Making technology to better serve hotel and restaurant guests
When Agilysys needed to build a modern system for tracking and serving hotel and restaurant guests, we helped it build a system that is faster, more efficient, and easier to use.
When most people walk into a hotel these days, they bring along all the trappings of a 21st century life: smart phones, tablets, laptops, maybe even a Fitbit or a smart watch.
On the other side of the check-in desk, the hotel employee is too often grappling with an aging computer system that isn’t always intuitive or optimized for efficiency.
Agilysys, which provides technology for luxury hotel groups, cruise lines, casinos, and major restaurant chains, wanted to change all that.
For the past two years, it’s been working with Slalom to build rGuest Stay. The new system is as intuitive as the consumer devices most of us use today, and comes with bells and whistles including a very sophisticated search function.
Translation: You get your room key, your drink order, and even your housekeeping service faster.
The rGuest system also works on mobile devices. That means a hotel manager can access customer records while moving throughout the building without lugging a laptop.
It also means a server can take your order and charge it to your room while you are sitting poolside, and then send that order directly to the bar for speedier delivery. Larry Steinberg, Agilysys’ chief technology officer, said one client reported that this upgrade alone caused poolside food and drink orders to skyrocket.
The rGuest system also has better ways of keeping track of customers’ preferences, no matter where they are staying or what they want to do during their stay. That’s a big advantage for chains who want to remember which guest prefers a certain type of room, or has a particular allergy, no matter which hotel they are staying in.
Making housekeeping more efficient
Steinberg said one of the hotel industry’s most used functions has turned out to be a system for automatically calculating how the housekeeping staff can most efficiently work their way through the hotel each day.
It’s a huge improvement over the old system of printing out lists of rooms and directing staff via walkie-talkie, saving time and money.
On the technology side, the new system can operate on in-house servers or be hosted in the cloud. That’s allowed Agilysys to make its products available to a new segment of small business owners who want to use the most modern technology for their smaller hotels but don’t want to invest in server hardware or have a full-time IT person on staff.
“The fact that it’s cloud-based (means you) don’t have to make this big upfront investment,” said George Ghali, a managing director in technology enablement with Slalom’s Seattle office.
The basis of other technology
The rGuest Stay system launched in late 2014 with some key customers. It’s the first piece of the rGuest platform, which will provide a full suite of services for the hospitality industry. It’s also the basis for a similar technology Agilysys is building for the restaurant industry, which Steinberg said is expected to launch soon.
For Steinberg, it’s the culmination of nearly three years of efforts to provide more modern solutions to an industry that is often using technology that is two decades old. Steinberg said he was convinced to come work at the company because he saw the opportunity to make such a major change in the hospitality industry.
To do that, he knew he needed help. Steinberg said he asked Slalom to pitch its services because, as an avid cyclist, he recognized the name from Slalom’s cycling team.
It turned out the two companies shared more than an affinity for riding on two wheels. Steinberg said he was impressed with Slalom’s ideas, and the two companies have ended up working very closely.
Now that the product has launched, Steinberg said it’s been exciting to see how hotels are embracing such a major change.
“We feel good,” he said.
The hotel industry by the numbers
Agilysys makes software that enables hotels and others in the hospitality industry to run their businesses. The company’s technology helps companies manage staff, keep track of restaurant reservations, and stay up to speed on things like how many rooms are available, which rooms have been cleaned, and where the VIPs are staying. Agilysys is based in Alpharetta, Georgia, with offices all over the world.