Picture the hospitality landscape 10 years ago. When checking into a hotel, guests would visit a front desk to collect their key, pay with cash, and receive a physical receipt of their stay. Those staying in a serviced apartment would meet the owner of the property to gain access, and be given a tour of their new home for the next few days.
Fast forward to today, and guest expectations have changed dramatically. People expect seamless (and often contactless) check-in, fast communication, and digital concierge services (think local recommendations delivered to your mobile, rather than a trip to the front desk).
Operators have had to keep pace with these changing expectations, and part of this process involves moving on from the traditional all-in-one suites they previously relied on. Whereas once, a one-size-fits-all hotel property management system (PMS) sufficed, today’s operators are realising that only specialised tools ensure they can adapt fast enough to the evolving demands of consumers.
All-in-one suites, once hailed for their promised simplicity and compatibility, today face a bump in the road: cloud-native platforms offering an entire treasure chest of hotel apps. More hospitality operators are turning to specialised apps and tools to improve their operations and create flexible tech stacks that meet the unique needs of their business.
But why? And why now?
The specialised hospitality software approach is nothing new. It’s just that, previously, if an operator wanted to use a niche tool not included in their all-in-one hotel PMS, the connectivity wasn’t there. The interfacing was both costly and time-consuming, taking up to a year and a half to complete in some cases. But now, thanks to cloud-native and API-first technologies, operators can plug multiple apps into one central platform.
Those with no coding experience no longer have to hire developers to connect tools to their hotel PMS. Integrated apps are readily available for operators to select from an Appstore and start testing right away. No-code automation platforms also empower operators to integrate other industry-agnostic tools or design workflows into their stack with ease.
Operators are beginning to realise that the simplicity of all-in-ones has its downfalls. Having an all-in-one, predefined set of features and functionalities means tools may not always align with the specific needs of a property manager. What’s more, property managers often discover specific modules missing the features they need, simply due to a lack of development resources dedicated to constantly improving and upgrading the PMS. This results in a limited, sometimes dysfunctional experience.
While all-in-one PMS aim to consolidate data from various sources, they rarely integrate seamlessly with the other third-party tools a property manager relies on, leading to unreliable data flows or workarounds. An overlap of functionalities between PMS features and third-party hotel apps can also result in data silos and fragmented workflows, only increasing the administrative burden.
Limiting your business to a one-size-fits-all approach leaves no room for flexibility, exploration or customisation – instead, innovation is held hostage by the decisions of a single vendor.
In recent years, cloud-based and open API PMS have enabled app developers to start developing specialised apps, leading to an increase in high-quality tools and solutions for operators. But those using a legacy PMS face a common challenge: the PMS is not designed to integrate these third-party apps easily, meaning many property managers can’t actually access the specialised tools they need.
Today’s generation of operators are quickly realising the value of using specialised hospitality software and there is now a demand for relevant, suitable and high-quality applications that covers individual areas of a business.
Going one step further, operators can even combine various tools and connect different apps to create truly customised solutions that meet the unique needs of their business. Take Coffee Fellows Hotels as an example: instead of relying on an all-in-one system for automated finances, the hotel group combines HQ Revenue and happyhotel. While happyhotel facilitates timely rate adjustments, HQ Revenue enables effective competitor comparisons, with both apps seamlessly integrating across all properties.
As more operators realise the benefits of having access to a huge range of different applications, tools and solutions, the restrictive all-in-one suites that previously met property managers’ basic needs will die off. What will replace these legacy systems is dynamic, flexible and customisable open platforms that award managers with the freedom to experiment with tools until they find a right fit.
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