Selecting a Property Management System - Hotel Front Office Management

This section focuses on the components that should be included when deciding to adopt a PMS. The decision - making process begins with understanding the importance of a needs analysis performed by a team of front line staff members. The needs analysis should focus on the flow of the guests through the hotel and interdepartmental communication needs.

A review of administrative paper work produced by management in all areas of the hotel is also a consideration. After management has gathered relevant data concerning the operational needs, it must objectively determine whether a computer will help to improve guest service. Other important concepts covered here include software selection considerations and computer hardware terminology.

A review of how people interact with computers and how a hotel must make provisions while hardware is being installed is also offered. The importance of computer training and planning a backup power source for continued computer operation is reviewed. The often overlooked maintenance agreement and the very important financial payback complete the discussion of selecting a PMS.

Importance of a Needs Analysis

Selecting new equipment for a hotel property is best done after a needs analysis is performed. A needs analysisindicates the flow of information and services of a specific property to determine whether the new equipment - in this case, computers - can improve the flow. The bottle necks that occur at registration or the lack of information from the housekeeping department on the occupancy status of a room can be alleviated by the use of computers at the front desk. Only after the completion of an operational flow analysis can computer applications be developed to improve the situation.

The importance of needs analysis can be most clearly seen when you consider what can go wrong if such an analysis is not made. The first area of concern for property owners and managers is cost, both initially and over the long term. As the technology evolves and the equipment becomes more common, the cost of computerizing a hotel has decreased and the payback period has shortened. However, even with these lower costs, installing and operating a PMS is not inexpensive, and the cost of installing and operating a system that does not meet the specific needs of a particular property is exorbitant.

A system that works very well for one down town hotel may not meet the needs of a down town hotel in another city or of a motel in the same area. All the technological gadgetry in the world will not impress a guest if the equipment fails to deliver service. The system must meet the needs of the staff as well as the guests.

An in appropriate PMS will produce control reports that are not useful to management; the functions of such software therefore become limited, and the cost of the system exceeds its value. For example, a hotel owner who believes that a PMS would speed up registrations and decides to purchase a system that does not allow housekeeping staff to input room status from the guest room phone will be disappointed.

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Hotel Front Office Management Topics