By Jos Schaap CEO and Founder – StayNTouch
It is a well-known fact that today’s travelers have high expectations of a tech-forward, efficient and ultimately personalized experience throughout their travel journey. In many ways, this marks an exciting era in hospitality and inspires technological advancement within an industry which is often hesitant to keep pace with technological evolution. However, this shift into a more guest-centric hospitality model undeniably places newly realized pressure onto hoteliers to upgrade the tools they have in place to continuously enhance their offering and support their staff.
A recent, global PMS study conducted by h2c, titled, The Future of Hotel Management Systems: Identifying the Future Role of the PMS, set out with the lofty aim to shed light on the current (and future) PMS landscape. Through means of an online survey, executive interviews, secondary research, and regional coverage, h2c was able to address the following questions:
- Which market dynamics call for a PMS strategy change?
- What level of complexity is acceptable, and where are the pain points today?
- How do hotels plan to avoid managing different systems of record in the future?
- Which level of flexibility is needed to overcome system integration issues between PMS/CRS, CRM, Content platforms and others?
- Which functionalities and business intelligence tools are required to easily generate customized offers?
- Will hotel chains rely on PMS companies’ capabilities for providing competitive front ends (IBE, mobile IBE)?
Is increased demand for additional services on the rise?
With guest-centric functionalities becoming a driving priority for hoteliers, the subsequent demand for innovative and cloud-based PMS systems continues to grow. This global PMS study highlights lacking integrations, inadequate service, and support as significant drivers for change across the PMS landscape moving forward. By highlighting the key takeaways from this study, we can gain a better understanding of the future of the PMS landscape, and those features which hoteliers value most when considering new technology vendors.
Is Your Current PMS Lacking?
When asked ‘Why do you think another PMS solution will be necessary?’ – the majority of respondents stated that their current solution is not in the cloud (i.e., lacks scalability, automated upgrades, etc.). Further to that, lackluster functionalities, insufficient support, costly and time-consuming upgrades were cited as major drivers for change in a PMS system. Not surprisingly, integration was continuously suggested as a pain point, with 17% of respondents identifying integration with third parties as their biggest pain point. Hoteliers expressed a desire for an intuitive, seamlessly integrated system that can better share and sort guest data.
But the number one pain point (30%) identified by respondents was the support offered by their current systems being largely inferior to their expectations and needs, explaining “Sometimes the support provides helpful information but most of the time the customer support is not available or provides insufficient support.”
This creates an increasingly frustrating experience for hoteliers who frequently require vendor support for systems that are in need of updates or to train new staff on existing platforms. With hotel employee turnover being notoriously high (topping 70 percent (Vali Centre) in 2016, while the average turnover rate for all private sector jobs was only 46 percent), this is a major problem. Not just that, but 66% of respondents stated that they do not receive supportive training services regarding planned updates to the PMS, and mobile functionality was cited as the most common missing piece amongst current PMS platforms.
We also have to consider the following — if most hoteliers can contest that their current PMS system is lacking in respect to integration, functionality, and support; how can it even begin to meet demands as an intuitive platform? In an ideal world, your PMS platform should act as the central nervous system of your hotel, offering a comprehensive dashboard of integrated applications to better inform operations, sales, planning, guest engagement and so much more. It should empower your hotel to streamline communications, increase revenue, improve staff productivity, manage operations from anywhere and stay ahead of trends with easy integration. Much like a bike without wheels, if your PMS can’t offer the bare minimum requirements of integration and support (the wheels), how do you expect to reap the rewards of the more intricate pieces of a truly intuitive, cloud-based PMS? You can’t — because a bike without wheels can’t be expected to move very fast. And guess what? The hospitality industry is rapidly picking up speed — and hoteliers need to keep up.
What Does the Future of PMS Look Like?
If we had to summarize the undeniable takeaway from h2c’s study, it’s this: Investing in a mobile, cloud-based and scalable PMS platform is a vital piece of the stack to ensure optimal communication between core systems while empowering staff and operations. This PMS technology needs to be accessible across the industry, with seamless integration, robust and reliable functionality, intuitive design and superior service levels.
Having worked on what became the industry standard in PMS technology I experienced first-hand how excellent service and proximity to the hotel customer is a critical part of building an efficient system. At the time the ideas of cloud based, user-friendly and mobile PMS technology wasn’t on the radar. Integrations was the strong point even if it was costly.
Now that cloud-based PMS’ exist as stable products from multiple companies, integrations costs are reducing dramatically and open APIs that are well documented are slowly becoming the norm. This doesn’t mean the problem is solved, as is evidenced in h2c’s research. But the solutions exist, and hotels can benefit of them.
What has yet to be properly solved is scaling service levels and support globally for the innovative and cloud-based systems. It is the critical part of any new technology. Hotels are 24/7 companies they can’t really afford for critical systems to go into maintenance mode for a weekend. Or worse yet to call the startup founder out of bed from the other side of the planet, because something doesn’t work anymore.
Thus, the issue of integrations in isolation can be checked as solved, but without the right service and support infrastructure is isn’t really solved.
At StayNTouch, we have long since made this the driving principle of our offering — however, we feel more equipped than ever before to meet the evolving demands of hotel groups and technology providers across the globe. Since being acquired by Shiji Group, our company has the unique opportunity to join a larger group globally and leverage their local sales and support resources while maintaining our commitment to service first. We believe that this commitment to enhancing service levels and standards with a global network and attentive, consumer-centric support will help facilitate the transition to a fully integrated and intuitive tech ecosystem for hoteliers across the globe. So, what does the future of PMS look like? Well, we think we have a pretty good idea — and we’d love to share it with you, too. For more information or to request a demo, please click here.