Adopt the right migration strategy for a successful Cloud PMS implementation

Video Blog (vlog) – Adopt the right migration strategy for a successful Cloud PMS implementation

The hospitality industry is bouncing back as vaccine distribution and administration improves. The first half of 2021 saw a more than 100 percent growth in bookings over last year. Hotels that up their technology game and offer a safe and smooth experience to guests will have an edge over the others as the industry recovers. This means acceleration of their digital transformation journey—which explains why many large hotel chains around the globe are investing in cloud migrations. Moving core systems to cloud has become a top digital priority for the industry. Our experience shows that moving the Property Management System (PMS) to cloud delivers a host of operational benefits that hotels are keen to unlock. For hotel CIOs and CTOs, this is where most of the action is going to be in the immediate future.

Cloud PMS has become pivotal to success in the industry. There are several drivers for the adoption of cloud PMS. It does not require investments in IT infrastructure or in-house expertise to run, maintain or upgrade; and it provides quick ROI by unlocking several innovative capabilities (improved distribution, dynamic pricing, great guest experience, unmatched guest analytics) that make a business more competitive. The Cloud being elastic (you are paying for what you use), gives you flexibility on costs. You pay less when bookings drop (as in the case of the pandemic), and you can scale up as the demand picks up.

While cloud PMS adoption is imperative, the challenge lies in data migration. The level of migration complexity is determined by several factors. These include a change in the PMS product when moving from an on-premises to a cloud PMS, or from custom software to a ready-to-use SaaS platform. Where the PMS product from the same ISV is being migrated to the cloud version, there is still a determination to be made on the migration path and on chain-specific customizations created on the on-premises system.

These factors determine how historical guest data and transactions, guest preferences and reservations will be migrated. Along with this, there is the all-important aspect of deciding how future reservations and blocks are handled along with guest folios and AR balances.

In addition to the several advantages, migrating to cloud PMS offers an unexpected upside. Hotels can use this as an opportunity to standardize their shells across the chain, brand, and specific region/ country. Standardization will make analytics easier and substantially more powerful.

There are two approaches available for PMS data migration:

  1. Move all the historical data – this will offer continuity of guest and revenue information, but the process is time consuming with higher downtime (while hotels need to be operational 24X7). In addition, if the chain standardizes the core shell, migration becomes that much more complex.
  2. Leave the historical data behind – this makes the migration process quicker, more affordable and offers the opportunity to standardize the core shell. The downside is that historical information cannot be accessed on the cloud and will require the business to retain the old on-premises application.

Most businesses must create a fail-safe plan before undertaking the migration. My recommendation would be to not migrate historical data. They should however be prepared to do the following for a painless migration with this approach:

  1. Invest in creating a data lake with historical data so that property users have no problems getting the historical data or reports they need after migration
  2. All guest profiles should be maintained in a Guest Profile Database outside of the PMS so that this data need not be migrated over
  3. Clear approach to re-mapping rate codes, market codes etc., that may have changed owing to core shell standards being implemented
  4. Analyze the impact on shell standardization with other integrating applications

Cloud PMS is the surefire route to creating an efficient, cost-effective, standardized, scalable and accessible system that can rapidly adjust to changing market conditions. It also adds a new capability in terms of refining customer focus by offering next generation customer analytics. This has the potential to deliver dramatic improvement in customer experience. With visible signs of recovery in the industry, cloud PMS implementations will lead the way to transformation.


Author:

Anu Joy
GM & Industry Consulting Head Hospitality,
ITC Infotech

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