Industry Update
Opinion Article 7 October 2015

The Scoop on Next-Generation Hotel Property Management Systems

A new breed of technology platforms are equipped to meet the end-to-end needs of modern-day lodging properties in ways that would have been difficult to imagine only a decade ago

By Jeff Zabin, Research Director at Starfleet Research

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Early generations of Hotel Property Management Systems focused on core functions like guest registration, room inventory maintenance, financial accounting and housekeeping assignment. The scope of activity has since expanded to encompass virtually all aspects of hotel operations. The platform capabilities have also become increasingly sophisticated and flexible. Some next-generation systems are equipped to meet the end-to-end needs of modern-day lodging properties in ways that would have been difficult to imagine only a decade ago.

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Today's systems now generally include channel management capabilities, including a web booking engine and global distribution system connectivity to automate transactions with booking agents. Many systems now integrate with third-party technologies like point-of-sale (POS) software, accounting software, keycard and access control systems, self-service kiosks, internet and telephone systems and in-room refreshment (minibar) and entertainment applications.

Some systems now come with marketing and sales tools for creating targeted promotions and campaigns based on individual guest profiles, behaviors and preferences. Some systems also include robust data analysis capabilities for generating business intelligence, including insights into emerging trends. Built-in customer relationship management features can help engender higher levels of guest satisfaction, which invariably leads to not only more repeat stays but also a larger volume of positive brand advocacy — e.g., favorable reviews on TripAdvisor and other popular sites — ultimately translating into increased hotel occupancy rates and revenue per available room (RevPAR).

Given the expanded technology capabilities, it's no wonder that hotels, resorts and other lodging properties have come to embrace next-generation PMS as a strategic imperative. Regardless of size and the volume of business, whether their property is a no-perks budget traveler operation or a luxury resort offering first-class accommodations and premier services, or whether it exists as an independent standalone property or part of an international chain, hoteliers can compete effectively only by automating their day-to-day operations across multiple departments and functions. Indeed, next-generation PMS has fast become a prerequisite for success in today's competitive environment.

That said, the requirements and expectations on the part of prospective buyers can vary dramatically, according research conducted for The 2015 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems. Consider: A large, full-service hotel, resort or casino would likely require a far more robust and comprehensive system than would, say, a small hotel, motel or inn. The latter would need a system that could handle not just basic operational functions like guest bookings, housekeeping, guest charges and maintenance management, but also revenue management, advanced reporting, and features that support an extraordinarily high level of guest service.

The system may need to integrate with online booking engines and manage hotel restaurants and cocktail lounges along with spas, banquet rooms, dry cleaning and other facilities as well as such guest amenities as bed turndown service, newspaper delivery, room service and transportation shuttles. A large full-service hotel would also naturally need to support more service requests as well as more complex reservation, scheduling and inventory needs than a limited-service property.

Simply put, a next-generation PMS is designed to minimize costs and maximize revenue and profitability. The goal is to streamline day-to-day operations across the organization not only by providing better management controls but also by providing a deeper understanding of the unmet wants, needs and behaviors of guests. While the range of features and functionality may be broad, the overarching goals tend to be the same: to reduce costs through increased efficiency, generate business insights through better analytical reporting — and, ultimately, to increase RevPAR and overall profitability.

Jeff Zabin

Jeff Zabin is Research Director at Starfleet Research, the IT market research arm of Starfleet Media, which benchmarks best practices in hospitality technology and publishes the popular Smart Decision Guides on hotel-related topic areas. He also serves as managing editor of Hotel Technology News (hoteltechnologynews.

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    About Starfleet Research

    Every year, Starfleet Research, the IT market research arm of Starfleet Media, benchmarks best practices in technology-enabled business initiatives across thousands of hotels and resorts around the world. Starfleet Media also now publishes Hotel Technology News and Restaurant Technology News. To learn more, and to access the latest Smart Decision Guides, co-branded eBooks and other resources, please visit starfleetresearch.com

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