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 Without the resources required to upgrade, many properties found themselves stuck with outdated systems that held business back.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 Perhaps your current system is outdated and incompatible with more recent technology implemented at your property.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.

Congratulations to WebRezPro Clients Named TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice for 2018

Every year TripAdvisor acknowledges top hotels around the world with the unveiling of their Travelers’ Choice awards. Using the millions of reviews collected in a one-year period, TripAdvisor determined the best properties for various categories (small hotels, luxury properties, etc.) in a variety of regions. Lodging operators were chosen for their commitment to quality, service and value. It’s a distinct honor in the hospitality industry, and the winners for 2018 have just been announced. This year 8,095 properties in 94 countries were recognized, and a number of WebRezPro clients were among the winners. We’d like to offer a big congratulations to the following operators who were highlighted in the 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards.

 

Every property included in this year’s list provided exceptional experiences for their customers that were not soon forgotten. How? A quick survey of the TripAdvisor reviews highlights the importance of friendly and knowledgeable staff, a relaxing atmosphere and quality food and amenities in contributing to guest satisfaction.

So, we just want to say: well done! Travelers’ Choice awards are a recognition of excellence in an extremely competitive industry and reflect an exceptional amount of hardwork and dedication. And it’s all determined by feedback from the people who matter most (the guests!). Inclusion in this list is a truly meaningful win.

Check out a complete list of the 2018 Travelers’ Choice winners here.

Diamond Lodge Belize

The Diamond Lodge Belize offers boutique accommodation on the island of Ambergris Caye in beautiful Belize. This bed and breakfast is just moments from the Caribbean Sea and a wide range of luxury amenities are available including an outdoor pool, complimentary breakfast, a spa and a fitness center. Diamond Lodge has chosen to use our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their business. You can see WebRezPro’s booking engine in action by visiting their website!

The Manor Guest House

Located in the centre of beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, The Manor Guest House is a 30-room inn that is just a 10-minute walk from restaurants and a five-minute walk from Vancouver General Hospital. Accommodation is provided in studios and two-bedroom suites, each with a private bath and a full kitchen or kitchenette. The Manor Guest House has just started using WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how WebRezPro is enabling them to take online bookings!

Getting to Know WebRezPro: Location Module

Hospitality technology of today must be flexible to adapt to the unique and evolving needs of modern accommodation. Not all properties are run the same way. WebRezPro property management system meets the diverse operational requirements of independent accommodation providers through flexible standard features and optional modules.

One such module is our Location Module. Designed for properties that offer units in defined sites or areas (like vacation rental companies managing rentals in separate buildings), or that provide a diverse range of accommodation styles (for example, campsites, cabins and motel rooms), the Location Module offers the ability to track revenue and availability by site or location, within the same system, providing a more transparent view of data.

Track Revenue by Location

Imagine a resort that hosts guests in motel rooms at $100 per night and campsites at $20 per night; it’s easy to see how RevPAR would appear misleading without the ability to track motel and campsite revenue and availability separately.

With WebRezPro’s Location Module, locations (such as “Building A” and “Building B” or “campground” and “motel”) are defined within the PMS, with units assigned to the appropriate location to allow for separate revenue tracking. The monthly report can be switched between showing stats for a single location only, or for the property as a whole (all locations). Custom reports can also be filtered by location.

But this is not the only benefit of the Location Module…

Organize Availability Calendars by Location

Availability and rate calendars can be organized by location, providing reservation agents with a clear and immediate picture of availability across sites to manage occupancy more effectively and efficiently.

Independent Booking Engines per Location

The Location Module even allows independent booking engines per location, as well as customized check-in and check-out receipts for each location — a useful feature for separately branded small properties that are run by the same owner and located in close proximity to each other.

Take, for example, a B&B owner that also runs a small inn a couple of blocks away. She often books customers at the other property depending on occupancy and customer requirements, and her customers can search availability online for just one property or across both. The Location Module allows her to run both properties from one system while maintaining each property’s distinct branding via separate booking engines and customized receipts.

 

Every property is unique. Unlike the rigid systems of the past, today’s hospitality management technology should adapt to the diverse operational requirements of independent properties — not the other way around. WebRezPro’s Location Module is one example of how our PMS caters to properties that function outside the typical hotel mold, equipping them with tools and data to support their goals. If your property manages units on separate sites, contact us to see our Location Module in action.

The Deer’s Head Inn

Located in Elizabethtown, New York, The Deer’s Head Inn offers four beautifully renovated guestrooms and a host of amenities like an onsite restaurant and an eclectic local market featuring farm-fresh local foods and bread, grab-and-go sandwiches, quick fix snacks and fresh baked pastries. The Deer’s Head Inn has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated Web reservation software to take online bookings!

Key Ways Your Cloud PMS Upgrades the Guest Experience

As the hospitality industry grows increasingly competitive, more and more properties are investing in technology to help manage and enhance the guest experience. Ultimately, this means technology designed to automate and streamline operations that impact the guest experience, from guest transactions to communications to housekeeping.

Expressly designed to automate daily hotel operations, property management systems (PMS) are at the heart of guest experience management. Here are six key examples of how a cloud PMS empowers lodging operators to upgrade the guest experience.

1. Streamlined Check-in and Check-out

Without a streamlined and automated front-desk system, the check-in and check-out process can be a complicated business. Such manual administrative tasks as looking up reservations, completing guest registration cards, assigning rooms, settling bills and taking payments make for a long drawn-out process that distracts front desk staff from the customer in front of them.

For an efficient, guest-centric check-in and check-out process that enhances the customer experience, front desk staff must be supported by an automated and intuitive property management system. Through data integration, cloud PMS greatly reduce the manual workload by automating and speeding up the abovementioned tasks. The system makes it easy to locate and edit reservation folios, and recognize returning guests. It can automatically assign rooms and track outstanding balances.

By automating the administrative workload, cloud PMS allow front desk staff to focus on interacting with the guest, and provide them with tools (such as guest profiles — more on this below) for personalizing the guest experience.

2. Guest Profiles

PMS that offer the ability to capture and store guest profile data are key to enhancing the guest experience. Beyond guest names and contact details, profiles should comprise information that helps a property really know its customers, including stay and transaction history (across services such as restaurant, spa, etc.), preferences and requests (like allergies and room preferences), and birthdays and anniversaries.

Armed with detailed guest profiles, properties can easily recognize returning guests, deliver more personalized communications and offers, and provide the kind of proactive personalized service pre-, during and post-stay that turns customers into loyal guests.

3. On-the-Go Access

One of the most impactful advantages of cloud technology is mobile accessibility. When a cloud PMS is optimized for mobile devices it becomes an even more powerful tool for improving efficiency and guest service.

From paperless check-in with electronic signature capture to reservation folio data to housekeeping reports, the ability to access and update PMS data on the go via a mobile device empowers hotel staff to deliver more efficient, personalized service to guests — in the moment, and from anywhere on the property.

4. Automated Emails

All customer touchpoints represent a valuable opportunity to enhance the customer experience — and email communications are no exception.

Reservation confirmations and pre-arrival emails should provide customers with helpful information (such as services and amenities on offer, events, insider tips and upgrade options) and can help capture additional guest data such as preferences and requests that enables you to get to know your guests better. Post-stay thank-you emails are especially effective at gathering feedback and reviews that reveal opportunities for service improvement.

A modern property management system not only stores email addresses within guest profiles, but should also offer the ability to send customizable (and personalized) emails to guests automatically, triggered by reservation data such as check-in and check-out dates and room and rate codes. Through direct integration with CRM systems, your PMS can help your email campaigns drive guest engagement to the next level.

5. Value-added Packages and Services

Value-added packages work to increase customer satisfaction by providing high perceived value. Along with ancillary services such as spa, dining and activities, packages allow guests to customize their stay experience, resulting in a more memorable one.

A property management system that makes it easy to set up packages, discounts and add-ons (and to sell those packages, discounts and add-ons across online channels) offers lodging operators a very practical way to upgrade the guest experience by offering customers more value.

6. Cross-System Integration

One of the major advantages of a cloud PMS is the ability to integrate with other core hotel systems such as POS, CRM and RMS systems, as well as OTAs, loyalty programs, mobile apps and more. Thanks to common Web standards and open APIs, cross-system integration is easier and more cost-effective in the cloud than it is among on-premise systems.

Maximizing efficiency and accuracy by automating processes between systems, PMS integration with other hotel systems is key to streamlining tasks that impact the guest experience, from confirming online reservations to check-in and check-out. For example: OTA integration automates the process of updating inventory across online channels and capturing online bookings in the PMS; a POS interface automatically posts restaurant charges to the guest’s folio; and a payment gateway interface allows credit card payments to be processed directly through the PMS. For more information on the benefits of integrating your PMS to other hotel systems, check out our Quick Guide to PMS Integration.

In all cases, cross-system integration greatly reduces manual administrative workload, affording hotel staff more time to focus on their guests.

A modern property management system is key to managing the guest experience. Backed by the right tools for streamlining processes, gathering and tracking data, and selling stay experiences, your property is well-equipped to continue elevating the guest experience in an increasingly competitive industry.

Did You Know? WebRezPro Allows You to Create Allocated Rates

The hospitality industry is all about offering unique and superior services. That’s why we work hard to ensure WebRezPro Property Management System has the flexibility required for you to go above and beyond for your guests. Do you have negotiated rates with corporate accounts? Consider using the Allocated Rates feature in order to simplify the booking process for your corporate clients.

What are Allocated Rates?

Allocated Rates allow you to take rooms out of inventory—without booking them—and offer them exclusively to a selected corporate account, for a particular period. This allocation allows you to guarantee inventory for this company during the desired period and allows you to designate a release date after which they lose exclusive rights to book the allocated rooms. It is a more-general form of group allocations, useful for those cases where you are making many allocations over extended periods of time for one company.

How to Setup Allocated Rates

To set this up click “Rates,” then “Negotiated Rates.” Navigate to the “Options” menu and select “Create allocation.” Fill out the name and descriptions of the rate as normal. When you get to “Choose allocation method” you can select whether you wish to allocate specific units or just certain numbers of a unit type. Once you make a choice here, you should setup this rate as normal, making sure to select the corporate account of the company you want to give access to this rate under “Rate access” in section #1.

Once you save and click the back arrow, you then need to click the “Allocation” link next to the rate you’ve just created. From here, click “Add an availability entry” and choose the first dates you want to allocate.

If needed, choose a number in this menu: “Number of days prior to arrival that allocation is released.” This selection is the date after which the units become available for public bookings.

Then, in section #2 choose how many of each unit type you want to allocate. Or, if you are allocating specific units, highlight those room numbers you want to include. Hold down “Ctrl” on your keyboard (or “command” if on a Mac) while clicking, to select multiple rooms.  Then save, click the back arrow, and click “Add a day entry.” You will then be able to add the price as usual.

You now have an allocated rate. You can add other allocations for other dates on this rate by clicking “Add an availability entry” and repeating the process.

 

The Allocated Rates feature is a great way to handle negotiated rates with corporate clients, without worrying about leaving rooms unbooked. For further questions, please contact Support.

The Mountaineer Inn

The Mountaineer Inn is located in the heart of Asheville, North Carolina, and offers 76 modern guestrooms and a host of amenities like an outdoor swimming pool, complimentary continental breakfast, free WiFi and some pet-friendly guest rooms. The Mountaineer Inn has just started using our WebRezPro Property Management System to help run their business. Visit the inn’s website to see how they’re using WebRezPro to take online bookings!