Once the province of the big hotel chains, property management systems (PMS) have recently become more affordable. They are now helping a new generation of small and independent hotels remain relevant and compete in an increasingly crowded market.
NB: This is an article from StayNTouch
Transitioning from a manual or legacy system to a technology-driven PMS solution affords smaller hotels the opportunity to enjoy several game-changing benefits. The ideal PMS will catalyze your entire hotel operations – from marketing and sales, to reservations and guest relations – by reducing costs, minimizing costly manual errors, enhancing engagement, and driving your bottom line.
How smaller hotel chains can benefit from using a hotel PMS is a topic we are frequently asked about. In fact, there are several benefits, both immediate and long-term, for smaller hotel chains:
Increase Profit Margins
A PMS solution can streamline your operations, save staff time, reduce costs, and generate new sources of revenue. Without a centralized PMS solution, it is a challenge to increase revenue per customer once your guest checks in. Effective cross-selling and up-selling is considerably more effective when you have a PMS in place, because hotels have access to customer data at their finger tips – likes and dislikes, pet peeves, and reason for their visit – enabling them to customize messages, recommendations, and promotions in real time based on guest profiles. A PMS solution makes it easy to offer incentives and value-added benefits like late check-out, free breakfast, or all-in-one spa packages. Smaller hotels will benefit from upselling opportunities based on the client’s specific wants and needs, which will translate to an enhanced guest experience and bigger profit margins.
Simplify your front desk area
PMS solutions equip small hotels with the tools they need to streamline and simplify their front desk area; some fashionable boutique hotels are eliminating the front desk altogether and allowing guests to check-in remotely or at a kiosk in the lobby.
Let’s assume you’re not ready to ditch the reception area – maybe it is in the future, a year-two strategy. In that case, a PMS solution that gives your front-desk receptionist all the customer information in one place will help streamline the reception desk and expedite the check-in and check-out process. Smaller hotels that have handled reservations and registrations the old-fashioned way – an old notebook or spreadsheet – now have access to tools that will make their front desk staff hyper-organized and efficient. A comprehensive PMS system can be accessed by staff anytime, anywhere – even off site – enabling them to track reservations on their mobile device and freeing them from the front desk. Most PMS systems feature a calendar interface, so your staff can easily view all of their reservations and occupancies for a given month at a glance.
A PMS gives smaller hotel chains greater flexibility, enabling them to add additional products and services to a booking, close out particular rooms, move current bookings around, update rate-plans, issue invoices, and facilitate guest check-in and check-out. Its ability to memorize guest likes and dislikes, once a history is established, means small hotels will never forget a returning guest again. Once a guest profile is set up, small hotels will have the means to provide truly personalized service instead of the one-size-fits-all approach that some hotels still employ today.
Position Your Hotel Chain For the Millennial Market
There are some two-billion millennials worldwide, a market that small and large hotels alike must compete for. The good news is that they are not a “bigger is better” generation; being small is not a problem for the ecologically minded millennials, and in fact it could be an advantage. That said, if your hotel happens to be small and low-tech, that is probably not the best way to position your hotel for this market. Most millennials, not to mention the even younger members of generation z, will try to avoid low-tech hotels like the plague. With hotel PMS solutions like StayNTouch, smaller hotel chains can easily leverage technology, not just to please millennials but to become more efficient and productive enterprises.
Manages Sales Channels
PMS systems allow smaller hotel chains to manage their booking engines and view a summary of how their various channels are performing. The need for manual updates, and the mistakes that go with that, are eliminated. So is unintentional overbooking. Small hotels without an organized way of tracking their rooms can unknowingly overbook their rooms, which means an irate customer must be “walked” by the hotel to a comparable hotel and made whole again. The only time a hotel, regardless of its size, should overbook a room is when it’s done intentionally as part of a strategy to maximize revenue. A PMS system can help you avoid the overbooking scenario, because it updates the number of available rooms and rate changes in real time across all OTAs and booking engines.
Also, if the global market is important for your small hotel, a PMS system can help connect your hotel with customers in different countries through international OTAs.
Real-Time Performance Metrics
Smaller hotels that are focused on delivering a quality guest experience tend not to have the time or resources to collect, analyze, interpret, and leverage data. However, with a PMS solution, data becomes their friend. Hotel managers can track important metrics, like revenue and occupancy, enabling them to easily make price and inventory adjustments in real time. With the right PMS solution, hotel managers working at small or independent hotels don’t need to be data scientists. In fact, we recommend keeping it simple: streamline your data by focusing on just a few key performance indicators, or KPIs – Average Daily Rate (ADR), Revenue per available room (RevPAR), and a couple others – that will drive success for your hotel. The important thing is to ensure that you track and receive updates on your most important KPIs on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Without this level of advanced reporting, deciding where to invest your budget is more arbitrary; a data-driven PMS solution removes the guesswork so you know exactly when to add staff or to launch a special promotion. Small hotels with real-time data at their fingertips can engage in sound decision-making that bolsters their bottom line. Hotels without a data-driven PMS in place don’t have real-time access to critical data and will find it more challenging to maximize profit.
Enhanced Guest Communication
Often short staffed, smaller hotels are not always able to provide 24/7 service. Consider the scenario in which a guest arrives at 3 a.m., only to find that the front desk area is closed. With a property management system that facilitates and automates guest communication, small hotels can ensure that guests who arrive after hours receive greetings as well as prompt answers to their basic questions. A good PMS solution includes chatbot technology, which, through the power of artificial intelligence, enables automated, two-way conversations with guests. Chatbots work best when they are used to answer simple questions like, “Where should I park my car?” or “What time does breakfast start?”
Once a PMS system is installed, hotel staff can send automated emails to their guests pre-arrival; at the end of their stay, they can send them another scheduled email thanking them for their stay and requesting that they write the all-important review.
Monitor Reputation in Real Time
Like the bigger chains, small and independent hotels can suffer serious damage to their reputation when unhappy guests post negative comments and reviews. In our hyper-connected world, one bad review can spread like wildfire throughout the social media universe. It’s just not practical or possible for most small hotels to manually monitor everything that is said about them online. The good news is that a PMS system can monitor the online and social media conversation in real-time and instantly notify you when a potentially damaging review surfaces. When hotels are able to respond promptly and professionally to guest complaints, they can often pre-empt a potential crisis and prevent further damage to their hotel’s reputation.
An old-school approach to hotel management can prevent small and independent hotels from reaching their growth potential. PMS solutions provide small hotels with the tools they need to take their business to the next level. Replacing your manual reservation book with a modern PMS solution will accelerate your hotel’s growth by reducing costs, creating new efficiencies, eliminating manual errors, identifying new revenue streams, and providing enhanced guest service.
At the end of the day, small and independent hotels are able to survive in this hyper-competitive industry because of their staff, who works incredibly hard every day to please their guests.