The last five years have seen huge advances in technology available to the hospitality industry. There is an abundance of systems and applications on offer to hotel owners and managers and with so much available they can’t be blamed for shying away and sticking to what they know. It can be a minefield.
What is important to understand is that that these products are a result of years of research and development by the smartest IT brains in the world. Ankerdata, for example, have a massive development team in Germany who focus solely on the protel offering. These developments do not only make managing a hotel simpler, but more importantly their cost-effectiveness has a positive effect on bottom line.
Consider, for instance, the protel Air cloud-based multi-property management system. This cloud system does away with on-site servers, hardware and networks. Not only does it eliminate an initial whopping financial outlay, but there are also monthly subscription options on rent-to-buy or lease structures that bring down your monthly costs as well.
Ian Lumsden, Ankerdata’s Sales and Marketing Director, breaks down some of the most important features that hotel technology has to offer:
Most of the leading service providers have developed a system that allows for hotel groups to manage all their hotels in a portfolio under one central system. protel’s MPE, for instance, can be hosted in the cloud or on your premises and solves many problems of managing an entire group. All the properties loaded onto the system can be viewed at the click of a button. Owners have access to reports, occupation, guest profiles, international bookings world-wide via the system and if you load protel for iPad or Android onto a smart device, you are able to manage your hotel wherever you are in the world.
Hotel management in the cloud is on everyone’s lips at the moment and we predict a huge move in the next few years from on-site hosting to cloud hosting. The advantages are too important to give this one a miss. What air technology has given us is a place to store our software program, our property management system and all its add-ons via the internet. Instead of buying software, servers, drivers and all that goes with traditional property management systems, hotel managers are opting for cloud systems that store, manage and run their hotel systems with reporting in a secure data centre.
I’ve touched on a few of the applications available with the protel systems above and, to be honest, this is a never-ending bonus. As our developers research and improve our offering, the application options will continue to make the life of a hotel manager easier. We’ve heard so often over the last few years that hotel managers are bogged down, stuck behind their desks burdened with managing a hotel from their PCs. With new advances in technology, we should see those managers re-appearing from behind their desks and doing what they are supposed to do: manage on the floor.
The protel applications, which have been built with the guest as well as the hotel manager/operations in mind, have been developed for IOS as well as Android systems. For instance, guests can check in or out remotely and even sign for their accounts on a smart device via the protel Voyager system which can be developed specifically for each hotel and allows guests to manage their entire stay from reservations to restaurant bookings, things to do in the areas, ordering room service… the list goes on, and all via the web-based app.
Messenger, another application developed by protel, allows hotel departments to communicate with guests via their PCs, laptops or smart devices. Hotels can set up their own rules on the system so that triggers are set when certain messages need to go to a guest via e-mail or text. For instance, as soon as guests check in at the front desk (or via the app), a message can be sent to them informing them of the restaurant special or the cocktail of the evening – the options are endless and the result is communication with guests that is streets ahead of a few years ago.
We’ve all experienced the sweat and stress of a large group book-in and a check-in desk that’s five deep in frustrated tired travellers. Well, those clever tech-heads in Silicone Valley somewhere have come up with a solution – ID scanner. This is a smart contraption that connects to your property management system to scan and extract information from any Identity document, driver’s licence or passport. While your guest waits in the lounge with a welcome drink, the ID scanner automatically picks up and records the name, surname, document type and document number, the expiry date and date of birth of the guest and – wait for it… there’s more, – extracts a thumbnail picture from the identity photograph and records this on the guest profile. All your front desk person needs to do then is take an iPad or tablet over to the guest in order to sign in before being escorted to the room.
One would be surprised at just how many outdated, unproductive hotel management systems there are out there, and migrating to a specifically developed system is not only relatively simple but is not a time-consuming exercise at all. These innovative solutions are there for the taking and hotel managers who have not yet jumped on the technology train should delay no longer. It’s not a case of keeping up with the Joneses, more an essential advantage, for hotel operators and guests alike.