How to choose a management system (PMS) with web interface for your hotel
PMS - Property Management System is a hotel or <a href="https://www.otelms.com/" ><strong>hotel system</strong></a> for management that allows for timely room management, load control, room bookings (including direct client and OTA online reservations). The system also provides automation of basic business processes of a hotel, for example, allows to simplify the procedure of registration of a guest and selection of a room, taking into account his preferences and history of accommodation, as well as to control and plan hotel load, pricing, to conduct analytics and analysis of the results of work and receive statistical reports. As a result - increase the efficiency and profitability of the hotel.
This review is dedicated to small and medium hotels, sanatoriums and hotels (with a number of rooms from 20 to 150).
Without a management system (PMS), your ability to manage and develop even a small hotel will be severely limited. After all, you can manage orders in Excel or just on a piece of paper, but such a system of "booking" can not allow you to focus on your core operational activities, and it certainly will not allow you to scale your business in the future.
Modern PMS and room management systems automatically process all orders made over the Internet and display a report of available rooms in a convenient way for you - whether it is a calendar view or chart or list mode. It is essentially an integrated all-in-one system, unthinkable without the front-end: a website as a sales tool for the hotel. The PMS system is a set of software tools and technologies necessary for effective management of hotel room stock, processing of reservations/orders and even marketing tools. For example, CRM (Customer Relationship Management System) and marketing strategy, including email, can increase customer/guest loyalty and ultimately increase their income.
There are many systems and modules available to automate the processes of direct booking from your website, booking via OTA (channel management) and for simple reception management - check-in desk. How can a small or medium sized hotel make its choice, and how can you find out which system will work best for your hotel (or other property)?
We would like to help hotels and therefore, let's consider the following questions.
Price of the PMS hotel management system.
What is the price of a PMS system (and a boxed software license or subscription in case of SaaS)? Is it an all-in-one system or will it require additional modules and costs for integration (and sometimes very substantial costs).
What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a hotel - for example, when calculating for a year: monthly payments, support and upgrade costs, installation, staff training, and other resources. It is necessary to ask this question from the supplier, although as a rule it is here that sellers and "dark", planting hotels on their proprietary system with the necessary regular payments. The hotel is in relative dependence, however, as in other cases with any software. But it is necessary to minimize these risks.
Small hotels, sanatoriums and other means of accommodation should be extremely careful with the choice and allocation of the budget, it is important to estimate the costs for a year, two, three years ahead. We have encountered cases when a hotel refused the system or support due to a drop in revenue. The result: outdated and outdated system and "transition to Excel".
The cost of PMS licensing is the total cost of using the software, website components and so on. You will either have to pay commissions, pay on a one-time or monthly basis in case of subscription (SaaS, cloud service). Monthly subscription, on the one hand, is better because it allows you to start working even when budgeting, and on the other hand, compared to a one-time purchase, imposes a long-term financial burden.
Also do not forget that the cost/cost of additional services, training, configuration and user changes (customization) may exceed the cost of the software itself. Find out if the supply and support contract for your PMS has these figures, or will the vendor charge you based on their price lists? Some vendors/producers may also charge a fee for each additional user you add to your management (each new/additional account).
What functions of the PMS system are needed for small hotels and hotels?
Before thinking about specific functions and features, let's take a look at the big picture. The reason and in general the main meaning of considering investing in a PMS system is that it will help you save time and eventually increase your income. Therefore, all functionality should contribute to these 2 overarching goals (time and money).
Remember that by purchasing and implementing PMS, you are investing in the success of your hotel, which is not possible today without the IT and web technologies you need. Managing your rooms and reservations without online booking will actually cost you more (both in terms of time and order processing) and there will be a chance of missed opportunities in "capturing" new customers/guests in the market.
So, which modules (or functionality) should be implemented:
Simplified front-office management (reception desk)
Your PMS should give you all the necessary tools to be the front office/reception activity fully organized in the business process of your hotel management.
Also, to give your guests the best service from the moment they check in/arrival to the moment they leave - you must be able to:
View all your rooms/reservations on the calendar page
Add more rooms for sale / for booking
Add new or change prices and plans for existing rooms
Close for service specific rooms
Move existing orders to another number
Check in and check out guests (check-in, check out)
Keep the loyalty program, loyalty cards, discounts (you should always remember about your returning guests).
Your PMS system should give you the opportunity to work on the principle of "one window", so that in one system you can find and change all the necessary information, and of course the system should be convenient, so that the hotel staff spend much less time to perform daily tasks.
Remote access to the system (frees you from your desktop)
The PMS all-in-one system should be available wherever you are not, as well as accessible from any device online. Without web technology, any PMS can be considered outdated. This means that the system must be either a SaaS service (e.g. cloud-based) or essentially a website or portal with a back office on hosting (external storage). This way, you can work from anywhere and still control the hotel. Another advantage is that you do not need to buy servers and other necessary system software. All you need to do is order and implement a web application (a website with back office functionality), and then take your smartphone or tablet to manage your hotel room stock.
OTA sales channels and international orders
Making sure that international travelers can easily book a room at your hotel will give you a competitive advantage. Nowadays, there is a picture when there is more inbound than outbound tourism, which is thus the main priority for small and medium hotels in the battle for customers. Your PMS with a website should help you do this, but think in advance about the bilingual interface (at least switchable Russian and English) of the online booking system.
As for OTA, it is worthwhile to cooperate with international OTA. For example, to sell or offer their rooms for Chinese travelers, you should contact Ctrip (this reservation site is preferred in China, check how far Booking.com lags behind there). Providing multiple languages is a minimum, but be sure to provide the option of paying (or at least blocking the deposit) in currency. Otherwise, foreign tourists will be dissatisfied because of double conversion and losses. I recently saw a hotel website with support for at least 5 languages (including Chinese), and at least 80 different currencies!
Of course, the fact that the website with online booking system works for you while you sleep means literally that you do not have to be at your desk to accept orders. And these international tourists and travelers can book on your website for themselves at any convenient time.
Managing guest loyalty and customer relations
Your PMS should make booking and room management easy and convenient for you, but also provide an opportunity to maintain customer relations and communicate with your guests in a structured way. This means that you can set up to send various emails, such as booking confirmation, arrival date, pre-booking and subsequent payment, etc.. You configure each such email template once and the system sends out the corresponding email itself (you will also be able to change the appearance of the email according to your brand).
This is a very good opportunity to build relationships with regular customers, and you should strive to improve the professional image of your hotel; and this is very possible when each guest receives personalized messages - he feels from the moment of booking an attitude of care and the same level of service for which he once chose your hotel. Read more in the article Building a Model of Customer Reliability through Email Marketing.
Management of price plans and load forecasts, expected revenues
In addition to the work of booking and accommodation, you should also be able to receive analytics and compare, for example, the download with the previous year to exhibit "adequate" and competitive prices, and thus work to increase revenue from each room.
A PMS/all-in-one system will also allow you:
Sell additional packages (late check-out, breakfast, transfer, spa fitness, etc.).
Price settings for additional services, individual discounts and coupons in order to attract and meet the needs of each client
Add the possibility of ordering during the stay of guests (extension)
Upselling relevant products and services for your and others.
The PMS analytics system helps you measure and improve everything you can measure and improve.
In contrast to large hotel chains, your budget is limited. Without developed analytical statistics, you will not be able to see what factor contributed to sales, which rooms / reservations bring great profit, where your guests are booked, the distribution of income by period of the year. Also in the case of a functional website, you will probably want to monitor the behavior of visitors to your site, for example, to see how many visits end with Book Now, and how many people leave the page / form of the payment system and why. All this allows you to track and analyze modern modules of Internet analytics of website activity.
The PMS should also have basic reporting features that allow you to track the above mentioned indicators as well:
Best pages of the site by attendance, best rooms, days with booking statistics
Your direct and indirect (referral, OTA) orders
Room occupancy rate, average price (ADR and Revenue Per Available Room - RevPAR).
Your income from online reservations, and other sources
Which of your promotions (special offers) work and bring new customers.
The system should allow you to view this in a web interface, preferably without the need to export data to Excel or spreadsheets.
Support and maintenance of PMS
If something goes wrong, you need to make sure you can rely on the supplier to be ready to help quickly. Can you talk to a real person or just virtual help? Are they ready to train you and your employees to use the system effectively?
Is the software proprietary (only one vendor can help), the addiction we mentioned, or is it common and open source, and are there independent support groups (forums, etc.)?
So which PMS is the best system and who is the best vendor?
So, finally, you asked yourself all these questions and found the answers. You need to evaluate the PMS provider to see the mutual understanding and that everything is good for your hotel. It is desirable to make a pilot project or get a free test period, to work well with the system to be sure that investing in a particular PMS will be a good investment. On the trial version, if provided, you will be able to assess whether the system has the necessary functionality and whether it suits your hotel.
For hotels with less than 20 rooms, it is not reasonable to implement such a system, and for large networks this is not an issue, as they use large centralized systems. For medium hotels, however, in order to develop effectively and not to lose to competitors, it is necessary to implement PMS systems (it is highly desirable all-in-one - with integration with the website), which offer maximum flexibility, convenience in operation, as well as for some hotels and simplicity. And, of course, adequate cost.
Unfortunately, in this review we cannot recommend any PMS manufacturers/suppliers as the choice depends on your specific needs, goals and hotel specifics. We can say that this is like choosing a car: many models at different prices and with different quality and equipment. In the next review we will talk about the most "profitable" PMS systems.
And what automation and room and booking management systems are used in your hotel, hotel or sanatorium? - please share in your comments!