If you think of a hotel as a well-oiled machine, with millions of small parts working together to deliver a seamless experience, a good property management system (PMS) is the heart that keeps the machine beating. From simple check-ins and check-outs to delivering sublime experiences based on guest preferences, a good PMS is integral to the operation of hotels of all shapes and sizes.
That said, the technology needs of a small hotel are very different from those of larger establishments. An intuitive PMS that understands their specific needs is worth its weight in gold. But it’s also a big investment and to make sure the money is well spent, hoteliers need to choose a system that works well for their property.
Most hoteliers consider security their top priority, and it is indeed a valid concern. Any PMS you select must be PCI compliant. Without it, the system is open to threats and vulnerable to attack. Your customers’ bank details, bank details and other personal information must be protected at all costs.
However, the specifications do not stop at security measures. There are a few other things to consider before finalizing a PMS for your property.
- It should be easy to use
The best technology is one that is absolutely easy to use. The longer it takes you to figure out the system, the sooner you’ll get bored. In addition, hotels are known for their high turnover rate and the software is likely to be used by young executives as well as experts. The system should be such that it requires minimal training for people to become familiar with it.
- It should be mobile friendly
Gone are the days when technology was limited to personal computers attached to a desk. It’s the 21st century and unless your technology solution can literally walk with you, it’s useless for all intents and purposes.
Any PMS you are considering should be able to connect and send information to mobile devices. It needs to be able to communicate with you wherever you are and whatever device you use, including cell phones, laptops, tablets and personal computers. Not only does this promote operational efficiency, but your staff will also be able to provide excellent customer service while on the go.
- It must be easy to integrate
The PMS you select must have APIs that support inbound and outbound connections. This will ensure that you can integrate it with any other solution you use in your hotel, such as guest relationship management and rate management software.
If your PMS doesn’t facilitate deep partnerships with other vendors, you’ll have a fractured technology solution in your hands. This will prevent the exchange of information back and forth and hinder the sharing of customer profile data. The end result will be a less than satisfactory customer experience, not to mention a breakdown of relevant systems.
- It should keep track of customer preferences and history
The front desk is one part of the hotel that sees maximum engagement, and yet most of the tasks there are fairly mundane and repetitive. If there was a way to automate them, staff would be freed up to take on more important tasks. One way a PMS can add significant value to a property is to make low-end decisions on behalf of the hotel. For example, it should be able to automatically assign rooms based on guest preferences. To do this, he will collect all relevant information and use it to make the appropriate choices on behalf of the guests.
Second, a good PMS should be able to extract a customer’s history to discern what they like and what their preferences were. This way, if a regular guest has already booked a poolside room, the system will automatically book them the same room or something similar.
This form of automation not only eliminates congestion at the front desk, but also results in more intuitive interactions with customers and the delivery of personalized and informed services.
- It should automate communication with guests
Hotels are often required to reach out to their customers to share regular updates. But due to conflicting time zones, it becomes difficult to contact them by phone. This is why they generally prefer to communicate via email.
Having to do this manually can become quite tedious for hoteliers and staff. And if you forget to send an email, it could cause a serious delay in communication. To keep things running, a property management system can automate this process, sending emails related to booking confirmations, post-stay thank yous, and everything else in between.
- This should help you measure success
A great feature to have in your property management system is advanced reporting. This saves you from having to wade through long and complicated spreadsheets and decipher the data that is relevant to you. Instead, it puts all the information you need at your fingertips, accessible with just a few clicks.
Basic systems will give you insight into the daily operation of your property. More advanced systems should be able to provide reports on metrics such as arrivals and departures, cancellations, payment methods, average number of unoccupied rooms, average occupancy, average length of stay and even revenue per available room.
With so much data at your disposal, you can gain insight into how your business is performing and even identify areas that need improvement.
As you may have already realized, a good property management system can truly be God sent for a small hotel. Working invisibly behind the scenes, it combines the best elements of workflow management and decision automation. It also displays a healthy dose of intelligence, learning from the external systems it is integrated with and providing subtle insights that help improve customer relations.
That’s why it’s important that you choose a PMS that’s right for your facility. Take all the considerations into account, assess your needs and make a final decision once you are sure the product ticks all the boxes.