Vagabond Club is tailored to modern-day vagabonds who value boutique experiences. It’s little wonder then, that a business seeking to bring revolution to tradition decided to modernize by rebuilding the tech at its very core.
After purchasing the hotels in 2021, founder and owner Rupert Simoner had the choice of keeping the old inflexible technology stack or trying something new. Having its own customized and flexible infrastructure was the main driver for the newly founded brand, which has 300 rooms, studios, and suites across Berlin, Leipzig, Wismar, and Dresden. The four charming city hotels were migrated from OPERA to the Apaleo platform within just three months.
We spoke to the core decision-making team at Vagabond Club, including founder Rupert Simoner, General Manager Carla Lopes, and Digital Innovation Director Adrian Schmidt about why they needed a change and how Apaleo helped them to make the switch for good.
Challenge: Legacy property management systems tend to have outdated UIs and are limited when it comes to integrations
What becomes apparent after working with legacy systems for an extended period of time is that they aren’t sustainable and often begin to weigh a property down. This was the experience of Adrian Schmidt, Digital Innovation Director at Vagabond Club; "With OPERA, we quickly reached our limits with the PMS of the existing hotels. We were not able to store all of our inventory and synchronize the booking engine completely. Simply put, technical hurdles to implement were too high." In early 2021, Schmidt began searching for a technology provider that would give him the freedom to change or replace building blocks in the system as the business required. Apaleo's property management platform became his first choice to replace Oracle's OPERA solution at Vagabond Club Hotels.
Solution: Apaleo’s cloud-based and easy-to-use UI and free data access allow for streamlined front office operations and unlimited customization at no extra cost
The key when searching for a PMS alternative was that it could support growth and creativity, rather than limit it. The standout qualities of Apaleo, in comparison to ORACLE and Infor, according to Schmidt, were that Apaleo has no licensing costs, technical hurdles, or bureaucratic effort for interfaces. Summarizing it quite nicely, Schmidt said "As soon as we want to develop something, we should be able to do it ourselves."
While upgrading a PMS to a platform is often described as open-heart surgery, switching to Apaleo was a cinch. All of the Vagabond Club properties are now bookable without any restrictions, and the operational workflows on-site also worked from day one. "Our general managers report that Apaleo is much faster compared to the previous system. They finally have more time to take care of the guest," confirms Carla Lopes, General Manager of Vagabond Club.
Result: Zero data access fees and more time for guests
One of the ways that Vagabond Club was able to modernize their technology setup was by programming a guest & deposit ledger alongside a custom CRM interface to Apaleo. The result of this was immediate and allowed Vagabond Club to be more flexible when communicating with guests. "Compared to other legacy systems, Apaleo's browser-based interface works extremely fast," says Adrian Schmidt. "This is especially noticeable at the front desk, where ten seconds in front of the guest can seem like half an eternity."
Unlike any other provider, Apaleo doesn’t just support customization, but actively encourages it. Inspired by this, Vagabond Club took matters into their own hands and listed Apaleo APIs on MetaAPI in order to perform simple automated tasks, with low-coding experience required. Adrian Schmidt adds, “we found ourselves with a use-case that was so minor, that we didn’t even need to ask Apaleo. Instead, our team added Apaleo’s public APIs to the MetaAPI platform, where they can work their ‘magic spells’ - as the company describes them - and our immediate needs at Vagabond are covered.”
Challenge: Vagabond Club wanted to give their guests a connected journey from booking to check-out, free from stress and administration while making it easy to purchase add-ons
Within just three months, Vagabond was able to switch the system at all four hotels to Apaleo while remaining in full operation. "With Apaleo, we have found a partner which enables us to put together a modern hotel infrastructure in no time," says Adrian Schmidt. "In addition to Apaleo's open PMS, we were able to easily connect other providers like Straiv (formerly CODE2ORDER) and also develop our own in-house solutions."
Solution: With Apaleo’s integrated app partner, Straiv, online check-in, and check-out are easy. Automated emails are simple to set up, informing guests that they can check in early on their phones, while a connected payments system also cuts check-in times.
Inspired by online airport check-in processes, Straiv optimizes the entire guest journey for Vagabond Club, including guest messaging. It only took small, simple in-house feature developments to enable an interface with Messerschmidt’s locking systems between Vagabond Club and Straiv, all while synchronizing with Apaleo.
Result: 50% less administrative work
This saves the staff around 50% of the previous administrative work, which they are now free to do for the guests. In addition to sending invoices, Straiv will soon be the face of upselling and concierge services.
Challenge: The revenue management team spent too much time on manual data processing
While every hotel needs to make revenue management a priority - after all, it’s what keeps everything afloat - this doesn’t mean a lot of time needs to be spent on revenue. The Vagabond Club revenue management team was getting delayed because of manual data processing. The end result wasn’t better, and the process was cumbersome, so management decided to try a different approach.
Solution: Using the Hotellisat integration from the Apaleo Store, Vagabond Club now have a more sophisticated, automated revenue management system that was easy to implement
For reporting and revenue management, Vagabond Club uses Hotellistat, which communicates with Apaleo via a two-way connection. "Rule-based revenue management is an extraordinary feature for a PMS. Combined with the open exchange between the two systems, it is incomparable with other providers. From our experience, AI and data-driven automation of our rate management beat manual intervention hands down. We can use it to automatically increase our average daily rate without having to manually intervene again and again," explains Adrian Schmidt.
Result: 30 minutes per day saved on manual data processing
Vagabond Club took advantage of Hotellistat’s automatic rate adjustment, where room rates are continuously updated based on live market data. This saves the Revenue Manager about 30 minutes per day, which used to be spent on manual transfers. That time can now be used for a qualitative analysis of the data.
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As a result of investing time into upgrading core systems to Apaleo, Vagabond Club is already seeing strong bookings for the upcoming spring and summer. And Vagabond Club is committed to the Apaleo journey, already planning more digital development. The founder and owner of Vagabond Club, Rupert Simoner, explains that the planned expansion of the R.evo brand, a Munich-based project with 600 rooms, studios, apartments, and maisonettes, will be built with Apaleo.
"Within the R.evo project, our company is going one step further and using further advantages of the infrastructure. For example, the complete climate control system is to be connected to the Apaleo platform. Based on the monitoring of real-time data in Apaleo via the API, we can cut energy costs enormously. R.evo will be an excellent prototype for a large property using Apaleo. If you can run a 607-room hotel with our software stack, then there is no reason for anyone to rely on legacy systems anymore. We can then roll out our customized infrastructure to more hotels in a very short time."
Vagabond Club is a great example of the potential for properties to extend their current offerings, without losing time or money during the transition. Upgrading your digital offering so that it’s robust, multi-layered, and able to sustain your hotel today and into the future should be on every hotel manager’s radar.
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