Hotel software is a very confusing area if you are trying to work out what is best for your hotel. And there are no easy answers. At RoomPriceGenie.com we don’t sell a property management system (PMS). Instead we make revenue management software (also known as yield management software) that links into the property management system, putting room prices in to maximise hotel performance. In that capacity we have seen quite a few and, to be honest, we have been finding it difficult to find one that works as we would like if we were running our own hotel.
If you would like recommendations for specific hotel software please use the contact form to ask us. We do not wish to name names here, but we would like to suggest what PMS we would look for if we were running, say, a 30 bedroom hotel.
At its most basic level, a property management system is a database. You put information in, look at it and then change it. The information can be sent out to, and put back in by, various third parties. Most property management systems these days either have a channel manager included, or a simple way to access one. A channel manager is the software that sends your prices out to online travel agents and takes bookings back from them. So far, reasonably straightforward.
The fact that this part is so simple helps to explain the large number of companies out there selling hotel software.
There are so many that it is hard to know what to look for. But if you go through the following and ask questions of the companies you can get a shortlist. Then you can take the free trials on offer and find your favourite.
There are some basics we all need from our property management software:
- A good interface, that is intuitive and easy for the staff to understand.
- We want it to work fast.
- And be reliable. We don’t want it to go down when we are busy.
- In our opinion, a cloud based solution is much better than an on-site solution. This means that your data is stored on cloud servers and not on your hotel machine. It means you can access it from anywhere and it is much less likely to be accidentally deleted.
- We need good security of our data and regular backups. Ask about these.
- We want good customer service – fast to address your problems. These can cost you a lot of money if something goes wrong at a busy time. Try calling the customer service line or using the online form, and see how quick and helpful they are.
- (and very important) We want an open platform that allows other apps.
So those are the obvious basics. But we would add one other vital property of good hotel software. It must be an open system. Full disclosure here – we like open systems because they are the type that work easily with our revenue management software. But it is not just our software – it is all the possible apps out there that can help running your hotel.
No property management system does everything perfectly, and it would be unreasonable to expect it to. But there are a lot of app developers, like us, who focus specifically on certain areas. These could be:
You would get a greater benefit from all of these if they had access to your system. Most property management systems are largely closed to third party apps. Either they are built in a way that makes it difficult for them to allow access or they may allow access on a case by case basis, often charging a hefty fee to the app provider and/or the hotel.
So while we can’t expect the hotel software to be perfect, we can ask that they don’t block others from doing all the things they can’t.
The other reason to stress this is that the world is changing and you don’t know what you will need in the future. An open platform to a large extent future-proofs your PMS. If anything changes you’ll be able to get an app for it. Otherwise you are locked in to an old system that has already shown it does not want to move with the times and will continue to provide a substandard service. They know switching is very painful so their customers will probably stay with their property management system no matter how bad they are.
One other minor bugbear of ours is, when you see a property management system that can not link the prices of, for example a double room to a twin room. It will not let you say we want to charge 30% less for every single room than we do for a double room. or 30% more for a suite. This means that if you want to change your prices on one day you need to do it for every room type. Sometimes even for every rate type on every room type. This is a really unnecessary oversimplification and I, for one, think that hotel owners are able to handle options like these.
In any case, I hope this has been of help. If you enjoy these you may like to receive a free copy of our 49 tips book. And why not sign up for a free trial of our solution?