Changing a property management system – what to look for and the pitfalls to avoid

18 December 2017

Words by Jeff Swanson, Managing Director RMS Europe and Travel Technology Europe Advisory Board Member

In the busy, data rich world that we live in, your guests (and potential guests) have a multitude of property options. They expect you to react to their requests and needs instantaneously, and if you can’t, you can be certain that your competitors will.

Being on the ‘cloud’ means that, not only do you have the very latest functionality available to you, but you can access your business at any time. You have the ability to influence current and potential guests and control the outcome.

Further moving to the cloud provides an excellent way to reduce cost and is a smart choice for almost every property. The only reason we would advocate continuing with a self-hosted solution is to overcome internet connectivity deficiencies and risks. However, alternative connectivity solutions are popping up every day.

Changing a property management system (PMS) is no doubt a major decision. Get is wrong and it can, and will, cost you a lot of money! While there are a myriad of important factors to consider when changing your PMS, the two most important factors are whether the proposed new solution supports your growth (a good PMS should control and automate many key processes, ideally reducing time-consuming tasks) and whether you can trust your new PMS supplier (i.e. do they have credibility and a track record of success).

Having said that changing PMS is a decision not to be taken lightly, the benefits of having the right PMS are significant and include improved guest satisfaction, streamlined operations, reduced costs, and increased occupancy. All these ultimately result in increased guest loyalty, revenue and profits.


Pricing structures vary widely across the industry, but the cheapest option is not always, in fact it seldom is, the best option. Like most other things in life, you get what you pay for.

Some pricing structures are based on number of sites, others on number of users, while some charge for additional modules and integrations and others don’t. Some are subscription based and others an outright purchase. Some charge additionally for support, others don’t.

What is most important is to assess the overall cost relative to the functionality and benefits that you get in return. Does the benefit exceed the cost relative to the level of product sophistication, customer support, continued development investment (innovative providers invest into the future to develop new features), third party integrations (while the PMS is the heart of the property it can’t operate in isolation) and degree of compliance hosting security, that you receive.  

Migrating data

Once you make a decision to change PMS it is important that you migrate as much historical guest data as possible – it is your hard earned IP, and if used correctly a future stream of revenue and profits. A carefully planned migration strategy with a provider that you trust and a solid track record, will ensure continuity of operations and transfer of data.


In a 24/7 industry it is important that you have access to operational and technical support, in its many forms, 24/7. While traditional support, such as calling a support team, remains vitally important (truly global operators can offer 24/7 access to their support teams for critical system issues), other important support considerations include access to a true support and customer engagement environment (knowledge base, proactive learning management systems, webinar programs, group masterclasses and ongoing training programs).

Third-party integration

Integrations, in general, third party interfaces are extremely complex and change over time as third party provider’s change their product and code, but your PMS should be able to integrate seamlessly with other systems. PMS providers with a solid track record of delivering and supporting (both from an operational and technical perspective) interfaces will provide you with confidence that it can deliver future integrations and maintain ongoing connectivity. 

The credibility, and degree of trust, that the PMS provider brings to your business is vitally important. In all likelihood a PMS provider with major corporate entities (that employ internal resources and external advisors to ensure that they are compliant) will be ahead of the rest in all areas.