This article is the next in our series focusing on the best hotel management software for independent hotels, hostels, and bed & breakfasts. Our first article covered why you need hotel management software. At the end of our series, we’ll release a comprehensive ebook on selecting the right hotel management software.
Independent hoteliers stand to boost productivity and gain revenue by adopting hotel management software. The power lies in the comprehensive nature of a system that works together to achieve the best business outcomes.
Hotel management software (HMS) must do one thing well: help you run your hotel better. It’s not meant to be an additional burden to manage or another cost to bear.
Consider this example: a guest walks up to the front desk at a 15-suite boutique luxury getaway. The lobby is quiet, the staff relaxed. The guest has just arrived and wants to check-in. After consulting the paper log book – which is actually just a sheet of paper with a list of stayovers and checkouts, it appears that the previous guest has checked out. The front desk radios housekeeping, to confirm that room 5 is clear. The guest stands by, waiting for a response. Nothing. The front desk tries again. Nothing. With an apology, the front desk clerk scurries away to chase the housekeeper – for the second time in the last hour. A frustrating experience which extends directly to the guest.
Digital hotel management software eliminates these types of disconnections within a property. With full transparency and shared visibility, the entire team using HMS is working from the same information. Hospitality software reduces service lapses and makes guests (not to mention your staff) happier.
When it comes down to selecting the best hotel management software for your independent hospitality business, these are the most important features to look for.
Modern and powerful hotel management software is cloud-based. This is in opposition to solutions that host hardware on-premise. Cloud computing technology is affordable, scalable, and fast. It’s also much easier to update regularly than a system that requires expensive physical upgrades. Cloud-based HMS can also be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, which means you don’t have to physically be at your property to check in on your business.
#2: Intuitive Interface
In a business that competes so vigorously for talent, why wait around for an outdated, clunky system to load? Only to be greeted with a difficult-to-navigate interface that makes daily tasks a struggle to complete. Employees want simple tools that are easy to use and learn. Similarly, owners and managers often need to train new staff regularly, so having user-friendly hotel management software makes a business run smoother all around.
#3: Complete Booking Engine
Hotel management software that includes an integrated booking engine gives guests the ability to book their reservation themselves, which leads to more direct bookings. And, when your booking engine includes a payment processor, you can receive new bookings on your website 24/7.
A booking engine embedded right within your site also gives you much more control to offer more bundles and packages that reflect different guest interests. Added personalization can bring incremental revenue to your hotel, no matter your property’s of size.
An efficient booking engine will:
- Include multiple languages and currencies. Choose a booking engine with localization support so you can attract and accommodate international visitors.
- Accept Secure payments. Take reservations on your website around the clock and give guests the confidence that their payment is secure with reputable payment processors.
- Offer a rate comparison tool. Another powerful way to build trust and convert more bookings is with a Rate Check widget. Be transparent and give users the confidence that they’re getting the best rate right on your website.
- Be customizable. Your booking engine should seamlessly match your website design so it’s consistent with your brand and doesn’t feel out of place.
- Integrate with your PMS and channel manager. Reservations made on your booking engine should automatically sync with your PMS and across all of your OTA channels so you don’t get overbookings.
#4: Detailed Reports
Robust reporting enables hoteliers to make data-driven decisions. Using data to improve operations and marketing strategies used to be a privilege for big-budget hotels only. Not anymore! With the right hotel management software, independent hoteliers can make smart decisions with data and create comprehensive reports that give visibility into your property’s finances, daily activities, analytics, and more.
Detailed reports give you more clarity over your business efforts. Once you know exactly how much revenue each OTA generated for you, you can gain control of your distribution strategy and channels, and never overpay OTA commissions again. Dynamic reporting modules should let you create reports in-browser, as email or as downloadable spreadsheets and PDFs. You should also be able to filter data by marketing channel, room type, year, specials, and other key parameters.
#5: Channel Manager
A hotel channel manager organizes how your room inventory is distributed on online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Booking.com, Airbnb and Expedia. When integrated with your hotel management software, the channel manager will update your room availability on your calendar in real-time. Other benefits to having a channel manager as part of your hotel management software include:
- More visibility and more guests. Connecting to different OTAs using your channel manager will give you the benefit of displaying your property to a larger number of potential guests from around the world. Also, you’ll be able to find smaller, more niche OTAs that will attract your ideal guest and charge less commission.
- No more overbookings. When you have a channel manager that’s synced with your hotel management software, gone will be the days of manually updating your availability across multiple channels and having multiple logins to different extranets. Nothing beats the easy and convenience of having all of your tools in sync.
- Greater control over your rates and availability. With a channel manager, you can set different pricing and availability on a per-channel basis so you have full reign over how you sell your rooms.
#6: Revenue optimization
Your hotel rates shouldn’t be “set it and forget it.” In order to maximize your revenue, your pricing needs to be dynamic, and take into consideration factors like your competitor’s rates and local events that may affect your profits. It’s not feasible to constantly adjust your pricing manually. With automation, pricing can be adjusted intelligently to reflect demand in real-time.
Ideally, your hotel management software will have the ability to automate some of your pricing decisions. It’s not feasible to constantly adjust pricing manually. Even small properties with few rooms can increase profits by using revenue optimization technology.
#7: Robust Integrations
The final central feature well-rounded and powerful hotel management software must include is the ability to connect with third-party integrations. Integrations are tools and services that you can link to your HMS to get specific jobs done. For example, if you have a restaurant or cafe at your property, you could link a point of sale integration to your hotel management software so your guests can easily charge purchases to their room. There are a ton of integration tools you can connect with to help improve the guest experience, such as self-service check-in options and review requests.
Look for a hotel management software vendor that easily connects to your preferred third-party solutions. This integrations-friendly approach is a sign that the software provider wants to empower its customers.
The end result of any hotel management software has to be relationship-building. It’s all about empowering hoteliers with strong and user-friendly technology in order to free up time to build more personal interactions with guests.
See how Cloudbeds can help you better manage your business by booking a FREE demo today.