Outrigger Hospitality to move its portfolio to OPERA Cloud to gain speed and agility
Jeff Wagoner has heard all the reasons as to why hoteliers can’t move to the cloud.
My internet isn’t stable enough. We’re located on an island, and we’re worried about latency. And if you’re in the operations world, there’s always the accounting issue: If I go to the cloud, there’ll be an operating expense, but today, with an on-premises solution, it’s a capital cost and I can expense it and have my margins look better in the future.
Indeed, many operators wrestle with legitimate concerns – and, more often, with excuses – as they go through a “Should I or shouldn’t I?” debate.
But Wagoner – the president and CEO of Outrigger Hospitality Group, which comprises 32 properties in Hawaii and Asia Pacific – decided to transition his entire portfolio to OPERA Cloud property management system as an essential move to stay ahead of a rapidly changing marketplace.
“If you’re not in the cloud and you’re not able to move fast, you’re going to get left behind,” Wagoner said.
Just as importantly, he acted on sage counsel given him long ago and as encouragement for his peers to follow suit.
“If you are going to wait for technology to be perfect, you’ll never install anything,” Wagoner said. “In our industry, there is still some reluctancy to really get out there and adopt technology. We have to separate ourselves from that reluctancy and jump in with both feet.”
Agility is the key to meeting new demands
Wagoner shared the story of Outrigger’s cloud journey during a broader discussion about technology’s role in keeping pace with changing guest expectations – the theme of a Hospitality Net World Panel Live webinar held in late February. He was joined by Laura Calin, Oracle Hospitality’s vice president, strategy and solutions management.
The dialogue focused on how the pandemic underscored for hoteliers’ the need for agility, which increasingly means using cloud PMS technology to rapidly introduce high-demand products and services, accelerate decision making to seize opportunities, and improve speed of service. Wagoner and Calin said they anticipate that trend only to continue and envision cloud solutions that work together to define the future.
“When you go to the AI scenario and you look at the integration of everything and what happens with speed of decision making – the advantage of cloud becomes really enormous,” Wagoner said. “(Cloud allows) creating a decision-making process that will occur in an automated way versus each one of those lying on their own and somebody having to make manual integration decisions on what we do and how do we do it.”
A cloud PMS benefit: speed to market
Recognizing a greater need for speed, in part, triggered Outrigger’s move to cloud and prompted Wagoner to reach out to a former colleague to learn more about the technology.
“With my many years at Wyndham, we picked up the phone and called Scott (Strickland), Wyndham’s CIO, because they had installed 400 versions of OPERA Cloud,” Wagoner said. “Scott said, ‘There’s been a bump here and there, but for the most part it’s been really good for us.’”
Buoyed by that recommendation, Outrigger installed OPERA Cloud in a couple of properties it had recently acquired in Thailand. But that was just the beginning. His team has since created a roadmap to migrate the entire company to OPERA Cloud.
“It’s important so you don’t have a hodgepodge of systems out there,” he said. “I think it’s going to make a huge difference for us in the growth trajectory for our company.”
In fact, cloud already is accelerating Outrigger’s expansion plans.
“We’re getting ready to purchase a new property on an island and the closing of that property is going to need to occur within about a four-week window, so this also becomes about speed to market,” Wagoner said. “If I need to get servers in and get everything delivered to a property in a premise-based solution, it’s going to take me a heck of a lot longer. If I’m in the cloud, the chance of me being able to install much quicker is significantly greater. We have found OPERA Cloud, even though we haven’t installed it everywhere yet, to be a great solution for us.”
The power of integration
OPERA Cloud’s integration capabilities also played a factor in Outrigger’s decision to upgrade. A part of OPERA Cloud Suite, the new Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform (OHIP) allows partners and vendors to connect to OPERA Cloud, giving them unimpeded, self-service access to the data within it for faster product development.
“It unifies and consolidates all our integration capabilities, and also all the processes around it,” Calin said. “OPERA Cloud is a completely open system and provides what I call a gold mine of APIs. In comparison, our old integration process would have given access to only about 400 capabilities to customers and partners. With OPERA Cloud, we have over 3,000. There is no limit to what people can dream and do.”
Creating a single view of the guest
Ultimately, what the hospitality business will demand is a connection between all the data points that hoteliers are now able to collect.
“For all this to become reality, technology is key to help organizations connect all the relevant data and deliver it in real time to all departments,” Calin said. “This is not going to be possible with the traditional divide as we know it between a PMS, CRS, CRM or another solution. They’re really a thing of the past."
“We believe in the rise of hospitality platforms across operations, sales and marketing, and financials that provide a single view of the guest,” she added. “And that’s exactly what we’re doing at Oracle Hospitality with OPERA Cloud; we have a modular platform for hotel operations, distribution, sales and event management, and later this year, we’re announcing a loyalty solution. And when linked with Oracle ERP, this platform enables quick and easy action across all departments; it takes down organizational walls, and it really brings the front office and back office closer together. This is the only way to build consistency, which is critical to creating trust, loyalty, and new revenue streams.”
Making hospitality technology more human-like
And cloud will continue to pave the way for the “humanizing of technology” – for example, the proliferation of chatbots – that’ll make tech solutions easier to use yet maintain, if not enhance, hospitality’s hallmark: personalized service.
“You think about chat and how that works…. In the hospitality environment, someone might think that’s going to take away from the human aspect of who we are, if someone is chatting into a computer,” Wagoner said. “But it’s one of those things you can’t be afraid of."
“If you think about who is chatting today and what it’s going to look like in 15 or 20 years; it’s probably going to be one of the largest methods of communication,” he added. “(It’s important) to understand that chat won’t always be chat with someone on the other side. “There’s also going to be chat with AI-powering that chat in order to very quickly give you the response that you’re going to want.”
Wagoner’s final takeaway?
“Technology is really about the service element,” he said. “It can provide the tools that allow each individual and each property or brand to be better.”
About Oracle Hospitality
Oracle Hospitality brings more than 40 years of experience in providing technology solutions to independent hoteliers, global and regional chains, gaming, and cruise lines. Our hardware, software, and services enable customers to act on rich data insights that deliver personalized guest experiences, maximize profitability and encourage loyalty. Cloud-based, mobile-enabled, with open APIs, Oracle's OPERA Cloud property management and distribution, Simphony point-of-sale, reporting and analytics, and Nor1 upsell solutions accelerate innovation, increase revenue, lower IT cost, and maximize operating efficiency. Our Hospitality Resource Center features an array of information to navigate challenges and seize opportunities in an altered marketplace.
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