Jos Schaap CEO and Founder StayNTouch
What differentiates your hotel from your competition? Is it your personal service, your amenities, or something else? No matter what your differentiator is today, our changing world forces hoteliers to always be looking for ways to further improve on what sets them apart. One way to boost your competitive advantage is through updating to a modern, advanced hotel PMS to help you increase efficiency, productivity, service and revenue.
The world of hotel property management systems (PMS) has become somewhat confounding lately. There are a myriad of new entrants, and the legacy systems are trying to hang on by wrapping their old solutions in new costumes (a.k.a. putting lipstick on a monkey). One thing is sure – the guest is evolving and becoming more educated, on-demand and needs instant gratification, that’s why offering your guests with the latest hotel technology is paramount.
Competition for the guest is fierce. Hotels struggle with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), Airbnb, the review ecosystem that is TripAdvisor and many more elements that affect the hotel PMS decision. These external pressures can sometimes feel daunting, but hoteliers can control one incredibly important aspect of their operations that every hotel has in place. The control can come from the PMS and its capability to amplify the guest experience. So, here are five things that your PMS needs to ensure that you are outperforming your competition.
In our instant-access world, guests expect quick responses. Gone are the days where hotel staff need to be chained to their desks and your guests are aware of this! The front desk idea is old and antiquated, and it creates a barrier between hotel ambassadors and the guest. The new PMS world should be focused on mobility enabling your staff to roam the lobby – or anywhere for that matter – and help guests upon arrival and even encourage some upselling. Mobility should also place power into the guests’ hands by empowering them to book, check-in and out as well as order anything via their mobile device. Mobile hospitality is the future of our industry, and it should be at the top of the list.
Design Flexibility & Usability
Our industry experiences a great deal of turnover when it comes to staffing hotels. Even the best PMS system is useless if your employees don't know how to use it. The hotel PMS technology needs to be easy to use, easy to train and more importantly – be flexible enough to address all the changes that are occurring in the new hotel technology ecosystem. These changes can include new interface requirements, new additions to the application itself, as well as the capability to be open. Older PMS’s are closed, and third-party vendors and their hotel clients can wait months, if not years, to get their system integrated. This can be debilitating to your operation, so make sure that your new PMS has this capability and overall philosophy. A good PMS doesn't just fit your hotel's current needs, but also has the potential to grow with you: it should include multiple modules, features and endless possibilities for integration.
Cloud & SaaS
There has been a great deal of focus on cloud developed platforms because this delivery method is the future. If your PMS is not cloud-based, then you will be lagging behind. Your PMS of choice should not require you to put in a lot of work upfront. Also, ensure that the PMS company offers a SaaS pricing that includes not only the platform but critical updates as well. When it comes to SaaS from an investment perspective, it makes a great deal of sense as the cost implications to the hotel are much lower than the older, tradition license, maintenance and support model. SaaS service makes administration easier; provides automatic updates and management; ensures compatibility; enhances collaboration and provides access to users from any device capable of accessing the internet.
Service & Support
Hoteliers need to feel secure that we, their technology providers have their back when it comes to maintaining, supporting and servicing the solutions that they purchase from us. Hoteliers cannot wait on hold. Imagine if hoteliers asked their guests to continually wait for the delivery of extra pillows from housekeeping or a martini at the lobby bar. Hotels are in the service business, and hotel technology providers need to emulate this level of service. Do your homework on possible new PMS companies and make sure that they have a stellar service reputation.
We hear a great deal about guest engagement these days in the hotel world. Your PMS should enhance guest engagement and improve your guests on and off property experience. If your guests’ want to purchase something that they want placed in their room before arrival; they should be able to do so. If they would like to schedule a spa appointment at the same time, the system should enable this to occur. The guest is in charge, and the system that you choose should empower the guest to decide how they want to manage their stay and how they want to interact with the hotel and its employees. True guest engagement is letting the guest do what they want when they want with as much support from the hotel as they need.
Data & Reporting
The truth is that every guest you have really is your only guest, at least as far as they are concerned. They expect you to treat them with unsurpassed care as though your entire success depends upon their ongoing satisfaction — which it does. A PMS should also enable your staff to easily answer guest questions, access and gather data as well as offer relevant services. This way your PMS not only facilitates personalized service, but also positively affects your revenue. Anticipating shifts and trends is much easier when your PMS provides forecasts, past performance levels, guest stay cards and so forth.
There are most likely ten to twenty more specific items that a hotelier should be looking at when they are choosing their new PMS to stay ahead of their competition – but these top six areas should be prominent in the decision-making process. If you are not currently using an advanced mobile PMS system, chances are you are giving up an opportunity to further differentiate yourself among your competition. Now may be a good time to consider the many ways your hotel brand would benefit by implementing an innovative new hotel PMS technology.