Property management systems (PMS) are the center of the IT universe for most lodging and accommodation companies. They manage workflows related to room availability, reservations, payments and housekeeping. But are they becoming outdated?
PMS, as its name indicates, is focused on property. But today, the number one focus should be on customers.
Consumers expect tailored lodging experiences so our strategic plans and technology have to be built around how to attract, serve and retain guests – not just managing properties and facilities.
So, is it time to adopt customer relationship management (CRM) tools instead? The question really is, could serving customers be easier – or better – with a CRM?
Benefits of CRM
PMS and CRM systems both centralize and store data. But CRMs allow you to use the information to drive guest engagement.
Instead of just collecting the “who” and “when” (or receiving it from an online travel agency), CRMs gather behavioral and sentiment data that can be used to:
- Anticipate guest needs. CRMs help you understand guest preferences and behaviors – details that make each stay comfortable and special.
- Personalize marketing. Leveraging data about past behavior, hotels can create more relevant offers, cross-sell products and increase revenue. Deeper segmentation and more-personalized messages engage guests, without sounding like sales pitches.
- Drive loyalty. Richer guest profiles lead to more meaningful interactions and services. CRMs can track guest interests, survey responses and travel intentions. And they can reward loyalty through meaningful programs and offers.
- Operate more efficiently. CRMs also make it easier to spot VIPs and to suggest services based on a guests’ propensity to spend. Leveraging that data to drive strategy and processes will save time and money.
Both systems are valuable and you don’t necessarily have to choose one over the other, but leveraging the right software tool can make an incredible impact on the guest.
Some CRM and PMS solutions can be integrated or layered within your IT ecosystem. Pooling all of your data resources and tools together may be the best way to connect with guests.
Having the data is key. Hotels need to take greater ownership over guest data – and not just the names and reservation numbers. A CRM may be one way to loosen dependence on online travel groups that own most of guests’ information.
Choosing CRM and/or PMS
So how do you choose the right system for your organization?
Software selection can be overwhelming. A methodical approach can help you find the right tool based on your needs, budget and long-term goals. Our software selection team recommends a six-step approach:
- Set goals. Clearly define the what, why and how of your project. What are you trying to achieve? Why, or why now? And how do you want to get there? The answers create a framework that makes it easier to evaluate potential solutions.
- Gather data. Find out what stakeholders want and need. Identify and prioritize features. Don’t just focus on filling gaps that exist today; consider how new capabilities could build competitive advantages.
- Document your requirements. Make sure every software provider you speak with clearly understands what you’re looking for. Document your goals, important context around your strategy and example use cases of how you want to leverage the solution. Include expectations around cybersecurity, data protection and compliance, in addition to features.
- Kick the tires. Once you’ve narrowed down potential solutions, ask for a demo. Provide specific processes and use cases for the vendor to walk through. Learn how the system will work within your existing ecosystem and processes before moving on to the next phase.
- Decide. All of your earlier homework – creating a vigorous selection framework and demonstration script – will pay off in the decision stage. Which solution checks the most-important boxes toward your organization’s strategy and system requirements? The decision should be a validation more than a leap of faith.
- Communicate. Software selection affects everyone. Communicate with stakeholders early and often to minimize disruption.
How Wipfli can help
At Wipfli, we believe perspective changes everything. That’s why our teams craft unique solutions driven by their combined knowledge from deep hospitality experience and technology. We go beyond the programs to ensure your people and processes are a part of the solution. Contact us to learn more or see our hospitality services web page.
About our series
In this series, Wipfli explores four technology trends that are shaping the hospitality industry in 2022 so leaders can:
- Prevent cyberattacks with a safe and efficient infrastructure
- Elevate the guest experience with the right software
- Reduce labor crunch with redesigned processes and communication tools
- Increase guest engagement with loyalty apps
Read part one: Cybersecurity must-haves
Read part three: Technology to help your employees
Read part four: Digital experience for guests
CRM adoption: How to set up your organization for success