When choosing a new property management system for your timeshare resort or club, you need to consider many factors. You may be weighing the advantages and disadvantages of integration of different solutions. Property Management Software (PMS) providers in the hotel and resort field come in all shapes and sizes, from established giants to bootstrapping start-ups. I’m here to give you a list of the factors that you should consider when comparing property management systems or any hospitality technology, for that matter:
1. Cloud-based or Hosted. Determine what kind of application suits your needs and preferences best.
With internet access readily available, cloud-based applications are becoming a standard choice. Businesses with access to the internet are utilizing cloud services at an increasing rate due to their high stability and continual updates from vendors, low or no IT staff needed on-site, low cost with no need for hardware investment, and much better accessibility. As a resort manager, you or an operations manager can handle everything from an Internet browser, access the management system, and get information immediately. With recent advantages in security, cloud software deployments have stabilized. Reputable vendors have strict standards in place to keep data safe.
If your resort lacks a reliable Internet connection, a hosted solution might be your only choice. While cloud-based software uses a vendor’s server and you access it via the internet, essential business functions must be accessible with high availability. For this type of system, you are solely responsible for all security measures. Hardware investment and IT staff on-site are required. It is installed on your server and does not require an Internet connection. Mobile accessibility can pose an issue for on-premise deployments. Overall, on-premise systems are built for large enterprises with massive budgets or when the internet is inaccessible.
2. Functionality. Making software purchase decisions can be confusing and challenging. Just relying on a basic list of functions might not land you with the correct system. Imagine if you purchased a new vehicle off a checklist, it has four wheels, an engine, seat belts, and electric steering. You would not know if you are buying a Ferrari or Lada. (If you ask my Bulgarian grandparents who owned a Lada well over 30 years ago and loved it, they might argue with me on that statement but let’s get back to present time).
Marking off a checklist of features is just a tiny part of the entire PMS decision-making process. If you talk to a salesperson or view an online presentation that runs you through operations, you get a general overview that may be useful to a wide range of property managers. However, this might not be enough. Instead, sit down and run through the process you would use every day to manage your resort or club. Make sure you find it intuitive, well-organized, and useful for everything you specifically need.
3. Efficiency. Numerous features may be beneficial as long as they are designed to make the system efficient. Running a timeshare resort and all guests check-in on a Friday, the front desk must be able to check-in guests quickly and effortlessly. Efficiency is a crucial factor in the daily operations of a dynamic working environment.
4. Features. Functional, efficient, and feature-rich software can make your resort so much more successful. Here are a couple of examples. Integration of your PMS directly with OTA’s like Booking.com, Expedia, or a channel manager platform is a ‘must-have’ feature. Automatically pushing rates and availabilities from the PMS to the channel manager which distributes them across all the connected OTAs. Similarly, delivered through the channel manager, bookings on OTAs would also get instantly updated on the PMS. It helps eliminate overbooking issues, decreases vacancies, and increases revenue.
Also, consider the commissions’ management feature. Some owners forego traveling and using their ownership. This facilitates the ability of owners to rent the timeshare on the weeks not usually allocated to them. When they rent the weeks they do not use, the room stays occupied, and the resort and owner make money. This type of system makes owning a timeshare much more attractive to younger adults. Having the right system in place to handle these unique scheduling details ensures value for everyone.
5. Support Team. In the absence of a dedicated tech team of your own, access to user support and system-specific technical help is a valuable asset in deciding which PMS to use. Besides, other essential support tasks include sufficient onboarding and training, online, or at your resort location. Also, ensure that any support is to be provided in a timely, effective manner.
6. Customization. We understand that each timeshare resort and vacation club is unique, and they run their operations slightly differently and uniquely. Choose a property management system that you cannot only customize for current needs but also adjust or adapt over time if your needs change. This makes it much easier to handle future business without having to make excessive alterations to your methods. Instead, the PMS will make the difference.
7. Pricing. Many purchase decisions for software programs and business systems come down to a matter of cost. For property management systems, cloud vs. hosted represents a big difference. A cloud-based PMS usually requires an initial start-up fee and ongoing monthly subscription charges. Some solutions charge a flat rate while others charge à la carte prices depending on the modules you choose. Hosted solutions cost much more upfront and, while they still have continuing maintenance and updates cost, they do not have or have lower subscription fees.
No matter which of these options you choose to recognize that the savings due to efficiencies and increased rental bookings will offset the costs of the system itself. With more automatic functions, owners are happier with quick payments, staff’s tasks simplified by bulk invoicing and bulk emailing, and accountants finish their jobs in minutes rather than days. A final cost consideration comes down to choosing an out of the box PMS that will be closest to your requirements and in cases where the system needs unique tailoring, affordable customization rates.
8. Feedback. I strongly suggest examining feedback of the property management system before investing in it. If possible, ask people who are using the program to see how they like it. Is it useful and efficient for them? Does it lack any features they need and their customer support experience? Independent, third-party reviews and ratings give you honest impressions from genuine users.
Overall, there are lots of great timeshare management and vacation club software products available on the market. If you consider these eight factors, you will end up with a system that makes your resort more successful and your owners happier.
Monika Voutov is the owner of TimeShareSoft, developer of TSS Rhea. Her main goal is to deliver a robust timeshare management solution geared to meet clients` requirements for functionality, scalability, and performance. TSSI’s culture is, no matter how big or how small the client is, everyone is a top priority.