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From integration to internet: major changes in software for the hotel industry

Hotel software publishers are providing the market with increasingly complete solutions. These software packages bring all the functions together around a single database to optimize operations management. This is a strategic aspect at a time when Internet demands increasing levels of reactivity from the hotelier. The last great trend in computer technology for hotels: the end of hosting servers locally to the benefit of the ASP mode and billing by the service.

Solutions are increasingly integrated. Today, hoteliers are seeking full solutions, software packages that cover all aspects of operations. A new generation of hoteliers is at the helm and any reticence shown when these complete solutions were launched have disappeared to be replaced by a quest for efficiency. “Corporate chains, small owned groups, franchise chains: there is strong demand for integrated software solutions that make it possible to follow the composition of sales,” explains briefly Christian Condomines, general manager of Amadeus Hospitality. Integration brings coherence which is itself a guarantee of efficiency and transparency for a veritable analysis of business parameters.And yet, when the property’s computer system has developed over the years using the services of different providers, interfacing becomes a sine qua non condition for making several universes enter into dialogue and allow data exchanges between them, with no need to re-enter data. “All the major software package producers design products that may be interfaced with third party products,” remarks Christian Condomines. “We interface with one another on hotel software so that all the hotel guest’s consumption appears on his room bill,” adds Alain Bessou, general manager of CSI, which has just come out with a new generation POS terminal with contemporary design that operates under Linux or Windows. Specialized in PMS, Jazotel is concentrating on improving its star product as well as the quality of dialogue between the solutions: “we wish to concentrate on the development of Jazotel’s PMS solution in order to offer a high performance, reliable, rapid tool with openings possible towards solutions yield management solutions such as Easyrms or reservation solutions such as RéservIT,” explains Pierre Alain Magat. This latter point, access to Internet reservations from one’s PMS, is certainly one of the most strategic interface tools for the hotel industry in the 21st century.The field of action of these ERPs (Entreprise Resource Planning) is vast, ranging from reservations to analytical accounting and including a decision-making assistant and billing of all the hotel’s extra revenues. Made up of a group of modules each of which treats a function or sub-function of the company, these integrated software packages are connected to a unique database. “Good integration is the synthesis of a unique client base for all products sold and a unique article base that includes rooms as well as restaurant menus, a pair of shoes sold in the boutique and a beauty treatment at the spa,” summarizes Christian Condomines, general manager of Amadeus Hospitality. “After using simplified databases, we are adopting more sophisticated database tools such as SQL or Progress for our new products.”The first goal of these solutions: avoid repeat manual intervention, which is a source of error and highly time-consuming. It is a matter of being able to bill one night as well as a meal at the restaurant, room-service or a cocktail consumed at the bar using a single software program. Each additional step gradually led to the addition of a module specific to managing a peripheral activity: services available in a spa or a thalasso center, use of seminar rooms with every possible configuration, could be linked to the F&B services of a full day of work or a business center.All this information is assembled to optimize management of customer relations. Softwares don’t use any more client files, but databases: segmented, enriched with analytical tools to launch operations and follow them. The in-depth knowledge of the client file makes it to implement yield management and improve sales performance. Jazotel, which has just added a Sales & Marketing module to its PMS, pursues this goal with the addition of planning conference rooms.“Interconnections are executed with the client’s history at the hotel, as well as with the bar and restaurant in order to have an overall view of sales for the account,” explains Pierre-Alain Magat, sales manager. The need to manage stock and inventory and ensure a direct connection to accounting management software grows out of invoicing naturally. “A single base unites all the information related to managing the business. It concerns first and foremost clients, of course, but also capital assets, stocks, service providers and buying,” explains Eric Blat, market manager for Cegid Hotel- Restaurant division. Thus, each module will take only the information it needs out of this single base that includes information that is made available and updated by the other departments.In addition to the many functions offered by these software packages, ergonomics and ease of use are also paramount elements. The software packages may be adapted to their users’ usual work environment. “All our products have adopted the ergonomics of MSOffice (Word, Excel) and Outlook because these are the standards that have taken hold. Even the management of customer relations takes place via email with Outlook,” insists Eric Blat. “Our PMS is developed on a relational Microsoft database that has no compatibility problems with Windows software,” remarks Pierre-Alain Magat, of Jazotel.The major interest of ERP software packages with their modular architecture is that each module is installed and functions autonomously. “This construction may be assimilated to Legos,” explains Christian Condomines. “The database will be built up with bricks that we know will work together.” Within this framework, calling on a single software provider may seem like a natural solution. Each brick will adapt naturally to another, with no need to create interfaces with dialogue. The entirety must be “user friendly”, particularly since shift rotations at reception are frequent. “Our new multifunction product Web Starlight will be even easier to use, with a goal to being at once a reservation and an invoicing tool for all kinds of products: nights, parking places, conference rooms, spa,” explains Christian Condomines.And yet, when the property’s computer system has developed over the years using the services of different providers, interfacing becomes a sine qua non condition for making several universes enter into dialogue and allow data exchanges between them, with no need to re-enter data. “All the major software package producers design products that may be interfaced with third party products,” remarks Christian Condomines. “We interface with one another on hotel software so that all the hotel guest’s consumption appears on his room bill,” adds Alain Bessou, general manager of CSI, which has just come out with a new generation POS terminal with contemporary design that operates under Linux or Windows. Specialized in PMS, Jazotel is concentrating on improving its star product as well as the quality of dialogue between the solutions: “we wish to concentrate on the development of Jazotel’s PMS solution in order to offer a high performance, reliable, rapid tool with openings possible towards solutions yield management solutions such as Easyrms or reservation solutions such as RéservIT,” explains Pierre Alain Magat. This latter point, access to Internet reservations from one’s PMS, is certainly one of the most strategic interface tools for the hotel industry in the 21st century.

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