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September 29, 2021
It's time for a new property management system (PMS), but any hotelier knows making the switch can be a bit of a daunting task.
From coordinating the entire migration of your guest and operational databases to teaching your team a whole new platform, hunting for and finding the right PMS can feel like a huge ordeal — one so big, in fact, that you often delay transitioning altogether.
But with fewer choices on the table, you can quickly make a decision and move forward with confidence. Weed out hotel property management systems by crossing out options with these red flags:
We live in a generation of more, more, more! But more isn’t always better. In fact, sometimes more can complicate what should be a simple, effective solution.
When vetting a hotel property management system, stay alert for features that seem difficult to use or understand. During the demo, some PMS providers will promise it’ll all become clear during the training process, but this is not always the case. Find out if the system has the capability to have a more basic view or to set security profiles for different level users.
Extra bells and whistles can be great — showing that a system is robust and multifaceted — but working inside of an unfriendly user interface or using a complex tool is a different beast altogether. Be sure to ask about the cost of the training (if any), since this is often a way companies can charge a lower upfront rate and get money out of you in the long run.
Speaking of hidden costs, be on the lookout for unexpected upcharges or expensive red tape before committing to a new PMS. Oftentimes providers will advertise a “free” property management system: but as most of us know, few things in life are ever truly free. What’s the catch?
If your potential new system offers a trial period, that can be a nice introductory perk. But if there are strings attached to that trial period — like having to give payment information upfront while being limited on what you can actually use in that trial period — it’s a clear sign that the software may be after a quick buck and not exclusively concerned with helping you get started.
When looking for other hidden costs in a PMS, also avoid any software that charges according to usage, including customer support. You don’t want a tool that’s inadvertently limiting your growth by making it more expensive for you to expand or your staff to seek the help they need.
Hotel databases store a lot of sensitive information about guests, employees, and operational data alike. Because of this, they are often the target of cybercriminals and other malicious actors. While doing your part to protect your properties — like using multi-factor authentication and enrolling your team into phishing awareness training — is a great place to start, a poorly protected PMS is a glaring hole in your hotel’s security.
When learning about your new property management platform, ask your potential vendor about their current security and data protection plans, and how they’ll do their part to keep your network secure. If they don’t have a good answer, you may want to seek another provider who puts a greater emphasis on their software’s protection.
Similarly, watch out for data traps on PMS “hostage platforms.” These are the systems that make it complicated — and sometimes impossible altogether — for you to export your data after migrating to their software. This burdens your switch in the future, meaning you’ll have to manually re-enter all your previous guest information, property data, etc. These sneaky providers know you won’t want to deal with the hassle after already switching, so you’ll stick with them, even if you aren’t happy with their products or services.
We all know what it's like to be inside of a tool and feel limited by its interface or functionality. Some of us just like to organize things in a different way or to be able to modify or filter the specific information we need. While many property management software will have a standard portal (that you either find intuitive or not), some allow for customization that grants users the freedom to fit their unique preferences.
For instance, if you know that your team prefers to see property amenities in detail, it’s important that you ask upfront if this is possible. Never assume all platforms offer similar out-of-the-box features. As another example, not all property management systems offer customizable reporting, granting individual properties the ability to see their own data outside of the major hotel brand at large. Always verify what can be changed or adjusted before signing on the dotted line.
In the age of modern technology, software can become frequently outdated. A tool at the leading edge of the industry one year can rapidly become obsolete. But not all providers will give you a straight answer when you ask how often they update their platform. One quick way to find out yourself is to take a look at their resource library. If your potential vendor is not updating the resources it provides to its customers, you have to wonder how often they update the software itself...
In addition to new resources, be on the lookout for new reviews. Genuine testimonials are an excellent way to see how the PMS is being received by its current customers. If you notice a fair amount of bad reviews, where users are commenting about accessibility issues, for instance, this can be another indication the software isn’t functioning as promised nor up to par with other options within the industry.
Scouting out these red flags in a new property management system is an excellent place to start, but it just skims the surface of all the considerations you need to make before choosing a PMS.
In our complimentary Choosing a Reservation & Property Management System eBook, we explore other critical questions to ask yourself before committing to new hotel software. We even include a handy comparison chart for ensuring the PMS checks all your core boxes. Download the checklist, today.