I wanted to share some thoughts on why we think there is a need (and an urgent one for that matter) for a new type of service that will help you manage your hotel.
I, Björn, am a developer and entrepreneur at heart. I co-founded a startup 2006 called Twingly and was head of all technical development there for 5 years. Twingly helps businesses explore the blogosphere and maintain its relationships with bloggers.
In 2010 i did a little detour from the tech world. ME and my partner bought an property on Gotland, Swedens biggest island, located in the Baltic sea. We converted the property to a small hotel and restaurant and namned the place Hotel Stelor.
During construction and later during service we were very thorough with everything. Everything needed to conform to our idea, our vision. Building and running a hotel of that kind, a boutique hotel with high quality and high standards, is all about building an atmosphere, a feeling. And that feeling must exist in all parts of the business. Also (and very importantly if you ask me) in the technical systems that are used to support the business.
Being a tech guy, immediately I set out to find a hotel management system that would fit our requirements. I googled and searched but I didn't manage to find anything what so ever that appealed to me, that I wanted to use. Zip, nada, nothing. A lot of things got me turned off about the existing offers (of which there are very many). I wanted to specifically point out a few of them. These flaws are part of the reason why I decided to build my own system and as such they form the very foundation for our existence.
When I am on the search for something, I immediately want to know a few very basic things. Like the price. No, I don't want to call a toll free number. I don't want to talk to a consultant. Initially I don't want any contact with the vendor what so ever. I just want to know how much the thing is going to cost me and what it can do to help my business.
Also I want to know what I'm supposed to buy. When searching for systems to support your hotel business you're flooded with different terms and a jargong that, at least for me, for large parts was completely incomprehensible. What am I supposed to look for? A PMS? A CRS? A channel manager? A rate optimiser? An online booking engine? Or is it maybe a hospitality system? The travel tech landscape is extremely complex and difficult to grasp. Especially if you're just starting out as I was.
Roombler is built as a system that will help you run your hotel in an effective manner. Full stop. We don't label it as a PMS or a CRS. Its a service designed to help you run your hotel.
Most systems in the hotel market are still today designed to be run on a local server, located on the hotel. There are several problems with this. Its the year 2014 ladies and gentlemen. We don't do that anymore, or at least, we shouldn't. No business other than those that actually are in the hosting business should run their own servers.
Using a service that is hosted in the cloud simply means that you don't have to care. Your data is protected, your system is constantly updated with improvements and you buy something that is much more cost effective.
The hotel system business is still very much a legacy software business. The systems are often sold in a classically structured software licensing kind of way, where you pay a lot up front and then pay a smaller (but often not insignificant) fee on a recurring (mostly yearly) basis for updates and support.
This means that you, the customer, takes on most, if not all, of the risk when buying one of these systems. Most of the times you haven't even tried the system before you give away your money.
In a SaaS (software as a service) world, that kind of risk doesn't exist. You pay for what you use and if you don't want to use it anymore then you quit the service in question. The cost is very easy and straight forward to calculate, it is what you pay every month (or every three months or every year or what ever the payment cycle is).
The reception is dead! Well, maybe not dead, but it is transforming. Especially small hotels can't afford to have a person dedicated to stand behind a desk waiting to be approached by the guests. To best serve your guests, you need to be in different places of the hotel, may it be in the restaurant, in the lounge or out in the garden. Or maybe you aren't even on the hotel, maybe you're at home, or in the grocery store, or maybe you're finally on that long awaited vacation (although very unlikely).
In a traditional system, you can't do anything if your not physically behind that desk in the reception. Because the system is installed on a single computer with no way to access it through anything else.
We want to completely remove that physical barrier. That is why Roombler is built to run on mobile devices. Not only can you access your system from different locations, you can access if from anywhere, whenever you need to.
I have yet to meet someone that works in the hotel industry that says they love their management systems. Actually, what stands out to me is how much people
hate dislike their systems. Systems that they work with every day and are there because they promised to make their work easier. This isn't something that is unique for the hotel systems. All over the world, businesses use software that makes people unhappy and frustrated.
We, and a lot of other people in the new enterprise systems world, have taken this to our hearts and aspire to build something that makes people happy, that doesn't make them frustrated. Something that exists for them and not the other way around.
And then there was Roombler...
So, Roombler was born out of my own frustration. It is built to adress each and every one of the concerns mentioned above. And I am convinced that we will help a lot of hotel owners and staff along the way.