Chapter 5 of 5: How to select the right Property Management System
Most people will look at what others use, and they will try to understand what would be a good choice for them just from that. This strategy is probably the least effective as you are different, your property is different, so you need to make sure that you have the right PMS for you. So we created the following guide for helping you do that in the best possible way.
Two general rules when selecting a PMS
1. You are not Hilton, Marriott or Hyatt
Like every other software/technology, Property Management Systems were first used by big chains for managing the hundreds or thousands of rooms and hotels they have. Over the years, software companies created simpler versions of Property Management Systems for smaller properties, for allowing owners like you to manage their bookings in an easier and more efficient way.
So the last thing you want to do is to pick a complex and very advanced PMS because some very popular hotel brands are using it. They are too expensive and it will take so long to setup and learn how to use it, that you will regret it.
2. Don't pay for features you will never use
If you run a small property, and your daily tasks are to add new bookings, check arrivals & payments, and keep notes for each booking, you probably don't need all these fancy features that many companies will offer such as: Yield Management, Revenue Forecast Analysis, GDS Synchronization and many more. In order to avoid that, you need to know in advance what features you need. So read on.
The 7 things that matter when selecting a PMS
1.How many rooms or apartments & how many room types you have
- Up to 3 room types: Most PMSs will offer adequate tools for handling that
- 4 or more room types: You have to look for a PMS that allows you to add bookings easily, by selecting the room type and then the specific room number or name you'd like to allocate to that booking. Normally, this is done when the guest arrives, but most small properties will do that in advance given that there aren't that many rooms or no-shows.
2. How many people need to add/update and use your PMS
- Can they use a PMS: Bringing a new tool in your property and asking the team to use it is never easy. So make sure that they see it and try it before you make a choice. It won't be nice if you find this out that they can't use it after you set it up and start paying for it.
- What does each person need to do on the PMS: Every person will use it differently, for example, you need to be able to add bookings and notes, change prices etc., but your cleaner(s) only need to check the arrivals and departures for knowing which rooms to clean and at what time.
3. From how many sources do you get bookings & how many bookings
- Sources: Do you get bookings by email that need to be entered manually? or do you need to automatically update your bookings from Booking.com, Expedia, and Airbnb?
- Volumes: Automatic updates will have an extra cost, so you need to know much much it will cost you for your volume of bookings, as some charge per room or per number of updated bookings.
4. What happens after the bookings are added in the PMS
- Email confirmations: Until now you probably were sending confirmation messages to guests from your email, or via the Booking.com Extranet and Airbnb Messages for example. Most PMSs will give you the option to send automatic confirmations with details about the guest's booking and your property if you have the guest's email address. This might be something completely new so you need to think how you'd like to manage that.
- Invoices: The PMS will have all the detailed calculations for taxes and maybe also commissions. So if you set it up correctly it will be much easier and faster to handle invoices.
5. How likely are any of the above to change within the coming 12 months
- Rooms and room types: Do you plan to add any new room types or to increase the number of rooms? If yes that will need to be reflected on your PMS, so you will need to think about that from now.
- Staff: Are you changing staff frequently? Will you need to educate new people frequently for using the PMS? If yes, then you should definitely select a PMS that very easy to learn.
- Sources of bookings: Are you increasing the sources of bookings? Are you going to add your property for example to additional travel & hotel search sites? If yes, you need to calculate that price from now as they might ask you to pay a lot and you won't be able to avoid it without changing PMS.
6. How much can you afford to pay & for how long
- Amount: Like any other purchase, not knowing how much you want to spend in advance, isn't a good idea as you won't be able to filter out the different choices. So have a look at the previous chapter of this guide, where we give some examples of PMS costs and then decide on a budget.
- Contract length: Most modern PMS providers will give you the option to choose between a month-by-month contract which you can stop at any moment, or annual contracts with typically a 10-20% discount. You shouldn't choose anything longer than 12 months as the conditions may change and you don't want to be locked with a specific provider for that long.
7. How much support do they offer & what type of support
- By Email/ By Phone: By phone, it's always faster and easier and most providers will offer support in English and maybe 1-2 more languages. So make sure they clearly state that they provide support and also the type of support i.e., by email or by chat or by phone.
- Limitations: Many providers will also mention any support limits, for example, they will limit you to one request per day, so if you are stuck and you have a problem it's very important to know in advance that you won't be able to get direct support. Some offer premium support as an extra, so you will have to pay more for having 24/7 support.