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Just like many major technological advancements before it, the introduction of cloud computing has revolutionized the way businesses operate across all industries (including hospitality). From integrated online booking engines to increased flexibility, the introduction of cloud-based property management systems has resulted in incredible benefits for its adopters. But despite its many advantages, some hoteliers are still hesitating to take the plunge due to a few persistent myths surrounding the cloud. Here are four common myths about cloud-based PMS debunked:
Myth 1: The cloud is not secure
There is a pervasive perception that information stored in the cloud isn’t safe. This idea seems to come from a misunderstanding of how cloud-computing works (and where the data is physically stored). Contrary to images the term ‘cloud’ might conjure, information is not just ‘floating around.’ Like traditional property management systems, cloud-based data is stored on servers. The differences between the two systems lie in the location of those servers. While PMS hardware requires them to be on-site, cloud-based systems store encrypted data on servers in remote facilities. And security offered by these facilities is much more sophisticated than what could be accomplished at a hotel (they’re in the data storage business after all). Concrete security measures, authentication gateways and sophisticated firewalls protect information from physical and virtual attack. And the separation between property and data means that should a physical disaster befall a hotel (be it flood or fire), important proprietary information will not be lost.
Myth 2: A cloud PMS is expensive
A common association made concerning technology is that new always equals pricey. While this certainly can be the case, when it comes to cloud-based systems it just doesn’t hold true. Legacy property management systems are so riddled with up-front and on-going expenses that cloud-based solutions can be a money saver. Traditional systems require expensive hardware, regular IT management, security and energy for on-site servers, and licensing. But because cloud-based systems don’t require any infrastructure, those costs (and headaches) don’t have to be a part of the equation. Instead, hoteliers pay one low setup fee and a subscription based on the size and needs of their property (with all system updates free of charge).
Myth 3: Data in the cloud is hard to access
Because data does not physically reside on-site, there is a misconception that information in the cloud can be difficult to access. In reality, a cloud-based PMS gives hoteliers enhanced accessibility. Instead of requiring the use of specific on-site computers, cloud software allows staff to access the management system on any device, from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection.
Myth 4: Transitioning to a new PMS is too much work
A complete overhaul of a hotel’s PMS can seem like a daunting task. And some hoteliers may think that switching systems and learning a new program isn’t worth the effort. While a transition will inevitably take some time, adopting a cloud PMS is easier than it sounds. There is no hardware or software to install, and the user-friendly interfaces come with tutorial videos, user manuals and tech support. When you factor in the many benefits of a cloud PMS, the decision to upgrade to this new system shouldn’t be a difficult one.
Cloud computing has brought about a paradigm shift in hospitality management. As with any new technology, there is some lingering skepticism based on common misconceptions. Don’t let these myths stop you from reaping the benefits of a cloud-based system.
The goal of almost every hotel, from the small rural bed & breakfast to the urban boutique inn to the large international chain, is to increase staff productivity while simultaneously enhancing the guest experience. The differences among these establishments is in what they define as ‘productivity’ and what experience they aim to deliver for each guest. Cloud-based property management systems (PMS) thrive on this diversity of need because they can be tailored to achieve the productivity you envision for your business.
So how does a cloud PMS increase staff productivity? By:
Integrating systems. The most significant reason to choose a cloud-based PMS is its ability to consolidate information from a wide range of sources. For years, hotel staff have used numerous systems that needed to be cross-referenced, but now PMS software integrates core systems like CRM, online distribution channels, revenue management software, point-of-sale systems, and payment processing software all while accelerating and easing the complexity of reservation management and building guest profiles.
Simplifying administration. Because of seamless synchronization, property management systems have revolutionized hotel administration. Numerous spreadsheets and ledgers are things of the past, so too is the need to copy, paste, and revise documents, reducing human error and increasing data accuracy. Self check-ins and bookings—coordinated through a PMS—reduce the amount of time spent on the phone or in answering emails. Plus, once a room is booked through one reservation channel, the others are immediately updated, preventing overbooking. Rates can be set to update automatically, distributing changes to all connected channels; room availability can be easily monitored and allocated through the software’s intuitive interface, easing transitions between guests and increasing reservation efficiency; and guest profiles can be created and updated promptly and seamlessly.
PMS software is easy to use. The modern look and function will appeal to the tech-savvy members of your staff, but because the interface is designed with simplicity in mind, even the tech-challenged can be brought easily on board. Training should take just a few hours, and because each employee has a personalized account, the information they need is never more than a click away.
Facilitating marketing innovation. PMS software ushers hoteliers into the world of personalized advertising. Because PMS software gathers and centralizes pertinent guest information, insight into a guest’s spending habits and preferences can be gained, which means that the ancillary products (like additional hotel services, tour packages, concert promotions, restaurant offers) of highest interest to the guest can be sent to the them through their preferred communication avenue in real time and at the moment of decision.
Mobilizing staff. As we all know, any data can now be delivered to any device at any moment. This has led to a ‘work from anywhere’ culture that simultaneously conjures idyllic images of working on the beach and nightmare thoughts of having to work through a vacation. However, the reality of a mobile workforce looks much different on the hotel floor. Certainly, cloud PMS can enable managers and staff to access information offsite, giving much needed flexibility to a workday, but its strength is in creating a dynamic onsite workforce who can fulfill the expectations of guests in immediate and unique ways. Your staff is your greatest asset, and with a tablet or smartphone in hand, they are no longer locked to one place. Now they can meet guests in their rooms, in the hall, or by the pool to obtain a needed signature, check-in the busy business traveler while they’re being driven from the airport, and access information to promptly respond to requests. In short, cloud technology frees staff from the front desk or back office, enabling them to focus on the minutiae that creates an individualized and memorable experience for each guest.
Connecting your workforce. The mobility encouraged by PMS software integrates with the already mobile hotel workforce. Cloud-based software enables better collaboration across departments because staff has immediate access to the information and documents that are relevant to them. The most obvious example of this in action is with housekeeping and maintenance staff. PMS software instantly communicates guest checkout, enabling housekeeping to make smarter decisions to ensure rooms are clean and available for scheduled or unscheduled guests. The instant flow of information also allows for quicker maintenance response times that help keep the building in perfect condition.
Decreasing IT demands. Once upon a time (and for many still) hotels spent time and money installing and maintaining onsite hardware, but with cloud PMS, no hardware is required. Furthermore, PMS companies not only provide the required software, they offer a comprehensive support network, so if a problem should arise, they will guide you to a solution or fix the problem themselves. The move to a PMS does mean relinquishing some control, but it also eliminates the burden of maintaining an IT infrastructure onsite. A good PMS provider will take care of updates and upgrades, routine maintenance, and ensure the safety and security of your data, saving time and money while easing stress.
So, what will this additional time mean for your business? With the need for fewer people to do more work, an increase in efficiency does contribute to a boost in revenue, but for small and large hotels alike, the primary benefit of PMS software is freedom to engage with guests and provide them the attention they want, when they want it. According to a study done by Phocuswright and Cognizant Technology Solutions, the majority of travelers would “like to see greater automation of hotel service. At least half want to use their mobile device to receive bills (58%), check-in (54%), checkout (57%), pay for hotel services (51%), and open their hotel room door (50%).” Cloud PMS software like WebRezPro, make these services available for the more than half who want them, but it also benefits the guests who don’t. More mobile services mean fewer demands and shorter lines at the front desk, which means your staff can allocate more attention to those that desire face-to-face interaction. With numerous options available for hotel services, each guest gets the experience they want. Ultimately, a cloud PMS gives you the time to personalize each guest’s stay, and in doing so you build your brand and increase guest loyalty and satisfaction. So, the question now should be: what will a cloud PMS allow your business to become? The vision is yours to create.