Agilysys’ Tardy BI Tool Added To Lodging Management System
September 2, 2015 Dan Burger
The hospitality business is a technology mother lode. Agilysys is a major player in the hospitality business by virtue of its tight grip on the gaming industry, which is entwined with lodging, restaurants, and the resort experience. In this arena, the customer is king and knowing customers well delivers the keys to the kingdom. But beyond the customer experience, there’s all the operational data that’s fed into the property management system and elevates efficiencies.
It doesn’t seem like a proprietary, on-premise property management system (PMS) would stand a snowball’s chance in Vegas, but Agilysys is doing its best to keep its grip.
The latest feature added to the Agilysys Lodging Management System (LMS) portfolio is rGuest Analyze, a cloud-based data access tool that maps the past to help forecast operational planning. Its strength lies in combining data from enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and point of sale (POS) systems. That combination allows management to better gauge demand, discover opportunities to increase revenue, and (cha-ching) enhance guest satisfaction.
Agilysys originally planned to include rGuest Analyze when earlier this year it introduced LMS 7.3. However LMS 7.3 became generally available in May and the analytics tool integration was not announced until August 18.
The availability of rGuest Analyze, along with the availability of Insight Mobile Manager and a PCI-certified payment gateway system in the 7.3 release has fueled expectations at Agilysys that software upgrades will be forthcoming. If so, it couldn’t happen soon enough for Agilysys. Its LMS customer base is spread out over many LMS releases. That makes software support a chore and consolidation onto fewer releases a priority. Because LMS tends to be a highly customized application, it makes upgrades more difficult. Enhancements like mobile and BI capabilities are being counted on to overcome upgrade lethargy and spark the notion that these features are hospitality industry requirements.
LMS does not have a cloud-based option, which makes the Web-based rGuest Analyze an interesting product for the on-premise preferred, IBM i-centric customer base, which is estimated at between 300 and 400 companies. Agilysys has two other lodging management systems that run on Windows platforms: VisualOne and rGuestStay. Both of those supported rGuest Analyze before it became available to the LMS users.
“We see a trend in cloud-based software,” says Ravi Angadi, a vice president of product management at Agilysys. “Cloud-based software for full-service properties, resorts, and gaming will be available from Agilysys soon.”
That seems like a thinly veiled notice to the LMS customers that are showing symptoms of cloud fever that work is being done to answer their calls for help. And to those customers who are clutching older, highly customized versions of LMS, it’s time to start planning for the future.
Already in the cloud are Agilysys property management products such as VisualOne, software focused on resort properties with golf, conference facilities, and a spa, smaller by comparison to many of the LMS gaming-focused properties, and rGuestStay, an entirely cloud-based PMS option targeted to serve hotel properties.
In discussing the business intelligence capabilities of rGuest Analyze as it pertains to LMS, Angadi says it uses an API to periodically pull information from the LMS (not the DB2 for i database). This is accomplished using a Windows-based appliance that is installed on-site. The information is sent via an ODBC secured connection to the Agilysys data warehouse, where the data is transformed and then presented to the customer.
The custom dashboards for viewing the content are built by the Agilysys customers. Angadi says it requires no IT staffing to build the dashboards. All it takes, he says, is someone who understands drag and drop technique and understands what the data means.
“It’s like using a very graphical version of Excel,” he contends.
The integration of LMS data with rGuest Analyze provides insights into the ever-changing customer dynamics with the benefit of making better informed real-time business decisions–occupancy forecasting and room pricing optimization are emphasized–based on performance metrics across multiple properties. Many of the LMS customers are managing multiple properties.
rGuest Analyze was designed to integrate with Agilysys Insight Mobile Manager and InfoGenesis point of sale software to provide key information about the property from a tablet or other mobile device.
The analytics capability of rGuest Analyze is only supported by LMS 7.2 and 7.3, the two most current releases.
Pricing for rGuest Analyze is determined on a per instance basis. Angadi says some customers will use LMS to manage one property, others will manage many properties. Pricing varies, he says, based solely on the number of properties managed.
“We take into account the total amount of data that we need to store and manage and also the frequency and size of the data that is being called with any one particular query, but for the time being, we are absorbing those variables and are focused on adoptions.”
Because rGuest Analyze is separately priced from LMS, it seems it may have been left out of the LMS 7.3 release for business reasons rather than technical bugs that needed to be worked out. Agilysys did not comment on this.
In a related note, during its Q1 2016 financial reports that were released three weeks ago, Agilysys’ Chief Financial Officer Janine Seebeck explained that product revenue in the commercial and travel gaming segments increased $2.8 million, which was largely credited to on-premise proprietary solutions, which is Agilysys’ way of saying LMS customers running on IBM i.
A single large LMS upgrade for a customer managing multiple properties could have that kind of effect.