Thinking of Switching Your Hotel’s PMS? The Grass Isn’t Always Greener and Here’s the How, When, What, Who, and Why1 December 2021
There is no room for things that don’t work, and hoteliers are right to seek alternatives when the services or technologies they invest in fall short of their needs and expectations. Before hotels decide to part ways with their tech partners, however, they should take stock of what they already have, develop their needs list, and ask the incumbent vendor the big questions.
A Critical Eye
First, it is worth the time investment for hoteliers to do a full internal assessment of their hotel’s procedures, needs, and any frustrations they may have with their available technology. If a hotel’s operations or revenue management team are consistently encountering challenges or limitations with the technology they are working with, it’s important to first identify where these pain points can be sourced.
Which integrations does your hotel require that are not yet in place? What is getting in the way of introducing new technology or services to your property and who will spearhead the change process? When do you plan to implement new technology? And, what is your hotel’s technology aspiration over the next five years? By asking these questions, hoteliers can identify issues to raise with the PMS partner and work towards developing a workable plan to address all the above.
Assessments are also useful for identifying potential shortcomings across your hotel’s tech stack. The hotel PMS serves as a gateway to nearly all areas of a hotel’s digital operations. Sometimes glitches deep within your hotel tech stack manifest themselves through the PMS, and occasionally these issues may even provide clues as to where a hotel’s tech strategy needs improvement.
When hoteliers bring concrete, actionable questions to their PMS vendor’s attention, it often presents an opportunity for both parties to better understand each other’s needs and work cooperatively to pave a path towards success. Sometimes hoteliers can be made alerted to existing or new capabilities within their PMS which they were not otherwise aware of, and when identified, often provide a solution to their concerns.
Money Well Spent
Hospitality is a fast-paced industry and hotel professionals don’t always have the time to stay on top of every new development that comes to the technology they use. Many hotels have struggled to operate recently under the strain of a prolonged labor shortage, leading to a slower adoption of some aspects of new technology. This, paired with staff turnovers and gaps in communication, can lead to poor usage and a lack of understanding as to what their existing tools are even capable of or have available, often with no cost software updates.
It’s also not uncommon that issues resulting from the complexities of a hotels tech stack, for example their booking engine or digital guest engagement tech, are throwing a wrench in their operational success. Hoteliers may run into trouble diagnosing these types of issues on their own, and these concerns are often best addressed by a hotel’s technology consultants. Your PMS vendor should also be able and willing to be transparently confronted on technology concerns in a way that provides clarity and an opportunity to work together to address those concerns.
It’s up to tech providers to provide the necessary information, education and follow up to ensure their hotel partners know exactly what they have access to and what is available in their current solutions, but it’s also hoteliers’ responsibility to educate themselves and speak up when they have an issue. If hotel leaders have concerns about technology and feel their concerns are not being addressed, they should let their technology partners know, giving them the opportunity to address their concerns as part of their aftercare service. On many occasions what is a headache for hoteliers may be deemed a simple fix or upgrade to a newer version without the need to go to market for a new technology solution. Tech vendors are competing over the value their tools provide to business owners and having a frank discussion regarding your hotel’s needs and goals goes a long way toward finding where operational bottlenecks or disconnects are taking place on property.
While most technology vendors offer e-learning tools and email blasts with pertinent information on new technology and its capabilities, it’s easy for this all to get lost in the deluge of electronic communications hotels are fielding each day. These are critical systems that need consistent attention to maximize their usefulness, and hotels would be well served to identify someone on property who can take the lead when handling communications with technology partners and champion the systems’ performance and strategy.
Revenue managers, IT managers, or whoever else takes on this responsibility can learn a great deal about the way their tech capabilities have evolved with annual or bi-annual strategy calls with vendors. Additionally, technology support personnel tend to be some of the most knowledgeable sources when learning about a service’s new capabilities. If your property is looking for new solutions to old problems, support staff may have an answer or even advice about how to use features. Listen to your team members, promote and educate new champions to replace champions that have moved on, collect information from your current technology providers, and you just may find that what you were looking for was there all along.
The operational byproduct of enhanced automation, digital interactions, and predictive data analysis has made the business of running hotels more complicated. However, hotels do not have to manage all these moving parts alone. By making use of their partnerships and fully leveraging their existing tools, operators have the potential to tap into capabilities they may not even know they have, until they ask.