Set it and forget it! Like it or not, that has been the mantra of hotel IT managers for the past couple of decades. Sound a little unfair? Perhaps, but if you look the three pillars of a hotel’s technology stack – the hotel PMS, the CRS and the Revenue Management software, you may just find some old systems there. These big systems are very complex and the entire enterprise is reliant on them. Changing them out seems very difficult, so it is safest to just let things be, right? After all, the old software companies provide upgrades now and again.
The real issue here is whether your hotel is running software that is designed to compete in today’s marketplace using the latest data and technology available. Today’s new hotel PMS, CRS and RevOpps companies not only make sure everything’s running smoothly, but also include features that work to unearth revenue generating opportunities.
Let’s start with the CRS, the interconnected network used to manage rates and reservations across channels, including to OTAs and direct to travelers. Your CRS is how you sell hotel rooms and also includes (or directly powers) your hotel’s booking engine. The modern CRS is all about integrations and connections – the farther your reach, the more you will sell. So that means you need to be sure you are connecting to the major GDSs (Amadeus, Sabre, Travelport, and Worldspan). Your CRS needs to connect to the IDS as well, so you can sell rooms through DHISCO and other IDS channels. And, of course, you need to be connecting directly to the leading OTAs including Expedia, Agoda, Booking.com, etc. But that’s not all. Distribution is very fragmented these days, so to maximize revpar, your channel manager needs to have connections to all the hundreds of smaller and specialty OTAs.
Besides connections, you need integrations. Naturally, you want your CRS to integrate with your hotel PMS and revenue management software of choice. But in order to optimize your marketing messages across channels, your CRS should easily integrate with any of the new marketing management systems that help recover abandoned bookings and increase revenue.
Sadly, when it comes to revenue management software, not everyone has it! This is becoming less and less true everyday, because those who invest in revenue management software are quickly dominating their competition and are driving others to try to catch up. Whereas the CRS is all about connections, revenue management is all about intelligent analysis. The emphasis here is on ‘intelligent.’ Rate management requires the recognition of trends, the qualification of marketing and the ability to forecast while compensating to numerous one-off events.
Today’s new systems almost think for themselves. The best will detect unexpected events or anomalous patterns missed by their human counterparts. They will then provide said humans with insight into how the system arrived at its decisions. Likewise, integration with marketing systems allows the best revenue management systems to align sales and marketing efforts and track effectiveness for transient and group business. And the systems should account for total guest revenue across the property to make sure decisions made account for total guest value.
Lastly, let’s talk about the mother ship…the hotel PMS. One of the problems with being a backbone to an enterprise is that no one wants to mess with it because of all the downhill implications of change. But that is the actual problem –the old PMSs were built to support operations solely, while the new PMSs are built to drive guest engagement and revenue. By not changing it out, your hotel actually becomes less competitive. How can this be? The new hotel PMS is based on mobility and choice. By being available to guests and staff anywhere, the systems generate more time for both parties. Service, up-sells and upgrade become instantaneous, going from a mere notion to a fulfilled request in the PMS in zero time. Why? Because a mobile PMS serves the guest through their mobile phone – guests who may or may not want to speak to staff or wait in a line. And a mobile PMS goes with the hotel staff anywhere in the hotel on their tablet. A mobile PMS even allows upper management to monitor the business off property. Naturally, just like the other two systems, the PMS should be designed to support easy, fast integrations allowing the IT manager to continually use best-of-breed software components.
Connected, integrated, intelligent and mobile. Today’s CRS, PMS and RevOpps systems are working harder than their predecessors to find revenue opportunities for you. So, change is good. If you haven’t re-examined your core hotel software systems in the last few years, you may be leaving money on the table.