Have you had a look at the hotel technology landscape lately?
There’s an app for almost everything now. Many different tools can tackle multiple areas of your operation. And some even claim they can do it all.
So if you’re in the market for new tech solutions, it’s only normal to ask: what is the best hotel management system? Unfortunately there isn’t one single correct answer.
But the following article can help you find the right choice for your property, which is probably more relevant and helpful for you anyway.
But first things first…
What is a hotel management system?
In the past, hotel management systems (HMS) mainly covered reservations and billing.
Over time HMSs became more complex and gained many additional functions. Not long ago, most of them went from being server-based to being cloud-based. That created a host of new opportunities for suppliers to make their HMSs more versatile, user-friendly and customizable.
Today, hotel management systems have a wide variety of capabilities. They can help manage every aspect of hotel operations, and even sales, marketing and distribution-related tasks.
That means an HMS combines the core capabilities of a PMS (e.g. organizing reservations and guest data, processing payments, handling check-in/out) with other important functionalities like channel management, the website booking engine, housekeeping management, guest messages and more. On top of that, some even include restaurant POS functions or loyalty program management.
Overall, there’s a broad range of hotel management systems available to suit all types of properties from large hotels and resorts to small B&Bs or vacation rentals.
Types of Hotel Management Systems
Not all hotel management systems cover all bases. Some focus on specific areas of operations or distribution. Here are the three main types of HMS you’ll likely come across during your research.
- Bookings-focused: This covers mostly online booking features and is geared towards maximizing reservations. Such an HMS usually comes with a booking engine and website integration as well as channel management for distribution via OTAs.
- Operations-focused: Here, the focus is on scheduling, inventory management, accounting, and sales and marketing. The goal of this type of HMS is to make operations more efficient by streamlining communication and workflows.
- Property management-focused: This category is closest to the original HMS since it mostly covers front desk and back-of-house functions.
Which type of HMS or combination of solutions you should choose depends on your property type and the goals you want to achieve.
What Properties Should Work With Hotel Management Systems?
No matter what type of hotel you’re operating, you need to stay organized and manage your business effectively. This means that every type of accommodation provider needs a hotel management system.
The more rooms and services (e.g. restaurants, event spaces, spa…) you offer, the more functionalities and integration options you’ll want your HMS to have. That will allow you to use your hotel management system as a firm foundation and add extra tools as needed to build your custom tech stack.
The Major Benefits Associated With Using a Hotel Management System
Using the right technology at your hotel can have many important benefits for your team, your guests and your business.
- Increased operational efficiency: modern tools can streamline communication and ensure that no important information gets lost. This allows your team to better focus on their work and it reduces the risk of errors.
- Improved working conditions: a good HMS can automate many tedious tasks and make other processes easier. That reduces the burden on your staff and leaves them with more time and energy for the areas where they can add the most value e.g. guest interactions or analytical work.
- Happier guests: being able to offer faster and better service will delight your guests and ensure they have a great time. This, in turn, can lead to better reviews and an improved reputation.
- Higher profitability: automating or streamlining certain tasks like upselling or rate updates can boost your topline. At the same time, increasing your efficiency reduces costs and good review scores help generate more bookings. Altogether, these aspects can drive up your property’s profitability.
What To Look for in a Modern Hotel Management System
With so many tools available, it can be hard to know where to start your search for a new HMS. Here are a few boxes your new hotel management system should check, regardless of your property type.
1. Seamless Integration With Other Pieces of the Hotel Technology Stack
Even the most comprehensive HMS probably won’t be able to handle every aspect of your operations. So, chances are high that you’ll be using more than one tech tool. In that case, ensure that your new HMS has an open API and can connect easily to all your other solutions. That keeps workflows smooth and you avoid costly custom integrations or lengthy roll-out phases.
2. Ease of Use for Both Your Team & Guests
The easier an HMS is to use, the better for everyone. Your staff can complete tasks more quickly and provide better service. At the same time, a straightforward system reduces the risk of human error and ensures it becomes a firm part of your team members’ workflow.
This is also true for your HMS’ guest-facing elements, e.g. online check-in or upselling offers. The easier it is for travelers to interact with your system, the more likely they are to do so.
Think of a guest communication app or a booking engine. There’s a high chance people will use it from their mobile devices. If your HMS and the integrated tools aren’t mobile-friendly, the guest experience suffers and you may even risk losing business.
Mobile-optimized tools also benefit your staff because they allow certain tasks to be done remotely and thus create more flexibility. For example, the general manager can pull the latest pick-up report on their smartphone while they’re on a business trip or at lunch with the hotel owners.
4. Potential for High User Adoption
The easier a tool is for people to use, the more of them will take advantage of it. That starts with accessibility. Having to download an app creates a much bigger barrier to entry than most hotels realize. And as you can imagine, even the best hotel app won’t help guests if they never download it.
This doesn’t mean people don’t want to use their phones to manage their trips though. According to research by MCD Travel, 80% of guests want to use their mobile devices to browse hotel amenities, for example. They just don’t want to do it on your app. Instead, offer web-based solutions which travelers can access via the browser on their smartphone without having to download anything, log in or create a profile.
Using an HMS that provides tools corresponding to your property’s size and service offering does two crucial things. First, it keeps your cost down since you only pay for the functions you need and use. Second, a scalable HMS gives you flexibility. If you add a new service, your platform can grow with you and you don’t have to find a new provider.
Where To Find Information About the Best Hotel Management Systems
Picking the best hotel management system for your property can feel overwhelming because there are so many options. And unfortunately, it’s impossible to pick one clear winner that’s better than all the others.
But with some research and testing you can find the best match for your property. Here are four simple steps to follow:
Step 1: Go Through the Lists of the Top Solutions on the Market Today
This will give you a good idea of what’s out there. Use the following sites to find lists of reputable HMS providers:
Step 2: Identify the Ideal Tools for Your Property Type
Filter the results to find the solutions that match your needs. Then go through the software providers' descriptions to learn about their product and find the ones which tick the boxes we covered in the previous sections. Now you have a shortlist of potential new HMSs!
Step 3: Read Reviews From Current Users
This will give you an idea of how well the tool works in practice and if it does everything you need it to do. It’s also a good way to find out if people are happy with the onboarding process and customer support the tech provider offers. Both are crucial for a smooth transition and for getting the most out of your new tool.
Step 4: Get Demos or Free Trials
Once you’ve gone through the steps above, it’s time to test the HMSs on your shortlist. Ideally you’d do a free trial to get a feel for the platform and see how well it works for your property. If that’s too time-consuming, a demo is also a great option. Let the provider’s sales rep walk you through all the functions you’d be using and get answers to your questions. By the end of it, you’ll know which hotel management system is the best for you.
Now that you know all about HMSs and how they can help you increase efficiency, improve the guest experience and drive profitability, it’s your turn.
Do you already have an HMS? If so, evaluate if it does everything you need it to and if it yields the results you want.
If you don’t have an HMS or have decided that it’s time for a new solution, use the insights above to find the best hotel management system for your property.
As soon as it’s live, you’ll be glad you made the effort thanks to the many benefits it’ll bring, like streamlined workflows, increased revenues and a better guest experience.