This guide was last updated on February 9, 2016.
Hotel and hospitality management software performs essential financial and organizational functions for hotels, motels, resorts and bed & breakfasts, as well as condos, RV parks and other forms of lodging. These functions include reservations, employee scheduling, accounting, property/maintenance management and customer relationship management.
Here's what we'll cover:
Hotel property management systems should have strong reporting capabilities, as well as on-board business functions like accounting and employee scheduling. These features should be customized specifically for the hospitality industry to simplify and speed up your management and accounting processes—or, if they are not part of the software itself, should be compatible with the software you have.
Other essential features of hotel software systems include:
|Reservations||Hotels need an effective customer-facing site that not only lets their guests book reservations online, but also integrate seamlessly with third-party booking engines. Meanwhile, you need an employee reservations system that facilitates room scheduling and availability, making it easy to identify vacancies, reservations and occupancies visually and/or through custom searches.|
|Front desk & housekeeping||This includes organizing check-ins and check-outs, coding keycards, scheduling wakeup calls and tracking progress of cleaning staff, assigning them to specific rooms or tasks as necessary.|
|Point of sale (POS)||POS systems are typically used for restaurants and retail stores. In the hospitality industry it’s used to allow customers to pay for, or charge to their room, products and services like restaurant meals, room service, incidentals like mini-bar items or pay-per-view, Wi-Fi, health club/spa services etc.|
|Maintenance management||An essential function, it’s important that hospitality management software tracks the property ownership/rental information (leases, taxes etc.) as well as tracking work orders, scheduling preventative maintenance and communicating with maintenance staff.|
|Customer relationship management||Hotel CRM software takes all the information you have about a customer and uses it to support customer loyalty and retention. It allows you to monitor guest profiles, activity history and participation in loyalty programs to optimize rewards programs and sales and marketing tactics.|
Hotel management software buyers typically fall into one of the following categories:
Franchises. Many franchises have specific rules on what hospitality software can be used, while others, such as Holiday Inn, allow their franchisees to make the decision for themselves. Make sure you discuss your software options with the franchise to get their input on which products are recommended and why.
Hotel chains. At the other side of the table, if you represent a brand with multiple properties, you need to determine whether you want a single system across them all or allow them to choose for themselves. Ask yourself how much—and what kind of—information you want to gather from each of your properties, and whether it needs to come in automatically or if manual reporting will be sufficient. If you do go with a single unified product, be sure to consider how the needs of each property differ—you may only have one hotel in Las Vegas, but it will need some of the features associated with Casino Management Software, which may necessarily impact your purchase decision.
Large hotels and resorts. The larger the property, the more robust a system you’ll need. Large hotels and resorts typically have lots of different products and services for people to buy, more maintenance requests and more complicated reservation and scheduling needs. It should be worth it to pay more for a robust hotel or resort product that can make all your processes smoother.
Small property owners. A bed-and-breakfast or a hotel with only a few rooms will have much less robust needs than a large resort. If you are just starting out, you may wish to consider a simple, but comprehensive system that includes property management and account capabilities. If you already have software that meets those other needs, be sure your new system is compatible with your legacy hotel management system.
Property managers. If you represent an RV park, a condo or some other form of communal living, you may wish to consider property management software instead of software for hotels. That being said, if there’s a lot of turnover at your property it may be easier to use this category of software, which is designed to handle reservations and accounting for high-turnover environments.
Software as a Service (SaaS). Most software is moving away from locally installed software and toward Web-based systems that can be accessed anywhere for a monthly fee. This drastically reduces the up-front costs of purchasing a system as well as the ongoing need for an IT infrastructure. The disadvantage is that monthly costs can add up over time, but most businesses prefer the flexibility associated with SaaS systems.
Market fragmentation. Because of the relative ease of developing software, there are lots of new companies entering the hotel management software market. Many of these come from Canada and Europe and are now looking to enter into the U.S. market. Though this will no doubt lead to better costs and quality in the long run, at the moment buying decisions may be even more confusing than they were a few years ago.
Pricing for hotel property management software is usually either per room/unit or per user. Keep in mind that for an on-premise system you’ll pay a single fee, likely with an annual maintenance upgrade, while Web-based systems (Software as a Service, or SaaS) will charge on a monthly basis.
Specific questions to ask when evaluating hoteling software include:
It’s important to consider whether you need something specific to your type of property (hotel, motel, resort), or something more generic and/or basic.
Marriott and Starwood merge to become world’s largest hotel company. Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts are expected to complete transactions for a merger in mid-2016. The companies will combine to operate and franchise more than 5,500 hotels and 1.1 million rooms around the world.
Amadeus accquires Itesso Property Management System. Amadeus, the world’s largest Global Distribution System provider, acquired Itesso in July 2015. The Itesso Property Management System is the latest addition to the Amadeus line of hospitality IT offerings, which also includes central reservation systems and revenue management.
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