Top 10 Things to Look For in a PMS in the 2020s

Here we are in the year 2020! At the start of this new decade, we are firmly planted in an era of AI, VR and IoT. Chatbots, smart room controls and mobile keys are no longer futuristic hotel dreams to look forward to—they are already here. Technology is evolving faster and faster; how do we keep up?

At the core of hotel operations, your property management system (PMS) is a key component of your hotel tech stack that you want to get right. Your PMS should streamline operations by automating daily tasks and of course it must deliver a healthy ROI, but in these high-tech times it’s also important to choose a PMS that maintains pace with technological innovation and changing guest expectations.

These days, there’s no shortage of hotel property management systems to choose from, which only makes the decision harder. So to help, we’ve compiled a list of what to look for in a hotel PMS that will help drive profitability through this next decade and beyond.

An intuitive user interface

Choose a PMS that functions in a way that makes sense to you and your staff, even if you don’t quite understand every feature right away. Your PMS should quickly become second nature to use in order to fully benefit from the efficiencies it affords. A confusing user interface will only slow staff down and cause errors to be made that could result in lost revenue. 

Because the PMS is central to daily hotel operation, staff spend a lot of time using it—so look for a modern user interface that is easy on the eyes! The tape chart should be easy to navigate and to understand at a glance.

Guest engagement tools

The business to consumer relationship is growing closer than ever, in large part due to social media. Today’s guests expect personalized service that shows they are valued and recognizes loyalty.

From motels to B&Bs to vacation rentals, any property can personalize the guest experience with the right tools. Most importantly, make sure your PMS creates guest profiles to store guest data (contact details, stay and spend history, requests and preferences) that will help you recognize loyal customers and personalize future communications and stays. Automated email functionality for booking confirmations and pre-arrival and post-stay email campaigns is key to engaging guests and building customer relationships.

Loyalty program integration and integrations with CRM, mobile messaging and mobile app solutions also indicate a PMS that will equip you well to engage guests.

Commission-free direct online bookings

While OTAs sell rooms, the commissions can hurt, which is why every hotel should aim to increase direct bookings. Offering customers the ability to book online through your property’s own website is critical to any successful direct booking strategy. Look for a PMS that includes a commission-free online booking engine to improve your bottom line.

Completing a booking online should be quick and easy for your customers, to avoid booking abandonment. Choose an online booking engine with a modern, mobile-friendly user interface that showcases rooms with image slideshows, and displays rates in multiple currencies.

Your online booking engine should also make life easier for you; make sure it’s fully integrated with the PMS for live rates and availability and so that online bookings are automatically sent to your PMS. Can it sell your rooms and packages the way you want? Can you easily override availability, sell add-ons and password-protected rates, and generate online booking reports?

Integrated channel management

While it’s important to choose a system that supports your direct booking strategy, it’s also important to look for one that supports your wider distribution strategy too, through integrated channel management. Make sure your new PMS offers direct connections to the OTAs and channel managers your property works with so that rates and availability are automatically updated across all channels, directly from the PMS, saving a great deal of time and reducing the risk of overbooking.

Flexibility to fit your business

Competition has become hotter than ever for hotels, and properties have to work hard to stand out. As hotel stays have become less conventional and increasingly flexible, so has the technology used to run operations. Make sure your PMS fits the way your business works so you can provide the kind of unique experiences that today’s guests are looking for.

In addition to making sure your PMS offers the features you need (whether that be group booking functionality, activity bookings or centralized admin tools for multiple properties), look for a system that offers flexible rate and package management and supports ancillary revenue streams so that you can easily adjust to demand and aren’t limited in how to sell your rooms. It’s also important to find a PMS that provides the reports you need to make smart decisions. Does it offer custom reporting to generate the data you need for your unique business?

Finally, prepare for the future with a scalable system that will evolve and grow with your business. This means a PMS that can accommodate additional (or less) rooms, locations, integrations and revenue streams as needed.

Third-party integrations

Data is the key to elevating the guest experience, as long as it is unified and accessible. Breaking data out of silos that isolate and trap information, modern hotel technology puts data to work through system integration. When the PMS is directly integrated with other hotel systems—like distribution channels (as mentioned above), POS systems, payment gateways, revenue management solutions, CRM and guest engagement platforms—relevant data is shared between the systems to automate processes for more efficient, personalized service.

Look for a PMS that not only offers integration with your other systems, but has an impressive and ever-growing list of reputable partners so you can be sure that additional integrations can be implemented as needed down the track.

Mobile-friendliness

Just as we’ve become used to checking email on our phones, cloud technology has accustomed hoteliers to accessing their PMS remotely, first from offsite computers and now from mobile devices. This has always been one of the biggest advantages of cloud PMS; granting authorized personnel access to guest, reservation and reporting data on the go for improved efficiency, service and decision-making.

Freeing staff from the physical front desk and greatly boosting efficiency, mobile-friendly PMS boast features such as mobile housekeeping reports that allow housekeepers to update room status and maintenance requests in real time as they work, paperless check-in functionality allowing guests to sign registration cards electronically on a mobile device, and mobile key and mobile messaging integrations to support modern guest expectations.

Solid security

Unfortunately, with our online world comes online crime. Data theft is a serious and constant threat to hospitality providers. Keeping your guests’ data safe is a top priority so it’s of utmost importance that your software solutions employ robust security measures.

You want a PMS that stores and processes your data on secure servers protected by internet firewalls, intrusion detection, anti-virus protection and network monitoring. Look for a system that offers PCI-compliant credit card processing, EMV solutions for card-present transactions, and strong user access controls like two-factor authentication.

Accessible customer support

Whether you need help understanding new features, want to make a customization request, or something just goes wrong, an attentive, knowledgeable and accessible customer support team is a must-have for any future-proof PMS that is constantly innovating and evolving. You don’t want to be left high and dry in the thick of the busy season, so check plenty of software reviews to make sure the vendor you are considering takes good care of their customers—both large and small.

Expertise & innovation

It’s an exciting time for hospitality technology and new PMS vendors are popping up like mushrooms. Unfortunately, not all of them last. Make sure you choose a solution with staying power to maximize efficiency and revenue through the next decade and beyond.

A proven PMS will demonstrate experience and expertise through years of operation, a substantial and growing customer base, frequent upgrades and integrations, affiliations and partnerships, and, very importantly, reliability in terms of low downtime risk.

At the start of this new decade, we look forward to an exciting era of hospitality technology. Make sure you are well-equipped to meet and exceed guest expectations now and in the future with a reputable, innovative cloud PMS that will help drive profitability through the 2020s and beyond.

Common Customer Complaints in Hospitality and How Your PMS Helps to Avoid Them

We all know someone who just loves to complain, even when there’s nothing really to complain about. Service industries like hospitality, in particular, see more than their fair share of customer criticisms, which are often voiced publicly online. Even the most luxurious hotels find it impossible to eliminate customer service complaints, but with the right staff, the right attitude and the right hotel technology, you can avoid most of them.

If your property is suffering frequent customer complaints it’s time to identify why. Your property management system (PMS) is designed to streamline daily operations, so that you and your staff have more time to focus on your guests. But your PMS impacts customer service in very direct ways too.

Let’s take a look at some common customer service complaints in hospitality and how your PMS should help you avoid them.

“No self-service options”

In a world of online shopping, we as consumers have come to expect the convenience of purchasing almost whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want (as long as we have an internet connection). In fact, the inability to buy products or book services online ourselves these days is most often seen as an inconvenience, and this is especially true of accommodation bookings.

If your property doesn’t offer the ability to book a room on your website, you’re probably losing customers because of it. Many modern travelers will simply move on to the next hotel website that does offer this convenience. What’s worse than a customer that complains? A lost customer.

Most PMS offer a website booking engine that is integrated with the PMS for live rates and availability. Make sure yours is commission free, easy to use and mobile friendly.

Other self-service options rapidly gaining popularity among guests include the ability for guests to check themselves in and customize their stay via a personal online concierge. Direct integration between your PMS and guest experience platforms—such as CRM software, self-check-in solutions and mobile messaging platforms—make executing self-service options more efficient for hotels, and the experience more seamless for guests.

“Check-in takes too long”

Whether your front desk is busy, or your check-in process just isn’t efficient, guests are quick to complain about their experience at this critical touchpoint.

This is where your PMS plays a very important role. Automating administrative tasks, a PMS makes the check-in process a breeze by making it easy to look up reservations, providing you with pertinent guest and reservation information at a glance, and integrating with your payment gateway and keycard system.

WebRezPro PMS offers paperless check-in, allowing guests to sign check-in receipts or registration cards using an electronic signature capture device such as a tablet or smartphone. This paper-saving feature is not only environmentally friendly, but it speeds up the check-in process and frees staff from the front desk, allowing them to check guests in from anywhere. If a queue is forming at the front desk, for example, another staff member can greet arriving guests in the lobby.

If your property offers a self-check-in option (whether online or by kiosk) a direct connection between that software and your PMS will facilitate a fully automatic solution that doesn’t require you to reconcile data between the two systems—and ensures a completely frictionless check-in experience for your guests and your staff. 

“Doesn’t recognize loyalty”

Making customers feel valued is a fundamental principle of customer service across industries. Repeat customers, especially, want to know that their loyalty is valued, otherwise they’ll likely decide it’s not deserved.

It’s so important to show loyal guests that you appreciate their business by recognizing them and welcoming them back. Through guest profiles, your PMS matches booking data to recognize returning guests and automatically build a stay history. Guest requirements and preferences can also be added to profiles, creating a valuable reference point for personalizing the guest experience. Other reservation features like VIP flagging and pop-up reminders can help your staff elevate service for your most loyal guests.

Your PMS may even offer an inbuilt rewards program or integration with external loyalty programs that automatically reward customers with points every time they make a booking, which can be redeemed for future bookings.

While guests appreciate rewards programs, nothing shows loyal guests you appreciate them more than a warm welcome back and anticipating their needs and preferences. With the right PMS, it’s easy to give all returning guests the VIP treatment.

“Unclean room”

Uncleanliness is one of the top customer gripes when it comes to hotel stays. While the quality of work of your housekeeping staff should be regularly monitored, sometimes this complaint stems from work-scheduling miscommunications and consequent delays in servicing rooms.

The housekeeping schedule is organized from the room status list and guest arrivals and departures, so direct communication between front desk and the housekeeping department is crucial. A PMS that includes an integrated housekeeping report that is also mobile friendly for on-the-go room status updates ensures your housekeeping staff can organize and prioritize their work schedule effectively, and that your front desk personnel know which rooms are clean and ready for guests—in real time.

“Requests take too long to resolve”

From extra pillows to room temperature adjustments, guest requests and complaints must be resolved in a timely manner. When occupancy is high, this can be easier said than done.

Guest requests almost always involve more than one department; the guest notifies the front desk of their request and from there the front desk needs to notify the appropriate department, such as housekeeping or maintenance or the kitchen. Then the front desk needs to follow up to make sure the request has been fulfilled.

Automatically sharing data between departments, a PMS helps staff stay on top of all customer requests. Alarms and reminders can be attached to reservations and maintenance and housekeeping records. Mobile-accessible systems allow you to access your PMS data from a mobile device anywhere on (or off) the property, facilitating faster request resolution without having to return to the front desk to look up or enter information.

If your property communicates with guests via text messaging or a mobile concierge platform, consider integrating your PMS with your guest messaging system for even more streamlined communication and tracking of requests.

No matter how unusual the request—whether it be a framed picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger or a blanket fort awaiting in their room upon arrival (these are true stories!)—your PMS should help make sure all actionable requests are granted on time, every time.

In addition to making daily operations more efficient, your PMS is key to managing the guest experience. The right PMS will equip you with the tools you need to provide excellent customer service that even the most passionate complainers find hard to fault.