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Welcome Anywhere Property Managment System > Blog > 2017 > November

To the untrained eye, the title of this blog post might simply look like a jumbled collection of meaningless techy jargon.

And, to be honest - that’d be a fair assumption. But behind those words lies a debate that continues to dominate conversations among hoteliers looking to refresh their property management system (PMS).

With so many options on the market, choosing between vendors is hard enough, and that’s before you get to the thorny topic of how the system itself is delivered.

Do you go on-premise, hosted or cloud-based?

We’d like to help you get to the bottom of this conundrum with a no-nonsense guide that will lead you to the only conclusion worth making…

What is an on-premise PMS?

Remember when you used to buy software and receive it in DVD form? In the age of app stores and immediate downloads, it seems like an age ago, doesn’t it?

Yet, this is pretty much exactly what an on-premise PMS is (only, the delivery is usually undertaken by the vendor, along with a bout of on-site training).

A hotel booking system that’s installed on-premise relies solely on the hardware available at the property. That usually means you’ll need an expensive server and bunch of networked computers, each with their own ‘client’ copy of said software installed.

You’d do well to find an on-premise PMS to purchase these days, but if you haven’t upgraded your own system in a number of years, there’s a good chance you already have this form of PMS.

So, what’s a hosted PMS?

A hosted PMS sounds well and dandy - particularly when described by a talented sales person.

“All of your data is hosted on the cloud,” they say, pointing to the sky. And that’s absolutely true, but what you often don’t hear during that sales pitch is the fact the software itself is still installed on-premise at the hotel.

That means you’ll still need a local installation to take place; any computer on which you’d like to access the PMS will need to have the client software installed.

Hosted property management systems are often mis-sold as cloud-based. In truth, they’re part cloud-based, because it’s only the data that sits off-site.

Ok, so a cloud PMS it is, then…

Put simply - yes!

A proper cloud-based PMS is, as you’d expect, located entirely on the web. All of the data and software is accessed via a web browser (such as Google Chrome or Apple Safari) with no physical installation of anything PMS-related at the hotel.

This completely removes the infrastructure burden from your business in exchange for a monthly fee that covers the hosting of the PMS itself. You basically pay the vendor to look after your data and provide access to it no matter where you are or which device you have to hand. And, if they’re really worth investing in, you’ll be treated to constant innovation for no extra cost, too.

Cloud software isn’t the future - it’s what we should all be using now. In the battle of on-premise versus hosted versus cloud, the latter is the clearest of winners.

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The world is driven by the connectivity, content and methods of communication the internet has delivered. And it’s absolutely everywhere.

Virtually every public place and method of transport now has some form of connectivity that enables us all to enjoy high speed internet access on our devices, without paying a penny.

If you’re a hotelier, you can no longer get away with rubbish Wi-Fi. There - we said it. And, if you’re yet to upgrade yours, we’d like to offer five myths about hotel internet connections we feel compelled to dispel:

Myth 1: Your current gear will last for ages

Sorry - it won’t.

In the last decade, we’ve seen countless Wi-Fi standard and methods of security arrive, achieve adoption and then be superseded.

Things move on in tech - fast - and if you hang onto your same internet gear for as long as you can, guests will eventually suffer from slower speeds, incompatibility with newer devices and, worst of all, poor security.

Build a Wi-Fi refresh into your budget at least every three to five years.

Myth 2: You can set it up and manage it yourself

Even if you’re relatively tech savvy, you’re still the owner of an independent hotel, and that’s not the sort of job where you have five minutes spare to fix an dynamic IP address issue on your router.

Instead, make sure you invest in the services of someone who can set up and maintain your internet connection. It’ll be one of the best investments you make, because they’ll ensure your connection is configured properly and will be on hand when it all comes crashing down (which it will).

Myth 3: Guests will pay extra for decent Wi-Fi

Take a trip to your local shopping centre and there’s a strong chance you’ll be able to log onto Wi-Fi that’s fast enough for a bout of browsing and video streaming.

It’ll have been free, too, like most Wi-Fi connections these days.

Are you still charging for access to Wi-Fi or offering a paired-down connection for guests who aren’t willing to pay?

You won’t win many rave reviews if so.

Myth 4: Decent Wi-Fi will cost the hotel fortune

Good news: it won’t.

Speak to two or three providers and ask them to quote. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the packages they offer and the various ways in which you can finance the hardware.

Remember - great, free Wi-Fi will make your guests very happy indeed, and if they return, any investment you’ve made in your internet infrastructure will have played its role handsomely.

Myth 5: Guests will bring their own internet connectivity

Granted - most of your guests will have access to smartphones that have 3G or 4G internet connectivity, but don’t assume they’ll use it over free Wi-Fi.

Most simply won’t. Regardless of the connection symbol displayed on their phone, they’ll usually seek an alternative that won’t cost them anything or eat into their data allowance.

Furthermore, people still use laptops and tablets that don’t have built-in cellular connectivity, and they absolutely need a route into the digital domain.

Wrapping up

If we still haven’t convinced you to review the Wi-Fi connectivity you provide guests, there’s one last thing you can try.

Take a look at a few random TripAdvisor reviews and make a note of how many contain negative comments about poor internet connectivity. Do you want to number among them?

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In our latest guest blog, AllTheRooms content writer, Rebecca Pittore, considers the differences between hotels and Airbnb properties. Taken from the guest's perspective, this is a unique insight into how the modern hotel customer might view these considerably different options for accommodation. What's likely to draw them to the hospitality industry disruptor? A must read for hoteliers.

Planning a trip? Finding the right place to stay is tricky, with so much to take into account. Do you want a big open space or just a simple room? Do you want everything at your fingertips or do you want to be far away, immersed in the sounds of nature?

Deciding between Airbnb and hotels can be tough, but it all depends on what you’re looking for in your accommodation. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the four main differences between a private Airbnb rental and a hotel.

Airbnb Package

How many hotels have you walked into that look exactly the same, with the exception of the rack of maps of the city and maybe some pictures on the walls of local hotspots? Hotels (especially large hotel chains) have specific designs that make them feel less like a home and very much like, well, a hotel.

An Airbnb rental, on the other hand, is usually a private residence, and lets your vacation truly be a “home away from home.” The apartment, house, boat, or whatever it is you stay in will surely have a much cozier vibe, with local elements, as designed by the owner, a local resident.

Staying in a hotel gives you arguably less freedom than an Airbnb might give you. Your hotel room is your space, but even then, hotels often have stricter codes of conduct to follow.

In a private Airbnb rental, the entire space is yours for you and your friends. Not to say the hosts of an Airbnb don’t have their own rules, but often in a private rental, you have more space to enjoy. If you’re traveling with a group of friends, this may be much more appealing than being split up in different rooms across the hotel.

There’s also the location. If you want to be in the middle of all the action, you’re sure to find all the hotels you want in any city’s downtown area. However, if you want something a little more secluded or residential, you’re more likely to find an Airbnb rental than a hotel.

Airbnb rentals can cover more parts of the place you’re visiting, with spaces from the city center to far outside the city’s noise.

Amenities and Services

Hotels always come with a certain set of amenities. Need to know the best places nearby? Need an extra of anything in the middle of the night? From cleaning staff to a 24-hour concierge, if you need anything, a hotel can help you out.

In an Airbnb, you are often only provided with basic toiletries, cooking appliances, and bedding. If the host lives on or near the property, they may be able to help out with anything you may need during your stay, however, this is not always the case. Plus, hotels provide room service and all the amenities you need to treat yourself.

Do you like to cook? Airbnbs that come with a full kitchen give you the opportunity to cook your own meals, while also saving money by not spending on meals out. If you choose the hotel route, this becomes a bummer for both those who want to save money and those whose passion is cooking. On the other hand, you will be given ample opportunities to try all the best local flavors.

Price

The difference here is harder. The price for hotels varies, as does the price for an Airbnb.  Hotels tend to be more expensive, but you’re typically paying for more services and treatments. If these don’t matter to you, an Airbnb rental leaves you more room in your budget for more exploring.

Typically, Airbnbs tend to be up to 50% cheaper than a hotel room, plus you can save by not eating out all the time. This is not always the case, however, as there are Airbnb rentals that go for more per night than some hotels.

Safety

In terms of safety, you will find both hotels and Airbnb properties in both safe and not-so-safe areas. Hotels in general, however, provide more security and a better sense of safety than an Airbnb. When you stay in an Airbnb, you are effectively staying in the house of a stranger. On the other hand, you know you can trust the constant reliability of a hotel.

If you are a solo female traveler especially, the comfort of a hotel staff and security system may be reassuring. You should also take into account travel times. If you are arriving or leaving at odd hours - in the middle of the night, for instance - a hotel is a much safer and more convenient option, whereas, in an Airbnb, you may need to wait for your host in order to check in or out.

Are you a hotelier, guest or Airbnb property owner? What do you think to the points Rebecca makes in this post? Tell us in the comments section!

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In episode 4 of the Welcome Systems podcast, we discuss labour management with Gareth Thomas, Business Development Manager at Catton Hospitality and John Jones, MD at Welcome Systems.

What is modern labour management? How does it impact productivity, staff satisfaction, the hotel's bottom line and, most importantly, the guest experience?

John, Gareth and Mark delve deeply into this fascinating, and often intangible topic, and discuss the following:

  • Common labour management challenges faced by hotels
  • How tech can help
  • The Brexit effect
  • Zero hour contracts (yep - those)
  • How modern labour management is no longer purely a tool for the big chains.

Dive in and let us know what you think in the comments section - it’s another fab listen!

Find out more about Catton Hospitality here: www.cattonhospitality.com

https://soundcloud.com/user-568165456/welcome-systems-podcast-ep3-whos-got-the-rota-featuring-catton-hospitality

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