PMS Gets a Thumbs Up

The new generation of hotel guests uses cell phones for text messaging, emailing and — on occasion — making phone calls. People shop for rates, make inquiries and book rooms and packages over the Internet. That's why operators with the best online services enjoy the spoils.

According to a study by Jupiter Research, online travel spending will grow from $85 billion in 2006 to $128 billion by 2011. Studies also show that 58 percent of travel planning (leisure and corporate) is already conducted electronically.

Hotel and resort operators need up-to-date online tools to engage text messagers and motivate them to book while their thumbs are hot. By leveraging their property management solution to increase online revenue, hoteliers can increase revenue and productivity while promoting personalized service.

“The future is total online guest service where properties can provide room, spa appointments, dining reservations, tee times and other scheduling on one screen,” says Warren Dehan, president of NORTHWIND-Maestro. “Guests want to reserve dinner and other services so there's no on-property guesswork.” The ability to do this while making reservations keeps guests and their revenue on property.

NORTHWIND's ResWave system lets guests book and customize their vacations. It also enables group rooming-list management, and oversees shares and other booking details. Guests can create dynamic packages and itineraries rather than having to accept one-size-fits-all packages. The Internet impacts the industry in other ways, too.

Social media sites like TripAdvisor and Virtual Tourist are shaking up the status quo. The abundance of “citizen journalism” focused on hotels makes it critical operators understand what guests think about their properties and what guests want from their visit.

Robert Pauselli, director of information systems at Taboo Resort, Golf & Spa, a lakefront property in Ontario, says the property replaced its old system with the Maestro PMS about eight years ago.

The decision to go with Maestro was based on the ability to mine guest-history data with user-friendly reports; to offer real-time, Web-based reservations for up-to-the-minute availability; and to receive robust yield management to maximize revenue.

But Pauselli says what continues to sell him on Maestro is support, support and support. For example, when a new employee needs training he can watch a recorded webinar or participate in a live program — at no cost to the resort. That's important because the resort's staff fluctuates from 25 or 30 to over 500, depending on the season.

“When I call Maestro, any time of the day or night, I get a call back,” says Pauselli. “And my staff knows if they can't get hold of me to call Maestro directly.”

From Pauselli's office, he can throw a stone and hit the lake … but PMS support seems closer still.

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