The business of leisure

4 Jan 2007

Check into a hotel, eat in a restaurant, order fast food or shop in a smart boutique and it’s quite likely that your transactions will be processed by Micros-Fidelio as part of a partnership with HP in Ireland.

One of the world’s leading suppliers of enterprise solutions for the hospitality industry, Micros-Fidelio was formed by the merger of Micros Systems Inc in the US and Fidelio Software GmbH in Germany. It now operates in over 160 countries and has supplied its solutions to more than 20,000 hotels, including global deals with companies such as the InterContinental Hotels Group.

From housekeeping, stores and procurement to sales and marketing and reservations, if a hotel function can be automated, Micros-Fidelio systems play a part in most international travel arrangements.

The company has systems in 220,000 restaurants ranging from fast food outlets to full waiting service, motels to casinos, arenas to cruise ships and leisure to entertainment operations. And in a more recent development from America, the company has entered the boutique retail market installing point-of-sale and back-office systems for customers such as Polo Ralph Lauren and Reebok.

The winning concept behind Micros-Fidelio’s service is that it delivers standardised solutions, ready configured and loaded with its applications. Such standardisation offers many procurement, cost and management advantages but to create this one-stop answer Micros-Fidelio needed a partner that could provide the crucial hardware.

It also chose HP hardware for its own data centres, increasingly used by leisure companies wanting to outsource their IT. These data centres are situated in Frankfurt in Germany and Maryland in the US, with a third planned for Singapore.

“The hospitality industry has very quickly understood the business advantages of outsourcing its IT functions to Micros-Fidelio. Many of our largest hotel chain customers in EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Africa] are now being managed from our Frankfurt data centre. It allows them to concentrate on their core business,” says Pete Simpson, vice-president of professional services, Micros-Fidelio EMEA.

Micros-Fidelio sources its hardware for the EMEA region from HP Ireland, with whom it first came into contact when setting up its European call centre in Galway. It has similar distribution operations in Singapore for Asia Pacific and Delaware for the Americas.

“We do business in over 160 countries and every one has its own ideas about deploying systems for customers,” says Peter Stenz, Micros-Fidelio’s senior vice-president, strategic initiatives. “All of them used different vendors but it was just a box-shifting exercise. We wanted to provide more complete solutions and with the help of HP Ireland we are now doing that with HP technology.

“Whether that is industry standard servers, storage, desktops, laptops or printers, they go to the customer site fully pre-configured so we can minimise the amount of work to be done locally and provide a number of standard configurations that allow us to better support the customer.

“Our systems are mission-critical so the stability of the HP platform and the superiority of its offering was an important deciding factor for our business. Also, there are few vendors who can offer you a platform that remains unchanged for a period of, say, 12 months — another important requirement that enables us to give better quality and spend less money re-testing different scenarios.”

For simplicity, Micros-Fidelio tries to minimise the number of configurations it uses. Currently it concentrates on clusters of HP ProLiant DL380, DL385 and DL585 servers and on HP Compaq dc7600 and dc5100 desktops.

Stenz explains: “A typical solution would always include a number of servers for our applications to run on but whatever HP can offer we will sell that into our customer to provide the single point of contact so that they don’t have to go shopping to five different vendors to get their solution together. This single point of contact has become an integral part of our offering.”

Martin Murphy, managing director of HP Ireland, adds: “HP Ireland’s partnership with Micros-Fidelio has grown significantly over the past three years. HP’s standardised IT solution has enabled Micros to deliver increased productivity and collaboration between customer sites, giving Micros customers the scope to align their IT with business challenges and improve competitiveness. I am extremely pleased that HP Ireland has now become exclusive hardware providers for Micros-Fidelio’s EMEA region.”

Systems go out direct to customers from a specialist HP deployment centre in Dublin where servers are built, imaged and loaded with the appropriate software and applications using HP Rapid Deployment Pack by local distributor Clarity. They carry the normal HP Care Pack servicing with Micros-Fidelio conducting the first level of support to fix minor issues.

Micros-Fidelio also has a US$10m global financing facility arranged by HP Financial Services, which it uses to lease equipment for its own data centres in the EMEA region and also for a small number of its clients.

“There is a growing revenue importance in our association with HP. Over the three years since we started, the business with HP Ireland has grown from about half a million dollars to between US$13m and US$14m a year,” added Stenz.

“Another important thing is serviceability. Customers have seen that, with HP, we are able to bring out a very robust platform that is standardised across all of their hotels. This makes it a lot easier for our customers to manage their own operations and for us to support them.

“HP has stepped up to the challenge very well. It has dedicated the necessary resources and has proved that it can supply us with equipment across the whole EMEA region. HP is an excellent partner for us in what is a crucial success factor for our business.”

By John Kennedy

Pictured – Martin Murphy, managing director, HP Ireland