By Warren Dehan
Operators looking to regain control of their businesses in a limited labor market should analyze their booking, check-in/-out, kiosk integration and two-way communications practices
Travelers are no longer willing to compromise on the guest experience – and thanks to modern property-management system (PMS) technology, they don’t have to. Independent hoteliers today have the capability to create a guest experience that can exceed what larger brands are currently providing, all while improving operational workflow and labor requirements. Access to these capabilities may even be available through a hotel’s existing PMS – and if they are not, they should be.
Here are four existing hotel PMS capabilities that are leveling the playing field for independent operators:
Robust Booking Experience
Major brands remain fixated on providing a consistent, high-quality booking experience across all digital channels, and now independent hoteliers have the tools to do the same. Independent hoteliers can use PMS integrations to manage their property’s booking process and offer a positive first impression when it comes time for guests to book by offering clear, concise, and thorough list of bookable hotel amenities during checkout.
Hoteliers want to empower their guests to do more than select a hotel room, they want to create a unified seamless booking journey. This involves thinking beyond the scope of the guestroom, offering activities, dinner reservations, spa appointments and more. Independents with access to a variety of amenities must take advantage of their full breadth of available offerings during the booking process to ensure guests are not only fully informed about their options prior to arrival, but also so that hotels engage to convert travelers during their first impression. Make sure your PMS is able to support and deliver on these orders either directly through their own online booking engine or via a robust third-party partner integration using extensive API connections, so your hotel can focus on efficient operations and maximizing the guest experience.
Not every hotel is able to offer the prospect of spa service when booking, but modern PMS technology can also be used to improve the guest experience by offering a smooth check-in and check-out process. More guests than ever are choosing to skip the front desk, and this capability is relatively simple to offer through the PMS but challenging for hotels attempting to implement it on their own.
Part of this challenge is the scope of what operators must consider when providing a high-quality, seamless check-in and check-out experience. Hotels must consider pre-check-in necessities, interactions with mobile devices, the ability to update credit card information, the ability to add additional names to a room, how often housekeeping service is requested, whether or not delivery to and from the airport is necessary, and even reminders about potential mail deliveries to the hotel. Each of these elements are becoming more important as more guests choose to work on the road and bleisure travel grows in popularity. This process can cover interactions prior to check in, the registration process, distribution of a mobile key, and follow up after the guest checks out – all of which can be managed directly through the PMS.
Kiosk or Self-Check-In Integration
Not every technology suits every hotel, and some properties may struggle to implement features such as mobile check in – particularly at historic or unique independent properties that face difficulty upgrading the physical elements of the structure. Operators who wish to use technology to assist with labor challenges and offer a contactless experience are opting to install automated kiosks where guests can check themselves in, request additional information, and purchase room upgrades or additional amenities.
The sinew tying this all together is access to a fully integrated PMS that is able to manage kiosk operations, share data with other hotel departments, and allow operators to act using up-to-date information. Hoteliers must be fully aware of every interaction that takes place between travelers and the property, particularly digital purchases or impressions which can be difficult to track without a fully integrated PMS capable of “talking” to devices in other departments. When the technology ecosystem is properly configured, kiosks can save operators countless hours of time, which can be refocused on improving the guest experience.
Guests are skipping the front desk by choice, and if hotels want to maintain their close connection to travelers, they must embrace new touchpoints through mobile interactions. Most commonly performed through email and SMS, these digital conversations allow independent operators to maintain communications at a scale that was once only possible at the big brands.
Additionally, some of the more common guest inquiries through text communications can be automated to a degree, redirecting low-level questions away from the front desk and providing impactful support to guests. Messages from guests can be automatically flagged as maintenance or housekeeping concerns and escalated through internal communications to ensure leaky faucets are tightened and fresh towels are delivered on request.
Technology is not capable of solving all the challenges facing the hotel industry, but it is able to help operators regain control of their businesses in a limited labor market. Not every implementation is made for every hotel – contact your technology provider and see what capabilities would benefit your property and start punching above your weight.