15 Years (and Counting): WebRezPro Looks Back—and Forward—on the Cloud PMS Story

This year marks WebRezPro’s 15th year streamlining daily operations for lodging providers as an automated, cloud-based property management solution. As we look back on WebRezPro’s pioneering beginnings and ahead toward ongoing innovation, this milestone is an achievement that both fills our team with pride and encourages us to never stop striving for the best for our customers.

How It All Began

Way back in the mid ‘90s our company, World Web Technologies Inc. (WWT), was running an online travel agency. The internet was pretty novel back then, but our company president, Frank Verhagen, knew it wasn’t a passing fad. In the late ‘90s, WWT released an online room reservation system for independent hotels and inns. Today it would be considered pretty basic, but back then it was exciting, cutting-edge technology that opened up a whole new marketplace for our hotel clients. As people became more comfortable with making reservations online, hoteliers quickly began to see the potential of web-based technology.

Soon our clients began to ask us about the possibility of integrating front- and back-office functionality into their online reservation system, so that they could use the software to check guests in and out, and keep track of inventory and invoicing.

Working closely with our customers, we built the features they needed into the system, until it was no longer just a reservation system. And so, in 2003, WebRezPro was born, and it continues to evolve in the same way; guided and inspired by our clients—real lodging operators.

The Potential of the Cloud

When WebRezPro was launched in 2003, web-based (cloud) software was still a fledgling concept within the hotel industry, but it was hard for our clients to ignore the benefits of an online system.

The ability to accept reservations online boosted hotel revenue for no extra effort, and the automation of previously manual administrative tasks (such as tracking reservations and inventory and issuing invoices) saved hotel staff a lot of time that they could instead focus on guests.

System setup was a breeze (no software installation needed) and typically didn’t require any extra hardware beyond what our customers already had. Plus, we took care of system maintenance, upgrades and data security remotely, taking a huge weight off our clients’ minds. Basically, we offered lodging operators an automated system that greatly increased daily operational efficiency, kept data safe, didn’t demand technical know-how from hoteliers, and was affordable to even the smallest properties.

Even so, not all lodging operators were convinced. As always, there was some resistance to change; the idea of making reservations online made some hoteliers nervous. Is the internet safe? Wouldn’t guests rather talk to someone on the phone? Isn’t software expensive and hard to learn? (I’m doing fine with my big reservations book and a calculator!)…

But as the years passed, word got around. WebRezPro was improving the bottom line at our customers’ properties, and it was bringing advantages legacy systems couldn’t offer, beyond affordability. As a web-based system, WebRezPro allowed hotels to securely access their property management system from any computer with an internet connection—on or off property. Even before the world went mobile, this was recognized as a huge convenience, eliminating the need to install and pay for software on multiple workstations.

Unlike with their legacy systems, our clients had free access to software upgrades, and they could hand over system maintenance and data security to us. As more years passed, software vendors began to realize the increasing technical ease and benefits of integration partnerships, afforded by advances in cloud technology. Integrating their hotel systems allowed lodging operators to further streamline their workflow by automating cross-system processes, for example, applying long-distance call charges and ancillary sales to guest folios, and processing credit card payments.

Those early years were an exciting time for cloud hotel technology and the innovation hasn’t stopped. We love helping our customers’ properties reach their full potential with the latest real-world technological solutions.

The Secret to Our Success

Fifteen years in, WebRezPro is enjoying exponential growth, now used at over 1,200 properties in 40 countries. That’s great news not only for our company but for the hospitality industry as a whole. It’s proof that lodging operators are embracing cloud technology to optimize operations and the guest experience.

We think WebRezPro’s success stems from an unwavering commitment to our clients’ success. No matter how big or small the property, the needs of each and every one of our clients are important to us. Our dedicated Support Team know WebRezPro inside out, are fluent in the hospitality industry, and are consistently praised for quick, personalized customer care (just take a look at some of our reviews).

As part of our mission to see our clients succeed, WebRezPro offers a high level of flexibility. This is evident within core functionality (from flexible inventory and rate/package management to customizable reports), through optional modules tailored to different lodging types (for example, our Owner Payout Module for vacation rental operators and Centralized Administration Module for property groups), through integrations with numerous other hotel systems, and through software customizations.

Every property is unique. We believe that hotel technology should be adaptable to a property’s needs and facilitate their unique vision, not limit businesses with rigid functionality.

WebRezPro is a comprehensive PMS that is always improving. Software updates are driven by industry technology innovation and lodging operators’ needs, and are often a result of direct requests from our clients. Our clients are not just customers, they are our partners, and this relationship is a big part of WebRezPro’s success.

Looking Ahead

Our mission to support lodging operators with practical technological solutions that improve efficiency, the guest experience and revenue, in step with the latest hospitality trends and innovations is an eternal one. Technology is always evolving, and so must we all with it!

Vendor partnerships that contribute to the centralization and optimization of data through system integration are key to unlocking greater efficiency and innovation at every property. WebRezPro currently has partnerships with over 90 hospitality technology vendors, including channel managers and OTAs, payment gateways, POS systems, guest experience platforms, mobile keys and more. We are always forging relationships with vendors that help enhance our solution, and will continue to do so.

Solutions that optimize and mobilize data for greater personalization of the guest experience—such as guest messaging, mobile check-in and mobile key apps—are particularly exciting. Continuing advances in mobile technology within WebRezPro’s own feature set, along with third-party integrations, will ensure our customers stay ahead of the game.

“Our team is proud to reach this milestone with such a strong outlook. We believe in this product and the value it offers our clients, and are proud to be a trusted technology partner for all types of properties.” —Frank Verhagen, President at World Web Technologies, Inc.

Big-Hotel Tips for Small Properties

Big-brand hotels and small, independent properties offer different guest experiences; and that’s the way it should be. Some travelers like the familiarity and predictability of staying with an international chain, while others are attracted to the unique, local experiences offered by smaller lodgings like inns and B&Bs. And some travelers could go either way.

Big or small, it’s important for properties to understand their own audiences and embrace their differences to remain competitive. For this reason — and, of course, due to differences in budgets — marketing and operational strategies vary between the big guys and the little guys. In saying that, it’s also helpful for independent lodgings to look to successful brands (and vice versa) for tried and true tips of the trade and current approaches that can benefit smaller establishments.

Develop a Strong Online Presence

A travel study conducted by Google last year showed that the Internet is the top source for both leisure and business travel planning, so your property needs to be easily accessible on the Web. This goes for the mobile Web too; the aforementioned study also found that travelers research and book accommodation across devices (computers, tablets and smartphones).

Your property should have:

>> A strong, mobile-friendly website that conveys the experience of staying at your property through a variety of media: photos, video and compelling text.

>> An easy-to-use, mobile-friendly online booking engine, seamlessly and prominently integrated into your website.

>> Active social media profiles. Focus on social media as a customer engagement channel, rather than a direct sales channel.

>> SEO know-how. Maximize your online visibility by implementing effective search engine optimization (SEO techniques).

Manage Your Online Reputation

Successful hotels understand the impact online reputation can have on a property’s bottom line. For small properties (that don’t typically benefit from widespread brand recognition), the role of reputation management is equally — if not more — important. While travelers are more willing to look past the odd negative review of a large hotel brand, negative reviews of independent properties can be more damaging due to smaller audience size and higher expectations.

Online, word-of-mouth spreads farther and faster than ever before so it’s crucial to monitor the Web for reviews and mentions of your property on online review sites like TripAdvisor and on social media. Social listening tools and online reputation management software like Revinate automate this process and make it easy to keep up with and address any concerns about your property being voiced online.

We recently blogged about how to get more online reviews and how to deal with negative feedback — both essential components of managing (and improving) your online reputation.

Offer Guest Incentives

From loyalty programs to seasonal packages and discounts, big-brand hotels are well versed in luring guests with incentives — and this can work successfully for small, independent properties too. A study by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration revealed that frequent guests increase their visits and spend by nearly 50 percent when enrolled in a rewards program at independent hotels. Flexible loyalty programs for independent properties, like Stash Hotel Rewards, celebrate a property’s uniqueness by rewarding repeat guests with special experiences.

Seasonal packages and special offers are also an effective way to incentivize prospective guests by providing added value and highlighting your property’s strengths.

Invest in Your Staff

Investing in staff is something even the big guns don’t always get right, but the principle is the same, whether a property has 50 employees or just five. The success of any business is inextricably tied to the dedication of its staff, therefore, it’s important to pick the right people for the job, train them well, and foster motivation by providing opportunities for staff to excel.

Embrace Technology

Can you imagine running a 200-room hotel without powerful core systems like PMS? Large hotels have long relied on technology out of necessity, to maximize operational efficiency and service. Now, with the kind of hospitality technology available today, the days of spreadsheets are over for small properties too. Cloud technology has not only made core systems like PMS readily accessible to independent lodgings with limited budgets, but rapid cloud innovation is propelling small properties to the cutting edge. In an increasingly competitive hospitality industry, it’s essential to embrace both operational and guest-facing technology to constantly improve efficiency and service and keep guests coming back.

While small properties should never try to pose as a big hotel, the above tactics are key to the success of small establishments too — and should be applied in a way that celebrates a property’s independence and uniqueness.