ASPs or application service providers are supposed to be the next standard for hotels looking to upgrade their IT systems. Wikipedia defines an ASP as “A business that provides computer-based services to customers over a network.”
The PROS: The special thing about an ASP is that software is not actually installed at the client but remains hosted on the vendor’s servers and is accessed by users through a web browser or by special purpose-client software provided by the vendor. Little or no maintenance is required by the client and the vendor has complete control over all variables – faster installation & turn-key solutions are other advantages. Salesforce.com and Netsuite are examples of ASPs.
The cons: Customization and per-room pricing is usually expensive and cumbersome.
Real-world experience with hospitality ASPs involves more challenges:
– Technical sales people usually over-promise and under-deliver. The expectation-performance gap widens as the project gets underway
– Implementation is started before a thorough inventory is made of existing systems and too much is placed in the hands of technical people
– Customer service is patchy and inconsistent and the client expends considerable time going over their requirements to different levels of technical support.
– The software is usually bloated, user-unfriendly and overly complex and the technical manual out of date.
– Clients usually become “betas” for new features (which is fine if project deadlines are met – not always the case).
In general, any hospitality company looking to migrate to a new ASP should
– Devote significant time to analyzing existing systems and data pre-installation before diving into a contract.
– Hire an independent consultant experienced in the actual conversion to assist with contract negotiations as well as implementation.
– Review and negotiate the technical details of the contract before signing up.
– Assign a skilled & dedicated in-house resource to work with the ASP team.
– Delay launch until all tests are completed.
– Don’t sign off on anything unless properly verified
– Get continuous feedback from current users