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.