Technology’s impact on hospitality has been transformative, but no one tool can do everything. This can be tough to confront when looking for something as integral as a hotel property-management system, but this is the reason APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) exist — to support operators in meeting their needs by filling in the gaps in capabilities offered by an established platform. Just as there are benefits to using an all-in-one platform, there are bonuses to using APIs to offer a more robust user and guest experience. Independent hotels especially need varying levels of depth and functionality based on the makeup of their properties.
With technology investment at its highest level in recent memory, it’s good for hoteliers to know their options when it comes to integrations. All-in-one PMS platforms provide several benefits for most hotels and resorts, partially by reducing the overall number of technology vendors hoteliers must work with. This typically results in better service levels from the vendors, and seamlessly integrating the operation across involved departments. Fewer cooks in the kitchen often gives everyone a better look at the meal.
However, sometimes the needs of the property go beyond the typical scope of a PMS provider’s capabilities. This is a challenge often faced by specialty hotels, boutique properties, and independents who are engaged in offering bespoke experiences or stay packages. These properties benefit from taking on select APIs to integrate multiple vendor solutions to help them stand out and succeed in their market. If this is the case, there are a few things hoteliers should keep in mind.
Less is More
The term “API” typically refers to software that is distinctly designed to support another pre-existing software, almost like forming a contract between the two of them. Sometimes this can be a simple plugin, such as adding Wi-Fi or mini-bar billing for simple charge posting. In other instances, APIs can be staggeringly complex (e.g., for sales and catering or GDS/OTA integrations and their ilk). For these cases, the developers behind the API may be sensitive to the use and availability of proprietary information and programs, which could limit a hotelier’s ability to integrate them into broader hotel operations beyond their narrow focus.
For this reason, the use of APIs to implement best-of-breed solutions to fill gaps in your PMS’s operating capabilities is not always a wise decision. The industry is growing ever more reliant on data analysis for hotels to remain competitive, with more applications and services sharing information between departments than ever before. While best-of-breed technologies may outperform others in some ways, it’s important that the developers behind the tool share the same goal of improving data transparency behind the hotel front desk.
The most important thing for preserving a healthy data strategy in hospitality today is to centralize all data and minimize a diverse technology partners arena. No level of functionality is worth sacrificing nimble decision making, particularly for independent hotels.
Shopping for a new PMS – or even new potential integrations – can be daunting and replacing three to five systems at one time can be overwhelming. Independent hoteliers are urged to choose a PMS provider who is willing to meet with you and have a thoughtful conversation about your hotel’s requirements. Some properties may benefit from an all-in-one package, while others may experience greater efficiency from a focused PMS offering bolstered by a select few APIs provided by technology partners.
Are you a hotel with a few spa rooms that wants to improve its ancillary revenue? Or are you a spa resort with a few select hotel rooms available as special packages? The answers to these questions have a significant impact on your hotel’s technology strategy, and how the PMS should be implemented at your property. Hotels can better reach that conclusion by finding a PMS partner that is willing to examine an all-in-one system’s environment against the backdrop of your property’s core business modules.
The best way for hoteliers to start down that path is by auditing their property to understand their current environment to the best of their abilities before shopping for PMS partners. The goal at this stage should be to clearly understand what their current environment is lacking. Every PMS on the market is capable of checking guests in and out, but today it’s about finding the partnership that meets your specific needs – particularly for independent hotels. Independent operators often have sophisticated needs that are best served thanks to the operational nuances afforded by mature PMS platforms and providers. Through the right partnership, hotels can attain the service levels and capabilities they need to succeed long into the future.