A few days ago, Fernando Gallardo, a journalist/analyst in trends and new concepts related to tourism, quoted us in his Services section study of hotel tendencies for 2016.. We found it interesting to explain the possibilities of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) technology in a strategic sector such as tourism.
PMS, IBE, Channel, Shopper, RMS: The multiple systems and applications of a hotel
Most of the hotels, in the execution of their processes and tasks, use several applications and systems, among which are:
- PMS (Property Management System): is the hotel’s ERP, a software that allows the integrated management of the different departments of the hotel (rooms, catering, reception and reservations, commercial, administration, etc.).
- IBE (Internet Booking Engine): also known as “booking engine”, is the inventory and price management system to sell on the Internet.
- Channel Manager: a system that allows you to update sales prices and inventory availability in the multiple online sales channels from a single point.
- Rate Shopper: system to automatically consult the sales prices of the competition. Maintains control of the market situation and competitor movement..
- RMS (Revenue Management System): a comprehensive system that supports Revenue Manager in what decisions should be made. It analyzes the historical data from PMS, the prices competitors are selling at and data on demand forecast. Moreover, through the application of previously defined algorithms, it suggests the most appropriate price the room should sell at in each channel.
But the reality is that very few hotels have an RMS. In the vast majority of cases, these applications are not fully integrated, being Excel sheets, and a simple mechanism of “copying and pasting” data between windows.. It, therefore, requires a high degree of manual intervention.
In these cases, a good deal of time and resources are invested in tasks that cost the hotel a lot of money but add little value, these tasks are prone to error as a result of manual intervention.
But most of these tasks could be automated by software robots without having to modify existing systems. This “non-intrusive” element is precisely Jidoka’s innovative and differential factor: robots do not integrate with applications, they simply use them. In other words, we access Excel reports or PMS windows, Channel or even the Booking extranet or any other OTA, by means of a software robot that moves the mouse or writes on the keyboard, as if it was a “macro”, to automatically execute a large part of the repetitive tasks that hotel employees perform when accessing these applications.
Software robots improve existing processes as well as implementing new ones.
Some applications that software robots are able to use in the hotel sector, which have been proven through numerous interviews and meetings with professionals, are the following:
- Revenue Management Scorecards: obtain information from different systems to generate an Excel sheet with main occupation and price indicators, comparing them to the competition.
- Update of rates: update of hotel rates in different channels using the hotel’s Channel Manager in an automated way.
- Dump of reservations: automatic dump in the hotel PMS of reservations that enter through the direct channel (web page) or through the indirect channel (OTAs).
- Pre- and Post-Stay Mailing: Sending personalized mail to customers before and after their stay at the destination.
This brief list is not intended to be exhaustive. In general, any repetitive, mechanical and rule-based process in which computer applications are used is likely to be automated with Jidoka robots, opening multiple application opportunities in hotels, and in tourism businesses around the world.
But the objective for the hotelier should not only be focused on saving costs on processes and manual tasks, nor even on executing these processes with more precision (fewer errors). Software robots allow hoteliers to implement new processes and operations with integrated information from their systems, or from the Internet, at a reduced cost and reasonable time, obtaining a return on investment (ROI) in months, not years.
RPA and Big Data: it’s not science fiction, it’s already a profession.
Let us take an example of a robotic process, which did not exist in a hotel, and which has even led to a new profession: ” experience manager “.
A software robot can analyze the profile on social networks (Twitter) and identify the client’s level of influence (Clout Score) before arriving at the hotel. Not only that, but by using other social networks such as Tripadvisor or Facebook, the robot can analyze the information that the clients themselves have published on the Internet revealing their tastes and preferences and making it easier for the hotelier to attend to them in a more personalized way before their arrival at the hotel.
But that’s not all; the robot can enter all the customer information into the hotel’s main application, the PMS. In this way, the hotel staff will have access to this valuable information.
This Jidoka robot that combines Big Data and RPA technology already exists, it is not “science fiction”, it is called Guest Review and there are already hotels using it, such as the Hotel Bécquer in Seville.