When COVID-19 sent the industry into a state of tumult, many hoteliers were forced to postpone typical budgeting and planning exercises and focus on urgent operational concerns.
But now, with a recovery seemingly gaining traction, hoteliers are returning to tasks that were put on hold. Chief among them is considering IT upgrades.
To help with that effort, Oracle Hospitality has partnered with Starfleet Research to publish its annual Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems. Always a trusted industry resource, this year’s edition is noteworthy, because it highlights buying considerations – influenced by demands of the current pandemic – that should be top of mind for hoteliers as they navigate an altered marketplace.
As part of the publishing project, Starfleet surveyed hotel executives on the front lines, gathering feedback to prioritize PMS functionality and attributes essential for business agility and adaptability. The Smart Decision Guide also includes a list of “must-ask” questions for the buying process and an evaluation chart to efficiently compare various PMS solutions.
The research findings underscore the importance of embracing advanced technology. For example, when hoteliers were asked – “To what extent has upgrading your hotel property management system (within the past three years) enabled your business to improve overall performance and financial results?” – they provided revealing answers:
Hoteliers equipped with modern cloud PMS have fared better during the recent market upheaval. According to the Smart Decision Guide, “The massive wave of cancellations of individual and group bookings that swept across the industry forced hotels of all sizes, and across all categories, to rapidly adjust their operational strategies. The hoteliers who were able to move swiftly to reduce operating costs and streamline business processes were generally those with a scalable and flexible technology infrastructure. In most cases, this infrastructure was built on an open API, enhanced connectivity that facilitates the communication and transfer of data between all key technology components, and a reporting dashboard that provides a complete, real-time view of activities and performance. In short, they had a technology infrastructure that enables agility.”
Such agility will be paramount for hoteliers to excel in the “new next” environment, which undoubtedly will demand doing even more with less. Hotels will be pressed to incorporate health and safety standards and elevate the overall guest experience – all while improving operating efficiency.
Achieving these objectives means using a next-generation PMS that emphasizes the following: streamlining hotel operations through automation and superior management controls that lower operating costs; increasing access to mobile apps and self-service solutions to improve guest engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty; and capitalizing on integrated revenue and channel management modules that synchronize available inventory and rates, ultimately leading to greater profitability.
For easy reference, the Smart Decision Guide offers insights on PMS “essentials” by tackling key topics such as:
Guest experience management: It’s critical that the hotel PMS influence the quality of guest interactions by “reducing friction and increasing convenience and personalization.” The ability to capture data during these interactions is a must because it enables hoteliers to understand and anticipate guests’ needs and preferences on an individual basis. Hoteliers are embracing AI-enabled devices to improve response times and delivery of service, and they’re focusing on creating “connected rooms” that leverage data and mobile devices, enabling guests to customize their stay and minimize unnecessary interaction with staff.
Mobility: Employees who can access PMS – while freely moving around a property or working remotely – via easy-to-use, mobile interfaces can reduce guest wait times and eliminate inconveniences, enhancing the overall guest experience.
Technology and data integration: 93 percent of Smart Decision Guide survey respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that technology platform interoperability is a key success factor for hotel performance improvement. That means tight integrations with customer relationship management (CRM), central reservation system (CRS), and revenue management system (RMS) solutions. Seamless interaction among them yields many benefits, including supporting reservation delivery, modifications, and cancellations – all of which are key factors influencing consumers’ booking decisions in the current climate. It’s also necessary for next-generation PMS to allow configuration with minimal hassle of “any combination of modules and third-party apps as if they were LEGOs.”
The Smart Decision Guide explores the benefits of next-generation PMS in the invaluable context of the uncertainty that looms in the near term. It’s available to help hoteliers anticipate rather than react – and seize opportunities that await on the other side.