We – CiHMS – started just like any other hospitality management software company. Our first client came to us with a predicament. Contemplating among 100+ hospitality management software choices, taking trials, and evaluating the runners-up who seemed to have all the qualifications. Finally settled on one of the most expensive On-premises Property Management Systems in the industry, expecting its optimal effectiveness and unfailing support. Instead, our client was struggling, as time went on with on-going and unresolvable issues that we have mentioned in our previous blog “Buy or Build your own Property Management System”. If you have missed it, be sure to check it out. Hoteliers who have been using an off-a-shelf Property Management System probably would fathom the difficulties and challenges our client has gone through.
It became clear that there is a big opportunity here for us.
A brand-new Property Management System – Where to begin
Before we kick start the building project, we have set out a compelling roadmap to navigate the process:
- Optimize hotel revenue as the top priority
- Optimize operations cut down excessive procedures and time
- Improve customer experience and satisfaction
These criteria had helped us to strategically concentrate on building the PMS that achieved our client’s benefits in their best interest.
A hotel Property Management System function consists of Front Desk Operations, Reservations, Channel Management, Rate & Occupancy management, and Payment processing. These often are linked to enable hotels to organize, schedule, and manage effortlessly their daily operations while serving their guests effectively. Where should we start first?
That was plainly from a business viewpoint. Looking through the technical aspect of it, there were much more criteria that come into the picture. Which programming languages should we use: Java? Node.js? Ruby? Python? PHP? .NET? Or in a combination of which? What should we build our database on? MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, etc? What should the network infrastructure be? How do we protect customer’s data, which includes confidential information, guests’ personal & payment data, and etc., during the building phases and while migrating to the PMS?
Taking all these into account, putting ourselves into the client’s shoes, we came into an agreement to build the Central Reservation System (CRS) before the rest of the PMS. CRS acts as a centralized booking platform for hotels to manage, distribute, and maintain rate and room availability from various channels. It is extremely vital for us; especially in high seasons when booking always has been chaos.
Our customer provides accommodations and a dining experience, but also integrated golf courses, and entertainment complexes. They have many destinations across the country and 1 location can welcome up to 3000 guests a day during the high season. In the past, the customer would have the On-Premises PMS installed and running separately at each destination. This has made unnecessary delays, excessive double booking, or unwanted overbooking during rush hour. That was the result of not having a centralized system, they didn’t have the room and rate availability data for all properties in real-time.
Our customer also worked with numerous Travel Agents and Agencies so it can be overwhelming for the Front desk operations handling the booking. The result was many bookings were created through direct confirmation with the front desk at each destination, to avoid overbooking as the existing On-Premises system was unable to centralize all the booking data in real-time. In many cases, Sales had to contact the hotel directly to check room availability at the time, requested to put those rooms temporarily on hold, confirmed with guests, check successful transactions, then officially booked the rooms in person.
The booking system brings in daily revenue and is the first encounter your customers have with your hotels. If everything goes right, it is smooth sailing from here. After 6 months of endless coding, our CRS has successfully integrated with the existing On-Premises PMS as well as the many online travel agents that are connected to the current PMS, cutting down reservation time span tremendously. There were no longer phone calls, or unnecessary room hold and overbooking never occurred. Customers can also get their reservations done online, maximizing room occupancy.
Then, we shifted our focus to building the rest of the Property Management System, which we later named CiHMS, to optimize and automate the client’s hotel operations, which took us another 9 months. The development did not stop there. We were also set out to improve the guests’ experience during the stays as well as future ones.
Challenges behind the PMS
Finding the right companion was the most impatient, disappointed, nerve-wracking, and irrational process. Considering the fact that we had to commit to a very aggressive timeline, you can imagine how stressful a scenario we were in. We had to constantly leverage both full-time employees and outsource partners. At times, we found ourselves working with 100+ developers from 30 different outsource partners. Apart from the technological partners, we are grateful for the help of many business consultants and vendors. Without strict guidelines, intended set goals, and dedicated team, and the enormous support we received, the project could be an impossibility to us.
The initial timeline was set for 24 months. Yes, you read it right. We were given an extremely tight time frame, as others would likely take up to 5 years to build. It might sound intimidating to others, but for us, we were absolutely thrilled and excited to take on this challenge and achieve the ultimate goal. We got the whole system up and running in less than 18 months, which took 6 months coding the CRS alone, and 9 months on the rest of the CiHMS. It still screamed impossible to us, but this accomplishment is achieved with willpower, consistency, collaboration, and harmony of the team as a whole.
The Digital Transformation Journey
You may have heard the term Digital Transformation over and over again. What is Digital Transformation exactly? It is the integration of digital technology into all areas of business, ultimately changing your operations and value delivering to your customers. This also makes a change in your workplace culture; it requires the organization to constantly challenge itself. It becomes imperative to any business that wants to remain competitive and relevant to the world in this constantly evolving technological era.
Building the CiHMS Hospitality Management Solution is the first step taking us into the next stage of our Digital Transformation journey, and definitely, it does not end here. The new PMS strives to create room for creativity in better procedures, modern tools, and consuming time effectively. It gives a new approach to the hospitality industry to explore new opportunities awaiting ahead once perfecting operations protocols, smooth workflows, guarantee meeting customer satisfaction, and maximize revenue.
The new Property Management System gives us the shot to train the hospitality employees in becoming professionals in what they do, making decisions, improving the hotel procedures, products, and services based on actual data and analysis exporting from the system. The CiHMS is aiming to help others in the hospitality industry to embark on their own path in the digital transformation journey.
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a progress; working together is success.
More on a digital transformation can be read at our “Hotels Digital Transformation” blog or discussed in our last webinar that you can re-watch here @Digital Transformation in the Hospitality Industry. After getting done with the CiHMS coding, it’s time for our Pilot Testing in real hotel operations in real-time. All will be shared in our next blog: “Building a Property Management Software in-progress: Fail fast and learn fast.” Be sure to watch out for the upcoming blog this time, next week, you would not want to miss it.Learn More