Systems in sync for success – the hotel sector perspective

Kimpton Hotels vice-president for technology and CIO Kris Singleton says integrating hotel systems to be able to personalise the overall experience for the guest is one of the innovation measures the group continues to make.

The organisation, which is adopting SuiteLinq room technology through a close relationship with Microsoft, believes there are key opportunities that can come from linking various hotel systems – the property management system (PMS), online reservations, global distribution system (GDS), point of sale (PoS) and customer relationship management (CRM) system – to help make the guest’s stay more special.

Singleton, who joined Kimpton in February 2008 after previous positions with MGM Mirage where she was vice-president of business solutions, and Hallmark Cards, says her goal after arriving was to speak to vendors such as Microsoft who she’d worked with at MGM to see how Kimpton could innovate to provide or even extend the technology experience guests were used to at home, and now expected to be available in their hotel rooms.

“Microsoft introduced us to the SuiteLink video-on-demand and productivity technology that we provide at our properties in the Epic Hotel in Miami and in Alexandria, Virginia. Although lots of guests carry laptops, we also want to offer them the capability to do work – such as on a presentation – even if they don’t have their laptops with them. We can enable families to play games or surf the net, give international visitors the chance to access their local music, or, in some new themed properties, offer suites equipped with Xbox or Wii.

“We’re also providing more social networking for guests, both online and offline with facilities such as the wine hour, where we feature wines of the world in a relaxed social setting before dinner.

“We also do some fun things with technology at those sessions. Our guests are very sophisticated users; they understand technology and they’re comfortable using it. For example, can we use technology to personalise the guest experience?

“If we know they went to a performance of Romeo and Juliet last time they stayed with us, maybe they’ll want to go and see another play or a ballet next time.”

Singleton says hotels such as Epic need to meet guest expectations with services like SuiteLinq.

“Our entire property works in concert to create an unforgettable experience that guests remember,” she said.

“We’re living in a digital age where guests consider access to fast connectivity, information, and content as mandatory. The SuiteLinq solutions make a strong and positive impression on guests – and that translates to real value for our bottom line.”

Singleton says her biggest hurdle as CIO is choosing who to work with to integrate systems, given that Kimpton’s IT team does not include developers.

“We utilise off-the-shelf packages for our PMS and CRM systems. My biggest challenge is creating an enterprise data warehouse and bringing all that data about my guests into one location, so I can see the total view of how our guest is interacting with Kimpton Hotels.

“Do I go to third parties or work with primary vendors such as SuiteLinq or Microsoft to develop the innovation and integration we want? We are not a software development company; our goal is simply to provide a great experience for the guest, which has been our goal since Bill Kimpton started creating more personalised hotels for guests in 1981.”

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