The defining moment for property managers will be the realization that implementing technology is not optional. While it can be difficult to navigate the features offered by the various PMS's on the market, there are also other parameters to consider in your choice of tools.
Choose the right time
This is probably one of the most difficult questions to answer, as needs vary greatly from company to company.
It is crucial that your vacation rental business is supported by a robust PMS that centralizes and automates all your operations.
For all businesses, the off-season is the perfect time to re-evaluate your needs and find a new tool that meets them. It's essential to prepare yourself for the year ahead. The drop in activity during the off-season allows you to take the time to evaluate your needs and the different tools that meet them.
Choosing your PMS is an important decision that many property managers put off for lack of time, funds and the thought of a complicated transition. However, today's technologies and expertise make the transition simple and affordable.
Do not consider ONLY the product
It is very easy to get lost in the evaluation of software and completely forget that this software is maintained and used by humans.
So, when evaluating a PMS, your mindset should be similar to that of any business relationship you enter into: Is my contact person competent? Do they have good customer service skills? Is he or she likely to be patient and efficient when I have questions later?
Make sure the people you talk to at demonstrations can answer your questions or find you someone who can. You don't have to be an expert in the field, but if the representative doesn't seem very knowledgeable and confident, that's not a good sign.
Find out how effective their customer support services are. Not all companies are created equal and not all companies invest in their support services in the same way.
You wouldn't want to work with a customer service department located in a call center with a response time of several hours.
In addition, you must consider the accessibility of this tool for your teams. Is the interface ergonomic and intuitive? Will using this tool generate friction?
Although PMSs are intended to make your work easier, remember that it is humans who will be using them and you must consider their needs and profiles before making your choice.
Assess the benefit/risk ratio
Any major business decision carries an inherent risk to the expected benefits. It is therefore essential to understand the evolution of your business and technological environment to make an informed decision when choosing a tool.
For example, if your vacation rental business isn't trending toward digitization and offering a customer experience that relies on digital tools, then you're taking a big risk by not modernizing.
The leading companies in the vacation rental market are mastering the technology trends that focus on the traveler experience and are taking the risk to adopt these new technologies. You should not be left behind by these players: take their strategy as an example and focus on YOUR customers' experience.
Conversely, companies at risk are those that do not see the value of making changes to evolve their processes or are too afraid of the short-term risks to see the long-term benefits.
If you are hesitant to take the plunge, keep in mind that it is essential that your company continues to build its technology capabilities to remain competitive in this pressured market.
Ask the right questions during the demo appointments
When you make an appointment with a PMS, you need to ask the right questions to your contact person. If you have been in business for a short time, or if you have few employees in your company, we recommend asking more specific questions to make sure that this tool meets all your needs.
Here are some examples of questions to ask your interviewers during the demonstration meetings:
- Do you have clients who would be willing to share their experience with me? If they refuse, run away, they are not convinced that their customers are satisfied with their service.
- Who owns my data if we decide to switch services? You don't want to be locked into a solution that doesn't work for you and that you can't get out of.
- Do you have any tools that make it easier to export my data? This is essential to facilitate the transition to another tool later on.
- What other software are you integrated with? Integrations allow you to connect your PMS to specialized tools. This is important to create a custom solution.
- Is your software cloud-based? If the answer is no, run away, their service is archaic and not very scalable.
- How quickly are improvement requests typically developed and deployed? Ask for specific numbers for the last 12 months. If features are deployed slowly, it's probably not a good option.
- How is your software specifically better than your competitors'? If the answer is mostly about how bad the competition is, not to mention its own advantages, run away.