Hotel PMS Evolution: From Managing Rooms To Engaging With Guests
It is easy to forget that hotels did not always have a Property Management System (PMS) to handle their bookings. Before the 1940’s, reservations were booked by mail, telegram, or telephone and were documented and recorded using the traditional pen and paper. But, in 1947 the first hotel reservation system ‘Hoteltype’ was established by Westin enabling instantaneous confirmation of reservation requests.
Roughly ten years later Sheraton advanced Westin’s system with the introduction of ‘Reservation’, the industry’s first automated electronic reservation system, and the first toll-free reservation number. In the late 60’s hotels began to understand the scope and opportunities electronic distribution would provide and started developing their own system eventually known as Property Management System (PMS).
It wasn’t until the late 1980’s, early 90’s, that the birth of the traditional hotel PMS system that we all know too well, and in some cases still use, came into being. Consisting of a wide range of on-premises technology provided by a single supplier, it promised a comprehensive solution for the hospitality industry. When starting out its main role focused on automating functions that were previously manually done such as guest bookings, check-ins and reservations.
Over time, in the quest to organize more guests handling, further increase top-line revenue and meet growing hotel operations, hoteliers sought to utilize the system to increase efficiency and maximize profits. However, the evolving hotel PMS, a hive of numerous hotel operations, quickly become an entangled mess with a complex application landscape – all of which coincided at a time of rapid technological advancements.
With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, no one quite foresaw just how much mobile technology would shake up the travel and hospitality industries. In a short space of time smartphone penetration and adoption grew exponentially and their usage is now more or less ubiquitous across the world.