Contributed by Estella Hale, V.P. of Product, SHR
As if the hotel industry weren’t tough enough, studies have come out this year from STR Global that predict an occupancy drop for the first time since the Recession of 2008, plus an easing of RevPAR. The main reason for this is the incredible volume of new hotels opening from the recovery of the construction industry. Sites like Kayak.com, for instance, are already reporting that average hotel prices in Las Vegas are down by 39% and New York City by 32%. The solution? It’s time for properties to take better control of their hotel software stacks, in particular, their Property Management System (PMS), Central Reservation System (CRS), and Revenue Optimization (RO) system.
SHR recently participated in a StayNTouch-hosted webinar featuring Jos Schaap, their founder and CEO, Ellis Connolly, VP of Hospitality Sales for Rainmaker Group, and myself, dedicated to demystifying and optimizing the PMS, CRS, and RO relationship to every hotel’s best advantage. What follows are some highlights and key takeaways from our discussion.
Jos started things off by discussing how to position the PMS as a hub to maximize connectivity of all technology solutions. Connecting seamlessly to the CRS is vital to ensure that hotels are managing rates and reservations to maximize room sells. A CRS with extensive reach to OTAs and major GDSs is the key here. The PMS should also be leveraging the power of Revenue Optimization. Jos explained that the old PMSs were built to solely support operations, while the new PMSs are now built to drive guest engagement and revenue. The new PMS companies focus on being best-of-breed for in-house operations and are built on open structures so that they can easily integrate with other best-of-breed third-party software via APIs. Change is good, so we need to re-examine the core hotel software systems with fresh eyes so we don’t inadvertently leave money on the table.
I picked up the conversation for SHR, discussing how to interface the CRS with the PMS/RO to maximize distribution. To demystify the system, it’s important to look at what the PMS and CRS interfaces are saying to each other, and what they are communicating to the RO. We need to ensure clean distribution by making sure that the direct booking engine, a definite priority, is customizable within the CRS to differentiate our hotels in their individual marketplaces. For call centers, we should be able to channel specific offers via the CRS. In addition, regularly looking at our websites and booking through our guests’ eyes can help put ourselves in their places as we go through the systems as they would, allowing us to then adjust as needed. Remember, a system is only as good as the information put into it—and only as good as the PMS/CRS/RO integration strategy.
Ellis kicked off the RO portion of our talk by reminding us that we need to master complexity by simplifying complicated processes and streamlining our interactions with all our stakeholders. We also need to deliver certainty in our systems by capturing, consolidating, and validating market data for better decision making. This is important, for only then will we be able to provide a measure of control and enjoy the transparency we have created across our portfolios, helping to ensure that we meet our targets more often. He went on to remind us that time is one of our most valued assets as hoteliers, so we need to use it wisely when it comes to technology data by not being afraid to automate our RO. Ellis also explained that with the more complex world of data hoteliers are encountering now, it’s more important than ever to ensure that PMS data Is not collecting what he called “Digital Dust,” as hoteliers need accurate data and superior interfaces to deliver the information, insights, and support needed to make good revenue decisions, faster.