Web-based PMS Here To Stay

Any solution offered to the hotel industry has an unusually high standard. Hotels never close. Computers are used 24 hours a day.

Critical revenue points including point of sale and call accounting must be maximized. Multiple departmental computer systems linked to your property-management system must share data in real time. Inventory and rate information from your PMS must feed a brand and/or alternate distribution channels worldwide. Changing market conditions and competition demand dynamic updates in rate and inventory allocations to these systems. Attempting to manually manage all this is labor-intensive at a time when your property can least afford it.

Since web-based systems were introduced, they have been fighting to overcome technical hurdles to gain a competitive hold in this market. Similar challenges occurred during the transition from DOS- to Windows-based systems several years ago.

Enter the application service provider (ASP), offering the potential of a centrally housed application that can be upgraded and maintained with little involvement by the property.

A web-based PMS, or one maintained by a third party, is nothing new. For years some of the more forward-thinking, customer-centric PMS companies have been offering hosted ASP services. But mission-critical applications still must be maintained on site, with web-based services delivered from a remote location.

When choosing a web-based PMS partner, consider the following:

  • Make sure the system was built from the ground up and was originally intended as a web-based system. This is critical because opportunities for integration and interfaces can be challenging in a system not open to reconfiguration.

  • The architecture and tools used should allow for enforcing security now and in the future. One advantage of the Microsoft .Net suite is that Microsoft is committed to driving these standards into the products. This ensures that due diligence is being performed to protect your data as it travels the information highway.

  • Make sure the advantages you are looking for exist in the system you are considering; if your goal is to manage your software and data at a central location and provide real-time program updates, make sure these benefits are included.

  • Your system should make the best use of the available network bandwidth. Too many round trips to the remote server could leave your desk clerks waiting for a screen to resolve while a guest is waiting.

  • Insure your choice has a method for servicing the plethora of connectivity and room distribution channels available to your property. Also, a system that is down for servicing or technical reasons is not updating these channels with critical inventory and rate information — to which millions of hotel customers have instant access.

  • The system should be backed by solid, reliable 24/7 support.

  • To secure the greatest number of future options, find out if the company you choose has working OTA-compliant interfaces that will help you connect to brands and alternate distribution channels. The business relationships developed by the firm that will provide your technology also are important. Considerations of a brand change or becoming an independent property should also be part of your technology decision. Will you have to replace your PMS in such a decision?

Web-based technology got off to a bumpy start in the hotel business. However, its advantages and improvements have caused forward-looking chains and management companies to push for solutions that incorporate at least some of its benefits.

Many of these features and benefits are only now being realized; only the imagination limits the possibility of and opportunity to be connected not only with a service provider but also with all alternate distribution channels. Bet on it: If you are in the hotel industry, there is a web-based property-management system in your future.

Rick Munson is president and CEO of Phoenix-based Multi-Systems Inc., a supplier of ASP hotell technology and web-based property-management systems, with an installed base of more than 2,800 sites in North America. Call him at 800-331-7890 or e-mail rick.munson@msisolutions.com.

SYSTEMS INTEGRATION/DATA MANAGEMENT
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