— 7 minute read —
Here are 7 important criteria to help you choose a software that won’t cause regret. These points should be verified with the publishers of the software that interests you, to make sure that the solution will correspond to your needs.
For examples of solutions and a general overview of technological offers for the hotel industry, see this article instead.
The points in this checklist are in no particular order and evidently other criteria will play a part in your decision, like the cost of the solution.
1. ITS FUNCTIONS
It goes without saying that it is important to know what the software is for and if it corresponds to your needs.
Before meeting a potential provider, listing your needs allows you to be clear in your approach and expectations towards the solution you are looking for. For example, “I want to increase the average visitor basket”, “speed up check-in”, “access my reports from home”, “manage my 3 hotels”, etc. Some softwares offer additional features, which is always interesting and can make the difference between two softwares.
The software you evaluate will obviously offer functions that go beyond the minimum requirements you have listed. If the minimum is covered, these additional functions could influence your choice. In an industry that is evolving very quickly, you must equally ensure that the software can evolve because any technology that doesn’t renew itself becomes obsolete very quickly.
LIST MY NEEDS
WHAT DOES THE SOLUTION DO? WHAT NEEDS DOES IT MEET?
HAVE I GOT CONTROL OF THE SOLUTION? CAN I CHANGE IT?
WHAT IS THE SOFTWARE UPDATE POLICY? HOW OFTEN IS IT UPDATED? IS IT AUTOMATIC? IS IT FREE?
WHAT ARE FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS OF THE SOLUTION?
2. ITS ERGONOMICS
Another important point: the ergonomics of the solution. You are going to use it everyday, therefore it must be easy to use and not a constraint. Ergonomics is also essential if you want your team to be able to adopt it and use it wisely.
Ask to see the interface and see first hand 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.
DOES THE INTERFACE SEEM CLEAR?
IS IT EASY TO USE FOR A NOVICE?
HOW DO I ACCESS IT?: DOES IT NEED TO BE INSTALLED ON A COMPUTER OR CAN I ACCESS IT WITH A BROWSER?
CAN I ACCESS IT ON MY TABLET OR MY SMARTPHONE?
3. ITS INTERCONNECTIVITY
It is very important that the solution can connect to other softwares, including the PMS (Property Management System) which manages reservation schedules and invoicing…
A software that does everything does not exist. Therefore the software that interests you must be able to communicate with other softwares that you already have or that you will use in the future.
It is essential to evaluate said solutions interconnectivity potential with other solutions.
Either the tool is already connected with some softwares (pre-existing interfaces), or it offers programming interfaces (called API’s) which allow an external software to connect with little effort. However, certain softwares don’t offer any API’s, the only way to exchange data with another software is to manually carry out exports, and again, this is not always possible.
CAN THE SOLUTION ALREADY CONNECT WITH OTHER EXISTING SOFTWARES? WHICH ONES?
ARE THERE PROGRAMMING INTERFACES (API’S) AVAILABLE?
CAN I MANUALLY EXTRACT INFORMATION? HOW? IS DATA EXPORTABLE IN A USEABLE FORMAT? IS ALL DATA EXPORTABLE?
ARE INTERFACES, API’S OR EXPORT FUNCTIONS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF THE SOLUTION OR ARE THEY AN ADDITIONAL OPTION? HOW MUCH IS THIS?
4. CLIENT SUPPORT
Every software should offer a user guide or a knowledge base with articles responding to frequently asked questions and common problems.
Evidently, having people available to respond directly to specific questions is an enormous advantage. Especially if this personal service is free and available by telephone, email or chat.
It is important to distinguish between customer support who respond to technical problems at any time and project managers who track the use of the solution and make sure you get the best out of it.
IS THERE CUSTOMER SUPPORT?
IS IT FREE?
WHEN IS IT AVAILABLE? (7/7, 24/24?)
DOES IT OFFER A KNOWLEDGE BASE? TRAINING?
HOW CAN I CONTACT THEM?
IS THERE A DEDICATED PROJECT MANAGER?
5. ITS CUSTOMER REFERENCES
Customer references or testimonials are interesting to get an idea of the practical use of a solution and complete the theoretical information from the supplier.
It is useful to discuss with fellow hotels who already use the software their experience of the tool and customer support. Especially if the customer establishment in question has a similar structure to yours.
HOW MANY ESTABLISHMENTS ARE ALREADY EQUIPPED WITH THE SOLUTION?
DO THEY CORRESPOND TO MY TYPE OF STRUCTURE?
HOW IS CUSTOMER FEEDBACK? THE LEVEL OF SATISFACTION?
IS CUSTOMER FEEDBACK AVAILABLE ONLINE? (OUTSIDE OF THE COMPANY’S SITE: TWITTER, REVIEW SITES…)
CONTACT THREE FELLOW HOTELS USING THE SERVICE
6. ITS DURABILITY
Especially for long-term solutions (such as a PMS or CRM), having an indicator of how the business developing the solution is doing must not to be taken lightly, as it can help avoid the problematic situation in which the business disappears.
However, financial health isn’t enough to guarantee the durability of a business, and a new start-up is no less able to fulfill a job because of its young age; quite the opposite. What’s more, especially in the world of technology, start-ups are more modern and often more flexible than older companies. However, make sure of data portability in case of failure.
Inquiring about the financial health of a provider is therefore one of several ways to assess the risk of business failure, but it is not sufficient alone.
HOW LONG HAS THE BUSINESS EXISTED?
WHERE IS IT BASED?
DOES IT SUBCONTRACT ITS SOLUTION DEVELOPMENT OR IS IT DONE INTERNALLY?
IT IS PROFITABLE?
IS DATA QUICKLY AND EASILY EXPORTABLE IN AN USEABLE FORMAT?
7. SECURITY AND CONFORMITY
It is difficult (if not impossible) to measure data security when not a specialist in data security. However, this aspect is crucial given that the hotel is responsible for securing guest data, especially since the 25th of May 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). There are a few basic checks to carry out and you must at least ensure that the business complies with the regulations in force.
DOES THE SOLUTION COMPLY TO REGULATIONS IN FORCE (NF 525, PCI, DSS, GDPR…)?
DOES IT HAVE A PASSWORD SECURITY POLICY?
AM I THE ONLY OWNER OF GUEST DATA?
IS THE PLATFORM SECURE (https://)?
Use this checklist during your meeting to question your potential technological providers. It will guide you through the important points in choosing a solution.