Traditionally, hotel front desk officers used to manage hotel operations using pen and paper or Microsoft excel files until the emergence of the hotel property management system (PMS). A Hotel PMS is defined as software that hotels use to manage front-office tasks. For example, to create a reservation, handle guests' check-in and check-out, assign a room to the reservation, and arrange for room housekeeping tasks. Hotel PMS, hence, is a replacement for those time-consuming processes which require a lot of manual tasks from hotel front desk officers.
Today, hotel PMS solutions have evolved significantly to provide many benefits to the hotel which are beyond the front-office tasks. It has become a critical software that is important not only to 5-star hotels but also to the 4-star or below.
If you are running a 4-star hotel or below, this is the right article for you. We are here to share some hotel PMS features that you shall consider when deciding on the hotel PMS for your hotel.
On-Premise PMS or Cloud-Based PMS
There are two types of PMS available in the market which are on-premise PMS and cloud-based PMS. When it comes to choosing a hotel PMS for your hotel, you would need to choose between on-premise PMS or cloud-based PMS.
On-premise PMS is a hotel system that requires the installation of software to your computer before you could run the program. The pros and cons of using an on-premise PMS system are summarised as below :
- An on-premise PMS system will need an internet connection as it can be used offline. It will be useful if your hotel is located in a remote area with low internet connectivity or coverage.
- An on-premise PMS system can only be accessible from the hotel’s computer with the software installed and it cannot be accessed outside the hotel premises. This safeguards the hotel data from losing to any external hack attacks.
- The upfront investment cost could be higher due to the significant investment needed for both hardware and software. You would need to have a different computer to act as your backup server. Besides, depending on your PMS vendor, you may need to pay for the maintenance or support fees.
- The technical support and software upgrade may not be done remotely. The technical team may need to come to the hotel premises to provide any technical support physically.
Whereas, a Cloud-based PMS is a hotel system that runs on Saas (Software as a Service) that does not require any installation of a program to the hotel’s computer. Nevertheless, there are also pros and cons when using a cloud-based PMS system which you would need to be aware of.
- Cloud-based PMS gives you the flexibility to access your PMS system from anywhere and anytime as long as you have internet connectivity.
- You can access your PMS either from a computer or smartphone. Having said so, you do not need to be physically present at your hotel in order to access the PMS.
- Cloud-based PMS vendors usually offer either a monthly or yearly subscription model. Hence, a low upfront cost is required instead of a one-off payment sum. In addition, as it is hosted on “cloud” you do not need to have a separate computer as a backup server.
- The technical support can be done remotely by the PMS provider, making the technical support more effectively and timely. Depending on the PMS vendors, you may enjoy some free maintenance support or software updates / upgrades.
- Cloud-based PMS requires internet connectivity at the hotel premises. Hence, if your hotel location is without internet coverage, you might need to think twice.
There is no right or wrong to use either an on-premise PMS or a cloud-based PMS. You should choose the one that fits your hotel needs, preference, and internet infrastructure.
Reservations and Group Reservations
Your PMS software needs to have the ability to handle the hotel reservation easily. For example, the PMS system will allow the front-desk officer to check room availability and status, and make a new booking with just a few clicks. The system should also allow the front-desk officer to access up-to-date information for all the current and future reservations and even modify the bookings to change a room type or date, again with just a few clicks. On top of it, it will be helpful if the front-desk officer has the flexibility to edit and update the guest details while editing the reservation.
The rate plan feature is also one of the important features in a hotel PMS. Why is it so? This is because you could define and set up the rate plans with different room prices for different types of guests. For instance, Best Available Rate (BAR), corporate rates, and membership rates. Hence, when front-desk officers add a new reservation to the PMS system, they would just need to select the right rate plans and the rate will be auto-filled in without having them key in the room rate. This can minimize human error or avoid charging the wrong price for a reservation.
Best of all, having the group reservation features in the hotel PMS system is the plus point for you. When you receive a group reservation, you can easily add the group reservations for the guests to the hotel PMS without needing to add reservations one by one.
e-Invoice & e-Receipt Options
The next feature that you need to look for when choosing a hotel PMS system is the ability to generate the invoice and receipts for your hotel guests. Best still, the PMS shall have the ability for you to send the invoice and receipt digitally from the PMS directly to the guest.
Moreover, the ability to easily search for past invoices and receipts in the hotel PMS system will be useful for you too. Sometimes, days or weeks after the hotel guests checked out, he/she might reach out to the hotel and request a copy of the invoice. Having this feature, your hotel front-desk officers would be able to easily search for the invoice in the PMS and then email it directly from the PMS to the guest. Save the hassles, save the trees.
If your hotel has 40 rooms and above, having housekeeping management features in hotel PMS is important for your hotel. This feature allows you to manage the housekeeping task effectively. The front-desk officer would be able to track the status of the housekeeping tasks for each room before they check-in the guest to that particular room.
Some of the hotel PMS systems will also allow the housekeeper to update their cleaning tasks progress as they go, from a smartphone, which will be helpful for the hotel manager to monitor the status of the cleaning task from time to time. The ultimate objective to have this feature is to ensure the rooms are cleaned as efficiently as possible so that the hotels can resell the rooms as quickly as possible.
Reporting and Analytics
Your hotel PMS should include an automated report functionality. It should allow you to generate timely and consistent reports either on a daily or monthly basis. A good reporting feature should allow you to keep track of the hotel revenue, reservation, room occupancy, ADR (average daily rate), and RevPAR (revenue per available room). This important information is useful for hotel management when they need to make any business decisions.
Other than that, the reporting feature shall assist the hotel manager to analyze how the hotel is performing by identifying the potential issues and potential opportunities. These can allow the hotel manager to find a solution to improve the overall performance of the hotel.
You might also want to consider if the PMS reporting provides an audit trail or activity log report to you. As the flexibility may be given to the hotel staff in editing the reservation in PMS, having a real-time activity log trail will be important for you to know who-do-what-at-when. This is particularly important when it comes to investigation.
Integrated with Channel Manager
Channel Manager is an interface to control and distribute the room availability and rate across different distribution channels such as OTAs (online travel agents) and GDS (global distribution system).
A good hotel PMS should be, at least, able to integrate with the Hotel Channel Manager providers to allow you to manage and keep the up-to-date information for the room inventories and rates across all of your online distribution channels. Besides, all the bookings received from the channels are automatically synchronized from the distribution channels to your hotel PMS.
Integrated with Hotel Kiosk
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic that hit worldwide right now, one of the ways to still serve your hotel guests is by having a hotel kiosk at your hotel. A self-check-in hotel kiosk practically will help to do the work on behalf of your hotel front desk officer by providing low-contact hospitality with the guest. Your guests can perform walk-in reservation, self-check-in and out processes by using the Hotel Kiosk contactlessly.
If you are having a hotel kiosk or planning to have one, it is important for you to consider finding a PMS system that can integrate with the Hotel Kiosk. With the integration, reservations in the PMS will be synced to the kiosk and vice versa.
Having a good and smart hotel PMS is essential for hoteliers. You would need to find the right hotel PMS that meets your hotel needs and requirements. We found this article will be useful for you and we hope you enjoy reading our sharing.
What are your thoughts? Do you think having a hotel PMS system will be helpful for you to manage your hotel business better?