Every major Property Management System on the market today is a mature software product, with reliable and robust functionality and new platform capabilities being added on an ongoing basis.
According to new research from Starfleet Research (click here to access), recent enhancements have tended to focus on helping hoteliers generate more insights from their data. What does the revenue forecast look like? How can we improve it? How are guests finding our property? What channels are they using to book reservations? Where are groups coming from? What are the margins on each channel? How well are we managing our labor costs? How well are we managing our reservation distribution channel inventory and pricing strategies? How can we capture more ancillary revenues?
These are important questions, and hoteliers rely on their PMS capabilities to be able to answer them.
Does the current system allow the hotelier to answer these questions quickly and accurately? Does it automate the hotel’s functions and better optimize the guest experience? Hoteliers need to ensure that any PMS under consideration satisfies requirements where the current system falls short.
Specific must-ask questions for PMS solution providers are bound to vary depending on the specific needs of the hotel, including its category, size and typology.
Does the system need to interface with self-service check-in kiosks? Does it need to handle corporate expense account management? Does it require a casino comp module and need to integrate to a player tracking system, or require gaming commission recognition? Does it require its own activity booking system or need to integrate with spa and dining reservation systems? If a hotel has a high contribution from government and NGO business, how well does the system handle tax-exempt reservations? If group is a significant portion of the hotel’s mix, are the group block allocation and contracting capabilities up to the task, and any required sales and catering integration in place?
Large, complex hotels require a system that can integrate numerous applications across multiple outlets. Hotel chains need the ability to share data from property to property for performance analysis. Hoteliers should gain a clear understanding of their own requirements and priorities and weigh them accordingly (see the Evaluation Checklist in Chapter 2 of The 2017 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems).
Following are just a few of the questions that prospective buyers may wish to explore with PMS solution providers during the research and evaluation process.
Does the solution offer flexibility in functionality, including data access and performance reporting?
The degree of visibility offered by next-generation property management systems is unprecedented. Such visibility offers a whole new level of management control. To take advantage, however, hoteliers may have certain software configuration and customization needs with respect to, for example, modules related to recreational or banquet facilities. They may want to confirm that any solution providers under consideration can meet these needs and preferences. They may also have special reporting needs. Most systems come equipped with a large number — in some cases, dozens — of standard dashboards and reports that should meet most hoteliers’ day-to-day performance management requirements.
That said, not all data queries can be anticipated in advance. For that reason, buyers would be well advised to find out to what extent customized reporting is possible and, also, what is involved in the process of filtering and sorting data according to a specified set of parameters. With 90% of hoteliers ranking the need to gain access to PMS data and business insights as “important” or “very important,” it stands to reason that they would also want to ensure that any solution under consideration is able to meet these expectations in terms of reporting.
The good news is that reporting tools on the whole are becoming increasingly flexible, sophisticated and powerful, making it easy to track and monitor any number of key performance indicators (KPIs) in a user-defined manner. At the same time, the reports are becoming increasingly comprehensive, intuitive and visually compelling. Again, hoteliers need to know to what extent a system will let them make ad hoc queries, generate reports and refresh dashboards using any number of relevant data sources, and over any time period, to get the answers they need.
How easily does the PMS integrate with third-party technologies?
Seamless technology integration is the name of the game when it comes to optimizing hotel operations and improving the guest experience. If a significant portion of business comes through a central reservations system, seamless integration is required to support reservation delivery, modification, and cancellation, as well as new and modified prices, stay controls, and inventory synchronization. Similarly, poor POS integration can result in financial losses related to errors in manual updates and mistakes in POS consolidations at the front desk.
It’s important to ensure PMS compatibility and interoperability with any third-party technologies that are already in place or that the hotel anticipates deploying in the future. Ideally, all technologies should interface to Internet Distribution Systems (IDS) through Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) standards.
The 2017 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems is currently available for complimentary download. Click here to access.