Planning ahead into 2021 amidst ongoing second wave lockdowns, staged reopenings and the emergence of a vaccine is a doozy. Normally we rely on market data and the previous year’s performance to guide our hand, yet forecasting well into Q2, Q3 or even Q4 2021 is in many ways still untenable. Despite the widespread uncertainty from the Coronavirus, we can still depend on a few trends to guide our approach, specifically those involving the use of technology to create a contactless and largely automated guest experience.
Lean into the core of your operations, where we’ve seen PMS providers make big strides to give hoteliers the tools they need to address COVID-19 safety. Particularly for independents and multi-property groups, you can now work to evolve your property by leaning into your PMS. Or, if your current supplier isn’t able to help you realize the cost savings and revenue gains outlined below, now is the time to investigate other options.
In what I am calling the ‘great technology reset’ for hospitality, we’re already seeing software platforms help connect the numerous dots in the guest service communications and management chain, many of which were previously attended to manually or without specific attention to viral safety.
If you haven’t completed the all-but-required COVID safety upgrades, some of the features of a proficient PMS include checking in from a mobile phone; phone-enabled door keys; guest messaging systems; mobile payments; checkout cleaning buffers; granular housekeeping checklists; full two-way integrations of all onsite facilities; digital feedback systems with instant alerts; and specific guest profile segmentation for personalized marketing. As well, to best enable remote work, hoteliers must consider whether a PMS should be hosted on-premise, in the cloud or via a personal self-hosted cloud server, all coming with their own costs and cybersecurity considerations.
The main advantages of activating these features already inscribed by your PMS start with how they help restore guest confidence—particularly for groups—by ensuring a safe stay. Secondly, building a mobile-centric and largely touchless guest experience will enable hotels to promote privacy and seclusion, which are now top drivers for leisure bookings. And thirdly, most of these features are bundled within a subscription fee so that a tangible ROI can be quickly achieved both from increased reservation numbers as well as labor cost reductions.
But why stop there? While addressing the need for viral safety via the abovementioned tech upgrades, you are also adding numerous new data points to the PMS (or CRM) that can then be utilized for onsite personalization to grow ADR or for promotional efforts to draw more customers. Leaning into your PMS therefore means developing a better picture of a guest’s individual desires so that you can increase revenue per available guest (RevPAG) and potentially extend each party’s length of stay (LOS).
In evaluating your budget for next year, it’s time to ask your PMS provider what more it can do to find those hidden pockets of revenue or, if need be, consider switching to a vendor that can address those needs.