Is free software worth the cost for accommodation providers?

As hoteliers and accommodation providers around the globe look for ways to operate financially lean, they’re turning to technology to support them.  After all, many are running businesses with reduced staff numbers in the wake of Covid-19 and looking for ways to create or integrate more streamlined ways of managing their day to day operations.

There’s no denying that the next 18-24 months are going to be a time of rebuild for accommodation providers, and part of that means being hyper-conscious of cost. But while searching out free software might look like a smart option at face value, inadequate software can come with its own cost.

The price tag on free software 

It’s important for hoteliers and providers to understand that while you may not be paying for basic software, it’s likely that the functionality you have access to isn’t doing anything to actually save you time (and therefore money) or really move the needle in delivering a great customer experience. 

Generally, the powerful, advanced features you really need are sitting behind a paywall that requires either a one-time or subscription payment. Without a paid subscription, you could be confronted with irritating ads every time you log in, or worse, your data could be handed off to a third party (who is paying for access to your business data). 

Without paid subscribers, some ‘free’ software providers will actually take a percentage fee from each transaction you make (for example, if you are using a free online booking system). This payment model can work out pretty costly in the long run.

The real value of greater efficiency

Systems are there to support you; they should be making things easier by saving you time and increasing productivity. However it’s not just about simply automating existing processes, but about allowing you to add value to your current offering in other ways.

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In the case of an accommodation business, this means enhancing a seamless guest experience. That’s not to say, however, that a guest’s experience only takes place online through devices. The streamlined efficiencies you are able to offer through technology should be a part of an integrated, dynamic system so that face-to-face guest interactions can be focused on adding value, strengthening customer relationships and delivering a personalised experience that sets your accommodation apart from the rest.

Consider this: if a guest leaves a comment about their stay when they check-out of the property, the right people need to reply and acknowledge this type of communication. Or, if a guest leaves a complaint about not being able to stream mobile content during their stay, then processes should be put in place to ensure the right person follows up by communicating with the guest and solving the problem at the hotel. As you can see, technology is only ever one part of the solution.

Choose to streamline, not silo

With this in mind, a ‘whole business’ approach should be applied when it comes to thinking about choosing technology. Your teams – management, marketing, housekeeping, for example – can no longer work in isolation. With the right technology and process integration, you give your hotel business the opportunities, communication tools, and integrated solutions it needs to create memorable guest experiences. 

No doubt introducing greater efficiencies into your processes is a priority, but you don’t want to do it at the expense of exceptional guest experiences. While technology might seem like a financial outgoing you could do without right now, paying for the right systems for your business will be more cost-effective long term than choosing multiple disparate free subscriptions that do not integrate with each other to create greater visibility, collaboration, and efficiency across teams.

Preno’s hotel property software is cloud-based, affordable, and seamlessly integrates with leading systems you already use and love, such as payment apps, point of sale, channel managers, check-in software and accounting software. Preno also has it’s very own channel manager and booking engine – available as add-on’s to Preno’s PMS. Features such as bookings management, guest stay, email automation, and insightful reporting are all built-in within the Preno platform already, so there’s plenty of bang for your buck. What’s more, you can trial Preno for free to see if it’s the right fit for your hotel business before you commit!

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About the author

Amri is Preno's head of marketing and enjoys being part of the hospitality ecosystem. She is passionate about helping accommodation businesses to transform their marketing, by exploring their core strengths and sharing their successes.

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