A property management system (PMS) is one of your greatest assets. Good PMS software streamlines your everyday hotel operations, increases efficiency and ultimately profitability. On the other hand, a second-hand PMS can make your life miserable, from the front desk operations and reservations to housekeeping and maintenance management.
This article breaks down the core functionalities to look for in software solutions and the advantages they will bring to your hospitality business. But first: what is a hotel PMS exactly?
What is a hotel property management system?
A Property Management System (PMS) is software used in hospitality to control, organize, and execute operations and day-to-day activities of a hotel, hostel, B&B, inn, or vacation rental property.
Think of a PMS system as back-office software used by hospitality staff to perform day-to-day operations such as managing reservations, check-ins/checkouts, guest services, housekeeping, availability, pricing, channel connections, reporting and analytics, and much more. Compared to real estate, most PMSs in the hotel business are cloud-based that go beyond to offer tools that streamline and automate tasks.
Hotel property management system functions
- Control Dashboard
- Channel Management
- Reservation Calendar
- Housekeeping Management
- Revenue Management
- Payment Processing
- Online Booking Engine
- Guest Management
- Marketplace or Open API
1. Control dashboard
A friendly, helpful dashboard should greet you when you log in and open your property management system. An easy-to-read and understandable control dashboard provides an instant snapshot of the most critical information for your daily tasks. With the right insights, you’ll be able to complete tasks faster and easier. Your PMS should offer you a swift homepage that updates in real-time.
Information about room inventory, occupancy, arrivals, and departures will likely influence other decisions, such as the daily rate and yield management. This info needs to be right at your fingertips in a clean and user-friendly interface built with clarity in mind, especially for your Front Desk staff. Hotel managers and owners want to know the most important information up front, and a dashboard is incredibly helpful.
This is a screenshot of the Cloudbeds PMS dashboards and reservation system.
2. Channel management
You also want to sell your inventory to numerous online distribution channels and sync information to be updated in real-time from and to your PMS. A Channel Manager will enhance your online visibility, and generate more reservations and profit. Still, it’s very important that it’s integrated with your property management software for full control and no risk of overbookings.
Whether you need to release availability or make rate changes, you can do everything in your PMS and have it updated in all booking channels in real-time. New online reservations get delivered in your PMS, so you’re always in full control of your occupancy and can take immediate action if needed. Look for a channel manager with robust two-way connections not only to a few leading OTAs, but also to regional or niche booking sites, GDS providers, meta searches, and more.
3. Control Calendar
A calendar is a great way to visualize reservations and give yourself clarity. With an easy-to-read calendar, you are able to see room availability and unlock optimization possibilities. For example, if you view your reservations in an Excel spreadsheet, you might not see a hidden availability.
Here’s what we mean. Say a guest is booked for a standard room for three nights, and that same room is unbooked the night before. Now, you know your guests almost always book a minimum two-night trip. You also see availability in your suite for three nights. If you release the original regular room reservation you can see not one, but maybe two more reservations. Your one-night stay loss just turned into two more bookings and you upgraded a current booking.
It doesn’t always work this way, but a calendar will help you and your front office see instances where guests can be moved to optimize occupancy.
Even better than a calendar is an interactive calendar. The Cloudbeds calendar allows you to modify and move reservations directly on the panel. Our feedback tells us this is one of the most popular property management system functions.
4. Housekeeping management
Housekeeping functionality will help keep properties of all sizes running smoothly. Your hotel PMS should automate administrative tasks and create more efficient systems. A housekeeping report falls into this category. Your PMS provider should know which rooms need to be tidied up or completely cleaned for an arriving guest.
The Cloudbeds PMS allows you to assign employees to clean certain rooms. You can print this report and give it to your housekeepers. Then, once they’ve finished, you can update room statuses which will make check-ins a breeze.
5. Revenue management
Streamline your pricing process with revenue management capabilities, especially if you don’t hire a revenue manager. Today’s revenue management technology can help you optimize your pricing plans for both profit and occupancy, and take the guesswork out of hotel performance metrics such as RevPAR (revenue per available room).
By monitoring competitors’ pricing, gathering market data in real-time, and updating pricing automatically, a revenue management solution (RMS) help you stay competitive and confident in your pricing decisions. For higher efficiency and data accuracy, choose a hotel PMS that is integrated with a revenue management system (RMS).
6. Payment processing
An integrated payment processor will help you streamline guest payments and accounting, as well as help keep more accurate reports. If a PMS does not have a payment processor that accepts most credit cards or integration to a point of sale system (POS), you will have to manually handle payments, and all related tasks such as reporting, reconciliations, chargebacks, and more. And as you know, manual input greatly increases the likelihood of errors.
Reports are one of the core PMS functionalities. We wrote articles about reports you should run every night; one about revenue management, and another on learning revenue management secrets from big chain hotels. Needless to say, we believe reports and knowledge are the best way to take your property to the next level. Your property management system should have built-in reporting functionalities.
Your PMS already houses your reservations, rates, and occupancy, so let it do the work for you. Knowing the stats should be the easy part, and will facilitate an easier analysis. With a cloud PMS, you can access your reports from anywhere and take action when your business needs it the most.
8. Online booking engine
Choose a PMS software with a commission-free booking engine. Direct bookings are among the most valuable sources of revenue for most properties. You shouldn’t have to pay to get bookings you worked hard for. When a PMS comes with a booking engine, you do not have to worry about integration problems. Look for a booking engine to integrate with your website and social media, making sure it is fast-loading and user-friendly, especially on mobile devices.
9. Guest management
Choose a software with a guest management module to save yourself a lot of time and to gain efficiency. Essential features to look for are guest profiles functionality, which works like a CRM to store your guest data, and guest communication.
Guest communication is a time-consuming process with a great impact on guest experience and satisfaction. In order to automate this process, look for a solution with automatic email delivery, so you can send important notifications such as the confirmation email, Pre-arrival email, Post-stay email, and more.
10. Marketplace or open API
If you need extra tools to complement your PMS software in functionality, look for a solution with integrated 3rd party solutions. This marketplace model of more services and tools, allows you to choose the tech stack that will work best for your property’s or market’s specific needs. From contactless check-in services such as kiosks and smart locks to online reputation management services and police reporting.
You can also build your own tools or mobile apps that can be synced with your hotel PMS via API. To do so, look for a provider with an open API that is well-documented and supported.
Evaluating property management software providers
Cloud-based vs. download app – When shopping and researching property management solutions made for the hotel industry, look for cloud-based technology that is accessible from anywhere. This will help you log in to manage your business operations regardless of your location. Furthermore, compared with on-premise software, web-based technology is more straightforward when it comes to installing updates and improvements.
Customer Support and Implementation – factor in the time and cost to implement new software to your business. Ask what the process looks like, how data is transferred and what kind of assistance is available during this process and after.
Pricing model – PMS solutions nowadays work on a commission-based model on the reservations you receive or on a fixed monthly fee that depends on the property type and modules you’ll be using.
A PMS software is the platform you will use day in and day out to run every aspect of your hotel, hostel, B&B, or alternative accommodation. Depending on your business size, operational needs, and budget, choosing the property management system with the right suite of functionality is critical to running your property efficiently. Look for technology that is integrated, user-friendly for your front desk staff, and comprehensive in functionality for every user. We believe the features listed above make property owners’ lives easier.