What should one look for in a modern PMS? Donald Gasper talks with some of the leading suppliers in this field.

“The PMS has become the true workhorse of hotels, pulling in and pushing out data from a myriad of places, and increasingly expected to do more on both enterprise and customer-facing levels,” writes Michal Christine Escobar, introducing Hospitality Technology’s 2017 Lodging Technology Study.

Almost half of hoteliers (48 per cent) planned on upgrading their property managing systems in 2017, according to the study. And 18 per cent of them believed they lagged competitors when it came to property management technologies.

What is the key to a seamless PMS experience? Integration, according to Robert Shecterle, Director of Marketing, Agilysys. In the past, PMS was primarily about managing guest transactions, but today, hotels must consider the entire guest experience, he says. A modern PMS must build and maintain a guest database of every interaction on the property – across multiple locations where they exist- and then make that information available to everyone who uses the system.

Hoteliers evaluating their existing systems to see if they meet these requirements should conduct an assessment to separate the must-have capabilities from the nice-to-have. Operators should look for a partner that can deliver long-term plans which support their vision rather than specific features or functionality.

Why is this important? Because PMS technology extends well beyond features and daily task management. To deliver a superior guest experience, the PMS must include robust integration to other onsite and third-party systems including channel management and distribution.

Integrated systems

Creating a consistent, frictionless guest experience is near impossible with disconnected systems, but a great PMS works well with multiple systems and sets of data and provides a single conduit of information that’s valuable for hotel staff, Shecterle says. “Integrated systems work seamlessly together, allowing you to create self-service options and personalised experiences for guests. As a result, staff and systems are more powerful and enable the property to deliver a remarkable guest experience.”

Next-generation PMS technology brings fragmented data together by offering a rich set of application programming interfaces (APIs) and a central data store that unifies the data across an enterprise of hospitality solutions. This is critical when adapting to changes in guest demand and providing complete guest lifecycle coverage.

Shecterle says that rich APIs make it easy for disparate systems to work well with the PMS, and allows the PMS to provide a unified view of the guest with real-time insights and guest behavioral patterns that can influence current and future guest touch points highlighting additional revenue opportunities. Insights can be segmented into categories including geography, social, spending habits and more. This rich data may be further analysed to enable management and staff to make real-time decisions that enhance the guest experience while improving the hotel’s bottom line.

Intuitive interactions

“A good PMS system can be, for lack of a better way to describe it, invisible,” says Lee Hogan, CEO of Amadeus Hospitality.

When you combine workflow and decision automation with an intuitive user experience it translates into your hotel staff naturally having more time to be proactive in service delivery. Additionally, PMS solutions can improve guest experience by absorbing intelligence from external systems and subtly delivering insights at the right time for the right guest.

A good PMS automates low-end decision making to eliminate wasted time during interactions with guests. For example, it auto-assigns the room based on preferences and other factors such as who they’re traveling with. Is this guest part of a group? Do they have two rooms reserved traveling with children and therefore might need connecting rooms? A good PMS first and foremost is able to collect the right information and then secondly it uses that information to automate decisions that apply to the guest. This results in quicker, more intuitive interactions with guests and a more informed and personable service delivery.

Michael Schubach, Strategic Deployments and Program Management Director, Infor Hospitality,  speaks of the conflicting demands facing hoteliers:

“We are working in a time when more and more hoteliers are turning to cloud solutions, so that they can simplify their on-premise IT equipment array and lighten the staffing requirement at each individual hotel site.

Conflicting demands

“At the same time, both the advantages and the necessities of interactive connectivity are driving us in the opposite direction,” he says.  “Those forces are expanding the equipment and personnel requirements as we strive to lessen them. Perhaps these conflicting demands are nothing more than the new reality of staying competitive in the digital age.

“While there may not be any single silver bullet solution to this dilemma, there are some common-sense steps that hoteliers can take to stay in the race.”

“Hoteliers need to understand the needs of their guests better!” says Harbans Singh, Managing Director of UbiQ Global Solutions. “Gone are the days where hospitality was purely dependent on service. Today, hospitality needs to include technology and service.

Singh believes that new technology solutions will be a game changer in the hospitality industry that could help hotels, resorts and even restaurants move towards being ‘smart’ and improve their guest retention and business operations.