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Choosing a Hotel PMS: An 8-point Checklist

How to choose the right PMS system for your hotel

Choosing the right software for your hotel can be difficult. There are lots of options on the market, and choosing the right PMS system for your hotel that is best suited for your needs can feel like throwing darts at a dartboard.

We’ve put together a handy checklist of the top most important things to look for while you’re shopping for a Property Management System (PMS) for your hotel, bed and breakfast, or lodge.

Cloud-based

When it comes to your property management system at your hotel, there are companies that offer a desktop application. Some even require on-premise servers hosted at your hotel property.

That might sound enticing, but computers break and hard drives crash. It’s an unfortunate reality, but the worst can (and often does) happen.

That means the property is effectively temporarily out of business. No manager can afford to not be able to manage guest reservations or accept payments while they buy a new computer, download and install the PMS system again, and to make matters worse, you will most likely have lost all your data and history. That means spending countless hours rebuilding your existing reservations.

By investing in a completely cloud-based product, all your data is protected and backed up. That protects you in case of a computer system crash with no loss of reservations or credit card tokens.

Simple to use and learn

Every hotel employee knows the hassle of using outdated, difficult software and how frustrating it can be to fix mistakes.

Sure, having your PMS be easy to understand sounds like an obvious win, but it can also reduce your costs and increase revenues.

Here’s how: When the software is simple to use, your staff can be more efficient. When staff are more efficient, they make fewer mistakes and that makes for happier customers. That can directly translate to higher revenue and lowered costs for the hotelier.

Training also becomes much easier. When you can train your staff more quickly, that means you have to spend less time getting them up to speed and productive, further reducing costs.

24/7 Support With Staff Who Understands Your Issues

No matter how good the PMS software is in your hotel, you will need support from time to time. When you have a line forming at your front desk and need support immediately, you don’t have time to sit on hold waiting for a support staff member to answer your calls. When a manager or staff member is having an issue, it can directly impact customers or affect revenue. That means they need answers quickly, and sometimes with overseas assistance that can complicate communication.

Worse, you can’t afford to have someone who doesn’t understand the hotel business try to help you work through the problem.

If you have an issue after hours, forget about getting it fixed until the next day.

That’s why it’s so important that your PMS company offers support when you need it the most, not when it’s convenient for them. Make sure your PMS company has 24/7 support.

Built-in EMV Payment Processing

All hotels today have no choice but to accept credit cards. They’re integrated into every step of the reservation process, from validating the credit card when taking a reservation, to charging the guests card on file during checkout.

EMV is a new standard in credit card processing that protects you, the hotelier. Using a payment gateway with EMV can help protect you from chargebacks [link to chargeback article] and fraud, and reduce your potential liabilities.

Most PMS systems these days include standard credit card processing, but not all have the new EMV standard built in, since it can be expensive to build and connect with.

Make sure your PMS provides EMV payment processing to all customers at no additional cost.

PCI Compliance

The hotel is responsible for PCI compliance, period. In the eyes of the law, all burden falls on the hotel to ensure they are compliant, regardless of what software or payment processor they use.

That means it’s absolutely essential to make sure your hotel PMS system, and any credit card terminals are 100% PCI compliant. Otherwise you can up with fines, or even worse lose your merchant account and ability to process credit cards.

By partnering with a PMS company that is 100% PCI compliant and ensuring your credit card processing is compliant as well, you will avoid fines and the threat of not being able to process payments.

Cost

PMS companies charge hotels in various different ways, usually per month per room. And that’s just to start. If you want additional features, you’ll have to pay even more.

Whether you’re a large or a small hotel, that can represent a large cost, which erodes your revenue.

If you’re a seasonal business it can be even worse by spending money on PMS fees when you have few to no rooms booked in your slow season.  That means you start your busy season in a deficit!

Why pay for software when you’re not using it?

By using a PMS company that offers a no-cost solution and only makes money when the hotel makes money, the hotel can decrease its costs and increase its revenue. Even better if the PMS company includes all integrations and features at no additional cost.

A Mobile-Optimized Booking Engine

A growing majority of online traffic is on mobile devices and customers expect to be able to complete direct bookings online.

A hotel’s booking engine is often a customer’s first touch point for a hotel’s experience, so it has to not only look good, but it has to work well on both desktops and mobile devices. It’s even more valuable if the engine can be embedded on a hotel website so the potential guest never can stay in the same website online.

Integrations and Reports

The right PMS also has to have integrations and reports that allow you to compete in this modern hospitality marketplace, like:

  • QuickBooks
  • Point of Sale
  • GDS
  • Central Reservations System (CRS)
  • OTA
  • Channel Management
  • Financial, Projection and Guest Tracking Reports
  • Housekeeping Management
  • Revenue management tools

If the PMS company offers these integrations and reports at no additional cost, then it’s an even better deal


The PMS system is at the core of a hotel’s operations, so choosing the right one is key to increasing revenue, decreasing costs, and revenue management. This checklist should help ensure you’re choosing a system that will meet your property’s needs.

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