The task of choosing a PMS for a hotel chain or hotel is complex due to the number of factors involved. When choosing, there are always many questions that are not easy to answer:
- Will it fit the needs of my hotel or chain?
- Once hired and underway, will I have to pay for updates, applications, facilities which seemed to be covered at first?
- Will I find myself unsupported when I have a problem?
- Who is using it? What's their opinion?
Today, there is a varied amount of software for hotel management on the market and new ones appear every day. As hotel managers we can become overwhelmed by the great diversity of the offer, which generates more doubts when deciding which one is the best software for us.
How can we make the choice easier?
Firstly, we must be clear about the needs of the hotel or chain and have them listed and taken into account at all times. Otherwise, when comparing we will contact several suppliers and in the end we will be overwhelmed and will not know which software has some features or others.
As far as the as business needs are concerned, a department by department analysis is necessary. It is basic that the management of the reservations is easy and intuitive. It is absolutely essential that it is connected with the software of the booking engine and the channel manager bi-directionally, to manage the reservations in an automated way, lightening the work load to reception and avoiding human errors thanks to the mechanization of the work. It is also important that in the sheet of each reservation there are fields that allow the analysis of sales, for example, by which channel the reservation has entered or to which customer segment the stay corresponds.
In addition to reception, the other departments must be taken into account. It is important that the software has a section that facilitates the work of the cleaning department, lists that show the condition of the rooms, the exits, clients, special attentions and that the cleaning staff can mark the rooms as clean in the system without having to communicate with reception.
As far as maintenance is concerned, it is also necessary to include its facilities, such as being able to mark the rooms that are blocked by some agreement or that reception can open a breakdown report linked to a room with its description and that maintenance can mark it as solved and that, in this way, the speed of the solution is recorded and statistics can be extracted to control the quality of the services and the resolution of problems.
If the hotel has a bar and a restaurant, it is important that the tool allows the waiters to charge the room's bill for what the client is ordering or that it facilitates the connection between the restaurant and the kitchen. For example, to be able to make the orders arrive to the kitchen (even in the different items) when the waiter selects them in the mobile device when they take note of the client or to have stock control or warehouse management, so that the purchases made can be introduced and thus be able to have a more exhaustive control of the production expenses.
In the cloud or on premise?
Another factor that we must take into account is whether we want the program to be in the cloud or require a physical storage system in the hotel. If the hotel needs management to have access to data in real time and from anywhere in the world, it will be key to be in the cloud so that the data is updated and available to all who have access to the software. If the program is in a physical device, you can always configure the sending of periodic reports, but this data is outdated and if we take a long time to consult it, either due to time differences or availability, the data will lose veracity, since the entry and cancellation of reservations will affect its statistics and will not be as reliable as when the results are consulted in software in the cloud.
Essential aspects of a good PMS
A couple of things we should ask a PMS, whether a small or large hotel, are the customer database and the segmentation of the reservations.
On the one hand, in the CRM or customer database we have to keep track of who the customers are, what language they speak, where they make their reservations, what type of room they stay in, what pension they have, how many days on average, how much they spend on extras... All this with analytical purposes in order to detect the ideal client and treat in a personalized and adapted way the most loyal clients, to be able to fidelize those who book through third parties, etc. All this with the intention of personalizing the experience even more.
Find out what you should consider for your ideal PMS according to the size of your hotel or chain!
And the last factor that is absolutely necessary for any PMS (and that many do not allow) is to have a section within the reservation where you can segment by purpose. For example, couple, leisure, individual, business, family, culture, group, sport, event, etc. In this way, it allows you to know statistically the reason for the reservation, why the client consumes our product, why they have come to the hotel, among others.
It is common to think that if you have a CRM that gives information about the client and where all their information is stored, it is no longer necessary to have that information at the time of booking, since it is a duplication of information, but that's a mistake. The same person can come to the hotel on different dates for different reasons. It could be that someone stays in a hotel for work reasons and likes it so much that they come back with family or friends. So apart from segmenting the customer by profile, it is necessary to segment the reservations by reason, always with a commercial purpose. If we know the reason for the customers' purchase, we have a lot to gain when deciding on advertising campaigns or promotions.
Once the software has been chosen, after a long debate about the program, its capacity and possibilities, the time has come to implement it. This is where things get tense and doubts arise again: "was this part not included in the price", "did we make a mistake in our choice", "that was not done".
For this not to happen, it is necessary to have the list of indispensable factors at hand so that we do not forget any of them!
Cristina Fernández | Advisor and Revenue Management professor at ESHOB