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Oracle Customer Success — glh Hotels

glh Hotels

glh Hotels Improves Guest Experience and Opens up Strategic Opportunities with Move to the Cloud

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We’ve had people literally crossing the room to thank us for improving the stability and performance of our systems. The move to the cloud and the upgrade to the latest version of Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service has significantly improved our operation here at glh Hotels—our operations teams are now able to plan for the future with high levels of confidence in our technology.

— Matthew Newton, Enterprise Architect, glh Hotels

glh Hotels Management Limited (glh) is a London-based international hotel group that operates four brands: Thistle, Clermont, Amba, and every hotels. In total, the group runs 39 hotels in the UK and Asia-Pacific, with 4,000 rooms in London alone. glh was previously known as Guoman Hospitality Limited.
 
glh embarked on a new strategic program for the business, creating a ten year plan for international expansion and the launch of several new hotel brands.
 
As part of this, glh looked to create a new technology model capable of supporting a growing hotel group in the modern era. Following an external consultant evaluation, Oracle Hospitality (formerly MICROS Sytems) was confirmed as the right technology platform for the glh business and a number of projects were identified:
 
* Moving glh’s property management and point-of-sale systems to the cloud
* Upgrading glh’s property management system, Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service
* Introducing a new point-of-sale system, Oracle Hospitality Simphony First Edition
* Piloting mobile solutions with Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service
 
The results have been phenomenal; a huge improvement in system stability and performance has improved the guest experience, while also improving the efficiency of the glh business as a whole, with improved staff productivity in every area enabling a greater focus on strategic planning and future expansion.
  • The Challenges of an Ageing Infrastructure
    Technology was a major consideration for glh when they embarked on their new strategic program. It was clear that they would only be able to meet their goals—including expanding internationally and growing a portfolio of competitive hotel brands—if they modernized their IT infrastructure.
     
    Chris Hewertson, CTO at glh Hotels, explains, “We knew that technology was going be a key element in how we differentiated ourselves, but like many hotel companies we had under-invested in our IT over the years. In the run-up to the London Olympics, all of the conversations within the business were all around ‘what can our back-end cope with?’ rather than ‘what do we want to achieve?’ and that’s no way to run a business.”
     
    “It had got to the point where we were beyond the need for an upgrade—we needed to look at our technology in a whole fresh new way.”
  • Cloud Technology as a Strategic Differentiator
    As part of the overhaul, glh decided to modernize their approach. In came a new IT strategy that focused on consuming technology as a service, with minimal technology on-premise.
     
    A cloud-based strategy offered glh the flexibility they needed to expand their business. “We want to be able to on-board hotels quickly at glh, as it’s a way for us to differentiate ourselves from other companies,” says Chris Hewertson. “That is possible with cloud technology.”
     
    The new approach meant a change of mindset, as Matthew Newton, Enterprise Architect at glh, explains, “We had always wanted the independence of having our own hardware. That has changed and we’re now looking at how to achieve independence through what we do with our technology, rather than through owning the technology itself."
  • The Right Technology Foundation for a Modern Hotel Business
    An external evaluation helped identify the systems needed to support the expansion of the glh business. The results were conclusive; Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service provided the market-leading, solid technology foundation that glh could build on.
     
    Once the decision to commit to Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service has been made, the next stage of the project saw glh move their infrastructure to the Oracle datacenter. Historically, glh had started using Oracle Hospitality back in 2002, bringing all of their owned hotels onto Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service by 2006, while their managed hotels remained on Fidelio V6. Initially these solutions were hosted internally but when their facility reached capacity, a third party datacenter was chosen and the infrastructure was relocated. This involved significant investment in hardware, which was still owned by glh.
     
    According to Matthew Newton, the move to the Oracle datacenter involved mainly replicating the environment that already existed. “It was a like-for-like move in many ways. The key difference was in the storage and skillset that the Oracle datacenter offered. glh just could not replicate those and that was where the real benefit lay.”
     
    The glh and Oracle Hospitality teams then worked closely together to meet the changeover date. Performance improved instantly. “We haven’t looked back,” says Matthew Newton. “It took about 12 weeks for us to breathe out—we had been through periods of false stability before and we were cautious about getting too excited. However, after a few weeks it became clear that the stability was there to stay.”
  • “People Cross the Room to Thank Us”
    With the new infrastructure in place, the glh team moved to the latest version of Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service, giving the whole business access to a broader set of advanced functionality. “It was probably the smoothest upgrade that we’ve ever done,” says Matthew Newton. “There were no concerns about the number of calls or the IP ranging—that was all done in the background.”
     
    The work has had a phenomenal impact. Firstly, the guest experience has been boosted by system stability and staff confidence. “It has clearly made a difference to our check-in and check-out times,” says Chris Hewertson. “We can offer a much slicker experience.”
     
    Secondly, team members in glh hotels are much happier. “Staff are no longer coming into work fearing that the systems would be down or performing poorly. Our staff can actually plan their days. The stability and performance of the system has given everyone confidence,” says Chris Hewertson. “Two years ago, any internal conversation about our website focused on whether our back-end systems could deal with traffic and bookings. We are now absolutely confident that they can cope, which means that sales and marketing can be more bullish in what we promote.”
     
    Finally, glh has also been able to improve its relationships with its external partners. “Our booking partner has seen a quantifiable increase in service,” says Chris Hewertson. “Our partners are tightly bound to us in how they service their large customers through the global distribution system and we can now have a much healthier relationship with them.”
     
    For the IT team, the success of the project meant taking a very different type of phone call, as Matthew Newton explains, “We basically had 3-4 weeks where people were just calling us to say thank you—not to tell us something was broken or slow, just to say thank you. People would cross the room when they saw an IT person simply to thank them for sorting out the issues.”
     
    Chris Hewertson sums up the impact, “We de-stressed our organization with the move to the new environment and the Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service upgrade. Property management systems aren’t even mentioned at our operational meetings any more. The focus is on strategic transformation.”
  • Building for the Future – EPOS, New Brands, and Mobile
    With their new stabilized IT environment in place, glh began to focus on continuing their strategic expansion.
     
    With their property management applications successfully transferred to the cloud, the glh team turned their attention to the point-of-sale system running their restaurants and bars. “It had been impossible to even think about changing our EPOS before we moved to a stable environment,” says Matthew Newton. “But with the success of re-platforming, we looked at the Oracle Hospitality Simphony First Edition and it was almost a no-brainer.”
     
    Shortly afterwards, glh launched Amba, a new hotel brand aimed at business and leisure guests.
    “Amba wants to use technology in places where we wouldn’t have been able to take it before,” explains Chris Hewertson. “We’re looking at a world where business applications share space with customer-facing applications. It’s impossible to imagine how we could have done this before, without the infrastructure and stable environment that we have put in place with Oracle Hospitality.”
     
    Mobile is now in trials at Amba, aimed at creating an environment of mobility and flexibility. For glh, the introduction of mobile devices offers a number of potential benefits, including queue-busting, multi-skilling of staff so that everyone can check guests in and out, and improving housekeeping efficiency.
     
    Finally, glh is also using guest-facing mobile apps to further modernize the guest experience, thanks to a solution from Oracle partner, iRiS. The apps interface into the Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service property management system and the Oracle Hospitality Simphony First Edition point-of-sale system, providing guests with services and real-time information during their stay.
 
Challenges
  • glh hotels wanted a new technology platform suitable for a modern hotel group
  • The new platform needed to support international expansion and new brand launches
  • The glh IT team wanted to reduce capital expenditure and use more software-as-a-service
  • Poor systems stability was having a huge impact on the business every day
Results
  • Allowed the business to focus time and attention on guest experience and strategic development, rather than on solving IT infrastructure issues, with move to the cloud
  • Enhanced the guest experience, with faster check-in and check-out thanks to improved systems performance through moving to the cloud
  • Enabled the successful launch of new hotel brands, with innovative mobile capabilities such as guest-facing apps and mobile check-in with Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service
  • Improved business performance across the whole group, so every function from IT to sales and marketing can plan for the future without concern about back-end technology
  • Increased staff productivity at front-of-house, in house-keeping, and in the back-office
  • Stabilised the group’s technology infrastructure to improve system performance and reliability
  • Achieved a smooth transition to the cloud, a pain-free upgrade to the latest version of Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service with its additional functionality, and the straight-forward implementation of Oracle Hospitality Simphony First Edition for point-of-sale
  • Improved glh’s ability to on-board hotels quickly and efficiently as part of their future growth strategy

Why Oracle

glh Hotels turned to an external consultancy to help them identify the right technology platform for their business. Oracle Hospitality was confirmed as the go-forward solution following a thorough evaluation of the available systems.
 

It is by far and away the industry leader for property management, reservation services, and EPOS. Our IT team has never had to turn around and say ‘we made a mistake’, and that’s very important to us.

— Chris Hewertson

Execution

glh Hotels and Oracle Hospitality worked closely to plan and execute a smooth multi-phase implementation, beginning with the move to the cloud. This was followed by an upgrade to the latest version of the Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service property management system, and the roll-out of the Oracle Hospitality Simphony First Edition point-of-sale solution. Oracle Hospitality OPERA Property Cloud Service mobile solution was then introduced as a pilot in glh’s newest brand hotel.

About glh Hotels

Headquarters

 
London, United Kingdom
Published:  Feb 25, 2015