The Success Story of Holiday Inn Israel

Summary

The initial decision of Holiday Inn to centralize the information and the computing proved to be the right decision. Centralizing the computing saved the group a great deal of money on IT operations and maintenance and opened a whole new world of opportunities to use efficient and comprehensive applications.

Africa Israel Hotels

Africa Israel Hotels was founded in 1992, and holds the franchise of the Holiday Inn brand in Israel. Today, Africa Israel operates nine hotels at leading resort sites in Israel, as well as the Tiberias hot springs SPA and a hotel school.

The group is running three different brands:

· The Crowne Plaza hotel brand offer a high standard of hospitality (4 hotels).

· The Holiday Inn brand offers a stay at a family hotel (4 hotels).

· The Express by Holiday Inn brand offers budget hotels (1 hotel).

The group manages Tiberias and Galilee Hotel School - Holiday Inn College, established in 1993. It is a joint venture of Africa Israel Hotels, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism and the Municipality of Tiberias.

Today, the school is a leading institution in hotel studies and since its founding, it has trained more than 2,000 graduates in all facets of hotel management. These graduates now fill a range of senior positions in the hotel and accommodations industry throughout Israel.

The decision to change the computerized system

In the beginning the Holiday Inn group was running each hotel individually. For historic reasons each hotel was using a different computer system and, when starting to manage the group as one entity, the group management found it difficult and time consuming to receive centralized and consolidated information.

At the same time some of the systems became old and unreliable. Errors and failures became a daily routine to some of the hotels’ staff and the desire to replace the PMS became a necessity. This time the management decided to do it appropriately.

A new, experienced IT manager was recruited for the job and a committee of managers from different departments of the different hotels was assigned to study the market and recommend the most suitable system that will manage the hotels for the next ten or fifteen years.

One of the main requirements of the group was to centralize the information and run the system from one location. The idea was to sweep over the competition using the advantages provided by the technology and the immediate consolidated information offered by such centralized system.

The combination of the committee’s decision on Optima PMS and Silverbyte’s proven abilities in the new field of ASP brought the management of the Holiday Inn to make the move and start with the implementation of the Optima PMS over a private servers farm.

 

The Pilot Project

The Holiday Inn management decided to do the project gradually. As a new hotel was about to be opened in Eilat the management decided to run it as a pilot project.

With the idea of doing everything centrally, identical categorization had to be defined in all the hotels. Two committees were working on standard definitions of the financial part and the marketing part of the system. The committees have decided to uniform all the information of market segments, travel agents, room types, guest categories, department codes, currencies and other information as well as security levels and other system parameters. This information was set up centrally and the hotels would not have any access to modify it.

A small server farm was built in the group’s head office with a database server and an application server. On the first of August 2000 the Holiday Inn Express Eilat was opened to the public and the first Optima PMS at the Holiday Inn was operational.

During the next three months the Holiday Inn IT department, consisting on a manager and a technician, were busy experimenting the system. Tested were done cutting the connection line to the hotel and reconnecting it, shutting down the database and application servers, interrupting the interfaces and executing drills on different types of disasters that may happen to the communication lines and server farms. During this time instruction manuals were written with specific directions of what to do when something happens. These manuals are rechecked and practiced twice a year as a standard procedure.

 

The Central Reservations System

It took another two years to complete the installation in all of the Holiday Inn hotels in Israel. The project included the Optima PMS and numerous remote interfaces to peripheral systems such as PABX, e-locks, pay TV, accounting system and on-line credit card clearing system.

By 2002 the group was ready to move on to the second stage – centralize the entire reservations offices of the group into one office.

System wise – there wasn’t much to do. Physically the group had to tear down a part of the head office and reconstruct it to fit workspace of 25 direct reservations agents and another 10 agents for business center, group center and the travel agents subdivision.

Within one day the reservations offices in all the hotels closed down and the central reservations office assumed responsibility on all reservations. The agents work online on the hotels’ databases, handling direct, corporate and travel agents reservations as if they were working in the hotels. Reservations are made through tall free (1-800) calls, faxes and e-mails.

The Holiday Inn CRO is declared as a “Paperless reservations office”. It is using an electronic fax module allowing them to view incoming fax pages on their monitors and attach them to the reservations, thus no paper is shipped or lost between reservations and reception offices, no paper lost between the reception office and accounts receivable and the fax is always available to anyone dealing with the reservation.

It did not take long to see the results. The save on human resources was felt immediately and the ability to offer alternate hotel when one was fully booked helped the group to fill up the hotels.

 

The success story of Information Technology

The initial decision of Holiday Inn to centralize the information and the computing proved to be the right decisions. Centralizing the information (the operational database) allowed the group to improve and add more new applications such as the Multi PMS that runs the CRO operations and the Optima Central Reporting that gives on-line, crucial consolidated information.

Above this a central Loyalty Club program was developed especially for the group handling the specific parameters of the club.

Centralizing the computing saved group a great deal of money on computer operations and maintenance (over $200,000 in the initial investment and over $50,000 a month for the ongoing operations compared to a similar group)

The success of the Holiday Inn group hotels is well noticed in the Israeli Hospitality Industry. Silverbyte’s vision, technology and products are part of this success.

Silverbyte is proud to be a part of this success story.

 

Update - AFI Hotels on 2010

The Company operates 10 hotels throughout Israel totaling 2,378 rooms:
• 6 Crowne Plaza hotels in Haifa, Tel Aviv (2), Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Eilat.
• 2 Holiday Inn hotels in Tiberias and Ashkelon.
• The AFI Patio Hotel in Eilat.
• The Express Beat Hotel in Eilat.

The entertainment and leisure sites owned by the Company are:
• The Tiberias Hot Springs Spa.
• The Kings City theme park in Eilat.

In winter 2009/2010, the Company plans to open an additional hotel, the Crowne Plaza Ashdod, for businesspeople and holidaymakers from Israel and around the globe offering facilities with the usual Crowne Plaza international standards.
The Crowne Plaza Ashdod is located on the beachfront of Ashdod’s new southern quarter and features 183 sea-facing rooms with a magnificent view of the Mediterranean Sea.

AFI Hotels also manage hotels in Europe located in Romania, Russia and Germany.

 

 

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