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.

Congrats to 6 WebRezPro Clients Voted Best in 2019 by Condé Nast Traveler Readers

The results of the 2019 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards were announced this month, and we are proud to congratulate six WebRezPro clients that were voted among the best hotels and resorts in the world!

This year a record 600,000 Condé Nast Traveler readers cast their votes in the 32nd annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey of nearly 10,000 hotels and resorts, as well as destinations, airlines, airports, cruises and tour operators.

A big congratulations to our clients who were selected among the top! Well deserving of their places on the prestigious list, each of the outstanding properties below is recognized and celebrated for their unwavering commitment to the guest experience.

Kamalame Cay – #32, Best Resorts in the World; #1, Top 25 Resorts in the Atlantic Islands

Kamalame Cay is a private island resort offering an idyllic setting of tropical jungle and endless stretches of sandy beaches just off the Andros Great Barrier Reef in the Bahamas. After enjoying a range of ocean adventures, fine dining, the overwater spa or barefoot strolls along the beach, guests can relax in their private oceanfront villa, perfect for families and friends.

The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island – #7, Top 20 Resorts in the South

The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island helps nature lovers discover the pristine wilderness of a secret island paradise among the state of Georgia’s famed Golden Isles. Accessible only by boat, this sustainable resort accommodates no more than 32 overnight guests at a time in charming guest rooms and cottages, and serves up fresh local seafood and organic produce grown onsite, not to mention plenty of outdoor activities, from beach combing to boating.

Nisbet Plantation Beach Club – #41, Top 50 Resorts in the Caribbean Islands

Imagine a beautifully restored 1778 plantation house on 30 lush acres of lawns, coconut palms and gardens, accompanied by cheerful stucco cottages tucked amongst the foliage. That’s Nisbet Plantation, a welcoming resort on Nevis—the island that time forgot. Here, guests can enjoy an authentic Caribbean island vacation experience, complete with gourmet dining, fun outdoor activities, beachfront hammocks, and endless sandy beaches.

Secret Bay – #42, Top 50 Resorts in the Caribbean Islands

Located on the island of Dominica, Secret Bay is an eco-luxury resort comprised of six secluded villas perched on a clifftop, surrounded by rainforest, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Dedicated to preserving the nature that surrounds it and supporting the local community, this special hideaway provides an unforgettable guest experience with five-star service, luxurious accommodation and a range of activities from yoga to snorkeling. 

The Cove – #15, Top 25 Resorts in the Atlantic Islands

Set on the unspoiled shores of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, you’ll find The Cove, an irresistible boutique island resort. Surrounded by palm trees, The Cove’s gorgeous seaside cottages, villas and guesthouse rooms put guests within steps of white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, gourmet dining, relaxing spa treatments and a spectacular hilltop infinity pool.

Turtle Island Fiji – #7, Top 20 Resorts in Australia and the South Pacific

Turtle Island, a private 500-acre island eco-resort set among the Yasawa Islands in Fiji, beckons visitors to experience its sandy beaches, lush rainforest, beautiful villas, local cuisine, the famed Blue Lagoon—and the joy and culture of Fiji. Guests are welcomed to learn about the island’s turtle conservation efforts, local village life, and how to live a life of balance.

We are proud to provide these extraordinary properties with the tools to help streamline daily operations and deliver unforgettable guest experiences.

WebRezPro is committed to helping all clients exceed their guests’ expectations with a flexible property management system that can support the most unique operations. Complete with guest profiles, reservation reminders, group booking folios, automated guest emails, package rates, booking options, activity bookings (optional), a choice of two beautiful online booking engines, integrated accounting and reporting, mobile accessibility and 100+ integrations, WebRezPro is an ideal solution for special properties. 

Going Desk-less: The New Hotel “Front Desk”

Traditionally an indispensable point of contact between a hotel and in-house guests, the front desk has always been the place where guests check in, make requests, stop to chat, and check out. But not anymore. From mobile concierges to chatbots, today’s hospitality technology makes it possible for hotels to dispense with their physical front desk.

In fact, the mobile self-check-in process, combined with keyless entry (via keypad or mobile key systems), allows guests to bypass the front desk entirely upon arrival. Self-check-in kiosks too, allow guests to check themselves in without interacting with staff.

While plenty of research shows that hotel guests want mobile and self-service technology that improves efficiency (no-one wants to wait in line), studies also show that guests desire authentic travel experiences—of which human connections are essential.

It’s important for lodging operators to stay current and use technology to improve operations and customer service, but when it comes to hospitality, technology should augment human interaction, not replace it.

Japan’s first robot hotel, Henn-na Hotel, illustrates this point beautifully. The high-tech property recently ditched half its robots because of frequent malfunctions and technical shortcomings resulting in frustrated guests. The hotel found that their robots just didn’t work as well as humans.

A hotel’s front desk customarily provides the first opportunity for the property to make a personal impression, but it can also be confining. Tied to a physical front desk, customer service suffers, especially during busy periods as the queue grows, the phone won’t stop ringing and smiles begin to wane under pressure. On the other hand, eliminating this key touchpoint with self-service solutions causes hotels to miss out on a valuable opportunity to make a personal connection with guests—the kind of connection that builds loyalty.

As always, success lies in finding the balance. Hotels can break free from the constraints of the physical front desk without losing their human touch. Here’s how:

A Welcoming Space

Think of how you might welcome a friend at your home, one you haven’t seen in a while. It would probably go something like this: you greet them warmly at the door, take their bags for them, invite them to sit down and offer them a drink. Contrast that welcoming scenario with this one: you stay seated at your table waiting for your guest to approach you, and then you spell out the house rules and tell them where their room is.

If you think about it, the latter scenario is similar to the way many hotels welcome their guests, but which scenario is more hospitable?

Hotels can greet guests in a more personable way by reducing or eliminating the focus on the front desk. A front desk is a physical barrier between hotel staff and guests, and reinforces the transactional element of the stay. Transforming a desk-based lobby into an inviting lounge area creates a more welcoming space and experience.

From comfortable sofas to indoor plants to complimentary tea and coffee, think about how your lobby can be made both welcoming and functional. Done right, your lobby has the potential to become a space your guests can enjoy, not just pass through. Read our tips for making the most of your lobby for inspiration.

If you’re not ready to eliminate your front desk entirely, consider downsizing your desk and moving it out of the central space. That way, staff can work on administrative tasks during downtime, ready to approach and assist guests as needed.

Mobile Technology

Shifting focus away from the physical front desk is of course dependent on the property’s front office software, particularly in regard to check-in/out and request resolution processes. For a successful desk-less “front desk,” mobile-friendly solutions are key.

Modern property management systems (PMS) are optimized for mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, allowing staff to access and update reservation and hotel data from anywhere.

With a tablet or other mobile device in hand, roving hotel personnel can greet guests in the lobby, invite them to put their bags down and take a seat, offer them a cup of tea or coffee, and then continue to check them in, tell them a bit about the property and make any local recommendations. Or show them personally to their room and continue registration there, making sure everything is to their satisfaction. Such a check-in process results in a more natural, fluid welcome than one conducted across a desk, and is much more befitting of a hospitality business.

WebRezPro PMS includes electronic signature capture for a paperless check-in process, allowing guests to sign check-in receipts or registration cards electronically using a tablet or smartphone. Receipts can then be emailed to guests for their records.

Wireless EMV card readers for guest payments, keypad locking systems or mobile keys, and mobile ID scanning apps go hand in hand with mobile-friendly PMS solutions for a completely streamlined desk-less check-in experience.

When it comes to guest requests, they can be logged and resolved on the go, without having to return to the front desk. Armed with modern mobile solutions, hotel personnel can essentially take the front desk with them wherever they go for improved efficiency and customer service.

Attentive Personnel

Getting rid of your front desk is a bold but exciting move that results in a more personable and memorable stay experience. But it only works with a welcoming, comfortable space, the right technology—and attentive personnel.

Removing the front desk will catch some guests off guard, especially those from older generations, so it’s critical that staff are always available to greet guests as soon as they arrive. No guest should arrive confused, wondering where to go. Even the most meticulous staffing schedule can fall short during periods of high occupancy, but guests can still be invited to take a seat and help themselves to a drink while they wait—a much more appealing scenario than standing in a queue.

Roving personnel should be available to greet guests and check them in, answer questions, respond to requests and make local recommendations. Even properties with a self-check-in option should have staff at the ready to welcome all guests with a smile upon arrival and provide assistance as needed.

While technology is essential for streamlining hotel operations and enhancing the guest experience, it can never replace human hospitality (as Japan’s Henn-na Hotel has shown). Hospitality will always be about people and hotels will always need their human frontline—they just don’t need the desk.

Wydown Hotel

Take in the Napa Valley mountainscape and charming downtown Saint Helena, California while staying at the Wydown Hotel. All rooms feature luxury amenities like Nespresso coffee makers, plush robes and slippers, Geneva sound systems and free WiFi. Guests are treated to a freshly made continental breakfast every morning. This boutique hotel is one of our newest WebRezPro Property Management System clients. They’re using our cloud PMS to streamline operations and accept bookings directly from their website. Click thru to see more about this stunning property.

The Island Inn at 123 West

The Island Inn at 123 West, Friday Harbor is close to Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria, yet has a laid back atmosphere allowing guests to escape from the busyness of life. This contemporary inn is situated on Washington’s San Juan Island and offers a range of accommodation options including penthouses with full kitchens! The Island Inn at 123 West has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System! Click through to see how they’re using our software to accept online bookings directly from their website!

Getting to Know WebRezPro: Owner Payout Module for Vacation Rental Management

The vacation rental market is flourishing with demand for holiday rentals (from condos to cabins) on the rise. Services like Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway have helped make “alternative” accommodations increasingly mainstream, and today’s travelers are gravitating toward genuine local stay experiences.

This all bodes well for vacation rental operators, but in order to maximize returns, property managers need good systems in place to optimize operational efficiency and bookings.

Managing vacation rentals is rewarding but comes with a multifaceted workload – there’s marketing and distribution, managing bookings, cleaning, maintenance, communication with owners and guests, and staying on top of accounting. Property rental operators need a system that can track both front- and back-office operations in real time for complete control (and maximum productivity) of business.

As a fully integrated cloud property management system (PMS), WebRezPro automates the daily workflow, from inventory, rate and reservation management, to scheduling and tracking housekeeping and maintenance, to accounting and reporting, and even routine guest communications.

Specifically designed for vacation rental operators, WebRezPro’s Owner Payout Module minimizes accounting headaches for businesses that manage rental units for third parties, including fractionally owned properties.

Owner Payout Module

When dealing with multiple and fractional ownership, calculating who’s owed what can be time-consuming and prone to error without an automated system. WebRezPro’s Owner Payout Module makes accounting simple, tracking owner revenue automatically and saving vacation rental managers a lot of time in the office.

This is how it works:

>> An Owner Profile is created for each owner, with ownership defined per unit, as a percentage of a unit or a proportion of the year.

>> Unit owners can be granted limited access to your WebRezPro system via Owner Logins. Set up in owner profiles, an owner can be given a unique ID number and access code, which they can use to log in to the system to check availability of their own unit/s, book themselves into their unit at no charge, and view their statements. Unit owners love this convenient feature that offers them transparency on their property’s performance, while management benefits from the time saved on manual communications.

>> Recurring Owner Charges (for example, management and cleaning fees) and one-off or variable charges (for example, maintenance and utilities) can be set up in the system and calculated in a variety of ways—as a flat fee, a percentage of revenue, variable fees, etc.

>> When it’s time to pay owners, WebRezPro generates individual Payout Statements for each owner, for the defined payout period. Owner payouts can also be set to be calculated as a flat fee, a percentage of unit revenue, variable fees, etc. The system automatically calculates the amount owed to each owner based on unit revenue, after deducting owner charges (fees and taxes). WebRezPro can even write the cheque!

With flexible standard features—including rate and package management, direct online bookings with unit slideshows, and paperless check-in—along with customized functionality such as direct integration with online distribution channels, and the Owner Payout Module, WebRezPro PMS provides vacation rental managers with a flexible, automated, all-in-one property management system that streamlines operations and boosts revenue.

Orchid Bay Resort

Located in Northern Belize, Orchid Bay Resort is perched at the edge of a marine biosphere and boasts lush tropical gardens with over 200 varieties of wild orchids and diverse species of birds. Accommodation is provided in spacious thatched-roof cabanas and well-appointed condos and vacation rentals. This resort has chosen to use our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how WebRezPro enables the resort to accept online bookings!

Customer Spotlight: Linden Row Inn

We recently had the pleasure of completing a case study about one of our long-time clients—Linden Row Inn—and their experience with WebRezPro. Located in the heart of downtown Richmond, Virginia, the beautiful, historic boutique hotel features 70 classically decorated guestrooms and suites housed in seven mid-19th-century brick row houses. This romantic inn also offers onsite dining and a spacious boardroom and garden courtyard often used for weddings, corporate meetings and other events. Edgar Allen Poe used to play in the gardens here as a child.

Linden Row Inn is one of Richmond’s most sought-after places to stay, but unfortunately their old, server-based, on-property PMS couldn’t keep up. It didn’t offer the functionality the property needed to manage group bookings, or integrate with their OTA partners and credit card processor. The outdated user interface wasn’t easy to use either.

Vishal Savani, Managing Partner at Linden Row Inn, and his team decided it was time to upgrade to a cloud-based PMS. In addition to improved functionality and user friendliness, Savani and his team wanted a solution that would allow them to securely access their data from anywhere as the team works from different locations.

WebRezPro has now been providing Linden Row Inn with a complete, cloud-based PMS for 10 years! And our partnership is still going strong.

“WebRezPro provides a solution that has a broad set of features, excellent tech support, reliability, cost efficiency, scalability as the business evolves and grows, and connectivity to major OTAs, channel managers and other tech solutions integral to today’s independent hotel.” – Vishal Savani, Managing Partner, Linden Row Inn.

Here are some highlights from the case study:

>> Convenient group booking folios allow staff to easily set up and track group blocks and make managing group reservations easy

>> Direct integration with online distribution channels eliminates overbooking and saves the property time and money

>> A credit card processing interface streamlines payment and reconciliation processes

>> Reliable and secure access to data from anywhere increases productivity

>> The intuitive interface is easy to use

 

“We love the fact that the WebRezPro team is always quick to troubleshoot an issue, help us find a solution to something we are seeking to accomplish, and explore new features to meet our needs. The company’s culture far surpasses that of any other tech providers we use.” – Vishal Savani, Managing Partner, Linden Row Inn.

Read the complete case study to learn more about how Linden Row Inn is using WebRezPro to streamline operations.

WebRezPro Clients Named in TripAdvisor’s 2019 Travellers’ Choice Awards

It’s that time of year again. TripAdvisor has just released its annual Travellers’ Choice awards, acknowledging excellence in the hospitality industry. These awards, which are now in their 17th year, celebrate lodging operators around the world, who are delivering an exceptional guest experience in various niches of travel accommodation. Top properties are named in Luxury, Bargain, Small, Best Service, B&Bs and Inns, Romance, Family, All-Inclusive and Top Overall categories in regions that span the globe. We are excited to see that many WebRezPro clients are among the 7,812 Travellers’ Choice recipients this year. We’d like to offer a big congratulations to the following lodging operators:

Well done! These awards, which are determined by millions of reviews posted to TripAdvisor throughout the year, reflect an unparalleled commitment to quality, service and value. Inclusion in this list comes directly from guest feedback, making it a truly meaningful win. We hope you have another successful year and continue to impress your guests from all over the world. Keep up the good work!

You can see the full list of winners here.