No, this isn’t a stretch. Yes, we are saying that the service level you get from your hotel software company will have a downstream impact on your guests. It is a little bit analogous to that saying you sometimes hear, “happy wife, happy life.” Though in this case, it is, “happy hotel management, happy hotel guest.” That’s because service and support is the number one concern of any hotelier when asked how they feel about their PMS provider.
Why is that? The hotel PMS is the central nervous system of the hotel. It is the connection between sales, marketing, distribution, rooms management and the guest. Most hotel revenue transactions flow through the PMS and the system touches the widest array of hotel departments. And when there is a problem with the PMS, it is the one piece of hotel technology that has the biggest impact on the guest. If your revenue management software goes down, the guest is not really impacted. If your group sales system goes down, the guest is not really impacts. If the guest can’t check in to their room because the PMS goes down – there is a huge impact on the guest.
So keeping the hotel management software up and running is super-critical to making sure the guest experience is not negatively impacted. Let’s say there is a problem with the system. The guest can’t check in because you can’t see room availability or readiness. Or they can’t get an updated bill or can’t process their credit card or – the longer the downtime the bigger the negative repercussions from the guest. The core of good technology service is responsiveness. How fast can your tech provider respond? Well, regardless of when they pick up the phone, you are behind the 8-ball if you have an on-property system. The last think you want is to wait for an on-site visit. Your cloud-based PMS will allow tech to immediately address the problem form their remote location.
Beyond pure timeliness issues, there are financial issues. If you have a pay-by-the-drink service model, you may be disinclined to pick up the phone for a minor issue. You don’t want the nickels and dimes to add up, so you resign yourself to creating business process work-arounds instead of having the system conform to the service model that you require. But sometimes you can’t so you have to submit a billable ticket – even for something that appears to be a software problems and not a problem specific to your hotel!
Then there are the big ones—integrations and enhancements. You are a hotel trying to compete in your marketplace. You are looking for whatever competitive edge you can find. You go to HITEC and see a bunch of new technologies that can give you the edge on revenue management, guest experience, distribution, etc. Here’s the catch – they all have to be integrated with your hotel’s central nervous system, the hotel PMS, for you to reap and rewards. So you call you PMS provider, and request that this new company’s APIs be integrated into the PMS.
This is really the litmus test of your current hotel software company’s service level. Their ability to move at the pace of your requirements will determine how quickly you can apply your operational vision and improve the overall guest experience. But if your PMS company is one of the big, old, traditional PMS companies, this is not a call they want to get from you. Why? Because updating their huge, overly complicated PMS is like turning a battleship. It is a long and difficult process. And if you are a single hotel or small chain, you are not high on their priority list. These companies consider themselves product companies. That is true, of course, but that also means they don’t want to do anything custom and they want to reduce their personnel overhead as much as possible. So they eliminate live help and they do whatever they can to have you make your business confirm to their software – as opposed to the other way around.