When you hit the "enter" key to complete an online hotel room reservation, your reservation form is then faxed to the hotel, and the data is manually reentered into the hotel reservation system.

With roughly 20 percent of all hotel room reservations made over the Internet, that's a massive amount of faxing and data rekeying. As cumbersome as this is, bigger hotel worries include room inventory allotments by channel, continuous inventory updating and room pricing that can change several times daily.

The online reservation business adds new channel players all the time. For hoteliers, managing multiple channels requires a lot of time and attention. The process is prone to error and not nearly as flexible, dynamic or satisfactory as it ought to be.

Witnessing these channel management challenges in my own family's hospitality business, I designed a computer-based solution that sat between the channels and their hotel properties, creating a system for dynamic inventory management, real-time product pricing and maximum revenue generation.

In 2002, Hotel Booking Solutions, Inc. (HBS) was founded to commercialize this software - now called hobooBox (hotel booking) - for the global hospitality industry. Today, HBS processes 30,000 daily reservations for 1,500 hoteliers who operate thousands of properties. Each hour, $1 million of commerce pulses through hobooBox. Built around the Microsoft .NET infrastructure to simplify integration and speed deployment, the software currently interfaces to 30 property management systems. Through hobooBox, each hotel client can have its own business relationship with each of the roughly 35 distribution channels selling rooms over HBS' fault-tolerant, continuously available network infrastructure.

For these reasons and more, HBS chose Stratus Technologies' ftServer high-availability systems to help support its data center, networks and operations, which must deliver business continuity without compromise. HBS integrates the Intel processor-based Stratus ftServer system into its solution in two ways: first, as an SQL database server to ensure that each customer's channel management application is backed by a "data engine" with exceptional field-proven reliability; second, as the hobooBox application front end to the high-volume central reservation systems (CRS) of larger hotel-chain and multiproperty customers. The Stratus ftServer 6600 system in our data center fits the HBS business model perfectly.

The hobooBox solution is a complete toolbox full of features and controls that can be configured to automatically manage a hotel's multiple channels. Room rates, rate plans, room types and reservation conditions at a given point in time pass from the hotel to hobooBox. There, a predetermined set of client-defined rules is applied to optimize yield management. Advanced features include sophisticated "sense and respond" systems that monitor supply and demand changes, which may lead to a reshuffling of room distribution or rate adjustments. Updated information is then forwarded to the appropriate channel or channels.

When a booking, modification or cancellation is made through one of the channels, hobooBox automatically updates the hotelier's customer reservation system and property management system (PMS) in real time via a seamless, two-way interface. An inventory and pricing refresh is automatically available to all channels, eliminating problems of inventory depletion, overstock or imbalance. Also eliminated is the outdated faxing/rekeying chore.

Understandably, the heartbeat of HBS' operations is the database engine. Our ftServer 6600 system from Stratus gives HBS' clients uptime reliability of greater than 99.999% for both the platform and Windows operating system. HBS also installs smaller ftServer models at its larger hotel-chain and multiproperty customers as an ultra-reliable hobooBox front-end to a central reservation system. The hobooBox solution and HBS' robust infrastructure increase productivity and revenue-per-average room, while reducing staffing, connection fees and booking errors. It expands online distribution to many more channels, which also are more productive, efficient, responsive and better business partners.

Stratus Technologies, Inc.

The Stratus ftServer family is a complete line of 1- to 4-way SMP Intel processor-based servers for Microsoft Windows computing environments. ftServer systems deliver better than 99.999% uptime reliability for both the hardware and operating system, providing the highest level of reliability for applications where operational continuity and continuous processing are critical.

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