A property management system, or PMS system for short, is an increasingly useful tool within modern hotels, assisting owners and other staff with various tasks. However, with more PMS software on the market than ever before, it is also essential to know which features are most important, so that you can make the right decision.
What is a PMS System?
A property management system is a hotel software solution, which assists hotels, resorts and similar properties with day-to-day tasks and operations. These will typically include management and administrative tasks, with examples including reservations, payment processing, performance analysis and inventory management. In the article “5 Essential Tips to Choose the right Property Management System” you learn more about PMS systems and how to choose the right one for your property.
Why Every Hotel Needs a PMS System?
A PMS hotel solution is increasingly important, because the modern hospitality industry is technology driven. With bookings coming in from multiple channels, prices needing to be adjusted smartly for revenue management purposes, and customer service being a 24/7 endeavour, having PMS software can help to contend with these challenges.
A good property management system will allow hotel staff to do away with paperwork and perform important tasks more efficiently. Additionally, a PMS system can help to reduce room vacancies and double-bookings.
What Are the Most Important Features of a PMS System?
While there are a number of property management systems on the market, it is important to identify one with the right features for your hotel. With this in mind, below, you will find eleven of the most important features to look for.
The first and perhaps most obvious feature your property management system should have is an ability to handle hotel reservations. This reservation system should be able to integrate with all channels where customers can make bookings, and provide your own staff with access to up-to-date inventory information.
This means employees should be able to use the PMS system to find out which rooms are reserved and when. Some PMS systems also provide similar functionality for other hotel services, while hotels that are part of a chain may need access to reservation information from across the entire property portfolio.
2) Front-Desk Operations
Your PMS software should also allow front desk staff to carry out a number of important functions. In particular, staff should be able to use the hotel software to access up-to-date information about reservations and the status of specific rooms within the property, and this kind of information should be able to be manually updated.
So, for example, it should be possible for front desk workers to help guests to switch rooms, and update the room information. It should also be possible for staff to manually check guests in and out, and issue key cards.
3) Channel Manager
For hotels to remain competitive, they will typically need to distribute hotels across a variety of different channels. Indeed, hotel rooms can be sold through the hotel website, through telephone bookings, via online travel agencies, and more. This makes it absolutely essential that the various channels can be managed effectively.
The very best hotel management software will include channel management functions, ensuring rooms are available across multiple channels and that inventory information is always up-to-date. Some PMS systems offer direct channel management functionality, while others integrate with third party global distribution systems.
4) Revenue Management
Another important feature for your hotel management software is revenue management functionality. This can help hotel managers and other staff to assess the performance of the hotel, using key performance indicators like ADR (average daily rate), RevPAR (revenue per available room) and GOPPAR (gross operating profit per available room).
Related to this, a good PMS system will also offer rate plan management. Put simply, this will allow hotels to quickly create room rate plans and also put them into effect, allowing managers to more easily respond to changes in demand. These changes may be linked to the season, local events, and various other external factors.
5) Check-In Functionality
Digital check-in functionality is a relatively new offering within the PMS market, but one that is growing in popularity. This allows payment cards to be authorised in advance, allowing guests to arrive, and then check in using a mobile app on their phone, or by using a self-service check-in machine in the reception area.
Then PMS syncs automatically, keeping check-in and occupancy information updated. Benefits include improved speed, communication with customers via the app, as well as up-selling and cross-selling opportunities. Even in PMS systems that do not include this feature directly, many offer integration with external check-in systems.
6) Customer Data
The hotel industry is increasingly data driven, and this means keeping information about customers. For this reason, it is essential that your PMS system includes a customer data management function, allowing staff to obtain contact details, the dates customers stayed at the hotel, information about which guests are in which room, etc.
Customer loyalty schemes should be able to be managed via the software, while the PMS should be able to be used to assist with marketing efforts. Customer information can then be consolidated in one place, regardless of whether it was obtained online or in person, and the PMS system can even be integrated with your CRM software.
The best property management systems will also allow housekeeping tasks to be managed effectively. This kind of functionality could be as simple as allowing front office staff to track the status of rooms and whether or not they have been cleaned, but can also allow specific tasks to be assigned to housekeeping staff.
Some of the more modern hotel management software solutions will also allow tablets or mobile devices to connect to the main system. The benefit of this is that housekeeping staff can update their progress as they go, offering more of an up-to-date status report, while communication with the front desk can also be made simple.
8) Third Party Integrations
While a PMS system is designed to be an all-in-one solution, the reality is that many hotels are also going to use other software solutions alongside their PMS. Therefore, third party integrations are an important consideration when selecting the best hotel management software for your property.
Some of the most common third party integrations hotel owners look for are with global distribution systems, with online travel agents, with central reservation systems, and with hotel accounting solutions.
9) Invoice & Payment Options
Next, it is important that a property management system provides a range of different payment options. This should include payment processing options for front-desk staff, along with e-payment processing for bookings that are made online using a credit or debit card. Software should also allow confirmation emails to be sent swiftly.
Furthermore, the software should have the ability to create invoices or receipts for customers, so that these can be easily issued upon check-out, or after using any of the additional paid hotel services.
10) Point of Sales Services
Modern hotels often have a range extra facilities, services and sales outlets, and the various transactions that occur will often need to be added to a guest’s bill, which will be presented upon check-out. For this reason, a property management system that includes point of sale services can be a vital addition.
Staff in the hotel restaurant, gym or spa should be able to use the software to handle transactions and update the bill for individual guests. The same should also be true for room service. The best solutions will allow discounts to be applied too, and the benefit of this is that transactions can be handled in the moment, reducing mistakes.
Finally, your hotel management software should also include automated report functionality. This will allow hotel staff to quickly access reports based on the latest data, and these reports could be linked to hotel performance, financial information, or hotel management tasks and processes.
For instance, if management require a report on hotel occupancy rates over the past two years, or on the performance of a specific distribution channel, the software will be able to produce such a report. Similarly, financial reports may be needed for accounting and tax filing purposes, or simply to assist with decision-making.