In a previous blog post about self-service in the tourism industry, we agreed that the property management system is the central nervous system for any hotel. Therefore, it seems essential to talk about the importance of choosing the right PMS. But how, among so many offers? Here are a few hints.
Believe it or not, but in the smartphone era, a good chunk of hotels is still using pen and paper. Imagine your dream travel to a heavenly destination you have been waiting for years. You finally land and manage to find your hotel. Have your head wrapped up in plans for sightseeing and shopping and afterward a cozy dinner at your hotel. Will it still be so dreamy if you see the receptionist write down your reservation on a piece of paper letting you wait 25 minutes before handing out the keys to the room? Well, these are the new 20s. Not 1920. If you cannot imagine your day without using smart everything in your day-to-day life, then why would hotels shy away from digitally transforming.
From pen and paper to modern booking wizards
In the 1970s airlines started using a model that allowed staff to keep track of reservations and inventory. In the early days of property management systems, they were quite varied from one hotel to another. When computers became commonplace, hotels started investing in server-based in-house systems. But the computer age dictated constant upgrading. Ten years ago, the first cloud PMS was released. This turned to be the key factor. It allowed staff to be more mobile while working from anywhere on the property by using different devices. Everything got vastly improved when it was put in the hands of versed experts. Now, a hotel can hardly be run without “booking wizards” – a PMS that handles most hotel operations with ease and in addition saves time and effort while increasing revenue.
Some managers still fear expense and change but the advantages of PMS in the front office cannot be overstated. It is not a cheesy pickup line – it is a change in the ways hoteliers do business. It is much more than a registry of guests checking in and out – the PMS can provide all the tools, devices and technology needed. Given the fact how busy hotels can be and how demanding guests can be, it seems impossible to imagine what it would be like to have to take care of everything with just a simple register at the front desk. Today managers want real-time access to everything. They realized that they need to build a strong online presence and offer exceptional customer service in order to survive such an incredibly competitive market. And finding the right partner is the key.
The importance of choosing the right PMS for your hotel
Back in the day hoteliers used excel spreadsheets – a fancier version of the pen and paper. But today, assigning rooms needs state-of-the-art software that is the latest trend in technology. Hoteliers choose the systems based on reliability, technology and user interface.
Our advice is to follow a quick checklist and match it against the key features of a PMS system. That way you will find out if you are choosing something that will be a pain in the neck or opting for a true asset that will integrate third-party apps and software that will reduce human error, increase efficiency, avoid time waste. Learn from others’ mistakes. Some hotels choose lower-end solutions and later it turns out that they don’t fulfill their needs. On the other hand, others opt for high-end solutions that are too complicated for them. Usually, mistakes are made when hoteliers are dazzled and go for attractive features that may not be of use. Look for tools that track performance and make conclusions about customer behavior and current trends. Insist on excellent support 24/7 because the hospitality industry never sleeps and help should be available immediately. We keep talking about how great technology is but don’t forget to actually give the technology its due. Keep in tune and don’t invest in outdated solutions. Have in mind that not looking at the return of the investment and the increase of the efficiency is a rookie mistake and smart managers avoid choosing the cheapest offer. Instead, check the features against the price. Don’t forget to ask where the data is stored and if the security is strong enough, if the credit card payments are being done through the system, if there are self-check-in software and keycode locks, what kind of reports the PMS provides and the insights on the revenue and the performance. Don’t forget the rate management, the online booking engines and the sales and marketing functionality.
In simple words, when choosing a partner for digital transformation find the balance between the ideal experience, knowledge and skills for your specific needs. Don’t sell rooms solely for the purpose of profit, but enhanced hospitality experiences. Find trained business and IT teams that will help you do it, that will provide a digital transformation roadmap. Build a lasting relationship with a digital transformation partner based on trust and a shared vision and values. Don’t choose a digital wizard that has no experience or understanding of the business. It is almost certain that his ideas will work on paper but not in your hotel. Opt for “insiders”, for the ones that have experience in doing the same for other similar businesses – the ones that will listen carefully to how the business operates and to the real needs. Well, you get the idea – the process of digital transformation is as much about organizational change as it is about technology.
The guest experience – convenience is priceless
Probably your hotel bellhop will not have to deal with witches and ridiculous situations like Tim Roth’s character had to in the movie “Four Rooms” while keeping the guests satisfied. But why not do your best to keep both staff and guests happy. Let’s think out loud. We like room service and we love living the hotel life. But we still don’t want to spend too much time engaging in small talk or awkward silence with a stranger (the hotel employee) after a long and exhausting trip. I love traveling but when I get to that charming hotel I booked I prefer privacy. A modern hotel that will give me the best price while booking, a safe way to pay, self-check-in service, keycodes I can rely on, a smart way to order extra services or request something additional. My smartphone is glued to my hand and I love having all the services at hand. With my experience working at a boking office, I think that finding the balance is everything – let the guests be happy while finding their own way and sending in the occasional request. And giving the staff the option to help and still use their working hours in other tasks like optimizing the work of the property.