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What is a hotel POS system: Benefits, features, and top providers

Cloudbeds

By Cloudbeds

From restaurants and lounges to spas and gift shops, hotels today offer a lot more than just a place to sleep. To effectively manage every point-of-sale (POS) on property, lodging operators must leverage technology.  

One such piece of technology is a point-of-sale system. A POS system lets you quickly process and record transactions across your property to improve the guest experience, streamline operations, and conduct better revenue management.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of a hotel POS system, the features to look for, and how to integrate your system with your hotel management platform.

 

What is a POS system for hotels?

A point-of-sale system is a tool that facilitates order processing and payment transactions between hotels and guests. It combines software like an app with hardware like an iPad, cash register, touch screen, or card reader to accept payments.

POS software plays an essential role in the hospitality industry, and the global POS software market is predicted to reach $19.56 billion USD by 2028. These systems help hoteliers consolidate sales across channels, facilitate payments, and ensure guest satisfaction.

 

The importance of a POS system for hotels

While most of your revenue may come from room reservations, chances are you have additional sources of income (or points of sale) as well. These could include:

  • Restaurant
  • Bar
  • Room-service
  • Spa
  • Gift shop
  • Rentals
  • Tours
  • Transportation

A hotel POS system allows you to efficiently process transactions from every point-of-sale, all in one place. This is especially important as the use of cashless transactions rises; hotels need to be prepared to accept a variety of payment methods anytime, anywhere across their property.

For example, if a hotel guest orders room service, books a massage, and participates in a city tour, wouldn’t adding those transactions to a single bill be easier than treating each separately? A POS system tracks and groups all the transactions made by each guest in one invoice so they can pay at checkout — streamlining the guest experience and increasing back-office efficiency.

 

Hotel invoice template

 

10 benefits of POS systems for hotels

Without a POS system, your staff would have to add on-property charges to a guest’s folio by hand. These manual methods take up valuable time and leave room for error. Manual entries also prevent hospitality businesses from capturing data around guest spending patterns, which is critical for guest acquisition and marketing.

Today, a hotel’s POS can (and should) integrate with its existing tech stack, including its property management system (PMS), booking engine, and revenue management system. This integration provides essential benefits for hotels, including: 

1. Real-time synchronization. Your systems should be in sync in real-time so that communication flows from wherever a sale takes place on the property to the front desk so that staff are updated on every transaction.

2. Task automation. Automate manual POS processes to save your team time and improve efficiency across departments. Consider implementing self-ordering options for guests via apps, kiosks or QR codes to reduce further your staff’s workload (plus, customers spend an average of 20% more when ordering themselves).

3. Data tracking. A POS solution tracks valuable data, such as sales patterns and guest preferences. This information lets you improve your hotel’s offerings and implement targeted marketing efforts.

4. Expanded service. With a mobile-friendly POS, your staff can take orders anywhere: by the pool, in the lobby, or at the spa. Wherever guests are, your team can maximize incremental revenue opportunities.

5. Upselling opportunities. Upsells represent a $28 billion opportunity for properties and are becoming an increasingly important part of a hotel’s revenue management strategy. Your POS system can display personalized recommendations of services as add-ons by using your guest data.

6. Seamless guest experience. Guests expect a seamless experience from large and small businesses alike; they don’t want to carry a payment method while roaming the property or have to use a specific credit card to make purchases. Hotels must use a POS to add guest expenses to a single folio automatically, so they only pay once (using their preferred payment method) at checkout.

7. Improved billing. POS systems reduce the possibility of errors produced by manual reconciliation, which results in faster service and more accurate billing.

8. Streamlined transactions. Streamline transactions by allowing guests to pay with their preferred method of payment (EMV and other credit or debit cards, cash, gift cards, bank transfers, checks, digital wallets, etc.).

9. Useful reports. A POS system surfaces new insights about guest behavior. Since you can view a guest’s spending on a single folio, you can determine which guest profiles are the most profitable and which channels deliver higher-spending guests. Using this information, you can invest in marketing and distribution efforts that yield greater profitability. Reporting also makes accounting responsibilities more accessible and efficient.

10. Improved security. POS systems help improve safety by encrypting payment data and recording every transaction, which can be helpful in the event of theft or fraud.

 

Hotel Upsell Playbook

 

Types of POS systems

Finding the right POS system for your hotel is crucial for efficiency and a seamless guest experience. Over the years, POS systems have become much more user-friendly, portable, and affordable – giving hoteliers flexibility and choice when delivering ancillary services for guests. POS systems fall into two categories:

Legacy-based POS systems

Also known as traditional POS systems, legacy systems need software to be installed on a computer system that saves data on a local server. They require a significant investment (license and POS hardware), more training than other systems, and can be challenging to update with new features. Even though legacy POS systems can process payments offline, you can’t access them from other servers or devices.

Cloud-based POS systems

Cloud-based POS systems store data in the cloud instead of on local devices or servers and can be accessed anywhere. They have inventory management, payment processing, and reporting features and can easily integrate with other systems. Since they’re cloud-based, these POS systems have automatic updates and upgrades that keep the technology fresh and up to date.

 

Different types of POS tools include:

Mobile POS systems

A mobile POS system is a portable point-of-sale system that can be an independent mobile app. It runs on hardware like tablets or smartphones, making it more accessible for staff across a property. This system allows you to check inventory and stock levels, make personalized recommendations, and charge guests on the spot. 

Kiosk POS Systems

Kiosks or self-service POS systems are designed for a contactless experience. Since they have scanners and card readers, guests can check in and out and make contactless payments through booths. Although these systems are a great alternative to the traditional front desk, installation and maintenance can be expensive, and staff are usually still required on-site to help guests navigate the system.

Terminal or desktop POS systems

Terminal or desktop POS systems require a terminal, such as a cash register, to record data into the POS software and perform transactions. Although they are the most common type of POS system, they require staff time and manual reconciliation.

POS hardware components

POS systems also require different types of hardware depending on a hotel’s specific needs. Hardware can include:

  • Barcode scanners
  • Cash drawers 
  • Tablets
  • Card reader 
  • Receipt printer

 

Cloudbeds Marketplace POS

 

Features to look for in a POS system

Choosing the right POS system can be tricky. Ensure your POS system includes essential functions such as invoicing, order customization, and billing. In addition, consider the following features:

PMS integration. According to Hospitality Tech’s 2023 POS software trends report, integration is one of the key features driving POS purchases. A hotel PMS integration simplifies billing for both yourself and the guest and delivers more insightful data for decision-making.

Inventory management. Your POS system should be able to track stock levels and send alerts when quantity drops below a certain threshold to ensure that you never run out of product.

Payment processing. You should be able to support a variety of payment options with your POS system and offer the possibility to conduct multi-payment transactions to split bills.

Robust reporting. Reporting is a key component of any POS system. Your system should provide a detailed look into your revenue streams with data backed by your PMS. Insights on inventory, sales activity, and employee performance will help inform your future business decisions.

Mobile capability. You’ll limit your use cases if your chosen POS system doesn’t provide a full-featured mobile experience. Sometimes it’s not realistic or feasible to install POS terminals; a mobile POS gives your employees flexibility in how they serve guests.

Cloud-based. If you use a cloud-based PMS, opt for a cloud-based POS system. It is less expensive and more reliable than on-premise systems that require steep upfront investments, ongoing maintenance, and extensive training.

Fair pricing. Choose a POS vendor with fair and transparent pricing that reflects the features and functionality your business needs. 

Loyalty tools. If you want to encourage customer loyalty to your restaurant or other points of sale, you should look for a POS system with built-in loyalty program tools to encourage repeat business.

Ease of use. With the amount of turnover in the hospitality industry, you don’t want to spend too much time and money training your staff. Your POS system should have an intuitive, user-friendly interface that your staff and guests can easily use.

Data protection. Since POS systems contain sensitive data such as account numbers or credit card information, they should include security measures to protect your hotel’s information from unauthorized access and data breaches. 

Customer support. Hotel operations are conducted day and night, with guests ordering room service or staying late at the bar. You must work with a provider that offers 24/7 support and can help resolve issues quickly.
 

 

8 leading hotel POS systems

The following are nine of the best hotel POS systems that offer comprehensive functionality and receive high ratings on platforms such as Softwareadvice, Capterra, and TrustPilot.

Invu 

Invu is a cloud-based POS solution that offers hoteliers comprehensive and easy-to-use tools to simplify selling and information gathering.

Last.app

Last.app is an all-in-one restaurant software solution that includes a restaurant POS system, delivery integrators, an online store, reservations, and more. 

Lightspeed

Lightspeed is a cloud-based POS provider offering a complete hotel restaurant technology suite. It helps you verify a guest’s occupancy status and add restaurant charges to their room.

Poster

Poster’s cloud-based POS system software combines solutions for the front office, onsite restaurants, inventory, finances, analytics, and CRM.

Revo

Revo is a POS software solution that consists of a web-based back-office for business configuration and an iOS-native app for operational use across hotels. 

Tabology

Tabology is an integrated cloud technology suite that includes EPOS, stock management, staff scheduling, booking, deposit handling, and online ordering on mobile devices.

Toast

Toast is a POS system uniquely designed to meet the needs of hotel restaurants. With robust PMS integrations, Toast empowers lodging operators to streamline operations, increase revenue, and deliver great hospitality with a best-in-class room charge experience for guests and staff.

Tevalis

Tevalis is an award-winning EPOS that can be adapted to multiple areas across a hotel venue, such as FnB, leisure, and retail, through to an integrated PMS. 

banner cloudbeds marketplace

 

How does a POS system work with the Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform?

The Cloudbeds Platform seamlessly integrates with a variety of POS systems to provide hotels with real-time data synchronization and transaction processing from the point-of-sale, increasing the speed of service. The POS system validates guest information within Cloudbeds’ PMS (name, room number, etc.) and then adds every transaction or charge to their folio. The guest can then see these transactions at the end of their stay in a single invoice and pay during checkout. Get your demo to see it in action. 

 

Final thoughts

Investing in a modern point-of-sale empowers your staff to deliver a seamless experience on par with large chains. In addition to an improved guest experience, you’ll gain operational precision to make more accurate, data-backed decisions. It’s a win (and a necessity) for properties that sell more than just room to guests.

 

Interested to see how Cloudbeds can supercharge your property?
Published on 09 March, 2023
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About Cloudbeds

Cloudbeds

Founded in 2012, Cloudbeds is the hospitality industry’s fastest-growing technology partner, serving a global customer base of thousands of properties across 157 countries. Its award-winning Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform seamlessly combines operations, revenue, distribution, and growth marketing tools with a marketplace of third-party integrations to help hoteliers and hosts grow revenue, streamline operations, and deliver memorable guest experiences. Cloudbeds was named No. 1 PMS and No. 1 Hotel Management System by Hotel Tech Report in 2022, Best PMS and Best Channel Manager by the World Travel Tech Awards in 2021, and has been recognized by Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 in 2021. 

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