Portal improves hotel efficiency

Hotel chain Radisson Edwardian has completed the first stage of a wide-ranging IT project that aims to give employees access to...

Hotel chain Radisson Edwardian has completed the first stage of a wide-ranging IT project that aims to give employees access to all business information from a single point, regardless of their location.

The company, which operates 2,000 rooms in 10 hotels throughout London, expects to make significant cost savings and efficiency improvements after implementing the portal from application software provider Citrix.

The implementation - a first for the hospitality industry according to Radisson Edwardian - forms part of the company's overall refurbishment and expansion plans, said Iype Abraham, head of IT for the company.

"We are investing heavily in refurbishment, which includes upgrading our IT systems," he said. "We also want to put the infrastructure in place to support our future expansion plans, which include new hotels in Manchester and Syon Park [west London]."

Before implementing the Metaframe XPe portal application Radisson Edwardian had a set of disparate systems with each hotel using its own network. This created communication problems, Abraham said.

"The hotels used to be data islands which meant there was no cross-flow of information," he said. "The challenge was to get a consistent view of information, removing the constraints of physical location."

Citrix's NFuse Classic software provides all Radisson Edwardian employees with access, via a Web browser, to general business information as well as personalised data and applications specific to their roles.

Allowing hotel staff to access information on anything from reservation details to food and beverage stock levels, and from any location, is vital for Radisson Edwardian because of its management structure, where managers are not based in a particular hotel, Abraham said.

"Instead of general managers we have 'discipline leaders' who have responsibility for a specific discipline across the business, which means they roam across all the properties," he said. "Having a central hub means everyone is looking at the same information."

One of the main challenges of the project was to ensure that employees could access the same legacy applications as before, said Abraham.

"Fidelio [a Dos-based property management system] is still used by 60%-70% of the hotel industry and we saw no need to replace it," he said.

So Radisson Edwardian chose Citrix's Mediaapps.net. portal software to aggregate content on to the desktop, allowing end-users to access information from existing information sources, such as Fidelio.

The next step for Radisson Edwardian is to get every paper document to have a unique reference online, to cut administration costs and improve efficiency, said Abraham.

"A hotel of 400 rooms typically generates between 800 and 1,200 documents a day, so this is a huge project," he said. "We want all information, such as customer invoices, to have an individual URL so the information is easily accessible."

The company is planning to scan and image-file credit card and cash till receipts first because they will offer the biggest cost savings, said Abraham.

"If a customer has a query about a part of their bill the credit card company gives us a notification, and if we do not reply within a specified time because we cannot find the relevant documents, [the credit card company] will withhold the payment," he said.

"Being able to call up documents online means we avoid this huge financial risk," Abraham added.

Read more on Business applications