Traditionally, hotel staff has always been tied down to their desktops, not that they had much of a choice , any information related to guest is only available in the PMS running on desktops and staff must access this PMS for every single guest related information or operation.
Cloud has changed this and now staff can move around hotel servicing guests, they can walk up to the hotel door to welcome guest and complete a checkin while accompanying the guest to his room. Any mobile device can be used to access reservation, capture guest photograph and take signature via the touchscreen of the mobile device. These systems have been available from some of the big hospitality technology providers, but because of the traditional architecture, usually the device needed to run these applications must meet certain minimum configuration, not to mention that most of these applications rely on a offline data sync, so if something went wrong during sync, staff has no option but to run to the room with pen and registration cards to complete the process manually. These offline applications come at a considerable price tag and are definitely not very reliable and need constant updates.
Cloud and SaaS has changed this and now even a small five room Bed and Breakfast can use this technology without spending any serious dollars. Cloud and SaaS can sound quiet confusing to a small property owner, who only wants to just manage his business with least amount of investment and without getting into technology minefield, vendors too are not making this any easier. Almost every service provider has its own take and explanation on the subject, so let me try and put across my take in a simple terminology.
Cloud technology has been there from the time Internet took shape and form, but now it is more easy to use it as a utility and is more robust in its new avatar, to use any hotel management software, a hotel needs set of computers called servers and desktops, they also need to connect these computers via network cables and switches and routers. So even before you could buy software you have to invest in buying fancy hardware so that you can buy and use a PMS. Once you are finished with this hardware and network purchase and setup, you need to finally buy database and Property management system, thereafter someone needs to do the setup, configure PMS, and complete the masters ( data related to your hotel like rates, rooms , restaurant data, booking policies etc). Later training will follow and finally after spending considerable amount of time and money, hotel is ready to start using this new piece of technology, ahh! and not to mention the challenge involved in keeping pace with new software updates and cost of ongoing maintenance .
Now to simplify the cloud computing, a service providing company takes over complete asset management, hotel does not need to go through pain of buying or setting anything up, and only needs to subscribe to a cloud based hotel management system, and start using the system within minutes, by following the witty wizards that will guide you step by step till you are ready to start live operations, consider it like renting a car, completing paper work , crank the engine and drive off. So cloud providers manage complete hardware, software, database, they also manage updates and keep upgrading hardware all the time, so you are on latest system at any point of time.
Now lets tackle SaaS, traditionally you would install PMS application that run on computers located on your premises. So here is where SaaS comes in, now instead of having the application run on your servers, it is running in the service providers data center and you access it over the internet through a URL, just like gmail or yahoo. Another significant change is the way SaaS applications are licensed to, it is different from on-premise applications. Hotels don’t need to buy the license to use the software, and then paying for software maintenance to support it and keep it current, you simply subscribe or ”rent” the software over a period of time – usually yearly. SaaS (Software as a Service) makes use of a cloud computing infrastructure “Cloud” to deliver PMS application to hotels, unlike traditional model of installing application on desktops, it allows hotel staff to access and use software from any location and over any device.
So why should hotels consider using Cloud & SaaS
- Hotels can now move from Capex to Opex and lower costs associated with running a PMS.
- Hotels have a great opportunity to shift their IT budget from capital expense to operational expense and allocate funds towards guest services.
- Hotels can hire more resources to service guests in place of IT resources .
- Hotels can be more environment friendly with reduced energy consumption and expense.
- Hotels can choose to go with best service provider and switch providers anytime without any additional cost.
Some of the pitfalls to avoid with Cloud and SaaS
- Hotels must analyse costs and savings associated with subscription models, because subscription costs don’t necessarily decline over time.
- Many hotels may need custom changes in PMS applications to mange certain unique operational requirements, SaaS based applications will not allow such changes.
- Almost every SaaS vendor will offer a trial but these trials have limited features, so hotels must ensure they try out full system or take interactive presentations to ensure they get all features that are needed.
- Data ownership and privacy, hotels need to check about data privacy and who owns the data and how they can get their data when they wish to stop using the system, without any time limits. It is important that you own the data and vendor provides you data in a format that you can use or import into another system or you might end with just bits and bytes.
- SaaS certainly offers great savings on costs but hotel must not just look at cost but also must ensure that vendor has background in supplying such applications with success and has proven track record, hotels must look for reasons apart from just cost as to how software can add value and improve overall efficiency.
- There are lot of service providers who will claim offering same services, what is of importance is how will vendor support you if servers go down or your internet breaks down, and what kind of redundancy is planned and offered. Compare vendor offerings—not just for features and costs but also for uptime, security, and flexibility.
mycloud hospitality technology platform combines our domain expertise with years of success in delivering technology solutions to hotel chains and five star properties across globe. mycloud, a cloud based Hotel Management System addresses some of the unique problems of the mid and small size hotel properties. mycloud provides a unique single platform for all the hospitality stakeholders in a chain or independent hotel to collaborate, and the system provides for all reservations, room inventory and profiles to be located in one database thereby ensuring a single image of inventory and a single view of the guest across the enterprise. The system incorporates all operations automation features like online reservation system, front desk, corporate and travel agent profiles, guest history, inbuilt mailing, group management, cashiering, housekeeping, pos for restaurants and gift shop operations, accounts receivable etc. The e-distribution feature of the system is powered by the state-of-the-art booking engine, channel manager and online reviews management system offering a single window control.
mycloud is developed and promoted by Prologic First– a hospitality technology innovator and a leading international hospitality IT solutions provider.Prologic First is a group of companies that develops and internationally markets integrated software solutions for the hospitality sector. Prologic First software solutions are in use at more than 1300 sites in 35 countries. Professionals formed Prologic First more than a decade ago with extensive experience in developing and deploying hotel IT solutions. For more information visit www.prologicfirst.com.
Deepak Chauhan, Phone +1-415-390-5039, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org