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!