This is probably a question you ask yourself when you’re in the market for a new Property Management System. But why shouldn’t you be asking yourself and your colleagues this question every month, or every week?
Back a decade or so ago, when hotels were moving from the manual reservations book to a computerised system, their shopping list was probably fairly short. It was scary enough that they were entrusting their guest’s reservations and contact data into a computer program, more advanced features probably weren’t even dreamt of. But today we are in an age of high technological ingenuity and fast development and delivery times, so why should you compromise?
In this article I will be exploring the features and functionalities that a real PMS should have, and also exploring some of the new developments that may soon become an essential item on that shopping list.
So here are some absolute fundamentals that a PMS must have, otherwise it isn’t a complete PMS.
- Ability to make room reservations
- Enquiry tracking so that you are able to record any enquiries made that haven’t yet resulted in a booking
- Produces room bills that deal with tax
- Comprehensive Customer Record Management (CRM) that can store marketing information and guest type. This data also needs to be extracted according to your needs e.g. guest records for guests staying in 2012
- Report Centre that gives you financial reports as well as marketing and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) such as RevPAR and Occupancy levels
- Accounts feature that allows you to set up credit accounts for regular guests and send bills to a ledger to be paid at a later date.
- Ability to print/e-mail arrival forms, arrivals and departures lists and booking confirmations
- Tariff management area where you can input your tariff so a booking will automatically apply the relevant tariff unless manually overwritten
- Individual User Logins to ensure an audit trail to track employees actions
- Integration to Channels such as Booking.com and Expedia
- Integration to an Online Booking Engine, whether it is produced by the PMS provider or a third party
- Integration to an EPoS System that allows for charging to room and event bills
You might think this is a demanding list, or you might think that this list should be much longer. If you think this is a demanding list, I promise you it isn’t. In the last few years hotel technology has moved on in leaps and bounds. Suddenly all the platforms you are selling on are real time and integrated. PMS’ are giving you revenue management tools in one package, and big expensive servers aren’t necessary.
Now is the time that a PMS should be giving you tools and features that you didn’t even know you needed. The PMS and the PMS provider should be helping and inspiring you with its capabilities, not the other way around.
Here are some features that may not be a must have, but you should be considering them.
- Dynamic Pricing (or Revenue/Yield Management) – Some PMS’ now offer a system within the booking system that allows even the smallest of independent hotels to practice revenue management and capitalise on flexible pricing, just like the big players. Using an automatic dynamic pricing system can increase revenue because when your occupancy for a particular day reaches a threshold, the system automatically increases the room rate in response to the increased demand. With this strategy you are charging more for a commodity that is in high demand; airlines employ that strategy remarkably well. They know that when there are only a few seats left, people will pay much more than normal to ensure they are able to get to their destination, it can work in a very similar way for hotels.
- Marketing Tool – This heading is a little vague but some examples of marketing tools within a PMS might be a tool that sends post-departure survey e-mails or pre-arrival text messages, a database export to pass on to a marketing company for mailshotting, or a report centre that deals specifically with guest demographics and interests.
- Events Management – If your hotel hosts events such as weddings and parties or if you are a conference centre, you should definitely consider getting events management as part of your PMS. There are obviously event management systems out there that only handle events. Many of these systems are great, because they are designed for that one purpose, but more often than not a PMS that has an events module will be more than enough to do the job and will be vastly less expensive and more effective. An events management module should enable you to make event reservations independently of a room reservation or alongside a room reservation. It should allow you to take just as much information about the customer as you would for a room reservation, gaining data for marketing purposes is really important. It will also need to provide pro forma invoices as these will often be requested by event organisers. The event management module should be able to handle deposits and pay off to the accounts section as well. Another useful tool to have, which fits in very well with events is…
- Document Store – Whichever area of the PMS you might be using, you may often feel the need to attach a document to that area to communicate logistics with other team members or to store requirements that a guest may have sent to you. Your PMS should already give you places to write notes about guests and bookings, but having a document store within the system as well could be a big help when communicating with guests and colleagues. An example of using a document store is if you have a wedding event booking in for August, throughout the 12 months prior to the wedding day, the organisers have sent you a table plan, menu choices, music schedule and various e-mails ironing out the fine details. All of this information is crucial to the team for when the organisers phone to discuss the event as well as on the day. If you had a document store module, you would simply store all those documents and correspondence in the event booking, so each time a team member looks at the booking, they know as much as everyone else does.
These are just a few of the bigger features available from some PMS providers today, there are many others either already available or currently being developed.
Hopefully you now have a better idea of what a PMS can achieve in your business and what the good ones can actually do.
If you are interested in finding out more about our Hotel Perfect PMS, or you want to discuss anything in this blog article please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0843 309 1601.