July 23, 2018
Behind every successful hotel lies numerous processes to make sure everything functions smoothly, from the booking to the beverage restocking to the bill paying.
The Mowana’s overhaul includes major technology changes to improve efficiency and enhance the guest experience, says Johan du Preez, the Operations Executive for Hospitality Technology International (HTI).
Johannesburg-based HTI is the largest hospitality software developer in Africa. “Our software is developed by Africans for the African market, so it’s straight forward and easy to use. We had a look at the process flow within hotels and there’s no need to overly complicate things, and that’s the way our systems were designed,” du Preez says.
The systems were also old and not all the functions were integrated. Bookings had to be entered manually so the available inventory took time to be updated, while restaurant and bar bills were also added manually to the guests’ final bills.
Not anymore. The solution that HTI implemented includes the eRes Customer Reservation System, the Apex property management system (PMS), PlusPoint Point of Sale & Stock Control. These integrated systems cover every hotel in the group.
The eRes CRS system now shows the realtime availability of rooms across the group, so guests making a reservation through the call centre, online, via a travel agent or through an online service like Booking.com all see the current availability and the best prices available.
If the hotel takes a walk-in reservation or closes a bedroom for maintenance, every sales channel is updated instantly to reflect that change in inventory. “This means guests are guaranteed that the availability they are looking at on their booking platform is correct and the rate displayed is the best available rate based on the yield strategy,” says du Preez.
The eRes CRS system also allows guests to make reservations in different Cresta Hotels in a single booking, instead of having to make numerous bookings, several payments and receive several confirmations, which will simplify things for business travellers touring the region.
The integration also extends to food and beverage outlets, curios shops, activity centres and the front office, so guests can sign purchases to their room and receive one bill on departure. Before, invoices from different outlets were entered manually, which could lead to human error and guests being over-billed or not billed at all. In-room telephone usage is billed directly to guest invoices. Because all three systems are seamlessly integrated, guest profiles can be built up within eRes CRS and Apex PMS, so the hotels can record the likes and dislikes of their guests and treat return guests more personally.
The banqueting and conferencing functions have also been integrated into Apex PMS, to show real-time room availability and make bookings for groups and conferences. “On the day of the function, all food and beverage consumption is automatically added to the invoice,” du Preez adds. Apex PMS integrates to third party suppliers as well, so the Cresta Group can interact with guests through Guest Survey systems.
The three systems make statistical and financial data easily available, so the managers can analyse the figures and spot trends to help them plan, forecast and improve the client experience. HTI has trained the staff to use the new systems, and a travelling consultant will revisit from time to time to top up the training and ensure they are kept up to date with any further enhancements.
“Guests should notice the ease of use during the booking process, and during the check-in and check-out processes to make their stay a hassle-free and pleasant experience.” du Preez says.
by Lesley Stones