Today’s travelers have high expectations for their hospitality experiences. Many of the adaptations hotels enacted during COVID, such as contactless entry, have been incorporated into the everyday guest experience.
In order to provide all of the individualized solutions that guests demand, hoteliers of all sizes must upgrade their management systems to cloud-based software. There are many benefits to using hotel management software. It can replace clunky IT infrastructure and reduce costs. Further, many cloud-based management systems integrate with industry platforms, such as online booking sites and payment gateways.
As there are many options on the market, managers must carefully consider how and when to implement a system-wide upgrade.
Make the Right Choice
Hotel management software generally replaces many aspects of the business, including booking, room inventory and tracking, payments, food preparation, and cancellations. To prevent any gaps between any of these services, hoteliers must find a solution that integrates all of these areas into a single platform.
Price and scalability are two other important considerations. A small boutique hotel with limited capacity would not reasonably benefit from a premium solution that offers more bandwidth than needed. In the same way, a hotel company that plans to expand to other locations should select a system that can grow alongside the business.
Software solutions should also be secure. Hotels capture large caches of personal and financial data. For this reason, any management solution implemented must prevent data breaches or third-party hacks.
While many companies create out-of-the-box solutions, some hoteliers may benefit from custom-made software.
Set Up for Success
When transferring to a new management system, hoteliers can ensure a smooth transition by having a strategic plan in place. For example, managers should clearly identify which services will be completed using the new system, and test each function before making system-wide changes. If feasible, changes and upgrades should be rolled out gradually.
As most hotels do not have in-house IT support, contracting with a 24-hour tech service firm can give a layer of security in the case of software failure. A tech support contractor will also put together a backup plan for scenarios such as data leaks or system outages.
Since customers and staff will be interacting with the new system, hoteliers must also ensure that the user interface and design are intuitive and easy to navigate. The vast majority of hotel bookings occur solely online, so software management systems should be able to seamlessly automate common transactions, such as booking and emailing itineraries.
Give customers plenty of notice if the way they interact with the hotel’s website or booking system will change. Leverage social media to get the word out quickly.
Train Your Staff
System upgrades are a particularly difficult time for hospitality staff, as they must learn new software while continuing to provide excellent customer service. Hoteliers must schedule training sessions in the weeks leading up to the transition so that the staff is familiar with the software.
Many companies provide bespoke web-based training that staff can complete at their own pace. However, at least one in-person training with a software specialist is recommended.
Managers should also anticipate a learning curve amongst their staff. Pairing early adopters with staff who need extra support can improve the team’s overall success. Hoteliers should also develop a feedback plan that collects staff opinions at every stage of the process. Anonymous training feedback surveys are a great way to elicit honest reviews from staff members.
Get Feedback and Review
One of the biggest advantages of implementing a hotel management system is the improved guest experience. Yet, unless the guests are asked, hoteliers cannot really know if the software is performing as expected.
Thankfully, there are many solutions for collecting guest feedback. Many software management systems even integrate guest surveys into their platforms. Front desk staff can also encourage guests to rate the hotel and share their experience on a review site such as Tripadvisor or Booking.com.
In order to address guest issues more swiftly, many hotels now request feedback after the guest has checked in. This survey can be sent through email or mobile app. Since most guests have access to their smartphones at all times, they are highly likely to respond. These mid-stay surveys give hotel staff the chance to rectify problems immediately, making the guest more likely to leave a positive review after check-out.
Managers should frequently compile guest reviews from all channels and analyze this data for any patterns or trends. For example, by filtering reviews by keywords, managers can determine trouble spots, such as cleanliness, noise, or breakfast options. Hoteliers can then use this data to improve guest experiences.