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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Computers Make Hotel Hospitality Seamless




Hotels' computer systems are not something most travelers think about, but the level of comfort they experience during their stay is these days very strongly linked to the hospitality provider's information technology choices.


In a modern four or five star hotel, everything from clean sheets to climate control and hot water is in some way tied to a computer. A link to a worldwide reservation system might help ensure that your room isn't already occupied when you get there.


"A lot of things in the hotel business go on behind the scenes," said Jay Blandy of Hotel Restaurant Systems, or HRS, the largest IT provider for hotels in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.


"What a computer system does is make it all look seamless to the guests."


Computer systems can be designed to do relatively simple tasks, such as turning the air conditioning off when a guest leaves the room, to more complicated ones, such as converting the hotel's financial reporting to Russian accounting standards.


In many cases, one and the same system do both, Blandy said.


At present most hotels here and abroad use standardized, DOS-based computer programs designed by MICROS Systems, Inc., a Maryland-based software company specializing in property management applications. However, Blandy believes that within the next two years most hotels will begin switching to Windows-based systems, which require less training to use.


"That's important, because there is a high turnover rate in the hotel industry, so the less time you spend training employees the better," he said.


Moscow's Aerostar is the only hotel in Russia that currently works on a Windows basis, according to Blandy, whose firm installed the system.


By its own estimate, HRS controls more than 90 percent of the CIS market for hotel information systems. However, the CIS hospitality sector is small, with under 100 upscale hotels that require sophisticated computer systems, Blundy said.


"It's a drop in the bucket if you consider Atlanta alone has 40 Marriotts," he said. However, his firm acts as the exclusive distributor of MICROS-Fidelio systems in the CIS.


The story of HRS' success is fairly simple, said Vladislav Isachenko, the computer systems manager at the Moscow Holiday Inn.


"Nobody else was interested in this market," he said. "There were other specialists around, but they weren't organized. HRS got its marketing and support up and running and took over."


However, there are plenty of other players in the market. Several big names in the Moscow hotel business, including the Novotel, Mezhdunarodnaya and the Metropol, use other systems.


The Novotel, for example, relies mainly on systems developed in France and Belgium, said Leonid Motorov, its computer systems manager.


With the year 2000 fast approaching, Moscow hotels with systems installed in the early 1990s are looking the Y2K problem in the face. Indeed, the Aerostar's Kennedy cited Y2K compliance concerns as one reason for his hotel's decision to install a new system.


"The old system has been in since we opened," he said. "We had some testing that showed that a major upgrade would be necessary to keep the system working after 2000."