Advice and Opinion

When is it time to update your property management system?

Cloud-based technology has been available to the local market for some time now, but it seems that the industry is dragging its feet on the uptake. The general feeling is that the exercise is a laborious one and that it requires extensive training. Ankerdata, who supply hotel management solutions to the hospitality industry, have recently installed their Property Management System, protel™, within The Capital Group’s portfolio, based in Sandton. According to Ian Lumsden, General Manager at Ankerdata, one would be surprised at just how many outdated, unproductive hotel management systems there are out there, and migrating to a specifically developed system is not only relatively simple but is not a time-consuming exercise at all.

Ian adds, “Typically an installation will take approximately 2 weeks, depending on the size of the hotel, with training done as a dual task, taking up the lion’s share of 5 days, which is coupled with nightly implementation, before system handover and signoff.”

Working with hotel owners, revenue managers and operational heads via a series of workshops enables the protel team to establish exactly what the client is looking for. “We are able to customise some of the system tools with our team of developers and programmers locally and in Germany, enabling us to offer specific reporting options and, as was the case with The Capital Hotel Group, to split up the suites that are sold as 2- or 3- bedroom units, as separate rooms, to market,” says Eben Marais, National Operations Manager at Ankerdata. This is probably the longest process, taking up to 3 months depending on the urgency and scope of the new features. Their system was able to go live across all six properties simultaneously, significantly simplifying and improving operations.

Although it is always frustrating to learn new systems, the conversion should be a no-brainer because of the long-term benefits – improved data management, added insights and guest profiling, quick reporting and, more importantly, the ability to remotely access all your properties via the cloud MPE (Multi Property System). The single database technology proves superior to any other on the reporting tools; owners can choose to see all the statistical information on a single property or on combined properties (MPE). Financial reports can be viewed accumulatively or individually and all reports are enabled to export to Microsoft Excel. protel also supplies an SPE (Single Property Edition), which encompasses all the functionality of the MPE but is suited for a single property and can be hosted locally.

The protel team are so confident that their system will improve things that they offer a 30-day complimentary trial period to their clients. The Capital Hotel Group were blown away on day one of converting to the protel system with the usual 2-hour night audit being completed in 7 minutes and 14 seconds (yes, they timed it)! Natalie Knight, Central Reservations / Revenue Manager at The Capital Group, commented, “protel is the best system I have ever worked on. The simplicity of the system astounds me and when I look at the results, our staff have never been so efficient.”