The majority of the world’s electronic hotel reservations are being processed through a new state-of-theart data center in north Scottsdale operated by Pegasus Solutions.
The multimillion dollar Pegasus Plaza Data Center, which opened in January in the Scottsdale Airpark, is the largest hotel data center in the world, according to the Dallas-based company, and processes about 250 million hotel transactions each month for more than 48,000 hotels worldwide.
The electronic nerve center houses an array of computer servers and hightraffic connections to Internet travel systems such as Expedia and Orbitz as well as four global reservation systems used by hotels and travel agencies.
An estimated 60 percent to 70 percent of all electronic hotel reservations worldwide are routed through Pegasus switches in Scottsdale, said Steve Reynolds, the company’s chief information officer. Among the 60 hotel brands using the system are such familiar names as Travelodge, Sheraton, Westin, Hyatt, Marriott and Holiday Inn.
The company also provides commission-processing services, routing payments from hotels around the world to travel agents who book customers at those hotels.
Pegasus moved all of its systems to the new data center during the first three months of this year. More than 850 pieces of equipment, including 260 enterprise servers, were moved into the building from Pegasus’ old data center in Phoenix. Previously, Pegasus operated three separate facilities in the Valley, but all of the work has been consolidated in the Scottsdale plaza, and most of the company’s 600 Arizona employees have been moved to the new building. The site accounts for nearly half of Pegasus’ worldwide staff.
As a security measure, the company is maintaining its former data hub in Phoenix as a redundant disaster recovery center. The backup center is located 15 miles from the Scottsdale facility, and the two locations are connected by high-capacity fiber optic lines.
To ensure the system is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the Scottsdale plaza also is equipped with a 1.5 megawatt standby diesel generator with an automatic transfer switch and 24-hour fuel supply to provide electricity during power outages. A voltage surge-suppression system protects against lightning strikes and power surges. There’s even a steel-reinforced concrete wall to protect the equipment from a terrorist attack. Temperature, humidity and electrical load are continually monitored throughout the data center while a 7,500-gallon underground water tank maintains cooling systems.
In addition to providing a technology backbone for hotels and travel agencies, Pegasus is operating a new 180-seat reservations call center at the plaza. Employees handle customer service calls and take voice reservations from consumers and travel agencies on behalf of more than 8,000 hotels worldwide.
The investment in the new center comes at a time when worldwide travel is depressed, which has hurt Pegasus. The company’s revenue was flat in 2002, and Pegasus reported a net loss of $6.3 million in the first quarter of this year as hotels were buffeted by war, SARS and weak business travel demand.
But there are some signs of a turnaround, the company said. On May 6, Pegasus processed more electronic hotel reservations than it did on Sept. 10, 2001 — the day before the terrorist attacks plunged the travel industry into a sharp recession.
"It is remarkable that it took 20 months after the attacks, and the numerous aftereffects, for the hospitality industry to see booking totals remotely familiar to those recorded in summer 2001," said John F. Davis III, chairman and chief executive officer of Pegasus.
On another positive note, the company said May 2003 GDS bookings — hotel reservations made by traditional travel agents — processed by Pegasus are on pace with figures from May 2002. This is the first month in 2003 where GDS bookings are running parallel to those recorded in 2002, Davis said.
"While three weeks certainly does not make a trend, seeing these numbers gives us hope that we’ve reached bottom," said Davis.
He said the May statistics are encouraging in light of the April totals, which because of the Iraq war and SARS were drastically off from April business of recent years.