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Sun 17 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Smooth operator

Hotelier Middle East talks to Intelligent Data Systems general manager of sales Rajesh P Yadav about streamlining hotel operations, research and development, understanding industry trends and the importance of training.

Hotelier Middle East talks to Intelligent Data Systems general manager of sales Rajesh P Yadav about streamlining hotel operations, research and development, understanding industry trends and the importance of training.

How long has IDS been present in the Middle East?

IDS setup its operations in the late 90s in the UAE through our office in Dubai, and our association with the region's hospitality industry began then. Subsequently we established operations in Bahrain, Egypt, Qatar and very recently in Saudi Arabia. Today we have more than 300 hotels and resorts in the Middle East that use one or more solution from IDS Fortune Suite of Hospitality products.

Why did IDS set up its operations in the Middle East?

The Middle East has always shown great interest in hospitality, more so because of its involvement in world trade and commerce. Dubai and Egypt also have a great inflow of leisure tourisms. IDS wanted to be a part of this booming hospitality market and create its own niche as an IT partner to the hotels and resorts of the region.

Which hotels do you work with in the Middle East?

ETA Star Group, Ramee Group of Hotels, Marco Polo Hotel, Dubai Concorde, Ramada Hotel, Delmon International Hotel in Bahrain, Megawish Swiss Inn, Vera Club Queen Sharm, Vera Club Queen View in Egypt and Carlton Al Moaibed Hotel, Dammam are some of the hospitality enterprises that we work with in the Middle East.

What software solutions does IDS offer for hotels?

We offer a host of solutions specifically designed for the hospitality sector. We design, develop, market, install, implement and maintain a range of holistic solutions under the following categories: property management solutions, restaurant management solutions, web-based solutions (central reservation systems) and business and service enhancement solutions.

What new solutions have you recently introduced to the market?

For our 20th anniversary year, we have introduced seven new products. There is Fortune Care, which is a quality management system that logs, allocates, tracks and analyses guest requests, complaints and incidents to enhance and streamline guest services; and Fortune Analytix, which empowers decision makers by providing them with key performance indicators to enable speedy decisions.

Apart from these, we have also introduced three web-based products: Fortune iBooking, Fortune iCheck-in and Fortune RevMax, which enable online and real-time reservations and instant online check-in, forgoing the traditional way of checking in. RevMax is used to up-sell special services on the web and make the guest feel more welcome. There are also Fortune Rewardz and Fortune SMSenger, both aiming at enhancement of guest loyalty.

How do you ensure that your software solutions cater to hoteliers needs?

We have more than 400 man-years experience in the hospitality software domain.

Our clients play a very important role when it comes to feedback and improvement of our existing solutions. Today we have more than 1300 hotels and resorts using one or more of our solutions in 20 countries. We have collated the best practices of all these hotels and resorts in various countries and incorporated them in our various software offerings.

From time to time we invite professionals from the hospitality industry to our Global Research and Development Centre in Bangalore, India to do a GAP analysis on our products based on their area of expertise within the hospitality domain. These independent reports from the hospitality industry professionals themselves help us keep abreast of their current and future needs.
How do you ensure that IDS stays ahead of the competition?

We are constantly developing and up-grading our solutions so that they meet the growing needs of the industry and enable us to cater to the future trends of the hospitality sector.

Our research and development team works through the year studying trends and we improve our understanding of these trends with the help of our existing clients. We also engage premier hospitality consultants in various markets to understand the movement of various trends within the hospitality industry.

For example, we developed the rate management tools in our property management system to meet the increased room demand in markets with less room inventory to offer. We developed a quality management system to address the increasing guest requests and service demands - Fortune Care.

We work with most of the premier hotel technology suppliers and develop in-house interfaces to be offered to Fortune users for them to stay ahead of the competition.

What do Middle East hoteliers demand from your software?

All the hoteliers in the Middle East are looking for a totally integrated single database enterprise solution (ERP) that offers a user-friendly interface to all users. The system should be rich in features and functionality, offering the required checks and balances in all operational areas. All the group properties are looking to centralise their reservation operations and consolidate their group financials.

With the advent of hospitality technology, and the hoteliers wanting to offer these services to their guest and staff, integration with third party software and devices is no longer an option - it is mandatory. IDS offers interfaces to most yield management systems and hosts of third party devices, such as energy management systems, interactive TV, in-room entertainment, biometric devices and many more.

The service industry needs a partner that can back them up with a 24/7 remote and on call support. Also inflow of regular upgrades and updates on industry standards and trends are essential.

What do you do to ensure that your solutions are up-to-date and innovative?

We have a team of business analysts, who have worked in the hospitality industry for many years. They constantly review the situation in order to gain an understanding of future technology and trends in the hospitality industry. Each of our products has a dedicated product head.

This ensures that each product gets the attention to minute details that it needs to make it the best of its class. We have two research and development teams. One works on enhancing the existing solutions and another is dedicated to developing the next generation of software products.
How do you ensure that your staff is qualified to deal with the demands of the hospitality industry?

Our 200-plus staff includes a good mix of professionals from the hospitality and technology sectors. We conduct knowledge building sessions for our staff which include seminars by leading hospitality professionals on the latest best practices.

Our product heads conduct planned training sessions for the development and support team spread across all geographical locations. The company also sponsors management and technology training programs for staff members depending on their function within the organisation.

Do you offer training to hotel staff?

We have a detailed training program specific to each of our product solutions during the implementation stage. This involves in-depth training to each user group identified by the properties depending on the operational department. The team leaders are identified at the start of the training program and they are trained on all aspects of the solution. We ensure that they gain enough knowledge to be in a position to cater to future in-house training requirements.

We also conduct crash courses on need basis post implementation and also as a part of our annual maintenance programs. The product is delivered along with extensively detailed user manuals for quick reference.

IDS aims to streamline operations and empower hoteliers with the tools to grow their businesses; how is this achieved?

If you go through the list of the products we offer you will note that we address almost every need of a hospitality enterprise. All these products compliment each other and integrate seamlessly.

A hotel could start by using any product from our portfolio and as they grow, we have existing solutions to plug-in to provide the necessary tools for their growing needs.

Our solutions are based on the best practices of the industry and therefore implementation of the product itself will streamline the operations of the hotel.

Watch outProduct:Fortune Enterprise

Function: Fortune Enterprise offers a range of modules, including front office management, accounts receivables, stores inventory control and interfaces to other IDS' SynXis GDS system and IDeaS yield management solution.

Comment: "Fortune Enterprise is a complete and totality integrated software solution for large full service hotels and resorts".

Product:Fortune Alalytix

Function:Fortune Alalytix allows hoteliers to monitor various aspects of hotel performance, offering hotel managent instant access to a range of past and present data, as well as one demand reporting and information updates.

Comment:"Fortune Analytix is a powerful Business Intelligence (BI) tool that empowers decision makers with enterprise wide Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in a single, highly intuitive view for an informed decision making process".

Visit: www.idsfortune.com

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