The 2015 Smart Decision Guide To Hotel Property Management Systems

Property Management Systems: Six Recommendations for Hoteliers to Keep on Mind

Until relatively recently, there was no single software application for automating all of the different operations that take place at a hotel, resort or other lodging property in a unified and integrated fashion. Instead, hoteliers were forced to rely on a combination of Excel spreadsheets and standalone department-specific software programs – oftentimes in conjunction with age-old manual processes – to run their businesses.

Starfleet Research

This article is adapted from The 2015 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems. To read the eBook in its entirety, please click here.

Until relatively recently, there was no single software application for automating all of the different operations that take place at a hotel, resort or other lodging property in a unified and integrated fashion. Instead, hoteliers were forced to rely on a combination of Excel spreadsheets and standalone department-specific software programs – oftentimes in conjunction with age-old manual processes – to run their businesses. Fast forward to today and there is no shortage of next-generation PMS solution providers promising to empower hoteliers with the ability to drive ever-increasing levels of efficiency and effectiveness.

Following are a few recommendations to help steer prospective buyers of a next-generation solution in the right direction, both during the evaluation phase and following actual implementation.

Focus on building the guest database. Hoteliers can capture an enormous amount of valuable guest information from POS transactions as well as from additional interactions and touch points, including data captured from customer surveys and rewards programs. By enhancing guest profiles with additional data and utilizing analytics to understand customer behavior by narrowly-defined segments, hoteliers can further maximize the value of guest relationships. Only by delivering carefully tailored services, communications and promotions while minimizing the cost of resources otherwise expended to build, maintain and increase the value of those relationships can hoteliers rest assured that their businesses are reaching their full potential.

Focus on technology integration. Greater architecture and interface flexibility, the widespread adoption of industry standards for software development, and the proliferation of middleware solutions capable of bringing together otherwise incompatible technologies have made it easier than ever to integrate third-party software and add-on modules into a PMS. Whether the system is running in the cloud or installed on-premise, it's important to ensure that all the technology platform and data architecture can be tightly integrated, with minimum hassle and expense. Seamless platform interoperability and compatibility is the north star toward which all hoteliers should be navigating today.

Focus on revenue management. Given its role in capturing and storing data, a next-generation PMS is key to improving revenue management activities. The sheer volume of data that revenue managers are importing into their pricing optimization models is massive. For a large hotel, the data set may include dozens of customer segments, a dozen or more room types, several years of historical booking and reservations data, and upwards of a dozen length-of-stay types. Add to the mix competitive rate data, demand data, multi-market economic data, reputation scores and even social reviews, air traffic and weather predictions. Combining all these data sets for just one hotel could easily amount to 200 million-plus observations. Revenue optimization is largely a big data challenge. A next-generation PMS can go a long way to help address that challenge.

Ensure that all necessary modules are available. A next-generation PMS should support optional modules for managing other hotel or resort facilities. A good example is a pro shop management module, which would include tee time scheduling, member profile/billing and tournament management. With this solution, a hotelier could set up and maintain complete member profiles and histories, including financials, handicaps and records of purchases. Another example is a spa management solution, for streamlining the appointment and fulfillment process for spa-related services.

Check client references. This recommendation may seem obvious, but it nonetheless bears mentioning. No input may be more important to the buying decision than the perspectives that can be gleaned from existing clients, preferably hotels that share commonalities in terms of size, typography and existing technology infrastructure. A PMS solution provider may be willing to provide one or more client references. And some hoteliers may be willing to share their experiences, including both the pros and cons. Written client testimonials and success stories can also be valuable resources.

Provide adequate training and practice. While tech-savvy managers and other employees should be able to get up to speed on a new PMS relatively quickly, others may need some hand-holding. It's important that the solution provider — or another resource, if necessary — is able to provide the requisite training support and that sufficient time is allotted for staff to become comfortable with the new system before being set loose on paying guests.

To download a complimentary copy of The 2015 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems, please click here.

Starfleet Research recently released several other Smart Decision Guides on hospitality technology. These include:

The 2016 Smart Decision Guide to Hospitality Revenue Management, which can be accessed here.

The 2015 Smart Decision Guide to Restaurant POS Systems, which can be accessed here.



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