Contributed by Sally Ramos, VP Implementations & Consortia Services, SHR
You’ve done the research, gotten recommendations from peers, and are almost giddy about the amazing upgrades (and revenue) you will be enjoying with your new tech system.
But when you visualize the actual process of switching over, the urge to run is almost overwhelming. Maybe you’ve been burned before, whether it be on hidden costs, unclear expectations, or a frustrating process that was promised as days, but dragged on for months.
Bermuda is nice this time of year.
The good news? You can put the Tommy Bahama down.
Better than a ThunderShirt, we’ve got REAL implementations solutions for you, including the actual SHR checklist we follow for our own onboardings. How’s that for transparency? So, let’s get to it!
#1 Fear of being responsible for, well, everything.
You want a provider who’ll take the heavy lifting off of you and your hotel team. One who will develop a timeline for you and run with it. If you provide your tech vendor with the material they need, they should be able to take care of it themselves for you. For instance, they should be uploading your content for you to your web pages. Ask your new vendor if they will work with you to coordinate with your OTAs. They should put that on their plate and take it off of yours. All you should have to do is reach out to your Implementations (IMPL) Manager, and your tech provider should take it from there. Just ask April Weatherly.
“I expect a lot from my vendors because I expect a lot from myself and the RLHC team. Things are going to happen that you do not plan on, so you need to have the right people on your side.”
—April Weatherly, Director of Telephony Optimization & Analytics, Red Lion Hotels
#2 Fear of lost time, aka “It will take FOREVER!”
Forever should only apply to love and family, not your CRS implementation. How long should the average implementation take? We’ve found that though each hotel situation is unique, it generally takes anywhere from 26-27 days for one hotel. With groups, it is done as a roll out, in phases as it is wiser to do one hotel at a time. The shortest implementation SHR’s ever had? Our record is ten days, but that’s a bit unusual. Of course, if we’re just talking about speed, it’s much easier to start off fresh (with a new hotel that has no tech yet). There is no data or reservations to transfer, so it’s all very easy. The moral here? Choose your first CRS wisely.
#3 Fear of “going dark” or losing data and reservations.
SHR does it’s very best to make sure no hotel client is ever dark, i.e. offline. That is not acceptable to us. To head off any problems, once you disconnect, you must immediately connect to the new system. How does this split-second timing occur? Your vendor must literally be right there to reconnect you. At SHR, we help ensure continuous connection by making sure we understand YOUR timeline in the beginning of the process. This will create a safety net. Why is the PMS so important when switching a CRS? Because all your data lives there; rates, reservations, etc. This also means that your CRS vendor must have very strong relationships with multiple PMSs.
Do vendors ever lose data? Yes, but we believe it is largely avoidable with proper planning on both the hoteliers’ and vendors’ end. This is why hoteliers need to be proactive and reachout early to the IMPL managers and to their PMSs. Keep in mind, a proactive onboarding is much more likely to be a successful onboarding. Becky Rogers gets it.
—Becky Rogers, VP of Operations, IDM Hospitality Management
#4 Fear of the unknown.
This fear goes back to what we said about previous bad experiences. It’s hard to erase bad memories, (remember the Flowbee?). Well, today is a new day. Does it pay to get references to quell the fear of the unknown? Sure. And you should be able to get a healthy list of hotel clients similar to you from your provider.
The best remedy for the unknown? COMMUNICATION. You want a provider who will talk to you, keep you informed, keep you involved so you never have to wonder what’s going on. At SHR, we use what are called “touch base” calls to keep our clients apprised of everything.
#5 Fear of technology.
We’ve all felt this at one point or another, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Honestly, this fear may well be at the root of all the others. We know that with all that is changing, seemingly on a day-to-day basis, hotel tech gets murkier all the time. And the crucial CRS/PMS integration is one of the toughest ones to fully understand, even for seasoned hoteliers. This is why your vendor must take the time with you and your team to educate you on the areas you are cloudy on, while reinforcing your stronger areas. For instance, there are certain restrictions between the CRS and PMS that simply do not work. So, your provider should emphasize the functionality of your PMS and your new CRS, and what kinds of restrictions they do support. Amanda Saye is not afraid.
“Weekly calls with a really sharp and responsive implementations team was essential to our success. That, and a system that is, itself, intuitive. Both really helped make the transition almost painless.”
—Amanda Saye, VP of Franchise Operations, GreenTree Hospitality Group
It Comes Down to This
Do NOT take a back seat on the implementations process for your own hotel. The more involved you can be, the better. The best part? Once your implementation is done and the waiting period is over (about 5-7 days), you should be off and running and ready to find a forever-home in your provider’s support team, ideally with a dedicated Client Success Managers.
Save Bermuda for another time…but download Your Ultimate CRS Implementations Checklist today.