Someone had asked what systems of PMS are out there… and where you start.

Frankly, researching, engaging, and dealing with the endless sales negotiations is daunting, and tiring. I still don’t get why PMS’ aren’t transparent and straight to the point. I don’t want to negotiate for 3 weeks just to find out there is a “competitive discount” at the end worth $60-100K. That’s asinine, and it wastes people’s time. Until then…. here we go with some loose numbers about IT!

A Note About These Numbers.

I have done my due diligence for many hotels, and these are the trends.  Vague, non binding, budget purposes only numbers;  IE – don’t quote me, but these are my experiences. I don’t think it is unethical to share these numbers… they are loose based off of many projects, and I am also not divulging the sensitive licensing fees, software costs, integration and implementation fees, etc. Ask me more or email me if you want specifics.  What’s more, this doesn’t totally include all hardware, but the big numbers at the end should compensate for much of it.  This isn’t stubbing out fiber optic, nor is it all the imlpementation time for your tech people to set up the server racks, etc.  Of course, that’s a different budget.  This is basically IT software plus some of the peripherals that make it run (like touch screen POS, etc).

Also… in interest of environmental concerns… there is little wrong with having redundant RAID array servers, and having your system work off of a thin client environment.

I am available, of course, to talk about this at length.

What PMS should you buy? How much should you budget?

The PMS you should buy is obviously the one that works for you.  There are many options, like the AMAZING and TALENTED and Customer Service oriented guys at Mirage Hotel Systems.  Sure it’s not pretty, but it’s going to run about $45K, and they are guys you can call to change something and it will be changed IMMEDIATELY.  They are amazing, I have always found it a pleasure to work with Armond and the gang… and if you talk to them, mention that I sent you.  They rock.  But it isn’t necessarily appropriate for some luxury hotels, or complex layouts, etc.

The big players (in my opinion) are as follows:

PAR/SMS – Springer Miller Systems will be the most expensive, and I am not a big fan. It’s huge, clunky, they oversell it, and the implementation and integration is not so great.  It used to be the leader, and might still consider themselves the “cadillac” of PMS.  I say it’s big… REALLY big.  It’s also prohibitively expensive, and the back end interfacing and tech isn’t always the best.  Of course, that is a problem with almost all these systems.  Once they sell it, they never seem as eager to fix things after they get the check.  Budget $166K w/o modules. It’s a *beast*… modules included I would say a total would be around $300K+, easy.

Micros/Fidelio Opera – Probably the industry leader now, and for good reason.  A windows based program that is slick, intuitive, and often prohibitively expensive.  They have the industry leader for F&B POS, but the sales and catering is light to say the least, and I am not even sure they have an integrated accounting system.  It’s a solid PMS, and you will be happy. Period.  However, the S&C module is nothing compared to Delphi, and I have seen properties buy it, and switch to delphi years later.  The spa system is limiting too, but not in price.  Micros/Fidelio Opera – $130-150K w/o modules.  Modules –
F&B $15 – $25K depending on the restaurant
S&C – $30K approx
Spa – $35 – $40K approx

This will end up around $250K for the total with modules.

Agilysys Visual One – Visual One is fantastic, but the peripheral modules (desk, F&B) aren’t so easy on the line and front of house as I would like.  The back end accounting, G/L, month-end is ***AWESOME*** (read, “like a dream”) and very simple. What it comes down to is sacrificing front end functionality with back end convenience.  The problem here is that you are paying that back end controller more money than the simpler line staff who have to deal with some complex, and frustrating issues.  It depends if you want unhappy staff and happy owners, or vice versa… however simplistic that sounds.  Honestly… we always want our reporting and accounting as streamlined as possible, but not at the sacrifice of losing a functional front of house system that is intuitive and simple to learn for the ever rotating line staff and management that actually have to deal with day to day operations.  $95K w/o modules
Modules – total them all up and it will run $260K or therabouts.

Northwind Maestro – I like this system, because we have made them do a couple builds where they are interfacing with industry standards for the modules… So instead of relying on an entire system that has multiple weak spots… IE Agilysys’ Visual One F&B & S&C weak spots, or Micros’ S&C, Spa, and Accounting weak spots, etc… you get to build out a vetted system with Delphi, Micros F&B POS, MAS 500 Accounting, and Harms Millenium for the spa. It does create a lot of extra work and communication, but you can rest assured that from front of house to the G/L and beyond you will have a solid system that can do a lot.  $80K w/o modules.  Modules -  The total cost ends up being around $180K – $210K with the benchmarked modules. So it is cheaper as well.

A word about interfacing

When you are interfacing, you have to realize that when Opera or Par/SMS talk about an integrated system, they aren’t really talking about an “integrated system” like Agilysys Visual One.  That one is wholly and completely tied into all parts, while the other systems are simply *interfacing* with other modules.  That means when you are choosing, it is just as easy to go with Delphi and an XML interface for inventory management as it is to go with the preferred S&C module that the company offers.  This is because those modules weren’t built with the PMS in mind, as much as they were bought as 3rd party programs and co-opted by the PMS to work with the system.  All this means is that you should pick systems you are comfortable with, and not feel the need to be a partisan picker, and go with an entire bundled system.  This is why we have gone with Northwind Maestro… it’s a great windows based PMS that integrates well with all the industry standards.  I also didn’t feel the hard sell from them as I did from other vendors…. Northwind wanted us to be successful so they looked successful, instead of just selling what they offered.

I am really happy with Northwind Maestro.  It will be the most affordable of the lot, and I am pleased with them across the board. The modules aren’t my favourite, so usually we use Maestro and go with Delphi for S&C, Micros for F&B, Mas 90 (should work, but mas 500 is better, a 2 way XML interface, and simply better reporting/much easier).. and HARMS MILLENIUM for the spa… because Harms is awesome, and I don’t think there is a better spa software anywhere.  At least not yet.

And that’s my two tech cents!

About Michael

12 Responses to “IT BUDGETS – Hotel IT questions, and a couple answers about PMS”

  1. Erik Munoz

    Hi Michael,

    Good post on a topic close to my heart (read: hip pocket).

    I haven’t heard about Mirage (I presume they’re a US-centric supplier), but I echo your sentiments on the value of outstanding customer service and responsiveness. For some hoteliers, a PMS is a commodity item, so after sales service should be looked at closely.

    In terms of global view of PMS suppliers, I would add the following systems into the mix:

    Protel: Very strong in reports, built for multi-property deployment, good support for German-speaking European countries.

    Amadeus: Emerging PMS supplier, the PMS was originally called Hogatex and their Revenue Management system was also a 3rd party system called Optims.

    Epitome by SoftBrands: Supports .Net (cloud computing) environment as well as traditional client-server deployments. Multi-lingual, including double-byte character set (a must for Northern Asia, eg. China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea). Strong after-sales support.

    roomMaster: Started life as a low-cost, low-end PMS for very basic functionality. Current version of the system looks cluttered (it was never designed to service larger and more sophisticated operations). For a small hotel, it provides good ‘bang for your buck’ value.

    Disclosure: I have worked for Micros, HIS and SoftBrands in the past (and about to re-join SoftBrands). In the past 8 months, I have partnered with roomMaster, Protel, OPERA, Agilysys, Epitome, Medallion, PORTfolio and a number of other PMS systems, during an integration project with the Channel Management system.

  2. Ahmed Mahmoud

    This still will depend on the operation and it’s needs, but it is true the most common system used is Opera & Delphi, where they give about 99 % of the operation needs .

  3. Peter

    I have an experienced with Infrasys POS, I choose this product instead Micros POS because the PMS is Fidelio v.7, Micros Fidelio charged us with crazy price for the interface double than normal price and charged the maintenance annual fee in advaced and must paid 100% (no term payment).

    So be carefull for the user who use the Fidelio PMS, they’re cheating and so unfair business.

    And if you received the quotation from them.. please read carefully and make sure for every detail with confirmation if the quotation is a whole system already.

  4. Michael Hraba

    I notice a lot of PMS and tech sales going through the motions, talking the talk to get you to buy… then the back end falls far short with little responsiveness or customer service. Maestro has not been like that. Mirage Hotel Systems is probably one of the best, with a PMS that isn’t that flashy, but they can and will do anything to make it work better, and to make you happy. I can’t speak to Par/SMS because it has been quite some time, but I do know people are always frustrated with Micros Fidelio Opera and their Point of Sale. Jadeon Aloho’s POS also has the same backend responsiveness problems.

    Micros bought TIG, and since then I have noticed issues with both companies.

  5. Robert O'Mara

    Finally! Some information on prices. I’m carrying out a project for a course I am undertaking in foreign trade and I have been trying to price various hotel management systems, with very little luck. I have rarely come across an industry with so little transparency, attempting to obtain any kind of figures is a slow, frustrating, and unrewarding process.
    For references purposes only, and without quoting(!), could you confirm Micros Opera prices for me, I would be immensely grateful, as I really don’t want to talk to these people over and over again.

    Many thanks.

  6. Michael Hraba

    I am at least 5 years out from a proper Opera quote, but I would say somewhere around $125 – 150K depending on options and modules. It definitely depends on the size of the property. Smaller props can’t come close to affording an operating system like that. There are wonderful options in the $12K – 20K range, like – they’re not flashy, but they’re solid, and the best customer service I have ever seen. Maestro by Northwind will be around $55 – 90K depending on the modules. It’s all about size, really…. I can give better info from there?

  7. Evan Davies

    Im sure you are talking high end systems here for large hotels, but for smaller properties there are lots and lots of cheaper solutions out there. I have a startup that will also offer a hotel PMS for properties of under 20 rooms. I would like to talk to you when its near production.

  8. Ram

    Hi Michael, what is your opinion now that Oracle has globally acquired Micros Inc .. Will the service get better !! Shall customers still wait longtime for quotes and service ?
    Have you heard about New Hotel PMS ? Any clue about same ..

  9. Michael

    I have zero hope that mergers do anything but break down systems of existing communication to the point it is crippling and dangerous. I know one hotel that switched from a PMS to Opera, and it’s been 18 months and they still aren’t interfaced properly. I would say the larger you get, the more disconnected you get from your customer and what made you successful. We are incredibly happy with Mirage Hotel Systems, and there are other decent options like Maestro or Autoclerk, depending on the property. Never the cloud, for sure….. but I don’t think Opera is worth it. It’s 10x too expensive, and the back end system of communication and tech support is a bureaucratic nightmare.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Hotels: What is a cost-effective turnkey solution to use for a small hotel booking engine? - Quora

    […] Michael Hraba, I like Hotels.I like Hotels.I have done so much due diligence on this.…The short answer is that that list is about 3 years old, but it's still on target. I will go […]