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22
Apr
2024
7
min

Checklist for choosing your hotel software

Here are 5 key factors to consider when choosing the right software. These points should be addressed with the software developers you are interested in to ensure that the solution is a good fit, and that it is secure, stable, and complete in order to maximise your investment. This checklist is useful for all your software choices: PMS, CRM, RMS, etc.

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The items on this checklist are presented in no particular order. Other criteria, such as the cost of the solution, implementation timescales, etc., may also play a part in your decision.

1. FEATURES

It goes without saying that it is important to know what the software is for and whether it corresponds to your needs.

Before meeting with a potential supplier, it's a good idea to list your needs so that you're clear about what you want from the solution you're looking for. For example, "I want to increase the average visitor basket", "speed up check-in", "access my reports from home", etc.

The software you evaluate will certainly offer functions that go beyond these listed minimum requirements. If the minimum is covered, additional features could influence your choice. In an industry that is constantly evolving, it is essential that the software has a capacity to develop and adapt, as any technology that cannot be updated becomes obsolete very quickly.

  • List my needs
  • What needs does the solution meet?
  • Are the features I'm interested in included or optional?
  • Are there any other products offered by the company that might interest me in the future?
  • Do I control the solution? Can I make modifications myself at any time?
  • How often are updates carried out? Are they automatic? Are they free?
  • What future developments are planned for the solution?

2. ERGONOMICS AND CONNECTION

Another important point: the ergonomics of the solution. You are going to be using it every day, so it needs to facilitate how you work and not hinder it. Ergonomics are also essential if you want your team to adopt the software and maximise its features. Ask to see the interface so you can see at a glance how it works.

If you can test it, try two or three basic features. Do you need to be guided or did you arrive there by yourself? The number of clicks needed to complete a task is also a good method of measuring the simplicity (or lack of) of an action that you will have to carry out perhaps several times a day.

Secondly, the solution must be able to connect to other software, especially the PMS(Property Management System), which manages reservation planning, invoicing, etc., and must also be able to communicate with other solutions. There's no such thing as the software that does it all. So the software you're interested in will inevitably have to communicate with other systems you already have or will be adopting in the future.

It is essential to assess the interconnectivity potential of the solution under evaluation with other solutions. Either the software is already connected with others (pre-existing interfaces), or it offers programming interfaces (called APIs) that enable external software to connect without too much effort. However, some programs offer no API at all, so the only way to exchange data with another program is to export it manually or automatically, and even this is not always possible.

If no export is possible, you run the risk of being locked into the chosen solution and regretting it later.

  • Does the interface seem clear? Is it easy for a novice to use?
  • Does it need to be installed on a computer, or can it be accessed via a browser?
  • Can I access it from my tablet and/or smartphone? Or have a relay on my phone (notification, etc.)?
  • Does the solution connect with other existing software? Which ones?
  • Are APIs available?
  • Can information be extracted manually? How? Can all data be exported in a usable format?
  • Are interfaces, APIs or export functionalities included in the price of the solution or optional? At what cost?

3. LONGEVITY AND REPUTATION

Especially for solutions intended for the long term (such as a PMS or CRM), having an idea of how the software company is doing is an indicator not to be taken lightly, as this will help avoid a problematic situation where the company is forced to disappear and the software is no longer maintained.

It can be difficult to assess a company's financial health. Be careful not to be dazzled by significant investment they may have, which is by no means a guarantee of sustainability. Instead, consult the financial information websites available in each country (in France: Societe.com or Pappers.fr), which are useful for finding out about the company's history and current health. If no information is available, simply ask questions about sales, profitability, shareholders, etc. Finally, do not hesitate to mention data portability in the event of default, or even have it mentioned in the contract.

Client references or testimonials are also important to get an idea of how a solution is actually used, and to supplement the theoretical information provided by the supplier.

It's a good idea to talk to fellow hoteliers who are already using the software about their experience with the tool and the quality of support. This is even more pertinent if their establishment is similar to your own.

  • How many structures are already equipped with the solution? How many are similar to my own?
  • What is the satisfaction rate?
  • Can I find feedback on the Internet (outside the company's website: Google, Twitter, review platforms, etc.)?
  • Does the provider list clients I can contact? Contact three currently using the solutuion
  • Is the company profit-making? What are its sales figures? Who are the shareholders?
  • Where is it based?
  • For how long has the solution existed?
  • What is the breakdown of employees (developers, support, etc.)?
  • Is development carried out internally or is this outsourced?

4. GUIDANCE AND SUPPORT

All software should offer a knowledge base with articles answering the most frequently asked questions and problems.

Obviously, having people available to answer specific questions in real time is a huge advantage. Especially if this personalised service is free and available by phone, e-mail and chat.

It is important to distinguish between the client support team, who can respond to technical problems at any time, and the account managers/advisors who monitor the use of the solution and help you get the most out of it.

  • Is there a support team?
  • When is it available to help me (7/7, 24/24, office hours)?
  • Is it free?
  • How can I contact support? Assistance is available in which languages?
  • Do I have a dedicated advisor to help me optimise the solution? Will they contact me proactively? Is this support also free?
  • Is there a knowledge base or online training site where I can find out more or do my own training?
  • Are there any training courses or live sessions where I can ask an expert my questions?

5. SECURITY AND COMPLIANCE

It's difficult (if not impossible) to measure data security when you're not an IT security specialist. Yet this aspect is crucial because the hotel has a responsibility to secure its guests' data, especially since May 25, 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). So make sure the solution enables you to comply with the regulations. 

A company wishing to maximise the security of its platform is expected to carry out penetration tests (or "pentests") by companies specialising in IT security. These tests enable the company to detect flaws and then correct them.

  • Does the solution comply with current regulations (NF 525, PCI DSS, GDPR...)?
  • Ask for the Data Processing Agreement (DPA) and, if possible, have your lawyer review it. Check that you (the hotel) are the data controller.
  • Is access to the platform secure: personal logins, multi-factor authentication (2FA), superadmin user management, etc.?
  • Am I guaranteed to own 100% of guest data?
  • Does the company carry out penetration tests? If so, is a summary of the report available?
  • What is the solution's availability? How can I monitor system status?

Use this checklist during your meetings to question your potential technological providers. It will guide you through the important points to consider when choosing a solution.

Would you like to ask LoungeUp all these questions? Request a demonstration or contact us by phone or by e-mail.

Photo credits: Unsplash

Download the printable version of the checklist

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