The “must-ask questions” for property management system (PMS) solution providers are sure to vary depending on the specific needs of the hotel or resort, including its category, size and typology.
Hoteliers should gain a clear understanding of their own requirements and priorities and weigh them accordingly. Chapter 2 of The 2016 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems (currently available for complimentary download) includes an Evaluation Checklist that can be used for this purpose.
Does the PMS need to interface with self-service check-in kiosks? Does it need to handle corporate expense account management? Does it require a casino comp module and need to integrate to a player tracking system, or require gaming commission recognition? Does it require its own activity booking system or need to integrate with spa and dining reservation systems?
If a hotel has a high contribution from government and NGO business, how well does the system handle tax-exempt reservations? If group is a significant portion of the hotel's mix, are the group block allocation and contracting capabilities up to the task, and any required sales and catering integration in place?
Still, there remains a lot of overlap in terms of the high-level objectives that hoteliers aim to achieve. Following are just a few of the questions that prospective buyers may wish to explore with PMS solution providers during the research and evaluation process.
Does the solution offer flexibility in functionality, including data access and performance reporting?
The degree of visibility offered by next-generation property management systems is unprecedented. Such visibility offers a whole new level of management control. To take advantage, however, hoteliers may have certain software configuration and customization needs with respect to, for example, modules related to recreational or banquet facilities. As such, they may want to confirm that any solution providers under consideration can meet these needs and preferences. They may also have special reporting needs.
Most systems come equipped with a large number — in some cases, dozens — of standard dashboards and reports that should meet most hoteliers’ day-to-day performance management requirements. That said, not all data queries can be anticipated in advance. For that reason, buyers would be well advised to find out to what extent customized reporting is possible and, also, what is involved in the process of filtering and sorting data according to a specified set of parameters.
With 87% of hoteliers ranking the need to gain access to PMS data and business insights as “important” or “very important,” it stands to reason that they would also want to ensure that any solution under consideration is able to meet these expectations.
How easily and seamlessly does the PMS integrate with third-party technologies and data?
Seamless technology integration is the name of the game when it comes to optimizing hotel operations and improving the guest experience. For example, if a significant portion of business comes through a central reservations system, it's crucial that full 2-way integration is available to support reservation delivery, modification, and cancellation, as well as new and modified prices and stay controls, and inventory synchronization, whether LRA or just an allocation.
Similarly, poor POS integration can result in financial losses related to errors in manual updates and mistakes in POS consolidations at the front desk.
What return on investment (ROI) can be expected?
Making the business case for upgrading PMS capabilities means projecting the likely return on investment. The first question hoteliers should ask is: To what extent will the new system reduce the amount of time currently being spent on managing front desk activities, including check-ins and check-outs, and on such time-consuming tasks as consolidating guest accounts and managing rates and availability across distribution channels, including OTA, GDS, Web, and travel agents?
To what extent is the new system likely to improve sales and revenue — for example, by increasing bookings via web booking engine integration, increasing occupancy rates through real-time inventory updates, and increasing average daily rates through integrated revenue management and advanced forecasting tools?
Another key factor to consider pertains to reduction in losses, including losses related to errors in manual updates and delayed or lost room charge postings (guest purchases made across other parts of the property), as well as lower integration costs with third-party hardware and software.
More “must-ask questions” can be found in Chapter 3 of The 2016 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems. It can be accessed here.
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