A transformational win for hotel technology | PhocusWire
 

A transformational win for hotel technology

How it became possible to connect the dots

HITEC. It’s the largest and longest-standing hospitality technology stage in the world, and a name that’s become synonymous over the years with the latest and greatest innovations to launch in the exciting space within which we operate.

Earlier this month, I invited the industry to join me in talking openly about what I believed to be the unspoken challenge that’s crippling hotel technology innovation.

That universal challenge is, of course, connectivity – something the co-founder of revenue management system Pace, Jason Pinto, says has forced his company to “look at in every way to try to get ahead of it, find ways around it, or simply run through the brick wall that it is”.

This week at HITEC, I was thrilled to announce that a solution to how we as an industry connect had finally arrived.

Today the questions are no longer hypothetical, and the theory has become a reality – with SiteMinder Exchange. It’s the global hotel industry’s powerfully-simple, and long-awaited, solution to solving the connectivity problem for hotel property management systems (PMSs) and hotel applications everywhere.

Data democratised

Enabling a seamless transfer of hotel data between PMSs and applications, SiteMinder Exchange provides much-needed relief for creators of hotel technology who can now:

  • Go back to innovating on their products
  • Offer a more complete market offering to their hotel users, who through SiteMinder Exchange can gain access to an integrated technology setup, themselves, as well as rich insights into their guests.

Perhaps the director of PMS Sirvoy, Mats Persson, explains it best in saying:

"Every accommodation owner needs to be able to gain access to all the software they need from one source. So, connecting to SiteMinder Exchange means we can offer our hotel clients access to all the data they need to ensure optimum efficiency. It also saves us from having to develop a substandard version of a technology that someone else spent years perfecting.”

But why the focus on data? According to Duane Hepditch, it’s “the sacred content that flows in and out of all our software solutions”. Hepditch is the founder of hotel guest engagement and marketing platform Guestfolio, which in 2016 was acquired by Cendyn where he now serves as SVP Product Marketing.

As more and more technology start-ups sell micro-solutions to hoteliers, Hepditch says, the demand to access the data stored within PMSs will grow out of control. A central repository means that demand from data subscribers – the disparate end recipients of the information that is housed within and made available by every PMS or data "publisher" – can be met.

Importantly, with SiteMinder Exchange, that demand can be met at a minimal cost. Running in parallel with the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model that allowed SiteMinder to disrupt the market in the mid 2000s, SiteMinder Exchange is founded on a paradigm of Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) – that is, data on demand.

Developers of hotel applications pay no upfront cost to be integrated; instead, they subscribe to a low monthly fee for each hotel property that chooses to have that application connected to their PMS.

It’s a significant step forward in a space that has traditionally imposed exorbitant upfront and monthly fees to create a cost barrier that only applications with deep pockets can overcome.

And the winner is… the hotelier

While SiteMinder Exchange comes with a small monthly investment for hotel applications, the cost to integrated PMS providers and hotels is zero. Where hotels have traditionally been charged either per property or room, SiteMinder Exchange has effectively democratised hotel data to level the playing field for every technology and accommodation provider.

As the co-founder of Hotel Tech Report, Jordan Hollander, says: "Integration fees mean a lower return on investment and, therefore, hotels make fewer investments altogether."

Hepditch therefore believes the rightful winner is the hotelier.

"Hoteliers, especially IT directors, are the big winners in the adoption of DaaS. It allows them to have confidence in how their guest data is being shared, processed and stored.

It also enables them to pursue new technologies that can have an impact on revenue, guest engagement and the physical premise, whilst not being bogged down by lengthy data integrations."

Hospitality marketing cloud leader Cendyn is among SiteMinder Exchange’s early adopters. Speaking on the specific ways hotel users of Cendyn’s application will benefit from SiteMinder Exchange, president and founder Charles Deyo explains that they come down to savings in cost and time, personalisation and speed-to-market.

"SiteMinder Exchange has improved the timeframe to source, verify and import hotel data for CRM applications like ours. This, in turn, is allowing hoteliers to implement their CRM and marketing more quickly and accurately," says Deyo.

"Because the exchange of data is supported, it also means hoteliers don’t have to worry about added server costs, uptime or bandwidth to transfer their data to Cendyn-powered solutions.

Cendyn’s data centre is already configured to adapt as new data elements become available through SiteMinder Exchange.

For hoteliers, this means that as more unique data elements are transferred to Cendyn, the guest service and marketing messages become more personalised and relevant."

Exploring new horizons

Deyo also points out that SiteMinder Exchange has created opportunities to harness and leverage hotel data in a way that has not been possible until now.

“We have been investigating new services and applications that will utilise the data. Cendyn has a history of innovation and SiteMinder Exchange is a great partner to develop future solutions that don’t exist yet.”

It’s a sentiment shared by CEO and co-founder Erik Tengen, who says, for five-year-old, Amsterdam-based Oaky, an upselling platform for hotels to enhance the guest experience, SiteMinder Exchange has provided scalability and new markets.

“We’re looking to put a lot of effort into it and make it the biggest channel we have in acquiring new business, in a way that is far more efficient and can reduce the cost of acquisition heavily. We’ve already got leads from Australia, for example, and that would have never happened had it not been for SiteMinder Exchange. So, it’s opening up new geographies. It’s going to be a great springboard to scale at a lower cost. We can do less marketing. We can ride on the wave.”

Asked what excites him most, Tengen says:

"It has to be what’s yet to come; what the potential is. What will be groundbreaking is the day a hotel in, say, New Zealand can log in, click on a button to understand our value proposition, then connect and go live with very little human touch. I think hotels are very used to being held by the hand, but when we go there, and we will, we will require a way to do it and SiteMinder Exchange will be that way."

The key is transparency

For more than a decade, we at SiteMinder have stood squarely between more than 600 of the world’s top hotel technology providers to serve in excess of 30,000 hotel properties with guest acquisition solutions encompassing channel management, direct hotel bookings, pricing intelligence and GDS connectivity.

Arguably more than any other, we have grown to understand how costly and time-consuming it can be to build integrations.

We know PMSs and applications want to go back to focusing on their core products, not connections, but while we’ve seen fantastic efforts in the industry to standardise messaging, we’ve failed to see practical solutions that ease the burden for those providers whose days remain consumed building point-to-point connections to each other.

SiteMinder Exchange is about enabling those players to effortlessly integrate, and to build only once to access a multitude of partner systems.

By breaking down these integration barriers, we are all one step closer to achieving our shared vision, which is helping hoteliers to access the integrated setup and rich guest insights they need to make their hotel business successful.

But it will take some openness.

Speaking to my team earlier this year, as he looked through a glass wall to see his entire team of developers ploughing through a neverending list of PMS integrations, Jason Pinto at Pace commented:

"As an overarching ethos, the hotel technology industry has not been a particularly open industry in the past. The truth is, there have been some that have been quite proprietary about how you can connect to their APIs and that’s really held all of us back.”

Can any of us disagree?

Here’s a highlight reel from the panel discussion at HITEC, for those who missed it:

Learn more about SiteMinder Exchange here!