Hear how Best Western Asia are supporting hotels across the Region, how they've adapted their operations and why they consolidated their PMS suppliers...
Matt Emptage, Guestline’s Country Manager based in Bangkok gets the lowdown from Rodney Simpson, Senior Regional Director of Operations, Best Western Asia
Guestline's relationship with Best Western Asia has gone from strength to strength in recent years. We sat down with Rodney Simpson to find out how they've adapted their strategy in recent months and why the two-way interface made way for a PMS review.
ME - How have you been supporting your hoteliers during this unsettled period?
RS – We set up an array of mechanisms to financially support our partners. We started with a 75% fee reduction across the board for 4 months and then we offered a 50% discount for a further 4 months. Now Best Western Asia is offering deferred payment plans for 6 months until they start to pick up.
We’ve actively supported them financially and as such we haven’t had any hotels terminate their contract across the brand even whilst they were closed. Out of portfolio of 64 hotels, half were closed at one point mainly due to forced closures (mainly Government restrictions) and we only have 8 still closed today.
Hoteliers have had to adapt their operations, is this something you’ve experienced or are actively encouraging?
When I look at the managed assets, we’ve had to assert some damage control to support those owners and bring costs and structures in line with what they’ve lost.
We’ve seen some properties become very creative in how they do things to generate additional revenue. For example, one of our properties had 2 power stations nearby whose canteens had to close so the hotel turned their hand to supplying the workforce with lunches and dinners. They ended up supplying them with 37,000 lunch boxes per month! Also, many have started ‘Run and grab’ food orders to get some cash flow into the hotel.
How did the relationship with Guestline develop?
One of my first responsibilities in my role was linking the 2-way interface [between the Best Western CRS and the hotel’s PMS] across the region. That’s how I came across Guestline 5 years ago as you had the 2-way interface, and I then realised there was a lot of short comings with some of the other registered PMS providers that we worked with – I started streamlining the number of partners and now Guestline are in over 70% of the hotels in our portfolio.
Why are Guestline in 70% of your hotels?
Our relationship is paramount, we meet up together regularly and we have built a solid partnership. Our IT teams work closely, and the support we get from Guestline is immediate - on-property or dialling in. We get the reports we need, and the systems are constantly innovated. It just works and you understand how our organisation operates - from growing the relationship initially across Europe, this has now extended to the APAC region and our partnership has flourished.
You can look at Opera and see it as the Rolls Royce of the PMSs and then comes the associated costs and difficulties because of the sheer size and magnitude of the company. When you work with Guestline it’s a lot more personable and the product is just fantastic - it’s a lot simpler to use , the updates are done efficiently, regularly and cost effectively with generally with no cost or disruption to the property.
How vital is a prompt, local support network?
The support and service we receive from Guestline is brilliant. By phone or email, any issues are fixed no matter where in the world we are. The service is local, here in SE Asia – we’re not dialling in and waiting for someone to wake up in Europe or in the US, you’re here and you’re on our time zone. That’s a massive benefit to us and that’s what a lot of our hotels get excited about!
Would you prefer to go with a one-stop shop solution that includes the PMS, Channel manager, EOPS, IBE etc or would you prefer to get all the solutions separately?
I would definitely go for the one-shop solution (like Guestline) that acts as a hub and links everything up from guest rooms to the meeting rooms. This allows the front office to command a stronger structure of the inventory and helps us reduce overheads.
Is it important to the BW brand to have consistency with your PMS - in the US you have a choice of 14 PMS providers and in Asia that list is shorter, why’s this?
When I was looking at the installation of the two-way interface back in 2015, we had 6 PMS suppliers - such a disparate mix of providers - so I looked to achieve a balance between getting an effective and efficient two-way installation and the operating costs of each PMS on-property and that’s when I came up with the goal of streamlining our providers.
Out of the 6 suppliers, we decided to retain Opera as a lot of people were familiar with their system and then we’d work with a provider that’s got more cost efficiency, has a better service provision and has a strong installation component. That’s when I contacted Guestline as you had the most effective model and I knew we could work together to grow our relationship and our support network so our hotels were assured of an optimum service. That’s how we built it and how we’ve channelled it to only having 2 providers in the region today.
If you'd like to contact Matt Emptage and the team in Bangkok, please email them at email@example.com. For more information on our APAC operations and our local team, please visit our Guestline Asia Pacific Hub here.
Check back for Part 2 soon!