5 Big Reasons Your Hostel Needs a Cloud PMS

From managing dorm bed bookings and activity reservations to dealing with high staff turnover, managing a hostel is quite different to running a hotel. But just like a hotel, hostels also need an efficient, automated solution to streamline daily operations and maximize revenue.

While a hotel property management system (PMS) is designed to sell rooms, not beds, a hostel-friendly PMS like WebRezPro does both. A PMS designed with hostels in mind offers flexible functionality tailored to hostel operations that reduces daily administrative workload, sells more beds, and improves both the guest and staff experience.

Accessible online, a cloud PMS offers even the smallest hostel a modern, automated and affordable solution. Here are five big reasons any hostel needs a cloud PMS.

1. Sell the Way you Want

A cloud PMS offers full, flexible functionality, which means you don’t have to fit your business around your PMS; your PMS fits the way your business works. From dorm beds to private rooms, groups to packages and discounts, your PMS should offer the flexibility to sell the way you want in order to maximize your revenue.

>> Customizable unit inventory

A hostel-friendly PMS accommodates dorm beds as well as private rooms and other units, including tent sites, cabins and more. WebRezPro even allows dorm beds to be assigned to gender-designated or mixed dorms.

>> Flexible rate management

Hostels require flexible rate management tools to meet dynamic pricing needs, including seasonal rates, discounts, packaged activities, etc. A cloud PMS like WebRezPro makes it easy to set up (and override) seasonal rates, long-term rates, discounts, add-ons, group rates, rate restrictions and even the most complex packages.

>> Upsell activities and other extras

Hostels typically offer guests additional products and services like padlocks, linen, and tours and activities, so it’s important for a hostel PMS to manage and track these sales. A hostel-friendly PMS will allow upsells and other extras to be added and included with the bed/room booking, or sold separately.

2. Fully Integrated Direct Online Bookings

Direct bookings are so important in the quest to improve your hostel’s bottom line. That’s why it’s crucial to offer your guests the ability to book direct through your hostel’s own website.

A cloud PMS tailored for hostels will offer an online booking engine for your website that supports both dorm bed and private room reservations, as well as all types of rates, packages and add-ons. WebRezPro’s online booking engine allows your guests to book multiple beds at once on a single reservation and search for beds in gender-specific dorms. And it’s mobile optimized for travelers on the go.

Integrated with the PMS, the online booking engine sends direct bookings coming through your website straight to your PMS, with availability updated automatically. That means you don’t have to manually consolidate website bookings with telephone and walk-in reservations—the PMS does it all for you.

3. OTA Integration for Seamless Online Distribution

While direct (commission-free) bookings are essential for optimizing profit, it’s also important to sell inventory across the right third-party channels to increase reach and revenue. Here’s where a cloud PMS can also save you significant time and prevent overbooking.

Through direct integration with your OTA channels, your cloud PMS streamlines and centralizes the online distribution process, allowing you to manage your OTA inventory and rates directly through the PMS. Reservations made through third-party booking sites are automatically sent to your PMS and availability is automatically adjusted accordingly. By automating the online distribution process, your reservation data and availability are always up to date, preventing overbooking.

A hostel-friendly PMS like WebRezPro knows the importance of being on the right channels and offers established connections with distribution partners that work well for hostels—like Hostelworld.com, the world’s largest online hostel-booking platform. WebRezPro also offers connections to Booking.com, Expedia, Siteminder, Myallocator and many more OTA channels and channel managers.

4. On-the-Go Access

You probably got into this business because you enjoy meeting people from all over the world and are a bit of an adventurer yourself. Being tied to the front desk all day should not be a part of the plan!

A Cloud PMS works on any computer or mobile device connected to the internet, allowing authorized personnel to access reservation data, reports and more from anywhere—on or off property. So when it’s time for your own travel adventure, you can relax knowing that you can securely log into your system to lend a helping hand if needed while you’re away.

5. Easy to Learn and Use

Large hostels in particular can have a high staff turnover. Many hostel owners offer longer-term guests a work trade program where the guest volunteers at the hostel in exchange for accommodation. With staff coming and going it is especially beneficial to have an easy-to-learn system in place.

Most modern cloud PMS offer an intuitive user interface complete with quick-access menus, shortcut buttons and graphical calendars that give a clear overview of reservations and availability. WebRezPro’s user interface offers a modern, consistent design that helps new staff catch on quick (according to many of our customers). For example, our interactive availability calendar offers drag-and-drop functionality that allows reservations to be easily moved and modified.

A modern, responsive, intuitive user interface design not only helps new staff learn the system fast, but is critical for maximizing daily efficiency.

A hostel-oriented cloud PMS equips hostels of any size with the tools they need to streamline daily operations, sell more beds, and improve both the guest and staff experience. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about how WebRezPro can work for your hostel.

Hotel Kilbourne

Hotel Kilbourne is ideally situated on the waterfront in Sandusky, Ohio, right in the heart of the city’s entertainment scene. A variety of luxury accommodations are available including city view king rooms, lake view king rooms and a penthouse suite. Amenities include free WiFi, luxury bedding and a public house with a rooftop patio and stunning views! Hotel Kilbourne started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System this past spring and has recently added WebRezPro’s integrated Web reservation software to their website so that they can take online bookings!

Cloud vs. On-Premise PMS (with Comparison Chart)

Among independent properties, cloud hospitality software has steadily gained favor over on-premise systems. Our recent blog post, Six Reasons Every Independent Hotel Should Operate in the Cloud, outlines why independent lodging operators are turning to Web-based property management systems (PMS) to improve efficiency and guest service, boost revenue and gain a competitive edge.

Here at WebRezPro, we receive a large number of inquiries from independent operators who are using manual paper- and/or spreadsheet-based methods or on-premise programs and are looking to modernize and improve operations. Many lodging operators who reach out to us are not yet sure which PMS deployment method — cloud or on-premise — is best for their business.

We understand and appreciate that lodging operators are experts in hospitality and not necessarily technology, so we’ve put together this blog post to highlight the main points of difference between cloud PMS and on-premise (or “local server-based” or “legacy”) systems. The right choice is the one that aligns with your business’ operational requirements and future objectives, and your comfort levels with the technology.

Before we look at the differences between on-premise and cloud PMS, let’s reflect on their similarities. Property management systems — both cloud-based and on-premise — are designed to automate a property’s operational processes, from front desk to back office, for greater efficiency. Modern PMS function as a property’s center of command for managing not only reservations, rates, rooms and guest billing, but also distribution, guest communications and service, housekeeping, accounting and reporting. In fact, the core functionality of a modern on-premise system and a cloud-based one is by and large the same.

When it comes to the big differences between the two, it boils down to deployment and technical requirements, cost and accessibility.

Deployment

On-premise: On-premise software is physically installed on every computer from which the PMS will be accessed. Data is stored on a server located at the property. This means that data and hardware maintenance and security are the responsibility of the property.

Cloud-based: Cloud-based software is deployed over the Internet. System data is securely housed off-site in the vendor’s data center and is accessed by the property online via a secure login. A reliable Internet connection is important.

Technical Requirements

On-premise: On-premise systems require significantly more on-property hardware than cloud systems, typically including a (preferably dedicated) data server, additional/back-up servers depending on the size of the property, a terminal server if the system is to be accessed from other locations, workstations (computers) with a compatible operating system, dedicated computers for any interfaces to external systems such as call accounting and POS systems, network cards and hubs, and back-up hard drives.

While vendors of on-premise PMS may offer guidance determining the suitability of existing hardware or purchasing new items, the technical requirements of an on-premise system add considerable cost to implementation and maintenance, and benefit from in-house IT expertise.

Cloud-based: Because cloud PMS are deployed over the Internet, the software and almost all technical resources (servers, back-up systems, etc.) are housed and maintained by the vendor. All the property needs to access the PMS is a computer or mobile device, a stable Internet connection and a Web browser. No in-house IT skills required!

Data Security

On-premise: With an on-premise system, data security is the property’s responsibility. In addition to installing firewalls and anti-virus programs on Internet enabled computers, keeping data safe demands measures such as securing private networks, restricting access to server rooms, manual data back-up processes, and implementing back-up servers, computers, drives and power generators.

Cloud-based: Anti-virus software is generally a good idea for any computer accessing the Internet. Aside from that (and common-sense measures like protecting system passwords and restricting access to authorized users), responsibility for system security lies with the cloud PMS vendor. Cloud software vendors have the expertise and budget to implement robust security measures and procedures (including automatic data backup, redundant Internet connections, 24/7 monitoring and diesel-powered electrical backup) that typically make cloud systems a more secure option than on-premise systems for independent properties.

Cost

On-premise: On-premise hotel management systems are a traditionally expensive investment that can cost a mid-sized hotel $10,000 to $20,000 or more for the software licence (additional licenses normally need to be purchased for each additional workstation), plus annual maintenance fees, as well as significant hardware and IT costs. An on-premise system is a capital expenditure (CapEx) that is beyond the budget of many small and mid-sized independent properties.

Cloud-based: Cloud-based systems are available under a subscription pricing model, typically based on a monthly cost of around $5 to $10 per room, and normally a one-time setup and training fee (approximately $500). The pay-per-use subscription model makes cloud PMS an operating expense (OpEx), and while the monthly cost adds up over time, the shift from CapEx to OpEx makes cloud systems a more affordable option for many independent properties. With a cloud-based PMS, there are next to no hardware expenses and software upgrades are usually free — eliminating maintenance costs and hassles.

Integration

On-premise: Modern on-premise PMS can be integrated with external systems such as call accounting software, point-of-sale (POS) systems and in-room entertainment systems but it is a complex process that requires manual technical work and additional hardware (for example, a dedicated computer between the PMS and interface system).

Cloud-based: Cloud PMS are much more easily integrated with external systems, including OTAs and channel managers, due to common Web standards and open APIs (application program interfaces), greatly reducing IT requirements while improving automation and efficiency.

Anywhere (Mobile) Access

On-premise: While it is possible for on-premise systems to be accessed remotely from an off-site computer, this ability requires additional technical setup, including installation of a Citrix or Terminal server onsite. Remote access performance can be affected by various factors, including server workload.

Cloud-based: Because cloud PMS are deployed online, the system is accessible via a secure login from any computer or mobile device connected to the Internet, anywhere in the world. Modern cloud PMS offer a level of on-the-go accessibility that cannot currently be matched by on-premise systems.

Upgrades

On-premise: On-premise systems typically face lengthy development cycles compared to cloud-based systems and require expensive upgrades to remain current. This is a complaint we hear often from lodging operators coming from obsolete versions of on-premise systems.

Cloud-based: Upgrades are frequent and usually free with cloud-based systems and can be deployed instantly. This means that lodging operators always have access to the latest version of software, including new features and innovations that keep them ahead of the competition.

 

In summary, here is a comparison chart of on-premise versus cloud PMS from a white paper we wrote on the subject:

cloud-onpremise_comparisonchart

Cloud PMS make a lot of sense for independent lodging operators who are passionate about hospitality rather than technology. Affordable, accessible, secure and current, cloud PMS eliminate technical concerns and hassles, allowing hoteliers to focus on their guests.

Cedar Lodge Motel

The Cedar Lodge Motel in Goderich, Ontario, offers 30 guest rooms equipped with modern amenities like an indoor swimming pool, a hot tub, a fitness room and wireless Internet access. This motel has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their daily operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software to take online bookings!

Customer Spotlight: Smithfield Station

We recently completed a WebRezPro case study about Smithfield Station — a landmark waterfront inn, restaurant and marina that boasts a picturesque setting on the banks of the Pagan River in historic Smithfield, Virginia.

The 44-room property has a lot going for it: Virginia’s only lighthouse accommodations, an award-winning restaurant right on the water, and boardwalk shops, among other first-rate facilities. Run by the Pack family, Smithfield Station was established in 1986, with the vision of providing visitors with an exceptional experience.

Smithfield Station’s partnership with WebRezPro began in April 2014 when Smithfield Station management decided they needed a modern, cloud-based PMS that would keep them ahead in the digital age. The Pack family sought a PMS with strengths in online reservations and distribution, and guest communications.

WebRezPro provides the property with automated management for 44 guestrooms and 15 marina slips, complete with direct online bookings, GDS/OTA channel integration, automated emails, and payment processing integration.

Here are the highlights from the case study:

>> Direct online bookings through the property’s website have climbed to 40 percent — a “huge increase” according to Randy Pack, Vice President of Smithfield Station.

>> The fully integrated direct online booking engine and GDS/OTA integration have streamlined inventory, rate and reservations management across all channels, saving time, increasing sales and eliminating booking errors.

>> WebRezPro’s comprehensive guest profiles and Custom Automated Email Module help Smithfield Station to personalize service and communicate more efficiently and effectively with guests before and after their stay.

>> Anywhere access improves staff productivity.

“Online bookings, automated guest emails, anywhere access, interfaces… It’s the whole package that makes this software so enjoyable.” — Randy Pack, Vice President at Smithfield Station.

Read the complete Smithfield Station Case Study to learn more about how this beautiful property is utilizing WebRezPro to thrive in our digital world.

And if you’re in need of a relaxing getaway, check out the Smithfield Station website (even if just to dream!).

Himalayan Institute

The Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, is a retreat center that offers a full array of yoga and health workshops! Accommodation is provided in private rooms, shared rooms and dorms and vegetarian meal plans are available. The Himalayan Institute has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their 23-room and 50-bed facility. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro to take online bookings!

Stevenson Farms B&B

Stevenson Farms B&B in Alliston, Ontario, invites visitors to enjoy over 180 years of local history in this unique estate formerly owned by T.P. Loblaw. This unique property offers six historically appointed guest rooms, a heritage banquet hall, a private movie theatre and a full-service organic day spa. Stevenson Farms B&B has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software to take online bookings!

Ascot Suites

Located in Morro Bay, California, the Ascot Suites is a 32-room hotel that offers a wide range of amenities including free WiFi, complimentary continental breakfast and some suites with Jacuzzis! This property is within easy walking distance of restaurants, shops and galleries, making it the perfect place to stay when visiting Morro Bay. The Ascot Suites has chosen to use our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management Syste, to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software to take online bookings!

Antigua Villa Santa Monica

The Antigua Villa Santa Monica is located in the charming and magical colonial city of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and offers 12 beautiful guest rooms and suites that are elegantly decorated and boast luxurious amenities. The hotel is also home to a contemporary Mexican restaurant! The Antigua Villa Santa Monica has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their day-to-day operations! See WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software in action by visiting their website!

Hoteliers Reveal Top Real-World Benefits of Hotel Management Systems

Today’s era of rapid innovation in hospitality technology can make shopping for hotel management software (HMS) a little overwhelming. Cloud technology has allowed us to take process automation and service personalization to the next level, but while the possibilities are exciting, many independent hoteliers are first and foremost simply looking at ways to speed up the check-in process. So just how do you sort through it all to find out what really matters to your day-to-day operations?

The Hotel Management Software UserView 2015, a recent survey by hotel management software research company Software Advice, aims to give potential HMS buyers insight into the practical benefits of hotel management software in real-world settings by revealing which applications of HMS are most used and appreciated by current HMS users in the U.S.

Here are the key findings from the report:

1. Unsurprisingly, the most-used HMS applications correspond with the most common daily duties.

Respondents most often use reservation management applications, including check-in and -out (23 percent), followed by point-of-sale (15 percent), guest relationship management (13 percent) and housekeeping management (12 percent).

2. The use of mobile devices to access HMS is increasing.

While the majority of HMS users (82 percent) access their HMS from a desktop or laptop, mobile access is increasing with 18 percent using a tablet or smartphone.

3. Housekeeping applications are often accessed on mobile devices.

Respondents who use a mobile device to access their HMS, cite the same most-used applications as the entire survey sample: reservation management (18 percent), POS and housekeeping management (16 percent each) and guest relationship management (13 percent).

However, it’s especially interesting to note that, compared to the overall sample, mobile HMS users report significantly more frequent use of housekeeping management (16 percent versus 12 percent). Housekeeping management is a prime example of how mobile devices can boost productivity.

4. Top benefits of HMS are faster check-in and -out and improved organization of guest data.

According to respondents, the greatest benefits of an HMS are: faster check-in and -out (20 percent), improved organization of guest information for more personalized service (19 percent), improved accuracy of reservations (18 percent) and improved accuracy of real-time room status (17 percent).

The results of this survey clearly show that hotel management systems bring significant benefits to daily hotel operations by automating processes, providing accurate, real-time information, and improving organization of guest data — all of which ultimately benefit guests as well.

In light of this research, Software Advice recommends potential HMS buyers to look for software with strengths in:

>> Intuitive reservation management and check-in/-out functionality

>> Mobile housekeeping management

>> POS integration

>> Guest management features like comprehensive guest profiles for more personalized service.

Read the complete Hotel Management Software UserView 2015 for more details.

And for a no-obligation free demo of an HMS that ticks all of the above boxes (and more), we welcome you to get in touch with us here at WebRezPro.