Over the last few years, the importance of technology in the hospitality industry has significantly increased due to changing guest expectations and labor shortages across the globe.
Today, hoteliers need software that can help them streamline operations through automation so they can spend more time face-to-face with guests and less time on manual, time-consuming tasks. Solutions like reservation systems or property management systems (PMS) can take the burden off of hotel staff and help deliver a better guest experience.
Read on to learn more about hotel software and why it’s an essential investment for modern hoteliers to take their property to the next level.
What is hotel software?
Hotel software is a comprehensive technology solution that allows hoteliers to run their entire property from a single platform. Put simply, hotel software helps you run your hotel better.
Instead of your front desk staff using paper logbooks to manage reservations, communicating with housekeeping staff through radios, or manually updating OTAs with new rates, a PMS manages all activities within one platform. This provides complete transparency and visibility across your property and significantly reduces errors. A PMS minimizes service lapses leading to a better guest and employee experience.
What features should I look for in my hotel software?
Comprehensive booking engine.
A booking engine allows guests to book reservations directly through your website. A comprehensive and integrated booking engine will reduce your reliance on OTAs, driving more direct, commission-free bookings. In addition, with the right booking engine, you can:
- Offer bundles and packages to attract guests
- Take direct reservations on your website 24/7 with secure payment processing
- Offer rate comparison tools to build trust and keep travelers on your site
Fully integrated channel manager.
A channel manager helps you organize and automate your room inventory across online travel agencies (OTAs). When fully integrated with your PMS, your channel manager automatically updates your calendar availability in real-time to significantly reduce overbookings.
Advanced channel management should also allow you to:
- Connect to more OTAs since you no longer have to update information across channels manually
- Manage rate parity or set different pricing for each channel
- Manage multiple currencies across channels
Completely cloud-based. Legacy, on-premise hotel software is costly to maintain and difficult to use. Cloud systems are affordable, scalable, fast, and can be accessed anywhere. It’s much easier to train new staff on a cloud system because it’s more intuitive and user-friendly. They can also be accessed on any device with internet, so you can access your operation even if you’re not on location.
Dynamic pricing. To maximize revenue, your pricing should be dynamic and remain updated based on market conditions. If there’s an event in your area or your competitor increases their prices, your property’s pricing should reflect those changes in the market. Revenue optimization technology can help you to automate pricing decisions to increase your profits.
Detailed reporting. Data is vital when it comes to making important business decisions. Find software with comprehensive reporting functionality that gives you visibility into your property’s finances, analytics, and daily activities. From here, you can view daily reports to help you take control of your operations.
5 benefits of modern hotel software
It can be daunting to introduce new software to your property. And while it is an investment that will take some time to adjust to, in the long run, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. A few of the top benefits of modern hotel software include:
- Extreme time savings: Your time is valuable and should not be spent digging for information or performing repetitive manual tasks. With hotel software, guests can book online through your booking engine or channel connections, eliminating time spent on the phone. In addition, you can quickly check people in and out, take payments, and manage reservations all from one platform.
- Accessible from anywhere: Modern hoteliers have business to attend to and cannot always be present at their property. With cloud hotel software, you can access your system from anywhere with an internet connection to check in on reservations, review data, and make sure your business is running smoothly.
- Improve the guest experience: Hotel software allows you to keep track of special guest requests directly within the reservation’s guest profile, create notes to make shift changes a breeze, and keep payment information safe. You’ll no longer misplace information or struggle to decipher a coworker’s handwriting.
- Make training more efficient: Training new staff is a part of any business, but it can be incredibly time-consuming in the hospitality industry where employee turnover is high. With modern, cloud-based hotel software, your team can quickly adapt to the user-friendly interface.
- Automatic updates with new features: Cloud-based software also provides the advantage of automatic technology upgrades equipped with new features and functionality. Ensure you get a system built to grow with your property and adapt to changing industry trends.
How to choose the right hotel software for my property?
Once you’ve identified that your property could benefit from hotel software, the next step is to choose a solution that’s best suited to your property. This is not a decision that should be taken lightly; time and care should be used when making a selection.
Firstly, make a list of the functionality that you are looking for in your hotel software. List your top five priorities by their level of importance, keeping an eye out for these features as you evaluate solutions. While you may not find software that satisfies all of your requirements, having your top ones listed will help you narrow down your choices.
You can then start the research process and make a list of software solutions recommended by colleagues, classmates, friends, and family. Search online for “hotel management software” or “property management solutions” and see what comes up. Use review sites like SoftwareAdvice or Capterra to learn more about other hoteliers’ experiences and start to narrow down your list.
Once you have a list of 3-5 options, start setting up demos to see the systems in action. Make sure you take your time during the demos and ask questions. You should feel confident in the provider you choose as this is a long-term relationship in which you’ll need support to first get set up and running.
A few questions to ask during your demo include:
- How often do you roll out new product updates? Make sure they conduct frequent software updates and that upgrades are done automatically.
- Do you integrate with other tools that I’m using/want to use? Properties require different tools based on their individual needs. Ensure that your software solution has a marketplace of third-party integrations to support any guest experience tools you may need now or in the future.
- What training materials and ongoing support do you provide? There’s nothing worse than being stuck implementing a new system and training your team on your own. Make sure that your provider offers proper onboarding to set you up for success as well as ongoing support and on-demand training materials.
- What does security look like on your platform? Cloud software can be more susceptible to security breaches. Your solution should have security measures to keep your and your guests’ data safe.
- What is your average onboarding time? Understanding onboarding times can help you to plan your adoption process. Note that onboarding times will vary based on property size and type. Make sure the timeline works for you.
- What happens if I’m not happy in the first month? Your provider should have confidence in their product. Review cancellation policies in case you end up with a solution you’re unhappy with.
Getting started with your hotel software
The implementation process is all about identifying areas of optimization. What’s not working well? What could be working even better? Ensure that you include key individuals at your property who work within the system every day to give their feedback on ways to streamline daily operations. Assuming you choose a vendor who will help you throughout the process, here are a few things you can expect to start with as you set up your system.
Setting your rates. Set rates within your system so OTAs can base their pricing on your established rate plan. You can also set channel-specific rates within your system. This allows you to adjust the price of each room by a set amount or percentage on specific channels.
Mapping your inventory. Take your time during this step! Ensure you accurately identify and connect your property’s room types to OTAs. Room names, descriptions, features, and amenities should all be reviewed for accuracy, as they should appear consistently across channels to avoid confusion. One-to-one mapping can help reduce errors by grouping similar rooms into familiar categories.
Connecting your channels. Connect the channels that work best for your property. Consider having a mix of OTAs across regions and niche categories. Diversifying your distribution strategy can help you drive more bookings.
Automating communication. Set up automated messages to thank guests for booking with you. This helps establish legitimacy as guests expect instant confirmation of their reservation. Pre-arrival emails are also helpful to welcome guests to your property and provide any outstanding information before arrival. Lastly, post-stay emails should be used to follow up with guests and request reviews after positive stays.
Integrating your booking engine. Take the time to integrate your booking engine with your hotel website to drive more direct bookings. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and has lots of videos and pictures to entice guests.
Training your staff. Leverage any educational resources from your vendor to develop a training process for new staff. The more user-friendly your hotel software, the easier it will be to train.
Hotel software is becoming a necessity for independent properties to be able to maintain competitiveness. Modern hoteliers are switching to intuitive, user-friendly, and cloud-based solutions to streamline operations, increase revenue, and deliver a better experience for their employees and guests.
If you’re ready to adopt a new solution, ensure that you work with a reputable vendor that provides one-on-one onboarding and ongoing training and support. Remember, hotel software is a valuable asset and should be continually optimized to drive the best results.