Hotels are the most complex operations of all hospitality businesses.
That’s because they contain many of the smaller operations described here – for example, check out our advice on EPOS for bars, our EPOS for gyms and spas, or our EPOS for restaurant pages. All of these are just subsections of Hotels, which entangle multiple different systems together.
The main part of a Hotel can be done via PMS, which stands for Property Management System. Any POS system you have will play second fiddle to your PMS, which should be the main system which you manage the allocation of rooms, confirm identity, and finalise the last payments.
Therefore, when considering your POS, it can be tempting to think of these as a series of discrete questions. What’s the best EPOS for your bar? Your restaurant? Your spa?
This is the right way to approach the question – with one caveat. We need to ask about how much we want these to be discrete systems and how much we’d prefer them to be part of a “software ecosystem” in which we’re properly recording customer journeys, and for which the data about customers needs to be ready-available in every system.
An “integration” is the name for two systems talking to each other. Software brands usually list their available integrations on their websites. If you’re a hotel, a custom-built integration might well be within the ballpark of the budget you’re able to allocate to your technology – so nothing is out of reach! However, if we want a highly integrated system while keeping our costs low, we’re going to want to choose software brands which work together – which requires a more holistic choice when it comes to software.
How far do I integrate?
Let’s get straight to a case study. The diagram below depicts a set-up for a hotel with a bar, restaurant, gym, and pool – each of which has an EPOS system with either the software of Lightspeed or MIND BODY. Let’s stipulate that all of these are available to go to separately from the hotel, so there’s a mix of hotel guests and outsiders using each.
Restaurant and Bar EPOS software – Integrate!
In the diagram above, MEWS PMS is being used to manage the rooms of a property. The hotel restaurant and bar both use Lightspeed Restaurant, which integrates with MEWS.
EPOS systems are designed to take payment for goods and services. Lightspeed is a sophisticated restaurant EPOS system, with a host of front-end features that are designed to mould to complex customer interactions in a restaurant – things like tip management, courses, and other elements which we’ll discuss in the “restaurant” section. But at its most basic level, a restaurant EPOS is designed to press buttons that represent orders, send a docket through to the kitchen, and take card payments. What’s to integrate?
First, and most obviously, an integration would mean you can “put something on the room”. This would require doing manually if the system was not integrated – telling the system it’s been paid for, and then entering that a room has consumed a beverage via your PMS software in a different app. That would be very difficult.
Secondly, and importantly, both should pull from the same inventory figures. One thing which is absolutely essential with this level of complexity in software is that you have one canonical and continuously-updated set of figures for your levels of inventory across your bar, restaurant, and hotel room service. That way, you can store everything centrally – and if someone orders a bottle of chablis to their room and the bar’s run out, the restaurant can gladly sell their chablis to the bar for the bar to sell to the customer.
If you’re a hotel chain, you’re very likely to have discrete inventory management software such as market man. This is vital for things like deliveries and the movements of large volumes of food – which needs to be mapped/secured coolly and to a hygiene standard / thrown out if it goes past its sell-by-date, etcetera.
Spa, Gym, Pool EPOS software – Integrate?
As discussed in our EPOS for spa and gyms page, these all span requirements which don’t match against traditional EPOS which has been built for shops and restaurants. Such is the malleability of software, that you can separate these out into discrete features that work individually. In the example above, MIND BODY does not integrate with MEWS – or many PMS systems.
But generally speaking, it’s less vital to integrate here – assuming the set-up means that hotel guests have unlimited access to the spa as much as they want. If you start to get into services bought additionally and put on “the room”, that’s where an integration could be useful.
There are some gym, spa, and pool requirements that aren’t traditionally included in an EPOS system.
Those requirements are:
Membership and access management is concerned with the keeping of customers on a database, printing out some kind of access key, and permitting them to access a site or sites based on their credentials in that database. Read more…
Service booking is software designed to book services. This could tie itself automatically to a calendar of employee time slots – for things like massages, where a masseuse’s availability is the prime determinator of whether it’s possible to book.
MIND BODY is a great example of software designed for gyms and spas which has these features in addition to more traditional EPOS modules. But most PMS systems will do some of these – membership and management access is really what hotel key card functions on PMS systems are concerned with – and other features can usually be found in simple integrated software, making the system example above a little bit over-complex and under-integrated. So an example of one set-up which would make sense might be a small discrete point of sale solely for letting outsiders into the pool; then access from the other side allowed by a key card produced through the PMS.
Payment Processing – One Provider or Multiple?
Payment processors give better rates as you process more. It therefore makes sense to pool all your services together with a single processor, if you’re comfortable doing so. In this example, we’ve picked allied irish bank via bluebird payments – which is a good choice for a very large client like a hotel, because they give a full “interchange +” quote, which enables full transparency which your CFO can pick over. (“Interchange +” means they show you the costs they pass on the VISA, mastercard, and the cardholder’s bank– and therefore their own margins). We’ve also negotiated cheaper rates exclusive to StoreKit with this provider, as we represent a large number of clients.
Sometimes, merchants are stymied by contracts which overlap and end at different times. It could be that you’re presently on a bad rate; and when you launch your new spa you wish to accept payments with a new provider, with a view to moving the entire hotel to that provider in time. This could be important information to include when running a bidding process for your payment provider.
Next: choosing PMS
Choosing EPOS for your Hotel is a second step after choosing your PMS system. If you’re looking for advice after or during that process, give us a call! We’re set up to give holistic advice on your software ecosystem; we’re focused on EPOS software, but we’re not exclusive. We have a crack team of EPOS and software experts ready to talk.