Tag: property management

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Barriers – Are you creating them, or tearing them down?

After attending the PAII conference in Austin, Texas in early March, we've been on a long road trip to see family and take care of some personal issues. In the course of those travels an interesting lesson arose for all of us. We were driving down the Interstate, with an approximate idea of our destination, and wanted to find a bed and breakfast for the night. However, our actual destination was a local attraction, with the area B&B's scattered among a number of nearby small towns. Because this was short notice, we needed to find a B&B that would show its availability online, as it wasn't feasible to drive from town to town, and sometimes in rural areas, just to see if we could find a room. An added problem was that, if we couldn't find one, the hotels were all in the same small towns, or in a larger city about 20 miles away. Searching for a B&B Turning to our trusty smartphone, we searched for bed and breakfasts near the attraction. That brought up a list of properties and the usual collection of reviews, websites, photos and other information. Only a couple of the B&B's looked inviting, so we selected the one that most appealed to us, and checked its website. That's when the fun began. The rates were reasonable, and the rooms attractive. However, there was no online availability or online booking. The only way to book a room was to call. In addition, the policies were contained in a pdf file, which my browser of choice doesn't open nicely.  By comparison, the others had policies in web pages, but none that we were interested in had online availability or booking capability. So what happened? We didn't want to call the B&B during breakfast hours, of course,…

Slide Presentation: Selecting Guest Management Software

This week we attended the PAII Innkeeping Conference in Austin, Texas. Our first presentation was “How to Select Guest Management Software” on Tuesday afternoon (changed from its original time on Wednesday afternoon). Since it seemed that many were not aware of the schedule change, we wanted to make the slides available for viewing here. During the presentation we also gave access to a Google Documents spreadsheet to help in comparing different Property Management Systems, and evaluating them according to your own priorities. The slide presentation explains how to use the spreadsheet, and we'll describe it again, below the presentation, but if you only need the link to the spreadsheet to download it for your own use, you will find the Guest Management Software Comparison spreadsheet here. Selecting Guest Management Software View more presentations from Scott Thomas. Using the Spreadsheet The first two columns breaks the features we will consider into several categories (User Interface, Online Bookings, Reports, etc.), and identifies the features within each category. The column titled “Importance” is a numeric value you define, setting a value from 1-10 (10 being highest) of the importance of the feature to YOU. The values in the spreadsheet are samples, only. Your values may differ. Also, you can add more features (or delete irrelevant features) by adding rows between two other rows (or deleting a row). However, if you make such changes, you may need to update the formulas which automatically calculate totals in various sections. Read through all the features and edit the values in the Importance column to give relative importance of each feature to you. Download a demo copy of the software you are considering (or sign up for an online evaluation of a web-based system), and try it out, paying specific attention to the features listed in your…

Selecting Property Management Software (Part 3)

In our previous posts on this topic we discussed a basic approach to selecting guest management software and online booking software, and considerations affecting the choice of web-based systems versus locally installed systems. As promised, we'll discuss some of the features you may want to consider, and ways of evaluating them. Deciding what features you need We'll list a variety of features, grouped by category, but you should make your own list. Some of the features we think are important may not be important to your property, or you may have others that are very important, but that we haven't considered. Just as properties differ, so do the features they want to see in the Property Management System. If you click on the image of a spreadsheet at right, you'll find a spreadsheet (in Google Documents) that you may view or download, with sample comparisons of a variety of features to consider. You'll want to open a copy of the spreadsheet, either in your browser, or download it and open a local copy, so you can follow along (and make any changes you need). We've separated the features into several categories, in an effort to reduce the effort at comparison. The categories we've selected are Rate Capabilities (types of rates, and rate attributes that you can set),  User Interface considerations, Guest Communications (confirmations, reminders, follow-up, etc.), Reports (pre-designed reports, custom reports, occupancy, financial, etc.), Accounting (export of accounting data, interface with accounting software), and Online Booking (whether incorporated into the Property Management System, or independent, whether it can be customized to fit with the property web site, update frequency, and items that can be displayed. Within each category there are several features listed, most of which are commonly found in different Property Management Software. If there are any you feel…

Selecting Property Management Software (part 2)

In our previous article on selecting guest management software we talked about selecting online booking software, and how that choice can help to resolve questions about the property management software. This installment will talk more about the considerations in selecting the property management system, itself. Since it is also possible that your consideration of online booking solutions has not narrowed the field for property managment software (perhaps because you are considering systems that "play nicely" with several online booking platforms), we will consider property management software regardless of the type of online booking software it supports. If your preferences have eliminated one or more of the options, you'll be able to just skip along to the next section. Online systems vs. installed systems Speaking very broadly, property management systems for smaller properties fall into two camps: those installed on your computer, and those that exist on an internet server and are accessed via a web browser (usually Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or others). It can be challenging to try to directly compare an online system with one installed on your PC, as there are some feature unique to one type, which the other doesn't match well. On the other hand, there are features that should be available on either type. Consequently, the first question to resolve is whether there is a reason to greatly prefer one type (online or installed) over the other. Stated in the negative, is there a valid reason to refuse to use one or the other? The pros and cons are almost exactly opposite for the two types of systems. The benefits of the online systems are: (a) they can be accessed from any location where you have an internet connection (b) security of the data, and responsibility to backup the data, rests with the…

Selecting a Guest Management System

Assuming you have decided to find a new Guest Management System, let's look at the process of choosing from among the many products available. The first step may not be the expected one, but looking at it first may save headaches later. Determine whether or not you will be using a third-party system for online bookings. That is, (a) will you accept online bookings, and (b) if so, (1) will you require that your Guest Management System provide built-in online booking capability, or do you want a third party online booking system, and then, (2) if appropriate, which third party system will you select. Resolving these questions up front allows you to eliminate products which will not satisfy this requirement. Some guest management systems only work with their own integrated online booking module, while others interact with a variety of third-party systems. If you determine that you want an integrated system, you have effectively eliminated all products requiring a third party online interface. Conversely, if you require a third party online system, that eliminates systems using only integrated online capability. The first question to resolve, then, is whether or not to accept online bookings. If you are one of the few for whom having online bookings and availability are not desirable, we'll talk in the next article in this series about selecting the actual Guest Management Software. In view of the proliferation of internet-enabled devices, easy web access, and the increasing number of internet-generation inn-goers, for most of us, having real-time web availability and booking capability is essential. Assuming that we do want online booking capability, then, we must determine if we want a guest management system providing integrated online bookings, or whether we want to use a third-party system for online availability and bookings. Considerations in making this choice…

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