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Independent Hoteliers: Centralize Your Data

To gain a competitive advantage, hotel operators must embrace centralized data practices to help them level the playing field against established brands

By Warren Dehan

It may not seem important, but is your hotel’s data centralized?

Hospitality has parted ways with many traditions over the years, from physical room keys to guest books, but one thing that is never to return is guests’ and operators’ patience. No one likes to wait, whether checking into a room, requesting more amenities, or reacting to a guest’s needs at a moment’s notice. This goes for all operators, and as independent hoteliers continue to compete against major brands, they must consider the impact of more instant digital offerings on their hotel’s long-term success, which starts with centralizing their data.

Data centralization involves selecting a core provider that easily connects each of your hotel portfolio’s outlets and digital solutions. This is often achieved through today’s all-in-one property-management systems or via a PMS provider that offers open APIs and a culture of easily allowing and supporting integrations with third-party vendors. All of this to ultimately achieve sharing data with other systems on a single centralized database, including a hotel’s point of sale, reputation management and revenue management systems, golf, spa, activities, condo and vacation rental and other key systems.

All in One Place
A PMS offering access to centralized data storage is a game changer for most independent hotels. It improves operations by making additional capabilities more readily accessible to operators. It promotes ancillary revenue growth by allowing hotels to embrace partnerships through third-party integrations. It also improves operators’ ability to understand and predict guest needs by setting up individual unique profiles to track their preferences over time and be proactive with relevant offerings and services.

Data centralization achieves this by creating a command center for your hotel’s data storage. It improves the speed of independent hotel operations by building connections between different departments, maximizing a hotel’s efficiency and revenue potential.

Independent hoteliers often make bold decisions to differentiate their properties from their competition–both branded and bespoke. This necessitates close attention to detail, from hotel design to operations and intention. In many cases, it extends to an independent hotel’s online presence, but it seldom rises to the tools they use to manage their digital operations and the guests’ digital experience.

Jumping Off
There is no question that a traveler’s digital experience is just as necessary as their physical interactions with a hotel. However, the value of these digital experiences is often only realized by operators following guests’ post-stay reviews. To remain competitive and provide the experiences guests are looking for, independent hoteliers must examine their current capabilities and ask themselves several key questions:

Do you know your guests? Can you make a profile of your guests and know in advance how to provide the best experience for them? Can you seamlessly build on this information and stay up to date on your most valued travelers’ needs and preferences? If not, your guests may be changing without you knowing it.

Can you optimize your property’s rates each day? Can your hotel’s reservation system talk to the RMS and provide important information about guests, arrival times, current events, and more to optimize rates several times daily, without direct intervention from operators? If not, your hotel is missing out on potential revenue.

Can your staff communicate with each other – or guests? Is everyone running to the front desk or the manager’s office to obtain important information, such as updates on guest arrivals or maintenance requests? Can the GM afford to walk the floor without missing fundamental interactions with staff? If not, your property’s team may be unable to provide guests with high-value interactions when necessary.

Can you track maintenance requests? Do you have them in a digital database, so not only can housekeeping inform maintenance of concerns, but allow you to accurately address them before a guest notices. Can you track these maintenance issues over time to notice long-term trends? Or are operators writing these notes down in a physical location?

These factors indicate whether or not your hotel needs to rethink its approach to digital operations and technology. By simply connecting the hotel PMS to the property’s reputation-management system, operators can track guest feedback and respond instantly to concerns or requests, post check in, during the stay and post stay. When this is extended to other crucial operations systems, hotels gain operational agility that benefits guests and operators equally.

First Steps
Branded hotels rely on various techniques and technologies to continue operating at a high-level today. They typically employ a PMS designed around modules, with brands providing direct support for specific capabilities while investing in partnerships to support the rest of their needed capabilities. This module-based system is beneficial when operators have branded support, but independent hotels can seldom afford to invest and manage multiple tech partnerships while maintaining their bottom line and ensuring their staff are focused on the guest experience and not the technology infrastructure and maintenance.

The best thing independents can do when considering their digital options is to retain the same qualities that pushed them to succeed as an independent – their vision for change and the desire to remain unique. Using an all-in-one PMS, a single vendor strategy for partnership and service, independents have greater control over their capabilities and more flexibility to stand out in a crowded market.

Labor limitations, the rising cost of operations, and rising guest expectations continue to impact every hotel, branded or otherwise. The best option for all hoteliers is to embrace today's transformative technology, starting with a centralized data strategy that supports their goals.

About the Author

Warren Dehan is the President of Maestro, the preferred cloud and on-premises PMS solution for independent hotels, luxury resorts, conference centers, vacation rentals, and multi-property groups. Maestro was first to market with a fully integrated Windows PMS and Sales & Catering solution and is continuing that trend with leading edge web and mobile based solutions. Platform and deployment independence present Maestro as an investment that will continue to grow and adapt as new technologies emerge.