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How to choose a hotel inventory management system

What is the best option for your property?

If you are struggling to manage the inventory of your hotel, it’s actually not surprising. Being one of the biggest, core, requirements of running a successful hotel, it’s not an easy task.

Looking for a technology system to help is absolutely the right choice, and you are correct to assume it will help you sell inventory quicker and with more profitability at your hotel.

However, given the broad scale of ‘inventory management’ and what’s involved in creating an airtight inventory management strategy, there is no single tool that can cover all the bases.

There are multiple systems that help you manage your hotel’s inventory on an individual level, and they can also often work together to achieve even better results for your business.

Luckily, technology platforms like SiteMinder consists of a number of features that can help in this respect. This is why we think SiteMinder is the best provider to help solve any issues you currently have with inventory management.

To help you make up your mind, this page will explain all the options you have and how you can make an informed decision about which inventory management systems to invest in.

Choosing a hotel inventory management system

As you know, creating an effective inventory management strategy revolves around creating and managing demand, and maximising returns. This means optimising things like pricing, distribution, and market segmentation.

Blissful though it would be, it’s basically impossible to find one system to do all this as effectively as you would need it to be.

Instead, you probably need a ‘tech stack’ – multiple products that you can use, or that work together to contribute to your overall inventory management goals.

Examples of the various systems that you could choose include:

  • A channel management system
  • An online booking engine
  • A pricing intelligence system
  • A global distribution system
  • A payments system
  • A property management system

As you can see, it’s a lot to consider – but your inventory management will benefit from all of these. You must decide how essential each or all of them is for your individual property.

The benefit of a platform like SiteMinder is that it offers a channel manager, online booking engine, pricing intelligence, GDS connection, and extensive PMS integration.

In essence, making ONE choice to go with a leading platform like SiteMinder, it saves you the hassle of assessing many options for multiple products. Get them all in one place, with the added benefit that they will all seamlessly integrate and share data with each other.

Using integrated systems to manage inventory means you can eliminate all your manual work in favour of a more simple approach where your technology automates most of what needs to happen.

Of course you may decide that you only need one system. A channel manager stands out as the most important/obvious system to help with inventory management – since it enables you to sell more rooms, reduce double-bookings, save time, and increase revenue. Even so, you need to be clear on what you need and do your research so you know the channel manager you’re considering will deliver what you require.

A hotel inventory management system and methods for making the right investment

Since there’s so many inventory systems you might want to purchase, it’s good to have a checklist, or question list, for each provider and system that you can refer to. This will allow you to make informed decisions and more easily compare your options.

Here are some (certainly not all) considerations you should keep in mind when exploring the main systems you’ll come into contact with.

Hotel inventory management – Channel manager

  • Will it integrate with your PMS and online booking engine?
  • Does it operate on a pooled inventory model?
  • Does it support global, two-way connections?
  • Will it automate and update in real-time?
  • Is comprehensive reporting a part of the system?
  • Is adequate support and training offered, especially in your native language?

Take a look at SiteMinder’s channel management here.

Hotel inventory management – Online booking engine

  • Is it customisable to your hotel’s brand?
  • Is the booking process a simple two-step model?
  • Are there multi-language and multi-currency capabilities?
  • Is it mobile-friendly and Facebook-compatible?
  • Can it handle customised emails for pre-arrival and post-departure?
  • Does it include a visible, eye-catching, ‘Book Now’ button?

Take a look at SiteMinder’s online booking engine here.

Hotel inventory management – Pricing intelligence

  • Will it allow you to compare market prices and trends?
  • Can it show you the demand for your rooms?
  • Will it give you insight into how you measure up to your competitors?
  • Will it notify you of rate changes in the market?
  • Does it enable long-term forecasting?

Take a look at SiteMinder’s pricing intelligence tool here.

Hotel inventory management – Property management system

  • Is there an easy calendar overview of reservations?
  • Can you add additional rooms and items to a booking?
  • Are you able to close out specific rooms or add new rate plans to existing rooms?
  • Does it enable check-in and check-out to happen in seconds?
  • Will you be able to manage your housekeeping and staff?
  • Is support helpful and accessible?
  • Does it include a free trial?

Take a look at SiteMinder’s PMS integrations here.

To superpower your inventory management it boils down to identifying the leading systems and discovering how much benefit you can gain from each of them – and how advantageous it is to use multiple systems in conjunction with each other.

For example:
When you use your pricing intelligence tool to track market rates and competitor activity, you can then adjust the rates of your rooms on your channel manager. Your channel manager will send this information to all your booking channels, including your online booking engine, in real-time. When a reservation is taken the information is relayed back to your channel manager and PMS, where inventory is instantly and automatically updated, and you can reassess your pricing based on the inventory you have remaining and the changing market conditions.

If you need help comparing providers, the best resource to use is Hotel Tech Report.

Here you’ll find a wealth of content detailing the reviews for products and ratings on features such as ROI, ease of use, integration, implementation, functionality, quality of support, and more. Your peers in the hotel industry have also written reviews detailing their specific feedback on inventory management systems. This will give you clarity and prompt you to ask other important questions you may not have already considered.

Hotel inventory management software: Cost, setup, and training considerations

No matter what system you are researching the weight you give to considering costs, setup processes, and training resources is likely to be pretty high.

Look for systems that will offer an initial setup as part of a free trial. The setup fee should be very minimal and then you get to use the product free for a period of time, likely making back that money very quickly. The added benefit is that when you do decide to become a billed customer there’s no more work to be done and you already know how to use the system.

Setup should take only a few days once you’ve had your initial call. At SiteMinder, you’ll be treated to a dedicated onboarding specialist who will guide you through the setup process and offer hands-on training for your systems. Other resources such as video tutorials will also be available.

The best providers will only charge a flat, risk-free, monthly fee for their service, rather than locking you into a contract or charging you per transaction. Usually, the price of your system will depend on how big your property is, i.e how many rooms will need to be managed.

To see how this works with your property and the various systems you might use, visit SiteMinder’s pricing scale here.

If you do decide you want to pre-commit to a yearly payment method, SiteMinder offers a 5% discount.

Hotel inventory management software free download

Free downloads are NOT the answer to inventory management software. Truly ‘free’ technology is usually not backed up by an extensive amount of development – nor does it promise ongoing updates or constant support.

Free downloads are often static pieces of software that require constant updates to be downloaded and they’re limited in a number of ways:

  • Restricted to Windows or Mac operating systems
  • Rely too heavily on stable internet connections
  • Clunky interfaces
  • Lack of advanced features
  • Little to no customer support (definitely not local or 24/7 support)
  • Can lack security measures and encryption
  • Not mobile responsive
  • Glitches regularly

If you want to try inventory management software for free, top providers will give you free trial periods. Usually once you express your interest, a platform like SiteMinder will contact you within one business day to get started. As a minimum you can enjoy the full benefits of a system for two weeks – and any positive results you see are yours to keep. There’s no need to pay any transaction revenue.

Normally, results will speak for themselves and you’ll realise the value in investing in inventory management systems such as a channel manager. Once you experience how easy it can be by removing manual processes, eliminating human error, reducing double-bookings, and scoring more revenue/bookings you won’t want to stop using technology solutions for your hotel’s management.

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