Hoteliers Want More From Their Property Management Systems
Over the last 13 months, hoteliers have had their systems put to the test during the time of a global emergency. According to Maestro North America, many are finding that their current property management systems (PMS) do not have the right amount of features or contactless tools to serve returning guests. The hotels, Maestro says, want to offer a contactless and touch-free experience with mobile check-in and express check-out, mobile room keys, digital registration cards and a digital guest itinerary.
But Maestro — which offers a PMS solution for independent hotels, luxury resorts, conference centers, vacation rentals and multi-property groups — says that their lists of desired features do not end there. After speaking with prospective customers from the independent hospitality group sector, the company says it has repeatedly heard requests for more choices, flexibility, functionality and even more customer service.
“One of the biggest problems that hotel and resort operators are facing is inability to attract and retain staff,” Maestro Executive Vice President Audrey MacRae said. “If you think this human resource issue cannot be addressed by the PMS, think again. Today’s hotel employees are wearing multiple hats.”
According to MacRae, an employee who works at the front desk on a Monday may assist in the restaurant on a Tuesday, or in the spa on a Thursday. “If a hotel has disparate systems across their outlets, that means team members must know how to operate multiple systems,” she said. “That could be a nightmare, especially if a team member is a relatively new hire and is not familiar with hotel technology. Although staff may do their best to learn these different solutions, it’s likely not what they signed up for, and soon the employee may get frustrated and leave.”
Another thing hoteliers are looking for, MacRae said, was the ability to run multiple outlets from a single solution with one database. “Giving employees a single solution and a single login to learn and operate the technology, and the ability to cross book and view activity for all outlets arms them with the ability to focus on their important tasks and not struggle with disparate systems and user interfaces,” she said. “They will excel when they can use an integrated solution rather than rely on interfaces between systems with non-centralized guest profiles and stay data ultimately helping them do their jobs better, and with a lot less stress.”
The company also found that hoteliers want complete autonomy and power of choice in their PMS platform deployment if the choices support mobile and contactless guest engagement, from booking to in-house to checkout. Some operators will choose a cloud-based PMS, but Maestro says others will prefer choices in their deployment and want a web-browser-based solution.
“Due to many factors, such as remote location with spotty Internet, or simply wanting the data server under their own management, operators are asking for the best of all worlds, and want their modern browser solution with the choice to deploy self-hosted, private cloud, or on-premise as well as cloud-hosted,” MacRae said. “All have advantages dependant on the operations’ needs, and each can securely support personalized and mobile check-in, contact-free technologies, and modern integrations. The key is finding a single PMS provider that offers flexible PMS deployment options.”
Hoteliers also have asked about multi-property functionality. “We are seeing hotel companies acquiring new properties regularly now and expanding their portfolios, sometimes with a very short acquisition window to get new systems in place,” she noted. “They want to know how easily a new property can deploy the PMS and onboard its employees — this is key to PMS selection. Operators are also saying they prefer a reasonable serviced based upfront set-up fee, coupled with remote training for greater efficiencies and expeditious implementation.”
McRae also noted that operators want a platform that is easy to use with built-in tutorials and learning materials, along with easy-to-access help and support by the supplier. It is also important that virtual technology training for the PMS system is available, and that operators can guide and track lessons finished by each user. “Finding a PMS provider that offers on-demand live training as part of their annual subscription and maintenance fees is critical, along with one-on-one refresher training, both being a top selection criterion for operators,” she added.
Finally, the operators also want responsive, live customer support that is available 24/7. “Some hoteliers say they have disparate systems in each department and therefore, they are paying for each vendors’ system separately, making total support fees exorbitant,” McRae stated. “We are also fielding weekly calls from operators who are frustrated with their PMS provider because their service calls are not being answered or returned.
“People prefer working with a PMS company, and technology companies in general that maintain a client-first support culture at its core,” she continued, noting that they want responses live via phone or chat. “The last thing anyone wants to feel today is isolated; the pandemic has caused enough social isolation damage for a lifetime. You can have the best product in the market, but without the proper service to back it up, it is not a worthwhile investment.”