TigerTMS White Paper

The Importance of Guest Interaction in the era of Covid

A pragmatic and effective means to: –

  • Improve communications between Guest and Hotelier.
  • Enhance the Guest experience.
  • Maximise Guest satisfaction and spend from point of booking to check-out.
  • Increase the volume and value of Social reviews.

by Paul Hammond
INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT

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    1.Executive Summary

    2.Considerations

    I. Examples of low interaction requests

    II. Examples of high interaction requests

    A. Scope

    B. Timing

    C. Data Confidentiality

    D. Promotion and Uptake

    E. RIO / Justification 

    I. Tangible

    II. Intangible

    3.Technology Options

    A. In Room Tablets / Touchscreen Handsets

    B. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) – Smartphones

    I. Dedicated Mobile APPs

    II. Progressive Web APPs (PWAs) and Integrated Smartphone Technology

    4.Summary

    5.Technical Addendum

    A. TigerTMS – Background and Overview of Guest Facing Solutions

    B. iNotify

    C. iPortal

    D. TigerTMS Software Architecture and iLink

    6.About TigerTMS

    7.About the Author

    1. Executive Summary

    Guest engagement and interaction is part of the DNA of any Hotelier – we know that Guests value support, advice and recommendations from Hotel staff. Often, just a warm welcome from an enthusiastic Reception Desk can be the catalyst for a great stay. Traditionally, this interaction was face to face but has morphed over the last decade to be increasingly virtual or message orientated.

    Regardless of the physical form, this interaction can be the deciding factor in whether a Guest leaves a poor or fabulous review on TripAdvisor or a Social site and thereby positively or negatively affects future occupancy levels and room rates. As long ago as 2014, a year-long study of 400 Hotels in Europe and Asia-Pac demonstrated that an increased score of 10% on TripAdvisor led to an increase in booking of 9% and 15% for Europe and Asia-Pac respectively.

    Since early 2020, Covid19 has majorly impacted the Hospitality Industry. As we return to the “new norm”, the importance of effective and timely communication with Guests has never been higher – their level of confidence in Hoteliers ability to effectively manage the risk of infection can make the difference in a booking turning into a stay as opposed to a costly cancellation. Once checked-in, ensuring that a Guest has a great experience and encouraging them to share that across their social circles, is one of the most powerful tools any Hotelier can use to positively influence future occupancy and room rates in today’s environment.

    Whilst all of the above may be common sense and highly desirable, what are the enablers and blockers in achieving not just great Guest communication before, during and following their stay but also ensuring that any Guest requests are encouraged and acted upon in a timely fashion?

    This white paper lays out some of the technology options available in the marketplace today and highlights the choices and considerations Hoteliers need to make, along with the benefits and challenges presented by these different approaches.

    2. Considerations

    What makes Guests choose a specific hotel?

    Like most purchases, the decision to choose a specific hotel is complex but can be broken down into four primary elements: –

    • Location
    • Style
    • Price and Value
    • Reputation and Experience

    There are hundreds of studies and an army of consultants that advise on the above topics but any Hotelier will understand the criticality of best representing their Hotel across all the different media channels that positively influence Guest’s decisions today.

    Google’s study of the five stages of travel in 2012 showcased the criticality of influencing and guiding Guests throughout the cycle, from the initial inspiration (dreaming) all the way through to them sharing their experience on social and review sites.

    Hoteliers already invest considerable time and money to achieve the above, any additional expenditure in technology should ideally add value in each of the five stages and be easily managed alongside other content so potential Guests have a consistent experience.

    Alongside a telephone-based reservations desk, websites were the original technological means of showcasing a Hotel prior to Check-in. Since then, Hotel TV, in-room tablets, large screen desk-phones and APPs on smartphones have complemented this capability. Guest facing systems have become an increasing consideration since the dawn of the Internet.

    Some Hoteliers believe these solutions reduce the opportunity for their staff to enter into conversations that add value and help endear themselves to potential or actual Guests, but, in reality they are like any other technology – implemented and used well, they should  enhance the Guest experience and drive the value of the overall experience higher.

    Additionally, there are wide ranging, highly personal preferences for the medium through which these interactions take place that can be dependent on the level of collaboration required. Some examples below: –

    I.Examples of low interaction requests

    Room Service: “I want a large bottle of sparkling water, ASAP”

    Wake-up call: “I’d like a wake-up call for 7am”

    II.Examples of high interaction requests

    Activities: “I have a free evening and would like to know what I could do?”

    Safety: “I’m due to arrive on Thursday and worried about the news I hear on Covid infection rates in your area”

    In low interaction requests, a simple confirmation will suffice – it is a straightforward transaction! They offer little in terms of value-add and most often do not require any discussion or qualification whereas high interaction requests necessitate collaboration to understand more about the Guest’s preferences and concerns that could also be followed up by providing content for them to consider. Some Guests may prefer to have highly interactive conversations by audio or even video whereas others may elect to use text and message-led interaction.

    Communication options for Guest Interaction

    Fundamentally, it is about personal choice and ensuring that Guests have a convenient and easy means to obtain what they want, when they want it!

    Consideration should also be given how to deliver against any request made:

    Low Interaction examples should be relatively easy – simple orders and requests could be answered using automated responses with any downstream fulfilment (e.g. Room Service) being routed into the workflow of the applicable system (e.g. POS). This can save staff time and be provided in the language preferred by the Guest.

    For High Interaction requests, questions need to be routed to the resources that can best provide a timely, high quality response. That resource may be an outsourced centralised facility (e.g. Reservations desk) or staff working from home or at a sister Hotel (e.g. Concierge). Technology must enable the seamless routing and response to Guest requests whilst maximising the efficiency of the operation. Guest requests that are left “hanging” or unfulfilled will become a lost opportunity, source of frustration and complaint.

    Hoteliers should also understand that Guests may initiate the conversation via simple text that could easily morph into audio/video calls or potentially result in a face to face discussion with another member of staff. Having the ability to hand-over a conversation to a colleague without delay and the Guest having to repeat the previous conversation is also highly advantageous.

    A. Scope

    Deciding on the scope of what a Hotelier wants to offer is an important consideration. Some questions that should be answered early in the project are listed below:

    • Decide on the functions and capabilities you wish to extend to Guests?
    • What will add value to Guests and be supportable by staff, processes and systems?
    • Who will be responsible for implementing the system and training internal stakeholders on the use of the system?
    • Who will be tasked with making the system a long-term success?
    • What criteria will be used to measure whether the project is successful or not?

    Whilst the collective answers to the above questions are unique to every hotel, there are multiple vendors with real world experience of deploying these solutions and a growing list of Hoteliers that have lived through their own implementations and use of such systems. Reaching out to both communities and garnering their thoughts will pay dividends downstream.

    B. Timing

    Choosing when to implement new systems within Hotels is ordinarily quite a challenge but one of the very few benefits of the current Covid pandemic may well be realised now. Firstly, most Hotels will be suffering from lower occupancy rates and therefore have reduced day to day operational pressures. Secondly, consumers are becoming increasingly adept to changes of process and leveraging technology to reduce their risk of infection.

    A recent survey undertaken by HFTP in the USA found that a large majority of Guests welcomes the use of technology that enables social distancing in Hotels.

    C. Data Confidentiality

    Since May 2019, the regulations around personal data have become enforceable with significant fiscal penalties alongside the impact on brand reputation. Any system that is implemented will need to cleanse personally identifiable information (PII) in accordance with GDPR, CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) and other local law.

    D. Promotion and Uptake

    How will you promote the use of any solution to Guests and your staff? Enthusiastic and well-trained staff will soon lose their enthusiasm and knowledge of the system if Guest uptake is poor.  Similarly, poorly trained or unwilling staff will negatively impact the Guest experience, exactly the opposite of what any solution sets out to achieve.

    E. ROI / Justification

    One final but clearly essential aspect to any potential system is the return on investment – not simply the cost of any solution but the implementation, staff training and on-going administration to ensure that information within the system is kept updated. How will Hoteliers be able to justify the cost of this, especially during the current pandemic? Like most situations, there are tangible and intangible benefits associated with these systems, some examples below:

    I. Tangible

      • Primary and secondary room bookings
      • Early and late Check-in / Check-out extensions
      • Additional or “secondary” spend on F&B, activities, onward travel, etc.
      • Staff time saving

    II. Intangible

      • Guest satisfaction – Net Promoter Score (NPS) scores
      • Guest reviews – Increasing the volume and rating of reviews
      • Improved Staff retention and recruitment
      • Insight on Guest preferences

    3. Technology Options

    There are two critical decisions for Hoteliers to take regarding the approach they will take when implementing any Guest facing solution:

    • Does the Hotel supply their own hardware for Guests to use or leverage the devices already owned by the Guest, primarily Smartphones?
    • If the decision is to leverage Guest’s devices, should you elect to have an APP developed / customised for Guests to install, or leverage the technology that already exists on that Smartphone (often referred to as APP-less)?

    The sections below discuss the merits and challenges of each approach:

    A. In Room Tablets / Touchscreen Handsets

    Many Hospitality technology suppliers sold interactive TVs and large screen desk phones as a means of encouraging Guest interaction prior to the availability of low cost, yet much more suitable touch screen tablets such as those offered by a variety of vendors.

    No need for Guests to download, install or update anything – they can simply pick up the device in their room and then browse through highly bespoke informational content and / or complete transactions for any offerings the Hotel wishes to promote.

    Tablets are not limited to five-star or Resort Hotels, they can also help drive down staff and operational costs within self-service or “tech” biased hotels, especially when tightly integrated into core hotel systems. Many Guests welcome the highly contextual information that can be provided through the system and find it much more alluring than the standard in-room directory. Similarly, Hoteliers can ensure that regulatory information such as fire escapes and procedures are easily updated and distributed.

    Given the device and screen belong to the Hotelier, the ability to market hotel-led propositions to Guests whilst they are in their room is an alluring proposition for many Hoteliers that can also increase “secondary spend” whilst remaining a discreet, non-aggressive means of advertising.

    Hoteliers should also understand the following drawbacks when considering the use of in-room tablets:

    • The system only works when Guests are in the room – whilst most in-room tablet vendors also offer an APP that Guests could use outside of their room, the Hotelier should consider the points made in the “Dedicated APPs” section of this document.
    • There is clearly a cost to acquire and maintain these devices – not simply from a technology refresh perspective but also encompassing hygiene (particularly relevant to Covid), electrical safety testing and of course theft / accidental damage.
    • System vendors generally take a proprietary approach to the supply of these systems – i.e. they supply their tablets, content management system and staff facing devices. This can leave little flexibility in the future if Hoteliers wish to change supplier.

    B. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) – Smartphones

    The adoption of Smartphones throughout the world is by any standards an unqualified success. 3.5Bn Smartphone users exist in the world today and penetration rates in developed countries are close to saturation levels. User demographics extend from infants to great-grandparents and support nearly every spoken language in the world.

    They not only provide users with access to live information and entertainment but also act as a central hub for all of their communications media (voice, video and pictures) across the user’s choice of communication channels (e.g. Social Platforms, SMS, Email, Telephony etc).

    According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the number of people making international trips (admittedly, pre-Covid) was set to nearly double by 2030 to almost 2 billion. In 2018, just under three-quarters of booked rooms were occupied by Gen X’ers, Gen Y’ers and Millennials, and by 2020, Millennials were forecast (pre-Covid) to be responsible for nearly 50% of all spending on business flights. Additionally, 66% of Millennials book travel on a phone or tablet, and 74% search for travel-related info on a mobile device, according to a report from digital agency, Internet Marketing Inc.

    Many Hoteliers have already realised that allowing users to play their own content via the in-room TV is highly valued by Guests and have invested in solutions ranging from wired HDMI extensions to Miracast based IPTV integration. Driven by the need for bandwidth, WiFi has become the new essential utility and granting frictionless access to secure, reliable, high speed internet access can be the deciding factor for many Guests when choosing between hotels, whether it is for a work or recreational trip.

    Nearly half of Guests commonly connect three or more devices to the Hotel WiFi, so what are the options for leveraging these devices to provide Guest facing APPs and great interaction?

    I. Dedicated Mobile APPs

    Dedicated Hotel APPs have become widespread, especially for larger Hotel brands – they provide regular / loyal Guests with an all-in-one experience on their own smartphones that can offer wide ranging functionality: Room search and booking, loyalty rewards, automated check-in / checkout with room key access, room service, concierge, WiFi and IPTV Access, guides to local activities as well as “in APP” messaging at any time.

    Marriott’s investment in technology is well publicised, everything from APPs to Room Service Robots. In 2018, their Mobile APP accounted for $1.7bn in annual gross bookings and has been downloaded tens of millions of times. This makes perfect sense in a Hotel group with ~ 1.4m rooms across 7,300 properties and when 52% of occupied rooms originate from the 141m Marriott Bonvoy Members, but how applicable is this model to your organisation and guest profile?  Additionally, the Marriott APP encompasses a wide range of capabilities that in turn requires complete integration to back end systems – quite an undertaking if you have multiple systems from different vendors, hosted on / off premise with a mixture of Cloud thrown in!

    The information above would therefore suggest that every hotel should invest heavily in APPs but contention for “screen estate” is high and APP survival rates are notoriously low.

    To be successful, two things need to happen:

    • Users need to download, install and grant permissions to your APP

    What percentage of Guests will take the time to download your APP, register their personal details and grant your APP access to core phone features such as location and notifications?

    What feature set and / or promotional offer do you have to offer them to overcome any real or perceived obstacles?

    • Users need to use and maintain your APP

    The average person uses 25 x APPs each month but 96% of that time is split between just 10 APPs. On average, each person has between 60 and 90 APPs on their phone – i.e. 2/3rds of APPs are simply not used. In reality, 71% of all APPs are used once and then discarded after 3 months.

    Updates to smartphone operating systems regularly change rights previously granted to specific APPs to resolve security issues – plan on having your APP updated at regular intervals to keep abreast of these patches or be prepared for your APP to stop working.

    Updating content on a regular basis to ensure it remains current will improve the chances of it being retained and integrating any “transactional” features (room service/ alarms etc) to back-end workflow processes will make it scalable and reliable in meeting or surpassing Guest expectations.

    Many Hoteliers have already tried their own Hotel branded APP, provided by specific Hotel APP suppliers or via their trusted digital marketing agency as an offshoot of their website. Sadly, many find the percentage of guests that download, use and maintain the APP is minimal. Low utilisation on either side (Guest or Staff) will typically result in a downward spiral of content and activity – opportunity lost, investment wasted.

    Returning to the Social APPs that fall into the Global Top10, those that consume 96% of the user’s time spent on their mobile devices – these Social platforms exist to provide a ready means of sharing their users thoughts and experiences across expansive social circles that incorporate friends, family and colleagues. Whether it is one of the historic behemoths such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or the relative newcomers of Snapchat, WeChat, TikTok they are all enormous, counting hundreds of millions or billions of members.

    In summary, Smartphones and the Top10 APPs have some interesting and notable attributes:

    • Vast majority of Guests booking at your hotel will have a Smartphone and several of the Top10 APPs already
    • They are treasured, highly personal devices. Few, if any, users allow anyone else to use or handle their devices and are therefore deemed to be low-risk regarding transfer of disease (Covid)
    • Users have intimate knowledge of their devices and the APPs they use each and every day – i.e. no learning curve, no barrier to use.
    • The installed APPs have access to the phone resources they need to operate – e.g. access to location / notifications / camera etc.
    • Hoteliers have no need to buy, maintain, update or replace these devices

    It would therefore appear to be eminently practical to leverage these advantages in any Guest facing solution.  

    II. Progressive Web APPs (PWAs) and Integrated Smartphone Technology

    An APP is a program/ application that runs on top of an operating system (OS). An APP was historically the optimal means of providing a great User Experience but due to the performance of today’s Smartphones the boundaries of what can be achieved within a dedicated APP versus a PWA are increasingly marginalised.

    The mobile device market is dominated by iOS (Apple) and Android OS (Google) and both offer APP stores that test, approve and host millions of APPs for users to download at will. Developers engineer dedicated APPs to work on specific Operating Systems and to cover the market a Hotelier will need an APP for both Apple and Android based devices.

    Regular security patches and updates are applied to operating systems and these changes are often applied automatically or mandated to user devices. When APPs are installed, they seek permission to utilise core phone applications such as the camera or 4G. Users may grant access to these resources at time of install but these can be superseded by security patches and APPs will then no longer function, or be flagged as possible security risks.

    PWAs use browsers such as Google Chrome or Safari that are pre-installed as part of the core OS to make what is fundamentally a website, look, feel and act like a dedicated APP. PWAs load instantly so that the user is presented with a screen to peruse whilst other content is loaded in background. Aspects of the PWA can be cached following the first use so that offline and latency issues are minimised. Future access to the PWA can be made to appear just like a dedicated APP, an icon with a name appearing on the User’s Home Screen.

    The device’s browser is core to the device OS; any upgrades or patches are tested and qualified by the OS developer and because the PWA operates like a website they do not attract the restrictions often applied to 3rd party dedicated APPs. Similarly, downloading and installing a PWA is as simple as accessing any website and can be achieved by typing a URL, pointing the camera at a 2D barcode or touching the phone on an NFC tag.

    Forward thinking vendors are taking this same approach to facilitate other functionality such as messaging, voice and video calling by leveraging either core functions of phones or those of the Top10 installed APPs such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

    PWAs remove the obstacles that traditional solutions experience so that Hoteliers can achieve the benefits associated with good Guest interaction.

    4. Summary

    As discussed within the Scope section of this document, each Hotel is unique and has to decide on the services it offers its Guests.

    Encouraging and enabling interaction between Guests and Hotel Staff will always be beneficial to Guest’s experience and the approach offered by leveraging Guest owned technology (Smartphones, native browsers and Social APPs) removes many of the barriers that limit the take-up of a traditional APP based approach.

    Utilising technology that is applicable throughout the five stages of travel and establishing a conversational channel with the Guest pre-arrival should also yield increased satisfaction and secondary spend when acted upon in a timely fashion.

    Hoteliers should not be concerned that “text” based messaging will reduce opportunities for Guest / Staff interaction. Social APPs such as “WhatsApp” offer the full range of communication media within a single application so whilst many conversations might begin as simple text, they can seamlessly escalate into richer voice, video and content-led conversations where Hotel Staff can add significant value and derive real job satisfaction.

    Harnessing this capability in today’s environment also makes Guests feel safer by avoiding face to face conversations that can be awkward or difficult to comprehend due to face masks and / or language barriers.

    Knowing what Guests want and then turning that into a timely deliverable, whether it is a drink or onward travel advice, will endear Guests to Hoteliers. Similarly, asking a Guest to complete a review at the end of a valued conversation and providing them with a simple link to follow on their own phone is much more likely to elicit a positive outcome than a link in an email following their departure.

    The world has changed, people’s habits alongside generational preferences means that the traditional means of communicating are changing – making it simple and easy for all Guests should be a major focus for every Hotelier today.

    5. Technical Addendum

    A. TigerTMS – Background and Overview of Guest Facing Solutions.

    TigerTMS will be a familiar name to anyone in the Hospitality technology sector. The company was founded in the 1970’s and has supplied telecoms-related solutions specifically for Hotel use since 1996. Their primary focus over the past 25 years has been system integration – reducing the complexity, cost and risk of making one system communicate with another (e.g. between PMS and PBX or TV system).

    This has resulted in the development of a portfolio of more than 140 interfaces to a wide range of Hospitality IT Systems. The company’s newly acquired independence in 2020 has resulted in a strategy that includes offering Hotel Guests access to the information and capabilities held across those 140 systems using a technical architecture that simplifies contact and use for Guests, Hotel and IT Support Staff alike.

    One of the guiding principles is to leverage fit for purpose technology and applications that already exists in abundance on consumer smartphones, thereby simplifying access and use of the functionality Hoteliers wish to provide their Guests.

    As discussed previously, prolific use of any Guest facing system is vital in ensuring the use of the system becomes embedded within the core operations of a hotel whilst proving the benefits to all stakeholders. Like any new venture, the first step on a journey is always the hardest to make and therefore TigerTMS’s approach to this challenge is two-fold:

    • Encourage potential and pre-booked Guests to start communicating ahead of their stay using communication applications the User already has installed (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger). This solution is called iNotify.
    • Provide an easy to access PWA that invites potential and pre-booked Guests to discover more about the Hotel and unique offers that attract bookings and secondary spend. This solution is called iPortal.

    B. iNotify

    iNotify leverages the WhatsApp messaging APP installed on over 2 billion handsets across 180 countries to open a communication link directly to the Hotel.

    Installation is as simple as pointing the phone camera at a 2D barcode and clicking on the link.

    Engagement with potential and pre-booked Guests can start at any time. The 2D Barcode can be used on posters in airports, at reception, in-room on the TV, and the ensuing conversation can be routed to the most appropriate individual, reservation desk or hotel department.

    Once checked in, Guests can be automatically sent a language optimised “welcome” message with pictures, videos or links to other information and content the Hotel wishes to provide/promote.

    Response times to messages received from Guests can be set with configurable escalations to other staff and / or management to ensure a timely reply is provided.

    Conversations can be simply transferred to other members of staff with access to the complete conversational history so that staff are aware of the context and background.

    Routing of messages is skills based to ensure any communication is sent to the most appropriate resource to optimise the response with language and content.

    On Check-out the guest will be automatically removed from the CRM and a “Thank you” message sent. Links to guest surveys or TripAdvisor ratings can also be included to increase the volume of reviews.

    The software architecture is built to support any number and variety of popular Social platforms offering a familiar application used by the Guest and a uniform approach for Hotel Staff.

    It is also worthwhile noting that WhatsApp along with all popular Social APPs offer state of the art end to end encryption as part of their proposition and as such ensures Guest and Staff communication remains secure.

                I. Do you have WhatsApp installed? If yes,

                II. Point your phone camera at the 2D Barcode image below

                III. Click on the WhatsApp link

                IV. Start communicating with “Casa Ringwood”

    Example WhatsApp chat session : –

    C. iPortal

    iPortal also leverages built-in Smartphone technology by using a PWA approach to APP development. This enables immediate and easy access to rich content and capabilities Guests benefit from without the associated delay and complexity associated with traditional APPs.

    Potential and booked Guests can access iPortal by a variety of means; typing in a traditional URL in their browser, a 2D Barcode accessed through their standard Smartphone camera APP or a Near Field Communication (NFC) tag.  Again, the use of the capability can be leveraged to promote the Hotel through any marketing channels and for Guests to use upon their arrival at the Hotel.

    An example portal can be seen in the side bar and is configurable via the TigerTMS Configuration Manager that enables Hoteliers to:

    • Choose from various templated styles
    • Originate and update content and branding
    • Offer different capabilities (Room service, automated Check-out etc.)

    Unlike dedicated APPs, PWAs provide real-time changes to what Guests will see without having to download any APP update – that combined with the TigerTMS Configuration Manager can provide Hoteliers with the ability to change content / functions within the portal home screen to suit what is most appealing to Guests.

    Indeed, if Hoteliers are already familiar with website analytics and are using these to refine their Guest proposition, iPortal works in the same way. Hoteliers can see which information and features Guests are accessing most frequently and those which they may be finding difficult to understand or simply do not want.  Why develop a new feature within a traditional APP, publish on the various APP stores and promote its use to only find out that Guests perceive little or no value in the investment Hoteliers have made?

                I. Point your phone camera at the 2D Barcode image below

                II. Click on the URL

                III. Click on any of the icons to find out more

    iPortal UI Example:

    D. TigerTMS Software Architecture and iLink

    The rich heritage of TigerTMS within the Hotel industry has led to a different approach to the development of Guest facing solutions.

    Unlike other interactive Guest Solution vendors that approach their application from an end-user (Guest) perspective, TigerTMS started with a rich array of interfaces and niche, staff facing applications within Hotels. Their most recent developments have revolved around building Guest facing applications that connect to them.

    The fulfilment of Guest requests is a critical factor for Hoteliers to consider as setting an expectation that is not then met will result in a poor experience for all stakeholders. Relying on manual processes or Hotel Staff remembering instructions and then accurately transcribing information arriving on a messaging APP into a separate Hotel system is risky, especially during peak times when staff are busy

    Conversely, having the ability to automatically route mundane requests directly into the appropriate hotel system using only technology has great value. Something as simple as setting the correct time for an early wake up call for the wrong room will result in two serious complaints that most Hotel Managers will gladly live without, especially at the start or end of a long shift. In reality, few hoteliers will have a single supplier of systems that provide all the functions required and only a handful have risked crafting bespoke interfaces that allow each and every system to talk to each other

    TigerTMS’s legacy in developing and maintaining over 140 interfaces enabled them to take a pragmatic approach in managing this complexity. iLink is middleware in the form of a service bus that routes messages between the otherwise disparate systems that operate within most Hotels: PMS, Telephony, WiFi, Housekeeping, Maintenance, Building Control, POS etc.

    The Development Team at TigerTMS has over 100 man years of experience, purely in Hotel specific system interfaces. Their experience spans legacy Delphi based interfaces (that they continue to support for a handful of clients) through to the REST interface that is the chosen technology of today.

    TigerTMS realised that middleware was an essential requirement for their own developments as well as providing Hoteliers with a resilient, scalable architecture that allows IT departments to manage the evolutionary change of on-site systems and cloud-based services. iLink is now the core element of their proposition that enables the individual applications that are increasingly becoming Guest facing to be tightly integrated to legacy and future Hotel systems (see Fig. B.). iLink is available On Premise, Off Premise or as a Cloud Service.

    In the Sept ‘20 HFTP Europe “Hangout” a well-respected Hotel COO remarked that “Middleware freed up our approach to everything”. Having the ability to change a process without the cost and complexity of re-engineering multiple interfaces or being forced to change core systems meant that they could approach Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR) from the purest sense; if it made sense for the Hotelier and the Guest they did it.

    Both iNotify and iPortal are reliant on iLink middleware to provide the infrastructure each application requires – TigerTMS effectively bundles iLink as part of the package. If, like many CIO’s within the industry, you are looking to find a way of enabling real system integration without major system upgrades and / or interface “science” projects, TigerTMS and iLink may prove to be a very viable option.  

    Any hotelier considering easy to install, well supported, easily deployed Guest facing systems would do well to include TigerTMS in their conversations.

    6. About TigerTMS

    In March 2020, after almost 5 years ownership by Mitel Networks, TigerTMS became an independent company once more following a successful management buy-out, led by new CEO John Owen.

    The company’s mission is to satisfy the demands of the Hospitality market with market-leading applications and middleware that drive guest satisfaction and loyalty.

    TigerTMS is headquartered in the United Kingdom, with regional satellite offices in North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Sales and around the clock technical support centres are located in each office providing local presence to our valued clients.

    TigerTMS’ success is reflected in the long-term relationship established and nurtured with hotel groups, independent hotel operators, telecommunications manufacturers, systems integrator and property management system vendors.

    The TigerTMS solutions portfolio includes:

    • Interface Aggregation
    • Protocol Translation
    • Premise based, Virtualisation or Cloud Solutions for Single or Multi-property Environments
    • Guest Voice Messaging & Wake-Up Systems
    • Call Accounting
    • Guest Mobility Applications
    • BYOD Solutions & Guest Content
    • Services Applications 
    • Rapid Response Tracking & Workflow Management
    • XML Content Delivery to IP Handsets
    • Customised Development Work
    • Guest Room Telephone Handsets

    7. About the Author

    Paul Hammond is a highly experienced Hospitality industry IT professional who has specialised in the development of mobile solutions.

    Beginning his induction to mobile at Psion in the mid 90s, Paul enjoyed roles at Good Technology & Nokia prior to being instrumental in the growth of Crave Interactive as they spearheaded the adoption of tablet-based technologies into the UK Hospitality market. More recently, Paul has been the Sales Director at Oracle, the leading provider of PMS and POS systems worldwide.

    With over 25 years of mobile data knowledge behind him at a variety of the industry’s leading suppliers, Paul is ideally qualified to present a situation report on the challenges facing hoteliers in providing Guests with easy to use solutions during, and after, the Covid era.