VS1 Cloud Blog
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.
By: Mila Slesar