Majestic Resorts is known for its collection of all-inclusive resorts in The Dominican Republic and Mexico. We spoke with Jordi Figols Gagliardi, Majestic Resort’s Corporate Business Process Manager, to learn more about their IT setup and new hotel opening integrations. Jordi had a key role in opening their latest property on Mexico’s Costa Mujeres near Cancún and shared his learnings from the process and how they’re 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 that had the opportunity to grow from one location to nine in the Balearic Islands. Back 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 up the Majestic Colonial in 2005, which was our first property outside of Spain, a high-end all-inclusive resort with 658 rooms. We opened our second hotel, the Majestic Elegance in 2008, and the Majestic Mirage in 2016. So all in all, today in the Dominican Republic they have approximately 1,800 rooms.
We were known as a Dominican Republic hotel chain because we have many properties there. In 2010, we were looking to expand to Cuba, Colombia, Jamaica when the opportunity to open up in Costa Mujeres, which is 30 minutes north of Cancun, presented itself.
What led Majestic Resorts to want to change the IT strategy?
Our CEO and owner wanted to dig deeper into technological innovations. So, we installed a new PMS, a new ERP, and tried to connect with OTAs through a Channel Manager. Whatever tech you think of – Point of Sale, TV system, PBX, and more – for us everything needs to be, and is, integrated. This was for our property in Mexico, meanwhile, everything was almost done manually in the Dominican Republic.
How did you get involved with the IT at Majestic Resorts?
I was always involved in our tech projects at Majestic Resorts. At one point, management asked me to be part of the project team focusing on operations and guest experience. We decided what type of configurations and mapping was done 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 that connects those areas with operations, its processes, and the technology we have. Our IT team is a very small team. Our CEO is 100% involved and then there is our IT Director and the Process team (including myself). I fly to Cancun probably once every four or five weeks as I’m based in Punta Cana, but my team is in Cancun. So that has been an interesting team dynamic.
Tell us more about your experience changing the PMS.
When we migrated to a new PMS, we started the implementation in late 2018 and the rollout of the new solution in November of 2019. A lot of our standards and procedures are a reflection of our CEO’s viewpoints. We’re really focused on our guests. Using the knowledge gained from our rollout in Mexico, we applied those insights to our rollout in the Dominican Republic in October of 2021.
“Our CEO and owner wanted to dig deeper into technological innovations. So, we installed a new PMS, a new ERP, and tried to connect with OTAs through a Channel Manager. Whatever tech you think of – Point of Sale, TV system, PBX, and more – for us everything needs to be, and is, integrated.”
Implementation of new hotel opening integrations is one thing, but then you have to maintain it all afterward. You have to make adjustments because we follow whatever the guest trends are and whatever the operations need, both of which change over time or need adjustments in practice.
What were some of your main learnings from the process?
Prior to COVID, we thought we knew our company. 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 didn’t do exactly what we needed it to do and we had many, many issues. The way we planned was different from reality. When COVID hit the Caribbean, it gave us a chance to pause our operations and say, “Okay, let’s stop everything before we jump to the Dominican Republic. Let’s start from scratch. We have our PMS, we have our configurations, but we have to redo everything we do.”
We built a team from March through September of 2020, which was the day we reopened in Mexico again. We didn’t revise everything because we knew which parts of the configurations would work – but we also knew all the issues we had at the front desk, the restaurants, in housekeeping that weren’t working properly. During those six months, around 20 of us had Zoom meetings every day because we were a bit spread out 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 what your real operation is and know what the goals of the implementation are. If you talk to a GM, they will talk to you about the occupancy, the ADR, and the incidents they have with maintenance. If you sit down with them and ask the proper questions, you will see that sometimes their operations focus on daily, monthly activities, perhaps planning six months to a year ahead. So, make sure the tools you have now are scalable for what your business could need in several years too.
When you’re looking at integrating the PMS, ERP, CRM, etc, what are your requirements?
The idea was to connect our system with the Channel Manager. Before, we had different software from different suppliers 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 that are already integrated with our system, or we had to develop our own API. Unfortunately, though it is a great system, it doesn’t have many partners integrated. For instance, the online Check-in system that we launched a few weeks ago, we had to double it from scratch on our own, because all the solutions we could find did not have an integration that was interesting to us. Some solutions said they integrated but could only capture a little data, and that’s it. We want the arrival date, date of birth, home address, pictures, facial recognition.
We are launching a Wi-Fi portal in a couple of weeks in Mexico as a trial. We found a supplier that had integrated with our online check-in so whenever you check-in online, you already have access to the Wi-Fi protocol. So there is always interconnection, some puzzles.
Tell us more about the tech that went into the opening of Costa Mujeres.
In the US and Europe, we have up-to-date, modern technology and access to it. In Mexico, it’s a step between North America and the rest of the Caribbean. The Caribbean doesn’t have the same infrastructure and they don’t have the funds to invest, so everything that comes to the islands is because of the investment of private companies.
In Mexico, all the doors are connected to the Internet in the cloud. So, they are even charging themselves automatically. We can communicate with the guests and do room service orders from the TV. Whereas in the D.R., we still don’t have those features. The integrations we have installed include ID scanners, music systems, the lighting of the hotels, and the room ambiances.
We are now using RFID bracelets that open the doors at all-inclusive resorts. They also have memory functions that give you information about the guest, grant them access to the spa or the gym without anyone being there, and allow them to charge things to their room. We can track trends that way as well. Perhaps most of our guests are at the beach or at one specific restaurant more frequently– you can look at this and adjust your operations accordingly.
OK, now that we’ve covered all the tech– on a personal level, how did you get started in hospitality?
My family comes from the industry, which is why I decided to start in Hospitality Management in Barcelona. I worked for the Ritz-Carlton and Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona And then I had the opportunity to move to the Dominican Republic with Majestic Resorts through a Management-in-Training type program. After that, I was a Rooms Division Manager until I was transferred to another property where I became the General Manager and oversaw the partial renovation of other hotels.