Making the Switch: Changing Your Hotel’s PMS Is Easier Than You Think

Ten years ago the thought of changing a property management system (PMS) was a very scary one for lodging operators. Working with on-property, server-based systems made changing hotel technology a complicated and expensive undertaking that was significantly disruptive to daily operations. Without the resources required to upgrade, many properties found themselves stuck with outdated systems that held business back.

The advent of cloud technology helped overcome major obstacles to switching core hotel systems, significantly reducing the cost of investment—in both expenditure and time. Offering pay-as-you-go pricing, intuitive user interfaces, free and seamless updates, professional data security, and compatibility with other hotel technology, cloud PMS make switching faster, affordable and far less disruptive to daily operations today than ever before.

And it’s just as well; as the hospitality industry becomes increasingly reliant on technological innovation to stay relevant and competitive, a smooth changeover is key.

Step 1: Make the Decision to Switch

There are many reasons why you might consider changing your PMS. Perhaps your current system is outdated and incompatible with more recent technology implemented at your property. Or maybe it lacks the flexibility you need to do things the way you want. New management coming on board might want to replace the current system just because they are more familiar with another. Or your PMS vendor may have been acquired by another company, or gone out of business.

Remnant fears or concerns over changing systems—mainly to do with cost and service disruption—still hold some businesses back from making a switch, but in the current hospitality technology climate this frame of mind does more harm than good. As the control center of your business, your PMS needs to be in top form to maximize productivity and profitability.

Step 2: Choose the Best Fit for Your Business

Hotel technology is in an exciting phase, continually evolving and innovating to enhance efficiency and the guest experience. To stay competitive, it’s important to find a PMS that meets your property’s current needs and future plans.

This means partnering with a vendor that listens and responds to the needs of its clients, and demonstrates ongoing improvement and innovation of its solutions. Consider following vendors’ blogs and subscribing to their newsletters to get an idea of ongoing product development.

Along with innovation, you’ll want to make sure your new PMS has staying power. An established, tried-and-tested solution with a solid customer base speaks volumes to longevity and reliability. How long has the vendor been in business? When was the system launched? Does their customer base continue to grow?

Do your research to ensure your new PMS will provide the functionality that you need now, and the flexibility to accommodate the way you might do business in the future. Book some free demos to assess how you would conduct daily tasks, how the system will improve productivity at your property, and how it can grow with your business. A guided demo should give you a good idea of how well the software will meet your requirements, from managing rates and reservations to running reports that generate the information you need.

Read our post on essential features to expect from today’s cloud PMS solutions for further guidance on specific functionality you should look for, such as interactive calendars, commission-free direct online bookings, automated guest communications, mobile accessibility, and more.

WebRezPro PMS’ Interactive Availability Calendar makes managing reservations easy

Look for a vendor that has existing partnerships with other reputable hotel technology providers, including online distribution channels, payment gateways, POS and CRM solutions, etc. If the vendor does not already offer integration with technology that you would like to connect to your PMS, find out if an interface is possible. Established cloud PMS providers are always developing new relationships with other hospitality solutions.

It’s also important to check software reviews for solutions you are considering. Pay particular attention to what other lodging operators say about the system’s customer support. Occasional bugs can happen in even the best systems, especially in ones that are continually innovating and improving. What matters most is how the technical support team handles such issues as they come up. Whether your property is big or small, your PMS vendor should always be there for you when you need them.

Step 3: Make the Switch

Your new PMS vendor should work with you to make the transition to their system from your old system as smooth as possible.

For example, when properties switch to WebRezPro PMS, we guide and streamline the process by offering:

>> The ability to import guest profiles and future reservations from your old PMS.

>> A dedicated launch assistant to guide you through the changeover, every step of the way.

>> Commitment to a going-live date that works with your property’s timeline. Depending on the complexity of hotel operations, you can be fully up and running within a few days.

>> Ongoing customer support at no extra cost.

While switching core hotel systems is much less of an ordeal now than a few years ago, it still pays to plan ahead and be aware of issues that can arise during the changeover period. Switching systems is a much smoother process when you are well prepared.

From choosing a changeover date that will be least disruptive to your operations, to thinking about how to process in-house guests staying through on cut-over day, you’ll need a well thought-out action plan. If you’re in need of some direction, check out our guide to changing your property management system, which includes a handy checklist that covers step-by-step action points for before, on and after cut-over day.

If, for whatever reason, your current PMS is no longer meeting the needs of your property, don’t let unwarranted fears and concerns prevent you from upgrading to a new solution that will increase your property’s productivity and profits. If you would like to learn more about WebRezProPMS, contact us for a free, no-obligation demo.

A Hotelier’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

Ever feel like you’re in a marketing rut? It can be challenging to find new and exciting ways to connect with customers and improve your bottom line. Fortunately, there are moments sprinkled throughout the year that offer unique opportunities to mix things up: Holidays! Whether it’s New Year’s Day, Easter or Halloween, public holidays are an excellent occasion to stretch your creative mucles and create fresh promotional content for your lodging operation (an imperative in the age of social media).

Of all the holidays throughout the year, Valentine’s Day has some of the greatest potential for maximizing revenue. In fact, consumers spend around 18 billion dollars on the holiday in the United States alone. So take advantage of it! With February 14th fast approaching, here are a few ways hoteliers can make the most of Valentine’s Day this year:

Offer Special Packages

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, guests are looking for a special way to celebrate with their special someone. Offering packages exclusively for the occasion adds an element of luxury often associated with the holiday. While tried and true features like Champagne and chocolate will never go out of style, you don’t need to limit yourself to the classics. Why not prepare all the fixings for a romantic picnic for two? Or partner with a local business (think carriage rides, wine tastings, etc.) to curate a date night to remember? Standing out from the crowd will land you more bookings and nurture loyalty with your guests.

You also needn’t limit yourself to Valentine’s Day packages designed for couples. Broaden your reach with offerings that appeal to singles as well (perhaps a “Girls’ Night In” package equipped with movie rentals and popcorn).

Seize the Opportunity to Upsell

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for upselling that shouldn’t be missed. Guests are looking to make the occasion exceptional, and they’re more than willing to splurge. After bookings are made, offer additional amenities like a couples massage, a room upgrade or a nice bottle of wine. These upsells will enhance their guest experience.

Host an Event

To really seize the day, consider hosting a Valentine’s Day event (or events) at your property. You can plan a party, offer dance classes, or schedule a Paint Nite – anything that suits your brand. In additional to being great publicity, you’ll also boost food and beverage revenue and likely increase overnight bookings. If you choose this option, make sure to advertise locally and include tickets in Valentine’s Day packages.

Celebrate on Social Media

However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day at your property, don’t forget to include a compelling social media campaign. Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, it’s a good idea to:

Highlight the romance>> Leading up to February 14th, begin sharing content that showcases the romantic aspects of your property. A candlelit table set for two, a suite adorned in rose petals, a bottle of Champagne on the beach – post images that let your guests know your hotel is the idea spot for the Valentine’s Day of their dreams. And be sure to use words that evoke romantic imagery. On Valentine’s Day, guests are looking for an experience that is “cozy,” “luxurious” and “intimate.”

Encourage engagement>> Like all social media campaigns, you want your guests to interact with your content. Consider creating a Valentine’s Day hashtag that increases brand exposure through user engagement. You could even choose to host a giveaway for those who share your holiday-related posts or use your hashtag.

 

Valentine’s Day has enormous potential for those in the hospitality industry. It’s an opportunity for hotels to both maximize revenue and increase guest satisfaction by delivering an extra special experience that lives up to all the expectations of the day.

Margaretta Inn

The Margaretta Inn is a year-round property located in Machias, Maine, that offers 13 guest rooms with modern amenities. The Margaretta Inn re-opened in August 2014 after a complete renovation and remodel. This property has just started using WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their day-to-day operations and online bookings! Click the link below to see how they’re using WebRezPro on their website!

See you at the 2014 Innkeeping Show!

Charleston, SC, here we come! We’re looking forward to the 2014 Innkeeping Conference and Trade Show in Charleston next week (January 13 to 16). This will be WebRezPro’s second year attending this leading event for innkeepers and we’re all set to demonstrate the advantages of our complete cloud-based PMS.

Last year’s show was a great success for WebRezPro, and good fun. We met a lot of inspiring innkeepers and developed successful partnerships. Our integrated online and mobile bookings, flexible rate and package management, group booking folios, electronic signature capture (paperless check-in) and anywhere access proved especially popular. We’re excited to demonstrate the system’s most popular features again, along with our latest updates and a sneak peek at our brand-new user interface to be released a little later in the year.

We understand that every inn and B&B is different and that running a unique property comes with unique challenges. Our flexible PMS is often chosen by innkeepers due to its ability to adapt to a business’ specific needs. If you haven’t met us before, stop by and say hello. And if we are already working together, let us know how things are going and if there’s anything we can do to make WebRezPro work even better for you.

WebRezPro will be at booth #205. We look forward to seeing you there!

Gearing up for the 2013 New England Innkeeping Show!

In just a couple of weeks, WebRezPro Property Management System will be heading to the New England Innkeeping Conference & Tradeshow held in beautiful Mount Snow, Vermont, November 12th to 14th. It’s our first time exhibiting at this event and we are very excited to see some of our existing New England customers and to introduce our cloud-based property management system to other inn and B&B owners. WebRezPro PMS has been serving small and boutique properties for 10 years now and is a product shaped by the needs and expertise of its clients. We are confident that New England innkeepers are going to love WebRezPro’s user friendliness, flexibility and cloud advantages, including simple setup, mobile features and anywhere access.

Come check out our electronic signature capture for paperless check-in, mobile housekeeping reports, integrated online booking engine, and key functions such as our flexible rates and packages setup, group booking folios, and comprehensive reporting and accounting features. We think you’ll be impressed.

WebRezPro will be at booth #506. See you there!