Welcome to budget season! Now is the time to prepare for 2021, and that means making plans to invest in hotel technology at your hotel. Hoteliers around the world are crunching numbers, getting demos for new products, and deciding which technology companies to partner with for long term success.
But how do you determine what type of software will give you the best bang for your buck and which company is going to give your hotel the best support?
No two hotels are alike, so when it comes to buying software, what works for one hotel, might not work for another. However, by asking a few (ok, a lot) of questions, buying hotel software doesn’t have to be so hard, and you can find a good technology fit for your hotel.
And one last note for you to keep in mind for your search: finding a great technology company to work with is just as important as the quality of the products they offer.
Determine Which Type of Software Your Hotel Needs
There are a lot of players in the hotel software game, all offering a different view into how they help hotels succeed. It is crucial for hospitality leaders to identify key points that make their hotels a success, and how adding new tools can expand on that. Alternatively, think about the pain points around your hotel… What type of solution can help?
As a hotelier, before you invest in technology, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions to ensure that you’re looking for the right solutions. Implementing software solutions, without having specific goals in mind will make it hard to measure ROI.
- What problem am I trying to solve or which process am I trying to eliminate at my property?
- What are the benefits of using technology in hotel management?
- Is there a specific metric I want to improve or need to hit (guest satisfaction, # of online reviews, operational efficiency, etc.)
- Who will be using the software at my property?
- Am I purchasing software to replace an existing product, or are we using software for the first time to replace manual processes?
Evaluating a Hotel Software Vendor
As we mentioned earlier, find a company that you want to work with. How responsive a company is during the buying process can be a solid indicator of the level of service you’ll receive after you’ve signed a contract.
Be sure to ask the following questions of any company:
- What will your product do for my hotel?
- Describe your company’s level of expertise, past experiences in rendering service for venues like ours, and results you achieved.
- Describe your company’s philosophy and approach for helping clients meet their business and marketing objectives.
- Describe unique and creative ways of providing value to your clients that set you apart from your competition.
- What is the ROI? And why is this product necessary during financially constrained times?
Onboarding and Implementation
Before you’ve signed a contract, it’s important to know what the next steps are. Make sure that your expectations for onboarding and implementation are in line with your hotel’s management team.
- What is included?
- What is the timeline?
- What is the total cost to go live? Are fees negotiable?
- What will be required of our team (time and effort) to launch?
- Will there be any interruption to guest services or the guest experience during implementation?
There is nothing more frustrating than spending money on a solution and then not being able to get a response from a support team when you need it. We’ve all experienced that frustration, and we would never wish it on anybody else!
Make sure you understand exactly what their support team structure looks like by asking the following questions:
- Will we have a dedicated person/people to assist us?
- What is the average response time?
- Do you have more than 95% uptime?
- How are a hotel’s requested changes or enhancements communicated, evaluated and prioritized?
Integrations are an essential part of useful hotel technology. The ability to have hotel systems that talk to each other is more than a “nice to have.”
- How much will you charge every time we need to integrate a new system?
- How long will it take if the integration isn’t already complete?
Security, Upgrades and Updates
Asking about a company’s security policies is a must. Technology companies need to be compliant and proactive when it comes to managing guest data. Security breaches have severe consequences for a hotel’s reputation (not to mention the legal consequences!) in the hospitality business.
Make sure the company you’re going to be working with can answer the following questions:
- What are your security and compliance certifications, measures and features?
- How often will updates and upgrades be available?
- What is the process to implement these updates with as little disruption as possible?
Shopping for new hotel software should be exciting! Don’t let the details overwhelm you. A good software company should be able to provide you everything you need to know about successfully using their product.
If your hotel’s owners or managers want formal information, a request for proposal (RFP) is common practice when seeking new technology solutions.
Hotel Tech Report has a great article about how to write an RFP in four easy steps.
It is most important that your hotel operation identifies what is important for them and takes the time to get input from the front line teams, as well as from leadership. The most successful solutions are the ones where all of your teams, as well as your software provider, are on the same page, and ‘rowing in the same direction.