By Cloudbeds | Published on October 12, 2019
A property management system (PMS) is one of your accommodation’s greatest assets. Good software streamlines your everyday operations, increases efficiency and ultimately profitability. A second-hand PMS, on the other hand, can make your life, from the front desk and reservations to housekeeping and maintenance miserable. A PMS should make your life easier, not harder.
In this article, we break down the core functionalities to look for in a software provider and the advantages they will bring to your hospitality business. But first, let’s answer: 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 tasks at a hotel, hostel, B&B, inn or vacation rental properties. Nowadays, most PMSs are cloud-based and offer tools that streamline and automate jobs such as managing reservations, check-ins/checkouts, guest communication, housekeeping, availability, pricing, channel connections, reporting and analytics, and much more.
What are the key functions of a Property Management System?
- Intuitive Dashboard
- Channel Management
- Control Calendar
- Housekeeping Module
- Best Available Rates (BAR)
- Payment Processor
- Booking Engine
1. Intuitive Dashboard
When you log in and open your property management system, a friendly, helpful dashboard should greet you. An easy-to-read and understandable control dashboard provides an instant snapshot of the most important 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 occupancy, arrivals, and departures will likely influence other decisions such as 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 booking engine.
2. Channel Management
You also want to sell your inventory to hundreds of online bookings channels, and sync information to be updated in real-time from and to your PMS. A Channel Manager will enhance your online visibility, generate more reservations and profit, but it’s very important that it’s integrated with your property management software for full control and immediate action. Whether you need to release availability or make rate changes, you can do everything in your PMS and have it updated in all channels in real-time. New bookings get delivered in your PMS, so you’re always in full control of your occupancy and can take immediate action if needed. Cloudbeds includes one of the most powerful Channel Manager in the hospitality industry.
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 availability and unlock new 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 regular 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 among our customers. Throw away those spreadsheets — we’ve got something way better for you.
4. Housekeeping Module
Housekeeping functionality will help keep properties of all sizes running smoothly. Your property management system 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. Best Available Rates (BAR)
BAR functionality allows you to control your rate plans. With BAR, you can manage promotions, employee rates, and respond to market conditions. Your PMS should allow you to set BARs for your different seasons (i.e. to set them higher for busy seasons, and vice versa).
With BAR built into your PMS, you won’t have to worry about manually managing each and every single rate on a day-to-day basis. Easily set the rates you want for certain time periods and leave it be. But, make sure that it’s easily changeable. You want to be able to change rates to match any number of situations.
Along with BAR, you should be able to easily change rates and packages. Creating promotional codes and special rates should be a breeze. Streamline your pricing process with easy-to-use tools.
6. Payment Processor
A payment processor built into your PMS 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 or point of sale, you will have to manually update the ledger in your system. 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.
8. 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.
The screenshot above is the Cloudbeds booking engine. It is mobile responsive, commission-free, and as you can see, the client was able to easily customize it to match their existing website branding.
A PMS software is the platform you will use day in 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. We believe the features listed above make property owners’ lives easier. When shopping and researching PMS solutions made for a hotel business, look for cloud-based technology that is integrated, user-friendly for your front desk, and comprehensive in functionality for every user.
Request a free consultation of the Cloudbeds Hospitality Management Suite that includes one of the most powerful property management systems in the hospitality industry.