The modern hotel business is barely imaginable without the use of cutting-edge technologies that are at the heart of a good relationship with clients. Hotel managers have to handle millions of tasks per day to ensure the best possible experience for the guests. Checking guests in and out, inform potential clients about special offers, managing the property, and monitoring the efficiency of the staff are too much to be handled by a human being.
Daily tasks automation has become an essential part of hotel management. Such a complex system as a hotel consists of valuable property, dozens of employees, and thousands of guests can’t be managed efficiently without automation tools. Unfortunately, the current state of affairs doesn’t allow hotel owners to hire as many new employees as required to handle the issues in an old-school way. The very survival of the business is in question, not to mention its further expansion. In such a situation, the only way to stay afloat is to use the resources and property that you already have more efficiently. Property management systems are tools that were created to solve this exact problem.
A Property Management System or PMS is software that can take care of the lion’s share of the hotel’s reservation management and administrative tasks. It may be used for front-desk operations, reservations, reporting and analysis, housekeeping, and many other tasks. In addition to keeping your property in good condition, property management systems can significantly improve your relationships with clients and attract new customers. To learn how these goals can be achieved, we’ll consider some of the most important features that a hotel property management systems can provide. But before, we’d like to help you decide which of two options — off-the-shelf solutions or custom-made apps — will better suit your needs.
Property Management System: Off-the-shelf Software vs. Custom-made Solutions
There are two main options that you can choose between. Even though off-the-shelf solutions may be considered as a more affordable alternative to a custom property management system, you may face some limitations. The reason is that mass-market product developers are usually focused on the average customer and can’t provide the flexibility desired by a certain business owner. A custom property management system, on the other hand, can provide excellent flexibility and numerous benefits. Let’s consider some arguments why you should consider during the adoption of a property management solution.
Off-the-shelf Property Management Systems. Lower Costs at the Expense of Flexibility
If you use a tool developed to meet the needs of a generic business, you better be prepared that it may fail to solve tasks specific to your particular company. For example, you may face a limited feature set if you adopt a system designed to solve basic front desk and back office routine tasks. Without focusing on those sides of your business that make your hotel special, you risk missing the opportunity to attract new customers.
Say, your hotel is located on the edge of a pond suitable for summer kayaking. You may use this opportunity and provide your customers with the required equipment. Also, you can inform all your potential clients about the special offer that includes a 20% discount on kayaking equipment for those who will book a family suite during the holiday season. But how can you handle all these tasks if your hotel management system lacks the required features? Sports equipment requires continuous monitoring and periodic repair. Emailing your clients about every special offer that you have may be time consuming and inefficient. If developers of the management system that you use haven’t provided you with the corresponding functionality, you’re on your own.
The need to pay for the features that you don’t need is the other side of the coin. Since such products are designed to meet the needs of as many end-users as possible, a specific user may find them overloaded with functionality. The need to wade through dozens of features often not reflecting the specifics of your business may make your employees feel confused. In some cases, such a situation may lead to the need for additional training which, as you can suggest, will cause time and money costs. Therefore, buying an off-the-shelf property management system, you receive it “as is,” so you have to look over the feature set to make sure that you won’t pay for unclaimed functionality.
Even if you find an off-the-shelf app that has everything you need, you still risk using outdated technologies. Some of the popular hotel property management systems have been on the market for a long time, which can mean that the used technology does not meet modern standards. It may seem that all these technological issues won’t concern your hotel business. After all, if it works, it works. Actually, such a state of affairs can lead to some unpleasant consequences. For example, at some point, you may face maintenance issues caused by the lack of specialists with the required expertise. If there are no developers that speak dead programming languages, adding new features or fixing bugs that you have faced may become an unresolvable task.
Hotel business consists of dozens of round-the-clock tasks and highly depends on your ability to provide the best service at any time, day or night. Your property management application, like any other tool, may break at some point, or you may face some unexpected issues while working with it. Any service delays caused by the software issues may harm your hotel’s reputation and cause customer churn. If you use a ready-made property management system, you’ll find out that dependency on software support may become a pretty important concern. Developers of such apps, most probably, won’t spend their issues to fix a specific bug with which a particular client has faced. You’ll have to wait until your problem is resolved in the next update, and until then, your guests may face some unpleasant experience. Besides, without the full control over the software system on which your business depends so much, you won’t be able to control your future fully. If the software developers decide to sell or close their business, you won’t be able to influence this decision. We can only guess what consequences for your business such a turn of events will have.
Custom Property Management Solutions. Pay For What You Really Need
First and foremost, in the case of custom-made property management applications, you will pay only for those features that you really need. A company that provides development services for real estate which you decide to deal with will analyze the features of your business and provide you with a list of features that will help you to improve your efficiency. The software solution will include some essential features without which no business can remain fully functional. Additionally, your software vendor may offer you to implement the functionality that reflects the specifics of your particular business. The best part about such an approach is that you can pay only for these features of the system that you need right now. Additional modules that provide extra functionality can be added to your management system as you need them. Custom property management apps for hotels designed with a thought of further expansion, which means that you can be sure that such software solutions will cover your growing needs in the long run.
If you don’t plan to continue to do business in an old-school way, most probably, most of the transactions will be made online. In this scenario, data protection will play a huge role. The leak of personal information will cost you not only financial losses but also the loss of your hotel’s reputation. Besides following the highest standards of cybersecurity, which helps to eliminate risks of data breaches and fraudulent activities, custom software developers also provide you with full control over your data. If a software developer that created the off-the-shelf solution that your business uses will decide to close the company, there’s a high risk that you won’t be able to receive all the data that was accumulated during the years of work.
If you struggle to provide your current and potential clients with timely support, the ability to implement 24/7 customer support will be good news for you. This feature may work in a variety of ways. It can be an online text/video chat on your website. Also, you can use a chatbot that will provide clients with relevant information. Besides, you can leverage the use of social networks to ensure your customers that you’ll always stay in touch.
The use of CRM solutions designed according to the features of your business, you can significantly increase customer loyalty. Instant access to any client information, personalized offers and discounts, notifications, and many other features will help your clients to understand that you value your relationships with them.
Daily task automation can significantly improve the efficiency of your employees and decrease the amount of paperwork. Built-in business analysis tools will help to estimate the effectiveness of the adopted business model and plan changes if needed. Access to real-time indicators will help you to adapt your business to the rapidly changing environment.
Key Features For a Custom Hotel Property Management System
A custom-made property management solution provides an entry point to multiple work environments for different purposes. It depends on the features of your business and your preferences on what exact modules will be presented in your custom-made apps. For example, you may think that your current reporting app will serve you just fine for a few more years, and there’s no need to pay your software vendor for this functionality at the moment. Therefore, the following list of features can be considered as a combination of blocks from which you can compose the management system that better fits your current needs and budget.
Online reservation feature
First of all, you have to provide your clients with an easy to use and reliable way of receiving your services. Since almost everything has moved online nowadays, it’ll be a good idea to start using this module. A hotel reservation system holds all inventory data and dates and can send this information to the front desk. Such solutions provide access to the data gathered from all your reservation platforms. If you have a chain of hotels at your disposal, such a feature will be pretty useful. An online reservation module for the property management system may include such functionality as room bookings, e-payment collection, confirmation emails and push notifications, and others. Integration with third-party online booking services such as Booking.com will provide you with some extra clients.
The front-office module
It simplifies the work of a front-desk manager by providing access to the real-time information related to current room reservations status, clients in and out, processing payments, etc. The room management provided by this module can play a significant role in your business since it will help to inform your clients whether a particular number is currently available or not. If not, the list of all upcoming reservations will help to determine when the room will become available.
Image by Ann Vezhik
The housekeeping & maintenance module
It will help to coordinate the work of your housekeeping staff and improve their communication with the front-office managers. Managers can create a list of tasks and assign them to particular staff members. If one of your employees detects, say, a pipe leak, the room can be locked for unplanned maintenance. If a client has already booked it, the system will automatically book another room and send your managers a notification. The task for repairing pipes can be assigned to a particular employee. Employees can receive task updates via the mobile app, which will help to react faster to any unpredicted event. Recurring tasks can be automated, which will help managers to avoid the necessity to do the same work over and over again. After the task is done, the housekeeping staff member can use the mobile all to inform the manager about it.
Advanced reporting and analysis
These features will help you to estimate the efficiency of your employees and make decisions on further changes. Your custom hotel property management system can automatically collect relevant data and transform it into interactive and intuitive reports. Depending on the side of your business that you want to analyze, such modules can provide audit reports, payroll reports, housekeeping reports, and so on. With all this info before your eyes, you will be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses, adjust the strategy if needed.
The online payment system
It can free you from tons of work that you have to perform manually. A custom software development company can integrate a deposit and balance payment modules into your property management system. To make sure that all your clients are informed about the upcoming payment, you can use automated email reminders and push notifications. For your clients from abroad, a currency conversion may become an excellent addition.
A built-in CRM system
Will become an irreplaceable tool for collecting and organizing the information related to your clients. It can be integrated with your front-desk and reservation modules, which will help it to gather all the client-related information automatically. With a few clicks, you will be able to receive info related to a particular client and review all past and upcoming room reservations, payment history, and contact information. If you already have a CRM system, a custom software development company can integrate it with your new property management system, which will help you to save some money.
Events of the past few months have shown that no industry is fully prepared for unexpected events that can be caused by entirely natural phenomena. Closed borders and reduced mobility caused by the coronavirus outbreak forces hotel owners to start looking for new business development strategies. One of the approaches that can help hotel business to stay afloat in 2020 is to improve the efficiency of using the resources that they already have. A custom-made property management system is one of the tools that can help in solving this task. With such a system, you will be able to perform management tasks fast and efficiently, provide your clients with 24/7 support, improve your business using the analytics features, increase customer loyalty, and manage multiple properties with ease.
At XB Software, we have significant experience in creating hotel property management systems for both small and large businesses. Moreover, we have created a custom property management system that can handle the needs of the entire town. We offer different approaches to software development in order to provide you with an option that will better suit your needs and expectations. We can create a property management system for your hotel from scratch or extend the functionality of the software solution that you already have by developing and integrating separate modules. Also, if you use an outdated system, we can modernize it for you, so you’ll be able to use the solution that follows the modern standards.
If you want to learn more about custom property management systems for hotels, contact us.