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Cloud PMS- What You Must Know Before You Subscribe

Many hotels are interested in switching from traditional or manual systems to cloud based hotel management software. Usually they face multiple challenges varying from cost, reliability, vendor background, features, data security, privacy and data portability.

Sounds like too much of an exercise, well yes it is not easy plus you should not rush in because your complete operational data is going to be on the cloud and it is not easy or advisable to switch systems often. Decision making becomes more hard with a choice of so many platforms mushrooming each day and each one offering a very attractive price and feature list, hoteliers are definitely tempted to try each one and see what new is being offered.

My suggestion to all those hoteliers who are looking at adopting cloud solutions is that don’t look at so many platforms and waste time in evaluating each one, yes there can be benefits and one can definitely increase their knowledge but whats important is not what each platform offers but what exactly do you need for your operations and which system/platform will provide data security, promptly answer your support queries and hold your hand in case of breakdown.

So as a first step go ahead and create a list of most important features you need for your operations if you already don’t have one, also put down a financial number against it that you feel is easy on pocket towards monthly subscription.

Now google for cloud systems and have a look at different platforms comparing features to your list, select the closest one and first check vendors background in terms of industry presence or number of years in delivering applications ( can be cloud or traditional hospitality solutions) , industry knowledge and pricing, you need to do this as you certainly don’t want to use a system of fly by or amateur operator, today with so much technology around anyone can design basic system and put it up for sale as opportunity to make quick money, but a efficient system requires experience and domain knowledge and which can only come from years of designing systems and having them used by good industry professionals.

Once you are satisfied with credibility of operator and features that are being offered, go ahead and give one or two solutions a sincere try for a week or 15 days and see if it is easy to setup and use, see how good is the online support and can you reach them over phone if required. Ask your staff to update system daily and check for reports and statistics and see if your daily operations data, manual or alternate system data matches cloud based system reports and statistics. Ask staff to email few general queries to the company and see how quick is the revert, let your staff check for ease of operations and also look out for any missing features or statutory requirements like taxes or reports.

Ask the vendor for his product roadmap and see what is he planning in terms of upgrades and what all features is he going to add. Check what is minimum bandwidth requirement to access and run application, don’t just believe rather restrict bandwidth through router or modem or plug in your 3G phone and see if it actually performs. You don’t want a surprise when a guest is waiting at desk to checkout and your internet crashes. Check for terms and conditions, privacy policy and very important SLA. Spend some time and go through them and look for clauses related to price hike, upgrades, data security, data backups and data formats you can get, PCI compliance( credit card security) is another major feature to look for and ask the provider about their server location, as different countries have different data hosting laws like in European union, you cant have data-centre located in USA.

Make sure you get data backups in readable formats, so that in case you wish to switch vendors in future you can export data and import into new system to maintain your historical data. Also check with vendor what emergency systems or process they have in place to handle your operations if you happen to lose complete internet connectivity.

Check for any extra pricing in regard to setup, support, training and product updates. Once you have all this information in hand, it is relatively easy to pull out credit card and use for signup. I suggest try and reach sales department of provider as many vendors often have schemes and discounts which are usually not published on websites.

Cloud offers many benefits but also has its own drawbacks, so what pitfalls you must look for and avoid, I will cover that in next blog post.

Published inHotel PMSHotel Reputation ManagementHotel Technology

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