Choosing the right Property Management System can save you time as well as allowing you to automate processes such as checking availability, taking reservations, checking in and out as well as allowing you to manage your room rates and billing.
You should think very carefully when choosing your system and prioritise what you want your system to do and compare this to what your budget is. A premium PMS will allow you to automate the booking process as well as automatically “talk” to many of the online booking systems which your customers are now booking on as well as help you to deliver improved guest experiences. There are also PMS systems which simply automate your availability/reservation and check in/out processes.
- What are the objectives of the system? Prioritise what you NEED your system to do and what you are happy for it NOT to do.
- Be pragmatic, think about the skill level of the people that will be using the system, they will need training and how easily will they adapt to the system.
- What kind of reports will you need from the system? will you be managing your room rates or are you going to let the system choose them for you based on your competitors and supply/demand? how are your customers currently booking? Do you need a system that talks to the online booking platforms, a channel manager?
- How easy is the system to configure? Remember, a complicated system could be more trouble than it’s worth, similarly; you may find a system too simple for business’s requirements.
- Do you need the system to have mobile applications? Do you need it to have housekeeping and maintenance modules? Do you have lots of larger groups? If so, how easy is it to take group bookings or to move/amend bookings.
- Do you want it to have a chatbot? Or to be able to instantly message guests from your website?
- Have you got meeting/function rooms? Would you like these to be included in your booking system? Should it have a finance model? The ability to take and record guest payments including deposits and accounts receivable?
- There may also be other hidden costs which you will need to consider, support, maintenance, training, as well as other legal requirements. If you decide to take payment through the booking system you will need to adhere to PCI DSS Certification (payment card industry standards to help prevent fraud), tax compliance and GDPR.
Be open to change and be willing to consider new workflows, systems and processes. Using a PMS system can be very different to many traditional systems and processes operated in the past. Many systems are now cloud based rather than “fixed” systems which means that they can be cheaper than fixed systems but could also be useless if your internet is poor. Maybe you should look at investing in a better internet system if it does offer you challenges.
Cost – make sure you qualify the following before signing up: -
- Is there a setup fee?
- Is there a one-off payment for the software and hardware and/or is there a monthly or annual subscription and/or is there a commission to pay per booking?
- Are you able to add/remove features or is it an ‘all or nothing’ package?
- Are updates included for the lifetime of your rental?
- Is there a free trial period?
- Check the length of your contract, is it annual or a monthly rolling contract?
- Sustainability, has the software/company been around for a while? If it’s extremely cheap, there’s probably a reason for that.
- If you did decide to move to another system how easy is it for your data to be migrated and in what format is the data transferred?
Technical Support – even the most technologically savvy users find that problems can and do occur from time to time. Make sure you check: -
- Whether technical support is included in the price and is this unlimited?
- During what hours are you able to contact someone for help?
- How is support provided? Can you speak with someone if you need to or is help via a chat or email function?
- Is there a manual that you can download or access online?
- How is your business covered if the software is down for any length of time or your hardware malfunctions affecting your bookings?
Integrations – does your system link with other products/platforms: -
- Does the system have what is known as a Channel Manager that allows your sites to communicate with each other?
- Does the channel manager allow you to update rates automatically as well as availability?
- Consider what other digital products you have. Do they link with an EPOS system?
- Does it have a guest communication solution?
- Access to smart door key locks?
- Does it offer contactless check in/out solutions?
- Is there a media/content/video on demand solution?
Ease of Payment – how flexible is the payment system: -
- Does it link with secure payment systems that allow your guests to pay by all major credit and debit cards?
- Does it accommodate other payment systems such as PayPal?
- Are you able to take stage payments – for example, a deposit and final balance if you are offering group experiences?
Flexibility – how much flexibility does the site have: -
- Are you able to have multiple rates to accommodate different ages / special offers and promotions?
- Are you able to programme in different rates for different days of the week and entry times?
- Are you able to programme in different packages?
- Are you able to limit the number of tickets sold?
- If using for a café, how easy is it to upload / change menus?
Administration – does the system just manage your inventory or can you integrate a communications programme: -
- Can the system help you to automate tasks such as emailing booking confirmation to your guests?
- How easy is it to manage/change your room inventory?
- How will it notify you of cancellations?
- Does it need to have housekeeping/maintenance modules?
- Can you run reports?
Appearance – although left to last, this is equally as important
- Does it look appealing and is it easy to use?
- Does it work equally well on mobile devices and i-pads as it does on laptops?
- Can you tailor the booking form or are you restricted to a pre-designed template that may not capture information you would like and may not match your style?