Scottish hotel trio invests £500k in ‘smarthotel’ system to halve bills

Three Scottish hoteliers have invested half-a-million in a new start-up designed to help save the hospitality sector time and money 

Three hospitality sector mavericks have launched ‘market disrupting’ software they claim will halve bills for Scottish hotels struggling with business rate rises and Brexit.
Last year, Richard Drummond, Jon Erasmus and Ronald Tweedie set out to build software that could run a Scottish hospitality business on its own after becoming frustrated at hotels being stifled by outmoded technology. After 18 months of development, the trio has launched upstart company HOP Software.
The cloud-based system, which enables accommodation to be run from any smart device or phone, is said to offer complete connectivity between staff members, simplify hotel functions and even generate staff efficiency data for HR departments.
Customers will have the option to check-in using an airline-style app and, uniquely, industry users will be given the ability to evolve the software’s functionality every fortnight through live updates.
Hop says the product will free hospitality businesses from clunky systems charging high commissions for add-ons, giving them more time with their customers.
CEO and designer Jon Erasmus, who is also the brains behind the controversial Inverness Brewery, said: “We are market disruptors trying to help our own industry. As hoteliers ourselves, we were becoming increasingly frustrated at lots of expensive legacy-based systems designed in the early 2000s, with bits bolted on and run by other companies.
“Our industry is having to deal with business rate rises, impacts of the Living Wage, Brexit and rising utility costs. There are pressures in many areas and people don’t want huge I.T bills on top of that.
“We decided to develop software ourselves which could run a business, end to end, at a fraction of the cost and put staff and customers back together again instead of staff having to go to different companies to fix different parts of a system.
“We don’t want to save businesses 10 percent on IT bills, we think we can save them 70 percent.”
The three directors have invested £500,000 of their own money over two years on the agile software which will cost hospitality businesses between £2,000 and £6,000 per year.
HOP is already being used at McKays Hotel in Pitlochry, The Boat Hotel in the Cairngorms National Park and the Glen Mhor Hotel in Inverness – all businesses owned by the investors.
Six full-time posts, including three UK-based developers, have been created with 15-20 jobs expected to be filled over two years.
The company has brokered market leading rates for its customers on credit card payment processing with Allied Irish Merchant Bank.
Chief Operating Officer Richard Drummond, who has 40 years of experience in hospitality, said: “You could say we are news kids on the block,”
“Our first principles were: why should smaller, or any size operators, be limited by functionality and why should software be so expensive?
“We don’t need armies of computer experts. No one is being charged commission by separate channel management systems to integrate bookings from third party sites like LateRooms. This updates live.
“At reception, staff know when rooms are available because cleaners click on the system when they are finished. Customers can travel from Rio to Rothesay, using remote check-in, without having to see a person, if that is what they want. All aspects of the business are covered.”
HOP has already scoped international opportunities in South Africa and is keen to speak to local authorities about locating its HQ.
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