The decision to use a Property Management System (PMS) may well be a no-brainer in this day and age, but selecting the right system for your individual hotel definitely will take brains. Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, here are seven key points to consider when it’s time to make your choice.
Before you make your selection, try out the systems you have in mind. See whether they are flexible and intuitive. Do they help you to automate your work processes or do they seem to make the work harder than it should be? The graphical user interface (GUI) plays a key role in determining just how simple the system will be for your staff to use. Another consideration is how you are going to use your system – you probably need mobility so you can run your hotel via mobile devices. The issue of whether you have a PC-based or cloud-based system is also a point to think about, especially if your internet can be unreliable.
- System features
Think carefully about this one. You don’t necessarily want something that simply replicates your existing methods as the aim is to make improvements – but on the other hand it’s all too easy to be seduced into paying for features you don’t actually need and would never use. Before you buy, make a checklist of all the features you will need and then compare systems to get the best match.
- Continuous upgrades
A good PMS should be improved and upgraded continuously as the technology develops. If not, you’ll be left with an obsolete system while the latest products get all the attention. Look at your vendor’s track record in developing systems that evolve to meet consumer needs.
- After sales service and security
Once your new system has been installed, how responsive will your vendor be when you have questions or difficulties? Are they available 24/7 to respond to inquiries? Check feedback from other customers to make sure your vendor won’t lose interest once the sale has been made. It is also a good idea to ask about secure data storage and credit card payment processing systems.
Many hotels are reluctant to spend more than they believe is strictly necessary when they choose a PMS. This is not necessarily a good idea – hoteliers who fully understand advances in technology are rare, and most think they can use an outdated system with no adverse effects on their bottom line. This is not a wise approach, and can result in becoming tied to a system which delivers a rather low return on investment and ultimately costs much more in the long run. You don’t need to spend on features you’ll never use, but you do need to make sure you include the very latest ideas in the areas which are important.
- Vendor reputation
It’s easy today to find online reviews of the various PMS vendors and their products so there’s no excuse for choosing a vendor who previously received poor feedback, and then finding yourself suffering the same problems reported by earlier customers. If you want good service and a good product, take the time to find a vendor with a reputation for delivering exactly what you need. One caveat, however: the best-known vendors might not be the best choice for a smaller hotel. They are used to big clients and may not have the time to devote to your needs, so a smaller vendor may be a better bet.
- Integration with third-party systems
The PMS you choose must be compatible with all the other hardware in your hotel, such as security systems, and should also combine effectively with third-party reservations systems and distribution channels to ensure you’re always getting the best price for your rooms along with the flexibility to make rapid changes across all platforms.