Hospitality Connectivity Landscape: Choosing Solutions for Your Hotel

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No matter how a hotel business grows, its technical capabilities should expand, too. Ten years ago, you might have started as a small B&B with a couple of beds, but today it’s a huge business with hundreds of rooms, its own spa, restaurant, and conference facility. Or you may have kept your boutique property small and cozy, but still want the opportunity to make improve guest services. No matter where you are on the size, no matter what type of lodging you provide, technology can get you where you want to be. We’ve already described the basics of a hotel property management system (PMS), explaining how hotels can effectively function using software solutions. In this article, we’re going to talk about third-party connectivity products that will help you manage and elevate the guest experience.

What is Hotel Property Management System?

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Structure of a hotel PMS

Not all hospitality businesses use the whole functionality of hotel PMSs — in fact, today not every hotel has one. That’s one of the reasons why software vendors sell their solutions in separate systems that solve a particular problem, and connect to PMSs via APIs.

Max Starkov, a hospitality tech expert and Adjunct Professor at New York University Tisch Center of Hospitality, defines the following categories of hotel PMS connectivity solutions: Guest Engagement, Acquisition, and Retention Technologies, and Guest Services Technologies. For convenience, we decided to split these into three discrete categories below, describing the systems that serve these purposes.

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Hospitality connectivity landscape

Software solutions for Guest Engagement and Acquisition

Central Reservation System (CRS)

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Windsurfer CRS interface. Source: Apaleo

The main functions of CRS are:

  • Inventory management and allocation
  • Reservation and booking confirmation
  • Payment collection and processing
  • Refund management
  • Customer data collection and management
  • Guest notification
  • Ancillary bookings

Some CRSs are available along with booking engines, like Reztrip’s Travel Tripper. We’ll look into the functionality of booking engines in a minute.

Key vendors and systems: Sabre (SynXis), SHR (Windsurfer), Clock CRS, iHotelier (TravelClick), RezTrip CRS (Travel Tripper).

Which types of hotels need it: midsize hotels, hotel chains, large independent hotels and resorts, residential properties.

Internet booking engine (IBE)

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SiteMinder hotel booking engine. Source: SiteMinder

The functionality of an IBE includes the following:

  • Multiple room booking
  • Website and content management system integration
  • Upselling capability
  • Multiple languages and currencies
  • Multiple payment options and processing
  • Booking personalization
  • Reporting

Owain Powell, Digital Marketing Manager from Up Hotel Agency notes that an IBE must also record and store customer data for further marketing purposes. “We have worked with hotels who haven’t checked and found that their booking engine didn’t give them any marketing data which meant we couldn’t verify our campaigns.”

Key vendors and systems: SiteMinder’s hotel booking engine, Sabre (SynXis Booking Engine), SHR (Windsurfer), Avvio.

Which types of hotels need it: small and boutique hotels, mid-size hotels, hotel chains, large independent hotels, residential properties.

Channel manager

  • Updating information about available inventory and dates across all distribution channels
  • Live rate distribution
  • Overbooking and rate parity issues management
RateGain channel manager

Key vendors and systems: SiteMinder, RateGain, RateTiger, Sirvoy, Cloudbeds (MyAllocator).

Which types of hotels need it: hotel chains, large independent hotels and resorts, residential properties, small and midsize hotels that use several distribution channels.

Revenue Management System (RMS)

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Hotel RMS. Source: Xotels

An integrated RMS facilitates the analysis of bookings and revenue streams, helping hoteliers set an effective pricing strategy for revenue growth. This software can also control the distribution channels and dynamic pricing strategy across them, creating analytics that can be accessed from one dashboard. RMSs are typically AI-based and have the following features:

  • Demand forecasting
  • Historical data collection
  • Lost revenue analysis
  • Revenue analysis based on channel and segment
  • Performance analysis
  • Pricing options detection
  • Reporting

Key vendors and systems: Duetto, IDeaS, Infor, Atomize.

Which types of hotels need it: hotel chains, large independent hotels and resorts, residential properties, small and midsize hotels with several distribution channels.

Software solutions for Guest Retention

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

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kissCRM guest profile. Source: dailypoint

As Owain from Up Hotel notes, the minimum for CRM system functionality is email export. He notes: “Modern systems let you send messages to users around the anniversary of their booking date, based on their length of stay, frequency, and their in-room spend. All these extra dimensions help the hotel to run more targeted and relevant campaigns.”

Key vendors and systems: NextGuest, Cendyn, dailypoint (kissCRM).

Which types of hotels need it: all types of hotel properties with a sizable guest base.

Online Reputation Management (ORM)

Online Reputation Management (ORM) tools gather feedback on your hotel from all around the internet and platforms like TripAdvisor. If you know more about the experience of former guests, you have greater opportunity for managing conflicts, replying the feedback, and learning about weaknesses that can be eliminated. Some tools use to better filter comments and divide the real from the fake. These solutions can be purchased or used as open-source tools.

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Revinate feedback response form. Source: Revinate

An ORM system’s functions are:

  • Social media monitoring
  • Review reply
  • Insight into competitors
  • In-house problem communication
  • Notifications about new mentions
  • Support for several languages
  • Image analysis
  • Reporting and analytics

Key vendors and systems: ReviewPro, TrustYou, Revinate, RateGain.

Which types of hotels need it: hotel chains, large independent hotels.

Loyalty program management

Loyalty management systems have the following features:

  • Loyalty card management
  • Transaction history
  • Guest data management
  • Email and SMS notifications

Key vendors and systems: Arcovo, LoyaltyGator, eZee Absolute.

Which types of hotels need it: midsize hotels, hotel chains, large independent hotels.

Software systems for Guest Service

Self-Service Guest Technology

Hotel check-in/out kiosks that allow guests to more quickly register, pay, and get their keys. These systems consist of a credit card reader, key encoder, touchscreen, and sometimes an ID scanner. Among check-in kiosk vendors are Clock Software, EnzoSystems, rGuest by Agylysis, Zest by Stay’NTouch.

Clock Software self check-in kiosk

ID Card and Passport Scanners scan the information from documents (driving license or a passport), allowing receptionists to skip the manual process of filling in registration forms. These solutions verify them and process the information right to PMS. This technology is provided by niche vendors like IDScan.net, TTITechnologies, PassportScan.

RFID technologies are used in contactless key cards and mobile devices. This technology allows guests to unlock the door to their rooms using an app and the Bluetooth connection on their smartphones. Some of the solutions, like Flexipass, unite the mobile check-in with RFID access.

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Digital key application. Source: Kisi blog

Which types of hotels need it: small hotels, apartments and apart hotels, hotel chains, large independent hotels, resorts.

Smart Room Technology

Button Barista App

Such technologies can be integrated via Guest Room Management Systems, which have multiple functions like:

  • Electric energy control
  • Lighting control
  • Climate control
  • Room service request facilitation
  • Entertainment personalization

Key vendors and systems: Schneider Electric, Interel, Johnson Controls, Smart Room, Smart Buildings (Smart Hotel), Alexa Hospitality, Google Home.

Which types of hotels need it: hotel chains, large independent hotels, resorts, boutique hotels.

Communication management

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Guest feedback form. Source: Flexkeeping

Issue resolution technologies are also known as complaint management software. These solutions allow guests to inform hotel staff about disruptions and incidents, while the staff can log this information and solve the problems. Both types of solutions are available in mobile and desktop versions.

Key vendors and systems: Flexkeeping, Guestware, Knowcross, Runtriz.

Which types of hotels need it: large independent hotels, hotel chains, resorts.

Final word: a few bits of advice implementing third-party service systems

  1. Take guest needs into account. Obviously, there’s no point deploying room service technologies if your guests are struggling with check-in or experience permanent online-booking issues. Triage — Implement the most necessary technologies first.
  2. Choose solutions by the vendors your PMS provider cooperates with. “The biggest problem for any PMS company is to rethink their API strategy and tech stack,” says Max. So, some vendors cooperate with third-party providers with solutions built on similar tech stacks.
  3. Use cloud PMS. If you’re thinking of changing a hotel PMS or planning to switch from a legacy system, choose a cloud solution. These solutions are more flexible and supply smoother integration with third-party services. They require less time and technical capabilities to install and upgrade. Also, they are usually available both in desktop and mobile versions.

Originally published at AltexSoft tech blog “Hospitality Connectivity Landscape: Choosing Solutions for Your Hotel

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Being a Technology & Solution Consulting company, AltexSoft co-builds technology products to help companies accelerate growth.

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