In the last few years, the hospitality industry has seen a definite shift toward acceptance of cloud-based technology. As the industry moves above property, more cloud PMS solutions are being offered, many of which have features and functionality once found only in expensive, iconic systems. Hotels and resorts are no longer asking if they should move to the cloud, but rather how they should move to the cloud.
One of the advantages of cloud-based technology is a reduction in costs. A premise-based system is a major capital expenditure, typically requiring a dedicated server. Then, there are the software licensing fees, installation and training expenses, and ongoing maintenance costs. With a cloud-based system, no costly hardware is needed. As for technical maintenance, it's usually provided by the vendor. The pricing structure, which is typically based on a subscription model, is often attractive because it enables properties to treat the technology as an operational expense rather than a large, up-front investment. As for support and training, many vendors offer 24/7 phone and email support, live chats, video tutorials, social media support and even on-site training for little to no extra cost.
Cloud-based PMS Deployment Guidelines:
- Consider either hiring in-house technical talent or a third-party to provide guidance and ensure the contract with the cloud provider includes an SLA and indemnification that protects the business, as well as its guests and investors.
- Research providers that offer a multi-layered security protocol, which provides more failsafe measures that enhance the overall security of the property and its guests.
- Find a cloud PMS that removes liability from the hotel by using tokenization for payment processing security.
- Take the time to validate the security of cloud providers. Cloud-based data centers should be tested and audited regularly to meet certain standards (e.g. PCI, HIPPA, COBIT, ITIL, etc.) adopted by your business.
- Even though there are powerful encryptions that most reputable cloud providers use to protect data, don’t expect the service provider to handle the company’s compliance and governance responsibilities.
Caution: Not all PMS technologies are the same
For properties with limited IT resources, off-the-shelf cloud property management solutions may look appealing. But a word of warning: some platforms advertised as cloud-based still run on a local server and require nightly updates to the cloud. These solutions don’t take advantage of some of the biggest benefits of cloud computing: real-time data and mobility.
Integrations: What’s Most Important
Operators should be planning PMS integrations that support the expectations of their existing and next-generation guests. The top three integrations that will help drive revenue and operational efficiency include:
- A reservation booking engine
There’s a lot of discussion about how well the consumer can find a given property in a sea of heavy competition and, equally important, how easy it is to make a reservation at that property. Just as no business can thrive today without a strong web presence, hoteliers who leverage the capabilities of a booking engine on their web provide a straightforward experience for the prospective guest. Without it, businesses would be losing out on bookings, and relying solely on costly OTAs to gain bookings.
- Point-of-sale (POS)
As more hotels and resorts are expanding their guest amenities and services, a POS is an ideal solution that eliminates potential for human errors which occur with outdated sales processing and manual reporting. A POS typically includes real-time revenue processing and reporting that captures revenue from hotel booking, in-room purchases, retail sales, online purchases and more. In terms of providing more holistic, personalized guest experience, servers are learning how often the guest has been at the property, what they purchased in the past and even the guest’s past reviews by combining loyalty and POS transaction history.
Embracing mobility unlocks new sales opportunities. No longer bound by the location of stationary terminals, hotels and resorts are using mobile POS to provide more expansive concessions near special events, more services in under-served areas of their properties, and food and beverage at less convenient, but high traffic locations. Technology is finally catching up and there’s never been a better time to augment staff productivity and increase revenue with the addition of mobility in various workflows.
Although migrating to a cloud-based system is not without challenges, many properties are pleased to discover that the process is surprisingly straightforward. Point-of-sale and property management systems perform particularly well in the cloud, and the benefits of migrating typically outweigh any short-term inconvenience.