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Vendor Extends Welcome Mat for Hospitality Industry

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: March 2 2006

Introduction

With over 130 employees worldwide and contributing about a third of the company's revenues, SoftBrands' hospitality business supports the enterprise information management needs of hotels and resorts with a range of software products and services. The vendor provides property management systems (PMS) and leisure management systems (LMS) to hotels, resorts, spas, and health clubs. The two PMSs are Medallion and PORTfolio, and the primary LMS is RIO. There is also POS, a touch screen point-of-sale solution for the efficient management of restaurants and bars.

For details on SoftBrands' recent history, see SoftBrands' Recovery Softens the AremisSoft Bankruptcy Blow. For a discussion of the Classic Fourth Shift and FourthShift for SAP Business One products, see Classic Enterprise Resource Planning Solution Shifts Over. For a discussion of the evolution and DemandStream products, see Extended Enterprise Resource Planning Vendor Shows Its Lean Side.

This is Part Four of the five-part SoftBrands' Recovery Softens the AremisSoft Bankruptcy Blow series.

Medallion

Medallion is a Microsoft Windows-based PMS designed primarily for small and mid-sized hotels, limited-service chains, and extended-stay hotels worldwide. It features a single-screen approach to property management and a high number of features. Medallion has been translated into numerous languages and can accommodate both single- and double-byte languages, allowing it to be sold in all global markets. There are currently more than 600 installations of Medallion worldwide.

Medallion is one of SoftBrands' key products, since it can offer customers of legacy systems an attractive replacement product. A key product feature is its look and book function that lets a user drag and drop bookings using a graphical representation of their property. This feature was designed for hotel staff with little time for lengthy or sophisticated training. Nonetheless, the product contains virtually all the functionality of a first-class property management system, including individual, corporate, or family reservations; rate management; guest accounting; city ledger; conferencing and banqueting; group handling; travel agent allocations; seasonal rate structures; unlimited folios per guest room; charge routing; guest and company history; integrated rate management; credit card processing; sales and marketing tools; and employee e-mail and task manager.

Medallion is Microsoft SQL Server-based and Microsoft Windows NT, 2000, and XP-compliant. The system can be customized fairly easily to meet the specific needs of each property. It can also be integrated with leading back-office applications for necessary reporting purposes.

Prior to 2003, SoftBrands was a distributor of Medallion. It acquired all of the intellectual property rights to the product in mid-2003 and has since worked to standardize the offering and increase its appeal to its target markets. The vendor expects to increase its Medallion marketing efforts in the US and China in the immediate future, especially in light of the coming Olympic Games and the expected boom of the Chinese tourism industry.

To that end, in October, SoftBrands announced that it is developing a two-way interface for Medallion PMS to the Best Western Central Reservation System (CRS). Development of this interface is a significant step in the certification and endorsement process that will allow Medallion to become an approved PMS for Best Western member properties in North America.

SoftBrands is currently a member of the Open Travel Alliance (OTA), an organization working to standardize communications within the travel industry, and the Best Western two-way interface conforms to OTA specifications. The new two-way interface will make it possible for guest reservations to be booked or updated through the Best Western central reservation office or through an individual property using real time hotel availability data for Best Western properties.

PORTfolio

PORTfolio is a comprehensive client/server hotel system that offers a wide range of functions for both front- and back-office operations in single-site and multi-property hotels and resorts. With PORTfolio's centralized management system, hotel chains can take advantage of a central reservation system (CRS), as well as centralized guest and company history, data warehousing, and a sales ledger. The product also has many customizable features, allowing hotel staff to keep operations flowing from one shift to the next. Using these features, staff can track reservations, client history, room availability, rate levels, and day-to-day communications with graphically rich screens and relatively easy-to-read menus.

Other key features of PORTfolio include a diary, end-of-day processing, housekeeping, maintenance, accounts receivable (AR), and full management reporting. There are currently approximately 250 installations of PORTfolio. These are primarily in the UK, though about thirty are in the US. This is because PORTfolio is a small enterprise solution particularly suited to the characteristics of the hotel market in the UK. In North American markets, the product is also sold to timeshare properties that are using Resorts Solutions CRS software.

RIO

SoftBrands' guest-centric LMS, RIO, supports the activities of spas, health clubs, and resorts. RIO is an integrated system that is particularly suitable for high-end accommodation resorts and spas. The system has seven software modules that are designed to operate either independently as stand-alone applications, or collectively in any combination to provide an integrated solution, which shares a client history database.

The heart of the system is the Client Profile Manager, which allows a resort or spa to capture all aspects of client preferences and activities. RIO can tie together all areas of a resort property, including the spa, restaurant, gift shop, classes, special events, golf, tennis, and fitness center, through specific modules such as RIO Spa, RIO Retail, and RIO Dining. SoftBrands has offered the RIO product for over three years, and there are currently approximately 250 installations of RIO worldwide.

Legacy Software Systems

Besides revenue from the aforementioned solutions, a large portion of hospitality revenue is derived from maintenance of legacy software systems, primarily IGS Hotel and LANmark, which SoftBrands pledges to continue to support. IGS Hotel operates in a multitasking Microsoft Disk Operating System (DOS) environment and offers a wide range of functions for both the front- and back-office operations in a hotel. LANmark is a property management product, which operates in multitasking DOS environments and offers many of the same features as IGS Hotel.

Hospitality Operations

SoftBrands' principal offices for its hospitality operations are shown in table 1 below. The vendor also has sales offices in Beijing, China; Dublin, Ireland; and Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, as well as distributors worldwide.

Table 1. Principal Offices of SoftBrands Hospitality

Location Functions
Wichita, Kansas (US) Headquarters for the Americas Marketing, sales, product development, quality assurance, and customer support
Bangalore, India Development, quality assurance, and customer support
Reading, UK Headquarters for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Marketing, sales, and customer support
Brussels, Belgium Marketing, sales, and customer support
Sydney, Australia Marketing, sales, and customer support

SoftBrands currently provides customer support for hospitality customers on a geographic basis from locations in the US, the UK, Belgium, and Australia. The company is developing a worldwide customer support center in Bangalore, India, through which it will provide first-line customer support for hospitality clients on an around-the-clock basis, beginning any day now (if indeed it has not already started).

SoftBrands distributes its hospitality products primarily through a worldwide direct sales organization, though it does have some reseller and distributor relationships. The vendor currently employs about a dozen direct sales personnel in its hospitality operations worldwide, and has contracts with approximately nine resellers.

A direct sales force conducts all the sales in the US, while the vendor uses resellers in Canada and Mexico. In the Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) markets, it has a direct sales force, which accounts for 70 percent of product sales, as well as channel partners in Spain, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Dubai (UAE), and Russia. In Asia Pacific, the company also uses a mix of direct sales force and channel partners.

Research and development (R&D) for hospitality products occurs both in-house and through an agreement with RekSoft, a St. Petersburg, Russia-based company with whom SoftBrands has a multi-year development contract. RekSoft currently provides continued core development for Medallion. Indeed, the focus of SoftBrands' current development efforts is primarily on increasing the functionality of Medallion.

The vendor has also made a long-term commitment to software development and coding in India, with the creation of a worldwide development center in Bangalore, India. Approximately twelve hospitality development staff are located in Bangalore, India. This development effort focuses on the PORTfolio and RIO products.

This concludes Part Four of the five-part SoftBrands' Recovery Softens the AremisSoft Bankruptcy Blow series. Part One discussed the company's background, while Parts Two and Three addressed SoftBrands Manufacturing. Part Five will examine the company's market impact.

 
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