All posts by Simon Neubauer

The modern traveler has contributed greatly to the evolution of the hotel PMS.

The Hotel PMS Evolution: From Managing Rooms To Engaging With Guests

It is easy to forget that hotels did not always have a Property Management System (PMS) to handle their bookings. Before the 1940’s, reservations were booked by mail, telegram, or telephone and were documented and recorded using the traditional pen and paper. But, in 1947 the first hotel reservation system ‘Hoteltype’ was established by Westin enabling instantaneous confirmation of reservation requests. Roughly ten years later Sheraton advanced Westin’s system with the introduction of ‘Reservation’, the industry’s first automated electronic reservation system, and the first toll-free reservation number. In the late 60’s hotels began to understand the scope and opportunities electronic distribution would provide and started developing their own system eventually known as Property Management System (PMS).

It wasn’t until the late 1980’s, early 90’s, that the birth of the traditional hotel PMS system that we all know too well, and in some cases still use, came into being. Consisting of a wide range of on-premises technology provided by a single supplier, it promised a comprehensive solution for the hospitality industry. When starting out its main role focused on automating functions that were previously manually done such as guest bookings, check-ins and reservations. Over time, in the quest to organize more guests handling, further increase top-line revenue and meet growing hotel operations, hoteliers sought to utilize the system to increase efficiency and maximize profits. However, the evolving hotel PMS, a hive of numerous hotel operations, quickly become an entangled mess with a complex application landscape – all of which coincided at a time of rapid technological advancements.

With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, no one quite foresaw just how much mobile technology would shake up the travel and hospitality industries. In a short space of time smartphone penetration and adoption grew exponentially and their usage is now more or less ubiquitous across the world. The convenience mobile technology offers means travelers now have this need for immediacy and instant gratification which has led to new guest expectations that have redefined what it takes to satisfy guests and remain competitive in earning loyalty. “Travelers are setting standards across the globe when it comes to leveraging the latest mobile services. Not only do travelers have the highest rates of smartphone adoption, they’re also doing more with their devices like booking, payments, and check-ins… their expectations for intelligent, personal experiences via mobile are high and continue to rise. Travelers are setting the bar for mobile services and will drive new innovations in the travel industry and beyond.” Clinton Anderson, Snr VP Traveller Experience, Sabre Travel Network.

Guests are going to continue to demand that the industry embrace mobile devices because guests are integrating them into their everyday lives. As a result of the complexity of the system and the new expectations of tech-savvy consumers, the once humble PMS evolved beyond merely managing information and was, and is, increasingly expected to do more and more on both enterprise and customer-facing levels.  

The introduction of cloud technology has witnessed a wave of new, and old, PMS providers develop solutions that tackle and solve the complexity of traditional systems with both the demands of today’s hotel operations and mobile-enabled guests. Cloud-based PMS solutions enable hoteliers to invest in powerful tools that not will not only help them better serve their hospitality clients and provide an enhanced, personalized the end-to-end mobile guest experience but also help them streamline operations and boost efficiency effectively.  

From its inception, the PMS has transformed into a dynamic platform that helps drive day-to-day hotel activities and shape strategic decisions. It has become a fundamental support tool to manage everyday admin tasks, in streamlining operations, increasing efficiency, enhancing the guest experience and meeting expectations, as well as providing new avenues to boost revenue and maximize profits.

Sign up for a free demo to see how our hotel PMS helps drive day-to-day hotel activities. Sign up for a free demo to see how our hotel mobile PMS increases operational efficiency.

Helpful pointers to master integration of a hotel PMS and central reservation system.

How To Master Your Hotel PMS & Central Reservation System Integration

In recent years the use of technology in hotels has increased significantly and hotels now have a variety of hardware and software systems in place. The hotel property management system, or hotel PMS, has become the backbone for many hotels’ IT infrastructure, serving as the nerve centre of a hotel’s operations, integrating with various applications. Integration with other systems, such as a Central Reservation System (CRS) or hotel booking software offers hoteliers incredible opportunities for greater operational efficiency but also the ability to forge greater relationships with guests leading to greater guest satisfaction and higher revenues.

However many hotels are running on legacy IT systems and the integration and communication between the PMS and CRS is fragmented. Some systems are not integrated at all, others not fully integrated and some that are integrated do not communicate well with one another.  When it comes to the modern CRS is all about integrations and connections – the farther your reach, the more you will sell.

So if you are currently evaluating a new booking software, or simply trying to better-master your current system, we’ve put together some points to help master your PMS and hotel booking software integration, minimize your frustration while at the same time help maximize your distribution and revenue opportunities.

Mapping:

Data mapping is a very important aspect in data integration and should be one of the first steps completed when trying to master your PMS and hotel booking software integration. Integrating data meaningfully will not only help increase productivity and efficiency but also will help avoid failed updates, lost reservations, and bad reports which can all result from miss-mapping between the two systems. To ensure that both your PMS and your CRS align, you should review the live mapping tables in both the PMS and CRS and work with your account manager to understand what should and can be mapped.

Auditing:

While mapping should ensure your interfaces are communicating properly, it’s still important to schedule in regular auditing to minimize errors and to ensure you’re receiving all your reservations. While auditing should be done at least twice a year, others recommend to do it on a weekly basis. Reviewing regularly allows you to spot and resolve issues quickly rather than waiting months to discover a problem when it’s too late resulting in potential losses in revenue and/or disgruntled customers. You should also make sure to enact all system updates promptly.

Distribution:

When it comes to distribution you should have control over exactly where and what products are being sold at your hotel. Making full use of your CRS system you should ensure clean distribution of your retail offerings across all your channels and allow for quicker and easier adjustments to your discount amounts. “…The direct booking engine should be customizable within your CRS to differentiate your hotel in its marketplace. For your call centers, you should be able to channel specific offers to them via your CRS. Additionally, you should be able to organize OTA’s by rate codes via mapping that lives in your CRS. Global Distribution System, or GDS is integral, so you should have great offerings pushing through your CRS to your GDS platforms.” SHR

If you would like to find out more information check out our webinar featuring our CEO and Founder, Jos Schaap and other industry leaders, Estella Hale (SHR VP of Product), and Ellis Connolly (Rainmaker VP) discussing the subject of mastering PMS and hotel booking software / CRS integration.

Ready to see what a new hotel PMS can do for your hotel? Request a personalized demo.

Sign up for a free demo to see how our hotel mobile PMS increases operational efficiency.

4 hotel PMS integrations myths to know before integrating new technology.

4 Hotel PMS Integration Myths

Hotel Property Management Systems (PMS) have long interfaced to external systems. Such integration has allowed hoteliers to streamline operations across their properties by assembling individual vendors to best serve specific requirements. To remain competitive in today’s hotel environment, it is essential that software applications integrate easily and seamlessly with other programs. However, with legacy technology, countless systems and multiple departments, integration of systems is not always plain sailing and can be challenging and complex. Here are some common hotel PMS integration myths.

  • Myth #1 – PMS providers don’t want to integrate: A Property Management System (PMS) is the core system of any hotel and integration is paramount as the industry moves to become more connected.

While integrating legacy systems has always been a complex and costly task and didn’t over support integration, newer cloud-based hotel software, which is progressively built on common Web standards and open APIs, is designed with system integration in mind.

  • Myth #2 – Difficult & Cumbersome: Integration has always been a fundamental characteristic of a hotel PMS and it’s essential that it plays nicely with vendors across the industry.

Traditionally, PMS software limited hoteliers’ freedom to work with several different vendors and integrations with legacy systems almost always required complicated manual work that was often quite a challenge. However, one of the biggest strengths of a cloud-based hotel management system is that it can be easily connected to other software applications, even if these applications don’t share the same provider. Using APIs different software can easily and seamlessly communicate and exchange date as needed.

  • Myth #3 – Costly: In the past PMSs were used only by larger brands as it involved huge investments in IT to develop proprietary systems for all their needs and further large sums of money needed for the specialised manpower to run the systems. But in the last decade numerous low-cost cloud-based hotel PMSs offering integrated hotel management systems from a single vendor or system aggregator, means IT no longer having to procure, install, and maintain multiple systems from different vendors as well as the various integrations in-between.

As a result, IT requirements are significantly lowered  along with a reduction in operational costs, not to mention making it vastly easier for future expansion of software and operational requirements.

  • Myth #4 – Take Too Much Time: Not so long ago if you were to look behind the IT curtain at most big brand hotels you would have seen a proprietary technology stack or at least one that was integrated under a single software provider – one that was complex and cumbersome and where integrations took forever to get done.

With newer cloud-based systems built on an open structure the PMS can easily integrate with other best-of-breed 3rd party software via APIs. So instead of buying a huge technology stack composed of complicated yet compromised hotels can now select the perfect combination of software features to match their specific needs. And because these new pieces are specifically built to be easily integrated through APIs, building the perfect software stack now happens in far less time than before.

With the constant development of new technologies and so much innovation in today’s technological cloudscape, system integration is not only helps to maximizing operational efficiency but they are creating new opportunities to enhance guest service, increase revenue at every turn and are key to staying current and competitive. Contact us to learn more about StayNTouch’s extensive integrations and partnerships.

Sign up for a free demo to see how our hotel mobile PMS increases operational efficiency.

Use hotel reservation software to simplify operations and generate more revenue.

Hotel Reservation Software: What Is It & Why Do I Need It?

Before the 1940’s, reservations were booked by mail, telegram, or telephone, and often resulted in lost or forgotten reservations. Fast forward a couple of decades and some hoteliers are still trying to managing bookings using traditional means, whether its pen and paper, email, forms or something more sophisticated like spreadsheets. However such a process creates extra paperwork and overhead for the hotel, and even the most organized front desk can face discrepancies and lost reservations. If you want to maximize your hospitality business, it’s essential to use reservation software. Moving to a hotel reservation system provides hoteliers with a host of benefits that can improve efficiency and enable you to generate more revenue. Below are a just a few reasons why you should consider investing in one:

Maximize Bookings

Technology is shaping how hotel rooms are found and booked by travellers. In an increasingly connected and automated world, consumers are searching for the best deals and the competition is extremely stiff. To sell rooms to capacity and to appeal to a global audience, an online hotel reservation system is required. Not only does it make your hotel as visible as possible but it plays a central role in the distribution of your product, pricing, live availability, enabling hoteliers to maximise bookings across all booking channels simultaneously, from the hotel’s own website, to OTA’s, GDS, etc. all in real time.

Download the ultimate mobile Hotel PMS Guide Now

Reduce Errors

The accuracy of bookings in a hotel reservation software is much higher. With a cloud-based hotel reservation system hoteliers can easily manage all inventory and channels via one interface and one platform. This helps to simplify operations by enabling hoteliers to maintain room inventory and rate parity uniformly across all channels via one platform while at the same time reducing errors and minimizing the risk of double or overbooking.

Simplify Operations

As mentioned, a major big benefit of reservation management software is to help simplify operations for your reservations team and improves your efficiency as a business. Availability is updated immediately upon receiving a reservation, not only in your own system, but across all of your channels. Any reservation that is cancelled, or changed, gets updated in real time. Similarly, hoteliers can manage several reservation tasks simultaneously and rooms are automatically allocated to guests using various parameters, such as, cleanliness, availability, occupancy, and so on. A system such as this helps staff save time on administrative tasks allowing them more time to focus on the guest.

Improve Guest Experience

With a hotel reservation system, hoteliers have the ability to collate and retain pertinent guest information and stay history. With a single view capability hotels can access and leverage rich guest data such as time of reservation, channel, guest preferences etc. Optimizing and utilizing this data provides hoteliers with greater opportunities to increase revenues by engage with customers and providing an enhanced and personalized experience.

The dynamics of the hotel business are changing every day to meet the needs of consumers and a reservation system has become a key tool for attracting and retaining hotel guests. A hotel reservation system does more than just book rooms – it organizes reservations and availability, provides a smoother booking experience, improves efficiency and enables to maximize revenue opportunities. With the introduction of newer cloud based systems there is absolutely no longer a need, (or excuse) for hoteliers to go old school. Hoteliers, big and small, now have the chance to avail of affordable, best-in-class technology allowing them to manage their assets more efficiently and generate more revenue.

Sign up for a free demo to see how your hotel can use mobile PMS technology to simplify operations and improve the guest experience.

Sign up for a free demo to see how our hotel mobile PMS increases operational efficiency.

A future-proof hotel PMS includes automation, accessibility, mobility, and usability.

How A PMS Improves Your Hotel’s Operational Efficiency

A hotel property management system (PMS) is effectively the lifeblood of most hotels. Originally it was installed so that hoteliers could manage their reservations but as guest expectations continue to change and the technology that surrounds the industry keeps evolving, there is now an obligation for the hotel PMS to do so much more. Expected to manage all aspects of the hotel business from operations including the delivery of an exceptional guest experiences, the PMS moved from being a simple transactional tool to offer services that extend well beyond the front desk. However, with the right property management system in place, hoteliers can boost operational efficiency, maximise revenue opportunities and increase guest satisfaction. Here’s how:

Automate Tasks With a Cloud Based PMS

Automation: It’s no secret that manual methods are time-consuming, require a lot of effort, (sometimes a lot of paper!), are tedious, labor intensive, are prone to human errors and do not provide management and/or staff with the tools to manage operations effectively.

However with a cloud based hotel PMS hoteliers can automate day-to-day operations in a systematic way. By easily streamline and automate their property’s daily routines they can efficiently manage reservation management, housekeeping, restaurant operation and more, with just a laptop or mobile device and Internet connection. With automation errors are eliminated, operations are executed flawlessly and staff time is freed up allowing them to concentrate on other important tasks and/or spend more time interacting and better serving the guest.

Download the ultimate mobile Hotel PMS Guide Now

Real Time Access to Business Intelligence

Accessibility: Time is an incredibly valuable currency, especially in the hospitality world and as we all know, corrective measures are more meaningful when addressed now, rather than later. However, too often, data is often reviewed in historical context, rather than as a real time management tool.

With a cloud based hotel PMS hoteliers have real time access to critical business information allowing them to make on the spot decisions; they have the ability to connect and distribute online room inventor; access rate control and flexibility, advanced rate management, yield management, rate and stay restrictions etc. from a single point dashboard therefore allowing them to easily create, control and sell the right rates and packages at the right time to the right customers.

Not only that but hoteliers can respond more quickly to requests and track and close work orders electronically – all in real time. At any given point in time, both management and staff can track and view the status of all hotel operations helping to avoid any confusion, discrepancy or miscommunications. A tool such as this has the potential to increase room attendant productivity by 20%, eliminate 80% of calls made to the front office and also has the potential to cut 50% of operational costs.

Stay Flexible with a Mobile Property Management System

Mobility: Mobile devices are part and parcel of our everyday and it is should be no surprise that they have become critical business tools in many industries. With a mobile based PMS hotels can gain great operational advantage providing them with greater performance management, productivity and guest satisfaction. Armed with a mobile device, employees are no longer tied to their workplace and have the ability to manage as easily from a distance as they do “up close and personal”; they have the flexibility to be in multiple places at the same time and efficiently run services and operations of their hotel remotely and they can complete the entire guest check-in process curbside and/or while escorting them to their room while at the same time enhancing the guest experience.

On many levels, mobile is now essential to the continued success of any hotel. It not only allows hoteliers to run a highly efficient back-end operation but they also empower employees to go above and beyond when providing a personalized guest service.

Invest in a User-Friendly PMS

Usability: The lifeblood of every business is its’ employees and employee happiness directly influences guest experience and happiness. When it comes to hotels, its’ staff are among its most valuable assets.

Older PMS’ can be incredibly cumbersome to use and extremely time consuming to learn. Employees that use complex systems with cumbersome designs hamper their productivity, cause frustration and can even diminish job satisfaction! The more intuitive and user-friendly a system is to use the more staff members at all levels will feel comfortable and empowered using the tools and technology available to them to excel at their jobs and deliver world-class guest service. It will enable them to work better and smarter and to complete tasks efficiently.

Using a cloud hotel PMS can help achieve operational efficiency; it reduces labour intensive duties, can get the job done with minimum operational overhead and as an indirect consequence increase your guest experience and improve the perception of your brand.

Sign up for a free demo to see how our hotel mobile PMS increases operational efficiency.

Sign up for a free demo to see how our hotel mobile PMS increases operational efficiency.

Using the cloud to integrate your hotel PMS and POS systems.

How The Cloud Improves Hotel POS Software Integrations

Integration of core hotel systems is key to streamlining operations with many experts and operators agreeing that a good distribution system and proper channel-management integration are some of the most important integrations into a PMS. However many hoteliers still struggle to keep up with their growth and manage costs effectively because of a hodge-podge of disconnected functional systems. The introduction of cloud has presented the hospitality industry with a revolutionary way of doing business better, more efficiently, and cost-effectively. A cloud based PMS offers hoteliers much greater flexibility: built to run on the internet, with open API capabilities, it integrates much easier, faster and more effective than their local-server alternatives.

PMS and Point-of-Sale Integration is Key

A key hotel system that should be integrated with your hotel PMS is the hotel point-of-sale(POS) outlets. Hotels can have multiple on-property points-of-sale like a restaurant(s), gift shop or spa all of which can be strong revenue earners for hoteliers but they also add another layer of complexity to daily operations.

When staying at your hotel, guests can make numerous transactions on property – whether it’s the in the restaurant, spa and/or other services and amenities – all of these charges need to be posted directly to the guest folio in PMS. Traditionally, any incidental charges had to be manually conveyed to the front desk manager, who would then make a note in the guest’s folio which were then added manually during checkout. Such a process creates extra paperwork and overhead for the hotel, and even the most organised front desk can face billing discrepancies due to miscommunication and or human error. This can lead to annoyed and agitated guests arguing charges on their bill (which is not really what you want your guests to experience right at the end of their stay!) and/or a loss of revenue where charges have accidentally been omitted from the total bill.  

Simplify Operations with a Cloud-Based POS and Hotel PMS Connection

But with a cloud based PMS integrated with the hotel point-of-sale (POS) system this process is automated.  Guests may purchase items or services from the various POS and the charges will be billed directly to their rooms. The process of keeping track of charging guests for onsite purchases and the updating the guest folio is no longer an manual issue. A hotel PMS and POS integration simplifies operations, efficiency and accuracy, for both the hotel and the guests.

Attention to detail is what matters when it comes to guest experience and billing inaccuracies can be a source of frustration for guests. By eliminating errors via automation, hoteliers can help to ensure a smooth process and a pleasant guest experience upon check-out. Integration removes complexity, allows for streamlined processes, increased operational efficiency, greater accuracy and improve guest experience. With a cloud based PMS and hotel point-of-sale integration, hoteliers can focus more on going above and beyond in guest service and increasing revenues.

A cloud PMS helps hotels deliver experiences guests crave.

How A Cloud PMS Improves The Guest Experience

In today’s mobile age, power lies more and more in the hands of the customer and the value of delivering a great guest experience has never been more prominent. According to a Customer Experience Index (CEI) survey, 86% of consumers are willing to pay more to receive a better customer experience, and only 1% of customers feel their expectations are being met consistently. Another survey by American Express revealed that 59% of Americans would try a new brand or company for a better service experience. So as Steve Cannon, Mercedes Benz USA President and CEO put it, “Customer experience is the new marketing.”

It is thought by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Walker). Product or price advantage can be easily duplicated, but a strong customer experience can’t be copied and the companies that do focus on customer experience will flourish. According to the Harvard Review, customers who had the ‘best experience’ spend 140% more compared to those who had poor experiences and are more likely to be loyal. On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase (White House Office of Consumer Affairs) and studies have shown that improving customer experience can increase annual revenues by more than $1B for large hospitality companies. Positive guest experiences and overall satisfaction not only equate to loyal guests but they are also profitable.

Transform your on-property guest experience in 8 simple steps.

As the hospitality industry grows increasingly competitive, more and more properties are looking to technology to help them manage and deliver an enhance customer experience. As property management systems (PMS) are at the heart of guest experience management, investing in a modern Cloud PMS is key to managing and elevating the guest experience – here’s how:

Self Service: The majority of travelers would like to see greater automation of hotel services with over half wanting to use their mobile device to receive bills (58%), check-in (54%), checkout (57%), pay for hotel services (51%), and open their hotel room door (50%)” 2016 Cognizant Travel Survey. A cloud-based PMS enables mobile self-service options such as check-in/out, mobile room service requests, late check-out requests, extended bookings, and so on. By implementing a cloud-based system provides mobility, greater automation and self-service options to guests that appeal to their convenience and flexibility needs increasing their overall customer satisfaction.

Personalized Service: Guests now expect personalized interactions when they travel and technology has made the delivery of such interactions easier than ever. A cloud-based PMS has the ability to consolidate pertinent guest stay information and preference data (from multiple sources) all in one place. Armed with such detailed guest profiles hoteliers can deliver real time offers and sell customized relevant ancillary products, services and/or packages to the right customers, at the right time in their journey and at their moment of decision (all based on the availability of those additional streams on a hotel-by-hotel basis!). Having the ability to recognize customers and deliver a personalized experience on a granular level will not only impress guests but create loyalty and ensure that they come back for more.

Seamless Experience: Guests aren’t concerned about how you run your business on the backend. However, they will notice if your operation is less than efficient. A cloud-based PMS has the power to make a guest’s stay seamless, as well as your employees’ lives easier. A cloud PMS can automate and streamline the entire guest experience from start to finish, from captivating hotel profiles to optimized direct booking engines to one-click check-in functionalities. With better technology tools in place your staff are not only more efficient but are free to focus on creating and delivering a seamless experience that guests not only appreciate, but have come to expect.

Customer experience has pretty much become the only true differentiator between companies, and the better the customer experience, the more your customers will do business with you. With a cloud-based PMS, hoteliers will not only improve the guest experience but will also generate increased customer loyalty, occupancy rates and revenues.

Sign up for a free demo of our mobile PMS and see how you can improve the guest experience in your hotel.

Sign up for a free demo of our mobile PMS and see how you can improve the guest experience in your hotel.

Key questions to ask hotel property management software vendors to select the right one.

6 Questions To Ask When Searching For Hotel Management Software

When searching for hotel management software there are a wide array of options available to you – and finding the right one for your hotel can be time consuming. But if you are looking in the right place and asking the right questions the task can be made easier.

Below are some questions to include on your list for potential hotel property management software vendors to make sure you’re picking the best one:

  1. System Type: Is it cloud-based or an on-premise system? The advent of cloud computing has freed hoteliers to implement solutions that are to some extent future-proofed and have much more to offer than even the best installable PMS. Old generation technology remains locked into the property and focused only on operation whereas cloud-based hotel systems offer much more; they are more reliable, more flexible, more affordable, and have the capability to scale. 
  2. Mobile: Does the PMS offer partial and/or a full mobile solution? People use technology and mobile applications every day. Guests are more and more demanding and have higher service expectations. Not only that but a modern hotelier is a hotelier on the move. You need to be able to access to your PMS anytime anywhere – not just behind a desk, for operational efficiency and to help continue deliver amazing guest service. On many levels, mobile is now essential to the continued success of any hotel and as such you should look for and consider solutions that prioritize communication and mobility. 
  3. Integrations: How easily is does the PMS integrate with third-party systems? One of the greatest challenges with technology can be integration with other systems but as new products are developed, and guests demand more technological flexibility, connecting current and emerging systems to your PMS easily is paramount.  When searching for a PMS solution you need to find one that is capable of integrations with third party software – and integrations that can be done easily and with a minimal amount of friction. 
  4. Training: What training is provided and how much will it cost? How much will it cost to train new employees and ongoing training if necessary? Training end-users is probably one of the most important aspects of a successful roll out in an organization. Without the right training tools and procedures in place, hoteliers not only risk underutilizing their latest investment to its truest potential but risk hurting the guest relationship with poor employee knowledge and communication.
  5. Reputation: What is the reputation of the PMS provider, both product and service? Are there properties similar to yours that currently use the PMS in question? You should ask for references and testimonials from current users of the product and also ask to see working examples of the proposed solution. The vendor should be able to share solid examples of their product and how they work with other customers. 
  6. Future Proof: Will this system work for the long term? With continuous innovations in technology and consumer expectations it is important for hoteliers to embrace new technologies to stay competitive today and into the future. It also important to choose the right property management system for your unique hotel needs and budget. You should look for a partner who shares their same desire and vision for success; a solution that is built to scale as you grow, so costs are always in coordination with the size of your enterprise and a solution that is dynamic and capable of adapting to consumer expectations and business needs.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these are key questions that should be include on your list when you are searching for a property management solutions provider.

Sign up for a free demo to see how our hotel PMS software increases guest satisfaction and hotel efficiencies.