The rise of the small and mid-size independent hotel

A family vacation on a resort island in Maldives, a friend’s get-together in Ibiza, or even a team business trip to Singapore, travelling has always been something that everyone looks forward to. The last two decades or so have seen the global population rise, lifestyles have changed, an increase recorded in earning and spending power and youth as well have more access to funds, as they undertake part time work while studying.

More importantly, the hotel industry prospered over the years and international hotel chains established hotels like never before. According to Statista, as of January 2016, Marriott International group was on top of the list with the most number of hotel rooms, amassing 1.1 million rooms globally

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A large branded hotel has grown from the challenges that have confronted independent hotels in recent times. Without a big brand’s financial aid and scale, small hoteliers have no other option but to work harder to succeed. Moreover, independent hotels quite frequently lack an international sales force, a central reservation system or nation-wide popularity available to chain hotels, making them even more reliant on the pricey online travel agencies to drive bookings. Should you be the owner of a small hotel, and if you had thought of financing expansion or renovation for instance, you’d know exactly that pay back rates from lenders are no way close to affordable.

However, be frightened no more as traveler perception is changing. Vacationers are not quite looking for that chandelier above their dining table but would rather pay the premium for a memorable experience. Luxury is now shifting from having to being with consumers, transitioning from retaining a luxury item to experiencing luxury. Whilst travelers admired the consistency of a notable hotel chain, knowing that the next Marriott they stay at will always look like the last Marriott they stayed at, it is not quite the same now. They are looking for genuine, local experiences and want culture as part of their stay, which small, independent hotels like yours can offer.

Because of their global operations, quick changes within the hotel chain’s group are not possible and hence, small hotels now have an advantage. By integration with their local communities, independent hoteliers are able to provide these authentic experiences for their guests. There’s no complying with any other bigger brand, allowing such hotels to provide guests with the exclusive and one-of-a-kind travel experience they want.

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Wondering how you could adapt as well? Here are few ways. As Mendes Cavin (Founder & Managing Partner, Miners Hospitality) puts it across in his article on Hospitality Net, create experiences. Take the spa experience into their rooms, offering them a variety of gels and soaps. Go the extra mile and a new experience in luxury is crafted for your guests. Moreover, keep it exciting at all times. As a hotelier, keep on differentiating yourself to stay ahead of your competition – provide basic internet access at no additional charge or even offer a better deal or package, that incorporates an authentic native experience to the guest.

Additionally, innovation and tech has brought about numerous solutions to solve issues and ease daily operations, keeping the hospitality business lively at all times. Almost every other hotelier has had to give the slightest of attention to the cloud – capitalize on it. Earlier hotels had to spend piles of cash to get basic technology solution to run their business, but now with cloud there is no capex and smaller and mid-size hotels can get world class Cloud based PMS solution, this advantage levels the playing field for these properties and now they can be better connected and can better control guest experience. This business-building resource that was not anywhere close to accessible or affordable for an independent hotelier, is now obtainable with just a few clicks for set up.

Yes, to operate as an independent hotel is quite a challenge, but the future for hoteliers like yourself is bright. Embrace your individuality, it might be an awful time or the best time of the year, but for independent hotels, change is happening for the better.

Evolution of PMS within the Hospitality Industry Catering the Needs from Big To Small Hotels

By M Dave

Irrespective whether your hotel is a small boutique hotel with 20 bedrooms or a magnificent luxury hotel with 100+ bedrooms, having a comprehensive multi-functional Property Management System (PMS) is critical for every hotel entity. The market is flooded with plethora of PMS which are designed to meet the needs of small and big hotels alike. However the big dominant players in market like Brilliant (i-Tesso) and Opera (Micros) have very robust systems designed to more suit the operational needs of large hotels, but practically we can’t really use those PMS to streamline daily operations at small and budget hotels.

The main issues being that most of the features will be redundant in small hotels and it will also involve heavy financial commitments by small hotel owners. If one actually analyses it makes more sense for small hotel owners to reinvest into expansion plans within their hotel to make their property more competitive Hence, the question is do small and budget hotels with about 20 bedrooms really need any kind of PMS?

The answer to this question is ‘Yes’. All big and medium hotels can afford to go for a robust property management system to look after their operational aspects including guest bookings, online reservations, food and beverage costing, accounting, report generation, sales and marketing, HR and payroll, maintenance management and quality management. But on the other hand a small hotel needs to have a PMS which would help them to automate some core day to day basic operations.

With small hotel business gaining ever increasing importance every year, due to their great customer service and quirky style, they have become a very significant part of the service industry in last few years. Small technological companies like Prologic First have seen this market potential and tapped it with very innovative software’s like mycloud hospitality (http://www.mycloudhospitality.com/).

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This software helps small hotels to have a comprehensive PMS and at the same time is very friendly to their pocket. Such software just requires a tablet or a computer along with internet connection to just get started with managing their properties with features like accounting, POS, reservations and reporting all on a single screen. This will help them to tackle their operational issues like lack of skilled manpower, higher attrition rate, revenue leakage and pilferage due to the absence of proper accounting software, customer care and inventory management.

Loads of such software’s are available now in the market like mycloud hospitality, Room master, sabee app etc. The good thing about the cost of such software’s is that they are available on a monthly payment plan with as little as £2 per rooms. Some notable features about mycloud hospitality software that I came across while researching to give an idea is as below:

  • Little or no up-front investment and quick start-up
  • No long term contract and easy exit option and
  • Low investment, low risk
  • Quick implementation
  • Needs little or no training
  • Secure access from anywhere
  • High availability
  • A comprehensive Front Office service
  • Round the clock support

This highly user-friendly and scalable software is capable of streamlining and automating operations for small hotels just as they need it. So, if you are facing some operational snags while running your small hotel operations, you may consider trying a free demo of mycloud hospitality software by Prologic First or any such software available in market which is a smart way to manage your properties.

Interactive Restaurant Experience – What Happened to Conversations?

Restaurants have gone through so many iterations over the years.  They were initially designed to nourish travellers.  Up until recently, we enjoyed a restaurant for perhaps a quick meal, a celebration, a prelude to romance or maybe a lavish display of gourmet indulgence.  The restaurant had so many roles – we loved the ambiance, the menu, the lighting, the aromas, presentations, the fare, the location, the servers and chefs.  Beyond the nourishment, we had the opportunity to interact with our dining companions – to   talk sports, business, opportunity, love and life in general.  The engagement, the conversation was just as important as the meal for many.

Now, our dining relationship has moved to the interactive – essentially platforms and activities we could do by ourselves in our homes on our lap tops and tablets, snacking on Fritos.  The restaurant is a cuisine arcade!

It is pretty remarkable the leaps we have made in terms of that Customer Dining Experience in such a short time.  The technological interactive applications such restaurant mobile POS were noted in an earlier article.  We actually used to interact with each other, our server and other diners.

Our relationship with restaurants has changed dramatically.  We have seen it in the fast food and casual dining elements.  For fast food, the emphasis is on speed and accuracy.  In the casual dining realm it is more about guest control and access to all sorts of things which interrupt any conversation stream.  It goes beyond ordering and paying for the meal.  I can now tap into television, movies, music, on-line poker, send messages and the like.  I can do all that just by myself and not involve my table mate(s), who may be just as busy on his/her/their mission for access.  And, this is a world-wide phenomenon.

Just consider a restaurant in Dubai, where the establishment “… has installed interactive tables that allow guests to swipe through the menu update their Facebook status and even order a taxi home.  At this Restaurant in Dubai, interaction with wait staff is minimal, as diners can browse the digital menu, place their order, and watch chefs prepare their meal via ‘chef cams’ by using the touch screen tabletops.  The interactive tables also allow guests to customize their decor and choose from a range of images and patterns for their desktop ‘tablecloth.’  While waiting for their meal… guests can catch up on current news, check in on their Facebook messages or send greetings and virtual cards to diners at other tables.”  Connected – yes; digestible – maybe not!

So, has the conversation gone the way of service?  You be the judge.  May I interrupt your Facebook entry and have the salt, please!

Three Key Ways to Infuse Technology into Hotel Operations

By M Dave

From check-in to check-out, digital innovations have the potential to enhance every aspect of the guest experience. Many forward-thinking hoteliers are leveraging cutting-edge technologies and platforms in order to remain competitive in the digital age of hospitality. Following are three key ways to infuse technology into your hotel operations:
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Hotel Apps – Hoteliers are realizing that digital apps can be great tools for helping guest’s access hotel information and customize their experience. They are offering apps to help guests to upgrade rooms and offer discounts as well as convenient mobile booking options. Some hotel apps even allow guests to notify the concierge before arriving at the door step, setting up room service, nearby restaurant reservations and more amenities right from their mobile devices.

 Social Media – An active social media presence allows you to engage with customers, stay on their radar, build loyalty and buzz for your brand. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest enable hoteliers to share images of hotel facilities and cool on-site happenings. Visually appealing posts can also give potential guests the opportunity to see what your property has to offer before making the commitment to book a room. Facebook, in particular, is a great social tool for hoteliers as it offers a booking engine that allows guests and travels agents to select and book rooms directly from your page.

Keeping it Mobile – Today’s digital-friendly customers’ research and book on-the-go. They expect hoteliers to keep pace with their “real time” needs. Innovative hotels are finding ways to do just that by placing roving “digital ambassadors” in their lobbies armed with iPads to help speed up the check-in and check-out process. Some properties have upped the digital ante even more by allowing guests to virtually check in 24 hours ahead, receive a bar-coded email confirmation which they can later scan upon arrival to receive their key.

There’s no doubt that guests are expecting smart hotel technology solutions that help make their hotel experiences more convenient and pleasurable. Don’t have a disconnect with your clientele! Keep technology top-of-mind in order to attract guests and remain competitive in the digital age of hospitality.

Right Property Management System is Key to Your Hotel’s Success

Ask any hotelier and all will unanimously agree that a hotel management system plays a vital role in their hotel’s success. Good hotel software enables its users to store information about guests, retrieve it to personalize the guest experience, and on the whole, ensure the guest has a wonderful stay. At the back-end, the importance of hotel software is even more emphasized.

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The front office module, point of sale, accounts receivable, banquets and conferences, restaurant module, housekeeping, inventory, HR and Payroll, along with a host of other modules and apps must all be interfaced and work in sync with the PMs systems.

Information stored in these modules helps the management to generate important reports that facilitate planning and decision-making. While the software is critical to the smooth operation of a hotel, most general managers will also agree that it is this part of technology that gives him the severest heartburns.

The hotel software market is full of options, and each vendor claims his software is the best. However investing in the right hotel software is a complex task and most hotels spend months deliberating on their investment. Unfortunately, hoteliers excel at their core skill, delivering to guests a world-class hospitality experience, and sometimes get ‘talked’ into making a wrong decision on the software they adopt.

How does your hotel ensure it is making the right decision when it invests in hotel software? Here are a few pointers that can help you get started: –

  • How Many Modules Will Your New Hotel Software Offer?

If your hotel already uses a software and are considering an upgrade, ensure the new software automates all the processes your old software does, and more. An important question to ask would be the number of modules your new hotel software will offer. Many times, a software vendor could simply be offering you a Front Office Module. This means, you will have to additionally invest in purchasing, licensing and maintaining the back-end modules. This could turn into an expensive investment. An ideal scenario is when the vendor offers you a comprehensive property management system with both the Front Office and Back Office modules, fully integrated. There are broadly two types of integration – internal and external. This is explained below.

  • Does Your New Property Management System have Third Party Products Merged into it?

A comprehensive property management system is both time consuming and expensive to develop. Many software vendors acquire smaller companies and merge these third party products to make up their property management system. These software products may have integration issues, and can become major hurdles for your staff when they use the modules. Numerous integrations also means you could spend long hours networking and interacting with multiple vendors. Check with your provider that the software has all been developed by them, is well tested and is being used by hotels similar to yours.

 

  • Is Your Hotel Software Compatible with Third Party Software?

All hotel property management systems need to integrate with a host of third party hardware and software. This may include a credit card payment gateway, door locking system, EPOS to name a few. Ensure the software you plan to adopt is compatible with other products. Review this list carefully to ensure the software you are buying is compatible with a large number of third party hardware, if not, this could get restrictive and influence your other partnerships.

  • Does Your Property Management System Help You Enhance Your Revenue?

Gone are the days when hotel software was simply a data storage and report generation tool. Today, hotel software has grown to do much more, such as, help hotel leverage the tremendous power of the internet, enable a hotel to manage channels, plug into solutions like a channel manager, revenue manager, online reputation manager, business intelligence tool and more.

Other points you may want to review about your potential software vendor is their experience in the industry, size of their presence, domain expertise developing niche hotel software and the quality of their post-sales support. This is especially important as your hotel runs a mission-critical operation. Apart from large vendors like Itesso and micros the market also has some innovative vendors like Prologic First who have been in the industry for over 15 years. They boast some robust hospitality centric products offering a complete hotel solution including back office and front office. They are also fully integrated with leading EPOS and channel manager systems which will make life easier to enter into business with them for any hotelier who is looking for less hassle.

The 5 Most Important Features of a Property Management System

By M Dave

Just as your guests need certain amenities like beds and showers; your hotel needs a Property Management System (PMS) with certain features and capabilities. A PMS is the centrepiece of technology at any hotel and represents a significant investment critical to everyday function. Its features and capabilities allow it to be just that. Here are five essential elements that every modern PMS should include:

  1. Flexibility – This is a broad, but important, element of a modern PMS. Hotel management today demands flexibility from its tools. Your PMS should be able to seamlessly adapt to changing business needs as quickly as they arise. Whether you need to adjust configuration, focus on a new market, or take your PMS mobile to bypass the front desk, your PMS should offer the flexibility to adapt to changes.
  2. Cloud or on-premise – From data security to data backups and beyond, the benefits of a cloud-based PMS are numerous. Whether you go with a privately-hosted solution or a system purpose-built to live in one of the public cloud providers, eliminating costly and complicated on-premise hardware is a win-win. However, for those properties that frequently experience connectivity challenges, it is essential to choose a PMS that offers offline capability or the option of on-premise installation.
  3. Interfaces – No property management system can function as an island. Modern hotels require multiple systems to manage every facet of their business and your PMS should be a central hub to communicate between all of the different systems. Ensure your PMS has real-time communication with all mission-critical applications to eliminate bottlenecks and discrepancies in data between systems that can lead to inaccurate information, poor customer response times and missed opportunities.
  4. Online Booking – Direct booking from your own website represents the most important growth channel for most properties. Reservations through your own website not only provide the best revenue opportunity, but also allow you to develop a closer relationship with the guest. Your PMS should be able to provide a seamlessly integrated online booking channel, preferably without commissions or per-booking fees.
  5. Easy to Use – A modern PMS should be easy to use with minimal training required for proficient use. Like today’s Smartphone and gaming system interfaces, your PMS should be walk-up-and-use simple for every user at your property. Even better if the PMS can distinguish between users by role or login and present to them the information they need most. Sophisticated systems simplify PMS use, guiding the user though their tasks and workflow without requiring lengthy training or memorization.

These features may seem simple, but without just one of them your PMS is not performing to its best potential for your hotel. Some great PMS in market that are worth considering on the budget end apart from the most common ones are mycloudhospitality (http://www.mycloudhospitality.com/) , WISH.NET (www.prologicfirst.com) and Guest line (www.guestline.com)