Today Hotel Matters

The Power of Technology in a Modern Hotel Environment

According to the British Hospitality Association, there are more than 20,000 hotels, bed and breakfast establishments and guesthouses in the United Kingdom officially registered with local tourist boards – a figure that could increase to around 60,000 if those not officially registered are included.

The hotel business is a competitive one. To succeed, the hotel owner or manager needs to be a master juggler with a daily checklist of requirements and routines that must fit together seamlessly and without impinging on the experience of the guests.

The focal point of any hotel is its reception area. Here, whilst dealing with arrivals and departures, staff are often called in to manage telephone or email bookings, deliveries, ordering food, payment of invoices, logging queries from guests, scheduling and organising the turning out and cleaning of rooms, and all the time recognising the different rates guests are paying according to when a booking might have been made

It’s like the old saying about a swan – calm and serene on the surface, but paddling like mad below the water line. Luckily, today, major aspects of that metaphorical paddling can be handled by computerised systems. That’s why so many hotels across the UK and the world have installed, or are planning to install, the roomMaster suite of hotel management software from NFS Hospitality.

They include hotels like the Forbury in Berkshire, where General Manager Peter Farquhar made the installation of roomMaster a priority, following his experiences with the system at several other hotels over the past eight years.

Or Morgans Hotel in Swansea, where Business Development Manager Christine Major has found the system invaluable when sending out more than 20,000 emails a week to potential guests, as well as automatically confirming bookings from those who reply.

Or maybe Cabra Castle in Ireland, where Deirdre Cascade, who handles the hotel’s accounts, sees the addition of point of sale facilities to the system as a way of increasing efficiency in the hotel’s food and beverage outlets.

UK hotels of course are not alone in the take-up of the roomMaster hotel software.

“The system is currently installed in more than 5,500 hotels in 50 countries across the world,” reports NFS Hospitality’s Sanjay Saptarshi. “The roomMaster suite of hotel management software is suitable for hotels of all sizes, from ten to more than 1,000 bedrooms. From reservations to sales ledger, point of sale to commission-free internet bookings, roomMaster is a fully integrated and exceptionally powerful package, all backed up by our 24/7 helpdesk.”

“This large global client base makes it possible to deliver product reliability and new features to keep our customers’ property at the cutting edge of hospitality technology.”

In this issue of NFS Today, we look at how just some hotels across the UK are putting roomMaster to work for them.

Morgans and the Cawdor Hotel: Opening up a New Revenue Stream

Ideally situated close to the stunning Mumbles and Gower coastline in South Wales (where Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have a home), Morgans is a luxury hotel with 42 bedrooms, restaurant, bars and a pavement café. The hotel is situated in the beautiful maritime quarter of Swansea.

Morgans have been using roomMaster for more than five years where it sits at the heart of their reservations system. But, says Business Development Manager Christine Major, it does so much more besides, including opening up a new revenue stream.

“We send out in excess of 20,000 emails to potential guests every week – it’s our biggest form of advertising,” says Christine. “The ease with which roomMaster allows us to seamlessly export email addresses from reservations into our other systems is a great advantage. And that’s without the convenience of roomMaster’s housekeeping facilities – everything from telling housekeeping when rooms are vacant and ready for cleaning, to being able to log lost property found in rooms.“

Morgans’ sister hotel the Cawdor, a Grade II listed Georgian building in nearby Llandeilo, also relies on roomMaster for its day-to-day operations.

“The Cawdor is linked to laterooms.com for guests who want to make last-minute bookings,” says Christine. “But until recently that wasn’t the case at Morgans because, as a busy city centre hotel, we were afraid of over-booking. Now, roomMaster links live availability to channel management systems which feed this to online booking agents such as laterooms.com, booking.com etc“.

Christine is equally enthusiastic about NFS support for the product. “If I want to do something new and I’m not sure how to go about it, I simply call the support desk,” she says. “They look into it and tell me how to do it. They are particularly good at putting technical things into easy-to-understand terms. We recently had a small glitch in our system, but an upgrade from NFS fixed it immediately“.

“NFS are constantly improving the product, and they never fail to keep us informed if something new can make life easier for us or potentially increase sales.“

Regency Park Hotel: Saving Time, Saving Money

The 104 bedroom four-star Regency Park Hotel, where roomMaster has been installed since May, brings metropolitan styling to the tranquillity of rural Berkshire. Bedrooms are stylish, spacious and comfortable with plenty of space to work, relax and sleep, and include free wi-fi. The complex also includes 11 meeting rooms, an award-winning restaurant and a health club and spa.

Regency Park began using roomMaster when the hotel was taken over by Hertfordshire’s Manor of Groves, where the system was already running successfully.

“It definitely has pros over our old system,” reports the hotel’s Conference and Reservations Manager Zena Carter. “It’s faster for one thing. It allows us to make reservations and send out confirmations much quicker than before. Furthermore, it allows us to automatically flex our rates based on occupancy levels. Since the rates and availability from roomMaster are automatically updated to all the channels and bookings inserted directly into system, it saves me and the reservation team an awful lot of time and effort on a daily basis. This yield management feature is great and its help increased our yield per room.“

“With our old system, we had a template for the confirmation, but still had to fill in details manually. In those circumstances, it’s all too easy for someone to put the confirmation aside. With roomMaster, the confirmation is handled immediately and automatically – and that means happier customers.“

Zena is also impressed with the way roomMaster links directly with channel management systems and GDS providers which in turn link various websites, tour operators and agents directly to the hotel.

That’s just one more way in which roomMaster saves time at Regency Park. And in the busy environment of any luxury hotel, time is money.

Forbury Hotel: A Significant Increase in Revenue

The Forbury Hotel in Reading, Berkshire has been designed for both business and pleasure. Twenty-three rooms and suites arranged over four floors blend design, art and lighting to generate the perfect atmosphere for guests, while the latest technology guarantees hitch-free meetings for business people.

When he took over as General Manager, one of the first things Peter Farquhar did was to rip out the hotel’s expensive property management system and replace it with roomMaster.

“I’ve managed a number of hotels over the past eight years, and have installed roomMaster in all of them,” says Peter. “It serves its purpose completely, and yet is flexible enough to adapt to different and individual properties. It has always suited my needs perfectly.“

For Peter, the biggest benefit of roomMaster is its speed, affordability coupled with its ease of use for his team members.

“Being able to easily check room availability with the correct rate at any precise moment is something that has shown us a significant increase in revenue,” he says.

“At the moment, we use roomMaster to handle all our bookings. But I have recently purchased the channel manager that links roomMaster to the Navarino/SynXis online reservation system. That will go live in the new year.“

Peter knows all the members of the NFS support desk personally and receives regular updates from them. “The support is good, but realistically I’ve never had serious need of them,” he says. “For me, roomMaster ticks all the boxes.“

Glenmorangie Country House: Making Corporate Events Easier

Glenmorangie is more than a fine single malt Scotch whisky, it’s also the Gaelic word for ‘The Glen of Tranquility’ – and the name of one of Scotland’s finest country houses, where roomMaster plays an integral role in the day-to-day running.

Located at Fearn by Tain in Ross-shire, Glenmorangie Country House features six bedrooms, furnished and decorated in traditional Scottish style with rich fabrics and tartans, plus three cottages furnished in a homely, modern Scottish style with subtle tartans, all surrounded by beautiful gardens.

After a month of using roomMaster, Office Administrator Maggie McQuillan is already seeing the advantages of using the system.

“Previously we had been using Fidelio for more than ten years,” says Maggie. “But it needed to be upgraded to be made pci compliant. Latterly I also had issues with the support provided. Although I have not had roomMaster long, I have already been pleasantly surprised by the speed and helpfulness of the support staff.“

Side by side with all the usual facilities of a luxury hotel, for which roomMaster provides ease of use on reservations and general administration, Glenmorangie House offers a relaxing atmosphere for business and corporate events.

“It’s here that we have already begun to see a major strength of using roomMaster,” says Maggie. “We provide meeting rooms, wi-fi connections, full catering and can arrange activities from golf to fly fishing. With so much to organise, we find it especially useful that roomMaster makes it so easy to book in everyone from a corporate event at the same time.“

Not Only, but Also…

Among the many other UK hotels that have seen the benefits of using roomMaster, are:-

  • Cabra Castle Hotel in Ireland, where roomMaster’s 21st Century technology meets 18th Century splendor in a castle, which dates back to 1761.
  • The Old Court House, in the Channel Islands, set in its own grounds on the fringe of Gorey, a charming little port on Jersey’s tranquil south east coast and four miles from the island capital of St. Helier.
  • The Imperial four-star hotel, located in the business district at the heart of Cork and less than a minute’s walk to the main shopping district, music and cultural venues.

Competition: Win a Night at the Manor of Groves

Here’s your chance to win a night for two with breakfast at the Manor of Groves, a beautifully-restored Georgian manor house set in 150 acres of Hertfordshire countryside. The hotel’s modern leisure centre includes a 20-metre swimming pool, spa, jacuzzi, gym and a solarium. Beauty treatments and an 18-hole championship golf course are also available.

To be in with a chance of winning, all you need do is answer the five questions below, all based on stories in this issue of NFS Today. The prize will go to the sender of the first correct set of answers electronically drawn after the closing date.

  • How many hotels, bed and breakfast establishments and guesthouses are officially registered with local tourist boards in the UK?
  • How many emails does Morgans Hotel send to potential guests every week?
  • How many stars does the Regency Park hotel have?
  • How many floors are there in the Forbury Hotel?
  • Name one activity that can be arranged for guests at Glenmorangie Country House.

Closing date for entries is 30th November 2011. Email your answers to: peter@nfs-hospitality.com

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