Though cloud technology is the obvious choice for most hotels today, surprisingly, in 2017 there are still hotel managers that are suspicious of cloud based PMS software. Especially if not too familiar with SaaS technology, they are worried about things like storing their data off-site, not having physical control over the server, relying on Internet connectivity and possible interruptions, or having to implement the system by themselves. Then why are so many property managers switching to the cloud? Are they stupid, maybe crazy, or do they know some secret information that encourages them to make the switch?
Let's turn the other side of the coin and see which cloud concerns are reasonable and how dangerous it can be to switch to a cloud hotel software.
First, let's make one thing very clear - the physical possession of a computer has nothing to do with safety and protection of data, neither does it guarantee uninterrupted services. Local servers are just machines, they could suddenly fail. And if a hotel wants to accept online bookings, send emails, communicate with customers and do other 21st century-ish things, it can't do so without connecting to the Internet. Once connected, Pandora's box is open. The key is to compare the levels of vulnerability and protection of cloud and on-premise hotel PMS systems.
"My data won't be safe up in the cloud"
Security issues with SaaS are sort of overexposed. True, there really are different services available, some more reliable than others, but it’s a matter of research to ensure that the online hotel management system you choose comes from a trustworthy provider. A proven cloud service, like AWS for example, applies the highest level of security measures combined with multiple mirror-images on servers in various geo locations to provide developers and their clients with a safe environment. If a hospitality business had to invest in data protection of the same level, its IT costs would break the bank. In the case with cloud hotel software, the huge investment in hardware, software development and staff is made by the hosting provider and the end-user, i.e. the property, only takes the benefits. And, if a company manages more than one property, the benefits multiply.
"If cloud means modern, can I accept online payments safely?"
Straight to the point! PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) is another change in the industry from recent years. In brief, PCI DSS mandates that all credit card operators, including hotels and restaurants, have to take multiple special measures to protect sensitive data of customers against abuse or fraud. But if the cloud PMS vendor has developed and applied all mandatory precautions to safeguard credit card transactions, this reduces the scope of requirements the hotelier has to match. Software features that indicate PCI DSS compliance include data encryption or tokenization, limited access to sensitive data, user right limitations and others.
"I don't want my data and this of my guests to be owned by third parties."
is another major concern. Let's explain what data encryption means. It makes the information unreadable to anybody but the account owner and their authorized employees by encoding it. The cloud PMS provider can not access any data stored in the customer account, unless the client exclusively gives them remote access. This only happens when a service request requires the support agent to access the database to see what the problem is. In this case the user gives the support agent remote access with limited user rights which guarantees that no sensitive data will be exposed to non-authorized persons. The remote session can be closed by the user at any time or by the agent, after they solve the issue. The data itself is owned by the customer hotel and can not be "inherited" by the provider even if the account is suspended. To compare again, on-premise software providers need access to your database when they have to solve an issue, too, don't they?
"And what if that cloud software just stops working?"
Outages. Yes, they happen. Even a white fluffy cloud on the blue summer sky could suddenly pour a few drops on your head, right? Outages happen with on-premise hotel management systems too, only that the damage is usually bigger and requires system restore, virus cleanup, hardware replacement or other time and cost consuming actions. With a cloud PMS, if the hard drive of a laptop fails for example, you can grab any other device, log in to the software and do what you have to do - check guests in, check others out, draw invoices, take bookings. But if a local network or hardware fail, resuming operations rarely is that easy.
A reliably hosted cloud hotel software would stop working less often than a local installation. The explanation is simple: the best cloud hosting services have servers running in multiple locations, thus ensuring maximum uptime of the hosted applications, even in case of natural disasters. If one server fails, the others keep working and the app remains fully functional.
The most common reason for an outage of a cloud PMS is broken Internet connection at the customer's end. It is highly recommended to have a second Internet provider, e.g. a mobile network service. The cost for such service is quite acceptable everywhere.
What is different from local installations is that while you are disconnected, this only affects you but your cloud hotel PMS keeps working. This means that rates, availability and bookings still get synchronized across all channels, or automated emails are sent on time, regardless of your temporary connectivity issues.
With every year, the number of hotels that replace legacy PMS software with cloud hotel systems grows exponentially. The undoubted advantages cloud software has over local installations and the brave new world of opportunities that comes with the modern solutions have convinced most hotel technology buyers that the time has come for a major change. For the few who still think that SaaS is not reliable, there is one thing to say: the sense of safety that the physical control over the IT equipment can give is false and comes hand in hand with the limitations of in-house hotel software. The cloud offers levels of safety, reliability and software uptime that are the same and even higher than those of on-premise solutions. Let's put it this way - the cloud is the way to use more functionalities and improve several aspects of hotel operations while involving less efforts at your end and reducing IT costs significantly.
About Clock Software
Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based hotel management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 65 countries.