Guest Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)
By Michael Waddell Managing Director, INTEGRITYOne Partners | September 02, 2010
Put yourself in your guest's shoes. You enter the lobby, approach the front desk, and state your reason for being there (you're checking in, requesting an early room cleaning, etc.). The staff member behind the desk acknowledges your request and immediately begins working on a computer terminal to address it. You, the guest, are not the least bit surprised that information technology (IT) is used to support guest service. Yet many hospitality companies insist on segregating their guest service and other business functions from their information technology initiatives. Any disconnect between a hotel's technology and its business processes is likely to create a gap between the level of guest service intended and the level actually provided.
Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is a popular concept in IT today, and with good reason. The paradigm of SOA enables the intersection of technology and business processes: to ensure that IT directly supports the business's most vital functions. In the world of hospitality, this means connecting IT to guest service. We call it Guest Service-Oriented Architecture.
SOA and the Hospitality Business
In general, the landscape of IT and business is rapidly changing, and it's no different in the hospitality business. SOA is providing hospitality and other businesses with a conduit for exposing existing beneficial business processes and enabling rapid reuse of existing business services that can share IT infrastructure. For example, guest identification data must be collected, stored, and processed similarly whether the guest is requesting a sleeping room, coordinating a banquet event, scheduling a tee time, or arranging for spa services.
SOA is a conscious effort to develop reusable components that represent discrete business functions. These components are considered "services," which can be used with other services to make new complex business processes. So a guest identification service can be used by the front desk, but also by the banquet sales office, the golf course, and the spa manager.
This is a major shift in mindset from typical IT development projects because service development requires the development teams to consider future customers as well as existing customers. No longer is it acceptable to create "stovepipe" applications. Rather, service exposure should be considered during design to enable future growth to unknown processes and consumers.