Spotlight Interview: Mark Loyd, President, Jonas Chorum

Jonas Hospitality is comprised of several well-known and well-established hospitality technology brands, including Springer-Miller Systems, which develops hospitality software including PMS, POS and resort activity systems for upscale hotels, resorts and spas. Other major brands include MSI Solutions, Bookassist, and Leonardo. In June, as reported here, Jonas Hospitality entered the broader PMS competitive arena with the official launch of Jonas Chorum, a suite of next-generation property management solutions designed to provide hotels with everything they need to operate more efficiently and effectively. The President of Jonas Chorum, Mark Loyd, recently shared with us his perspective on technology and the hospitality industry. Starting his technology career in the late 90’s as a software developer for a property management system, Mark quickly worked his way through the ranks and entered his first leadership position in 2000, managing a team of five developers. Twenty years later, having served as COO, CSO, CTO, and now President, Mark leads a team of 120 people that follow his passion and vision in making Jonas Chorum a technology leader in the hospitality industry.

What is your background within both the hospitality and technology industry?
All of my professional experience is related to hospitality technology. I am a computer science major and started as a software developer. I have designed and built software that have powered independent and chain hotels alike, and successfully managed building a next gen PMS with true cloud-based architecture and one of the leading technology platforms in the industry.

What are your thoughts on the state of the hospitality industry?
Hospitality technology has long been considered to be lagging behind other verticals relative to how systems interface/connect/talk to each other, the functional design of business applications, and the technology frameworks and platforms that are used. Technology in the industry is fragmented, but primarily because the industry itself is fairly fragmented. Not all hotels are alike, focus on the same things, or face the same problems. The fact that business at the operations level of hotels varies significantly between hotels requires that supporting systems are similarly varied. Until hotel operations begin to be less specified, applications will remain fragmented and disparate.

It has long been said, for over 10 years now, that property management software is a commodity. This is not true. Yes, PMS is a basic need, and all hotels require a property management system, but if PMS were truly a commodity, we would see evidence of such.

The evidence, however, suggests something quite different. It is heart surgery in many cases to replace a PMS. Many property management software installations simply fail because they do not address core business needs of that hotel. Operational efficiency, revenue optimization, and marketing opportunities all greatly depend on the core PMS structure and capability. The average life of a PMS installation is between 5 and 10 years.

There are many examples of advanced technology available to hoteliers. However, there are far less examples of adoption. The issue of the technology in the industry being behind other industries is primarily a result of the natural laws of economics/supply and demand. An effort to create highly technological solutions ahead of demand results in the Gartner “hype cycle” curve which simply shows that technology for technology’s sake simply doesn’t sell. Likewise, a technology that is very new, built with future-proofing in mind on the latest platform that doesn’t adequately solve the business need at an acceptable price point is worthless.

What are some of the trends you are seeing within the industry today?
We are seeing that cloud-based software is now becoming far more adopted, available, and robust. They have taken time to mature, but I would assume cloud-based property management systems are now selected almost as often as on-premise systems. As such, there is a greater expectation on integrated solutions. Not having key integrations is a showstopper today, and expectations around performance of those integrations is getting higher. Travelers certainly have a much higher expectation for real-time and accessible information pertaining to their interactions with hotels. Interaction with hotels via mobile devices, for example, is a standard expectation. Hotels will need to continue to learn how to efficiently interact on these platforms in the way that guests expect. This means intuitive mobile websites and apps with ever-increasing functionality. Hotels are no longer seen as ahead of the curve having such technology; rather, having a mobile platform is table stakes for being mainstream and relevant.

Huge amounts of money swing one direction or the other depending on where a reservation is booked, and Expedia is the clear winner today when it comes to capturing the vast majority of non-brand originated bookings. Expedia itself puts pressure on the brands to build strong loyalty programs, if for nothing else, so that the brand can capture the booking. It will be increasingly important that brands drive value to consumers booking direct, while financial success, I believe, will increasingly depend on capturing bookings.

What kind of technological innovation do you foresee in both the short and long term?
True innovation means things have to be faster, cheaper, and easier. If that is to happen, then the best opportunity for innovation will be to improve upon connected technology. The move to the cloud is in its maturation phase, and innovation will come out of systems offering faster, cheaper, and easier solutions. Those who have a good technology platform will be the innovators over the next decade. Those without a good technology platform can innovate on the peripheral but will struggle to provide business critical systems. I believe the top service providers will be the ones that are committed to innovating in the area of connectedness.

How will these changes impact both software vendors and properties themselves?
Cloud-connected application vendors will need to be tied to the main technology platforms, so vendors will need to work hard on this foundational integration. Tolerance for long and expensive deployments will continue to decrease, as those providing strong integrations will be quicker, easier and more cost-effective. Customers will need to base decisions on a solid technology partner to provide quality integrations with providers for things like guest-mobile in order to provide their guests with a mainstream service. Poor connectivity between operating and marketing platforms will inevitably lead to inefficient operations and underdelivering on guest service.

What was the strategy behind the development of Jonas ARC?
Jonas Chorum built ARC as a response to fill the need of having a modern, cloud-based technology platform that could unify disparate systems and allow for accelerating integration effort, creating a public API that facilitates robust, real-time data exchange, and could be easily used as a back-end for coordinating systems across complex enterprise networks and systems. Jonas ARC has become the architecture that has facilitated many of Chorum’s innovative features, including hosting provider independence, version independence, scalability, message-set extendibility, offline data access, rapid UX customization, mobile application connectivity, and more.

Building an application or integration on ARC provides instant connectivity to many hospitality technology providers and provides open API access for simple or deep integrations across the ecosystem. Additionally, hotels can utilize ARC to coordinate integrations across their enterprise, seamlessly connecting their own systems with third parties.

Tell us about Jonas Chorum – how does it benefit the hospitality industry today?
Built native to ARC, Jonas Chorum applications are built with scalable microservices, extending all features available through simple API integration. The HTML UX and mobile UX are easily customizable and can be rapidly developed and deployed for customized user workflow. Additionally, since Jonas Chorum is built on this framework, users enjoy frequent updates with new features being added quickly, efficiently, and with a high level of performance. Simply put, Jonas Chorum is a modern, scalable application suite that is feature-rich, high performant, extendible, customizable, and truly high quality.