Choosing the right software for your business may be quite a challenging task. There are plenty of options and the market expands every single day. Each product is unique, and even though they were all designed to serve for one purpose, some features may differ dramatically.
Undoubtedly, investing in automated technology is the right way for hoteliers to optimize their workflow. Hotel Management Systems (HMSs) and some of their components, in particular are irreplaceable when it comes to efficient property management. And the latter means finding a proper ratio between costs and revenue.
The main point is – what should be considered while evaluating different products? This is often a tricky question not only for the rookies but also for experienced business owners. To make the choice a little bit easier, we decided to arrange a handy checklist, which will be of use to anyone who is ready to adopt new technologies.
Introduction to HMSs
Before we go to some questions to ask when choosing software, you should have a clear picture of what HMS is and which possibilities it can open to you. To start with, the primary mission of the Hotel Management System is to assist you in automating the essential routine tasks. It will help you to keep bookings, payments, check-ins, and check-outs under control from one place. But keeping everything organized is not the ultimate goal of this software.
Ideally, these systems should contribute to upgrading customer experience to the new level and driving your booking rates plus income. This solution can be implemented in the big hotel chains, as well as in small family-run businesses. You should choose one taking into account the size of your property and certain features that you want to get.
In general, there are two types of Hotel Management Software:
- Cloud-based HMS
This type of Management System provides you with the advantage of accessing all the information needed at any time and from any device. This is an effective and agile solution, which requires no additional training and no profound knowledge of IT. The only thing you need is a stable internet connection since this HMS is browser-based. Mind that automated cloud options suit well for small and mid-sized properties.
- On-premises HMS
In this case, the HMS can be accessed via desktop. This type is not such innovative as the one above, however, it works well for the big chains with a plethora of data. The main inconvenience is that you should be a little bit more IT-savvy to operate it. Moreover, the only way to access information is via your computer. It is also more expensive since you have to pay for server maintenance. However, if necessary, you can always integrate the additional modules, OTAs, and PMS. No need for an internet connection may be a great plus in some cases.
Deciding on which HMS suits best for the needs of your business is up to you. Recommendations from this article may be useful for both cloud-based and on-premises systems, but we will mostly focus on the first type. The main reason for this is the increasing popularity of this automated technology between hoteliers.
Determining your budget and ROI
Another important matter is determining the budget for your purchase. Before making such a serious investment, hoteliers should forecast whether the Return of Investment will be sufficient, or not. This is the first crucial step, which you need to take before evaluating hotel software.
Its importance cannot be overestimated, as it will help you to pick the most cost-effective solution. When making an analysis, you should also focus on such points as the time efficiency, the possibility of reducing manual labor, the provided resources for enhancing customer experience, and the cost of deployment and maintenance.
The latter is one of the key points in your evaluation process. Take a closer look at the details, and think about further spendings associated with staff training, update installing, and changing in the current business operation.
There are some cost differences between the two types of HMS. While using a cloud-based solution, you pay a set amount monthly. It is fairly convenient since you know for what you pay, and you can plan your spendings. Moreover, it is cheaper. The on-premises system, in its turn, requires upfront payment and AMC fees.
Things to keep in mind when evaluating hotel software
Once you decide on the type of HMS you want to get and establish a budget, you can go to the software evaluation process. There is no universal scheme for that since all hotels differ and have their own requirements. As a hotelier, you know best the main objectives of your business and issues to be solved.
However, given the latest trends in hospitality, we have prepared several questions for you to consider. They will help to decide whether particular software suits the newest standards for hotel technologies. Moreover, they may serve as benchmarks for the future development of your business.
- Will you be able to effectively manage your hotel’s departments?
Each hotel is a complex organization and all processes that occur in its setting must be managed in time. Actually, timing is crucial when it comes to delivering impeccable service and keeping your clients happy. Department Management software is an irreplaceable tool for gaining customer loyalty. It gives you an opportunity to manage the department workflow, specify delivery zones to plan and perform service delivery according to the guest’s location. Instant notifications will inform you about any new order just in time!
- Does this system have the Reporting and Analytics module?
Having easy access to all data and analytics is important for every hotelier, who tracks their key performance indicators. In order to improve the productivity of your hotel, you need to know the overall state of things. And nothing is more helpful than Hotel Reporting Software. It will provide you with precise figures concerning income, occupancy statistics, and payments. Another useful feature is the automatic calculation of prospective earnings from future reservations. It will allow you to predict your revenue and thus, build viable business strategies.
- Is it easy to contact the support team?
Something may go wrong with any software, and Hotel Management Systems are not an exception. However, these inconveniences must not affect the working process. In order to solve everything quickly, the customer support service must respond promptly and effectively. In this case, you can rely on the product and be sure that your business will not lose revenue. Such systems as HotelFriend usually have direct chats on their websites, which allow you to receive support instantly.
- Will you be able to integrate new software to the PMS that you are using already?
Choosing software, compatible with your current PMS, will save loads of your time and effort. Installing such easy-to-integrate systems as Housekeeping or Booking Engine will help to reduce your workload and meet the current needs of your business. For instance, the Housekeeping module, which is instantly synchronized with Front Desk, will enable you to streamline the performance of cleaning staff right after the setup. And you do not have to re-enter the data if it already exists in your PMS!
- Will you be able to process and manage payments effortlessly?
The last but not the least is a question related to payments. Payment Management & Payment Gateway system may be an integrated option as well. This tool is absolutely necessary for those who do not want to bother with filling in accounting documents. You will be able to effortlessly find any transaction by user name, date, payment method, or operator. Then, you can download it as a PDF file, or export it to CSV format. This saves a lot of time and perfectly optimizes your workflow.
Adopting cloud technology is the best way to automate important processes in your hotel. It costs cheaper than the deployment of an on-premise system, and it allows the simple integration of other components, such as Housekeeping or Payment Management.
We hope that our recommendations will be useful in the evaluation of Hotel Management Systems, and you will make the right choice!