Your customer’s starts their travel journey by looking for Hotels to travel to. Their guest experience consists of the pre-stay shopping for rooms, their interaction with the guest staff once they get to the hotel, their in-room experience and what they share on social media as feedback after the stay. A good Property Management System (PMS) should support and enhance each aspect of this experience for your customer.
In today’s age, you need to have an extremely strong online presence to stand out. Customers are always looking for the easiest way to get things done, so you need to have a simple, reliable, and quick system to get their reservations complete. You also need to provide the best customer experience possible so that customers returning to your location will choose your Hotel over your competitors.
In this article, we are going to talk about the main features and functions of a comprehensive PMS, and how you can use these to take your Hotel to the next level.
What is a PMS?
PMS stands for Property Management System, which is the Software Solution used to handle the major transactions and operations of Hotels, Motels, Resorts, Inns, and other Lodging Services.
A Hotel is a complex system that requires varying operations of many different departments to be handled together. Every operation must be tracked and managed thoroughly, from front-office, reservations, room occupation rates to back-office, sales, housekeeping and more. A PMS is the one central system that handles all these tasks, in addition to being able to plan and organise how your hotel handles the tasks mentioned above so that you can stay ahead of their competitors. Furthermore, it helps you automate daily operations and administrative tasks ensure that you can reliably offer your quality services to your customers without any hassle.
History of PMS
The first Property Management Systems were introduced in the 1970s. Before this, all the hotel operations were managed by either pen and paper or spreadsheets. However, according to a study published by Software Advice in 2015, only 34% of Hoteliers use a PMS, up to 25% are managed by pen and paper, and the rest are handled by spreadsheets, reservation systems, or custom-built systems.
Since managing a Hotel is an extremely complex operation, you cannot run your business effectively without a PMS. Human error, the tediousness of data entry, and the inefficiency of looking for data will lead to you losing more money over the long run than paying for a some-what expensive but extremely worthy Property Management System.
As mentioned above, only around 40% of Hoteliers use Systems, whether it be a PMS, Hotel Management System or a custom-built system. This means around 60% of Hoteliers are using extremely inefficient methods of managing their business. A PMS aims to provide an all-in-one solution for the Hotel, depending on which features are necessary for your business. Different PMS offer different features so you will need to figure out which one suits your needs.
Main Features of a Property Management System
Different PMS come with different features, but there are a few common features a good PMS should offer. These are:
Back-office Management and Accounts
Point-of-Sale for F&B and other Stores
Rate and Revenue Management
These features may also be integrated from an outside provider if the PMS provides support for integration if they are not already available.
Nowadays, there are cloud-based PMS and on-premise PMS. On-premise PMS are usually older so they have more functions that are generally more mature, having evolved over time. However, they require an extensive implementation and training process in addition to all the comprehensive features which usually costs more when compared to a cloud-based PMS. A Cloud-based PMS can be run anywhere, on any device that has an internet connection.
The Reservation module involves the handling of inventory, i.e., rooms and dates for customers. This module also involves the transfer of this data to the front-desk module. A Tour Operator may send the Reservation requests by e-mail or the Reservation request through the booking engine. Once it comes in, the reservation is made against the tour operator for the customer if the customer finds your hotel through them.
Most modern Property Management Systems have an online booking engine built into it. However, if you already use another booking engine or other reservation software, you can integrate it to some PMS as well. Having your own booking engine on your website will pass website booking data automatically into the PMS’ reservation module, saving you the 15% to 25% commission Tour Operators usually take.
Key features of Reservation Module:
Room Inventory Management
Rate and Revenue Management
Average Daily Rate is one of the most important indicators in the Lodging industry. Room prices fluctuate based on both occupancy and differing Online Travel Agencies and Global Distribution Systems. Integrating into these OTAs and GDAs can really help improve the ADR of a Hotel.
Rate Management allows you to set different prices for your rooms, services, F&B etc. Most PMS have a forecasting module that allows you to see your hotel occupancy for the future depending on the bookings. The prices of the services you offer need to be adjusted accordingly to keep the ADR high.
Front Desk Operations
This where your staff will process payments, check guests in and out, and view and update reservation status. To improve customer satisfaction, you need to be able to handle these operations swiftly so customers don’t keep waiting.
The main feature in Front Desk Operations is Room Management. This feature lets you view and manage available rooms. All the transactions such as Check-In, Guest Registration and Reservation are connected, so the room availability will change accordingly. This should reflect in your online booking engine and all your Tour Operators’ sites. If the guest comes and checks-in on-premise, you can just check the availability as part of this module and allocate an available room for him. Handling the payments for customer bills and handling night audits are also part of this module.
Back-Office Management and Accounts
This module is responsible for the management of your hotel team, administrative team, and finances. So, Accounts, HR and Payroll, management of Spa, Gym and other Events are all part of this module. Having a system that easily lets you manage your staff and activities can have a major impact on your guest’s experience. Make sure you find a system that handles the different activities, transactions and operations that take place in your hotel.
A lot of Property Management Systems do not have an in-built accounting module. Their systems must usually be integrated into an external Accounting Software to manage this. Managing your finances and accounts right is an extremely vital part of your business growth so make sure you find a system that either has an in-built accounting module or easily integrates to other accounting software.
The Housekeeping module is responsible for housekeeping, laundry, and property maintenance. Since these are repetitive tasks that happen every day, especially in bigger hotels, managing these efficiently can save a lot of time and money in the long run.
Housekeeping enables management to allocate rooms, depending on room status to different cleaning staff. It allows you to track and manage guest and room laundry as well. In addition to this, it allows management to allocate maintenance staff to different disruptions and repairs.
Point of Sale
In addition to the rooms being rented out, most Hotels also sell materials where a POS is required. Restaurants, Souvenir Stores, Water sports and other activities are all areas where a POS System and Terminal would be required. Due to this, having a PMS that has a POS built into it, or offers integration of POS is very important. It automates transactions and transfers financial data across to back-office functions such as accounts.
Different Stores would require different POS. A Restaurant would require a restaurant POS with KOT features, where a Souvenir shop can manage with a simple Retail POS. Again, it depends on which services you offer to find the PMS with the right type of POS.
Customer Relationship Management
Customer Experience is paramount in the Hotel industry. There are Hotel Chains that span across the world, and if a customer has stayed with you in one of your locations, you need to try your best to keep them loyal to you. Customers are extremely loyal in the hotel industry so chances are, if they’ve stayed with you once they will stay with you again. Return customers count for a lot of the revenue generated by hotels so this is not an area you should ignore.
Find a PMS that lets you manage your customer experience the easiest way possible. Ensure there are methods to keep in touch with your customers. See if there are notices depending on whether it’s a customer’s birthday so you can leave something complementary for them. Small things like this have an extremely large impact. Identify which types of membership and loyalty features you want to offer and find a PMS that addresses all this.
These are potential opportunities for free marketing as well, because if a customer is enjoying themselves, they would likely share it on social media.
Reports and Analytics
A PMS, especially when paired with POS and Accounts can be a very useful Business Intelligence Tool. Hoteliers can see their financial standing with such fine detail depending on the reports offered by the System. These reports give you Vital information required to take business decisions for growth. Night Audit Reports, Shift Audit Reports, Departure/Arrival Reports and Housekeeping reports are some of these.
Furthermore, reports for taxation purpose can be quite a tedious or even expensive process if you’ve hired Accountants. These systems can generate reports ready for submission, removing the extra hassle and effort required for you.