Information Technology in Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism

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BUSINESS STUDIES / LONDON METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY

HOSPITALITY & TOURISM MGT DEPT

Pathway: Int’l Hospitality Management

Academic year 2013-2014 / 1st semester

Module: LT2052 Information Technology in Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism

Assignment Title: You are an experienced IT consultant and you have been just hired by a well known organization specialized in evaluating IT systems in Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism sectors. Your task is to evaluate an existing IT infrastructure and prepare a detailed report in which you will present your evaluation and suggestions for improvement and upgrades.

Date Submitted: 08/01/2014

The majority of hotels believe that the key technology is the Property Management Systems (PMS) which is defined as “a set of application programs that directly relate to the hotel front office and back office activities e.g. revenue management, reservation management, room and rate assignment, check-in & out management, guest accounting, folio management, account settlement and room status management” (Kasavana & Cahill, 2003). As a result, PMS Opera collects important amounts of data that may be used to improve operational decision making. Actually, hotels gather data from other sources such as customer relationship and loyalty programs, websites as it is critical for both customer facing activities and internal management. The Opera Property Management System (PMS) is the central data infrastructure of the hotel, handling the administration of all of the guests, their profiles, bookings, as well as their check in and checkout, the revenues generated, housekeeping departments, invoices and other minor functions.

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As we continue, it is important to understand that Opera is in fact customizable. There are several functions to customize in this PMS, depending on the operational decisions of each hotel. Moreover it displays all the possible functionalities in the PMS for the Accounting Department. According to the accounting department staff the computer screens may display information in a different order or may not display some of the functionalities mentioned here if the management decision was not to activate them. When it comes to the topic of the everyday processes of Opera in the accounting department several main functions are presented:

Creating a new Accounts Receivable (AR) account may happen in several occasions. Since most AR accounts are for companies, it is most natural to develop a new account from within the Company profile. But, if we want to create several accounts at once, it is suggested to use the AR function.

Transferring F/O Data is a function that allows the user to print, view or edit view, edit invoices before transferring them to the AR account. All invoices in the transfer bin total on the AR Ledger as accruals, but are not actual invoices until they transfer. This feature gives the opportunity to the Accounting to check the accuracy of the companies billed for the invoices before they show up in the account.

The End of Day Sequence must run every night to update the system’s business date to the current day. Following the change in business date, procedures run to finalize the day’s business and reports generate for balancing the hotel. If the Income Audit feature is active, the End of Day Sequence updates the system’s business date and prints preliminary reports for the Income Auditor to use for balancing the following day. Once the system is financially balanced, the Income Auditor must complete the End of Day Sequence and close the business date. The End of Day sequence follows a prearranged routine designed to update the guest folio, balance and close the property's records for that day, and prepare and distribute a range of reports. The business date in OPERA is not automatically changed when the real date changes. The End of Day sequence is the trigger that moves the system date forward by one date. Therefore, it is possible to run the End of Day sequence prior to the real date change or the next morning.

AR Credit Cards allows all credit card transactions on a specific business day to develop an invoice in the AR ledger awaiting payment. This tool compresses all credit transactions by credit card type into one invoice per day and transfers to the AR ledger until the hotel receives confirmation that the payment deposits in the bank for a batch. This requires the Accounting department or the Night Audit to transfer the credit cards by type to the corresponding AR account.

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Very often, Accounting creates Reminder letters for accounts with invoices past due or seriously delinquent in batches. From time to time, it may be required to print an individual reminder letter. Along the same lines we have the Statement option which prints a statement of invoices for one account at a time. Despite the fact that it is available, Statement, does not function correctly. To take a case in point, a lot of employees demonstrated the option which resulted in the complete shutdown of the computer. Similarly the Accounting Department has several other tasks which are carried out with Opera as well. Functions such as AR notes, post and pay history, traces, transfer, fixed charges and AR aging reports are categorized and given to the appropriate employee of the Accounting Department.

Although I agree that a PMS like Opera is very useful, I cannot overlook the fact that it has several disadvantages. As I was informed from the personnel, it does not function smoothly without a good quality high speed Internet connection. After all, an overload of the system due to its big amount of use throughout the day can cause delays as well as customers complaints. Specifically, as Opera is not 100% an accounting program it does not have several tools that would be useful and preventing time-consuming. The staff of the Accounting Department states that: “Before Opera we had Fidelio which caused a lot more problems than Opera and lacked important aspects which are already included in Opera. We have complains on both systems but we would not change Opera for Fidelio.”

On the other hand, there are things that can be thought as an advantage of the Opera PMS such as its cost effectiveness, the user-friendly graphics, multiple functions, web-based system, multi language and currency support as well as open possibilities for updates and improvements. Although none of the accounting staff said so directly, an impression was given that an upgrade of the system must be set as a major goal.

Concluding, in relation to general awareness of the range of PMS, this research shows awareness focused on Opera PMS as well as its function in the Accounting Department. It is also clear that the property managers do not see the PMS as a strategic data resource, only upgrading when exogenous factors dictate, i.e. when specific PMS support is discontinued etc. They do not appear to be pro-active in seeking upgrades, perhaps viewing the PMS solely as a tool that can still be used without any upgrades.

As for recommending the hotel about their current PMS infrastructure, depending on the previous information, I would suggest the continuation of their current installation they use even if it has some major flaws. An upgrade would be very useful in order for the hotel to be more accurate, prevent time consuming and provide better customer service. Taking into account that technology is growing faster and faster every day, with new upgrades and trends the Opera PMS will surely have an even biger role in the future hospitality market.

References:

  1. Tiedemann, N. Van Birgele, M. & Semeijn, J (2009), Increasing hotel responsiveness to customers through information sharing
  1. MICROS, 2012. Opera Property Management System, http://www.micros.com/Solutions/ProductsNZ/OPERAPropertyManagementSystem/ (Last visit 07/01/14)
  1. Murphy, H. (2007), An investigation of the relationships between technology partners and the hotel sector: Identifying and measuring the “value-added” elements
  1. Kasavana, M.L. & Cahill, J.J. (2003), Managing Technology in the Hospitality Industry
  1. Bardi, J. A. & Hoboken, N. J. & Wiley, J. (2003), Hotel front office management
  1. Hotelogix, 2012. 6 Hotel Hospitality Industry New and Current Trends You Should Know About, http://www.hotelogix.com/blog/2012/06/19/6-hotel-industry-trends-you-should-know-about/ (Last visit 07/01/14)
  1. http://www.ihgplc.com/index.asp (Last visit 07/01/14)
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As it was requested in the assignment, I visited the hotel as a “mystery customer” in the middle of November and had the chance to discuss with my previous coworkers about the OPERA PMS. Furthermore, in order to confirm my visit, the Director of Finance of Athenaeum Intercontinental, Mr Antonis Psiliagos, signed the following paper and provided some information himself. As it was requested by the accounting department, the information gathered, was put only in this report and only general information about the establishment and the PMS was included on the website page.