It’s a no brainer that technology has revolutionized the hospitality industry, especially in the last decade. Technology has become widely adopted to help streamline hotel processes like sales, operations and marketing, automate many tasks that help free up labor and costs, while changing the way hotels can communicate to guests by creating a seamless experience. One of the most widely used systems is the hotel PMS software – the heart of the hotel.
What is a hotel PMS?
Hotel PMS software has come a long way from the legacy systems of the past. They allow the hotel to manage check-in and check-out, reservations, room availability, billing, housekeeping, and scheduling in one platform. Many modern hotel PMS can also work with channel managers that help manage the different distribution channels to third parties, like OTA websites. By having all of this information in one place, the hotel can make better, more accurate decisions based on this real-time reporting, which helps maximize revenue opportunities. This is why understanding what you need in a hotel PMS system is so important. It’s one of the focal points to a hotel’s tech stack.
Key features to look for in your hotel PMS
1 – User-friendly Interface & Dashboard
As modern hotel technology matures, functionality and features become consistent among various systems. What differentiates one system from another is largely based on design. It’s the thing that customers notice most and most significantly. You want a hotel PMS with an intuitive interface that’s easy to use. This allows for a strong buy-in from your staff, less time spent on training since it’s user-friendly, and makes the lives of those using the system easier – which is the goal here. What you don’t want is for people to say that they are reluctant to use your system is hard to use or is an eye-sore upon first impression, without even using the system for its features yet.
Additionally, a customizable dashboard is another area of design where you can really “wow” your customers. The dashboard is where most people start off or spend the most time in and you want a robust dashboard that features all the hotel’s key metrics in one tidy, friendly place. Having the ability to customize the dashboard to fit the hotel’s preferences will ensure that your user is getting the most out of the system.
2 – Cyber security & compliance
Hotel PMS software contains heaps of data. One of the most important things to look for is solid security. Look for key features like:
- GDPR-compliant personal data storage
- PCI-DSS-compliant processing and card storage
- Bank-level data encryption
- Geographic diversity of servers to reduce downtime risk
- Controlled access to the physical area for any on-premise PMS servers
To ensure guest privacy and payment security, access to this sensitive data should be restricted. Many users are looking for robust access controls in their hotel PMS, allowing them to manage different levels of access for the various roles within the organization. An audit trail should also be available to be able to track any potential users abusing access.
Breaches in security have become a rising issue in the modern world and hotels that have poor security protocol and practices can be subject to huge liability. So do your due diligence when shopping for a hotel PMS, because the one you choose will also become an extension of your brand.
3 – Automations
In the world of hospitality, you know that the business landscape can change on a whim and customer expectations are ever-changing. Your hotel PMS should be able to keep up with it. Outdated and stagnant legacy PMS that look like they’re running on Windows 95 simply just can’t keep up with the demand of today’s industry expectations. You don’t want the capabilities of your hotel to be limited by the software that you’re using. Instead, your hotel PMS should be flexible to be able to empower your team for success, no matter what comes it’s way.
Nowadays, it’s all about automations. Modern could-based hotel PMS systems are able to automate menial repetitive tasks such as simply notifying house-keeping when a guest has just checked-out. This allows for huge increase in efficiency in all areas, cuts down on labor, improves productivity and allows for stronger communication across departments.
4 – Integrations
A desirable hotel PMS is a system that can play nice with others. The other important systems that hoteliers need to use are CRM, CRS, Channel Managers, Revenue Managers, and POS systems to name a few. A hotel PMS that can integrate with these different types of systems puts it way ahead the rest, because without, a PMS won’t be able to properly do its job or maximize its features. A hotel PMS that doesn’t play well with others will affect productivity which will trickle down to the guest experience.
5 – Robust Reporting
A well-integrated hotel PMS will allow for accurate and robust reporting that can easily be pulled from the system, and saves you and your staff time from pulling manual reports. This will save time and give you the power to make effective decisions quicker, with more accurate data. Easy reporting will allow management to spend time on the important stuff instead of admin. You want your hotel PMS to be able to make this process simple and easy so that you can spend you and your staff’s time on revenue-generating tasks.
6 – Pricing and support
When it comes to pricing, this will drastically vary from hotel to hotel. Understanding a range in budget is important but don’t let price be the only factor when it comes to purchasing a hotel PMS.
It’s important to understand what you key priorities are when it comes to the hotel PMS that’s right for you. List those priorities and price them out. Also consider this: some more expensive systems have greater functionality and increase your opportunities to generate revenue; meaning it pays for itself in the long-run. The way that systems are priced differ as well. Some charge per feature, others charge per room, and custom integrations get costly.
Customer support is also a hidden cost. Do you go with the budget-friendly system with unreliable customer support? Systems sometimes experience hiccups -that’s a reality. But the trade-off of short term savings is typically not worth the long term damage to your hotel’s reputation, staff stress, and missed revenue opportunities due to unreliable customer service and downtime.
If you’re in the market for a new hotel PMS, it’s important to evaluate what is more important to you out of a PMS system, how that connects with your current tech stack, and map out different costs and trade-offs. It’s also important to align expectations with other stakeholders in the purchase of the other departments to ensure they are bought in. That way you can get the most accurate picture of how and what it can be used for and how everyone can benefit. Most importantly, be thorough in your search and take the time to get to know what’s being offered in the market. Don’t rush or hesitate to ask questions for all the things you want to understand because the hotel PMS is one of the most important purchases you’ll make for your hotel.