- Thursday, 01 March 2012 10:04
Article Read: 2530
Accommodation managers and operators can expect to see more mobile tablet and smartphone solutions coming on to the market to monitor their business from anywhere they have an Internet connection for their phone or tablet.
Mobile housekeeping applications will allow housekeeping updates from anywhere in the hotel that has a wireless connection.
Owners and operators can also expect integration to see more GDS/channel manager type systems, integration to kiosks for self check-in and checkout, as well as mobile solutions for point of sale using handheld devices in the food and beverage operation.
Over the last couple of years much of the accommodation industry has focused on channel managers and the benefit they bring with them, HiRum Australia director Sylvia Johnston maintains.
"Whilst these tools are great for uploading and adjusting inventory across a multitude of third party internet distribution sites, saving the property much time as bookings come through, the biggest benefit of all is how they connect to a property's own web site.
"Research shows the bounce rate from last minute sites is ever increasing as visitors scour the best deal available. This provides a great opportunity for the property manager to ride on the free marketing of their property provided by the distribution site.
"A good channel manager will afford the property the ability to adjust their pricing, availability, promotions etc as an automated setting within their software to ensure once the bounce lands on the properties own web site, the client books direct rather than via a channel. For this to work efficiently, the yielding for differing channels including a property's own web engine must be fully automated and should be the No1 priority when choosing a channel manager.
"Whilst this inevitably saves the property many dollars in commission, the biggest advantage of all is the fact that this client becomes known to no one other than the property. This affords the property a huge direct marketing opportunity for repeat business which hopefully they take advantage of. In addition, the channel manager should be an extension of a property's own PMS wherever possible, ensuring the two tools work seamlessly to ensure availability, pricing and yield is always at its optimum.
"Usability of the solution is also imperative.
"You need to be able to add your own specials or change rooms etc as and when you want, in order to gain instant marketing opportunities as they occur. In Australia there are only three key channel managers worth considering, make sure you question each one on their features before choosing the product your business deserves."
CMS Hospitality sales manager Craig Dennington says future developments of its GuestCentrix PMS will be in the direction of cloud-based solutions.
"The PMS can already be deployed in the cloud using a terminal services set-up or Citrix thin client connection but we have just released a hostel specific version of our successful PMS that is accessed via a web browser, but still feature rich using the same SQL database structure," he said. "Expect hotel versions to follow in the coming year."
He said the trust accounting module has been designed around the Australian strata and owner laws.
"Individual contracts for owners has been a huge benefit to our new trust clients, ensuring that any model of owner payments, and a web portal developed, so unit owners can view their statements online, meaning no more emailing of statements by the trust managers at month's end," he said.
He said GuestCentrix was a "software solution in a box". It was easy to use and configure software, yet feature rich and powerful, being based on the Microsoft SQL database technology.
The GuestCentrix software also only requires a single server to operate, and does not require multiple servers for SQL database manager or separate application servers for different applications.
"We are one of the very few vendors that can offer a hotel or resort a total suite of applications for the entire operation," he said. "This way the property can manage the hotel rooms, pay unit owners in a strata titled business, run their meeting and banqueting space, as well as the entire food and beverage operation, from a single software provider.
"The software has been developed over the last 30 years as a direct result of feedback from hotel operators and management. Finally our software support services are all in-house," he said. "We do not offshore any of our support to call centres, and all of our support, installation and trainer staff all have a hospitality background, and in the first instance are not IT based personnel.
"The staff we employ therefore have a firsthand knowledge of the hotel and hospitality industry, allowing them to assist the hotels better with this understanding."
CMS software interfaces to some of the industry leading channel managers such as SiteMinder, Levart, RoomRez, Synxis and iHotelier.
Installation is initially done by CMS's team of installers and training lasts about a week per installed application, dependent on the numbers to be trained and taught and the size of the property.
Centium Software director of marketing Chantal Mortimer said advances in future accommodation management software will include meeting the demand for mobile and tablet device usage.
The latest innovations for its Guestpoint software include: fully integrated online booking capabilities with simple to use dynamic rate and online inventory management; hybrid sync technology that lets regional small accommodation properties compete and sell; inventory online in real-time that allows management of all of the back of house functions locally; guest relationship management with automated profiling for better customer marketing; secure credit card vault for PCI compliant credit card management; and remote property management through iPhone apps and web access from any computer.
It recently won the National 2011 iAwards for technology innovation, tourism and hospitality category.
GuestPoint won the award for a number of key innovations including hybrid sync technology that lets regional small accommodation properties compete and sell their inventory real-time online yet manage all of the back of house functions locally. Other innovations include guest relationship management, a secure credit card vault and other features geared specifically for small regional properties.
In November, Centium Software will join other national category winners to represent Australia in the Asia Pacific ICT Awards being held in Bangkok.
Ms Mortimer said the online booking technology has produced a 73% increase in bookings per thousand visitors for one key client, was simple to learn and easy to use. It allowed small accommodation properties with the tools to efficiently and easily manage their online and offline business in one simple system, without duplicated effort.
Starfleet Business Solutions Windows-based software allows its clients to add a "book now" button to their website and use the Starfleet interactive link to process Internet bookings in real time. "Credit card transactions are processed within 24–48 hours, and the bookings are inserted into the system automatically depending on availability," said Starfleet's Robert Garde.
"Clients can use our channel manager link to www.staah.com, www.resonline.com.au, (motels, hotels and resorts) or our other links to www.vipbackpackers.com (for backpackers), www.jasons.co.nz (booking button). This allows them to set availability in the system to match their room availability on the channel manager or individual website.
"It also ensures any bookings received are removed from allotments and inserted into Starfleet. Reports are available give a record of bookings received and any errors.
"Starfleet's conference manager integrates quotes, plans and reports on conference groups with the front office groups module. All activities and events can be entered and conference running sheets and lists of requirements create. The system will check if a specific venue is available, and book it either tentatively or confirmed. Guests associated with a particular conference can be handled in the Front Office Groups section.
"Starfleet also offers door card security systems with links to KABA/Ilco, Vingcard Vision or Onity card systems.
"On check in, Starfleet prompts the user to insert a card, and the encoder creates a card. The card can also have track 2 encoded for use on HIS, Sanyo, Swift POS, BePOZ, SSA and Future POS systems," Mr Garde said.
Starfleet provides regular product update via CDs – usually twice a year while all requests for software support are handled in Australia. Mr Garde said support was one of Starfleet's strongest points.
"A majority of our clients came to us because their previous front office software did not have practical on-going support and program updates at very reasonable prices," he said.
"Our service and support has been ongoing since before 1980.
"We have taken care with the design of our reservation system and motel booking software to ensure features are provided to enable fast data entry and efficient operation for users.
"This enables multiple users to use the reservation software with ease while also allowing management to use the same motel software to generate integral and specialist reports."