The Hospitality Industry is at a Tipping Point That Will Transform the Future — Source: Above Property Services (APS)

In Nicholas Carr’s book, The Big Switch, he described an industry in which every company had huge capital expenditures to provide a non-core but very necessary resource. Each company hired teams of talented engineers to keep it running, and they had to create this resource from within their four walls, to give their company a distinct competitive advantage until there was a tipping point.

What Carr was alluding to, here, was the American manufacturing industry of the late eighteen hundreds. The resource in question was electricity and, if you fast forward 100 plus years, virtually all of the electricity used by American manufacturing comes from the national power grid. Soon, a series of technological innovations revolutionized the production of this resource, which paved the way for innovative companies to break out of their four walls and take advantage of the commodity production of this costly resource. As surely any technologist can gather, Carr was drawing a very relevant parallel between the world of Edison, and the world of Google. Computing has become a utility, and the effects of this transition would “ultimately change society as completely as the advent of cheap electricity did.”

Simply stated, this comparison struck a chord with me. Looking beyond general IT, I saw the application of this transition settle within the world of hotel transaction processing. After all, for large hotel chains, is the expensive power plant not represented by the central reservation system? Like Carr’s example, the traditional hotel CRS requires a team of talented engineers to keep it running. Hoteliers have no other system that can scale large enough to support large hotel chains. Moreover, those hotels which have leveraged a strong CRS have gained a distinct competitive advantage. However, that advantage has come at a heavy cost.

It’s no secret that the world of hospitality technology is an antiquated one. Great hospitality is, after all, deeply rooted in tradition and, in many ways, this attachment to “doing things the way things have always been done” has informed our industry’s approach to technological infrastructure. Despite their grand plans to scale and evolve, hotels worldwide are largely anchored by aging technology. Hoteliers are frequently grappling with a hard code of business rules that rely on ancient data models, and result in the accumulation of costs affiliated with legacy upgrades and integrations. That is, until now.

It was precisely this age-old problem which informed the creation of Above Property Services (APS), the world's first global, truly distributed reservation system, for hotels. Our team set out to develop a travel platform that offered unprecedented scalability and flexibility for hotel chains and hotels of any size, coupled with blazing speed, a seemingly endless list of features, and a deceptively low cost.

Our APS travel ecosystem was built from the ground up utilizing a microservice architecture specifically designed for performance, flexibility, security, and scalability. APS can work with or replace hoteliers’ existing tools and investments, while adapting to the unique needs of each hotel brand or property. While developing this infrastructure, we realized pretty quickly that we weren't going to be able to do it while relying on one data center. Instead, we realized that we had to create multiple data centers that were interconnected, active and in-sync at the same time.

To put the power of this microservices framework into perspective, consider that most large hotel chains have traditionally only been able to process about 4,000 travel transactions per second, which begs the question -- can hotels truly scale without ultra-fast response times? The answer was quite obvious; we needed to generate more bookings via improved transaction speed. With the APS platform, we’ve unlocked over one hundred thousand transactions per second at an average response time of under 50 milliseconds. That's eight times as fast as the blink of an eye.

From a features perspective, we knew we had our work cut out for us. Effectively running a hotel and staying one step ahead of guest demands is no small task. It quite literally takes a village, and with the APS microservice architecture, we’ve built precisely that. With over 1,100 web services driving more than 10,000 unique features and capabilities, we offer hotels and hotel brands a variety of business-defining features, including:

  • Distributed central reservation system (d-CRS) that allows travel companies to process reservations simultaneously from anywhere in the world, in microseconds
  • Inline real-time revenue management optimization (i-RMS) that optimizes pricing based on an easy-to-use rules engine that lets hotels manage their business
  • Cloud-based property management system (c-PMS) that allows for full-service functionality, all from any tablet or phone, from anywhere, at any time
  • Hotel-in-a-Box which combines everything independent hotels need to run their business, all in one easy to use system, that can be setup and running in minutes

I've always wanted to build a system that intuitively told me when something was about to go wrong, and we accomplished that. We created a sophisticated, predictive rules-based alerting system that tells hotels when something's about to go wrong. The best part? It’s a mobile-first system that allows hoteliers to manage their property and teams from anywhere in the world.

Finally, we arrive at cost. Traditionally, hospitality technology is as expensive as it is limited. Often, if anything, it’s the technological limitations associated with legacy platforms that cost hoteliers the most. To ensure scalability remained affordable, we built out our system on a per-reservation or per-room basis, all at a fraction of the traditional cost. We've achieved this by leveraging a lean business model that eliminates capital costs and is built on a completely open-source stack that mitigates third-party license fees. The APS system is also fault-tolerant, which eliminates any need for disaster recovery.

Over the last 25 years, I’ve made it my professional mission to build and implement better hotel systems for some of the world's largest hotel chains and travel companies. To this effect, APS is the fifth reservation system I’ve built from the ground up, and, through these efforts, I’ve learned that small, smart, dedicated teams can do exponentially more than large groups of programmers. So, that’s precisely what we’ve done with APS.

So what does all this really mean? While every hotel and industry has a unique tipping point, the time is finally right for hotels to shift away from their internal systems and onto an open transaction grid, much like the manufacturing analogy that Nicholas Carr so eloquently illustrated. For hoteliers in 2021 and beyond, the real competitive advantage is not how you produce the power, but rather how you use the power to drive your business. So, hoteliers, let me leave you with this question: Do you want to keep generating your own power, or are you ready to step into the future, break out of your four walls and start using our open transaction grid?

About Above Property Services (APS™)

Above Property® is leading the charge to deliver innovative, scalable, and services-oriented platforms for the global travel industry and other related verticals. We think differently, and we are constantly innovating. Above Property Services (APS™) offers the only platform that can evolve seamlessly in response to industry demands, with credit to a microservices architecture that empowers continuous development and refinement.

Built from the ground up, the APS ecosystem empowers continuous development and refinement of your critical business processes via a unique microservice architecture. Designed for performance, flexibility, security, and stability, the future-proof framework is up and running quickly, delivering a scalable, cost-effective solution that can work with or replace your existing tools and investments. APS is a platform that adapts to you – not the other way around.

Powering both large and small companies, we understand the industry's challenges in the past, and we have developed a platform that is suited for the future.

Steve Lapekas
Above Property Services (APS)