29 August

PMS systems: the situation on the Russian market, common myths and reality

PMS systems: the situation on the Russian market, common myths and reality

Probably, the economic "blockade" on the part of the West should be thanked for the fact that it gave an impetus to the development of a lot in Russia. Partly for the same reason, there are new trends in the work of technical systems for managing the hotel business. About the market situation I decided to talk to Artem Prokopyev, CEO of Shelter.

- Artem, working with hotels of various levels – from several to thousands of rooms - you probably have accumulated considerable statistics. Please share your vision: how is the hotel business developing in Russia now? Which regions are in priority?

- Frankly, I will not open America in the sense that it is true: right now there is an impressive growth of the domestic hotel industry. Moreover, we see a surge in the development of resort, country hotels, glamping – all those formats that are associated with recreation. The clear leaders are the Krasnodar Territory, the North Caucasus, and the Kaliningrad Region. I must say that the countries of the former CIS also demonstrate a powerful surge in this sense – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan "shot"… The hotel industry is developing very rapidly there. I would like to note that we have a very large network of partners for the implementation of our products in 20 countries, including CIS countries.

- Given the active development of so many countries, what, in your opinion, is the most distinct trend?

- Everyone is trying to automate in one way or another, starting with the tiniest accommodation facilities. Since domestic tourism is actively developing, hotels should adapt to the domestic guest. What does a Russian need when, for example, he is sitting at home? Watch TV, "sit" in a smartphone - we already do almost everything through a smartphone. Therefore, hotels need exactly the same basic "settings": digitalization and personalization – for the client, "so that everything is through a smartphone." And for the company itself – maximum cost reduction due to optimization of internal processes.

Trend number two, caused by a) a reduction in opportunities for outbound tourism, and b) a noticeable improvement in the condition of Russian roads, has led to the fact that people now travel massively around the country with their families. And if earlier it was not so easy for a family of 4 people to book a place for the night - they had to get out of it: to huddle in a tiny double room, or to rent two at once, or to look for a more spacious apartment from private owners – now the segment of apartment hotels that have "closed" this niche for family travelers has "grown". There is a kind of boom in the market of apartment hotels now.

Well, representatives of the most inexpensive formats: glamping, modular houses, capsule hotels.

- Previously, Shelter focused more on a product for large accommodation facilities (to clarify: now it is Shelter Pro, for large hotel facilities; two more versions are Shelter Lite, for novice hoteliers, and Shelter Cloud – a cloud system for all types of accommodation. – editor's note), what prompted you as a supplier of technological solutions to "reformat"? And when?

- Just not so long ago: due to the surge of small and "alternative" accommodation facilities. In the same glamping, it makes no sense to deploy a stationary PMS Shelter Pro. Therefore, we began to develop a "cloud" version – universal, suitable for any format. Today, Shelter Cloud is a very convenient product in our line, suitable for small, medium, and large businesses. As a "cloud" product, it is inexpensive and easy to install. So any object, starting from an apartment hotel and even just the owner of several apartments, and up to a hotel "giant" with 1000+ rooms will find it convenient to use. But the main demand for it comes from small and medium-sized accommodation facilities.

- But you were talking about personalization: is it available in a "cloud" solution, and in what format?

- Yes, of course. The manager selects the appropriate services to work with guests. This is both online registration and a full-fledged mobile concierge service, when a guest, having already arrived at the hotel, can order food for himself, book additional services - anything. Moreover, we pay a lot of attention to the organization of internal operational processes, the work of the hauskiping service, etc.

- Here's about the "managers" - a separate and very important topic: now a lot of facilities that provide temporary accommodation services have not one, but many owners. And all the issues with them are handled by the management company that has taken this object under its wing. The PMS system also has to take this into account somehow. Are there any requests for new options?

- They don't just "arrive": we, in fact, regularly develop PMS taking into account such customer requests. The same apartment hotels – a huge, I repeat, segment in the modern Russian market – as a rule, are the property of many private investors. And at such an object, the automation system should have options for interacting with dozens, if not hundreds of owners – which is not present in "ordinary" hotels. Before us, almost no one in Russia was engaged in such a solution; but Shelter has it, and it is very much in demand.

- In a nutshell, what does it look like?

- This is a full-fledged "Owner's Personal account". Where any owner – of one room or several, or an entire floor in an apartment hotel - can see how his rooms are rented, the demand for them, dynamics, full income reporting – as transparent as possible. Firstly, it is very convenient, and secondly, it "removes" the main array of questions to the management company, freeing her time and saving her nerves. In addition, it is easier to build a trusting relationship between the owner and the criminal code – when all the necessary data is in the palm of your hand.

- What else is in demand on the market now, and how does Shelter adapt to these changes?

- Here it should be clarified that Shelter is part of the UCS company, which is engaged in automation not only of hotels, but also of restaurants, entertainment clubs, fitness centers, etc. Thus, we can create structures that integrate all these components, in which everything works together, and from one supplier: a single framework. And there is a demand for just such a thing now. Since those who previously owned only one hotel can now own five or six hotels, as well as a fitness center, restaurant, cafe… And they need the management processes to be not just unified, but, if possible, everything is managed within a single system, so that everything is clear and transparent. Both in terms of operating system control and reporting.

- And what is the future of "cloud technologies" in the hotel market of PMS systems? Are there any restrictions due to the fact that everyone is eager to move "to the cloud"?

- There are no restrictions. Since demand is now focused on domestic products, it is not surprising that all the key players are somehow increasingly trying to switch to "cloud" technologies. Because it provides new opportunities for development: access to new segments of accommodation, small hotels, rural, mountain segment, etc. And the second important trend that exists here is the "cloud" as a digital environment that allows you to find an individual approach to a guest.

It's not so much about the "cloud" as about building a full-fledged digital environment. The drivers are large companies that have already done this – BEAC, Yandex, MTS. These companies are also entering the hotel market: they want the guest to book rooms through their applications – for example, "Yandex.Travel" - and did not go beyond their ecosystem, and this also applies to the purchase of additional services. So that everything that a person is used to at home, he had at the hotel – a smart speaker, digital services. And to order all services – and pay for them – through one supplier.

So, as a vendor, we are also trying to take this trend into account now: we are developing new integrations in order to cover the maximum areas of life for the client in this way. And to provide this service to hotels as our partners.

- Do you think it will be possible to tear off this "piece of pie" from Sber, Yandex?

- There is no task to tear something off. We help hotels to build a digital environment that includes ecosystem products of major vendors: we provide integration of PMS with the devices of SberDevices, Yandex smart speakers, etc.

"Speaking about the trends of today's PMS systems, it's not so much about moving to the cloud, as about building a full-fledged digital environment with a variety of services. How did Sber and Yandex do it"
- I'm afraid a number of small accommodation facilities are still far from the "Yandex-level digital system". What difficulties did you have to face in a technical sense? Or maybe dispel some myths about your product?

- Not everyone understands the nuances of synchronizing the "cloud" and "server" versions. For example, our Shelter Cloud can work as an independent PMS, channel manager and booking module, or in conjunction with Shelter Pro. If the hotel already has Shelter Pro – the server version – then by purchasing Shelter Cloud, it can work with OTA platforms and receive reservations from its website.

At the same time, the full integration of Shelter Cloud and Shelter Pro is perhaps the only suitable option for those objects that have unstable Internet at the facility. And there are still a lot of such in the Russian Federation: hotels in the mountains, in rural areas, suburban facilities in which the sales department is separated from the hotel and located in the city.

When the Internet connection leaves much to be desired, it is impossible to use the "cloud" version; accordingly, there are no online sales platforms, there is no online booking, and those options that are not fully used. For such situations, we have organized full synchronization of the "cloud" and stationary versions. How it works: on the groundThe hotel has a server version and provides everything that is usually required from PMS – check-in, check-out, all internal processes. And at the same time, the exchange with the "cloud" is successfully going on even over a very weak Internet, banal through a smartphone. In this way, the information is successfully transferred to Shelter Cloud; and from there, sales are already going through aggregators, through the official website of the accommodation facility, etc. Thus, employees of the remote sales department of such an object, or the head office of the network of objects, also see all the information – the "chess pieces" look the same both in the cloud and in the stationary version of the PMS on the object; so there are no misunderstandings, errors, double bookings and other things. The hotel is functioning normally, and the guest receives a full service regardless of the availability of the Internet at a particular time.

- If we do not take into account nuances like a purely geographically inconvenient location, which areas of the hotel business are least covered by automation?

- "Daily rent": those who rent apartments for short-term rent. Here they are not very well integrated into any PMS systems. But this is for the time being: with two or three apartments, automation may not be needed, and when there are more of them, the issue with automation becomes acute. We have a solution for them: with online check-in, with the solution of issues without the personal presence of the maid, with the acceptance of payment. Even for situations when several apartments belonging to different owners are rented from one legal entity: it's like in the situation with an apartment hotel, a management company and different owners - the same principle of work: with income reporting, broken down by different apartments and different parameters. Automation for business control is very important.

- Another question that our readers asked in advance: what about licensing in your field?

- Of course, we have all the necessary certificates, obligations to protect personal data, patents for products and so on. So we are monitoring the situation with hotel legislation in terms of PMS work – as well as changes requiring our reaction, such as the introduction/cancellation of a resort fee in a particular region: of course, as suppliers of technical products, we are obliged to respond to this.

- Well, about "fresh products": what new things are you preparing for your customers? Share future new "dishes", from the inner kitchen of innovation.

- With the "kitchen of innovations" everything is simple for us: we go from the needs of the client. Now, for example, loyalty programs are popular; so in the near future, such functionality will appear in Shelter.

We will also soon have a mobile application for automating the operation of the hauskiping service; a new version of the "cloud" PMS with the most high-tech interface is also being prepared. We are following not only hotel trends, but also trends in the IT sphere in general: to make our product more beautiful, more powerful, and work faster.

Shelter also has its own laboratory for the development of hardware solutions. So right now we are rolling in electronic locks, our hotel television.

In parallel, we are completing the development of integration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs for direct data exchange.

Interviewed by Kristina Golubeva, especially for

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