From computer spreadsheets to cloud, technology has transformed the functioning of the hotel industry, and multi-property hotel chains are no exceptions. Although hotel chains are currently split between using legacy and cloud based property management systems, what remains constant is that the key to efficient functioning of the system lies with the IT department. Since this department plays a paramount role in information management and day-to-day operations, there are 4 major aspects that IT managers of multi property groups should consider when handling a property management system:
1. Security of Information:
Security of the Guest: A guest’s most critical piece of information that can be at risk would be the details of the credit card as it is used for every transaction during the stay – for room booking, at the restaurant, while availing spa services and more. Information theft can occur from internal sources, like the employees as well as external sources, which could be computer hacks and malicious software. It is the onus of the IT team to ensure that the guest’s valuable information stays encrypted and protected. A lot, including the hotel’s reputation, is at stake if the guest’s information is not safeguarded. The system should also be capable of retrieving important data in case of data loss during unforeseen circumstances.
Security of the Hotel: The IT team is also responsible for handling the company’s sensitive information like the financials, rate packages and more, which is also prone to internal and external security threat.
It becomes important for the IT team to create a hard-to-crack, secure environment and have privacy measures in check.
2. Cost Effectiveness: It is imperative for the multi property group’s IT manager to review the cost competency of the system from time to time and explore measures that could reduce costs while increasing efficiencies for the hotel chains. Some areas of review could be:
– Are time and money required for maintenance of hardware and upgrading of the software?
– Are there costs involved in integrating with third party systems like travel agents, corporates and more?
– Would there be additional manpower costs in training newcomers to handle the system?
If the answers to these queries are not simple, it is time to relook at the existing property management system.
3. Integration & Scalability: For multi property groups, the IT dynamics are different as it involves scaling up to a business that is growing quickly, with new services being added to different properties constantly. The property management system needs to be capable of integrating disparate systems – from adding a payment gateway, supporting a travel desk to configuring the system to incorporate a spa service. The system should be flexible to scale up to new business demands, without adding to the costs or too many configuration changes. The role of the IT team lies in simplifying the system to make transitions and inclusions as smoothly as possible.
4. Ease of Accessibility: It is the age of mobility and it is not just travelers who are connected to the internet via their smartphone or tablet; it is also the hotel owners and managers, especially multi property group management team who frequently travel from one property to another. In such a scenario, the property management system should be able to provide accessibility to all sections of the property management system which includes important reports, rate packages among others, from any location instead of relying on email or calls. It is important that your property management system is easy to access on the move and provides automated reports for quick analysis.
It becomes pertinent for the decision makers in the IT team to consider these aspects to help the hotel’s management make a clear decision. IT teams are increasingly warming up to the concept of cloud based property management systems as it is playing an important role in simplifying operations and reducing costs in the hotel industry. 2013 saw some of the biggest names in the hospitality sector make a switch to cloud based hotel management systems as they come with an inherent advantage over proprietary systems, to provide simple solutions and increase efficiencies."4 Things the IT Team of Every Multi Property Group Should Consider",