PART II – How to Choose A Hotel Property Management System in 2018
In our last article we listed some top tips for hoteliers looking for a Property Management System (PMS). Now we’re going to examine some of the most important features your PMS will need to help you run your property efficiently.
Communication is key
We’re all familiar with the above phrase but it has never applied more than to the hospitality industry. A hotel manager needs to be able to communicate both internally to staff as well as to the guest. It’s vital that when a manager or administrator updates their property management system that the information is successfully disseminated to the relevant departments.
Nothing is more important for management than statistics and forecasts so be sure that the system information is useful and easy to sort and extract.
The same can be said for reports; look for the facility to run both prebuilt and customised reports to pull critical information from the system. Ensure you can export into different formats, not only PDF. This will help to analyse data from previous and upcoming stays and help you build even better business.
Visuals and Display
It may sound really obvious but it’s important to make sure that you are happy with the software’s interface. In other words you need it to provide a user friendly experience that will enable staff to interact with the software in a natural and intuitive way. If you aren’t running a one man show remember that some users will be more technically literate than others and you’re going to need a system that will work equally for everyone.
With regards to visuals, run through the most needed functions first. Look at how reservations are displayed and the process for check in and check out. Is it simple yet functional? The best tool in this instance would be a room planner showing all the information at once. While it’s easy to get sidetracked by lots of fancy features be sure to check first that the system provides excellent solutions for common procedures. It’s very likely you won’t use all the additional bells and whistles and ultimately your main goal is to run your property more efficiently.
Other things that will help to accomplish that is the ability to store guest information and to track returning guests. You’ll also need the flexibility to add and package extras onto your rooms for special offers, extra charges or up sells. A housekeeping feature is essential for managing daily tasks and it should be accessible on smart phones and tablets to check for room status reports. This information needs to be updated live to ensure it’s current and provides sufficient information for housekeeping staff. Guest details should also be easily and quickly obtained. Room allocation tools should alert you if you have changed a room type or overbooked the system.
For PMS software you have two choices. Either on premise or cloud based. Many hoteliers are opting for cloud based software for the following reasons.
- Upfront costs are lower. Cloud based software doesn’t require expensive accessories such as back up systems, on site servers and additional monitors. There are no one off installation fees required as onsite visits are not required. Cloud based solutions take care of any maintenance and licensing fees required and you never have to worry about replacing expensive computer equipment. Updates are also free and part of your subscription fees.
- Modern cloudless technology allows hoteliers to provide their guests with outstanding customer service from their mobile device. It allows for freedom of movement for staff members who can work comfortably at home rather than working late into the night from their desks. Operational efficiency is also optimised when a hotel PMS can be accessed on a mobile device as productivity is increased when staff are more engaged.
- Once you’ve found your perfect Property Management System you are good to go! Deployment is immediate and you can get started registering rooms and accepting bookings in just a few minutes.
- Last but by no means least you can be sure your data is safe in the cloud. Cloud based software uses encryption to protect data and stores it securely in firewalls and authentication gateways. What this means for you is that you don’t have to worry if a laptop or stationary computer is stolen. All this data is backed up in the cloud available for fast and complete recovery. Good news for you and your guests!
Just remember that if you do go down this route, you will need fast and stable internet to .
Maybe one of the most overlooked yet most valuable services your provider should offer is a competent and responsive support structure. Questions and issues will arise from time to time so you will need a reliable network of professionals who are there to help. Hotels never close so neither should your support team, look for a system that is there for you 24/7.
Technology is evolving more rapidly than most of us can keep up with so ideally new features and integrations should be accompanied by support articles and updates to keep you informed of what’s new. With this in mind, remember bigger is not necessarily better. A smaller company means more competition and more time invested in you, the hotelier.
This is the second article of a three part series helping you to get the best PMS for your business and budget. Our next blog will focus primarily on Channel Management and how best to integrate this vital component with your Property Management System.