Hoteliers at different properties often have different requirements and priorities when it comes to technology buying considerations, according to The 2016 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems.
The latest edition of this popular resource is now available for complimentary access.
According to the research, there are also a number of expectations of next-generation hospitality technologies that hoteliers are bound to have in common. These center on the desire to improve operational efficiencies across all parts of the organization.
The most important buying consideration may be the degree to which core hotel and resort functions can be fully automated. At a minimum, hoteliers should expect a next-generation PMS to automate such tasks as housekeeping assignment and statusing, control group room block allocations, and room and tax posting.
Some buyers may expect the PMS to support certain revenue management capabilities — automatically applying rate and inventory controls based on "day type" indicators of anticipated demand, for example, or as different levels of occupancy on the books are reached.
Increasingly, hoteliers may expect the system to include features related to guest relationship management and sales and marketing, including social media integration and loyalty and rewards systems.
Because every property has a unique personality, hoteliers may expect the PMS to allow for a significant degree of customization, including the ability to modify screen layouts or the way that printed folios and registration cards appear.
What is clear is that the scope of the platform capabilities has expanded far beyond core functions like guest registration, room inventory maintenance and housekeeping assignment to encompass virtually all aspects of hotel operations.
PMS capabilities have also become increasingly sophisticated and flexible as well as more easy to seamlessly integrate with third-party technologies, including web booking engines and point-of-sale (POS) and revenue management systems.
Following are a just a few common features of next-generation solutions to keep in mind:
Housekeeping management features
Next-generation PMS capabilities can improve the housekeeping aspect of the guest experience, ensuring rooms are cleaned effectively, in a timely manner, and even based on the wants and needs (e.g., hypoallergenic pillows only) — and value — of individual guests. After all, different guests and different rooms have different housekeeping requirements.
Some next-generation PMS capabilities can assign the services based on available staff and amount of work to calculate the most effective way to assign staff. Instead of an attendant relying on a paper chart, typically printed early in the morning, the PMS or integrated third-party system automatically balances room attendant assignments based on stayovers vs. check-outs, room type considerations, number of registered guests, expected arrival time of guests with pre-assigned rooms due to their VIP status or online advance check-in of arriving guests and multiple other factors, even taking room-to-room travel time into account.
Mobile PMS capabilities
Employee-facing mobile capabilities, including check-in and check-out, enable staff to better service guests on the go and can improve the overall guest experience. The ability to gain access to key features enabled by a PMS from tablets and other mobile devices ranks as an important buying consideration.
In fact, 86% of hoteliers agree that employees at all levels and across all parts of the organization require mobile access to be most effective in their jobs. This includes managers who need to be able to remotely monitor operational performance and track productivity.
Next-generation systems include basic built-in POS capabilities for processing guest charges such as sundry items, postage stamps, and transportation and attraction tickets. They are also increasingly relied on to post flat, recurring charges for things such as wi-fi service, parking, meal plans, and fitness club fees for both in-house guests and local house accounts.
Many systems also integrate with next-generation POS systems, which in and of themselves can have a profound impact on guest satisfaction and hotel profitability. The technologies encompass both software and hardware — most notably, the introduction of tablets, which, in food and service settings, can put full POS terminal functionality in the palms of servers’ hands, enabling tableside ordering and payment processing.
The need to accept new payment methods, including chip credit cards and e-wallet apps, as well as data security compliance, are other reasons many operators are upgrading their capabilities.
Performance reporting capabilities
Today, having visibility into all of the key drivers of hotel performance is not just an operational necessity but a strategic imperative. Every hotelier is sitting on a mountain of data related to guests, rooms, facilities, employees and various operational and financial aspects of the business.
Systematically mining and analyzing the data can generate a continuous flow of actionable insights. These insights can lead the way to more informed business decisions, resulting in reduced costs and increased revenue and profitability. Generating these insights, however, requires the right data mining, analysis and reporting tools. Increasingly, these tools are being integrated as a core component of next-generation PMS capabilities.
This 45-page Smart Decision Guide was independently produced by Starfleet Research, the leading provider of best practices IT market research for the hospitality industry, providing for unbiased, fact-based information. The underwriters include the following industry leaders: Agilysys, Infor, MaestroPMS, Oracle Hospitality and Sabre.
The 2016 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems is now available for complimentary download. It can be accessed here.
About Smart Decision Guides
Smart Decision Guides™ produced and distributed by Starfleet Research serve as definitive resources and required reading for decision makers who need to make technology-related purchase decisions – and maximize the value of their investments. The content is independently produced, without editorial involvement from company underwriters, providing for unbiased, fact-based information and recommendations. Starfleet Research is the IT market research arm of Starfleet Media, the leading provider of content marketing programs for B2B companies in selected niche markets, including hospitality, retail and healthcare IT. To learn more, please visit starfleetresearch.com.