ASPs – the hype and promise

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– The software is usually bloated, user-unfriendly and overly complex and the technical manual out of date.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

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

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