One major hospitality trend failing to get adequate coverage in the mainstream lodging media is the incredible growth of hotels on university campuses. Either owned, or operated by, the university or a third party, these hotels regularly prove to be a strong return on investment. So, it’s natural they’re becoming an ever-increasing cornerstone for many companies’ hotel portfolios.
Some university hotels are used to train students, while others simply are great places to stay in a convenient location. Either way, there are more coming every year.
Take Texas A&M University, for example, where a new on campus hotel is opening overlooking Kyle Field, home of the famed Aggies. It should open by football season 2018 and will be boon to the university, said Texas A&M University System Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Philip Ray in an article appearing in The Eagle.
“We think it’s going to be a tremendous asset,” Ray told the newspaper. “It’s going to be an amenity that we think will help supplement what we have at the [Memorial Student Center].”
University hotels also mean a steady stream of business. Some, such as Grand Canyon University’s Grand Canyon University Hotel, in Phoenix, combine the hotel’s unique collegiate location with a cloud based hotel property management system for maximum effect.
This is especially important for its GM Brett Cortright. His 155-room hotel opened two years ago and is owned by Grand Canyon University. It also means his staff operates from multiple far flung locations throughout the university campus. Therefore. That means having access to the PMS anywhere there’s an internet connection was essential for Cortright. “The accessibility is very important. We have a lot of people that are spread out around various locations. We have one team that books rooms, one team that handles staff, one team that books for sports teams, and everyone has access to the same information, no matter where they are,” he says.
A cloud based property management system, such as the SkyTouch Hotel OS®, provides hoteliers at universities with features that handle their unique needs; such as creating special event days. Here, users set a unique set of rules the reservation system must follow. Homecoming weekend could be programmed to include a two-night minimum stay requirement, or, perhaps, special rates are set during weeks in which students are moving in and out. He can even design packages too that add elements such as F&B.
Once Cortright decides what he’s charging on any given night, he pushes the selected rates via XML connections through SkyTouch’s two-way channel distribution management with Online Travel Agencies (OTA) and the Global Distribution Systems (GDS) to adjust all rates across all channels simultaneously. “One click to all the OTAs, and it’s done,” says Cortright.
He also sees the hotel as “more challenging to operate in general” than the typical hotel, and relies on the announcement page on the SkyTouch Hotel OS® dashboard for an added level of staff communication. Cortright sees this feature as an easy way to get staff quickly understanding important daily news and information in a single location everyone is guaranteed to see. This way they know a specific team is arriving at a specific time, for example, allowing his staff to be fully prepared.
Cortright is also grateful for the automated revenue management platform. This helps him make the most money every night, which is particularly important for the unusual nature of hotel demand at a university hotel. In the heat of the Phoenix summer, many of the city’s hotels may be empty. But because the Grand Canyon University Hotel is part of the University, the property receives business other hotels simply cannot win. That means pricing power. When his hotel sells a certain number of rooms, the rates automatically go up.
Plus, the SkyTouch Hotel OS® allows him to place and track work orders, and even remove rooms from inventory if necessary. “I try to minimize labor, and this goes a long way to helping,” he says.
Universities have different requirements than other types of hotel properties. When you’re ready to purchase a cloud based property management system, be sure it has features meeting the hotel’s unique set of requirements. Be warned; if you don’t, you may get sent to the dean.