Our review of the current version of RezOvation GT was published January 24 (during the 2012 Innkeeping Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas). At the conference, RezOvation invited current users to see a preview of the upcoming release, and to provide feedback on some of the anticipated features. We attended that preview, spoke with some of the RezOvation staff, and have some notes to share here.
At the outset, the staff stated that the goal with this release was to give it a feel that would be very familiar to existing RezOvation GT users, while making it much more intuitive and much easier to use.
The first, and most obvious, change is that the new version, expected to be out later this year (2012), is a web-based product. Before you begin thinking that your desktop version will be obsolete, wait until you hear some of the good choices that have been made, to continue to keep the desktop usable.
We were told that this new release is seen as an upgrade, so there is not expected to be any additional cost to existing RezOvation GT users.
The new version is based on Microsoft’s Silverlight (if you’re not familiar with Silverlight, it is similar to Flash in many respects). According to the RezOvation staff, Silverlight will allow the new version to be run on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms (Linux users will need the free “Moonlight” version of Silverlight – which, according to online discussions, seems to have some incompatibilities). In essence, you’ll install a Silverlight plugin for your web browser, then when you log in to the RezOvation server, Silverlight will connect to the RezOvation database and provide a very familiar RezOvation GT look and feel.
The existing desktop version of RezOvation GT is intended to continue to function normally, synchronizing with the database used by the new version, so both will be kept up-to-date. If you create a new booking on your desktop, the web version will promptly reflect it. Likewise, if a booking is made on the web version, or via a booking engine, the desktop version will be kept up-to-date. The primary advantage will be that you can access the new version using a web browser from any location.
Let’s look at some of the new features that were demonstrated.
Several new menu items appear along the top of the Calendar View, allowing you to change settings, show or hide minimum stay requirements, rates, etc. with just a couple of clicks. There is a new wait list indicator by date, showing that someone is on the waiting list for that date (this is a really nice addition!).
There is a Special Events tab, that allows for Special Events to be displayed on the Calendar View.
The Out Of Service features a new drag-n-drop capability, allowing you to expand, contract, or move Out Of Service rooms directly from the Calendar View.
Notes have a Post-It-like pop-up, so they can be easily displayed.
Clicking on a reservation to see its details invokes a Silverlight action, causing the section of the screen to flip – as if a 3×5 card was being turned over (this appears throughout the areas of the program). This is a cute visual signal that you are entering a new area, but we think people will get tired of waiting for the animation, just wishing it would open a window. We were not told whether or not you could turn this off.
The Reservation Detail shows dates of the reservation and a calendar to use for making changes. Packages and Extras are available in a pull-down menu, as are Gift Certificates and Discounts.
One of the strengths of RezOvation GT is the combination of a wide variety of standard reports, and the ability to customize them (currently using MS Word template editing, and a limited number of available fields by report). Reports will continue to be created in Rich Text Format (RTF) – used by MS Word and many other word processors, but will not require the use of MS Office (that is a welcome change!). Editing reports includes the ability to “auto-tag” the reports – the ability select a “tag” for a database value (such as Arrival Date, Balance Due, etc.) to appear in the report without typing it.
We submitted a request that all available tags be available to be used in any report (we have sometimes found that we would like to include a tag that is available for some reports, but not for the one we are using), just as we have mentioned previously.
The lists of guests (currently the “Show Customers” button) will allow custom filtering of the lists, and will allow you to filter based on several custom conditions, such as date range, location, etc. You will also be able to select the columns to display, and save your custom filters for future use.
The Settings area is to be reorganized, intending to make it easier to find the settings you desire to alter.
During the presentation, the demo seemed to run very quickly (even though the internet connection at the conference facility was not the greatest or the most stable), and generally smoothly. At one point, however, it crashed and took quite some time to restore. Pre-release software does have a tendency to crash, so it is difficult to say whether that was caused by software that is not finished, by the internet connection’s instability, or by Silverlight.
While we were impressed with many of the changes being displayed for this version of RezOvation GT, much of the objective is to re-create the capabilities of the desktop version in a web-based version. Consequently, there were not a lot of major changes or “Gee, whiz!” features, and many other feature requests will not be implemented until a future release, if at all.
It is certainly understandable that RezOvation would choose to use Microsoft’s Silverlight product for this, as they are, after all, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, and it undoubtedly allows for easier development.
However, we question whether Silverlight is the best choice to work on all platforms for the future. Even if Silverlight works on Windows, Mac and Linux now, Apple has shown its hostility to Flash by not allowing its iPhones or iPads to use it, and Flash is now being discontinued by Adobe. Reports indicate that Silverlight does not work on the iPhone or iPad at present, or on most other smartphones or tablets. It seems unlikely that it will work on them in future. Can we be sure it will work on any Mac going forward? There were other alternatives that could have been used, but using them might have increased development costs and time, had RezOvation opted to use them. However, they are more likely to be usable on any platform, and not to be discontinued.
What do you think of the changes being proposed? Are you a current RezOvation GT user? Do you have suggestions for changes? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.