Is it the right time to move my PMS to the Cloud?

Software as a Service (SaaS) – Multi Tenant PMS models are the way forward whether you like it or not. Vendors and hoteliers can gain from true economies of scale that a multi-tenant system (all customers sharing one large environment) can bring.

The model is typically based upon a pay per month/year fee where everything is bundled in ie. Software, hosting services, upgrades and support.

Many hoteliers are now asking the question, is now the right time to move to a SaaS Cloud PMS or the question is being asked because of the sales teams banging on their doors shouting about the benefits of ‘Cloud’.

Is now the right time for you to ‘go to the cloud ‘? My gut says ‘yes’, but my experience says ‘hold on a sec’. Moving to the cloud is going to be as disruptive as changing an on premises PMS vendor – if not more.

Many of the unforeseen issues arise out of functionality gaps, poor connectivity to the cloud and unexpected costs. Oh and a pinch of ‘I assumed’, a dash of ‘I expected’ with a slight hint of ‘nobody told me’. I have only one thing to say about that and that is ‘buyer beware’. Do your proper due diligence and there won’t be any pitfalls or you will know what the pitfalls are!

Firstly, the most important pieces of advice I can give you but not in any order –

  • Short list your vendors based upon a predefined list of must have functionality that your hotel needs. Add ‘nice to haves’ to the list but they cannot be the deciding factors.
  • Get hands on with product before you part with money or sign contracts.
  • Speak to other customers that use the same version of the product – preferably not the list of references the vendor gives you.
  • Compare apples with apples – add up all the costs and compare.
  • Does your location meet the minimum connectivity requirements?
  • Ensure the pricing model works for your business model.
  • Never purchase a PMS because of ‘bells & whistles’.
  • Ensure it ticks all the boxes for all the needs at your hotel – if it’s on the need list then you need to have it! 95% of needs will make some department unhappy.
  • Never purchase a PMS because your buddy down the road did.
  • Never purchase a PMS because the sales guy was nice and gave you a great deal.
  • And for the love of everything that is sacred to you – don’t assume anything.

Here are a few headings to help you decide if the time is right for your business:


Do the calculations before you commit. For the vendor Cloud is about continuous income. Ensure moving from one payment model to another suits your business model. If you are comparing a licensed based pricing model (license cost up front and annual support thereafter) vs a SaaS model (monthly/annual fee inc. support and hosting etc) ensure you base it over a minimum of five years. Factor in the cost of on premise or private hosting software upgrades for your PMS. Annual software upgrades to on premises systems can cost thousands in trainers and technicians.


Believe it or not SaaS PMS systems are relatively new. That means that within the last few years alone the vendor has purpose built the software to work in a multi-tenant environment. This means there will be functionality gaps. Moving to the cloud is going to provide significant disruption (consider it a change of PMS – it doesn’t matter where its located).

Do not assume because the vendor has an on-premise application that all the functionality will be available in the cloud application. Understand from your business teams what functionality you need and what you can live without.

One of the biggest assumptions people make is connections to 3rd parties or systems at your hotel. This might sound daft but as an example 2 vendors may not interface to or your ePOS the same way. Ensure you are going to get the same functionality when you switch vendor or switch from on premises to Cloud.

Based upon the amount of times I have heard ‘assumed’ and ‘I thought’, I could probably write a book on the topic.


Hosted Environments typically do not have (SPOFs) single points of failure. This means their investment in keeping your system up and running will be vastly greater than an on premises PMS. If a vendor has hundreds or thousands of customers using a Multi-Tenant system – you can be sure they are going to lose more money than you when the system goes down.


Critical but a tricky one to answer. There are basically 3 factors here. 1. is your local network/workstations. 2. Is your connectivity to the cloud 3. The vendor’s system. To eliminate the vendor from creating poor performance speak to existing clients. To eliminate the cloud or internet from being the problem – have your system audited for minimum requirements. Systems that use GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) are going to be slower than DOS systems.


Given the sensitivity of the data held within PMS systems this data is always going to be sought after by the bad guys. Ensure your vendor meets the highest security standards. I am not just talking about PCI, I am talking about data management standards in general, ISO 27001 etc. Ensure the vendor will provide regular audit reports, penetration tests from a reputable security company.

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Again, do not just assume. In my opinion your biggest security threat is from within. Get your own house in order carry out your own audits. Having your systems PCI compliant is only one half of the discussion. If staff are writing full credit card details into comments fields in your PMS then you cannot blame the system.


Can your vendor’s system scale? This isn’t a concern for the smaller independents but for groups this is a big issue. However, for the hotelier who is considering staying on premises – can you add more disk space if you need to, are you sure the hardware can handle it. Are you still running 32bit operating systems? If you are you can through all the memory into the system you like but it won’t solve the problem!

Database & technical software support

How will the support differ? Well going to the cloud, you don’t have to worry (I would hope) about disaster recovery. However, one question you should ask is ‘In the event of a discovery do you fail over to a different data centre?’

What type of SLAs are on offer for the service – how will it differ from your current standards.


Factor in cost of connectivity to the cloud service. What is the stability for your local area? Does the connection meet minimum requirements set by the vendor? Ensure you test before you purchase.  You typically only have one connection coming into your hotel. As PMS applications in the cloud are thinner (lighter) and latency tolerant (little to no impact when they line is not 100 percent stable) – a valid question to ask your vendor is – can the system run on a 3g or 4g connection if my main connection goes down? This may be a much cheaper alternative than getting a backup connection.

Data access

Finally – ensure you can easily access your data in the cloud. By this I mean file exports, reports automatically delivered and APIs. If you have a business intelligence, marketing 3rd party or other data needs ensure you fulfil these. Just because the data is yours doesn’t mean you can access it with ease.

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