Modern Web Browser hotel property-management systems enable hotels to host data on site to maintain access and control while providing all the mobility benefits afforded by a cloud-based system and with less reliance on IT staff; Visit Maestro in Booth #1325 at HITEC Orlando
By Audrey MacRae
One of the greatest benefits provided by cloud-based property management systems is also one of its most often misconstrued: That cloud technology is necessary to improve the mobility and functionality of modern PMS. With such rapid leaps in technology adoption over the past several years it can be easy for hoteliers to forget that the PMS has evolved in many ways that don’t require the cloud. Today it’s possible for hotels to go cloudless and remain as mobile and nimble as a cloud-based PMS, and for some properties it may in fact be the more effective strategy.
PMS integrations have come a long way in recent years, particularly in the independent hotel space, but with innovation comes complexity of choice. When choosing a PMS partner, hotels should ask themselves what their goals are for the technology, and how they would like to integrate its use into hotel operations. Are operators looking for mobility to control hotel operations on the go? Or is it more important to have full autonomy over the property’s hosted data? The answers to these questions will help identify potential PMS partners.
What’s in a Cloud?
Not every hotel or resort is made for a cloud-based PMS. Some are in areas where providing internet or wireless connectivity is a persistent challenge. Others operate under management who are sensitive to data security issues or are targeting a specific niche that doesn’t cater to internet connectivity. Regardless of the situation, hybrid solutions exist to serve these properties.
Some hotels benefit from storing hotel data on the cloud, while others would prefer to keep it closer to home. Some PMS providers offer browser-based systems capable of being accessed on a myriad of mobile devices, allowing operators to take charge of their property on the go. This technology gives operators more freedom to control their hotels from anywhere, but in the past, this came at a price, often remaining inaccessible without cloud technology supporting it behind the scenes. Today, this is no longer the case.
Modern PMS installations allow property groups to host data on site while providing all the mobility benefits afforded by a cloud-based system. Similarly, modern PMS often allow for a lighter reliance on IT staff by allowing for remote support and the automated rolling out of crucial updates to improve the system over time. While this may benefit hoteliers when implemented properly, it’s important to choose a partner who values your hotel’s operations strategy to avoid hang ups.
Updates Boundless as the Sea
Today between 40 percent and 50 percent of hoteliers remain hesitant to invest in cloud-based technology based on a variety of misconceptions, though some of their fears may indeed be valid based on their property’s positioning. With the question of digital ownership becoming ever more important to define within society, hoteliers are wary that their PMS partners may restrict access to a hotel’s own data, holding them hostage to service and access fees that may not have been apparent during the contractual phase.
Even if hotels have full access to their own data, they may not have control over when new and potentially disruptive updates are applied to their system – or if they are warned about such updates at all. In a multi-tenant cloud system, updates are pushed out to every client on a server simultaneously, and sometimes without notice. These automated processes are sometimes unscheduled and may change things inadvertently that operators may not anticipate.
To avoid this situation, it’s important for operators to ensure they choose a PMS partner who offers rigorous update schedules, ample advanced notice on new updates, and total transparency on update patch notes.
Going Wisely and Slowly
Hotels continue to associate cloud technology with browser-based systems, but the more important factor when choosing a PMS partner is their transparency and willingness to share information and data regarding your property without tying it to unnecessary service fees. Since PMS contracts are typically designed to last for several years at a time, hoteliers must do their due diligence to avoid locking into a multi-year agreement that does not provide satisfactory terms.
PMS of choice represents a semi-permanent relationship, so it’s important to fully understand what hoteliers are paying for as part of the contract. Some PMS providers require additional fees or payments to provide access to current updates or versions of a technology, while others bake this service into their standard fee structure and make these updates available whether a hotel uses an on-premises system or a cloud-based one. This is not always apparent when discussing surface-level aspects of the PMS partner’s operating strategy, so hoteliers must be clear when the time comes to identify their approach to technology updates.
The cloud may or may not be ideal for everyone – and technically, it doesn’t have to be. It’s more valuable for hoteliers to take a hard look at their current and potential technology partners to see what strategy provides the best benefit for each of their properties, and then select from their available technology offerings to attain these goals. Technology, just like hospitality, excels when people and their relationships are considered first and foremost.