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Achieving the Benefits of Cloud PMS

Pride Hospitality ( owns and manages 14 hotels in eight states, including the Harbor Winds Hotel in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Until recently, Harbor Winds used a premises-based property management system. The hotel faced a number of challenges with that system, including the cost of the equipment and keeping it up-to-date. The property also lacked dedicated IT staff, so updates and repairs often meant significant down time and additional expense because vendor support had to be called.

The benefits of a cloud-based property management system were appealing to the hotel’s management — minimal upfront investment, instant scalability, easy updates, reduced equipment footprint and simpler training. In addition to Harbor Winds, Pride Hospitality owns and manages 13 other hotels, including nine Holiday Inn Express properties. An appealing functionality of a cloud-based system was the ability to replicate the solution from hotel to hotel. Rolling out a cloud-based PMS in a major brand is easier than updating a legacy system.
Data security was also a top concern, so potential partners had to prove they had a secure way of managing information. A breach can be devastating, both financially and in terms of guest confidence. Interoperability between a cloud-based system and other hotel solutions was also important. With a cloud-based PMS, this isn’t typically a problem, as it’s easier to create those interfaces; but, some vendors are better than others at developing interfaces for telephone, in-room movies, locking systems and other solutions.

Pride Hospitality reviewed options and chose to implement the rGuest Stay PMS from Agilysys ( The system is built on an open and multi-functional platform that enables seamless product integration. It can be accessed from any computer or tablet with an Internet connection and the latest version of Google Chrome.

The hotel company points to several key benefits since the transition to rGuest Stay. Costs are reduced because there’s no on-site server hardware needed, and technical maintenance is provided by the vendor. Enhancements and new features can be utilized as soon as they become available instead of waiting to schedule upgrades. From a security standpoint, the cloud-based PMS is helping Pride Hospitality improve its security infrastructure; the vendor is charged with ensuring that the technology is updated with current security and compliance practices.

Operations have benefited as well. The hotel’s housekeeping director can pull up the PMS on her iPad and change the room status in a matter of seconds. The revenue manager can access the PMS and make strategic decisions about rates and inventory. It’s an entirely new way of running a hotel and has opened opportunities in terms of revenue and guest service.

Tips for moving to the cloud
The leadership team at Pride Hospitality says a few key factors were instrumental in their successful cloud migration, and offer them as guidance to others. Take the time to comparison-shop. Contact colleagues to obtain first-hand information about software performance and vendor reliability. Choose a vendor with experience in the hospitality industry. Ideally, they will become your trusted technology partner for many years.

Look for a PMS that is scalable and flexible. It should be able to adapt to your current needs and grow with your operation. Furthermore, ensure Internet redundancy. To ensure availability and prevent data loss, don’t rely on one Internet provider to be 100 percent consistent.

Prepare staff for differences in how to operate a cloud-based PMS. Once used to data not being stored at the hotel, it’s an easy process.   

What was your first job?
Caddy at my local country club.

Who inspires you?
Michael Leven, CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. He taught me a lot of valuable lessons about how to run a business.

What technologies excite you?
The micro technologies we’re exploring in medicine.

Sage Advice:
Make sure the people you hire can run the business, not just the operation.

What is one other job you would like to try?
Medical technology researcher.

What is one goal you would like to achieve in your life?
To see my daughter happy and successful.

What three people would you invite to lunch?
My grandfather, former
President Ronald Reagan and Jack Reacher (fictional character and protagonist of a series of books by British author Jim Grant).

What is your favorite book/movie?
Favorite book is The Firm by John Grisham. Favorite movie is The Sound of the Music.

Mark Zipperer is president and CEO of Pride Hospitality, a hotel management company located in Germantown, Tenn. A 30-year veteran of the hospitality industry, he has held executive positions with Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn Corporation and Marriott Hotels.

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