In relatively recent history of the hospitality industry, the business process of serving travelers has gone from being static to very dynamic. Locating a place to stay for most of us was quite linear and predictable. Not so much today. Lodging options varied by scale, level of luxury and amenities and price, more son than by category and type of facility. Large chains were rewarded by the market place for being predictable and unchanging. The sameness of a brand from place to place was considered to be a strategic advantage.
Hotels were somewhat early adopters of computers as an important tool to serve guests and keep track of operations. But they were only used as a purely local device within the hotel and had no way to communicate with the outside world.
All of this has changed forever! There is a seemingly unlimited selection of types of places to stay and the hotel business no longer has a monopoly on providing lodging for travelers. They have to compete with a plethora of other options. Hotels have to be easy to find by travelers all over the world. Today, they have to communicate directly with their guests.
How have all these changes in the lodging business impacted the software that is designed to support hotel operations? Here are a few key ways these changes have been evolving.
Into the Cloud
First, everyone who intends to be a software services provider to the hotel industry is either already in the cloud, or trying to move there as soon as possible. This is necessary because it is no longer effective to build a software application, put it out into the market and forget it. It is necessary to be able to update and upgrade functionality and performance seamlessly and quickly without disrupting operational activities. This is not practical with desktop localized systems. Cloud systems can make improvements and deploy them at low activity times to the benefit of the entire user base. No more download-and-install sessions are necessary.
One Size No Longer Fits All
The “one-size-fits-all” model is dying. It never really was a good model. It just does not work anymore because the variety of hotels and lodging properties in general is so vast that there is a demand for more flexibility than ever before in the history of hospitality services. Software be molded to fit an endless array of specific operational needs. A hotel should ask management software to conform to its operation needs. The hotel should not have to change how it operates to make the management software work.
A World of Interfaces
One of the fastest growing segments of the lodging business is specialized features and services that are provided by third party sources. These applications, mobile and in-room, must be interfaced with property management software. The leading management software platforms must support the ability to hang these special services on their systems, as well as modify, add, and remove them as the market demands.
Every Platform Welcome
Management software must function flawlessly on an Internet browser, and on any physical device including stationary computers, tablets and smart phones. Software service providers must be light on their feet to respond to application and equipment advances as they emerge in the market.
Intuitive to Learn and Use
It is still the case that hotels experience a lot of staff turnover and this creates a constant training environment. This is a substantial operating expense for hotels that they may not be concisely tracking, but they know it matters. Management software needs to be as easy as possible to learn quickly. This will provide a notable reduction in fixed operations cost.
Direct Communication Between Hotels and Guests
Management software today should facilitate open communication between hotel staff and guests. Of course, this is only possible in the cloud. Guests will increasingly expect to be able to submit requests, complaints and comments directly to the hotel staff, and receive appropriate response promptly. This will be a powerful marketing opportunity for hotels that are in front of this desirable capability.
Separate Cost From User and Payor
The final insight regarding the changing landscape of management software is how it is delivered and charged for. The hospitality industry at this time is a bit behind other cloud service categories regarding the modern business model. Consider the fact that we can use web search engines in unlimited quantity absolutely free. But that does not mean the search engine service provider is not getting paid. What has made it possible for such an amazing resource to be available to everyone is the business model supporting it. They have simply separated the payer from the user.
Imagine if you had to pay one dollar for every search you requested. We would probably still do it, but not nearly as often. This innovative business model encourages unlimited usage that benefits everyone. And this business model will find its way into management software services if they are going to be able to grow and evolve commensurate with market demands. The progressive management software providers will make their service available to hotels at no charge and collect their revenue directly from the guest in the form of miniscule service processing fees. This model is already seeing increased usage in a growing list of categories. By using this fee model, management software providers will be able to constantly make improvements and enhancements to their services without having to continuously bill the hotels for them. Everyone benefits from its methodology.
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- How Has Hotel Management Software Changed Over Time? - September 2, 2016