There is no extra hardware needed to operate the AAHOA*PMS, like extra servers, said AutoClerk Director of Operations Mohammed Hansia, and that saves money. “When you’re purely in the cloud it tremendously lowers the cost.”

HOTEL MANAGEMENT IS a complex business in which decision making requires convoluted equations. Branded properties have had access to property management software that makes the job a little easier. Now AAHOA is making similar software available to its members whom might otherwise not be able to afford it, and one brand, Red Lion Hotels Corp., has launched a new affiliate to market a version of its property management software.

In October the association announced the AAHOA Property Management System, built and operated by Walnut Creek, California-based AutoClerk. The new PMS is open to all 18,000 AAHOA members, but most specifically targets independent hotel owners.

Users can manage revenue, book reservations and plan projects with the regular package. Add-on features include operating EMV card readers, a credit card interface and mobile housekeeping management.

“The AAHOA*PMS will give hoteliers mobile access to their PMS from anywhere, anytime,” AutoClerk’s President Gary Gibb said. “They don’t have to be tethered to the front desk and can manage reservations, accounting, housekeeping and other activities from any device that has an internet connection and a browser.”

AutoClerk’s Director of Operations Mohammed Hansia has been directly handling the implementation of the AAHOA*PMS. He said the system helps hotels offer technology that guests have come to expect.

“Right now it’s possible for independent hotels to have these types of things, but it costs a lot,” Hansia said.

AutoClerk’s PMS is cheaper because it’s pure cloud-based, Hansia said. With a full cloud app, Gibb said, all a user needs is an internet connection and a browser. And the PMS can run on any operating system, from iOS to PC. A basic package of the AAHOA PMS starts around $89 a month.

“We got rid of the hardware,” Hansia said. “No specialty servers or anything along those lines are required. When you’re purely in the cloud it tremendously lowers the cost.”

AutoClerk’s partnership with AAHOA was inevitable, Gibb said.

“We’ve been moving in the same circles for many, many years,” he said. “It was just a matter of time.”

Gibb said the AAHOA*PMS is a tailored version of AutoClerk’s standard Hotel PMS product.

“One of the big points of AutoClerk is simplicity,” Gibb said. “We try to put the complexity in our programs to keep it simple for our users. What we tried to do for AAHOA is simplify even further.”

Autoclerk was one of the first systems with “tokenization,” meaning it does not store credit card information.

“We never touch confidential information, only special data centers built for that purpose,” Gibb said.

Autoclerk also offers 24/7 support for users.

Most hotel brands have proprietary PMS or “Premise-based” PMS that requires special servers. This is still necessary for much larger hotels and resorts with more than 1,000 rooms that would not be well served by a cloud-based system, Hansia said.

Still, eventually that will change, he said.

“Within a couple of years it will be pure cloud everywhere,” he said.

“We hope to bring this to upscale hotels as well,” Hansia said.

Hotels of up to around 700 rooms should be comfortable in the system, but there is no actual limit in size.

AutoClerk also is partnering with StashRewards to provide a loyalty program exclusively for independent hotels through the PMS.

The AAHOA*PMS will probably be very useful for independent hotel owners, said AAHOA member Amish Patel, CHO for AMP Hospitality Management in Palm Harbor, Florida.

“It gives them all the benefits of a major brand,” he said.

However, most of his properties are branded, including RLH Corp.’s Knights Inn, InterContinental Hotel Group’s Holiday Inn and Choice Hotels’ Quality Inn, and those brands provide similar packages.

AutoClerk is an approved vendor for RLH Corp., but Patel has opted for Choice’s choiceADVANTAGE PMS by SkyTouch  Technology.

“If one of the biggest brands is using it, they’re getting something right,” he said.

More than 6,000 Choice Hotels properties use choiceADVANTAGE, which was introduced last year. In March, RLH Corp. launched RLabs, Inc., focused on creating travel technology and products like RLH Corp.’s RevPak revenue management software. Its first product is Canvas Integrated Systems, a cloud-based hospitality management suite with various tools designed to increase and manage revenue, automate channel management and reduce cost and friction for independent hotel owners.

Canvas Integrated Systems can also provide personalized loyalty programs and keyless entry systems, and it can be used by third party management companies for multiple clients.

“We see the industry moving towards being transaction-based in the future and believe Canvas Integrated Systems can provide a savings of up to 50 percent over what typical independent hotels are currently paying, and potentially even more for hotels that are part of a soft brand,” said RLH Corp. President and CEO Greg Mount. “We believe there is a real opportunity to use our technology platform in a more vertical way by building a subscription-style offering of technology on a transaction-based billing format.”