I know what it’s like, you have a PMS, channel manager or booking engine, but you’re apprehensive about changing. You’ve got a system which you have been using for years. You learn it, you use it, and you train your team to use it. But after a while, the cracks start to appear and you realise that there must be something better out there.
In this blog post, I’m going outline the exact procedure about how we successfully moved a busy hostel in Siem Reap, Cambodia to Cloudbeds from Little Hotelier and Siteminder.
Note that this is a very thorough blog post and is more than 2,000 words. Bookmark this page and come back to it later!
The hostel was taking around 60-100 bookings per day, depending on the season. At first, Little Hotelier and Siteminder were working well. Over the course of time, problems started to appear.
Then, some big problems were starting to appear. We were getting overbookings, lost bookings and more.
This was unacceptable.
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We contacted Siteminder’s support on numerous occasions and we found it harder to contact them, replies were taking even longer to come back to us. We weren’t getting replies for 2 or 3 days and even then, they weren’t particularly helpful.
One day, we had 10 or so overbookings. We couldn’t get a real person to speak to us. We emailed, we called their APAC office, their Australian office and their UK office.
When we finally got through to somebody in the UK, they said that we had to speak to the APAC office. We explained that we had tried to call them multiple times, but there was never an answer.
Finally, the support agent in the UK decided to help. We spent days trying to get help. This simply wasn’t acceptable.
During this time, the overbookings kept coming. The hostel was losing money.
It was time to change.
The owner was worried about changing because their team knew this system, they had 100s of future bookings and it’s not easy to change systems.
We had a meeting, drank a few coffees, discussed the problems, and were asked to fix it.
The biggest issue raised was the disruption to business. The change had to go smoothly.
So, we went away and started to plan the changeover. We knew we were going to use Cloudbeds because it is our preferred system. To find out why, read our Cloudbeds review.
The whole changeover process was handled efficiently and professionally. Moreover, we didn’t lose a single booking during the transition.
Keep reading to find out how we did it!
The hostel was having issues with overbookings. The problems were coming from Siteminder and when we contacted their support, it was pretty much non-existent.
When the hostel first opened, the booking engine (Little Hotelier) and the PMS (again, Little Hotelier) were working well. Over the years, it was never updated, it became “tired” and started to look very dated.
Siteminder’s channel manager simply wasn’t up to the task and their support weren’t able to help in a reasonable time frame. After speaking to their support numerous times, they told us that they were overwhelmed by the amount of support requests and apologized. Unfortunately, it was a recurring problem and we had to change.
We presented our plan to the owners, they agreed immediately, and it was time to start putting our plan into practice.
Here is how we did it.
When taking 60 – 100 bookings per day, it’s important to not lose any. With so many guests coming and going each day, we had to ensure that things went smoothly.
It doesn’t matter if you’re taking 60 bookings per day or 6 bookings per day. You cannot lose bookings.
We decided that the best way was to plan a successful transition from Siteminder to Cloudbeds and consider the following things:
It was a mammoth task, but we handled it well. In fact, we didn’t lose a single booking through the entire process.
Where to start?
We decided it was best to start with staff training.
After the decision was made to move from Siteminder to Cloudbeds, we sat down and documented how we were going to proceed.
We held meetings with all affected staff which included the front desk team (they had to deal with check ins and check outs), the management team and the accounts department.
I felt it was necessary to split these meetings into smaller meetings and deal with each department at a time.
Each team had their own issues with Siteminder and we asked them to talk to us about the issues. We listened to them and arranged for a Cloudbeds trial account.
When we received the trial account, we sent it over to the hostel and let the staff play with it. They picked it up very quickly.
Once you can use one PMS, it’s fairly easy to learn another. We gave them 3 days to learn it and write down questions for us to answer.
Then we arranged a formal training session where we addressed all their previous issues and questions. We also trained them how to use Cloudbeds.
At this point, nearly every member of staff were so happy that we had them all on board.
The transition period is difficult. We need the support of the hotel’s team to do it effectively.
Of course, there were one or two who didn’t like change, but in digital marketing, if you don’t change, you get left behind. During the training sessions, these last stragglers were brought on board and we were ready for the next step.
The most important thing here is that all the teams were excited. They could see how Cloudbeds would make their jobs easier and wanted to change.
For us, this meant that our first objective was not only completed, but we had the backing of everyone involved. This would make the next steps a lot easier.
We then started work on setting up the Channel Manager. We went through all the rooms, uploaded photos, pasted in our policies and performed our normal set up procedure.
Olive & Lake has set up Cloudbeds for multiple clients, so we know what we’re doing. The setup was completed in half a day.
If you need help with Cloudbeds, we offer a full setup and provide you with training. See more about this service in our Cloudbeds Review.
Before we can connect channels, Cloudbeds needs to ensure that all our future bookings have been imported. This is probably the most critical part because we need to change the OTA connections as quickly as possible after the data has been imported.
We reached out to Cloudbeds, explained what we were doing, and they were extremely helpful. Cloudbeds gave us a schedule for the data import and it was done on time.
The next was to change the connections from Siteminder to MyAllocator (Cloudbeds’ channel manager).
This is the hardest part of the process. Imagine taking 60 – 100 bookings per day and ensuring that no bookings get lost.
How did we do this?
As it turns out, it was a painless process. However, this is where prioritising staff training and planning with Cloudbeds to do the data import really paid off.
When providing revenue management services to our clients, we make a point of building a good relationship with market managers for respective OTAs. We kept our market managers in the loop, and they were ready to change the connection when we needed it.
Some OTAs such as booking.com allow you to change the connection yourself. Others, such as Expedia and Agoda, require that we contact our market manager to make the change.
We needed our market managers to make this change when requested without any delays.
For this property, we had to change the connection for:
We did Booking.com ourselves in just a few minutes. We then got back to Cloudbeds who immediately finished the connection their end. It was done within the hour.
We contacted all our market managers for Expedia, Agoda and Hostelworld who immediately made the changes.
Then, we contacted Cloudbeds support to tell them that the changes had been made and to finalise the connection.
The process was simplified because we planned for it.
The channel manager connections were made. The hostel was now using Cloudbeds.
But it wasn’t all over yet! We still had work to do.
We spent time with the staff in the hostel and answered their questions as they were using the system. They were already confident with using Cloudbeds because they had used it before during our initial training but there were a few small issues which needed to be dealt with.
We had the front desk team check every future booking in Little Hotelier and if it wasn’t in Cloudbeds, they manually entered the booking.
During the time between the data import and the changeover, other bookings had come in. These bookings were not in Cloudbeds and still went to Little Hotelier. These had to be manually entered too.
After checking all these bookings, the front desk team kept both systems running for a couple of days to ensure that they had access to everything.
After 2 or 3 days, it was clear that they were not looking at Little Hotelier anymore and were only using Cloudbeds.
The front desk team did a fantastic job during this period. We got them onboard from the early stages and guided them through the process. We couldn’t have done it smoothly without them.
We updated the owners and said that it is now safe to cut ties with Siteminder. They cancelled their subscription immediately.
We were now 100% on Cloudbeds.
After changing to Cloudbeds and setting it up correctly, we noticed an increase in direct bookings, more upsells and a happier team.
We accomplished this with a thorough plan, training and keeping everyone updated throughout the entire process.
It was then time to focus our attention on the other teams which needed to use the system including management and the accounting team. Again, this process was quick and easy.
Olive & Lake were also able to optimise the booking process with upsells, automated emails and other things which helps to increase income and bookings. Chat to us about how we can do the same for you!
Cloudbeds is so much better and easier to use than Little Hotelier.
We observed that the front desk team transitioned very quickly from Siteminder to Cloudbeds. In fact, after just a few hours, they were all happy because their jobs had been made much easier.
Features such as scanning documents, dragging and dropping bookings on the calendar screen, and getting more helpful reports just make things much easier for everyone.
From our point of view, we were able to increase direct bookings, increase upsells and it made it easier for us to do our job too. See our revenue management service to find out exactly what we can do for your hotel.
Changing Channel Managers, PMS systems and Booking engines isn’t easy. With the right planning and the right training, the process can be relatively painless. We did it with a busy hostel taking 60 – 100 bookings per day which was not an easy feat.
Olive & Lake has migrated many hotels from their previous systems to Cloudbeds by following a similar procedure to what we did with this hostel. Each changeover is unique and must be handled in different ways, but each time we’ve done it, the hotel and their staff are always happy with the outcome.
Contact Olive & Lake to help you transition to Cloudbeds from any system that you’re using. We’ll make sure that it’s done correctly and minimise issues during the course of the transition.
Cloudbeds is the fastest growing hospitality management software in the world, providing fully-integrated tools to manage properties of all types and sizes – building revenue, driving bookings and increasing operational efficiency. In this guide to hotel management software, they detail how to choose hotel technology that puts you in control.
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