For hotel owners and managers, there really is no more important tool in their arsenal than a good property management system. This is especially true for smaller boutique hotels that have less than 50 rooms. Larger chain hotels are required to use the property management software given to them by headquarters, but small hotels have more freedom to choose the reservation method that is right for them. And with the continued demand from the Millennial generation, who are shunning large, impersonal chains for smaller, authentic, experience-oriented hotels, this subset of the hotel industry will continue to grow.
In a recent survey of hotel owners by leading online software review site, Software Advice, only 40% of respondents reported using some form of property management software. Sixteen percent reported using pen and paper and another 10% used a spreadsheet of some kind, whether through Excel or Google Sheets. Clearly there is room for property management software companies to expand to this market. The biggest question is what are hotels looking for when it comes to software?
- Online Booking Capabilities—This is the biggest request and the biggest issue for hotels. Because Millennials are growing to be the largest demographic of travelers and also because overwhelmingly they prefer to book their travel online, independent hotels need to be listed on as many websites as possible. In fact, according to Software Advice, most Millennials start their search for a hotel using Google or TripAdvisor.
- Online Presence—Along with online booking, hotel owners need to increase their presence online through websites and social media. A great property management system can help them accomplish this by broadcasting the hotel’s information far and wide.
- Platform Friendly—Since it was developed before the advent of the smartphone, much of the property management software out there is outdated and sluggish, especially on mobile devices. New hotel management software needs to be responsive and fast on a variety of platforms, from Android to iPhone and from tablet to PC. A potential guest can be lost instantly if a hotel’s booking software is not up to date.
- Central Calendar—After a hotel has secured potential guests, whether by phone or online, the software will need to have a central calendar that can be updated in real time. This prevents double booking and the chance of having to send a guest to another property. Moreover, easy readability saves countless hours and numerous headaches for management and staff.
- Housekeeping and Front Office Management—Another feature frequently requested from leading property management software is staff management, both front office and housekeeping. Being able to keep track of staff hours, room cleanings, and concierge services through a central hub allows property managers to relax knowing that the job is done.
Software Advice also identified other features that would appeal to Millennials. These included a robotic concierge service that can take menial tasks (like delivering toothbrushes) away from busy staff members. Millennials were also attracted to features like smart phone room key apps. These are progressive features that the hospitality industry should definitely consider when assessing booking software.
Do you have any great ideas for hotel management? Is there anything that could be included in new software development? Share them here.