Posts

5 ways your PMS should be helping you naviagate Covid (and Post Covid) landscape

  1. Providing the correct Self Check-In options

Self Check-In is a generic term that has been floating around Hoteliers to-do lists for a while. It mostly settled somewhere towards the bottom.   Meanwhile “Seamless Digital Guest Journey” seems like the most recent buzz-phrase that has sprung up around the Covid-19 Pandemic. Whilst Pre-registration seems like the poorer cousin of the aforementioned. And then Pre Check-In sounds like it may be associated with an airline.

In reality they are all versions of the same thing.

However not all Check-Ins are created equal.

Your PMS should facilitate different Check-In options that work well for your property.

HotelTime have several options available to suit different types of property with different requirements.

These options range from

  • HotelTime’s own Self Check In module,     to
  • Integration with ‘Digital Journey’ specialists AeroGuest     to
  • Open API’s for Kiosks (such as x) and other Third parties whom facilitate check in as part of their product (such as Criton)      to
  • Integration with Mobile Phone key cards (such as Salto)      to
  • Integration with Document Readers (such as Granus)

  1. Protecting your staff

“If you look after your staff, they will look after your Guests”

Richard Branson may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But its hard to argue with the sentiment. Whilst your guests may be reticent about returning to travel activity – your staff will probably feel the same.

So how can your PMS aid you to make your staff feel more safe?

In HotelTime Modules such as our ‘HSK App’ and ‘FOH reports’ means that all members of staff are able to access the information they need and update the system from their own device.

No printed reports for running the 10@10 meeting, no need for Housekeeping to touch phones in the room or visit reception after section cleaning and no need for printed Breakfast reports to be touched by many hands.

  1. Guest Communication

Guest expectations are changing fast and regularly. New government regulations released at giddying speed. Hotels are adapting and Innovating more than ever.

Its crucial that you are able to communicate all the hard work you are putting into making your Hotel as safe (yet hospitable) to your Guests.

With Guest profiles and reservation information stored there the PMS seems a good place to manage this.

HotelTime offer their Hotel Concierge module allowing pre, post and during stay emails – as well as guiding the guest through the online check-in process.

However – as always we acknowledge that all hotels are different and some may prefer a different solution. Therefore our open API allows your CRM  provider to connect to and the depth of data transfer will allow for super-charged Guest communications.

You are working really hard to make you hotel Covid -secure ; so let your guests know about it.

  1. Cloud based access: Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere

 

During Lockdown life was anything but ‘normal’.  However some things were able to continue as normal.

Logging into your Gmail account. Watching something on Netflix. Making a playlist on Spotify.

In 2020 and all the crucial data and information contained in your PMS should be constantly available.

Whether it be due to another government enforced lockdown (lets hope not) or due to you taking that well deserved holiday on the beach (lets hope so!) – access should be anytime, anywhere.

If your PMS is not in the cloud it should be.

Enough said.

 

  1. Enabling sophisticated Revenue management

There are many unknowns surrounding Covid-19 and its impact. 1 things is clear – it has impacted global demand for Hotels.

However, as always, the localised picture is different. Rural locations have reported booming demand. City centre locations are pivoting to new business models. Demand patterns can vary wildly according to government regulations or flight operator announcements.

So how do you price your hotel in this challenging environment?

Your PMS should allow you to quickly and easily conduct in-depth analysis of your business – enabling you to make informed decisions and connect to your choice of Revenue Management and/or Distribution partner.

HotelTime has an advanced reporting module allowing you to create reports and analyse the data you need at that moment. Additionally deep integrations with Revenue management systems such as Atomize or Hotel Partner and market leading distribution platforms such as Siteminder allow you to price dynamically and distribute intelligently.

 

  1. (Bonus: Not doing a sub-standard of any of the above by trying to keep it ‘in-house’)

It can be tempting for PMS to try to develop the platform in all areas to keep their clients happy (trust us – we know!!). But this can end up in a “Jack-of-All trades but master of none” situation. If your provider doesn’t have the right solution for you in their suite of products – they should connect to a 3rd Party that does.

HotelTime offers a fully featured PMS with complex functionality for hotels of all sizes. Meanwhile our open API’s allow you to connect to your choice of 3rd party to build your chosen Hotel Tech Stack.

 

doors

How to choose your next PMS

It isn’t straightforward today for hoteliers to choose a PMS. There are so many technical words that you can get lost. If you should give a piece of advice to hoteliers when picking a system, what would it be?

It would be to try to make qualified decisions, not solely based on brand or marketing, but based on identifying your software needs and finding a PMS that matches them. Moreover, you may have specific software needs at the moment, but, as a hotelier, you should try to identify your future needs in the next three to five years.

So you think the main complexity when choosing a PMS is that you have to think long-term, while with other software, it’s not necessarily the case?

It’s a combination of trying to identify future needs and identifying the current, exact needs of every department. And flexibility, of course. Pick a platform that’s open and gives you many options. Medium and large-sized hotels may prefer a stable tech stack, while smaller properties may want to change their providers more frequently. It’s way easier to implement something new for the latter, but in larger, more complex environments, you can’t replace software every month. Changing that environment is difficult and costly and, if you do it, you’re not concentrating on your guests. Lastly, you should be picking a partner that evolves with you as well, and that rules out most legacy systems, because you do only get what you see now.

It isn’t easy to compare apples to apples when it comes to PMSs. What do you think is the main problem?

There’s no universal answer. With PMS systems features, even though we’re talking about the exact same functionality (let’s say, group bookings), each system can have a very different approach to how to solve that problem. It’s crucial to sit down and have a meticulous demo or more demos, because you want to understand how that PMS is solving that group booking problem. You want to make sure that it’s the most effective method for your operations. As a manager, I would like to make sure that my staff isn’t spending hours with something that another PMS can solve in minutes but, to be able to do it, the PMS has to understand the hotel needs. Then there’s the guest side: you probably nowadays want a PMS that’s guest-oriented, so it can give you tools that you can use to make your clients happier. It may be a built-it online check-in solution, or you may want to improve your reputation, so you should know that you’ll need a review management system at some point. So you should pick a PMS that can integrate a that tool

Do you think one of the problems is that PMS choices are usually taken at executive level without considering the operational needs of the staff?

Absolutely. Sometimes the systems get chosen by a particular role in the hotel, without really going into detail or consulting the end-users. We prefer to talk to various positions within the hotel first, understand their needs before we talk to the management, and say “hey, we really think we’re a good match.” You need to try to understand how the operation works.

In the book, I talk a lot about the need for a more open API industry…

Yes, but I think that the quality of an API is more important than the quantity. At the end of the day, as a hotelier, you want the system to function properly: if you uh integrate a revenue management system, you definitely need a two-way integration; if you integrate a channel manager,
you probably want as quick updates as possible, so you don’t have your inventory updates to happen every two hours, but immediately or every two minutes. You may want to be offering room upgrades to specific room types only: the available ones. Why would you be offering a room type upgrade when it’s not possible? Most of the upside platforms offer room type upgrades not knowing if those rooms are available or not, because those upselling platforms didn’t spend enough time developing the integration. They did the easiest thing they could have done, and they say “that’s fine, it’s done! We’re integrated with the system!” Clearly, there are various ways to integrate. From a marketing perspective, it’s probably appealing just to say “Okay we’ve done the integrations,” but nobody talks about the nature of these integrations. The quality of integration affects what you can do with the system. I honestly believe that third-parties connecting to the PMS should get certified first… We want to make sure that our customers will get a robust integration.

What do you think are the features that should be built-in a PMS?

Again, there’s no universal answer. It depends on what type of a hotel that PMS is built for. You cannot just create one PMS and think it’s suitable for all kinds of properties. Newly built PMSs tend to be ideal for smaller properties with less complexity, and they usually offer less built-in features. If you have 50 rooms or 100 rooms, on the other hand, the list of features that should be built-in starts to be very extensive. For instance: I think that the housekeeping module, reporting, and benchmarking of your housekeeping staff should be integrated. Not everybody can clean the room at the same pace: some people will take 20 minutes, some 40, etc. If you’re running a large property, it’s a difference if you employe 30 housekeepers or 27. That’s three full salaries. A PMS that can give you that benchmarking can make you save these three salaries by laying off the three least competent housekeepers. If you are running a 20 room hotel, one member of the staff can go to the room with the housekeeper and see for himself without the need for an in-built feature. But it’s impossible with larger properties. You always go back to the needs of the hotel. There’s no black or white answer here. Sometimes we do even recommend our competitors to some of our leads! Most smaller properties only need a nice-looking, easy-to-use system, not too many features, an easy learning process, two or three integrations, and they’re ready to go. But this approach is not suitable for larger properties with F&B, SPAs, MICE, etc.

Is your PMS designed for the clouds?

BORN AND RAISED IN THE CLOUD
After reading our articles, you should have a good understanding of why cloud-based systems are superior to on-premise ones. In today’s scenario, where good internet connectivity is available pretty much everywhere, there is really no reason to run on-premise PMS systems.

WHY CLOUD?
Cloud-based systems outsource the IT part tout court, meaning increased data security, no hardware hidden costs, easier third-party integrations, real-time data access anywhere, anytime, on any device, and so on. That being said, the term “cloud” is still open to interpretation. There is a subtle, yet decisive, difference -in fact- between “designed for the cloud” software and “converted to the cloud” ones.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
PMSs that have only been converted to the cloud often have too many limitations, ranging from speed of the system to the need of having a piece of software still installed on the users’ computers, making the PMS -de facto- just a hack. These hybrid systems, in fact, are nothing but on-premises software connecting to a cloud database, which is (eventually) accessible through an API. Here at HotelTime, on the other hand, we are “born and raised” in the cloud. Since our foundation, in fact, our technology was created without even thinking about on-premises.

THE CHALLENGES OF MOVING FROM LEGACY TO CLOUD
Technically, the cloud environment poses different challenges to the PMS developer and cloud-based systems usually must have a different structure from the very first line of code written. That is why so many well-established on-premise PMS struggle to move entirely to the cloud. That being said, hoteliers should not pay for their mistakes, do they?

WHAT TO CHOOSE?
So, if you’re in doubt, make sure that your PMS has been designed for the cloud and not simply converted. Here at HotelTime, we are more than happy to answer all your questions about the subject. Get in touch here.

Big data or smart data? Reporting in PMS

THE DATA PARADOX
Property Management Systems process and store large amount of data every day, but having “a lot” of data do not always mean having “the right” data. As we already stated in our previous articles, hotel data come from several separate sources, such as channel managers or reputation systems, meaning that a good PMS should be able to integrate and standardize all these info, in order to make it understandable for the final user.

TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE?
Data allow hoteliers to take strategic decisions, both in terms of pricing strategy and advertising investments, so you have to make sure to get proper reports at your fingertips whenever needed. On-premise PMS systems usually offer predefined reports, regularly updated during the night audit. These reports are usually very specific, yet hard to read. With hundreds of different reports, in fact, it becomes nearly impossible to recognize which one is the “right” one. On the other hand, most of newly introduced cloud-based systems provide a very limited number of reports, showing an insufficient breakdown of the data. Some of these systems don’t even run a night audit, don’t calculate ADR based on each night’s rate, don’t split packages (or even VAT, or meal plans included in the rate) and they generally lack of all those reports which are needed in medium/big-size hotels or in a multi-property environment.

SMART DATA vs BIG DATA
Here at HotelTime, we understand this dichotomy and created reports featuring several filtering criteria, allowing users to search for specific information, combining dates, segments, sources of business, etc. exactly as found in on-premise systems. We believer that hoteliers should be able to access their data in real-time anywhere, anytime and on any device. On top of that, we provide automatically delivered daily reports in printable pdf format to start up your working day with all the key data at glance, providing you an instant snapshot, without having to log in the system at all.

CONCLUSIONS:
“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion”, said W. Edwards Deming. At HotelTime we agree, that is why we offer a state-of-the-art reporting system for any kind of property. If you want to know more about our reports, get in touch here.

How to choose your next PMS

Of all the choices hoteliers have to make, choosing the right Property Management System is one of the most stressful, yet crucial, one. If you already replaced your PMS at least once, you know the amount of strain the process brings. Hotels regretting their PMS decision is a cliché in our industry, but the truth is that, with all the companies out there claiming to be the best solution, it’s easy to get confused, so what should you look for in a PMS? Here are five essential features:

1. THIRD-PARTY INTEGRATIONS
That’s the number one variable when choosing a PMS. Write down a list of all the third-party software you work with and check how many of them can and cannot be integrated into the system chosen. Having this information in advance will save you a lot of headaches later on.

2. CLOUD TECHNOLOGY
Back in the 90’s, PMS were physically installed on computers, with their central data stored on a server in the hotel’s basement. The costs of buying the hardware, plus the maintenance charges, and the lack of easy integrations put to rest this technology almost entirely, yet some PMS still offer on-premise solutions. Always choose a cloud-based software, deployed over the Internet and accessible from any computer without the need of installations nor hardware backups.

3. EASE OF USE
Even to advanced users, it can take some time to get accustomed to new technologies, especially if your hotel offers multiple services such as meeting rooms, restaurants, SPA, etc. Ease of use should always be a priority when picking up a PMS. Make sure the system chosen offers a lean, clean and concise user interface.

4. PRICE TRANSPARENCY
With several modules and integrations available it is easy to take the bumpy road of hidden costs. Make sure you understand all the included and not-included PMS features before signing the contract.

5. REPORTING
PMS process large amounts of data, but you may need to extract just some information without getting lost in the background data-noise. Take a look at the PMS’ reports before choosing your next system.

CONCLUSIONS
Getting the right PMS from day one is the best investment you can make in the long term. Take your time and compare all the features, so you will have no surprises. Here at HotelTime Solutions, we are happy to answer all your questions, get in touch with a specialist here.

PMS in today’s industry

WHAT IS A PMS?
We all know that PMS stands for Property Management System, but what do PMS mean in our industry today? Property Management Systems are often referred to as the “heart” of any hotel, a system to which all the other ones are connected to. In today’s oversaturated travel tech landscape, in fact, PMS started focusing on what they do best (being at the center of the hotel tech ecosystem) rather than developing new technologies from scratch. There are countless intelligent software out there, and they are superior to PMS in their specific domains but, still, they need to be connected to a PMS in order to give their 100%. With more and more features outsourced to third-party systems, integrating information from and to the PMS is getting crucial. Hoteliers should be able to operate on a unique, centralized system, without the need to log in each extranet. But is it always the case?

THE API PROBLEM
Because of the need for external connections, PMS strength is proportional to the number of tools it can integrate to. In a perfect world, in fact, PMS should be able to communicate with every single software/hardware in the hotel, but connections between PMS and third-party systems can be (and often are) challenging. Some companies are trying to fill the gap by creating “connectors” between PMS and other software, but direct 2-way real-time integrations will always be needed. So, what’s the answer?

OPEN PLATFORMS
At HotelTime, we opted for a completely open approach: our customers can choose third-party systems based on their liking, so they are not limited to modules developed and/or sold by a specific vendor. These systems include a whole range of different tools such as channel managers, revenue management systems, reputations management systems, rate shoppers, accounting systems, etc.

BE OPEN, STAY OPEN
We understand that the right choice of tech stack is different for each hotel, based on their size, location, management, personal taste, previous positive experiences with different systems etc. So, being an open platform is not only about connecting as many third-party software as possible, but it is also a commitment to stay open and integrate more systems as they come. We know that PMS choice is a long-term decision, but the hotel tech space is changing rapidly, PMS need to keep up.

CONCLUSIONS
Historically, PMS had the bad tendency of being inflexible, closed eco-systems. And, even though some limits are required to guarantee high-quality standards integrations, the travel tech space moves too fast to keep this rigidity. If you want to know more about our open systems, get in touch here.