I’m a self-professed amateur chef, always experimenting in the kitchen, looking to create that perfect meal. When I’m not at the stove I’m Director of Deployment at Duetto — crafting, exploring, and tweaking our system integrations processes and delivering the best deployment experience for our hotels. There may not be many obvious synergies between the two, admittedly. However, the analogy of cooking a meal is a great way to explain how Duetto partners and builds its integrations, ensuring it serves up a solution that is exactly what the customer ordered.
There are many different PMS, CRS and channel managers out there, each with their own and unique tech fingerprint. In order for Duetto to deliver the optimum results for a hotel or group, it needs to be able to quickly identify data needs, ingest from, and deliver data into the applications and systems in use by the property. It’s like “Ready, Steady, Cook” or “Chopped,” where the chefs get a blind bag of ingredients and have 20 minutes to bring them all together into something delicious.
When I enter the kitchen I play to my strengths. I know what my skill level is, I know what ingredients I have in the cupboard, and I know how much time I have to deliver a meal that is nutritious and tasty. The goal is that wonderful plate of food, the reward is the content faces of my family when they have finished the meal I have prepared.
With a Duetto Integration, the goal is to create a high quality, resilient system which enables a hotel to yield effectively, maximising revenue opportunities using every available data point.
Taking the Order
At Duetto, we pride ourselves on being master chefs when it comes to system integrations. We first ensure we understand the exact requirements of the hotelier (the order). However, we also realise it’s vital to identify the skill set and knowledge level of our technical partners (the ingredients). It’s important these partners fully understand what Duetto does, and to visualise and appreciate the application workflow from a hotel end user’s perspective.
Bringing A New Approach To Integrations In The Hotel Industry
We effectively want our tech partners to “taste test” the Duetto solution, and therefore we spend time with them showing them how the application works, how a hotel would have it set up, and how we generate rates, restrictions, display reports, etc.
It’s also important to know that the partner’s systems can provide the necessary high-quality data to drive Duetto’s applications and meet the hotel user’s needs. You have to know all the ingredients are in the fridge before you start to cook.
Knowing our partners so well helps reduce the number of iterations and thus the overall development time. Each iteration has a set amount of time assigned. Once complete, we check it and move onto the next one. In the end, all these bits fit together and you have this amazing plate of food that offers vegetables, carbohydrates and proteins. It’s a carefully balanced offering.
However, if you don’t know your customer well, that plate of food could be all wrong. The fact-finding process is just like asking your guest if they have any dietary requirements. Once you have the information, you can build a product that fully fits their needs.
Knowing our customer and our tech partners are both vital to the success of an integration and subsequent deployment. After all, we wouldn’t want to serve up steak to someone who is a vegetarian.
Planning the Menu
Now we need to discover what meal our customer really wants and needs. The design process, or planning the menu, is about working with the customer to identify a minimum viable product that will fulfill their requirements. In order to map out an MVP we need to know about the technical resources of our client, in terms of the tools, interfaces and connectivity methods they are working with. Duetto’s Open API Developers Guide is the go-to resource for these planning discussions. It gives our technical partners a full and clear list of data requirements, transaction types and interaction methodologies – a little like a chef’s cookbook, it contains all the know-how to craft that delicious plate of food.
Now, we can develop an MVP that has scalability. A product we build quickly with the exact number of features required. But always with the view to ensuring that it is capable of supporting the products we have down this pipeline and the directions we want to take revenue management in. There is no use building a product that is in its own vacuum as it will only be current for that moment in time. We create a product that has that capability of being added to so it can grow as Duetto continues to increase functionality.
Preparing the Meal
We are now in the development phase. We are prepping the meal – slicing the carrots, making sure the produce is of high quality, rejecting bits that we don’t think will work, and testing certain portions of the development. As with any menu, it’s important to keep to the requirements of the customer and to also keep an eye on the time.
One of the things we’ve created to aid development is the self-testing toolkit. This self-testing toolkit allows us and the partner to assess the interaction to ensure it delivers a full variety of rates and restriction scenarios and check for appropriate error handling and system resilience. The toolkit also documents and provides a test by test pass rate helping us to understand how close to completion we are, as well as what’s left to do.
Using this iterative approach enables us to tick items off the list without trying to do everything all in one go. Imagine trying to chop onions while also trying to make a soufflé – you’d get in a complete mess!
Tasting, Dressing, Serving
The ingredients are prepped and combined; the meal is almost ready. Now we enter the pilot testing phase. Here we test those features and functionalities we’ve agreed, having one foot in the application and one in how the hotel will be using it.
Working with the hotelier we identify then on-board a pilot hotel. Using the newly developed integration, we then begin to extract and import all necessary data. This works better than piloting against anonymous data or test data, as tests never replicate the complexities and obscure operational practices of a real hotel. We set up the pilot hotel the same way it would be set up once we have completed the development stage.
Then, we enter the pilot launch phase, completing a comprehensive data quality evaluation phase, and configuration check. Everything is in the oven and ready for that one last taste. Is it seasoned correctly, cooked for enough time, and exactly what the guest is expecting? If things are not quite right, as we are still in the development stage we can easily and quickly go back and modify the ingredients and ensure the product meets all the requirements at this stage.
Once out of pilot, everything is ready to be plated up. This is a truly momentous occasion and we all celebrate the success. Any other hotel customer using that particular PMS, CMS or channel manager can now use that integration as a matter of fact without having to go through the integration phases. It becomes turnkey, fully supported and we are ready for a quick deployment with future hotels.
Bacon and Egg Ice Cream
When chef Heston Blumenthal popularized a recipe for bacon and egg ice cream, it certainly didn’t happen overnight. It must have taken weeks, if not months, to perfect this dish. Prepared using dry ice, it requires a delicate hand.
However, once Heston had perfected his bacon and egg ice cream he knew he could replicate it, time and time again.
The same is true of our partner integrations. The time and effort invested in understanding key requirements and perfecting a suitable design allows Duetto to quickly deliver products that maximize revenue opportunities at the hotel in real-time, all the time. Once complete, we have the recipe, and then we can replicate and industrialise the process, deploying faster and more efficiently, while always keeping an eye on new developments on the horizon.
Much like Blumenthal, we like to think of ourselves as Michelin-star chefs of integration, noted as much for our menu innovation as for the quality and high standards of our product and services. And like any Michelin-star chef, we’re always keen to improve, to maintain and, hopefully, add to our star status.