Build or Buy Your Hotel Online Check-in Solution?
August 20, 2015 11:15am
Ariane Systems White Paper Series 2015
To build or not to build:
The Pros and Cons
Self-service solutions are quickly becoming a standard amenity in the global hotel market, as mobile-savvy travelers increasingly demand solutions that enhance the guest experience, save them time and leverage new technologies. The decision to build or buy your next solution is often a difficult one to make, but can have a direct long-term impact on the performance and success of a property.
Part one of this comprehensive multi-segment white paper explores the respective merits and challenges that hotels face in determining whether to build their own online self-service solution or implement an existing solution from a technology provider.
Many companies, including those in the hotel industry, choose to build their own software solutions because they are of the belief that the end product will be faster, cheaper and better tailored to their individual needs. For limited ad hoc applications, there is some truth to this axiom. However, for more complex applications, the time, effort and expense of building software and keeping it current can far exceed both the expectations and the benefits.
For that reason, organizations that have a need to be leaner and are looking for continuous improvement in functionality, performance and guest service would often benefit far more by leveraging the automation, expertise and proven reliability provided through existing software applications built by trusted suppliers.
A vital question hotel groups need to ask is:
Do you want to focus on software development, or should you rather use your expertise and resources as a hotelier to prepare your staff, operations and marketing department for the introduction of a completely new guest experience?
Few Information Technology topics have garnered as much sustained interest or opinion as the question of whether to acquire commercial off-the-shelf software packages or build from scratch.
Today's hotel groups are finding themselves considering the same question as it relates to the new ways in which guests can interact with their hotels, which are currently being driven by new technology. The introduction of mature and robust online self-check-in and checkout options for guests that enable greater flexibility and control over how guests choose to interact with hotels is becoming a hot topic in the industry. Many groups are currently considering or actively pursuing strategies to provide their guests with the widest choice possible in this regard. The question is whether to buy or build your own.
Recently, the Gartner Group reported on a growing trend towards "build," highlighting drivers that include the impact of new technologies, as well as the availability of skilled resources and capabilities in-house versus the experience that suggests some packaged solutions are "too cumbersome and expensive."
Part one of this whitepaper presents a structured set of arguments for both "build" and "buy" that takes into account the nature of the hotel business, the general technology environment and the related complexities of each option. It also outlines the decision criteria that hotels face in choosing one or the other option, with a view to outlining a structured decision process that enables hotels to make an informed decision that best suits their organization.
Build or Buy?
The choice to build or buy is ultimately driven by a careful analysis of the hotel requirements versus the costs of development, implementation and support. While both choices have merits, the maturing global technology infrastructure known generally as "the cloud" and SaaS (Software as a Service) is changing the calculation of total cost of ownership and upending some long-held assumptions about the acquisition of business software. Let us take a look at the pros and cons of each.
The Case for Build
Building a custom solution seems like a logical direction for many organizations, and it is certainly the traditional approach of many businesses. In some cases, building a one-off solution may in fact be your only effective choice if your requirements are especially unique. It allows you to design and implement a system to meet specific needs or unique process requirements.
Also, in building your own software, you are in full control of the development and can tailor the solution if requirements should shift. If you decide to go this route, however, several factors have a direct impact on your success. Be certain that you have access to the technical expertise and IT staffing required for developing software. Your team must have and maintain a thorough understanding of current technologies, your existing systems and the intricate interaction between the two.
What makes up a Self-service Solution?
A fully automated online check-in and check-out solution enables guests to manage these mundane processes themselves, saving precious time and avoiding delays.
Mobile and web check-in and out is implemented to enhance guest options and the overall experience at participating hotels by reducing queuing times and allowing guests to interact with the hotel at a time and place that is convenient to them.
Upon arrival at the hotel, the guest is able to quickly collect their key from a key dispenser in reception and gain access to their room.
For checkout, the guest has the choice of managing their exit from the hotel in a way that is convenient to them, as well. For example, they have an early flight and may not want to risk delays checking out that may cause problems arriving at the airport in time. With online checkout, the guest can (if applicable) check their bill, add items from the minibar, pay their bill, and leave. They will receive an invoice by email for their records.
For the hotel and staff, it is critical to have a tool to that allows them to check online status for the day or week ahead and make decisions that are right for the hotel. This may mean allocating specific rooms to guests, checking activity or, in the case of an emergency, find out who has collected their key and potentially be already in-house.
Hotel management also requires management and reporting tools to monitor the service and its impact on the business.
The Devil is in the Details
Ease of use requires a complete, automated and well-tested solution, and the "devil" is in the details.
The task of creating a complete end-to-end self-service solution might look relatively simple at first glance. All you need to do is to connect the PMS to the web, allow the guest to complete online check-in and create keycards to bypass the front desk.
A Checklist for Self-Service
What features are needed?
Learn what needs to be taken into account when building or purchasing new technology in part two of this whitepaper. For more information, please visit www.ariane.com.
Contact: Jeff Councilman
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