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With the increase of number of Private Airlines and tourism infrastructures are getting better;
more and more hotels are opening up, and are trying their best to provide best possible customer
service and experience.

This is primary achievement by aligning hotel business plan with the right type of technology.

In terms of PMS-µProperty Management System¶ Hotels are migrating from DOS/Clipper based
µFidelio¶ to robust Oracle based software ±µOpera¶. Most of the hotels have either migrated from
Fidelio version 6.x to Opera or have schedule to upgrade it. Micros-Fidelio will be putting a stop
to any further enhancement and development of their DOS based Hospitality Solutions.

Opera doesn¶t crash like Fidelio version 6.x. In older version major issues was database
maintenance. It required frequent maintenance (regular database indexing). System shutdown
becomes the need of the hour even during peak operational hours if Fidelio hangs. Such system
maintenance issues are reduced to a greater extent in Opera due to the robust oracle database.

Again unlike Fidelio at night during µNight Audit¶ operations in Opera application doesn¶t
require the system operations to be called to a halt. MICROS Systems¶ Opera Hotel Edition is a
very strong and stable PMS. It is a full-featured, Oracle-based, integrated, web enabled, scalable
suite of products. Developed around the industry acclaimed Oracle relational database
management system, speed, reliability, functionality and ease of use are built into Opera¶s
design. Oracle is the versatile data management platform which can support customers with very
large database requirements and high transaction volumes. Hotel Management software
companies takes advantage of the features of Microsoft Windows, Oracle, and Internet
technologies, in the passing of information or the centralization of the platform solutions.

With the Hospitality Industry high on the Industry scale every hotel is now intent on gaining the
maximum. Where earlier the focus was on selling rooms the same is now shifted to
maximization of room yield. Guest room is a perishable commodity. Arriving at a potential value
of room when in demand is an art. Most deluxe hotels deploy µRevenue enhancement\Yield
Management application. Keeping the manual track of a bulk room inventory, looking at the
future booking trends and calculating the potential room rate manually is too tedious a task.

This job is eased by µRevenue enhancement\Yield Management application as systems looks into
current bookings, past history, future booking trends and various events (repetitive and non
repetitive in nature) to calculate the best possible rate at which a guest room can be sold. It also
prompts the best choice to be picked up from the bucket of market segments to maximizing
revenue i.e.-whether to accept a group reservation or accept µFIT¶-µFree Individual Traveler¶
booking in a given scenario.

Few years ago air travel was a luxury. Today with the application of yield management various
Airlines in India are able to offer best rates to passengers depending on the current load and
increase their PLF (Passenger load factor) creating a win-win situation for both the Airline and
the Customer. Many private Airlines have started concept of e-ticketing and advance seat
booking.

Websites like expedia.com, makemytrip.com, Yatra.com and Travelguru.com have helped


customer plan holidays / business trips within a set budget as they can take advantage of buying
tickets available at the lowest fare directly without the involvement of an agent.

Similarly hotel room booking and various other travel-tourism related services could be booked
by a customer on-line at the best available rate. Advance IT software and systems make it
possible for many agents and operators to provide a bouquet of complete services- i.e. from
Airline ticket booking, airport pick and drop to Hotel room booking along with sightseeing at
very nominal rates due to consolidation and integration of all travel and tourism related services
using various software¶s and booking engines interface. Due to this integration, booking engines
are empowered to great deals to customers online.

This has resulted in the increase of Indians traveling abroad. Surprisingly statistics shows that
more Indians are traveling abroad than the number of foreigners that visit our country. Advanced
reservations systems like CRS (Worldspan, Amadeus, Galileo and Sabre) have helped guests to
book hotels and other services directly at appropriate rates. GDS Connectivity has helped hotel
companies to display the true rate and availability of a hotel on the initial hotel availability
screen (the shopping display when more than one hotel is available in the requested destination).
Competitive feedback has shown that Hotel brands have benefited from incremental revenue,
supported by industry feedback that agents prefer to book hotel chains that comply with this
enhanced Seamless Next Generation of technical connectivity.

From the origin of hospitality a customer is always considered a king. Retaining business and
loyal customer is a real challenge for hotel and tourism industry. Storing details of customer
preferences (likes and dislikes) into the system enables customized services which in turn helps
hotels in retaining guest and up selling. PMS, POS, data ware housing and data mining tools play
an important role in this area. Most of the hotels and airlines use these tools to provide services
that go beyond the guest expectations. This also helps hotel sales and marketing/Revenue
Managers to analyze crucial business data for loss of room nights by a particular company.

To improve operations and record guest feedback hotels deploy µHotel communication system¶.
In this application all guest calls are recorded. This helps the Hotel management to know the key
repetitive issues and challenges that are required to be addressed. This system also helps hotels to
measure the productivity of employees for employee recognition programs.

Internet facility has become a vital factor for the guest in the selection of hotel for his/her stay.
Wi-Fi (short for µwireless-fidelity¶) is no more a Greek word. Wi-Fi is the popular term for a
high-frequency wireless local area network (WLAN). Many airports, hotels, and fast-food
facilities now offer public access to a Wi-Fi network; these are known as hotspots. Although
many charge a daily or hourly rate for access, some are free.

Most of the hotels have started providing both wireless and wired Internet services in guest
rooms and public areas which is also known as µBroadband¶ or µHSIA¶±High-speed Internet
Access¶. With the availability of Broadband, a guest is able to browse at a much faster speed and
download files in a short span of time. In comparison Broadband is definitely 4 times faster than
dialup connection. WI-FI offers freedom from wires. 802.11X protocol has become a common
feature. 90% of guest carry WI-FI enabled latest laptops which are also known as µCentrino¶
Laptops. Configuration of external PCMCIA card to enable µWi-Fi ¶-wireless in non-Centrino
laptop is a challenge for most of the IT department of the hotel. Installation of this card
occasionally takes lot of time encroaching on guest¶s privacy.

Most of the deluxe hotels in India have 512 KPBS to 4 MBPS Internet speed connections. This
overall is a good Internet speed but falls short of satisfying a guest from the western countries
who enjoy faster speed in their countries due to cheaper cost of bandwidth achieved by available
Infrastructure. Some hotels have started offering bandwidth as per guest demand at an extra cost.

This is done with the help of a managed µnetwork switch¶ in which port-based output can be
defined. Like car rental WI-FI has become a major source of revenue for the hotels. Five years
back usage of High speed Internet (wired or wireless) was minimal. Today most of the business
travelers carry laptop and the number is on the increase. Increased usage of Internet usage has its
own share of complaints like- weak signal, no signal, unable to connect and frequent
disconnection. To arrest complaints like these most of the hotels are in the process of upgrading
their Internet services with respect to better speed, coverage and connectivity.

Looking at this new source of revenue most of the deluxe Hotels have started providing 24 x 7
µTechnology Butler¶ or online "e-butler" service to assist guest pro-actively with the Internet and
IT related services along with 24x7 multi-lingual toll free helpdesk for immediate specialist
assistance in case of any challenge faced during usage . Service providers such as µInter-Touch¶
provide remote network operation which monitors the status of all installed rooms 24x7x365;
fixing problems before it affect guests. Many business hotels abroad have started offering
Internet to the guest incorporating the cost in the room tariff.

In room entertainment\Hotel information-Unlike abroad Hotels in India are restricted by certain


laws to screen programs that according to the Indian culture would be considered objectionable
and hence µVideo on demand¶ service is not successful in India.

Plasma interactive televisions have though helped hotels in marketing their services. It fulfills
guest¶s business and recreational needs. It also offers additional services like express check out,
details about city, tourist spots, shopping venues etc. Various applications loaded on a common
server which connects to µset-top of box in the guest room offers additional multifunctional
entertainment functions like Games, Music on demand and guest can also listen to FM radio of
the country he belongs to or to international radio channels etc. Guests who don¶t carry laptop
and like to browse Internet from their respective room can browse on these interactive TV with
the help of cordless (infrared) keyboard.

The only draw back with this is that guest cannot download or copy information on to his
personal data device (USB drive or external pocket hard disk). Interactive TV also offers features
like-Alarm Clock, View Bills on line, Connect Laptop with the TV, Check-out from the room
and others. Its film library permits guest to view a movie anytime with very good picture quality
and music library allows the guest to access most of the music tracks. µDigital Video recorders¶
helps guest to watch favorite program in case he missed it due to any prior engagement.

Interactive TV needs infrastructure of Cat 5/6 network cabling in the room. It combines
functions of both of television and PC to provide one solution.

µInformation Kiosk¶ available in many hotel lobbies and public areas also act as a great
marketing tool. Hotels have started marketing various products and services they offer via it for
example details of various µmulti cuisines restaurants¶ available in the hotel, ongoing
promotions, spa facilities and other various services i.e. Airport pickup and drop timings and list
of functions happening in the hotel etc. Other than hotel information it can also be configured to
display useful city information e.g. shopping venues, distance of various landmarks from the
hotel, major events happening in the city, tourist spots etc.

µBanquet function display screen¶-Many hotels have started keeping attractive screen before
Banquet pre function area, which is interfaced with hotel Sales and catering application from
which it directly picks up±µEvents-Functions of the day¶.

RFID ±In India Hoteliers have not adopted µRadio frequency identification¶ Technology. Firstly
the cost of RFID tag is expensive and further the software that captures data (known as Middle
ware) is very expensive. RFID technology can help hotel to trace VIP and guest who have higher
spending power. RFID tag can track the complete guest profile provided if guest keeps µRFID
tag¶ in his valet, which is provided to him by the hotel for availing discounts etc. Identifying
guest and providing guest with services in accordance with his personal likes and dislikes can
help hotel in retaining guest.

As mentioned earlier recording guest likes and dislikes is an art and different international chains
meet this is in different manners. In few hotels designation of a µProfile Manager¶ exists. His job
role is to ensure that guest likes and dislikes are properly recorded in the system to go that extra
mile in serving guests according to his preferences. Besides the inability of Indian Hotels to
move to RFID technology, is their failure to advance from non-IP based telephone/EPABX to IP
based EPABX used by hotels abroad and telephone sets.

Another area where no advancement is seen is in the way Material departments operate.
Materials department to a greater extent abroad uses e-procurement systems. Unfortunately E-
procurement and supply chain management concept is not popular in our country.

Many hotels in India are concerned about µEnergy conservation¶. Hotels have installed various
µBuilding Management Systems¶ or µEngineering Management Systems¶ to conserve and save on
cost of energy. For example A.C. in banquets halls switches ON automatically one hour prior to
a banquet function start time and switches off automatically at a specified time.

Automatic water sprinklers installed in the guest room help hotels and safe guard property from
unlikely events like fire. Many hotels abroad have installed systems in the room which
disconnect electricity connection as most often guest forgets to switch off the television, AC and
other gadgets (Even though the same has come down with the Key card activation system). In
many Hotels the guest body motion sensing device controls the HVAC in the room.

Hotels abroad have started using many Web based±ASP applications which are accessed either
by using Hotel private secured WAN-µWide Area Network¶ or via Internet. These applications
are either located centrally in Hotel H.Q or maintained by third party service provider. This
central management way of operating the PMS software also gives the opportunity to maintain a
central reservation office.

For example one central office can take reservations across properties all over country/region
with skeletal staff at the property level. Abroad hotels use µCentral procurement systems¶. It
gives the advantage to the unit properties to get a better bargaining power with the volume of
business that can be generated for the properties across the country. Central data center of
hosting hotel management application for PMS, reservation, back office application, central
purchase etc are very common phenomenon abroad.

These concepts are not very common among Indian hoteliers. It is expected that this concept will
be surely adopted in the near future by deluxe hotel to save on cost though few International
hotel chains in India have taken a proactive measure to use Central shared systems concepts to
overall reduce cost of unit hotels.

Most of the deluxe chains have started their own or outsourced reservations. Today guest from
any where in India can dial a common toll free number for make booking instead of calling
respective property directly. This helps guest in accessing the central reservation office for room
booking.

Abroad hotels have started using PDA¶s in the restaurants, which make the F&B order taking
simpler and faster. This speed ups restaurant operations i.e. reduced delivery time of the ordered
food and also helps hotel management to keep tight F&B control. PDA¶s are also used for stores,
mini bar inventory stock take and for check-in of the guest right from the airport etc.

The odd part of IT in hotels is that Hotel industry world wide use various application for
different operational areas i.e. PMS, POS-µPoint of Sale¶, Spa Management, Sales and catering,
Yield Management, Back office and materials management application, Time attendance\Payroll
and data mining\reporting tools.

Most of these applications are separate and operate on different databases and platforms unlike
industries like production and FMCG where they use one database for their complete business
needs. Using different applications duplicates the job for reconciliation as at times figures don¶t
tally between different applications. There is a need of one application in hotel industry, which
can serve the purpose of all departments for better and faster extraction of business information
for business intelligence and MIS purpose.

It is sure that a day will come when hotels will swipe guest credit card for issuance of room key
and gain access to paid services in the hotel (e.g. Access to club lounge, Discotheque, health club
etc.) Hotel Technology companies¶ need to explore this concept.
To summarize, hotels that provide personalized service have an edge over other hotels in earning
more revenue.

The following are the websites of various Hospitality Solution providers-

 !

þ shawmansoftware.com
þ prologicfirst.com
þ alifsystems.com
þ idsfortune.com
þ datamateindia.com
þ knowcross.com
þ ideas.com

 !

þ micros.com
þ softbrands.com
þ hotelinfosys.com
þ protel-net.com/site/index.html
þ springermiller.com
þ redskyit.com/hospitality/index.htm
þ infrasys.com.hk
þ radiantsystems.com/index.htm
þ squirrelsystems.com
þ infogenesis.com
þ hogatex.com
þ myhotelsoftware.com

"#$ #"#"%&##"!

Technology has enabled hotels to provide 'Automated mini bar' where a guest is charged
automatically as and when guest consumes any items from the mini bar.

Electronic door lock system - It records who has entered guest room. Incase of pilferage it helps
to track who has entered in the guest room.

Cameras-recording, guest safety and security

Check-in takes just a few moments.

VIP guest - Profile photo of guest - Staff cafeteria/Notice board. Handle with care guest. Special
guest

TIV-Call accounting - Enhancing the revenue of telephone

Telephone revenue is dropping in hotels as most of the guest use their cell phone.

POS-KOT/ speed of service, Operation and Control

Latest trends in CRM, Loyalty and Customer Service-CRM strategy, offer a consumer-centric
service, secure higher retention levels and develop a revenue-generating loyalty program.

1. Loyalty - deploy profitable loyalty programs which achieve increased customer retention

2. Personalization - engage customers through a personalized approach and customized content.


Is this the right strategy for the business.

3. Website Optimization ± Optimized hotel website appeals to valuable customers and hotel
synchronize their website with CRM strategies and capabilities Web sites of some hotels even
offer virtual presentation with moving pictures.

4. Customer Retention - Dramatically improve customer retention rates by building loyalty and
consistently delivering on your brand promise across all consumer touch-points

Information Technology (IT) enables hotels and restaurants to reap maximum rewards from
minimum investment. Hotel industry in India have recognized the importance of µInformation
Technology¶ and are in the process of implementing solutions that are helping hotel operations,
reducing cost and enhancing guest experiences. I have written this article more as an Hotelier
and Business Manager than as an 'IT Manager'.