TechnologyIntegrated Platform: The Future Role of the Hotel PMS

Integrated Platform: The Future Role of the Hotel PMS

As the need for digital adoption in hospitality increases and lodging companies reassess the most efficient ways to build their technology stack, there is a heightened discussion around the future role of the property management system (PMS). Calling the role of the PMS into question is not without merit. The software was initially built to replace paper check-in cards, assign rooms, and manage inventory. But it quickly became the central hub for all other software solutions (e.g. CRS, CRM, RMS, etc.)—a role early systems weren’t built to support.

As software solutions in general move to cloud-based software-as-a-service models, integrations among various tech solutions becomes easier, and data now flows regularly between systems outside of the PMS. Transactional data can be accessed from the CRS and guest data can be stored in a data lake or CRM. Naturally, then, some would argue that the PMS could be relegated to simply a check-in application that sits on top of a broader data platform, serving as no more of a central “hub” than any other solution in the tech stack. Part of the problem is embedded into the name itself, which implies a platform that manages everything on-property, such as check-in and check-out, taking reservations, room assignments, billing, housekeeping, etc. However, many of these tasks are now easily and efficiently handled by the guest digitally and often on a mobile device. The role of the PMS certainly must evolve, and perhaps the term “PMS” should disappear along with the rest of the alphabet soup that makes up the hotel tech stack. But whether it’s called an application, a hub, or an enterprise platform, there are many roles that the modern-day PMS will continue to serve well into the future.

A Critical Component

While there may be overlap between some of the functions that a PMS provides out of the box and features offered by third-party applications, the core of the PMS remains. Many across the industry continue to refer to the PMS as the heart of the hotel tech stack. Most property management systems consist of a few key modules, including room allocation, check-in, check-out, and housekeeping and room maintenance features. Some systems also have guest profile modules that track traveler details, past and present reservations, as well as on-property spending.

In the past, hoteliers had to work with a number of different tools, platforms, and vendors to achieve these goals. But more and more, today’s hoteliers are choosing a platform approach, partnering with a single technology provider, which saves an incredible amount of developer resources and labor hours by seamlessly integrating all the tools needed into a single platform.

From PMS to Enterprise Platform

The hub-and-spoke model of PMS is not the future of hotel technology. Hoteliers and guests want simplicity. The future of hotel tech will be centralized, fully integrated platforms that can handle the core functions of every hospitality business—operations, reservations, distribution, revenue, marketing, guest communications, and payments—without requiring numerous vendors, multiple dashboards, or costly integrations.

With a single-sign-on system, operators can more easily implement strategies to impact the bottom line, learn more from additional touchpoints with travelers, and create actionable data that will drive revue as well as guest satisfaction. Most importantly, operators can turn their focus away from managing technology and back to putting the guest first.

Expanding Functionality

Increasingly, PMS providers are moving outside of core functionalities and expanding the ways in which they impact both the hotel business and the guest experience. Below are four ways PMS providers are extending the solutions they offer:

Contactless Technology: In response to the COVID pandemic, many PMS providers have introduced online check-in features and other contactless solutions like two-way text messaging, digital payment portals, and mobile keys.

Payment Applications: There is an increased focus on offering solutions that help hotels process all types of payments more simply and efficiently. A PMS can offer payment solutions that allow the guest to pay by their preferred method (contactless card, mobile wallet, etc.) and instantly sync payments to the guest profile, eliminating the need for manual entry and reducing hours spent on reconciliations.

Distribution and Guest: Experience Integrations Critical to a PMS is the ability to seamlessly and cost effectively integrate with other best-in-class solutions that help drive revenue and improve guest experience. A hotel’s PMS must have robust integrations to everything from accounting applications and point-of-sale systems to mobile door locks and guest communication tools.

Automation Becomes a Priority: Operations are increasingly looking at any manual and repeatable tasks on property and finding tools to automate those processes. Using a fully integrated technology solution can help save hours of work per week. Look for solutions that drive revenue and increase guest satisfaction while streamlining operations, whether by reconciling credit card payments, managing rates in multiple OTA extranet, or automating competitor rate checks.

Richard Castle
Richard Castle is co-founder, president, and chief operating officer of Cloudbeds, an independent hospitality software developer. Castle wrote the first line of code for the Cloudbeds booking engine after a frustrating travel experience in Brazil.

More AAHOACON 2021 Coverage