Hotel PMS Integration


#1

@JTRTech has pointed me here in regards to connecting to a POS system.

I am the Founder of a Hotel Management Tech Startup that provides easy to use and affordable solution to independent hotels.

I have talked to nearly 10 POS providers and none of them are interested in connecting to a PMS system as it’s just too complicated. I have avoided some PMS providers as they are just too expensive for a small hotel to use even though they do have PMS connections.

Samba POS looks like a great solution for a small b&b or hotel, but the question of integration is still hard to solve.

I think JTR has connected his system to newbook by his own configuration but we cannot have custom coding for each little hotel to use the connection. It should be pretty much a plug and play approach where you select your PMS and enter the API keys for connection.

We are currently opening our PMS API up for developers to build custom solutions on top of the platform and I would really love to have a POS system I can offer my customers.

I also noticed that there is not much demand for a POS to PMS connection?

Any hotels or accommodation properties here using Samba that would like a solution?


#2

So SambaPOS lets users configure just about everything including how it actually works. All of this can be done without editing any of the actual Code. Because of this power it has a fairly large learning curve to take advantage of the advanced capability.

We do have Configuration Tasks feature that would allow a developer to create dynamic configurations that can be fully automated and even stored on a global repository for easy access. You have full control on how configuration tasks work. So first you would need to solve the basic integration ideas with SambaPOS and your API then once you solve that you would look into the parts you want configurable and design a configuration task that asks the end user simple questions for configuration and then the task handles all the other stuff for the end user.

To get an idea of how a configuration task might work you can look at my Time Clock feature that I built and then built a configuration task to automate the install and management of the feature.

The development of the configuration task and even the PMS integration would not be simple or easy for the developer but once finished the end user would have a simple system that just works. That is what makes SambaPOS different… it doesnt rely on developers to develop specific features for specific businesses… it lets you do it. This frees up the actual SambaPOS developers to focus on new exciting features.


#3

I would ask what the reason for that is… is there really not much demand or does the industry even know it needs a demand for that or not? I mean perhaps you could be in front and create the demand?


#4

Hi Evan,
Welcome to the forum. As to your questions;

I would more likely say this is an excuse that they do not see a demand for an integration rather than being complicated.
Once you have done one its not that bigger deal to adapt it to another provided a solid API.
As we have already discussed I am more than confident that given API access and documentation and a few hours to understand the accounting side of the PMS I could relatively quickly put scripts and configuration together to work with your system.
My NewBook integration took me maybe 3 months of evenings but this was from a cold start having minimal experience with APIs, and having never coded in JScript (samba scripting language) and minimal SQL experience.
Given what I learnt while implementing that I could probably reuse allot of the same methodology with booking factory.
If anything a basic ‘charge to room’ config could take as little as a few days to put together.
However I would look to do more than just that and have a more involved integration.
For example my setup at hotel, the till knows if the booking is B&B or DBB and automatically changes the prices when ringing in to reflect there package. It also used the occupancy to only do this for the number of meals matching the number of people so additional meals - say for friends were still charged.

This was my intention when structuring my newbook scripts… I have a single script which contains all on my main variables, such as the obvious api user/key, but also others relating to replicating the setup to other hotels, ie the epos account numbers, option to add department suffix/prefix to differentiate room posts and over the bar sales.
But obviously this just depends on how intergrated things are wanted to be, it could just be api key and thats it. The difference being NewBook has a massive feature set in comparison which I tried to take advantage of. A more basic system needs less complex scripting.

I purposefully tried to push the limits on my PMS link as a learning exercise ready for implementing other integrations.


#5

I would raise a question on this as well, the hotel only changed PMS in February and I can tell you it was a 100% required feature was EPOS<-> PMS link, the GM made it very clear.

You may more likely be just in a chicken & egg situation where your not seeing the demand because you dont have a solution… creating the solution wants a justifiable demand. Who takes the leap first. Given other PMS have the option already there thats where those customers will go, if they wanted linked epos they wouldnt take a system without the options then request it. In the same way many might not request it at all given its not an advertised option.

If a property wants a PMS with EPOS side solution they will already look at if you advertise one and skip to next option if you dont.
If they aren’t looking for one they possibly don’t realize its an option, being it that the target would be smaller hotels and B&Bs etc these would often be less techy, sole trader self managed places just used to doing it the way they have always done it.
Alternatively they have seen all those expensive PMS with EPOS options and are just looking for a cheaper option for their small 4-5 bedroom property.


#6

The point to be made I think is that a person in yours or mine position would not expect the end user to implement the configuration.
My position as a till re-seller I would be offering a pre configured system as I have done with approximately 40-50 tills for maybe 30+ places. My end users have not created their own automation, I did all that and trained them in adding products etc.
Which is fine when your selling direct and installing on site on 1:1 basis.
The end solution as users become ‘remote’ and your not onsite install is something like configuration tasks which they ‘install’ and then run. It prompts them for a selection of details and adds the required configuration.

I cannot suggest the required prompts without knowing the potential options needed for your PMS but for NewBook the bare minimum would have been api details, couple of account codes, and some other bits elsewhere like room ids on the room entities to relate samba rooms to PMS rooms
.
I opted to do this in mine with a single ‘vars’ script included in the other scripts again because I pushed the boundaries.
The number of variables is bound by the number of related user configurable options in your PMS, newbook is quite complex and user configured, so this would be more suitable but if your PMS is as it looks and more simple for the end user, allot of these details will be ‘hard coded’ or at least not user editable and so can be likewise in the samba side of the integration.


#7

Crap @JTRTech I keep thinking he is responding… nooo its you with a 3 page book of posts hahaha

Just kidding with ya dont get mad :stuck_out_tongue:


#8

I will be very interested to see how this develops as I have used @JTRTech ideas and developed a mini Hotel management system to enable all my Restaurant and Bar transactions to be securly logged to booking accounts.

Inorder to do this I have written some facilites on the POS to allow Check in, Check out, Move room, modify booking type etc. I also give mealplan information from the booking process to the Restaurant for the complimentary breakfasts and the any Half Board options (although I have not finished the automation to restict the number of free or included meals yet!!!).

We also track and account Laundry for guests with Sambapos and use it for tracking inventory for Complimentary Room items such as Water, Coffee, Tea etc…

As we keep thinking of other ways to incorporate our operations into the SambaPOS it occurs that I am trying to write a PMS in a POS. We cannot justify the tremendous monthly costs (relatively) that some PMS organisations wish to charge and some automated API into a low cost (preferably flexible) PMS would be very welcome.

Just a thought, if Emre has a free weekend maybe he can knock together …SAMBAPMS


#9

Wow @davetrillo I didn’t realise you had taken it so for from our talks about booking as entity.
I would be intrigued to see some of that.
Have you worked out some form of planner? My setup was initially only for the current inhouse bookings, have you taken it forward to a future booking system aswell? Very interested in that part…


#10

Implementing the POS took 5 years lol. I don’t know how it will be possible to do PMS in a weekend. OK seriously we may release some more table reservation stuff based on new Task feature and of course hardcore SambaPOS users will find a way to script their own PMS but we definitely not interested to release a full PMS solution for hotels. There are some similarities but hotel business is different.


#11

Hello Evan welcome. [quote=“Evan_Davies, post:1, topic:12775”]
I think JTR has connected his system to newbook by his own configuration but we cannot have custom coding for each little hotel to use the connection. It should be pretty much a plug and play approach where you select your PMS and enter the API keys for connection.
[/quote]

We’re building a new GraphQL based API and I think it will better fit to these needs. What actually JTR did is not just an integration. He literally blended both by using embedded JScript support SambaPOS provides. On each step of ticket creation it reads something from PMS, writes something, pull room numbers, etc… Depending on customer type it calls A function or B function. I mean it is really great piece of work but because of the complexity it is a little hard to move that but when JTR decides to install it to somewhere else we’ll work on it to convert it to a package.

JTR have great POS integration experience so he’ll better comment on this.

When an affordable and good working solution offered… well I think any Hotel manager will want to have it.


#12

My big problem with advance booking issues is that I currently use a cloud based bookings package called freetobook. Whilst this is not a full blown PMS it provides an online booking management system and booking portal which incorporates a link with OTA’s like booking.com and agoda This allows us to maintain a cloud based diary.

Unfortunately being cloud based it does not provide any sort of integration apart from some hard coded reports or data export.

I am part way through exploring data mining the standardised emails I receive for relevant booking data. I would then create advance booking entities which would be displayed on an entity screen on the required check in date. This would allow my reception staff to select the particular guest on arrival and assign to the room number.

This would be a good way to remove input errors from my staff since they are not native English speakers.

I do however think that I could solve most of this by finding a flexible PMS that gave decent integration. However the main reason for selecting sambapos was that I could tailor it to the way we work instead of the other way around. The same philosophy would have to apply to any PMS we might consider.


#13

Crikey, you have a big task at hand then, not sure I would like to go to that extent when there are so many solutions already available… what about cancelations, modifications etc?
What drew you to that PMS?
Given one of the points @Evan_Davies raised about lack of demand, wpould you say POS<->EPOS link was a requirement for evaluation potential PMS?

What does that PMS cost?


#14

Hi All, sorry I posted then “disappeared” I love how active you guys all are!

My startup is http://thebookingfactory.com and we are releasing the PMS, Booking Engine and Website Engine for free with an open API to customise as you see fit. It’s not open source but its free and has open API to build upon. You can sign up for a free account now if you like.

Now I’m not saying everything is 100% free, our way to make money is to charge for connections to channels such as booking.com, Agoda or Airbnb etc. Also we will charge for handling credit cards in a PCI friendly way. There may be some other upgrades along they way as they arrive also.

Things you can do with our API you may ask?

Custom website templates
Custom booking engines
Custom Integrations
Mobile apps or basically anything you can imagine doing with an API

If anyone creates anything like this we can have them for sale in the platform for others to use (We will probably take a 30% cut same as apple store)

Also we are a startup so if you need an API for some reason to exist we can make it happen.

Emre: Your new API sounds really interesting and I think its a better way to go than hard coding things, I think its a good idea for a few of us interested people get together and hash out a good basic version of what we want to achieve.

Simple Version:

  1. User activates setting to work with PMS provider and selects PMS and inserts the API key
  2. When PMS checks in guest it sends update to POS that items can be added to their room bill
  3. If guest has a drink and adds to his room, the pos can send the details back to the PMS
    Question: If bills are posted to room what happens to them on the POS? They are paid for via Voucher (PMS)? Basically the PMS has paid for them.

I’m sure I’m missing something here? But I think a simple version is a good start with

Looking forward to this! I think you guys are right that there isnt much demand is because only more expensive PMS have connections and also with expensive POS solutions. We can solve this problem for the smaller operator.


#15

@Evan_Davies it is understandable that as a new member of the forum your less familier with the way emre does things.
Basicly he always works hard to make thigs as open and workable as posible that the users can use for any purpose they can thing of.
The Samba API will pretty much at the rate its going allow you to interact in virtually anyway with the EPOS system.
For example the dev/beta team are pushing the limits of the current abilities by greating a web POS interface matching the full functionality of the actual pos software itself…
Emre makes it so there is no propriatory coding required for this type of thing, we can impliment our own code and things.
Samba has the abilities to do this intergration… all that is needed is an api at your end to get data from and push data into the PMS

This would most likly be at this point the configeration task kendash mentioned, they are like installers which a developer/reseller can make to auto setup features.

With the new API in theory if ports were opened the PMS could trigger the allow charge to room however your then going to need to install yourself as opening ports on firewall etc would not be achiveable through a script etc.
For my newbook script I just made a 15min cron schedule to trigger samba to request the current in house list.
An alternative would be on demand checking when a room is selected.
I opted for the scheduled method on mine as this could then be done on a server machine and say if internet was slow userbility would not be effected while EPOS was waiting for responce from the API.

All I did was setup a new payment type on the POS of Room Post and Account Post. Room post obviously for girls charging to rooms but account post is also used for charging to non booking accounts - like director allowance acounts or manager comp account in which case samba prompts the user for the account code - queries the account details (ie company staff name) and then confirms those details to the user before charging.

What have tried to get accross if that given a couple of api requests I could put together a basic intergration to get the ball rolling fairly easily.


#16

Great, I will get my developer to look into making the POS API documents in the next few weeks. Then it should be a simple thing to connect!

Good stuff Joe


#17

Reasons for choosing the Freetobook booking system were driven by circumstances and the constraints on our business startup.

When we opened the Hotel in August 2014 we had zero systems in place, just the organisational skills of my wife (and possibly me) and we were setting up in an environment where computer literacy levels are very low. To this date many Sri Lankan government bodies and businesses are still paper based. We therefore ran all our systems based on a combination of paper and excel sheets.

Because of our very welcome popularity and demand (mostly through booking.com) it quickly became apparent that a combined Diary and booking portal was necessary. We didnt require complex management systems as we would have experienced more issues with staff training and useage.

As part of the selection process I searched for something that we could use and trial without commiting to a costly package that may not suit us. Freetobook is free too use in its basic configuration and we subsequently added its Channel Manager link to booking.com and each booking through the Channel Manager gives us a £1.00 charge (which is capped at a maximum of £47 per month). They have pretty good integration into Tripadvisor and Facebook allowing us to take bookings on our Facebook page etc.

In our environment I feel that POS-PMS integration is pretty critical (and probably is for most hotels) and if it was offered as a built in feature would sway people in that direction. I spent a long time looking for a PMS combined with POS system for the Hotel and spoke to a number of delivery companies in Sri Lanka but it always felt that the systems were added on and had not been incorporated with true Hotel operations in mind. For me the POS integration is a lot more than just assiging bills to rooms and the flexibilty of SambaPOS has allowed us to refine the operation of the Restaurant and Bar to a good level.

Now this is operational the hunt is on for a PMS that gives us some level of flexibility similar to SambaPOS particulary in interchange of data, Report generation and simple Front End useage.

I will definately be investigating the system Evan is promoting and testing a trial since it is also free in its base form. Outwardly it looks similar in delivery to my current package but if he is prepared tolook at API and this can be extended into a quality guest invoicing system that incorporates meaningfull information from the POS then it could be a good way to go.

I will let you know how it goes


#18

Hope as soon as possible release this feature. May be many people happy for this


#19

Took us 2 years to build the PMS and were not close to feature parity with the larger PMS operators. I can’t see a Samba PMS working even if they did decide to spend the time building it as their core product (POS) would suffer as a result from lack of attention.


#20

I wouldn’t phrase it like that, might get taken as a challenge :wink: there are some pretty resourceful people on this forum lol
I had thought about it maybe using the Google calander API in some way for reservations but just not got the time.
But my perspective is that there are already good PMS out there so no need to reinvent the stone.
My intention is to put together a selection of intergrations and people can either find samba after picking a PMS when looking for link able tills or visa versa switch PMS if theirs doesn’t support link and want to use samba.