Jobs @ Impala: What the hell is Impala anyway?

Ben Stephenson
May 24, 2018 · 4 min read

So you’re thinking about applying for a job at Impala? Or maybe you already applied and now you’re panicking because you have no idea what any of the words meant on the job spec and you’ve already picked an interview slot? Well great news, we’ve designed this guide for you.

Hey, shouldn’t this be redundant? Shouldn’t your website and materials released about you cover this?

Well, yes and no. You see we’re a small team and right now all public material is optimised for our customers and suppliers (the people that help us keep the lights on). They’re in the industry and understand all the acronyms and the pain point. You don’t. You’re just a guy or gal that’s fed up with their morning commute and wants something new. We’ll get to website FAQs etc but for now, check this guide out.

Okay, the most important thing that you need to know is this:

Building technology for hotels is incredibly painful

Say you’ve come up with a fantastic new app for selling hotel rooms or a machine-learning backed application for optimising hotel room pricing (congrats, btw). You’re excited because you finish your prototype in record time and just know you’ll shift millions of subscriptions for your software. You’ll become Hotel Jeff Bezos and finally prove your third grade teacher wrong.

You run into the first hotel you see, give them a demo of your product and the General Manager let’s out the scream of a five year old girl, yelling “This is what the hotel has needed all along, you’re a genius!”. As you pull out what you now believe is the first of many, highly lucrative contracts and hand the GM the lucky pen your mother gave you he turns to you and utters the seven words that reduce any hotel technology vendor to a whimper:

“Wait, do you connect to our PMS?”

You see, every hotel has a Property Management System (PMS). These PMS are effectively the database that runs the hotel proper. It contains data on guests, hotel services, room rates and a whole lot more. Pretty much any other piece of technology built for a hotel needs to connect to the PMS before it can work.

Think about the phone in your room. Whenever you pick up that phone and dial grandma, you don’t pay for it there and then do you? No, a charge gets added to your bill on checkout. Your bill which is generated by the PMS. You see the phone system has a connection to the PMS that allows it to add charges to bills.

“Okay”, I hear you say, “fine”. That sounds like a minor roadblock. You can ring up the PMS company, build the connection and our wonderful General Manager will sign on the dotted line. Slightly delayed Hotel Bezos but Bezos nonetheless.

Unfortunately for you, there are a huge number of different Property Management Systems in the market. How many? Anywhere between 350 and 2000. Estimates vary. And what’s more connecting to each one of them is going to cost you thousands of pounds and require a lot of commercial validation (that you can’t get because you can’t finish your product till you have the PMS connection). Even when you get there and they say yes, they each have different ways of connecting that take time and effort.

Even more annoyingly, it makes sense that they do! PMS are big companies with their own large customers to focus on, they don’t have time to spend building integrations with every small new market entrant that comes along, they charge to cover their costs and they want commercial validation to prove it’s not going to be a waste of time.

Your third grade teacher was right…

This is the problem we solve.

Impala pre-builds connections and relationships with Property Management Systems which allows us to offer a simple interface to hotel data that hotel technology companies connect to. They install our SDK into their product and they then have a ready made connection to the PMS they need, as standardised and as normalised as possible, saving them an incredible amount of time and more.

It’s great for vendors because it means that our budding entrepreneur can answer affirmatively to the question “Wait, do you connect to our PMS” because they know they can just use Impala. They can also pay monthly for a connection dependent on the number of hotels they connect to rather than one crippling upfront payment.

It’s great for PMS because it means that they’re not being bothered by genuinely thousands of vendors, a very high % of whom are more than likely to end up failing. They also get a revenue share from us to ease the pain.

That’s it. That’s all we do at Impala. Make it easier for people building innovative technology to go to market. If you’d love to be a part of that mission, we’d love to hear from you!

But hey, what about this API word I’ve been hearing a lot about in your job descriptions? An API is an interface for multiple systems to share information. For more information, Google the hell out of it.

I saw the word “Remote”, what does that mean? It means you work from where you want, not a central office.

What’s your culture/working at Impala like? This article will help answer some of those questions.


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