New property database transforms Travelodge business
As the UK's fastest growing hotel chain, Travelodge currently operates over 500 hotels throughout the UK, Ireland and Spain and is opening a new hotel the equivalent of every ten working days. Maintaining accurate information on each existing and potential property is clearly vital to effective management of the asset base and the operation of an efficient hospitality business. Travelodge's original property database was designed to hold information on new property developments. Over time, it developed into the main repository for information on all hotels within the group. Such a database was a valuable tool for users from a range of functions within the Travelodge business. However, the information was stored in Microsoft Access which constrained the data entry and reporting to a single expert system administrator. Travelodge Acquisitions Controller, Simon Fennell, asked change++ to review options for migrating the existing database to a multi-user database. This would offer a number of key users access to the data in order to maintain it and to enable reporting for a much wider audience.
Although the decision was made to open up access to the system, a key requirement was ensuring access to the database could be carefully controlled given the sensitive nature of the information it contained. Maintaining confidentiality was achieved by setting up permissions to ensure that only the level of information appropriate to an individual user's role would be available. Reporting follows the same protocols with access for authorised users only. Data entry is now shared and the role of the database administrator is simplified.
Technical Note: change++ recommended Microsoft's SQL Server and PHP for the database and system front end and Crystal Reports Server for reporting requirements.
The benefits of upgrading the system include:
- Making the system available to multiple users ensures that everyone has access to real time hotel property information
- Staff can use the data more proactively and problems can be spotted and resolved quickly
- Intranet data entry and reporting allows users to input data and access reports remotely, thereby saving the system administrator time formatting and distributing reports to users via email
- Shared responsibility for data entry reduces the workload of the data administrator and reduces reliance on one expert member of staff
- There is clear accountability for data upkeep and less likelihood of data entry errors
- Data update cycles are much shorter
- The Microsoft SQL Server database is fully scaleable and easy to maintain.
According to Simon Fennell, Travelodge Acquisitions Controller: "This new system has proved to be invaluable given the dramatic impact it's had on our business. Decision making is a lot faster than before and data is much easier to manipulate. Combine these points with the fact that the system can be accessed by more than one person, under strict permission controls, and we have a very powerful system that's critical to developing and maintaining our hotel pipeline. We see this as much more than a property database; it will influence our ability to achieve our ambitious growth targets in the future." Travelodge is currently planning system enhancements, to be developed by change++, to add further functionality to the database.