For better or worse, picking the right hotel systems can be hugely impactful, and the process requires the right preparation and mindset.
Choosing a system for your hotel or hotel company is an important decision, and the consequences of a poor choice can be severe, impacting operations, profits and guest service negatively for a long period of time, not to mention impact on your career. Of course, a wise decision has good impacts on all of the above.
Hotels buy things every day, some of low value and short-term impact, such as paper towels. Other purchases are costly with a profound long-term effect, such as a property management system (PMS). In a series of articles, beginning with this one, we will outline most of the basic strategies and tactics to make an informed, traceable and disciplined approach to significant investments in hospitality technology. Not surprisingly, the same strategies and tactics can apply to purchasing almost anything else in the hotel enterprise, such as those paper towels, cloth towels or comforters.
The simplest definition for the goal of a structured selection process might be: “To get the right product with the right services at the right price from the right vendor at the right time.” This installment will provide an overview of the strategies to achieve this goal.
Here is a brief summary of some of the core strategies to employ in your selection process.
- Alignment with business strategies – This concept is foundational, and essential to success. If the enterprise is built around centralizing operations and decision-making, you will make different decisions than a decentralized organization, usually built around unit-level autonomy and powerful GMs.
- Buyer control – The hotel company needs to assert and maintain control of the process. Don’t allow your decision-making to be driven by a vendor, but rather establish your criteria, requirements, timeline, payment model, etc. internally and tell that to the vendors.
- Standardization – Utilize the selection process to best standardize systems, process, training methods and so on across the enterprise, whether centralized or decentralized, to leverage the investment for maximum benefit to the company.
- Best-of-breed vs. integrated suite – The hotel company needs to make a strategic decision between committing to a tightly-integrated suite of products and buying the best system for any given application. Then stick to that decision.
- Drive competition – Force the vendor community to compete for your business, a challenge the true sales professional relishes and lives for.
- Set expectations – Clearly define your selection criteria, timelines for selection and implementation at the outset of the shopping phase.
- Communicate specifics – Perhaps related to the idea of set expectations above, ensure that you give the vendors all the information required, whether it is number of rooms, number of employees to train or how many telephones you need for your new PBX.
To communicate specifics, you need to document them. This documentation is at the core of the needs analysis process, which part two of this series will focus on. Part three will cover the request for proposal (RFP) process and its various alternatives and variations.
Mark Haley and Mark Hoare are Partners at Prism Hospitality Consulting, a boutique firm serving the global hospitality industry in technology and marketing. Managing system selection efforts is a core practice area. For more information, please visit https://prismhospitalityconsulting.com.
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