Running a Hotel Remotely With a Cloud-Based PMS

By Larry Gorman Chief Technology Evangelist, SkyTouch Technology | January 08, 2017

It used to be that a General Manager was tied to the front desk in order to solve issues or keep track or manage a hotel. With a cloud-based PMS, a GM can technically run the hotel from anywhere on a phone or tablet. A 100% we-based system allows two way communication at the hotel, and management can stay informed on operations from anywhere.

The difference between cloud-based systems and server-based networks is as dramatic as the difference between an iPhone and a land-line. Traditional phones are like anchors—they’re tied to a specific place, your home or office. Remember the days before wireless technology? People living in the same home all shared the same phone number, and usually the same phone, making it difficult to have private conversations. Sure, families could compensate for this by installing multiple phone jacks in the house or putting long cords on the phones for better mobility, but they were still tethered to their house. Businesses didn’t have it much better, needing to install expensive telecomm equipment so individual offices and cubicles could have separate phone numbers.

Even then, if you weren’t at your desk, you couldn’t use the phone. The advent of cellular networks and smartphones changed all that, allowing us to communicate with whomever we need to, whenever we need to, wherever we are. Think of the capabilities smart phones provide that land-lines don’t. The ability to access video, pictures, instant messaging, and social networking enhances our communication abilities more than was possible ever before. So when mobile technology entered the marketplace, it was an obvious consumer choice. And now, cloud-based application providers are developing solutions to help hoteliers streamline business operations beyond simple property management.

Server-Based Vs. Cloud-Based PMS

Today, a hotel operator has options in selecting a property management system ( PMS ). The first decision in this selection process is whether to install a traditional premises-based PMS or to leverage the capabilities available through cloud computing and commit to a cloud-based PMS. A legacy PMS will require the hotel to have one or more servers on-site to support the system. There are still many operators that feel comfortable housing their PMS under their own roof, but this decision comes with a significant initial investment and ongoing operating costs and responsibilities.

A legacy PMS requires a secure on-site location with limited access, in addition to significant compliance requirements. There is ongoing maintenance and life cycle replacement for this equipment. Even PMS providers that modify their service “for the cloud” keep hotel owners tied to on-site network servers, require additional licensing, and still demand equipment life cycle replacement and ongoing upgrades—all costs that come out of the property owner’s pocket. Someone will need to support and monitor the equipment, such as a dedicated information technology person for larger hotels, while a smaller hotel may have to rely on contract resources to operate and maintain the equipment and assist in emergency situations.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.