hotels, creating more CRS and Distribution software options, especially for small brands and management companies. CRS are starting to offer a better means for centralizing activities that previously required both property level software and property level personnel, offering opportunities for overall cost reduction.
As the online marketplace generates significantly more business for hotels, PMS companies are adding Internet booking capabilities to compete with the transaction based engines already available. This offers hoteliers the ability to choose either a transaction based model or a software purchase model, each with their unique advantages. Each hotel should carefully compare the lower up front, yet continual costs of the transaction model with the larger investment, yet lower ongoing costs associated with the software purchase model. All of these changes are attempting to keep up with the dynamic hospitality marketplace. Your software options are only complicated further when you take into account integration.
A Word on Integration
Whether software companies expand product feature sets through acquisition or through their own development efforts, integration across product modules may be handled in many ways. When new modules and features are added through acquisition, interfacing is usually chosen instead of integration, as this offers a simpler means to let previously disparate systems communicate with each other. In its simplest form, interfacing can offer the ability to share information with another system. A posting interface typically sends guest charges from one system to another system. In the case of reservations, one-way and two-way interfaces are built to transfer reservation transactions. For two-way interfaces, the transactions move in both directions, creating information flow both to and from each system.
When expanding an existing software code base, it is possible for a software company to integrate the system at the core. This type of integration offers the ability to share information at the database level, such as guest profiles, across all modules. Accessing guest profiles, reservations, activities, and charges from any module, and creating dynamic updates, then becomes much more feasible. This translates to more streamlined business processes and an improved guest experience!
The following table highlights common integration types
in each PMS category. However, be aware that there can be significant variations
in the details of any interface or integration solution. When reviewing
possible options for your property, be sure to understand these details,
as they can have a significant impact on both your processes as well as
your customer experience.
Our industry continues to change at a frantic rate, making it hard for software companies to keep pace. Whether or not the changes in technology are commensurate with our industrys changes, it is Software Strategys goal to help you maintain awareness of your technology options in multiple software and technology categories.
To receive a Free Vendor List for one of the three PMS subcategories discussed or any of the above Software or In-Room Technology categories, visit our web site at www.SoftwareStrategy.net or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your request.
About Software Strategy
Software Strategy (www.SoftwareStrategy.net) is dedicated to researching hospitality technology products in order to help hotels make fast and accurate decisions on their technology investments. By working directly with technology and software vendors and using its own Technology Research Lab to understand the details of each offering, Software Strategy compiles knowledge about each product to support hotels in the technology discovery process. This research generates a set of products and services designed to both help hoteliers identify the appropriate technology products for review and to navigate the entire software comparison and procurement process with greater efficiency.
|Also See:||Searching for Hotel Software?; A Guide to Finding and Purchasing the Right Property Management System / September 2005|