Hands-on operators of ranches, lodges, and outfitters are no strangers to running their business on pen and paper. After all, for decades there was no other option, and when you wear all the hats, it is easy to fall into a pattern of doing what you know works well enough.
With the digitization of the experiential travel and outdoor recreation industry well underway, owners and operators seeking better tools, now have plenty of choices. If the old-school way is starting to feel more like a stubborn commitment to tradition, think about how a good property management system can transform your business. Specifically, imagine the time and effort required to properly make a reservation, and streamling that process down to 5 minutes.
Inquiries and Availability: Whether it is by email or phone, guests making inquiries need to check availability. Property management systems have replaced the “chart”, and reservations are managed in a digital room calendar. Checking dates of stay in the upcoming season, or the following year, is as simple as clicking a mouse. Yes, you’ll always remember that you were trained to block a cabin by putting a piece of tape on the board, but now bookings are updated in the system in real-time, and front office teams can have multiple people making reservations, without having to double-check or worry about mistakes.
Correspondence and Confirmations: Your word is your brand and guest correspondence is how you set and surpass expectations. Guests making plans require confirmation and the best businesses have earned a reputation for timely, accurate, and seamless communications. There will always be moments better suited for a letter with your personal signature, but the great majority of instances can be managed with form letters automatically generated and emailed from your system. Your colleagues can review the history and familiarize themselves with previous conversations before reaching out to a guest. Gone are the days of doing it all yourself, once you start using digital correspondence, you won’t turn back.
Personal Details: Know your guest’s birthday, anniversary, favorite scotch, and the name of their dog. These are the details you have always prioritized, and property management systems allow businesses to track VIP guest information like never before. This knowledge is available to anyone on your team with system access (on or off property), and it can be quickly distributed to managers and supervisors in the form of reports (pdf or hard copy). Tired of your co-workers darkening your door to ask you a question they could answer themselves? Take the next step and empower your team and manage personal details in a PMS.
Billing & Payment: If you aren’t managing the money yourself, then surely another trusted member of your team is, but either way, you know it’s too important of a job not to do it well. Guests care too, and because a booking is an investment of their vacation dollar, and they like to know how much is being spent and on what. Property management systems offer huge advantages for billing and collecting payment, so much so, that the savings on expenses linked to accounting and accountings receivable, can be greater than the cost of acquiring the system.