switching pms guide

Switching PMS: what should you look out for?

Before switching PMS, it’s crucial to carefully select a new property management software tailored to your specific needs. After all, what might seem like ‘existing but not very advanced’ functionality in one PMS could be ‘existing but via a third-party application’ in another, or even ‘existing and very advanced’ in a third. To assist you in making this crucial decision, we’ve taken 3 key functionalities as examples to help you effectively compare different PMS options.

You’ve taken the time to assess your needs and expectations, meticulously compared the software available in the market, narrowed down your choices to just 3 potential tools and engaged in demonstrations with sales representatives. While your heart may already lean towards one of these finalist contenders, you still have a few questions.

If you manage a large number of properties and already use a PMS, you know that this step you are about to take is not an easy one, and you want to go through it as smoothly as possible. We understand you well, which is why in this article we’re sharing our advice and the expertise of our own onboarding team, to help you anticipate and manage a PMS switch as smoothly as possible.

Synchronisation accross platforms (OTAs)

When switching PMS, synchronisation with online booking platforms (OTAs) is crucial. Make sure that the new PMS is compatible with the main platforms you use and that the transition will not impact the visibility of your listings.

switching pms

It is important, for example, to inquire with your new PMS (even during the selection phase) about the type of connectivity it offers with each platform (API, iCal, limited API, API with content, etc.).

You may not be aware of it, but there are many different levels of integration, offering sometimes radically different benefits.

This is the ‘channel manager‘ part of a PMS.

Because in your daily operations, these adjustments can significantly impact synchronisation capacity:

  • Cleaning fees
  • Equipment and amenities
  • Photo sequencing
  • Listing descriptions
  • Cancellation policies
  • Pricing guidelines
  • Messaging system
  • And more…

Risks when switching PMS

The process of switching PMS involves potential risks, including the loss of bookings, pricing errors, or availability problems. Identifying these risks from the outset is crucial for minimising them.

The standard process for risk mitigation

The new PMS you choose should offer a clear and precise onboarding process, including account configuration and training stages. If you already have a PMS with advertisements and reservations, your future PMS should be able to explain clearly how the transition phase will work.

You may be required to perform certain tasks during this transition, such as:

  • Saving and exporting data from your old PMS (passenger details, bookings, advertisements, property owners, team members, as well as accommodation-specific information like addresses, Wi-Fi access, equipment, etc.)
  • Setting up rates and pricing rules
  • Updating your automatic message templates for guest communication
  • Adjusting your task and mission templates

Transferring existing data

Ensure that the new PMS is capable of correctly transferring all existing data, including past bookings, property information and financial data.

Unfortunately, there is no standard for data relating to the holiday lettings industry. This  would greatly benefit all companies in the sector, especially property managers, by ensuring that no information is lost.

Therefore, please check what you can export from your existing PMS and what your new PMS will be able to import or not. Be aware that there are limitations, sometimes even inherent in certain reservation platforms, which may prevent the import of specific data

Your new PMS must be able to explain these limitations and adapt your transfer plan accordingly.

When to make the move? The right time for a PMS switch

Choose the right time to minimise disruption. The low season may be ideal for a smooth transition, but also consider the benefits of the high season.

Factors like the type of properties managed, their geographical location, or the organization of the business can all influence your decision when it comes to choosing the right time for a PMS switch.

It’s hard to give an answer that will work every time, because each property manager’s business can be so different. Factors like the type of properties managed, their geographical location, or the organisation of the business can all influence your decision when it comes to choosing the right time for a PMS switch.

To make your decision, it’s important to be aware of the timeframe involved in the migration (we’ll discuss this later) and all the tasks that need to be carried out. Generally, being aware of these elements will help you determine the most opportune moment.

Switching PMS : how long does it take?

Your new PMS will typically provide you with an estimate of the migration and account setup duration.

But be mindful, this timeframe will:

  • Depend on your specific situation (the amount of data to be migrated, the number of rental platforms to be connected, specific requests, direct booking site, and associated data).
  • Depend on your involvement and responsiveness (data transmission to the new PMS, availability for status meeting and availability for training on specific functions of the new software)

To give you an idea, it’s not uncommon to observe migration times from one PMS to another ranging between 1 and 3 months. The duration depends on the project’s complexity and the teams’ availability.

A valuable tip is to inquire with your point of contact at the new PMS, such as the account manager or onboarding manager, about strategies that could facilitate or accelerate the transition. Additionally, if you’re the company director and feel you lack the time or technical expertise, consider designating a team member as the project manager to oversee and manage this project on your behalf.

What should be on the checklist for your new PMS before activation?

Make sure all essential features are correctly configured before activating the new PMS. This includes:

  • Automatic messages to guests
    • Have you correctly integrated your message templates in all the necessary languages?
  • Task automation
    • Have you added your team members to your new PMS with the appropriate permissions? Have they activated their accounts and downloaded the mobile application if provided by your PMS?
  • Communication with owners
    • Prepare their access and don’t hesitate to test the interface by logging in as an owner to ensure that the shared information is what you want to grant them access to.
checklist when switching pms

When should the new PMS be activated?

Plan carefully when to activate your new PMS to avoid any adverse effects on bookings and operations.

Just like the perfect time to initiate the migration, the activation of the new PMS’s services holds significant importance. After taking into account the elements outlined in the previous checklist, plan the crucial date with your solution provider.

At first glance, there’s no need to be afraid, as you’re typically switching for the better, to take advantage of new features. If a specific local event affects your business, you might prefer to make the PMS switch afterward. Additionally, it’s advisable to plan this transition at the beginning of the week rather than just before the weekend, as your PMS teams are more likely to be less responsive in the event of any issues.

switching pms steps

How much does it cost switching PMS?

The costs associated with switching PMS can vary, and not all of them are straightforward or easy to calculate.

Here are a few things you can anticipate: 

  • Overlapping of the 2 subscriptions: you will need to maintain both your old PMS and the new PMS for at least one month, potentially longer, resulting in double billing. (This may also depend on any existing commitments with the PMS you are leaving).
  • Start-up costs: your new PMS may charge you for start-up costs, often referred to as onboarding costs. This is particularly common when opting for a comprehensive PMS designed for professional managers handling multiple properties.
  • Time investment: you and your team will invest time in assisting the new PMS team, providing them with necessary information, and explaining your working methods in detail. This time investment is in addition to your ongoing managerial responsibilities.

The training period after a PMS switch

Adapting to new software

Familiarising yourself with the new software is essential. If you have opted for a professional PMS, training time will likely be included in the onboarding package. Don’t hesitate to request details on how this training will be conducted.

Are there instructional videos available? Will the training be conducted in group sessions or individually? And, a very important detail: will you be the sole beneficiary of this training, or can you include your teams?

training your team when switching pms

Training your employees

Invest in in-depth training for your team to ensure  they effectively adapt to the new PMS. This will enable them to make the most of its features and ensure a smooth transition.

Conclusion

As mentioned earlier, switching PMS is certainly for the better. This means there will be new functions to master, new interfaces to understand, and perhaps even new tools that you didn’t have before (such as a mobile application for field agents like RentalReady, for example).

In any case, it’s important to understand that, like anything new, you need to allow time for both you and your teams to learn and adapt. Keep an open mind. You’ve probably already established your own processes, but the reason for switching PMS is to make improvements and progress. Don’t hesitate to share your current business processes with potential PMS providers to ensure you choose the one that aligns more closely with them.

By carefully following these tips, you can ensure a successful PMS switch, minimising potential risks and maximising the benefits for your short-term rental business.

Get in touch

We hope that we have been able to guide you through this important stage. Our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have and tell you more about our features and onboarding process, which we are improving every day.