The point of sale (POS) system you use for your hotel affects more than just the types of payments you can accept. Your payment system is linked to the customer experience and can influence whether or not guests choose to return. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right POS for your hotel.
Why upgrade your hotel’s POS?
The hospitality industry thrives on customer experiences. When guests visit your hotel, they’re looking for fast, consistent, personalized service. They don’t like dealing with delays or errors. Whether they’re arriving from the airport at the end of a crazy day of changing planes or pulling in after a long drive, the last thing your customers want is to find out their reservations aren’t in your system or the special room requests they made were never received.
Hotel websites are increasingly the first point of contact for guests. Despite the availability of booking services and enticing low-cost “package deal” vacations, 65.5% of all online bookings are still made directly through hotel sites. However, customers are looking at more than your website. Reviews factor largely into booking decisions. Ninety-six percent of travelers consider reviews important, and 83% of people who use the website TripAdvisor “usually” or “always” read reviews prior to choosing a hotel.
How does this relate to your payment system? The experience you deliver has a direct effect on the types of reviews you receive, which other guests will read when determining whether or not to stay at your hotel. An updated payment system connects all aspects of the customer journey, starting with online booking. By integrating with your booking software or providing an online booking option, your POS lets customers choose their own rooms and options, leave special instructions, pay online, and receive confirmations via email.
Self-service check-in kiosks or mobile apps reduce the time both guests and front desk staff need to spend handling paperwork and managing room keys. Guests can check in on their own and receive their key cards without help from staff members, making the check-in process faster and reducing lines and wait times during busy seasons. When they’re ready to check out, the entire process can be automated, including billing for the room and any additional purchases.
Essential hotel POS features.
To make payment management easier and provide amazing service for guests, your POS system should offer:
- Online and mobile reservation options, either as part of the system or as an option for integrating with your existing booking system.
- Employee management, including time, scheduling, and integrations for payroll.
- Mobile payment options for accepting Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay.
- Self-service check-in and check-out for guests.
- Remote check-in for guests who use your shuttle service for transportation from the airport.
- Integration with your property management system (PMS) to encode room keys automatically for guests when they check-in.
- Inventory management to track items used in rooms and automatically re-order when stock is running low.
- The ability for guests to view itemized room charges on demand.
- Loyalty, discount. or points programs to allow repeat guests to earn rewards, such as free nights or free services at onsite facilities.
- Data security, including encryption, PCI compliance, and fraud prevention.
- Tracking and monitoring of important metrics like occupancy and average daily rate to allow for better demand forecasting and dynamic pricing
Another option hotels are embracing is the concept of using room key cards as a way to accept payments for onsite services and purchases. These micro payment processing systems are convenient cashless alternatives for guests. Better still, they save you money. When a guest uses an encoded room key to “pay” at the vending machine, gift shop, restaurant, or spa, the amount is credited automatically to their room bill and charged at the time of checkout. Guests get the convenience of using one card for everything they buy while staying at your hotel and you don’t get stuck paying credit card processing fees on small purchases.
Choosing the right payment system.
There are a few things to keep in mind when comparing POS options:
- The size of your hotel.
- The typical number of guests during busy and slow seasons.
- Average transaction sizes and volumes.
- Additional amenities available to guests.
For large hotels, a full-featured system with all of the options discussed above is the smartest choice for convenience and efficiency. Make sure the platform and features are compatible with your property management software so that you can automate as many processes as possible for a better customer experience. If you own a smaller facility without onsite amenities like a restaurant or salon, features like micro payment processing systems may not be necessary. Instead, consider investing in a scalable POS with a reliable core system and additional features you can incorporate later as your needs change.
No matter how many features you implement, the system should be easy for you to set up and for employees and guests to use. You want something without a steep learning curve and designed to be used pretty much out of the box. Guests should be able to check-in, make purchases, and check out without confusion, while metrics should be easy for you to access and analyze.
You’ll need to calculate the total cost of the system, which includes hardware, software, and payment processing fees. Cloud-based software with mobile capabilities has monthly fees based on the number of rooms, the number of users, and extra features you’ll use. For payment processing, most POS providers use the interchange-plus model. Hardware pricing varies; fixed terminals for the front desk will likely cost more than mobile devices and you should also consider whether you want to offer self-service check-in through customer-facing kiosks.
Streamlined payment processing brings your hotel into the modern era and gives guests convenient self-service options. Upgrade your payment processing with an integrated system and start seeing better results in customer service and loyalty.