Retail Training Manager Chris Wright of Wadworth, an independent Wiltshire-based family brewer with a successful portfolio of over 200 managed and tenanted houses across the South West of England, talks about the organisation’s search for an integrated Property Management System (PMS) and Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) solution.
“Part of my job is to look for opportunities to raise productivity and efficiencies by integrating our systems,” explains Chris. “I love finding ways to remove manual entry and make the systems we use as automated as possible.”
In 2018, Chris was tasked with a significant system change across the Wadworth pub estate. “We’ve currently got 25 pubs with letting rooms, and last year we made the decision to change our PMS. This was mainly because we needed a platform that would improve integration with our till system and remove manual errors we were experiencing.”
Running two unconnected systems made duplicate effort a big problem for the Wadworth team.
“With our old system, we’d have to input booking details and charges into both the PMS and the tills, and that resulted in a significant number of financial errors being made,” continues Chris.
“We looked at a few replacement options, but one of the things we liked about Welcome Anywhere was the fact they were happy to build an integration between the Welcome Anywhere PMS and our till system.
“They worked brilliantly with our Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) system provided by Polaris, and the two companies formed a strong partnership from day one in order to help us implement the new system and create the integrated setup we so badly needed.”
Switching PMS is no mean feat – particularly for a business as large as Wadworth.
“The thing I love about Welcome Anywhere is its ease-of-use, which was a vital element in rolling out the system to all 25 properties,” explains Chris. “As you’d guess, there’s a lot of training involved, and our managers want to spend as little time dealing with IT as possible. They need to be in front of customers delivering a great guest experience.”
Chris further believes that Welcome Anywhere “took away the ‘fear” of a system change and quickly discovered that it could be integrated into the Wadworth teams’ daily lives without any problems at all. With the objective of carrying out implementation over a four-week period, Welcome’s ease-of-use become of paramount importance.
“That might sound like an incredibly short space of time, but thanks to the speed with which Welcome Anywhere could be adopted and the brilliant support from both Welcome and their partners, it was successful,” enthuses Chris.
“We were able to import all of our existing bookings from our old PMS into Welcome Anywhere, which also made a massive difference with the speed of the roll-out.”
Channel management has always been a very important tool for Wadworth, but as Chris discovered, their overheads for online booking with their old system were needlessly high.
“Switching to Welcome Anywhere has already delivered some impressive savings when it comes to OTA commissions,” says Chris. “With our larger properties, the previous OTA agreement managed by our old PMS company was costing us 23% commission per booking – much higher than the standard rate. Once we’d moved over to Welcome and had new accounts created, that commission rate dropped to 15% for certain properties.
“This is a huge saving we probably wouldn’t have made if we hadn’t changed systems and helped towards our purchase of Welcome Anywhere. The old contract was costing us far more than we realised.
“Our old system had an integrated card payment process that was charging us 50p for every card transaction on top of the standard bank rates,” notes Chris. “This wasn’t made abundantly clear, and when you add that fee to the inflated commission rate our bottom line was being hit significantly.”
Wadworth now pays a simple, flat monthly fee for Welcome Anywhere. Whenever a new development arrives, they receive it instantly and without having to pay to upgrade.
“It’s so much easier to budget for and has immediately driven down our overheads,” says Chris. “We also feel like we finally have full control over our Online Travel Agency (OTA) relationships, and that’s a weight off our minds.”
Looking to the future the Welcome Anywhere roll-out is just the beginning of a sea change for Wadworth.
“We’re always interested in new developments and additional services our suppliers can offer, and we’ll be implementing the Welcome Table restaurant booking system on a trial basis soon,” explains Chris. “With my ‘one system fits all’ mantra, I’d rather use Welcome’s restaurant system due to it coming from the same company and benefitting from the same approach as Welcome Anywhere.”
Wadworth’s desire to expand its managed estate in the near future was another key driver for seeking a new PMS partner.
Hefin Morris, Head of Sales at Welcome Systems Ltd, adds:
“Our Welcome Anywhere PMS has clearly proved a perfect fit for Wadworth’s needs in what is proving to be an increasingly competitive hospitality sector.
“Welcome Systems is a growth company on the UK and international PMS and hospitality front, courtesy of its parent company Valsoft.
“The way guests anticipate a hospitality experience has completely changed over the last several years. From the moment they consider booking a trip through to the point they arrive, the focus is on a comfortable, unique and hassle-free stay.
“We’re determined to ensure hoteliers can take advantage of technology that works fundamentally to put guests at the heart of what they do.”