Wadworth is an independent family brewer that was established in 1875. Operating an impressive portfolio of managed and tenanted houses, the Wiltshire-based company currently has over two-hundred properties spread across the South West of England.
As Retail Training Manager, Chris Wright is responsible for the operational IT throughout the estate.
“Part of my job is to look for opportunities to raise productivity and efficiencies by integrating our systems,” explained Chris. “I love finding ways to remove manual entry and make the systems we use as automated as possible.”
The search for an integrated PMS and EPOS solution
In 2018, Chris was tasked with a significant systems change across the Wadworth pub estate.
“We’ve currently got twenty-five pubs with letting rooms, and last year we made the decision to change our PMS. This was partly because we needed a platform that would integrate with our till system in order to remove the manual errors we were experiencing, but we also wanted a much more innovative, forward-thinking PMS.”
Running two unconnected systems made duplicate effort a big problem for the Wadworth team.
“With our old system, we’d have to input booking details and charges into both the PMS and the tills, and that resulted in a significant number of financial errors being made,” said Chris. “We looked at a few options for a replacement, but one of the things we liked about Welcome was the fact they were happy to build an integration between the Welcome Anywhere PMS and our till system at no extra cost.
“They worked brilliantly with our EPOS provider Polaris and the two companies formed a strong partnership from day one in order to help us implement the new system and create the integrated setup we so badly needed.
“What I like about Welcome and Polaris is that they’re forward-thinking companies,” said Chris. “I actually see it as a three-way partnership; if we can help them continually improve their product and benefit from the innovations ourselves, everyone wins!”
A big roll-out - made easy
Switching PMS is no mean feat - particularly for a business as large as Wadworth.
“The thing I loved about Welcome Anywhere was its ease-of-use, which was a vital element in rolling out the system to all twenty-five properties,” explained Chris. “As you’d guess, there’s a lot of training involved, and for our managers, they want to spend as little time dealing with IT as possible; they need to be in front of customers delivering a great guest experience.”
Chris believes Welcome Anywhere “took away the ‘fear’” of a system change and quickly discovered that it could be integrated into the Wadworth teams’ daily lives without any problems at all.
With plans to carry out the implementation over a four week period, Welcome’s ease-of-use become of paramount importance.
“That might sound like an incredibly short space of time, but thanks to the speed with which Welcome Anywhere could be adopted and brilliant support from both Welcome and Polaris, it was successful,” enthused Chris. “Thankfully, we were able to import all of our existing bookings from our old PMS into Welcome Anywhere, which also made a massive difference with the speed of the roll-out.”
Chris was keen for the transition to be as natural as possible for Wadworth staff - a challenge Welcome were only too happy to take on.
“Welcome branded the system for us. This has resulted in Welcome Anywhere looking like a Wadworth platform, which makes it instantly recognisable, and, combined with the ease-of-use, made it a natural fit for our staff.”
Huge savings with new channel management
Channel management has alway been a very important tool for Wadworth, but as Chris was to find out, their overheads for online booking with their old system were needlessly high.
“Switching to Welcome Anywhere has already delivered some impressive savings when it comes to OTA commissions,” said Chris. “With our larger properties, the previous Expedia agreement managed by our old PMS company was costing us 23% commission per booking - much higher than the standard rate. Once we’d moved over to Welcome and had new Expedia accounts created, that commission rate dropped to 15% for certain properties!
“This is a huge saving, and one we probably wouldn’t have made if we hadn’t changed systems; the old contract was costing us far more than we realised.”
Wadworth found similar savings elsewhere, following the move to Welcome.
“With our old system, there was an integrated card payment system that was charging us 50p for every card transaction on top of the standard bank rates,” explained Chris. “This wasn’t made abundantly clear, and when you add that fee to the inflated commission rate, our bottom line was being hit significantly.”
Wadworth now pays a simple, flat monthly fee for Welcome Anywhere. Whenever a new development arrives, they receive it instantly and without having to pay to upgrade.
“It’s so much easier to budget for and has immediately driven down our overheads,” said Chris. “We also feel like we finally have full control over our OTA relationships, and that’s such a weight off our minds.”
The Welcome Anywhere roll-out is only the start for Wadworth.
We’re always interested in new developments and additional services our suppliers can offer, and we’ll be implementing the Welcome Table restaurant booking system on a trial basis soon,” explained Chris. “I really like the look of it, and with my ‘one system fits all’ mantra, I’d rather use Welcome’s restaurant system due to it coming from the same company and benefiting from the same approach as Welcome Anywhere.”
Wadworth’s desire to expand its managed department in the near future was another key driver for seeking a new PMS partner.
“It’s reassuring to know that we’ve got a technology provider like Welcome Systems to support us as we continue to grow,” said Chris. “Nothing we’ve asked of them has been too much trouble; their service is exceptional and really stands out for me.
“I went on holiday recently, and the week before I went away, the Welcome team rang around each of our sites to introduce themselves and ensure our staff knew who to call while I was away. It’s little things like that which make such massive a difference. I’d recommend Welcome to any business that is as large and complex as Wadworth and which needs to raise efficiencies and lower costs with the best technology!”
Hefin Morris, Director of Operations at Welcome Systems, headed up the roll-out of Welcome Anywhere to the Wadworth estate.
“Our Welcome Anywhere PMS has clearly proved a perfect fit for Wadworth’s needs in what is proving to be an increasingly competitive hospitality sector,” explained Hefin. “The way guests anticipate a hospitality experience has completely changed over the last few years. From the moment they consider booking a trip through to the point they arrive, the focus is on a comfortable, unique and hassle-free stay.
“We’re determined to ensure hoteliers can take advantage of technology that works fundamentally to put guests at the heart of what they do.”
To find out more about Wadworth, visit wadworth.co.uk