Sometimes, you make a mistake when running a hotel. Like double-booking two weddings on the same Saturday when you only have one ballroom. Or calling a customer a choice name after witnessing him being rude to your front desk team.
There’s no shame in admitting mistakes. After all, the sooner you can accept that you made a bad choice and move on, the sooner you can focus on what really matters.
That’s why clinging to hotel management software that just isn’t working for you doesn’t make sense when it’s far more productive to take a good, hard look at what you have now and see if there are some telltale red flags that you’ve made the wrong choice.
Once you know for sure that it’s time for a change, you can put yourself on the right track.
We’ve compiled six surefire signs that you need to make a software change, and what it will take to make it right.
1. Customer service isn’t responsive
Good or bad, customer service is the number one thing people mention in their reviews when it comes to hotel management software.
In fact, 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience, and there’s good reason for that. If you run into a problem with the product, there is nothing worse than being left on your own to deal with it. Effective customer service can mitigate problems before they become massive headaches.
Symptoms: Your software provider may operate in a different time zone, which is a problem if you have an emergency during your operating hours. They may only be available via email, and are not very responsive to your service requests. Or they may just not be helpful, period.
Diagnosis: Trust your judgement. If you feel like customer service isn’t helpful enough, you’re probably right. You’re the one who decides what good customer service is, not the vendor.
Treatment: There are plenty of vendors out there that offer 24/7 customer service, or are at the very least responsive to customers. How do you find them? The excellent users of our directory of hotel management software leave reviews that often go into tremendous detail on customer service. Check out a few software options that interest you and read through the reviews, and you’ll immediately get a sense of how good their customer service is—or isn’t.
2. Too much clicking
Hotel management software is supposed to make your life easier. If you have to click through endless drop-down menus, buttons, and forms, then the software isn’t doing a good enough job of simplifying your life as a hotel manager.
Symptoms: You have to click multiple times to do simple things such as get from the dashboard to reserving a room, which becomes time-consuming and potentially irritating for the customer (or, just irritating for you).
Diagnosis: You’re dealing with a poor interface design, or at least an interface that doesn’t work for you even if it does for others.
Treatment: It’s tough to know how you’re going to jive with an interface until you try it. So set aside some time to do free trials with other software companies and experiment with simple tasks such as reserving a room or scheduling housekeeping. You should get an idea pretty quickly of what works for you and what doesn’t.
3. Doesn’t accept bookings from third-party sites
People love booking hotel rooms through third-party websites such as Priceline or Booking.com for one very simple reason: price.
The harsh reality for independent hoteliers fighting the big chains is that 85% of travelers say price is the most important factor when booking a hotel. Although these third-party sites take a huge chunk of your profits—a 10% to 30% commission—they also give your hotel tremendous exposure to customers who otherwise wouldn’t know you exist.
Symptoms: Perhaps none. You may not realize how much business you’re missing from third-party booking sites until you start using them.
Diagnosis: This is an easy one to diagnose. After all, you should know off the top of your head if your software does or does not offer integrations with third-party booking sites.
Treatment: If you aren’t already using third-party sites to boost your bookings, give them a try. Look for software in our directory that specifically advertises integration with third-party sites.
4. Doesn’t work well on mobile
It is a must that hotel software work well on mobile, both for you and your customers. In the latter case, it’s important because hotel bookings on mobile devices surged by 67% in the U.S. in 2016 compared to the previous year. For the former, a platform that works well on mobile allows you to be more agile and responsive to both your staff and your customers without being nailed to your desk.
Symptoms: Customers are complaining about booking on their mobile device. Or, people visit your website on mobile and bounce. On your end, you find you stick to your desktop computer for tasks because the mobile experience is just too frustrating.
Diagnosis: As far as you’re concerned, the diagnosis is straightforward: If you find the software too frustrating to use on mobile, then the software just isn’t good enough. For your customers, survey your guests, or install Google Analytics to determine if customers are more likely to bounce when visiting via mobile than if they were on a PC.
Treatment: If you find evidence that customers are turned off by your mobile site, or if you just don’t like it yourself, it’s time for a change. Check out our rankings of the most popular hotel management software apps for some alternatives.
5. Glitchy software
A lot of software companies make big promises about their software or list loads of fancy features, but when it comes to practical, everyday use, many of them get bogged down with glitches or frozen screens. This can give you unnecessary headaches as a hotel manager, and frustrate customers as well.
Symptoms: You’re constantly battling with the software running into a glitch or freezing entirely, forcing you to restart the program or even avoid using certain features.
Diagnosis: You have software that just isn’t ready for prime time yet—or at the very least needs fixing to prevent you from taking your business elsewhere.
Treatment: Make your frustrations known to customer service. If you’ve got good customer service, they’ll work with you to identify the glitch and fix it promptly. If the problem is too big for the development team to handle, or customer service just isn’t responsive, it’s time to shop for new software in our directory.
6. Too expensive
Price shouldn’t be the only factor when you choose software. After all, expensive software may be totally worth the price if it helps you run a smooth, efficient operation and frees up your time to focus on the guests. However, depending on what kind of operation you run, the most expensive software may not make sense for your hotel.
Symptoms: You are spending what seems like a lot of money on software, and wonder whether it’s boosting your bottom line or actually having a net negative effect. This is especially true if you buy high-end software but you run a bed and breakfast, as your profit margins may be too small to justify expensive software.
Diagnosis: You’ve purchased software that offers a lot of expensive features meant for complicated operations, when you have a simpler operation such as a bed and breakfast, vacation rental business, or small 10-room hotel, to name a few examples.
Treatment: Take a look at some of the top free and open source hotel management software options out there, or a list of low-cost and free hotel billing software options. Give them a trial run. You may find that they meet your needs just fine.
Have you realized you bought the wrong hotel management software?
If you’ve read through this piece and realized that the software you use has some of these red flags, it’s time to take action. Do some research, call up your customer service rep to see what they can do, and start exploring alternatives so you can make a final decision on what software is necessary for your business going forward.
If you’ve bought software and then later switched to something else, we want to know why. Was there a particular telltale sign that it wasn’t right for you? Is there anything else that we neglected to mention that software buyers should be on the lookout for? Please, let us know in the comments below.