How integrations work and why your hotel or resort will function better with them.
By Ali Mroueh, Director of Partnerships at Book4Time
Integrations. Who needs them?
If you’ve worked in software or the tech sector, you’ve heard of integrations before. But, depending on your role, you may have little idea as to what it actually means. The purpose of this article is to introduce the concept of integration and why we need them in today’s world of technology. We will use practical examples to convey their importance and how they impact our everyday lives.
What is an integration?
Generally speaking, and within the context of software, an integration is where two solutions exchange data. Let’s use a simple example to help demonstrate this relationship;
Company A is a retail POS solution
Company B is an eCommerce solution
Stephanie owns a retail store where she uses Company A’s solution for customer check-out and to sell her products in her store. She also has an online store powered by Company B’s solution. Stephanie needs to keep an accurate count of her inventory so that she can manage her stock levels, to ensure she is keeping up with demand and not selling what she doesn’t have. Until now, Stephanie has had to update her inventory levels manually every time she makes an online sale. As you can imagine, this is a tedious and time-consuming task. Luckily for her, Company A and B just released an integration:
Company B shares transaction information with Company A ➥ Company A takes this information and updates the inventory levels in store
Company A also shares transaction data with Company B ➥ Company B takes this information and adjusts inventory levels online
What does this mean for Stephanie? She no longer has to manually update her inventory levels! The integration between her POS and online shop automates this process. Now, when she makes an online sale, her inventory levels are automatically updated. When something sells in her store, her stock count online is updated, so she does not sell what’s not in stock and can manage her supply levels!
Why are integrations important?
As we saw with Stephanie’s example, the integration between Company A and B had a real impact on Stephanie’s day to day. It also has wide implications for the future growth of her business, because she has freed up time to focus on other things, like her customer experience, and because she won’t have to deal with unhappy customers who have purchased a product they won’t receive.
We see many examples of integrations today that save users significant amounts of time and effort by eliminating the need to conduct manual tasks that could otherwise be automated.
There are many possible benefits of an integration;
- Saving time – by automating a manual task, or expediting a process
- Centralised data – multiple solutions feeding data into a central system (ERP, PMS, EMR, etc.) allows for a user to access what would normally be ‘siloed’ data, in one, central place
- Seamless customer experiences – maintain customer records, transactions, and interactions across all systems.
- Greater accuracy in numbers – integrated systems reduce the risk for error in numbers that may have been originally captured manually (ie. Human error)
What types of integrations are there?
Integrations can take different forms that depend on a number of factors that include the industry, use case, and desired outcome. For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on two general integration types(not to be confused with methods of integration; ie..API, webhooks etc..). These are:
One way; this type of integration is where one system shares data with another and does not receive any data back from the other system. In our previous example, this would be if Company A only shared transaction data with Company B.
Two way or bidirectional; this is where both systems share data with one another. Referring back to our example, Company A and B both shared transaction data so that both systems could update inventory/stock levels.
Let’s take a look at real life examples of integrations and use-cases with those we have at Book4Time today.
Book4Time predominantly serves hotels and resorts spas. These properties use a variety of technologies that require integration to operate successfully. Below are a few common technologies used within a hotel and/or resort that require integration with Book4Time.
The Property Management System (PMS) is the core system used by hotels and resorts. This is the system that manages the room bookings and guest profiles amongst other things. If a Hotel guest books a spa treatment during his or her stay, the spa needs to have the ability to look up the guest’s profile for the reservation and charge the guest’s spa treatment to his or her room. Simple right? Well to accomplish these tasks, the spa system needs to be integrated to the PMS system.
Today, Book4Time integrates with many PMS systems including Opera (Oracle Hospitality), Infor, Guestline, Galaxy, Agilysys and many more, to ensure that hoteliers can centrally manage their guest accounts, and to provide an excellent customer experience.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have the option to check-in to your hotel room, order room service, make a dinner reservation, and book a massage, all from a single mobile app? Enter guest experience applications. These apps are designed to improve — you guessed it — the guest experience. But how exactly are they able to manage your dinner reservation or spa booking? One word: integration.
Today, Book4Time partners with guest experience applications including Intelity, Hudini, and DigiValet to allow guests to make a spa or activity booking right on the hotel’s mobile app.
Marketing & CRM
A large part of managing a hotel and spa is the capacity to which you understand your guests and how you interact with them before and after a stay or treatment. How many times have they stayed at your hotel? What time of the year did they stay? What did they purchase when they stayed? What spa treatments did they book in the past? Are they a local guest? How do we answer these questions? You’ve probably guessed it by now; integration.
Today, Book4Time integrates with systems like Demandforce and Revinate, who generate customer insights by capturing guest data. With these insights, the spa can answer the questions posed above. This information allows the spa to segment their guests and offer personalized experiences and/or promotions for more effective, meaningful engagement.
You’re checking in at the spa for your massage appointment. The concierge makes a few clicks on the system and hands you an access card. This card grants you access to the change room, your assigned locker, the lounge, and all amenities. Assigning your access card or wristband may seem like a straightforward process, which it is – with the help of an integration.
Book4Time partners with Access Control systems like Gantner to allow spas to easily manage and assign access to amenities, lockers, lounges, and different member areas from one system.
Integrations allow businesses to save time, improve customer experience, run smoothly and do things they would never be able to do otherwise.
Interested in learning more about integrations? Talk to us. Visit Book4Time.com