By Warren Dehan
Finding ways to justify the cost of new technology can be a challenge in today’s current environment, but many hoteliers are relying on it throughout the pandemic to improve operations, interact with guests, train workers, and increase revenue. With 2022 in sight, the rest of the industry is taking stock of the most valuable technology innovations that were successfully put-to-use this year. One big hurdle remains: the hotel property-management system.
While many available technologies enhance operations and the guest experience, operators can be limited by the capabilities of their PMS and their available budgets for integrations. If hoteliers know where to look in the tech marketplace, how to maximize the value of the tools they have, and what level of operations they aspire to, it is possible to locate a technology partner who can help operators reach their goals and protect their investment for the long term.
Keeping up with new technology can be a costly, arduous endeavor. Hoteliers across the industry have fresh memories of chasing artificial trends throughout the last business cycle, resulting in wasteful tech spending. Operators today are so focused on maximizing their ability to recover along with the rest of the travel industry, and averse to experimenting with new technology, they run the risk of missing out on crucial technology capable of helping them turn their business around.
Fortunately, making an investment of this size is not always cut and dry. Hoteliers should investigate the capabilities that come with each PMS provider and choose a service that fits their needs. Some PMS providers offer programs that enable hotels to stay up to date with new versions at low or even no cost outside of their software subscription commitment. This allows hotels to focus on learning how to maximize their capabilities with existing tools and avoid repeatedly returning to the marketplace in search of a new PMS.
This way, operators can feel secure that their core PMS is looked after and look at their budget to focus on and examine ways technology can benefit their bottom lines related to the PMS. This can come in the form of revenue management tools and strategies, new upselling opportunities, and improving your property’s reviews by revamping your guest communications strategy. Investing in a PMS with these capabilities and strong third-party integration options could be your property’s gateway to renewed profitability in the new year.
With the effects of COVID-19 still impacting the industry, the price tag attached to revolutionary technology has fluctuated heavily throughout the past year based on a property’s competitive positioning. However, price doesn’t tell the whole story, and investing in technology requires more than just a budgetary justification. Tech partners who are willing and able to provide consistent, ongoing support to hotel operators as they take up new technology can save operators’ bottom line — and their sanity — as nothing hurts more in a recovering market than business interruptions from new technology.
PMS technology is notorious for its learning curve, and issues invariably arise due to the complexity of hotel operations; however, running a complex operation requires sophisticated tools, and with that comes the learning. It is important for operators to know that they can rely on their PMS partner to assist them when the time comes to request support and ongoing training to maximize their investment, and it would be a mistake not to factor the value of strong backing from these partners when choosing new technology.
This is even more important for independent hoteliers, who lack the protection of a flag when business hits a snag. Tech providers need to be available 24/7, and ideally provide multiple forms of contact, including live chat, email, e-learning tools, and live phone support. Having multiple ways to access support services is crucial for resolving time-sensitive challenges, particularly with the expectation of immediacy and hoteliers relying on fewer staff to get the job done.
The Next Step
Choosing a PMS is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Hoteliers are encouraged to do their due diligence and fully evaluate any technology partners, as well as internal assessments to understand their own operational needs. Look at operational needs, the elements that comprise the ideal guest experience, and what objectives are desired during each guests’ stay. When researching existing tools, operators may find that more is possible than they expect. You don’t know what you don’t know, so it always best to inquire with your current vendor to see what other possibilities are available with your installed solution, to possibly avoid considerable frustration, avoidable costs and unnecessary changes for staff and guests alike.
If it is determined that an investment is needed to provide these additional services, then it is worth it. Modern PMSs can resolve disconnections between departments through natural integrations, work in concert to improve efficiency, and save money. Automation can be used to reduce congestion in the hotel lobby by directing guests’ attention to self-serve digital processes and communications. This enables operators to provide guests with an interactive mobile experience without sacrificing the attention of valuable on-property associates. These are just a few of the ways modern technology can save on labor and operating costs while improving the overall guest experience.
Most technology professionals will say the concept of “future proofing” using existing technology is simply not possible. New capabilities sometimes require a new foundation to build on. However, by forging a strong relationship with your hotel’s tech partners, it is possible to stay one step ahead of the competition by understanding the property’s limitations and how to fill those gaps.
If future-proofing your hotel’s PMS investment is a priority, here are two documents that will help with the buying and budgeting process: The 2021 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems and the PMS Evaluation Checklist.