How to Choose Between Paid or Free Hotel Management Software?

How to Choose Between Paid or Free Hotel Management Software? 1

Hotel management software has become a necessity for every hotelier. It allows you to streamline bookings, manage customer information, take care of other operations (e.g., housekeeping, occupancy management, etc.), and minimize operational costs.

The global hotel and hospitality management software is expected to reach $4,300 million by 2022. However, the biggest concern among hoteliers is whether to buy the hotel management software or choose a free one.

In this article, we will discuss the top five questions that, when answered, will make it easier for you to choose between free and paid hotel management software.

Q1: What is the Size of Your Business?

Your operation’s size plays a crucial role in the choice of the hotel management software. Here’s why:

Most free options out there are just the unpaid versions of premium hotel management software. This means you get access to limited features (or limitations in how many rooms they support). If you have a large or even moderate-sized organization, you might not find free software useful (there are exceptions, though).

Another reason the size of your business matters is support. Free software doesn’t usually offer exclusive support, except for a FAQ page. Even if they do, the response time is typically high. Besides, you might not get training with free software.

Final thoughts: We think free hotel management software is great for a smaller organization. If you have a large employee base, choosing a paid software would be the best option.

Q2: What Features Do You Need?

Choosing the features most suitable for your business is the most essential aspect to pay attention to while choosing a hotel management software. As mentioned above, free software usually come with limited features.

In general, free software supports only the basic functions of a hotel business, such as mark rooms that are reserved, accept payments and manage payroll.

If you have a 200-room hotel with a significant staff, free software won’t do justice to your business. If you offer additional facilities, like a bar, restaurant, or a gym, things can get complicated pretty quickly. You might even need to spend more time on computers than serving guests (not a good thing, right?).

Therefore, define all the features you need in a hotel management software before you choose one.

Final thoughts: Large hotels often require more features to handle their complex day-to-day operations. If you have a small hotel, you can choose free software. If not, go for a paid one.

Q3: Do You Need Integration With Third-Party Distribution Channels?

While direct bookings (offline and online) are great, integration with third-party channels, such as Online Travel Agencies (e.g., Expedia and TripAdvisor), and Global Distribution Systems (e.g., Worldspan, Apollo, and Amadeus) can help you get more customers.

And while you work with OTAs and GDS, you would want a system to track bookings and revenue coming from them. Suppose your hotel management software does not synchronize the rooms booked via Expedia or TripAdvisor in real-time. In that case, it might affect your business (like booking the same room for two different guests).

Final thoughts: If you work with third-party agencies to bring in customers, make sure your software supports real-time synchronization. In this case, you might have to look for paid software as free ones don’t usually offer third-party integrations.

Q4: Does the Software Provide Comprehensive Transaction Reports?

Reports are an essential part of any business, and the hospitality industry is no different. They help analyze your hotel’s performance and improve it over time.

These reports generally include data, like the number of bookings over a specific period, housekeeping, guest data, revenue management, customer rating, and more.

Final Thoughts: Free software provides limited information in their reports. Check with your vendor what details you will get in the free software. If it doesn’t suffice your requirements, go for a paid tool.

Q5: Can You Handle Commitment?

The best part about free software is that you can ditch it any time and look for a better alternative. However, that’s not the case with paid software. Vendors usually want you to pay a subscription and lock you for at least a year.

That means if you find that the software doesn’t meet all your needs, you will have to take a financial hit. However, you can combat this situation by choosing a monthly subscription (that is usually a little higher).

Final Thoughts: If you are not ready to commit for the long-term, choose a monthly subscription or a free solution.

Wrapping Up

Choosing between paid and free hotel management software is always a daunting task. But, the five questions mentioned above can make it easier for you to choose the right software for your hotel.

Have you used any hotel management software before? Was it free or paid? How was your experience with it? Let us know in the comments.

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