In my role as founder and CEO of a hotel property management system (PMS) company over the past seven years, I’ve placed my focus on innovation in hotel technology that enables mobility and guest services. Of course, that’s only one piece (albeit an important one) of the hospitality puzzle — successfully running a hotel is no small job, after all. Now that I am enjoying some time off, I find myself delving into other types of businesses, departments, and software both inside and outside the hospitality industry. A segment which has always intrigued me is hotel sales and catering systems.
S&C is a category which, in my opinion, doesn’t receive enough attention. With credit to my time at MICROS (now Oracle Hospitality), during which I also oversaw the development of OPERA’s S&C, I am once again drawn to the emerging advancements and trends of this segment. When we consider current hotel technology start-ups, the ecosystem of PMS, RMS, and booking apps has become hyper-competitive, flushed with industry-wide updates and fresh approaches to legacy systems. Sales and catering, however, have seemingly been on a slower path to innovation. When it comes to PMS, OPERA still maintains its position as the legacy leader and, in the case of S&C, Newmarket’s Delphi still predominantly rules the sector. However, much like OPERA, Delphi is a rather expensive solution which does not offer much flexibility — unless you have deep pockets, that is.
This brings us to the residing question; is there any innovation going on in the world of S&C systems? While each sector of our industry seemingly undergoes massive technological upheaval in favor of continuous innovation, where does that leave S&C? Is disruption on the horizon? The good news is, the answer is yes. The world of S&C systems is braced for some much-needed change.
While exploring some of the next generation S&C platforms currently on the market, I’ve noticed that many of the start-ups have changed their business model as well as their host of features. Although hoteliers were previously limited to a select number of choices for software, vendors are now honing in on individual segments to create specified, best in class solutions. In the case of S&C, we are finally witnessing the rise of dedicated platforms which are passionate about helping hotels drive revenue and capitalize on leads.
One that has truly captured my attention is Event Temple (eventtemple.com), a sleek, intuitive, and scalable solution for hotels and venues. Not only is it designed with an emphasis on the banquet event order and internal logistics, but it also boasts an additional module for hotel sales managers to manage prospects, leads, and opportunities in a more effective manner. Also notable is the promise of easy integration, as its platform is completely compatible with an iPad, iPhone, or other mobile devices. This proves to be a welcome feature for busy hotel sales managers who are often on the road or moving about the hotel property while showcasing meeting and hotel rooms to prospective leads. As guests and planners become more demanding, hotels are expected to be increasingly agile in the way in which they provide service across every touch-point. With this in mind, hotels investing in platforms which support a more agile, responsive operational framework with the help of mobile functionality, is undoubtedly the way to future-proof any size organization.
There are several key differentiators between today’s new SaaS S&C systems and the legacy systems the industry has grown so accustomed to products, such as Delphi and OPERA S&C. I’ve broken down just a few to give you food for thought.
1. New Systems Are Charging Per Hotel, Not Per User.
Legacy systems are somewhat notorious for hidden fees and additional integration costs. Fortunately, modern systems generally include all the integrations and make for a more affordable model that can be scaled according to size and the respective needs of each hotel. Removing the ‘per-user cost’ also kept mitigating an influx of accrued costs in the long-term.
2. New Systems Are Integrated So You Can Build Your Own Software Stack
While older systems were capable of integration, the process to integrate was often as complicated as it was costly. With this in mind, the new SaaS S&Cs all boast open APIs and a business model that refrains from charging additional integration fees. For S&C systems that focus on selling groups and hotel rooms in addition to meeting rooms, 2-way integration with PMS is essential.
3. New Systems Help You Drill Down Into Your Sales Process like Never Before
For sales managers, understanding which stage of the process you are losing deals and wherein the sales cycle, your team sits is undeniably valuable. This is a relatively new feature and arguably one of the most critical aspects of new S&C systems. After all, selling a room is just as hard as managing the operational aspects of groups, rooms, venues, and meeting spaces. As such, having a tool that can keep your team on top of the sales process and allows sales managers to directly oversee and manage each deal and lead from any device, any time, is invaluable.
4. New Systems Are Mobile
One of my favorite aspects of the new S&C systems is that they are often built mobile-first. We have long since entered the mobile era, and hotel staff are often on the move. Unsurprisingly, this means they require software that can move with them — gone are the days of sales managers taking notes on paper while meeting with prospects. Now, sales teams can simply review and work with real-time data while meeting with prospects.
5. New Systems Are Made Specifically For The Hotel Industry From the Ground Up
The new S&C systems are true SaaS, built for the cloud in the cloud. By this, I simply mean that they were not constructed on top of platforms such as Salesforce, which increases their operational costs extensively. Instead, new-age S&C platforms are built on an open database from the ground up.
Hoteliers, if you want to enhance the efficiencies of your hotel sales team, now is the time to look at your existing S&C solution and see where you stand. Are you stuck in the past, or are you looking to empower your sales team (and your bottom line) for the future? And if you are in the market for an S&C upgrade, which ones stand out to you? Which platforms stand out as the most promising contenders to lead the industry into the future? I would love to hear what you think.
Jos Schaap is a well-known hospitality software executive and entrepreneur, with over 30 years of experience in hotel management and software. He has a passion for hotels, especially staying in them, which has inspired his pioneering ideas for new technologies that have transformed the industry. As a great advocate for change and innovation, he has dedicated his career to developing new things, projects, applications, and companies.
Jos founded StayNTouch in 2012 with the vision of re-inventing the hotel PMS technology; making it simple, mobile and transitioning the software to the cloud. With his vision and team, he succeeded. StayNTouch grew year over year with 300% to 700% serving more than 90,000 hotel rooms around the globe. The company was acquired by Shiji Group in September 2018. Today the company continues to thrive under the Shiji Group flag.
Prior to StayNTouch, Jos spend 18 years at MICROS Systems Inc. (now Oracle Hospitality), as a Senior Vice President of in charge of global product development and strategy for the Hotel and eCommerce divisions. During his tenure, MICROS’ hospitality products became the global market leader growing the company’s revenues from less than $300 million to $1.1 billion. He spearheaded multiple new products that enabled MICROS to enter hospitality segments from limited to full-service hotels globally.
“I focus most of my technology design and decisions around guest engagement as I believe that’s ultimately what really matters to most hotels and guests. Building teams that deliver great technology is what I do best.” Jos Schaap