The roots of the Property Management System (PMS) stretch all the way back to 1947, when Westin introduced the very first reservation system, Hoteltype.
NB: This is an article from Dailypoint
In 1958, this was followed by Sheraton’s Reservation: the first automated booking system, inspired by developments in the airline industry. Jump forward a couple of decades to the late 1970s and the computerized Property Management System (PMS) made its long-awaited debut.
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For many (but by no means all) hotels, relying on pen and paper or basic spreadsheet software to manage bookings soon became a thing of the past.
Before long, hotels were regarding the PMS as the ‘holy grail’ of the IT stack. The new systems, which were naturally offline and on-premise only at this stage, revolutionized how hotels managed their room inventory and other internal processes, as well as how their staff used technology in their daily roles. The PMS was fabulous! The center of the hotel’s universe! And, at this time, it began to be widely used to manage guest profiles as well as properties.
As time and technology advanced, a raft of new solutions joined the hotel tech mix, from the CRM to the CRS, the RMS to the IBE – and many, many more. And every new IT system that was introduced to the marketplace and snapped up by tech-hungry (but not always tech-savvy) hotels, was connected to the PMS: the beating heart of the ‘modern’ IT stack.
All too often, this scenario ended up creating a big mess consisting of disconnected offline, cloud-based, and hybrid applications. Versions of guest data existed in multiple isolated silos, with no way of centralizing and standardizing profiles, never mind keeping data accurate and up to date in real-time, and compliant with increasingly tight privacy regulations.
Dr. Michael Toedt, CEO and Founder of central data management specialists, dailypoint, comments: “As more and more systems were connected to it over time, the PMS was left sitting in the middle of what is often described as a ‘spaghetti-like’ or even a ‘Frankenstein’ IT stack. Tracking guest data such as names, addresses, and contact details had become commonplace from the 1980s – a decade after the PMS first appeared – with CRM systems becoming more popular. But the PMS software available at that time simply couldn’t cope.”
“These problems only got worse. By the 2000s, with the rapid increase in online bookings and the integration of channel managers, the PMS had lost its already limited ability to manage guest profiles effectively. Even as cloud-based tech started to replace the old on-premise platforms, the PMS lacked the ability to properly integrate external systems to the IT stack.”
Combined with poor or nonexistent data collection and management processes, it is not surprising that hotels lost control of their guest data – and the Online Travel Agents (OTAs), which came on the scene in the mid-1990s, were only too eager to take advantage. As hotels watched their grip on guest data quality slide away, Expedia, Opodo, booking.com, and the other OTAs were getting better and better at leveraging guest data to their advantage.
Despite this, the 2019 Lodging Technology Study found that, at a time when competition from the OTAs was at its pre-Covid heights as shown below, PMS software was still receiving the highest budget allocation by far amongst the 17,980 hotels surveyed!