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Company insight Set-up to succeed


As we slowly emerge back into the light from the darkness of the pandemic, hoteliers everywhere will be accentuating what sets them apart from the competition in order to bring back guests as quickly as possible. While in many cases this will be a continuation of the unique features that brought success in the past, there will be numerous hotels searching for new offerings aligned to the changing requirements of their customer base, writes TigerTMS CEO John Owen.


uests today are tech savvy and are increasingly looking for automated solutions managed through their own mobile devices, which provide ease of use throughout their stay. These needs can range from check-in/out, directory information, access control, messaging and voice calling, and F&B ordering. It’s a given that these facilities are allied to the convenience of accessing their own content on the large-screen TV in the room. While there are a plethora of very good solutions available in the market to satisfy this demand, the implementation process is frequently very difficult, time consuming and costly – and this is because of existing set-ups within hotels.


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What is wrong with the traditional set-up? A property management system (PMS) is, quite rightly, the most important and indispensable application within any hotel, and has been positioned at the centre of the software architecture since the advent of modern PMS system in the 1970s (see diagram on this page). As can be seen, the PMS is directly


connected to every other application, and there will be a licence fee for every connection. For any new interfaces, there will be additional costs and potentially lengthy delays as the new connection is built. This set-up serves the requirements of the PMS provider very well – a captive customer with many opportunities for additional income. If you have ever tried replacing a PMS you will know what an upheaval it can be. It is not something to be considered lightly. In short, this set-up is unnecessarily


complicated, expensive and time consuming. To become more efficient, hoteliers ought to migrate to more flexible architectures where applications can be


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An example of traditional hotel software architecture.


added or removed easily without onerous costs and delays, while retaining full connectivity with the PMS. This is precisely the function of middleware.


The better option Middleware connects different applications to each other, allowing data to flow between them. Wikipedia describes it as ‘software glue’, but it’s more like ‘software oil’ as it lubricates the system without adhesion to any component parts. Middleware allows the easy introduction of new applications (that satisfies the current requirement for mobile device solutions), enabling hotels the freedom of choice for ‘best-of-breed’ resolutions to their requirements. It also significantly reduces the hotel’s outlay in annual support costs as there is no need for multiple


interface licences – one connection will suffice. The PMS retains its position as the most important system and continues to be connected to all other applications.


Now for the good news Most hotels are already running a middleware platform – but are simply not realising its full potential. The existing PMS to telephone system (PBX) connection often has voicemail and call accounting applications linked to it using middleware software (see diagram over the page). This platform can be easily extended, and other applications connected to it, removing the need for direct connections to the PMS. This is a straightforward migration that can yield multiple and significant savings, radically changing the approach to the deployment of new applications.


Hotel Management International / www.hmi-online.com


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