Cloud Computing in The Hotel Industry
Enterprise Information Management Systems
September 15, 2010
Cloud Computing in The Hotel Industry
Is the hotel industry ready to move forward with technology and use cloud computing to run its operations? The emergence of cloud computing and reliable networks has led to an opportunity to dramatically alter the
cost/performance landscape for the hospitality industry through the sharing of many technology services across multiple hotel companies. But many questions exist about the model. Are hoteliers willing to give up enough control to make the model work? How could the hospitality industry use a shared services model to generate greater operating efficiencies? What are the opportunities for vendors in this space? (Squires, 2010, p. 50) Challenges & Opportunities
The hotel industry in general has always been a few steps behind with respect to information technology system, it was one of the last industries to become computerized. The reasons behind such an odd way of doing business are the size of property, the amount of information, and the difficulty to interface with previous information regarding the past history of their guests.
Who can use cloud computing to run a hotel? What is cloud computing? When is a good time to start using this technology? Where should the IT department be located? Why is it a good idea for the hotel industry? How can it improve the daily operation of a hotel? Any hotel can run its operation using cloud computing. Cloud-computing services--which allow users to send e-mail, store documents, conduct business transactions and perform various other functions via Internet-based networks--are becoming increasingly popular with individuals and companies. (Shimbum, 2010, p. N.A.)
Explained to me by my computer engineer friend, Jackie Shin (personal communication, September 10,2010), cloud computing is basically outsourcing to have other companies manage and store your files and databases. A good example is: instead of having your own company setup and maintain a Microsoft Outlook (Exchange) Server, Microsoft offers something called MSOnline. This service allows Microsoft to manage and store your emails on their servers. Since you will never manage, see or touch the servers, this seamless operation is where the data disappears into the thin clouds after being used. Figure 1 explains how cloud computing can be useful to any of its users (n.d., 2009, p.3) Cloud computing is located in the middle, which is where other applications branch off from.
Figure 1. Cloud Computing Diagram.
A good time to start using the cloud computing system is now. The sooner a hotel starts using cloud computing, the sooner it can catch up to the 21st century. The benefits to cloud computing are much greater than its disadvantages. A number of factors could drive the shift in technology development:* International chain expansion will comprise the vast majority of hotel growth in the foreseeable future. This requires chains to implement economical "deploy-anywhere" cloud computing solutions with international language capabilities.* Guestroom technology has become unacceptably complex due to the proliferation of guest-facing services for entertainment, environmental controls, telephony and Internet. This must evolve to converged IP platforms that simplify compatibility, enable two-way communication and catch up with what guests have in their homes.* Gen-Y guests are an emerging market that makes and executes booking decisions from mobile devices, not websites. Hotels must offer mobile-friendly online content; room and amenity booking must be mobile-enabled. (Squires, 2010, p. 50) As shown in Figure 2,a list composed by AMR Research, the positive attributes for cloud computing...