June 8, 2022

Is Free Hotel Management Software Worth It?

Posted By: Adelle Rodriguez


Everyone loves the idea of free, but when it comes to hotel management software (HMS), is it worth it? Sure — saving money sounds great, but at what cost to your operations?

When deciding on which property management software (PMS) to invest in for your hotel, you need to make sure it’s going to meet all of your needs. 

Let’s talk about why exactly some property management tools are available at no upfront cost to help you weigh the pros and cons of choosing a free PMS. 


What Does “Free” Actually Mean? 

We’ve all heard the phrase, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” and it’s true. Rarely does anything in life come with no strings attached. There is usually some kind of catch...

When you see FREE on a hotel management software’s price tag, the first question you should ask yourself is: “what exactly is free?”

Does it mean a free demo? Maybe it means that you can access the management software at no cost for a trial period — like the first 30 days? Does it mean that you get a free version of the platform, but are limited in accessing the full functions (the ones you really need!) unless you pay extra (AKA a freemium)? Or, do you have to pay the regular PMS cost, but get certain premium features for free for a designated time? 

Whenever you see the word free associated with property management software, it’s okay to be skeptical. Chances are, it has some sort of asterisk behind it. It's up to you to ask the provider questions and get to the bottom of the true offer. 


Does the Free PMS Come with All the Basics?

If your free PMS doesn’t include all of the standard features of a management tool, it’ll probably end up hindering your growth and capabilities in one way or another. 

Ask yourself if this free management software:

  1. Automates communications with guests 
  2. Integrates with other systems like your POS, CRM, and more
  3. Has a customer support team available, ideally 24/7
  4. Makes it easy to migrate your current data without creating a mess
  5. Is user-friendly for your staff to learn and operate
  6. Allows you to manage your property from anywhere, on any device
  7. Provides reports and other insights into your performance
  8. Helps you to improve the guest experience


Will the Free Version Be Enough?

No matter what type of free offer is on the table, you always have to ask yourself, “will the free version include everything I need?”

When vetting a hotel property management software, it helps if you come prepared with a list of your nice-to-haves versus must-haves — so you know the features or functionalities you absolutely need. 

For instance, a PMS that does not play nice with your channel manager will surely make it difficult for your team to know when a booking, cancelation, or modification is made. Or a free hotel management solution that won’t communicate with your customer relationship management software can leave you in the dark with tracking your website’s leads and bookings.


Will This Free PMS Make Your Team & Your Customer’s Lives Easier?

Remember, the right hotel property management software is supposed to make your and your guests’ lives easier, not harder. 

When thinking about ease of use, start by asking yourself how doable it will be to migrate from your current system to the new PMS — because you know this can be one of the biggest challenges of all! How can they guarantee it’ll come over neatly organized and streamlined? Will they migrate over a certain amount of data for free, but charge for the rest? How long does the typical migration take? 

Even after the migration, what type of training is available? Is your staff PMS training free as well or is that the “gotcha!” freemium upgrade? Luckily Solonis’s PMS offers an extensive library of self-help documentation and video training to ensure hotel owners, managers, and staff will be running their business efficiently. Most importantly — it’s 100% free, no matter how much you and your team need. While it may be assumed support should be included (even after the initial set-up) with a PMS provider, it’s often not… 

What sort of automation and workflow features are included to trigger interactions with guests, without any manual action from your staff? Do you have to pay extra for certain automation features? 

Remember, a proper PMS should help your hotel save time and money, not add to your stress or drain your wallet with hidden costs along the way.  


How Will The Free PMS Help Your Guests?

At the end of the day, your guests are your most important consideration. It’s crucial you thoroughly research how (or if) the free option can enhance your guests’ experience. 

Will automation features allow you and your team to consolidate time so you can focus on customer service and spend less time micromanaging ] software? Does the free version allow guests to utilize self-service features like mobile check-in and out — a common expectation for today’s modern travelers? 

Here are six more ways the right PMS can help you improve your guest experience to know exactly what to look for. 


Save Time & Money With One Solution

In the end, a “free” hotel property management option usually has more shortcomings than advantages. Whether hidden costs lie in the upsells or the system requires time-consuming maintenance and limits the guest experience, there’s always something you’re giving up. 

Since a PMS is arguably the most important tool in your stack, oftentimes the free version is simply not worth it.

Save money and still find the best solution by looking for an all-in-one hotel property management software — one that eliminates the need for excessive software costs all while integrating efficiently with other essential tools. 

Discover everything a hotel property management system can and should do by downloading The Ultimate Guide to All-in-1 Hotel Management Software.

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