A look at IT and integrations for a new hotel opening with Majestic Resorts

Majestic Resorts is known for its collection of all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. We spoke with Jordi Figols Gagliardi, Corporate Business Process Manager of Majestic Resort, to learn more about their IT setup and new hotel opening integrations. Jordi played a key role in opening their latest property on Mexico’s Costa Mujeres near Cancun and shared his learnings from the process and how they are using those learnings to inform new projects at their other properties.

Shiji: Tell us about Majestic Resorts.

Jordi Figols Gagliardi: Majestic Resorts was born as a family business in Palma de Mallorca which had the opportunity to move from one site to nine in the Balearic Islands. In 2003 and 2004 we wanted to follow the trend of coming to the Caribbean and opening all-inclusive resorts like many other Spanish companies did at the time. We arrived in Punta Cana in 2004 and opened the Majestic Colonial in 2005, which was our first property outside of Spain, an upscale 658-room all-inclusive resort. We opened our second hotel, the Majestic Elegance in 2008, and the Majestic Mirage in 2016. So in total today in the Dominican Republic they have about 1,800 rooms.

We were known as a hotel chain in the Dominican Republic because we have many properties there. In 2010, we were looking to expand in Cuba, Colombia, Jamaica when the opportunity to open up to Costa Mujeres, which is 30 minutes north of Cancun, showed up.

What prompted Majestic Resorts to want to change its IT strategy?

Our CEO and owner wanted to deepen technological innovations. So we installed a new PMS, a new ERP and tried to connect to OTAs via a Channel Manager. Whatever technology you think of – point of sale, TV system, PBX, etc. – for us, everything must be, and is, integrated. It was for our property in Mexico, while everything was done almost manually in the Dominican Republic.

How did you get involved in IT at Majestic Resorts?

I have always been involved in our technology projects at Majestic Resorts. At some point, management asked me to be part of the project team focused on operations and customer experience. We decided what kind of configurations and mapping to do in the PMS with the rest of our technology stack. Let’s say we have someone with more expertise in accounting and finance – I’m the one who links these areas to operations, its processes and the technology we have. Our IT team is a very small team. Our CEO is 100% involved, then there’s our CIO and the Process team (including myself). I fly to Cancun probably once every four or five weeks because I’m based in Punta Cana, but my team is in Cancun. So it was an interesting team dynamic.

LEFT: JORDI AND HIS TEAM ON MANAGEMENT TRAINING FOR THE NEW PMS.  JORDI WAS LOCATED IN PUNTA CANA WHILE THE TEAM WAS IN CANCUN.  — Photo by ShijiLEFT: JORDI AND HIS TEAM ON MANAGEMENT TRAINING FOR THE NEW PMS.  JORDI WAS LOCATED IN PUNTA CANA WHILE THE TEAM WAS IN CANCUN.  — Photo by Shiji
LEFT: JORDI AND HIS TEAM ON MANAGEMENT TRAINING FOR THE NEW PMS. JORDI WAS LOCATED IN PUNTA CANA WHILE THE TEAM WAS IN CANCUN. — Photo by Shiji

Tell us about your PMS modification experience.

When we migrated to a new PMS, we began implementation in late 2018 and rolled out the new solution in November 2019. Many of our standards and procedures reflect the views of our CEO. We are really focused on our guests. Using the insights gained from our deployment to Mexico, we applied this information to our deployment to the Dominican Republic in October 2021.

Implementing new hotel opening integrations is one thing, but then you have to maintain everything. You have to make adjustments because we follow whatever customer trends and whatever the needs of operations, both of which change over time or require adjustment in practice.

What were some of your key learnings from the process?

Before COVID, we thought we knew our business. We thought we knew what our goals were and where we wanted to go. However, when we implemented the new PMS in Mexico, we discovered that our tech stack wasn’t doing exactly what we needed and we were having a lot of issues. The way we had planned was different from reality. When COVID hit the Caribbean, it gave us the opportunity to suspend our operations and say, “Okay, let’s stop everything before we jump into the Dominican Republic. Let’s start from zero. We have our PMS, we have our configurations, but we have to redo everything.

We built a team from March to September 2020, the day we reopened in Mexico. We didn’t review everything because we knew which parts of the setups would work – but we also knew all the issues we had with reception, restaurants, housekeeping not working properly. During these six months, there were about twenty of us having Zoom meetings every day because we were a bit scattered between Europe and the Caribbean. Five months ago with the new PMS, everything was different because we had the experience of the last two years.

You need to be very clear about your true operation and know what the goals of the implementation are. If you talk to a GM, he will tell you about occupancy, ADR and any incidents he has with maintenance. If you sit down with them and ask the right questions, you’ll find that sometimes their operations focus on daily and monthly activities, planning perhaps six months to a year in advance. So make sure the tools you have now are scalable to meet your business needs years from now as well.

WHITEBOARD SESSION TO MAP RESORT CONNECTIVITY AND IT INFRASTRUCTURE.  Right: aireal view and station map — Photo by ShijiWHITEBOARD SESSION TO MAP RESORT CONNECTIVITY AND IT INFRASTRUCTURE.  Right: aireal view and station map — Photo by Shiji
WHITEBOARD SESSION TO MAP RESORT CONNECTIVITY AND IT INFRASTRUCTURE. Right: aireal view and station map — Photo by Shiji

When considering integrating PMS, ERP, CRM, etc., what are your needs?

The idea was to connect our system to the Channel Manager. Before, we had different software from different vendors with integrations that were either a simple Excel spreadsheet or an API like the PBX phone system with the PMS.

Most of our efforts have been to find partners already integrated into our system, or we had to develop our own API. Unfortunately, although it’s a great system, it doesn’t have many built-in partners. For example, the online check-in system that we launched a few weeks ago, we had to double it ourselves, because not all the solutions we could find had an integration that we were interested in. Some solutions claimed to integrate but could capture little data, and that’s it. We want arrival date, date of birth, home address, photos, facial recognition.

We are launching a Wi-Fi portal in a few weeks in Mexico on a trial basis. We found a provider that had integrated with our online check-in. So, every time you check in online, you already have access to the Wi-Fi protocol. So there are always interconnections, puzzles.

Tell us more about the technology that helped open Costa Mujeres.

In the United States and Europe, we have modern, up-to-date technology and we have access to it. In Mexico, it is a stage between North America and the rest of the Caribbean. The Caribbean does not have the same infrastructure and they do not have the funds to invest, so everything that happens in the islands is due to the investment of private companies.

In Mexico, all doors are connected to the Internet in the cloud. So they even load automatically. We can communicate with guests and place room service orders from the TV. While in the DR we still don’t have those features. Integrations we have installed include ID scanners, music systems, hotel lighting and room moods.

We now use RFID wristbands which open the doors of all-inclusive hotels. They also have memory features that give you information about the guest, allow them to access the spa or gym without anyone there, and allow them to charge a fee to their room. We can also follow trends this way. Maybe most of our customers are at the beach or at a specific restaurant more frequently – you can watch that and adjust your operations accordingly.

OK, now that we’ve covered all the tech – on a personal level, how did you get started in the hospitality industry?

My family comes from the industry, that’s why I decided to start in hotel management in Barcelona. I worked for the Ritz-Carlton and the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona. Then I had the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic with Majestic Resorts through a Management-in-Training program. After that, I was responsible for the rooms division until I transferred to another establishment where I became general manager and supervised the partial renovation of other hotels.

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Kasandra J. Stone