Hospitality technology will only succeed when it comes to providing insightful guest data through hotel system integration.
It’s become commonplace for there to be several different hotel systems by various hotel technology vendors and software developers running at a single property. Such a reality means that many hotels have a fragmented back-end environment that can be overwhelming and frustrating. It also allows potentially useful data to be lost or overlooked rather than leveraged with a single view capability. The solution is the prioritization of hotel system integration.
Todd Hotaling, Vice President of Revenue and Marketing at Lodging Hospitality Management, said, “Looking ahead, I think the major issue will be obtaining key guest information and having the ability to dissect and present it. Since various systems are used in the total process of booking a reservation, some key data such as time of reservation, sub-channels, and event guest preferences can fall off once it gets into a PMS.”
A hospitality industry vice president of revenue strategy and distribution was quoted in a recent report as saying, “Our systems very much hinder our efforts today to provide a personalized experience. We have a hard time welcoming a guest back. We can sometimes identify someone who has been to the same property again, but because of the separate property management systems, it’s hard to identify guests across properties.”
Developments in hotel technology are making it more of a reality for the hospitality industry to benefit from a collection of operational and guest data, but this depends on the ability of enterprise software providers to enable hotel system integration across the board.
“Our systems very much hinder our efforts today to provide a personalized experience.”
The benefits of system integration go beyond improved transfer of guest data, too.
Having information automatically communicated between systems means it won’t have to be done manually by hotel staff, which increases efficiency and reduces possible errors. Hotel management can also reduce the number of paper tickets that need to be kept track of and updated by storing information electronically. Improvements can also be made the
The hotel Property Management System (PMS) is a key component of hotel system integration. An interface between the hotel PMS and other systems is critical because it allows for verification of guest identity, status, and room number.
Another key hotel system integration is with the Point-of-Sale (POS) system. It results in a more streamlined SOP when it comes to charging guests for onsite purchases and updating the guest folio. Few things are more annoying to a guest than incorrect charges to their folio, and automating the process of keeping track of this information can result in increased accuracy.
Guest relationship management software has been identified as the third most commonly used hotel management system and, as such, should also be considered during the hotel system integration conversation. The fact that this software is guest-facing and is used by guests to input such large and varied amounts of information makes it necessary that this type of system be connected with all others to amplify the benefits of collecting guest service, satisfaction and engagement data.
Still, there are a number of issues that still stand between the hospitality industry and total hotel system integration:
- Differences between legacy and modern version of systems
- Lack of unified standards between systems
- Integration between Cloud-based and on-premises systems
- Insufficient hotel information technology support staff
Douglas C. Rice, Founder and CEO Emeritus of Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG), said, “Systems also need to expose data and core processes through easily accessible Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The days of systems that insist on initiating a particular process only through its own user interfaces are history. A PMS needs to be able to check-in a guest, but it also needs to expose that check-in process to mobile apps, kiosks, websites, and other systems.”
Hotel system integration should be part of the discussion between hoteliers and hotel technology providers before implementation. Integration can often be a complex topic and ensuring that a selected technology vendor understands the significance of seamless communication between all property systems can improve the overall experience.
Mark Pate, Assistant Controller and IT Director at Highpointe Hotel Corporation, said, “We’re dedicating more time and resources to complete [system integration] projects. It is very easy to hit a hurdle, get off track and then never finish the initial plan. We partner with vendors that specialize in system integration.”
Rice also added that mobile is changing the nature of hotel system integration by “forcing a decoupling of business logic from the user interface.”
“The nature of integration changes dramatically when consumers start accessing your system through a [hotel] mobile app that might do a hundred other things that you don’t do,” Rice said.
INTELITY offers more integrations between guest service technology, both on mobile and in-room devices, and other hotel systems than any other company in the world. For more information about how guest service and engagement technology can integrate with other hotel systems to enhance hotel guest data strategy, visit our website.