Irish hotel group spends €3m on technology upgrade

16 Nov 2005

O’Callaghan Hotels has made a €3m investment in technology that will allow the company to manage all contact, reservations and billing information across its chain of hotels and apartments in Ireland, the US and Gibraltar.

The customer relationship management (CRM) package was designed by Gerry Colreavy, the group’s IT manager, with input from the various departments in the group. The system was developed jointly with Paragon Business Systems, a technology supplier to the hospitality industry. It comprises four different elements and rollout has just been completed across the entire hotel group.

Paragon provided O’Callaghan Hotels with the HotSoft Front Office Management solution, along with the integrated Clarity EPoS (electronic point of sale) touchscreen system. The system also includes Epicor Financial Suite and Easy Purchase products.

Clarity EPoS provides the group’s staff with wireless handheld units to ensure a more secure means of dealing with customer requirements. The Clarity central reporting facility provides management with multisite sales, stock and profitability data at the touch of a button.

Julie O’Brien, director of sales and marketing with O’Callaghan Hotels, explained that the system integrates every function within the group, from the point of reservation through to invoice generation, including elements such as conference and banqueting bookings. In addition, the booking engine on the group’s website now feeds directly into the company’s backend systems.

A new reporting facility provides granular levels of detail, allowing the company to check allocations, sales and marketing information and room yield. Management can see the various rates for which rooms are sold and based on this data, the company can opt to raise or lower room rates according to demand, even adjusting advertising spend as required. “It allows us to make better management calls,” O’Brien told “On the customer care side, it will allow us hopefully to retain clients and generate a more loyal customer base.”

The group, which is headquartered in Ireland, maintains six luxury hotels as well as apartments in Dublin, Gibraltar and the US. Its Dublin locations include the Mont Clare, Davenport, Alexander and Stephen’s Green Hotels. With the new system in place, the company has a single view of the customer from the moment a booking is placed until they check out, which results in greater convenience for the hotel. In addition, the system is easier to manage and there is no paper trail.

Historically, the group’s four Dublin hotels had all been managed from a single location so the upgrade involved making the technology match up to the business structure. O’Brien said there was no off-the-shelf product available in Ireland to allow this, so the company worked closely with Paragon to customise the software and subsequently test it. As part of the investment it also substantially upgraded its hardware to run the new system. The entire project took 12 months to complete and was finished on time, she added.

O’Brien also said that the investment is already paying off. “From an efficiency point of view it has delivered returns from the day it was installed,” she claimed.

The group believes the investment puts it at the forefront of the Irish hospitality industry. According to O’Brien, technology has always been strategically important to the company – for example, it operates its own wireless broadband service. “Such a heavy investment emphasises how important technological advancements are to us,” she said. “It should put us at the cutting edge of hotels in Ireland.”

By Gordon Smith