A TRIO of self-styled hospitality sector mavericks have launched “market disrupting” software they claim will halve bills for Scottish hotels struggling with business rate rises and the fallout from Brexit.

Last year Richard Drummond, Jon Erasmus and Ronald Tweedie set out to build software that could run a Scottish hospitality business on its own after becoming frustrated at hotels being stifled by outmoded technology.

After 18 months of development, the trio have launched HOP Software. The cloud-based system, which enables accommodation to be run from any smart device or phone, offers complete connectivity between staff members, simplifies hotel functions and even generates staff efficiency data for HR departments.

Customers will have the option to check-in using an airline-style app and, uniquely, industry users will be given the ability to evolve the software’s functionality every fortnight through live updates.

Hop believe the product will free hospitality businesses from clunky systems charging high commissions for add-ons, giving them more time with their customers.

“We are market disruptors trying to help our own industry,” said CEO and designer Jon Erasmus, also the brains behind Inverness Brewery.

“As hoteliers ourselves, we were becoming increasingly frustrated at lots of expensive legacy-based systems designed in the early 2000s, with bits bolted on and run by other companies.

“Our industry is having to deal with business rate rises, impacts of the Living Wage, Brexit and rising utility costs. There are pressures in many areas and people don’t want huge IT bills on top of that.

“We decided to develop software ourselves which could run a business, end to end, at a fraction of the cost and put staff and customers back together again instead of staff having to go to different companies to fix different parts of a system.

“We don’t want to save businesses 10 percent on IT bills, we think we can save them 70 per cent.”

The three directors have invested £500 000 of their own money over two years on the agile software which will cost hospitality businesses between £2000 and £6000 per year.

HOP is already being used at McKays Hotel in Pitlochry, The Boat Hotel in the Cairngorms National Park and the Glen Mhor Hotel in Inverness, businesses owned by the investors.

Six full-time posts, including three UK-based developers, have been created with 15-20 jobs expected to be filled over two years.

The company has brokered market leading rates for its customers on credit card payment processing with Allied Irish Merchant Bank.

“You could say we are news kids on the block,” says Drummond, who has 40 years of experience in hospitality.

“Our first principles were: why should smaller, or any size operators, be limited by functionality and why should software be so expensive?”

HOP has already scoped international opportunities in South Africa and is keen to speak to local authorities about locating its HQ.