On October 21st, we had the pleasure to conduct a webinar co-hosted with our partner InnLink. The topic was: Why Hotel Operators Should Move to the Cloud – Pros and Cons of the Cloud for hoteliers.
Why should we move to the Cloud? What are the advantages and drawbacks? Is moving to the Cloud a good thing for my property?
These are questions often asked by hoteliers considering the adoption of a Cloud-based system.
Obviously moving to the Cloud is not an easy decision to take if your hotel has been using a desktop-based Property Management System for years and it can be scary. We consequently wished to help properties answering these questions and empower them with more information to help them in their decision-making process.
The speaker was Thomas Lyle, CEO and Cofounder of our company. Prior to Frontdesk Anywhere, he spent years of working in the travel industry for an airline, cruise line, and travel agency and then later in high-tech building Web applications for Silicon Valley Start-ups.
Here is a wrap-up of this webinar:
What is the Cloud?
The Cloud can seem obscure for hoteliers and it makes sense. Our goal at the beginning of the session was to demystify the Cloud and provide the audience with the most comprehensive definition we could find:
The Cloud (or SaaS) is a network of servers allowing online access to services.
Knowing the technologic details of how it works is challenging. However, the thing to know is that Cloud-based services will be more and more used in the future. These figures can help you understand the importance of the Cloud:
- Cloud spending will increase by 25% in 2014, reaching over $100 billion
- 3.6 Billion Internet users are projected to access Cloud computing services by 2018
It’s half of the worldwide population!
Another important thing is to beware of the false Cloud. When a user doesn’t know a lot about Cloud-based services, it can be difficult to distinguish the fake systems from the right ones. If a vendor tells you that you need to download an application to use their services, this should raise your suspicion. Indeed, one of the main characteristics of the Cloud-based PMS is that you can access it via a web browser. Users only need an Internet connection.
What are the issues of Cloud-based PMS?
Many hotels ask this question. The common issues of Cloud-based hotel management software are the Internet connection and the access from home for staff. A reliable Internet connection is important to use a web-based platform and a backup is sometimes recommended if the connection is not very good.
On the other hand, the property staff can access from anywhere and it’s a new thing to think about for hotel managers who are not always comfortable with this idea. However, if it’s an issue, the access can be restricted.
What are the pros & cons of moving to the Cloud?
There are key factors to consider when moving to the Cloud. You can use the criteria we listed as a checklist while choosing a PMS. You will be more at ease in the transition.
The desktop-based PMS requires a large initial expenditure, the user has often to pay for the upgrades and ongoing maintenance is needed. With a Cloud-based system typically the maintenance is included, the upgrades are free and payment is on a pay-per-use monthly basis.
A desktop-based software enables the user to work offline if the Internet connection is interrupted. Data are secured by the hotel and the IT technician is often an additional expense. With the Cloud-based system, the provider is in charge of securing your data and maintenance is included.
- Flexibility and Easiness
Installed software can’t be used on mobile devices and are accessible from one computer only. There are often a multiple device fees. The training period tend to be lengthy. The more complex the system is, the more training is needed. Sometimes one-month training is required to use an installed software.
On the contrary, a cloud-based software can be operated in one-hour training. It’s particularly important if the hotel has a high staff turnover. These systems are more flexible as the staff can for instance work with an Ipad. A housekeeper can go around in the hotel, edit the housekeeping status and updates are automatically synchronized with the front office.
With the desktop-based system, a hotel might have multiple systems to run the property. He will have to pay for custom features, however, the system is feature-rich. The cloud-based PMS are often an all in one platform, are constantly improved and have a compact feature set. It’s important to identify what your business needs. Sometimes you don’t need all the features provided by installed software.
What does the Cloud mean for hotels?
Thanks to the Cloud the new generations of PMS became online ecosystems. They don’t only include PMS features and channel management services but also provide users with extra services integrating third parties services like a Guest Relationship Management System or a Point of Sale system. Doing that before the Cloud was very challenging.
Connecting other services enables hotels to:
- Free their time and delight guests
- Focus on guests and not IT
- Sell online and manage multiple vendors
- Capture incremental revenue opportunities
How is the Cloud applied to online distribution?
Channel management is complex. If a hotel sells inventory online through many channels such as Online Travel Agencies, it takes time to update each channel. The Cloud put these channels altogether. There is a two-way connection with the Global Distribution Systems (GDS) and the OTAs enabling the hotel to:
- Automatically update all the channels
- Provide availability and rates in real time
- Avoid overbooking situations
We warmly thank our audience for attending the webinar!
To view the presentation on InnLink’s YouTube channel anytime click here.