Originally offered to “Personal Services” businesses, including things like fitness, health and wellness, sports instruction, music, and dance, Front Desk now caters to property management businesses, primarily hotels, hostels, and B&Bs.
This Front Desk review takes a look at the online app that promises to substantially reduce the time you spend on admin and makes billing customers simple and easy.
Brief Overview of Front Desk Services
Front Desk is designed around several main areas:
- Property Management – the dashboard view of everything at your properties, including reservation calendar and reporting.
- Online Travel Agency Integration – a method of connecting with popular online booking sites, such as Expedia and Booking.com.
- Booking Engine – a convenient option for direct bookings with no commission
- Website – Custom, mobile-friendly website design options that integrate seamlessly with your booking engine
- Payments – Integrations with third-party processors for secure payment processing through a Front Desk virtual terminal
For businesses with multiple locations, some plans offer single sign-on capabilities for ease of access. Multi-location consolidating reporting is also available.
Front Desk Features and Benefits
Front Desk has plenty of features for its users. Here’s a deeper dive into the capabilities of each area noted above.
The property management module in Front Desk is your hub for managing everything related to your business. You can see reservations and statuses (checked in or not, length of stay), arrange housekeeping, send automated messages to guests to welcome them at the beginning or thank them at the end of a stay, engage night audit policies, create work orders for employees to meet guests’ needs, and run reports. Available reports include guest check ins and outs, revenue, guest lists, deposits and opening balances, and more.
Online Travel Agency Integration
The Channel Manager feature of Front Desk is where you can manage integration with online travel agencies and booking services, including three very popular options: Expedia, Airbnb, and Booking.com. These days, many travels don’t seek specific venues for lodging; they check for lists of options on sites like the above. Being included on those sites can boost visibility and increase your bookings. Note that there may be separate fees from those sites for listing or accepting bookings. Be sure to check any contracts or agreements prior to signing on.
Typically, lodging businesses have a way to direct book even if they’re listed on a site like Expedia. With Front Desk, you don’t have to choose one booking method – you can offer the option to easily book directly through your website. The bookings engine is commission-free, so you keep more of the rate. Guests can see real-time availability, take advantage of discount codes you choose to offer, and enjoy secure transaction processing. You can brand the booking engine to match your website, post full-size photos of accommodations, and add booking capabilities to your Facebook page.
Whether you’re looking to redo your website or starting from scratch, you can create a beautiful and customized site with Front Desk. With plenty of space for images of your lodgings (or even video!) you can create a website that reflects your unique business. The site is desktop and mobile-friendly, so visitors experience a quality interaction regardless of how they access your site.
Security is paramount when accepting payments. That’s why Front Desk tokenizes credit card details so that information is secure. You can work with the payment processor of your choosing and take advantage of Front Desk’s virtual terminal option to securely enter card details.
Front Desk Pricing
In the past, Front desk has published its pricing in three plan tiers, which started at $129/month.
Now, the plans page of the website requires you to select the type of lodging business you run (hotel, resort, hostel, etc.) and how many rooms are on the property. It then gives a list of plans – always called Starter, Standard, and Pro) but requires you to contact the company for actual pricing. It’s unclear if the lowest cost package has gone up.
The plan lists show the features available in each plan; it’s worth looking through this list for your specific property, as some features aren’t really discussed on the main pages of the website, such as package deal support. For businesses like resorts that offer inclusive packages, certain plans can support that capability and ensure a smooth process from an accounting and management perspective.
There are many features that are available in all plans, such as the booking engine, reporting, security features, payment processor compatibility, work orders, and online booking integration. You’ll also benefit from customer support, help with your Front Desk setup, and a Facebook app. Note that data migration from another system (if needed) is only available on the Pro plan.
If there are specific features that are a “must” for your lodging business, be sure to check if they’re included on the plan you’re considering.
Note that the costs for using the Front Desk software don’t include any costs for accepting credit cards. Additionally, there may be commission or other fees for third-party booking / lodging apps (such as Expedia) that are outside of Front Desk’s control.
Front Desk Clients
Front Desk specializes in supporting all lodging businesses from single-location, family-owned bed and breakfasts to property management companies. The Front Desk site references supporting hotels, hostels, villas, resorts, bed and breakfasts, RV parks and campgrounds, corporate housing, educational / college lodging, and management groups.
Front Desk Payment Processing
In the past, Front Desk integrated with EVO Payments and charged a flat rate of 2.89% for all transactions.
However, the company now offers a choice of four different payment processing gateways so you’re not locked into using EVO. That means you can shop around to compare pricing for credit card processing and find the best deal for your particular business.
Currently, Front Desk lists compatibility with Stripe, Authorize.Net, PayPal, and USAePay.
Note that you’ll need to choose a payment processor that offers one of the listed gateways. In the case of Stripe and PayPal, that means you would secure your payment processing directly with Stripe or PayPal and pay the flat fees offered by those companies. In some cases, flat fee credit card processing is a more expensive option, though it looks simpler. If you choose to use Authorize.Net or USAePay instead, you will have a wider selection of payment processing companies and may be able to secure lower costs for accepting credit cards.
Note that Front desk doesn’t set your pricing for accepting cards – those costs will be set by the processor that you choose.
A quote comparison tool like CardFellow’s lets you quickly and privately see the total cost for your business from any processing company you’d like. Try it here.
Related Article: Guide to Credit Card Processing.
Front Desk Reviews
Okay, that covers the features and costs, but what do real businesses using Front Desk think? We’ve hunted out some reviews from around the web.
Capterra — 100+ reviews, 4.4 out of 5 stars
Reviews of Front Desk on Capterra are generally positive.
Customers found it to be an easy way to automate processes that would normally require a lot more time, thought the user interface is intuitive and easy to use, and that it was easy to keep track of scheduling and billing. Other clients thought it was easy to set up class schedules and client profiles, and appreciated the customization options. Some reviewers mentioned the identical desktop and mobile interfaces, and a few noted that the pricing seemed right for a small business budget. Several reviewers noted that it’s easy to contact the support team and that they are responsive and helpful for solving issues.
However, a few negative points came up as well. Some reviewers felt that the integrations could be improved, that reports could be confusing due to the number of possible options, and that payroll doesn’t allow for staff to be paid by the hour. Additionally, there is no visual ‘storefront’ for customers to purchase add-ons. A few customers reference using it in other countries where English is not the primary language, and noted that staff sometimes struggle to use it in those situations.
GetApp — 100+ ratings, 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reviews of Front desk on GetApp were also very positive.
Reviewers comment that customer service is excellent, the layout is simple and easy to use, backend functionality is great, and payment plans are inexpensive for the services you get. The only negative comment is that reporting functions could be improved, as the reviewer felt that there wasn’t enough detail.
G2 Crowd — 16 ratings, 4.3 out of 5 stars
Again, reviews of Front Desk on G2 Crowd were positive (noticing a trend here?)
Like other review sites, reviewers here report that support staff are helpful, service is impeccable, software is user-friendly and very easy to use, and the costs are reasonable. Some reviewers report that they like being able to access data / the dashboard from their phone. The areas for improvement that customers noted included that the interface isn’t intuitive in all areas, that the system seems slow when sharing information with multiple users, and that reporting could be better.
We hope this has given you a comprehensive overview of what Front Desk does and what businesses like yours think of its service. It’s a feature-rich app that small business owners in the lodging industry seem to love. Focusing heavily on the things that matter for a smooth guest experience, the software has lots of functions to ensure seamless booking, payment, and tracking. Although some customers do have minor issues with the reporting functionality or with the software slowing down at times, the range and ease of use of the core features means customers are happy to pay for subscriptions to the software.
Front Desk also provides a free 14-day trial, so if you’re interested, we recommend you try it out for yourself, and see if it could work for your business.
Remember that if you want to take credit cards through Front Desk, you can work with any processing company that supports the USAePay or Authorize.Net gateways (which is a lot of processors!) or directly with Stripe or PayPal.
Comparing processors will help you find the best deal on pricing. If you need help finding a Front Desk-compatible processing company, fill out this no-obligation quote request form and give us a call for assistance finding the right option.
If you’ve used Front Desk yourself, or have any comments, please let us know!