PMS integration is a challenge of cooperation

This article is part three of a three-part series on cloud-based property management systems.

As network solutions for PMS have matured, the technical challenges of integration have been surpassed by the challenge of getting multiple parties in the industry to cooperate, said Warren Dehan, president of hospitality software company Northwind-Maestro.

“If you look at Hotel Technology Next Generation [HTNG] as an organization, we’d have on the phone with us 12 or 15 different people from 12 or 15 different vendors, each with their own system, and their own interest in having a competitive advantage,” said Dehan.

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Often developing a standard involves revealing plans for upcoming PMS capabilities, Dehan said. “Some of the intellectual property that’s generally protected by nondisclosure agreements between two parties basically becomes public knowledge, so you could lose some of your competitive advantage by working cooperatively,” Dehan said. At the same time, most PMS work similarly, so it is unlikely that any given PMS will be so far ahead as to make cooperation untenable.

Cooperation is also important between a PMS supplier and the hotel. “The biggest challenge is often managing people’s perceptions and expectations,” said Chris Donahue, senior product manager for specialty and integration at hospitality systems and service solutions company PAR Springer Miller. “Hoteliers for the most part know about HTNG now, and it brings the perception that integration should be plug-and-play. From our experience, that’s not the typical scenario.” Since systems on both sides of the integration might be implementing the standard slightly differently, the PMS and third-party vendors need to make adjustments.

Bringing hotels to the table at the organization level can also be a challenge. “If you look at the HTNG conference, I’d say about 80 percent of the people there are vendors, and 20 percent are hotels,” said Erik Weller, paradigm executive at hospitality software solutions company iTesso. “It should be a 50–50 split. I realize hotel companies are reluctant to spend money on it in times like these, because it’s not their core thing, but it doesn’t help in getting a widely adopted standard.”