Running a lodging operation is a complicated task involving a lot of moving parts. Hoteliers must manage reservations, communicate with guests, and oversee staff—among numerous other tasks. The right property management system (PMS) can alleviate a lot of the work and stress associated with property management and improve operational efficiency. There are many systems on the market these days, so it’s important to do your research. Beyond finding a system with the necessary features your property requires, here are a few of the most important things you should be looking for in a PMS:
There are technological solutions for almost every facet of hotel operations. Revenue management software helps to determine optimal pricing strategies, payment gateways facilitate credit card payments, channel managers regulate inventory offered on third-party distribution channels and the list goes on. Most hoteliers are using a collection of these systems and it’s important to find a PMS that is capable of integrating with them; seamless communication between all systems will maximize efficiency and reduce frustrating errors. When a PMS is integrated with a hotel’s various distribution channels, for example, inventory will be automatically updated across all platforms—eliminating the requirement for manual entry and the potential for double-bookings. And integration between a revenue manager and your PMS makes price adjustments automatic. The PMS will push occupancy information to the revenue manager, which (after determining the best pricing strategy) will push optimal room rates back to the PMS.
We’re living in a mobile era. So, for any tech solution to be relevant today, it needs to be optimized for mobile devices. When it comes to a PMS, this has huge advantages for lodging operators. Not only does it enable managers to oversee operations on-the-go, but it also equips staff to serve customers better. Liberation from the front desk means they can engage with guests in a more personable and authentic way. In fact, many hotels are losing the front desk all-together. A mobile-optimized PMS also streamlines communication between staff. Housekeepers, for example, can update room status in-real-time, ensuring efficient check-ins.
As a business owner, you don’t want the systems you use to limit potential growth. Make sure your tech solutions have the ability to accommodate the needs of an expanding business. Whether you’re hoping to add rooms, build a campsite, open new locations or start offering adventure tours, choosing a PMS with scalability and additional optional modules will give you the freedom you need to achieve your business goals.
Whenever you make an important purchase, you need to do your research. That should include inquiries into the reputation of the provider you’re considering. Your PMS is the backbone of your business, so you don’t want to take any risks. Read what current customers have to say about their experience. Any solution you choose should have a history of reliably serving operations like your own.
And remember to consider the history of adaptability. The tech world is constantly evolving and your provider needs to be able to keep up.
You’re in the hospitality business, so the importance of customer service should come as no surprise. Be sure the PMS provider you choose shows a commitment to strong customer support. It’s essential that staff get adequate training on new systems and that problems are resolved quickly. Take a look at what support they have available. In addition to call-in support, video tutorials and other online resources can be hugely beneficial.
A good PMS is essential for running a successful lodging operation. So choosing the right system matters. When weighing your options, be sure to prioritize integration capability, mobile optimization, scalability, reliability and customer support. Good luck!
Managing reservations to maximize revenue can be a complicated task. Trying to minimize the damage of no-shows and cancellations can result in more reservations than available rooms—while playing it safe to avoid double-bookings can leave units unnecessarily vacant. Here’s a quick guide to dealing with and reducing booking crises.
Overbooking inventory is a strategy used by many hotels to account for no-show guests and cancellations. When it works, it saves a lot of revenue, but there’s significant risk associated with the practice— particularly for smaller, independent properties which have fewer rooms to play around with. When it backfires (i.e. when you find yourself in front of a confirmed guest with no room to offer) it can be extremely stressful and cause a lot of damage to your brand. Unhappy customers have a tendency to express their dissatisfaction online after all.
For many independent hotels, the risks of overbooking are just too high. But that doesn’t mean you have no options. The first thing you can do to mitigate the damage of cancellations and no-shows is to include a fee in your cancellation policy and take credit card information upon booking. Not only is this an incentive to commit to a reservation (likely reducing no-shows and cancellations overall), but it means when a guest does choose to cancel, less damage is done to your bottom line. Check out our recent post for more strategies to deal with no-shows and cancellations.
All that being said, you should always have a prepared strategy for dealing with over-bookings. When you find yourself with more guests than rooms, you’ll need to choose which guest to walk (consider the loyalty of—and revenue being brought in by—each guest), find alternate lodging for them, and then do something to make amends (perhaps a free meal at your on-site restaurant).
Unlike over-bookings, double bookings are never intentional, but rather due to errors made in inventory management. Hotels need to sell their inventory on a collection of distribution channels (their property’s website, numerous online travel agencies, and the Global Distribution System, for example) in order to maximize occupancy. But if inventory isn’t updated in real time, the same room could be sold by multiple distribution channels.
Obviously, it isn’t reasonable for a hotelier to update all channels as new reservations come in. It’s a time-intensive process prone to manual errors. That’s where technology comes into play. Having a property management system that interfaces with all your distribution channels means inventory is updated automatically across all systems, vastly reducing the possibility of a double booking (and all the headaches that come with it).
Some hoteliers try to reduce double-bookings by allocating separate inventory for each distribution channel. While this does eliminate the potential to sell the same room twice, it can also easily result in unnecessarily vacant units. One channel could sell all of their allocated inventory and start turning customers away while other inventory is sitting unsold on another platform. It’s not a recommended practice and luckily one that can be avoided with a pooled inventory model (all units available to be sold by all channels at the same time) and PMS-to-distribution channel interfaces (to reduce risk).
Reservation management can be tough. The task of balancing the need to fill rooms and the desire to provide a flawless customer experience is a delicate one. Make your life simpler by ensuring you have a property management system that takes credit card information at booking and interfaces with all your distribution channels.