John Burns
Oct 22, 2022

Selecting a Hotel System (and Vendor) in 2022

Selecting a Hotel System (and Vendor) in 2022

John Burns
Oct 22, 2022

What's Changed?

We all have a shopping process. In our personal lives we have preferred brands and styles, favorite retailers and cost guidelines. In business, including in the lodging industry, buying processes similarly involve a series of considerations and priorities, although they tend to be more structured, collaborative and documented.

Many of our buying considerations haven’t changed in the past decade (or longer), but some important ones have. And the products certainly have. Today, when hotel managers are seeking a new system – a PMS, a POS, a sales and catering system or one of a score of other technologies used on-property, the evaluation process should change as well? Here are some factors to consider and questions you should ask yourself if you’re looking to upgrade.

  • Cloud-based Systems: If the option is available, should I consider a cloud- based version of the system I’m seeking? After all, cloud-based systems are rapidlyreplacing on-premise installations. Rather than installing (and then maintaining) the system on a computer situated at the hotel, staff can access the system via a PC, POS terminal, tablet or smartphone that connects to the remotely-located computer via the internet. Is it time to seriously consider cloud-based technology if I haven’t already done so?
  • New Vendors in the Marketplace: The hotel systems marketplace is in constant flux. Old vendors leave; new vendors arrive. The newcomers generally employ the latest design and development tools and techniques. They bring new (and often disruptive) thinking. They prompt established vendors to modernize. This is a healthy process. Hotel operators beginning a system search should ask themselves, “Am I assessing all qualified vendors, not just those that I am familiar with from the past?”
  • Ease of Implementation: Will configuring the system for use in this location require a day-long (or multi-day) visit from the system vendor’s technician? Pre-activation visits are getting shorter and increasingly unnecessary. What’s the implementation plan for the system(s) you’re considering?
  • Ease of Staff Training: “Classroom” training is increasingly a thing of the past for hotel systems. It’s been largely replaced by self-paced online and video training programs. Ask what’s available for the systems you have your eye on.
  • Ease of Use: Developers of the latest generation hotel systems have placed a top priority on designing user interfaces that are clean, clear and as intuitive as possible. They’ve streamlined workflows and simplified completion of tasks. Increasingly, older systems are being refitted so they, too are clearer and cleaner. The goals are to minimize screen viewing time and satisfy users, resulting in faster process completion and job satisfaction. How easy to use are the screens of the systems you’re examining?
  • Access from Anywhere: Cloud-based systems (and a few on-premise systems) now enable access to their functions by any authorized user with an internet connection. Users can review activity data, revise prices, check and adjust staffing assignments -- and much more -- from just about anywhere. Is this access available in the systems you’re considering?
  • Integration With Other Products: Hotel systems must communicate data to each other. A PMS, for example, receives guest charge data from the POS, and from the Wi-Fi, call accounting and entertainment systems, among others. It provides guest and occupancy data to those and numerous other systems. Generic application programming interfaces (APIs) are increasingly replacing proprietary (and complex and costly) interfaces. These are faster and easier to install and cost much less -- sometimes nothing. In fact, they’re approaching “plug and play” status. How, and how well, do the systems you’re considering interface with other hotel systems? What APIs does each vendor offer/support?
  • Multiple Systems from One Vendor: The steady increase in the number of technologies a hotel requires is prompting some property operators to look seriously at the benefits of working with a vendor who offers multiple systems. This reduces the number of vendor relationships to be managed and, in some cases, delivers systems that work more effectively with one another.
  • Actively engaged Account Management: Despite, or possibly because of, pandemic-spurred disruptions in vendor/client communications, some vendors have substantially increased both the frequency and depth of their dialogue with individual clients. System use monitoring, of FAQ and Best Practice library creation, proactive coaching and a commitment to system optimization by users have become increasingly common. Are the vendors under review putting an emphasis on these services?
  • Data Security: Though it certainly isn’t a new topic, data security is a priority for every hotel system vendor. How high it is for each of your potential?
  • Cost of System Implementation and Operation: Traditional, on-premise system operation models required on-site computer hardware installation. Typically, access to system software required a license arrangement that combined a sizable initial payment with subsequent annual support fees averaging 20% of the original investment. Introduction of cloud-based systems brought a new fee model: per room/per day (or month). Systems can now be classified as an operating expense rather than a capital expense. Ask vendors about their fee models, both those initially proposed and potential alternatives.
  • Ease of System/Vendor Change: Cloud-based systems move system acquisition and replacement from a capital budget decision to an operating budget expense. This, coupled with end of on-property computer hardware requirements, makes the decision to replace a current system (be it on-premise or cloud-based) considerably simpler. System change-out remains a complicated project but financially, it’s now markedly more practical. Are you ready to make that move?
  • Vendor Stability: Traditionally, vendors in the hotel systems marketplace operated for decades. New arrivals were few; departures infrequent. Over the past decade, however, this marketplace has seen the arrival of an unprecedented number of new suppliers. They have brought innovation, competition and passion. But in many cases, they’re also start-ups. Some have come and gone already, others have merged or been acquired. Have you completed a risk assessment of a potential new system focused on assessment of its vendor’s probable longevity and success?
  • Remember that amid all of these changes and advances, some considerations remain time-honored and essential:

-  Is the system’s functionality suitable for your type of operation?

-  Is it reliable?

-  Is the vendor watching the hotel marketplace and enhancing their technology to keep pace with needed improvements?

-  Is the vendor responsive?

-  Do they really want your business?

Please let me know the additional considerations that you would add to this list. Good hunting.


Let's Get Digital

7 Questions to Ask Before You Invest in a Hotel Mobile App


Make a Better PMS Choice!

Not all properties are ready for PMS in the cloud. The good news is, at Agilysys it’s your choice on your timing. State-of-the-art leading PMS in the cloud or on-premise PMS. Either way we say YES.