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Officials hope the new Choice Hotels division will break out of the slow-moving hotel world, and make its mark as a technology startup. Whether creating a new division will help entice competitor chains and independents to sign on remains to be seen.

Choice Hotels has rebranded its in-house property management system for franchisees, and formed a new division, SkyTouch Technology, to enhance the product and offer it to other chains and independent hotels.

Ric Leutwyler, president of the new division and formerly COO of Pegasus Solutions, says a team of 106 people now work in the new division, which is located in its own offices that are separate from Choice Hotels facilities.

The plan for the new division, which is solely funded by Choice Hotels, is to take the Web-based ChoiceADVANTAGE property management system that it launched a decade ago, rebrand it as SkyTouch Hotel OS, market it to outside hoteliers, and then enhance it much more rapidly than has been done in the past, Leutwyler says.

Choice franchisees would also benefit from the enhancements, Leutwyler says.

Choice’s SkyTouch Technology division has been quietly working on the project since October, Leutwyler says.

Property management systems such as SkyTouch Hotel OS enable hotels to oversee operations ranging from check-in/checkout to housekeeping, billing and operating reports, and Choice says its technology enables users to accomplish these tasks from any device with an Internet connection.

Leutwyler says the first enhancements on the agenda for SkyTouch Hotel OS will be improvements to the user interface.

SkyTouch Technology will compete with other property management system providers and at times with hotel tech companies such as Pegasus Solutions and Sabre Hospitality Solutions, and will have to overcome the hurdle of convincing hotels to contract for technology with a competing company, Choice Hotels.

Leutwyler says there will be various charges for using SkyTouch Hotel OS, depending on the type of training the customer chooses. There will also be up-front costs, as well as per room monthly charges, he says.

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Tags: choice hotels

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