PMS Peer Review

Who better to explain what makes a property management system (PMS) a good fit than those who are using it every day? In the third annual installment of this informal peer review, hotel executives highlight why their property management system was the right choice for their needs, and what it has done for their enterprise.

Trump Hotel Collection
Core Needs: Shared CRM data, enterprise functionality with boutique independence
Locations: Five, with a sixth location opening soon
Vendor: Agilysys (
Product: Visual One
In the rarified world of luxury hotels, personalized guest services are critical. So when Trump Hotel Collection ( set out four years ago to find a property management system for its current and future properties, they were pleased to find CRM capabilities built right into Agilysys' Visual One PMS.

"Because we are in an extremely high touch sector, guest recognition is everything for us," says Michael Schubach, CIO at Trump. The system makes data input at any hotel immediately available to any other property. "As we open up the brand new Trump SoHo, we'll be able to see that a guest has visited us three times in New York and once in Chicago and can see their allergies, amenities, all the guest information we have gleaned."

Trump favors an integrated suite approach, one that offers advantages in CRM and other applications, Schuback says. "Many competitors share info as well, but it's unique that this is a part of the PMS versus going to a third party system."

Trump also uses Visual One modules for condo owners, POS, sales and marketing, and spa functionality. The enterprise approach eases data sharing, eliminates redundancy, avoids integration tasks, and saves time and energy, Schuback says, but it's important that a PMS suite still allows local flexibility. "They can operate independently, with the PMS keyed to each environment, but they're able to pass info in one environment that they share."

Shanty Creek Resorts
Core Needs: Integrated suite across locations
Locations: 4,500-acre Michigan site with three villages
Vendor: Northwind (
Product: Maestro
As a multi-property resort with more than 500 hotel rooms, suites and condo units, four championship golf courses, two ski mountains, five dining outlets, a spa and executive conference center, Shanty Creek Resorts ( is admittedly a challenging setting for any PMS. "We were trying to find something that could tie everything together, where we could push a button and have everything on one screen," producing a complete itinerary for each guest, says Leslie Chinn, director of revenue management for Shanty Creek.  

Ease-of-use and security were also priorities for the 4,500-acre property, which chose Northwind's Maestro, implementing it right in the middle of golf season. Now, "we can go in and get an overall picture much faster," says Chinn, and the additional data has helped the property analyze usage and drive revenue, as well as improve marketing. Chinn also likes the ability to easily move reservations around in the system.

Guests can now research options and book rooms, packages, activities and amenities across three hotels online.  "More guests are shopping and booking online and our Maestro-integrated solution has helped us increase direct hotel website bookings by five percent and our ADR is up ten dollars thanks to Maestro's easy-to-use booking technology," Chinn says.

Canyon Plaza Resort
Core Needs: Robust group functionality
Location: Grand Canyon, AZ
Vendor: MSI Solutions (Mulit-Systems, Inc.,
Product: WinPM
When you're located just outside the entryway to a major tourist attraction, the ability to easily manage, really manage, groups is paramount. Canyon Plaza Resort in Grand Canyon, Arizona ( found out the hard way that it's critical to make sure group functions will really work for your property before committing to a PMS; when the property left Choice Hotels in March 2009, it quickly bought another PMS based on a demo. Canyon Plaza grew frustrated by having to check group members in and out individually on the new system, and errors were easy to make in the process. "When two buses pull in, it takes a long time to check in one [guest] at a time. You should be able to do it all at once," says Chris Brainard, controller.

By November, the resort replaced the PMS with MSI's WinPM. Now, in addition to streamlined group check-in/out, Canyon Plaza can better manage AB folios, allocating charges to outside agents when necessary and ensuring guest charges are captured and displayed properly on the folio before the guest checks out. "We avoid mistakes, and guests are much happier," says Brainard. "We don't have to charge guests after the fact."

Ease-of-use has also been critical. "We can see everything that happened on one screen, and it's more friendly, with fewer errors," Brainard adds.

The Kessler Collection
Core Needs: Application independence and centrally served PMS
Locations: Seven, headquarters in Orlando, Fla.
Vendor: Micros (  
Product: Opera
The Kessler Collection (www.kessler was excited to be selected as the first seven hotels under Marriott's The Autograph Collection, a new brand comprised of upper upscale and luxury, independent hotels with distinctive personalities. But Kessler preferred not to adopt FOSSE, Marriott's proprietary property management system, to maintain their independence and flexibility, and instead purchased Micros' Opera.
"We also wanted a central server, all data on one server, so we could have institutional memory," says Kim Douglas, corporate director of IT for The Kessler Collection.
Hardware savings is one key benefit. "This conversion cost a lot of dollars, so this is a huge savings for us." Updates will also be less costly with one server instead of one per hotel. "We looked at all the costs that can creep up on you. Micros has been a great business partner, helping us eliminate a lot of surprises going forward."

Kessler also wanted centralized reporting, as well as the ability to maintain CRM data in one place. "These are all four-star-plus properties and customer expectations are very high," says Scott Schreiber, president and COO. "They expect us to know what they want, and deliver."

Although the hotels share one database, Kessler and Micros are rolling out the conversion at a rate of about one hotel a week. "That's a huge benefit," says Douglas. Kessler also appreciates the ability to standardize deployments across hotels, enabling property-level staff to focus on the guest, not the system.
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