Let's start by asking ourselves if there ever will be a post-COVID era - has the world not changed so much that we will one day look back and consider the time to be either before or after "VIRUS AWARENESS" became a global phenomenon? The time hospitality showed its resiliency, the time we went to virus-war and won. Because, of course, we will win.
In the upheaval we are experiencing, technology and hotels fight side by side. Problems are being solved, and features are being developed. What will be the most significant changes for PMS?
The most obvious impact that we already see is the increased desire to offer guests contactless services. Thankfully most PMS vendors already had some form of contactless option in their portfolio before COVID-19, and if not, then integrations to kiosk vendors were usually available.
What we see now is an acceleration of more sophisticated features for the guest's contactless journey, often transforming quite clunky models into smooth, custom branded models that are easily implemented.
But contactless journeys are not something new; self-service has in reality been around for about two decades already. We opened hotel doors with mobile phones for the first time about a decade ago, around the same time that ID scanning and digital signature became available.
On the note of contactless - let's talk about voice technology. protel introduced voice as an integrated part of the PMS already before COVID-19. Our first thoughts were experimental - we wanted to observe how and where this technology was embraced by hotel teams. Now we are giving our voice integration a whole different priority. While we half-imagined business cases before, they are so evident now. Of course, the guest should be able to speak to the virtual kiosk. Of course, confirmation letters should include audio presentation. Without a doubt, we will see the tech giants that provide voice technology put increased development efforts into perfecting it. There will be a simplification of tools and devices to help all guests to "talk to their room," no matter their age, language, or tech-savviness. Alexa, call room service! You bet that all the problems hotels have faced implementing this type of technology will soon be gone.
COVID-19 Room Management
As hotels are changing their procedures to cope with new requirements for distancing and disinfection, new features to support such processes in practice become necessary. Already we see features like the ability to automatically put a room out of order for X number of days after a check-out, flags for guests that have declined their room to be serviced, etc. Such small developments will continue to happen as hotels fine-tune their post-COVID19 operations.
Nextgen Conference + Banqueting
Hotels that are big in the conference and banqueting segment suffer more than anyone else right now. It's yet to be seen how solutions will be found for weddings where resistance to face masks is strong. After all, who wants wedding pictures of their loved ones all masked up? Let's look at other types of events, such as regular meetings. Most hotels have understood and embraced the need to quickly implement sophisticated technology in their meeting rooms so that hybrid events can occur. Some attendees are there in person, others are connected and visible on large screens. Which role can a PMS play here? One thing is for sure, there will be deeper integration between the PMS and external technology offerings. Imagine, the C&B Manager will be selling virtual meeting rooms together with physical rooms - the integration to that technical resource (may it be Zoom or any other) should flow flawlessly through the proposal, the contract, and the BEO. As PMS vendors, we should make this happen soonest. Those departments need all our support they can get.
Privacy Vs Profitability
Another exciting aspect is how far profitability will push the boundaries of privacy. GDPR and other privacy regulations have almost just been implemented, luckily - since now we find ourselves in a time where many governments have deployed tracing apps that store highly sensitive information about individuals. Would hotels not benefit from integration between such apps and PMS? Would it not make sense to allow such voluntary information to be used to for example allocate rooms in the safest possible way? If my health status is safe, can hotels invite me to enjoy perks like a good old self-service buffet? As always, privacy is a minefield. The money is out on this one.
Occupancy-Based Pricing - Finally
The most important thing that PMS vendors should embrace post-COVID19 will be to adopt new and alternative price models. And I don't mean guest rates, but price models between vendor and hotel. With the introduction of cloud PMS, vendors and hotels went through the transition from high license costs & low monthly support fees to SaaS pricing.
Now we have arrived at a new crossroads.
The recent months have traumatized all of us, and one thing is certain: the hotel's purchase behavior will change forever. Even the largest hotel groups have been shaken by the financial impact of an unprecedented worldwide lockdown. COVID-19 affected everyone around the globe, but regional and local crises happen all the time. How do we get through such crises together? How do vendors and hotels collaborate when survival is at stake?
While deferred payment dates and one-off discounts are significant emergency fixes, they are parts of a SaaS price model ready to move to the next level of sophistication. The world is now a different place and a price model should be relevant to its market. For customer/vendor partnerships to be sustainable, vendors must exercise bravery and take the leap into the frightening world of alternative price models.
Occupancy based pricing is one way forward, and the one that protel chose early on in the COVID crisis. Our statement is clear to all hotels by sharing the risk and the joy: through good times and bad times, for richer or for poorer - we are in this together.
About protel | Hotel software made in Germany
protel solutions form a robust technology stack for all hotel business types, with a worldwide team of local partners to support it. The ground-breaking app store, accessible directly via the protel PMS, has rapidly changed the way hotels and their technology vendors do business. Formed 27 years ago in Dortmund, Germany, shaped by one of the world's most dynamic overseas investment markets, the beating heart of this modern software company serves only hospitality. The first cloud-native PMS and apps went live in 2009, and two consecutive Olympic villages – "the largest hotels on Earth "- were built on protel. Operations expanded internationally to over 90 countries, leading to branch offices in Dubai, Vienna, and Atlanta. More than 14,000 hotels worldwide choose to power their business with protel. Continuing to influence the technological change within the hospitality industry, protel speaks excellent hotel. Talk to us today. www.protel.net