Originally published at onix-systems.com.
Competition in the hospitality industry is already high. The peer-to-peer stay model aggravates the situation by capitalizing on the hotels’ perceived inability to provide personalized guest experiences.
To remain competitive, hoteliers are jumping through hoops to meet customers’ needs and expectations throughout the experience. This includes online search, booking process, on-property interaction with the hotel staff, in-room experience, and post-stay feedback on social media. Simultaneously, they need to operate multiple departments and activities of their hotel businesses smoothly and cost-effectively.
Luckily, hoteliers can leverage enterprise resource planning solutions to their advantage. Namely, hotel property management systems are there to help with all their needs.
Definition and Purpose of Hotel Property Management Systems
Property management systems (PMS) are applications for the operation of accommodations businesses. A centralized computer system allows to organize, schedule, and perform the day-to-day functions and transactions in hospitality accommodations and residential and commercial rental properties. It helps property owners, managers, and real estate professionals control the advertising of properties, collection of payments, property maintenance, and more.
The terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but we believe that hotel property management systems should be distinguished from other property management software. All PMS systems help manage lodgings, but of different types. For example, even local governments can use PMS to manage schools, sports and recreational facilities, community gardens, and parks. Hotel PMS solutions cater exclusively to the owners and managers of hotels, motels, hostels, resorts, and the like. The end-customers of hotel PMS also differ from rental tenants and have different needs which the software should address.
Traditionally, a hotel PMS was understood as a software that enables hotel businesses to optimize their front-office capabilities by replacing time-intensive, paper and spreadsheet-heavy processes. These PMS solutions helped with tasks like reservations, guest check-in/check-out, room assignment, room rates management, and billing. They often required a lot of hardware that was managed on premises.
What is PMS systems’ role in the hospitality industry nowadays? The automation of the common front-office and administrative tasks remains the priority. All hotel PMS include the critical modules of reservation, front-desk operations, and housekeeping. On top of all that, modern hotel PMS solutions include a range of features that promote the delivery of flawless personalized guest experiences.
The Features of Hotel PMS Systems
A modern PMS combines multiple work environments in a single piece of software. Depending on the software provider, the combination of modules in a system and functionalities within a module can vary. However, a robust hotel operating software should manage, at a minimum, the following tasks:
This module allows to check guests in and out, issue key cards, track room allocation, manage room-related requests, process payments and issue receipts to guests, perform night and shift audits, and more in one secure system.
Front-office staff can access up-to-date information about all current and upcoming reservations. The system should also make it relatively easy to modify bookings, e.g., change a room or date. The modifications should take immediate effect and be reflected by other modules.
The reservation service holding all inventory information and dates should be integrated with the website booking engine and other distribution channels. Convenient and user-friendly dashboards display the current and upcoming reservations to the hotel management. They can check room availability and status, keep track of reservations and guests, and move them around as needed. The reservation functionality should make it simple to manage room bookings, discounts, room inventory and allocation, and to accept online payments.
A simple and intuitive user interface lets travelers book rooms quickly, receive confirmation via email, pay for their room safely, and easily self check-in. A good hotel PMS should allow reservations for large groups, meetings, incentives, conferencing, and exhibitions, activity booking, and adding hotel amenity packages. Ideally, it should support mobile booking as well.
A central reservation system or reservation platform may be a part of hotel PMS or may be implemented separately. In the latter case, the PMS should be able to integrate with the existing reservation system.
Distribution channel management
To ensure visibility to different audiences, hospitality businesses have to appear on multiple online distribution channels. Bookings come from a hotel’s website, travel websites and mobile applications, corporate clients and airlines, travel agents, and other sources. Hotel property management software helps expand the business’ reach across the Internet and manage the multiple channels. It integrates with online travel agencies (OTAs) and global distribution systems (GDSs) and enables listing rooms and rates on multiple channels and through third-party booking partners.
While a centralized hotel booking engine handles direct sales, an online channel manager controls the distribution channels. This feature helps eliminate manual management and facilitates booking-related transactions. The software connects directly to the reservation system and provides a single interface to control and distribute inventories across the various channels. All bookings are synchronized and room availability is updated in real time across all channels. It also ensures consistency in terms of the hotel’s rates and discounts.
Housekeeping & maintenance management
Housekeeping functionality includes management of room statuses, assignments for room cleaning, and tracking housekeepers’ tasks. The module automates management tasks and connects housekeeping staff to the front office. The software should identify rooms that need to be cleaned or prepared for the next arriving guest, and assign tasks to the responsible employees. A front-office manager can track the status of each room and organize maintenance reports. Cloud-based hotel PMS enables housekeepers to update the status of their tasks or rooms on their smartphone or tablet once everything is done. The staff can also upload photos of any issues so that the maintenance department can assess and fix them quickly.
A maintenance management system helps to plan and organize maintenance operations, hold the record of hotel disruptions and repairs, organize maintenance reports, and track maintenance requests and update their statuses.
Revenue management and strategy
A hotel revenue management system provides a secure and straightforward interface for tracking, management, and analysis of payments. It accepts online payments, instantly validating credit/debit card details, and in case of non-payment, helps track and manage outstanding charges.
Hotel property management software also empowers hoteliers to implement flexible data-driven revenue management strategies. They track key performance indicators like occupancy, revenue per available room (RevPAR), and average daily rate (ADR). Special algorithms use historical data and info on competitors’ rates, weather, or local events to help determine optimal rates. Dedicated pricing tools enable hotel managers to automatically adjust room prices across all distribution channels, set up restrictions, and create packages and special offers. Revenue management systems also help hoteliers understand how to modify the processes to achieve better results and control finances.
These are the essential elements of property management systems for hotel chains, small hostels, and everything in between. Big hotels or resorts also require point-of-sale (POS) services, a separate customer relationship management (CRM), and back-office module with catering and event management functions. Reporting and analytics are valuable as well.
Customer data and customer relationships management
Hotels should be able to keep in touch with customers before, during, and after their stay. A CRM integrated with the front-desk and reservation systems collects and organizes guest contact information and other data from these sources. A database of guest information can help hoteliers develop marketing strategies and membership and loyalty programs for better personalized guest experiences. Hotel PMS systems also provide a comprehensive feedback management feature that captures guest feedback. The information can be used on the hotel’s website, travel booking sites and mobile apps, or surveys.
If a hotel or resort chain has its own CRM system, the hotel PMS should integrate with it.
Reporting and analytics
Comprehensive and timely reporting is essential to hotel business growth. Depending on the software, hotel PMS systems can generate various types of automated reports: night audit, shift audit, room and tax reports, departure/arrival, housekeeping, or other ongoing reporting. The module facilitates keeping track of revenue, reservations, and inventory, and gives valuable insights into hotel performance through daily reports, occupancy rate, ADR, and RevPAR.
The right hotel PMS also helps you comply with local tax reporting requirements and regulations.
This module helps streamline, improve visibility, and optimize back-office and administrative hotel operations. It may include the following functions:
- Human resources management, including shift management and staff invoicing
- Reviews management
- Event management and catering
- Conference room, spa, and gym management
- Sales and catering execution for group bookings
- Assets management
- Inventory analysis
- Consumption costs and hotel spending analysis
- Sales and management of promotional campaigns
The back-office module may offer internal messaging, reports of guest’s arrival time, ability to manage campaigns and send emails, and sometimes accounting.
Point-of-sale (POS) services
Many hotels have restaurants, banquet and conference halls, gyms, day spas, gift shops, and other facilities on the premises. They can also include extra costs or apply discounts on food and beverages, in-room services, mini-bar items, TV, or Wi-Fi on the guest folio. The POS function of hotel operating systems helps manage all payments accepted through multiple point-of-sale terminals smoothly, automates transactions, and keeps the data in one location.
Hotel property management systems may also integrate services like:
- guest access/smart locks control
- telephone systems
Benefits Delivered by Hotel Property Management Solutions
The advantages of a modern PMS for the hotel business include, but are not limited to:
Enhanced check-in/check-out capabilities
Mobile-enabled cloud hotel PMS empower a hotel’s front-desk staff to check guests in and out, assign rooms, and enable guest services anytime from any place.
Increased housekeeping efficiency
Housekeeping and maintenance functionalities of hotel PMS help properties of any size operate without a hitch. The software can alert housekeeping staff in real time of an early arriving guest whose room must be prepared, or update the staff when guests check out. It helps identify and manage room maintenance needs faster. Room management becomes more flexible, promoting faster check-ins and excellent guest experience.
Integrated hotel back-office systems
The back-office feature of hotel PMS facilitates tracking and accurate reporting and automates manual tasks, decreasing the cost and reducing human errors in the back-office operations. Numerous tasks that were previously handled by different programs can be done from one central location. The management can keep everything in one place where it won’t be lost. Employees can access, update, and track all relevant information across all departments and multiple property locations. Moreover, they can do it from any location and collaborate more effectively.
Increase in revenue through hotel distribution management
Channel manager integrations help increase a hotel business’ reach and visibility. There are advanced features for manual and semiautomated revenue management and real-time management of rates and availability across distribution channels. With flexible room pricing, hoteliers can increase room occupancy, RevPAR, and ADR to boost sales. Simultaneously, the software eliminates costly overbookings by managing room availability and coordinating connected channels.
Improved revenue management
Hotel property management software connects operations and financial processes. It leverages pre-built integrations to accounts receivable, accounts payable, payment gateways, point-of-sale systems, and payment processors. Analytics, reporting, and competitive intelligence help improve the hotel’s business operations.
Better customer data management
Hotel PMS consolidate and securely keep all customer data, helping to form rich guest profiles and ensure compliance with applicable consumer data protection regulations. The understanding of customer buying patterns enables hotel businesses to develop more targeted packages and services.
Improved staff mobility and communication
Hotel property management software provides real-time coordination between multiple users and facilitates delegating work and keeping up with deadlines. It may include features for notifications, alerts, photo sharing, and task discussions between the employees. Cloud-based hotel PMS empowers hotel staff with tablets or smartphones to provide exceptional guest service wherever and whenever needed.
Increased employee productivity and engagement
User-friendly interfaces facilitate the training of hotel staff and reduce the likelihood of errors. The staff can save hours on routine administrative tasks that can be automated and concentrate on adding value instead. Modern cloud hotel PMS also emphasize the technical innovation component valued by younger employees.
Integration with external systems
Modern cloud-based hotel operating systems are designed with system integration in mind. They help streamline operations from external systems for a hotel’s specific needs.
Faster growth and innovation
Detailed operation, marketing, and financial reports facilitate planning and revenue forecasts. Hoteliers can identify potential issues and improve hotel business management. These insights help generate growth strategies to attract more customers and expand the target market. One hotel operating system allows to manage multiple properties of several types, and cloud systems enable hotels to bring new properties online faster.
IT cost reduction
Cloud hotel PMS systems let hotels lower upfront capital expenditure on software and hardware and simplify their IT infrastructure. They can work with any operating system and eliminate the need for additional hardware or on-premise servers, whose updates required extra time and cost. With cloud-based software, no backup solutions, licensing, or updates are required. All upgrades, updates, and bug fixes occur automatically. Cloud-based software also has increased flexibility, efficiency, and scalability. It is accessible from various devices and offers remote-access option.
When all of the hotel’s data is stored in the cloud, it’s available for download and analysis, but also protected by the latest technology. Users don’t have to worry about viruses or bugs, and firewalls and authentication gateways guard the system and data against hacking. The information in your cloud PMS is encrypted and backed-up. Even if a computer breaks or a laptop is lost, the hotel data will remain accessible to the PMS users.
Enhanced guest experience
The automation of daily operations and administrative tasks promotes a consistent provision of quality services. Reservation modules within hotel PMS systems simplify booking for customers and facilitate instant guest communications. Mobile bookings and express check-ins and check-outs further improve customer experiences. Hotel PMS improve orders management in general, and particularly improve response time for room service. More accurate guest folios facilitate faster and more accurate billing. In-depth guest profiles consolidated in a single master help hotels personalize offers and guest experiences. PMS remembering customer preferences and pre- and post-stay communications, coupled with the analysis of customer feedback, gives helpful insights to hotel employees to ensure better guest experiences.
Improved customer relationships
Excellent hotel services and customer interactions improve the relationship and rapport with hotel guests. Memorable individualized guest experiences improve customer satisfaction, increase loyalty, and drive repeat business.
Any disadvantages of hotel property management systems, such as the cost and training of the staff, should be considered as investments. They are sure to pay off: automation can save forward-thinking businesses up to 70%.