Nowadays, anybody can have a new piece of software. Not only that IT technology became the predominant force in every possible industry, and not only because of the pandemic, but because our life habits became everchanging thanks to the overlapping influence of many technologies, worldwide digitalization and gadgetization of living.
Many companies in hospitality - hotel chains, hotel operators and other vendors - are now following digitalization paths and are diving into painful and long-term processes of software renewal, mostly because the ones who weren't doing it, probably don't exist anymore. Innovation simply cannot be a moment of inspiration, but the constant mindset of a successful organization, especially if you are working in a guest-centric industry like the hospitality sector. In this situation, you are living or dying from good reach, maintaining good customer relationship, your legacy and reputation.
The importance of having a quality piece of software has never been higher. People are nowadays virtually living online, and they want their hosts to be more in line with their expectations. But, not only customers and guests are the ones who are dictating trends. Your employees are and probably are supposed to be the ones who you are also looking to please. This is especially true in the industry with a bigger percentage of employee turnover like hospitality.
Hotel management systems (HMS) or Property management systems (PMS) are software meant to unify many crucial tasks and features previously done manually, on outdated software and/or robust hardware. It includes various types of procedures like property and housekeeping management, reservations, payments, online booking processing, channel management, automated guest communication, advanced reporting and workforce management.
In this blog, we will talk about how proper hotel management systems can be your biggest allies, but also your biggest adversaries. We will explain the most obvious signs that you probably need to refresh your software.
Maybe this seems like a situation which can't happen, and after the pandemic it probably happens on smaller scale, but surely there are some hotel chains and operators whose businesses are dependent on some run-down management system which was innovative long ago.
Imagine you are working in a hotel as a simple clerk or receptionist. Chances are that you are working on an outdated piece of software which isn't fully functional – it's buggy sometimes, it doesn't have friendly UX/UI, some information is missing, some options are non-existent (or aren't working the way they supposed to) – this kind of situations are making you nervous.
You already feel exhausted and there is a new colleague or employee you need to teach how to use it. It can be slow and painful process for everyone involved. Onboarding on this kind of jobs could last longer than it normally should. If you are dealing with many bookings, or many complaints, you are filling numbers all the time, which makes your work more stressful and error prone. This already sounds like a minor nightmare, and should we even talk about support of the vendor of that software, if it even exists nowadays? Better not.
Modern PMS are usually more transparent and user-friendly, and many of the options and features needed for success should be more intertwined and mutually integrated. If your employees could allocate their time differently and do something more useful than dealing with outdated software – better customer care or anything besides typing insurmountable amount of figures – it would reflect on their satisfaction and could reduce the percentage of employee turnover.
Another thing that can improve your standard daily procedures regarding key functions of PMS is cross-functionality and third-party app integrations.
Many times, you can find yourself re-entering data from multiple systems and applications, losing time, money and your nerves on things that could be automated.
Even though any software framework theoretically could be integrated, the problem could arise if your peripheral systems don't communicate in real-time with your PMS. In that situation, all data from third-party applications need to be re-entered manually. Besides, if your PMS isn't fully integrated with your website or your channel manager, now is the time to change it. Aside from that, it is strongly advised that your PMS be integrated with different vendors and generator websites like Airbnb, Booking, online travel agencies (OTA), or Global Distribution Service (GDS).
High-level guest experience is, at the end of the day, metrics of uttermost importance. Hospitality vendors and hotels are doing (or should be doing) their best to implement operational alleviations to propel their ROI. This means that they are enabling their HMSs to be cross-functional with various mobile apps, self-service check-in methods and easier reservation management modules.
We are living in the world where every piece of data and information blocks can be stored and properly maintained on various cloud-based storage systems.
It is true that, even in this situation, your data isn't fully safe anywhere. There is still a possibility for that data to be lost or stolen, due to malfunctions or cyber-attacks, but there is still a greater chance that it will be safely returned and stored. If you are doing your business on some legacy systems, chances are they won't be so friendly to adding some new features and they will be needing constant upgrading.
Moreover, if you are storing your information on hardware using your physical space, the time is right to look for some open-source, cloud-based PMS. Their integrated modules and more user friendly, drag & drop dashboards will provide you with proper scalability in the future.
Diving into the process of creating new software could be very exhausting and time-consuming, especially if your core business isn't related to IT, but hospitality, pleasing guests and delivering the best experiences.
But, modernizing some old, outdated software or refusing to accept that it is maybe time to move on to your digitalization path is something that will cost you even more. Still, beware. If your modern PMS isn't doing the capacities that is supposed to regarding your finances, some portion of adjustments needs to be done fast.
Quality PMS are there to watch over your money. Some of the capabilities they are doing in 'backlog' are looking into your payments, transactions and revenue management in general. Their task is to let you keep track of your cash flows and get your automated, advanced reports and cash balances at the end of each shift.
Additionally, some of the things your PMS should be looking for are metrics like occupancy. They are here to determine numerically if you are doing fine in terms of financial performance. In that situation, metrics like RevPAR (Revenue per Available Room) and ADR (Average Daily Rate) are there to help you optimize your performances, keep your operational costs under control, and improve room revenue by using detailed forecast procedures to help you maximize your occupancy rates and help you determine the cost of your properties.
Of course, there can be no blog like this without mentioning AI - the hospitality sector can also benefit from AI on account of the creation of automated revenue management systems (RMS) and platforms. Based on AI algorithms, this kind of system determinates and optimizes price lists and rates recommendations while being input from different types of variables.
Mentioned algorithms are doing some in-depth analysis of data such as different competitor rates, current market situation, dynamics and historical rates. Also, they can be based on some predictive and forecasting models regarding future trends which can then be adequately pre-adopted. Some of these algorithms' use cases are also including the prediction of inventory capacities and approximately accurate supply & demand rates.
Reporting – yes.
The world would be a better place if there weren't abominable amounts of reports? Maybe that statement is true. But do you know what is also true, even more than that? That, based on your detailed and highly analytical reports, you can easily improve and optimize your procedures regarding a great number of data sets deemed to be crucial to your running of daily operations. Hotel chains and operators are dealing with really big amounts of data. It can be about their customers, their habits, their feedback and history logs, but it can also be something more valuable regarding the sole operations of one particular hotel.
If you have modern PMS which tends to be cross-functional and allows seamless third-party application integrations, you will have all your intelligence, regarding everything that you keep track of, on top of your mouse button. It is crucial to mention that real-time insights are delivered in real-time, so you can structure your set of decisions based on the instantly gathered data.
Not only that – you can set up these reports to be periodically generated and automatized, so you don't need to do anything besides proper and detailed analysis. Based on the gathered data, you can evaluate your procedures on a purely mathematical level, regarding your finances and other aspects of your operations. The rest is up to you!
We can talk about technological advancements and fancy buzzwords like Artificial intelligence (AI), Machine learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT) or anything else, but when it comes to advancing and improving your daily operations, sometimes you just need better software.
This kind of decision usually means some dirty work, but small things will gain your competitive edge, not just the biggest ones.
If you are a hospitality sector company and your daily procedures are depending on PMS, or any kind of daily-used software that has some of the previously described malignant characteristics, it is time to find yourself a new partner. Developing great solution could solve not one, but all of the aforementioned issues for you. Sometimes, bug is a bug, and not a feature.
Our hospitality expertise can be verified by our work with some of the biggest companies in the industry in DACH regions, as with the biggest hotel chain operator in the ex-Yugoslavia region. Check out our Whitepaper regarding Technology advancements in the post-pandemic hospitality sector, or our blog post regarding new trends in the industry, and get in touch with us. We are here to help you accelerate your business transformation.