As a hotelier, a property management system (PMS) is one of your greatest assets. Good PMS software streamlines your everyday hotel workflows, increases efficiency and, ultimately, profitability. On the other hand, a second-hand PMS can make your life very difficult, from handling reservations and front desk operations to housekeeping and maintenance management.
This article breaks down the core functionalities to look for in software, the advantages they will bring to your hospitality business, and top solutions. But first: what is a hotel PMS exactly?
What is a hotel property management system?
A Property Management System (PMS) is software used in hospitality to control, organize, and execute operations and day-to-day activities of a hotel, hostel, B&B, inn, or vacation rental property.
Think of a PMS system as back-office software used by hospitality staff to perform daily operations such as managing reservations, check-ins/checkouts, guest information and guest services pre and post-stay, housekeeping, availability, pricing, channel connections, reporting and analytics, and much more. Compared to real estate, most PMS technology providers in the hotel business are cloud-based that go beyond to offer tools that streamline and automate tasks.
Hotel property management system functions
1. Control Dashboard
2. Channel Management
3. Reservation Calendar
4. Housekeeping Management
5. Revenue Management
6. Payment Processing
8. Online Booking Engine
9. Guest Management
10. Marketplace or Open API
1. Control dashboard
A friendly, helpful dashboard should greet you when you log in and open your property management system. An easy-to-read and understandable control dashboard provides an instant snapshot of the most critical information for your daily tasks. With the right insights, you’ll be able to complete tasks faster and easier. Your PMS should offer you a swift homepage that updates in real-time.
Information about room inventory, occupancy, arrivals, and departures will likely influence other decisions, such as the daily rate and yield management. This info needs to be right at your fingertips in a clean and user-friendly interface built with clarity in mind, especially for front desk staff. Hotel managers and owners want to know the most important information up front, and a dashboard is incredibly helpful.
This is a screenshot of the Cloudbeds PMS dashboards and reservation system.
2. Channel management
You also want to sell your inventory to numerous online distribution channels and sync information to be updated in real time from and to your PMS. A Channel Manager will enhance your online visibility and generate more reservations and profit. Still, it’s very important that it’s integrated with your property management software for full control and no risk of overbookings.
Whether you need to release availability or make rate changes, you can do everything in your PMS and have it updated in all booking channels in real time. New online reservations get delivered in your PMS, so you’re always in full control of your occupancy and can take immediate action if needed. Look for a channel manager with robust two-way connections not only to a few leading OTAs but also to regional or niche booking sites, GDS providers, meta searches, and more.
3. Control calendar
A calendar is a great way to visualize reservations and give yourself clarity. With an easy-to-read calendar, you are able to see room availability and unlock optimization possibilities. For example, if you view your reservations in an Excel spreadsheet, you might not see a hidden availability.
Here’s what we mean. Say a guest is booked for a standard room for three nights, and that same room is unbooked the night before. Now, you know your guests almost always book a minimum two-night trip. You also see availability in your suite for three nights. If you release the original regular room reservation, you can see not one but maybe two more reservations. Your one-night stay loss just turned into two more bookings, and you upgraded a current booking. It doesn’t always work this way, but a calendar will help you and your front office see instances where guests can be moved to optimize occupancy.
Even better than a calendar is an interactive calendar. The Cloudbeds calendar allows you to modify and move reservations directly on the panel.
4. Housekeeping management
Housekeeping functionality will help keep properties of all sizes running smoothly. Your hotel PMS should automate administrative tasks and create more efficient systems. A housekeeping report falls into this category. Your PMS provider should know which rooms need to be tidied up or completely cleaned for an arriving guest.
The Cloudbeds PMS allows you to assign employees to clean certain rooms. You can print this report and give it to your housekeepers. Then, once they’ve finished, you can update room statuses which will make check-ins a breeze.
5. Revenue management
Streamline your rate management with revenue management capabilities, especially if you don’t hire a revenue manager. Today’s revenue management technology can help you optimize your pricing plans for both profit and occupancy and take the guesswork out of hotel performance metrics such as ADR (average daily rate), RevPAR (revenue per available room) and more.
By monitoring competitors’ pricing, gathering market data in real-time, and updating pricing automatically, a revenue management solution (RMS) help you stay competitive and confident in your pricing decisions. For higher efficiency and data accuracy, choose a hotel PMS that is integrated with a revenue management system (RMS).
6. Payment processing
An integrated payment processor will help you streamline guest payments and accounting, as well as help keep more accurate reports. If a PMS does not have a payment processor that accepts most credit cards or integration to a point of sale system (POS), you will have to manually handle payments and all related tasks such as reporting, reconciliations, chargebacks, and more. And as you know, manual input greatly increases the likelihood of errors.
Reports are one of the core components of a property management system. Needless to say, we believe reports and knowledge are the best way to take your property to the next level. Your property management system should have built-in reporting functionalities.
Your PMS already houses your reservations, rates, and occupancy, so let it do the work for you. Knowing the stats should be the easy part and will facilitate an easier analysis. With a cloud PMS, you can access your reports from anywhere and take action when your business needs it the most.
8. Online booking engine
Choose a PMS software with a commission-free booking engine. Direct bookings are among the most valuable sources of revenue for most properties. You shouldn’t have to pay to get bookings you worked hard for. When a PMS comes with a booking engine, you do not have to worry about integration problems. Look for a booking engine to integrate with your website and social media, making sure it is fast-loading and user-friendly, especially on mobile devices.
9. Guest management
Choose software with a guest management module to save yourself a lot of time and gain efficiency. Essential features to look for are guest profiles functionality, which works like a CRM to store your guest data, and guest engagement.
Guest communication is a time-consuming process with a great impact on guest experience and satisfaction. In order to automate this process , provide high quality customer experiences and generate ancillary revenue from upgrades and other services, look for a solution with messaging functionality and upsell capabilities.
10. Marketplace or open API
If you need extra tools to complement your PMS technology in functionality, look for a solution with integrated 3rd party solutions. This marketplace model of more services and tools allows you to choose the tech stack that will work best for your property’s or market’s specific needs. From contactless check-in services such as kiosks and smart locks to online reputation management services and police reporting.
You can also build your own tools or mobile apps that can be synced with your hotel PMS via API. To do so, look for a provider with an open API that is well-documented and supported.
Types of property management systems
Cloud-based vs. download app
When shopping and researching property management solutions made for the hotel industry, look for cloud-based technology that is accessible from anywhere. This will help you log in to manage your business operations regardless of your location. Furthermore, compared with on-premise software, web-based technology is more straightforward when it comes to installing updates and improvements.
One platform vs. system with 3rd party integrations
To compete in the complex world of online distribution, you need access to other core systems aside from the PMS. This includes your website booking engine, channel manager, revenue management system, and payment processor. If your PMS provider builds these tools in-house and connects them seamlessly, you’ll avoid having to deal with too many vendors, support teams, pricing plans, and more.
Commission-based vs. fixed fee pricing
PMS solutions nowadays work on a commission-based model on the reservations you receive or on a fixed monthly fee that depends on the property type and modules you’ll be using.
24/7 fast support vs. ticketing system
Take a close look at the customer support offered by the PMS provider: whether there’s a ticketing system with limited availability after hours or 24/7/365 support from a team of in-house specialists. Furthermore, factor in the time and cost of implementing new software. Ask what the process looks like, how data is transferred and what kind of assistance is available during this process and after.
Top 10 PMS systems in 2023
The following property management systems offer the features mentioned above and much more:
The Cloudbeds platform is built with all the tools you need to run and grow your business so you can focus on the guest experience. The cloud-based hospitality management platform is revolutionizing the hospitality industry with a suite of unified tools that include a PMS, channel manager, booking engine, revenue management tool, payment processing with integrated terminals, guest engagement solution, done-for-you digital marketing services, and Marketplace of third-party apps. See below for details.
Clock Software offers an integrated suite of cloud-based hotel management software solutions, distribution systems, and guest engagement apps, including a PMS, POS system, mobile check-in, sales software, and a meetings & events solution.
With seven headquarters across the globe, Eviivo Suite is an integrated property management system featuring an online booking engine, channel manager, guest manager, performance manager, and numerous other features.
Frontdesk Anywhere’s cloud-based hotel management software is designed to reduce costs, streamline operations, and increase revenue. Solutions include a PMS, booking engine, channel manager, payment system, and revenue management system.
LittleHotelier’s hotel management software is built especially for small properties, offering an array of solutions that include a PMS, mobile app, booking engine, and channel manager, as well as an app store offering third-party integrations.
Headquartered in Amsterdam, Mews is a cloud-based software company offering a suite of fully integrated products, including a PMS, booking engine, RMS, and payment system, as well as a marketplace of over 600 third-party apps and integrations.
Based in Utah, ResNexus is a cloud-based property management system that offers a number of products, including a reservation system, payment processing, and web booking engine, as well as marketing services and integrations with third-party vendors.
Headquartered in San Diego, RMS Hospitality is a fully integrated, cloud-based reservation and property management system offering a hotel booking engine, channel manager, RMS, and more than 100 third-party integrations.
Toronto-based RoomRaccoon is a cloud-based hotel management system built for independent properties, featuring a PMS, online check-in, accounting automation, and an upsell solution, as well as integrations with a variety of third-party apps.
Headquartered in Singapore, Hotelogix is cloud-based PMS designed to simplify hotel operations featuring a web booking engine, channel manager, and an app that works from your mobile device.
Why choose Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform?
With so many choices, why is Cloudbeds your best option? Here are just a few good reasons:
- Cloudbeds was recognized as the best hotel property management system in the 2022 HotelTech Awards.
- A user-friendly, cloud-based PMS with built-in reservations capabilities, a drag-and-drop calendar, powerful reporting and analytics, and email automation.
- A channel manager providing access to hundreds of online travel agents (OTA) and GDS’, including Booking.com, Expedia, Airbnb, and Vrbo, with zero added commissions to increase occupancy.
- A commission-free booking engine to help you convert more website visitors and grow direct bookings by 20% on average.
- A Pricing Intelligence Engine featuring a rate manager, rate shopper, and automated alerts based on rules to maintain a dynamic pricing strategy and maximize revenue.
- An integrated hotel payment processing solution with a built-in payment gateway to make online reservations and payments quick, easy, and secure.
- A guest engagement solution to enable guest messaging with a unified inbox, automated messages, and a translation service at your fingertips.
- Cloudbeds Amplify – a done-for-you digital marketing service featuring website design, search engine marketing, listings management, and metasearch.
- An integration Marketplace featuring dozens of third-party providers offering best-in-class apps, tools, and services for your unique business needs.
Best of all, because all these features are integrated within the Cloudbeds platform, there’s no need to switch between multiple software tools or deal with multiple vendors.
A PMS software is the platform you will use day in and day out to run every aspect of your hotel, hostel, B&B, motel, or alternative accommodation. Depending on your business size, operational needs, and budget, choosing the property management system with the right suite of components is critical to running your property efficiently.
Don’t forget to check for reviews from hoteliers on Google, industry review sites, and software review sites such as Capterra, TrustPilot, SoftwareAdvice, and more. Look for technology that is integrated, user-friendly for your hotel staff, and comprehensive in functionality for every user. We believe the features listed above make property owners’ lives easier.