Hotel Management Software
BuyerView | 2014

Every year, Software Advice talks with thousands of owners and managers looking for the right hotel management software (HMS) for their business. This provides us with unparalleled insight into the needs of HMS software buyers.

We recently analyzed a random selection of 385 of these interactions from 2013, in order to uncover managers’ most common pain points and their reasons for purchasing new HMS solutions.

Key Findings:

  1. Fifty-four percent of our HMS buyers operate independent hotels, inns and resorts.
  2.  
  3. Most buyers are looking to replace either an outdated HMS system or manual methods of property management.
  4.  
  5. A majority of buyers are seeking reservation and online booking capabilities in their new software.

Most Buyers from Small-to-Medium Hotels

The hotel size of each buyer in our sample varies greatly, though most have between 10 and 50 rooms (a combined 57 percent). Few of the buyers (a combined 11 percent) are from very small properties, such as bed-and-breakfasts, or very large hotels with 500-plus rooms. 

The buyers in our sample represent those hotels that do enough business to require the assistance of a HMS, but are still small enough to be able to make independent decisions about software purchases (unlike most global hotel brands).

Buyer Size by Number of Rooms


Independent Hotels Are Primary Buyer Segment

When looking at the types of properties for each buyer, we found that very few (1 percent) are looking for software for a large hotel chain such as Hilton or Four Seasons, as these brands typically use corporate-mandated or proprietary software. Instead, one-quarter of our buyers represent independent hotels (25 percent), with inns (15 percent) and resorts (14 percent) following close behind.

This data makes sense in light of the increasing growth of boutique and independent hotels over the past few years. As these types of hotels grow in numbers and mature, they eventually require software to help manage the extra business.

Demographics: HMS Buyers by Property Type

Demographics: HMS Buyers by Property Type

Most Buyers Looking to Replace Existing Software

When asked what methods they currently use to manage their properties, a majority of buyers—34 percent—mention already using a hotel management system. The next-largest group of buyers (28 percent) mention using manual methods, such as spreadsheets or paper, while 15 percent have no specific method in place. 

Buyers in the “Other” category (10 percent) use a standalone booking system or a discontinued HMS system. An even smaller amount of buyers (7 percent) use a combination of reservation and management software to meet their needs, or use a proprietary software built specifically for that property (4 percent).

Current Methods of Managing Properties
Current Methods of Managing Properties



Current Software Users Seek Modern Alternatives

The reasons buyers gave for replacing an existing HMS are diverse. About 18 percent mention the need to update an older system that doesn’t operate quickly enough, or doesn’t function with newer hardware. Other common reasons include that their current software is missing necessary features (16 percent), such as online bookings or sales channel management, or that they simply need to improve efficiency (15 percent). 

With online bookings becoming standard across the industry, the fact that buyers are seeking more modern, Internet-friendly systems is to be expected. Another HMS update many hotel managers may be looking for is the ability to connect to the Global Distribution System: a centralized system that maintains real-time room rates and availability for use in the travel industry. In fact, the number of hotel bookings on the GDS has grown by 14 percent since 2011.

Other reasons current users are seeking to replace their software include bad experiences with customer support (15 percent), dissatisfaction with the user interface (9 percent) or technical issues, such as glitches or program crashes (7 percent). Finally, about 6 percent mention the desire to find a cheaper system, while a small minority cite the growth of their business.

Reasons for Replacing Current HMS

Reasons for Replacing Current HMS

First-Time Buyers Want to Improve Efficiency

Conversely, the reasons for replacing manual methods are quite clear: 72 percent of first-time HMS buyers mention a desire to improve efficiency, also noting they “want to move past pencils and paper” or “automate day-to-day tasks.” When compared to manual methods, an HMS can speed up operations by automating just about every daily task managers must handle.

Many other buyers (18 percent) simply said they wanted to “go electronic.” Less commonly, buyers cited a need to change methods to keep up with the growth of their business (9 percent).

Reasons for Replacing Manual Methods

Reasons for Replacing Manual Methods

Most Buyers Need Reservation & Guest Management Features

Buyers also told us what kinds of features they need most. The ability to enter and edit reservations tops the list with 28 percent of mentions—which is no surprise, as this is the central function of a HMS. Online booking capabilities is a close second, at 22 percent. With 65 percent of hotel bookings now being made online, an ever-growing number of buyers are seeking software with these capabilities in order to remain competitive. 

About 11 percent of mentions are for guest management features, which can help properties maintain information about guests to gain a better perspective of customer preferences and deliver a more personalized service experience. Since most of the buyers in our sample represent smaller, independent hotels—which commonly target niche guest segments—it follows that guest management features would be a popular request.

Further down the list, some buyers (9 percent) mention they would like software with housekeeping management capabilities, or say they need more robust accounting and reporting features (another 9 percent). Others seek features that could help drive more business to their property, such as distribution management and marketing functions (6 percent).

Most-Requested HMS Features

Most Requested HMS Features

Vast Majority Needs System Within Three Months

We also asked buyers about the time frame in which they would need to get a new system up and running. The vast majority of buyers in our sample (85 percent) say they want to have a system in place in less than three months. Only 14 percent say they want to implement one in three to six months, and very few (2 percent) are looking at systems six to 12 months ahead of time.

Buyers’ Time Frame for HMS Purchase
Buyers' Time Frame for HMS Purchase

Conclusions

Our analysis shows that the proliferation of independent and boutique hotels is driving a wave of hotel management software buyers to either evaluate higher-performing systems with more features, or look to the HMS market for the first time. The competition among hotels for bookings is growing, so hotels are seeking specific tools, such as real-time reservation data, online bookings and guest management capabilities, in order to stay successful and better reach their target customers.

Methodology

Software Advice regularly speaks on the phone with organizations seeking new hotel management software. To create this report, we randomly selected 385 of our phone interactions from 2013 to analyze. If you’d like to further discuss this report or obtain access to any of the charts above, feel free to contact me at taylorshort@softwareadvice.com.


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