By Warren Dehan
The right team will encompass nimble reactions, personal support, and reliability; These traits will ensure the PMS vendor speaks hoteliers’ language and comes to the table with their own ideas to help meet operational goals
Finding a high-quality technology partner may not get easier for independent hoteliers in the new year. Independent hotels are subject to operational challenges effectively served by only a select group of property-management system (PMS) providers, and they have increasingly relied on technology to manage their hotels, grow revenue, and communicate with guests. Unfortunately, the post-pandemic era hasn’t made it easier to find the right partner amid a wave of acquisitions and mergers.
Investing in a PMS is a significant commitment. Independent operators must undertake their due diligence to select a partner who shares their values and supports their goals. To find the right partner to help lead their operations in 2023, it’s essential they ask the right questions, identify their goals, and seek technology partners who continue to evolve while maintaining stability and a proven track record for service.
Here are a few considerations independent hoteliers should look for in a PMS partner going forward:
1. Nimble Reactions
Independent operators need access to agile and lean systems capable of making elegant changes and quickly reacting to hoteliers’ needs. These hotels are accustomed to making snap adjustments based on emerging trends, and they need access to a technology partner capable and willing to capitalize on these changes as quickly as they arise. Not every PMS provider can make such quick adjustments, not only due to the challenges that come with operating within a corporate structure that’s slow to act, but also due to a lack of available staff.
Regrettably, the tech industry is not immune to the ongoing labor crisis, and many hospitality tech providers continue to operate with limited personnel. The availability of talented labor impacts how quickly PMS providers can roll out new updates and improve their offerings. Independent hoteliers should keep this in mind when determining if their technology partners can deliver on their promises in the new year.
Additionally, independents should also be aware if new enhancements to PMS software are made available to all users or if they are distributed on a per-property basis, and if so, what are the costs to obtain them.
2. Personal Support
Independent operators are known for their close bonds with their properties. These hotels are often closeknit or family generational businesses, and as such, these operators typically benefit from a personal touch regarding application and technical support, particularly for tools as essential as the hotel PMS. Without a large brand at their back, some of these operators encounter challenges when working with larger technology providers, particularly in the event of a dispute.
The best remedy is for independents to seek organizations with an operating ethos that mirror their own. Independents should speak with current and former customers to learn the positives and negatives that come with each system. Does the PMS provider have legacy customers dating back decades who have been diligently supported and benefitted from new capabilities of their system through suggestions and inquiries over the years? Or are their customers frantically searching for a way to speak to someone on the phone to address concerns–or worse, trying to cut the cord and switch partners altogether?
Speaking with customers can also outline whether a tech partner’s ownership group is sticking to its mission of improving hotel operations and growing revenue or if it is part of a larger business strategy that places hoteliers second to other goals. These are the hazards in a marketplace abuzz with mergers and acquisitions, and independent hoteliers are urged to speak with their peers to understand these shifts clearly as they take place across the market.
3. Precedent for Reliability
Investing in a PMS is one of the most transformative things a hotel can do. It represents a significant commitment to new technology and the organization that produces it. As such, operators should do their best to ensure they are adopting technology that has a demonstrated history of improving over time, as well as a clear roadmap for further innovations.
Hoteliers and travelers often face the uncertainty of not getting what they thought they paid for. Guests want to be sure they are booking at a property that is prepared to meet their needs in a post-pandemic environment. In contrast, operators want to ensure their hotels invest in technology capable of serving those desires. Independent hoteliers would benefit from taking an in-depth look at their PMS providers’ capabilities and asking whether they are using them to exceed guests’ expectations.
While occupancy and total revenue per available room continue to show positive fundamentals across the board, uncertainty looms. Independent operators are particularly vulnerable in a volatile market such as this and are urged to remain cautious when investing in new technology. Remember to consider your requirements for offering the best possible guest experience and be upfront with potential technology partners in expressing them as well as your current vendor by asking the hard questions. The right team will speak your language and may even come to the table with their own ideas.