This article is part one of a three-part series on cloud-based property management systems. Look to Thursday's Technology News for part two.
Cloud-based property management systems can not only simplify hotel operations for hoteliers but save quite a bit in infrastructure hardware and maintenance costs, as well.
Hospitality management company Charlestowne Hotels has three hotels in the Charleston, S.C., area that have made the switch to a cloud-based PMS, with another currently under construction that also will use the same system.
Gavin Philipp, regional director of operations, said the cloud has simplified systems immensely. “From an IT infrastructure standpoint, we don’t have to manage IT on-site on a daily basis,” he said. “We can do everything remotely—backups and all.”
Michael Manuel, GM of the Point Pleasant Lodge in Halifax, Nova Scotia, started the cloud-conversion process for his hotel in 2005. Point Pleasant Lodge is a privately owned and operated, not-for-profit specialty hotel, exclusively for people undertaking medical-related travel in the Halifax area. Since the hotel is not-for-profit, Manuel said he likes to leverage technologies and business offerings to provide the best service and cost to his guests.
“When we saw the expenditures to upkeep multiple servers and when a dedicated IT person is overkill for our one property, cloud PMS was a great answer,” he said. “We were able to transfer the initial capital costs, maintenance costs and keep everything healthy in the ever-evolving IT environment. When we can transfer PMS to a specialist whose sole function is this, it gives us great leverage.”
As the hotel’s life cycles would come up on hardware, Manuel went to suppliers who had cloud-based offerings. In addition to switching to a cloud-based PMS, the hotel also has switched to cloud accounting software. “We have had very little problems with it,” he said. “The offerings are very dynamic and ever-changing, and cross-platform usability and functionality are great. And we don’t have to worry about maintenance every night.”
One important thing to consider when switching to a cloud-based PMS, both Manuel and Philipp said, is to make sure the property’s Internet is very robust. But PMS providers will suggest and make sure the bandwidth is appropriate for the PMS solution, Philipp said. “Web-based solutions can take up a lot of bandwidth,” he said. “Maybe pages refresh a little slower than if we had servers on-site but [it was] not an issue for us at all.”
PCI-compliance, credit card security and guest information security have always been a priority for hotels, but neither Manuel nor Philipp was concerned with the move to the cloud.
“Our checklist showed us increasing data security—it is far more robust than a hotel of our size could normally afford as a small business,” Manuel said. “All of the advantages far outweighed any risks with moving to the cloud.”