People no longer expect the same facilities from hotels that they used to in the 2000s. Rather than being waited on continuously, guests want autonomy over their own space and time. The guests’ expectations from the hotel industry have changed. So, of course, the process of management has to change as well.
There are new challenges that go hand in hand with these new expectations. The acute labor shortage has never before been a problem for the hotel industry. However, the pandemic has brought with it heavy losses. These losses haven’t only forced the hotels to downsize their staff. One-third of the staff force has no plans of returning.
This might, on the outset, seem like an unsolvable problem. But the problem of labor shortage and the changing customer expectations can be handled through one simple solution.
Property Management System or PMS.
What is a Property Management System?
Property Management System refers to software that allows you to enhance the management, scheduling, organization, and performance of day-to-day functions of your establishment.
In simpler words, it allows you to do everything that you need to do to manage a hotel through a single platform.
Property Management Systems are mainly focused on reducing the involvement of manual labor in hotel administration. The most important feature of Property Management Systems is automation.
What is the Importance of Property Management Systems in the Hotel Industry?
Automated Inventory Management.
Property Management Softwares are also known as hotel booking software because this is essentially their primary function.
Previously, guests had to either call up the hotel or book their suites through a different channel like TripAdvisor. And then, of course, they would have to wait for the booking confirmation by the hotel.
With a property management system, the room bookings are confirmed immediately when a person completes their payment. And the guests are also handed their digital room keys. The reason why this process is so smooth is that there is no human interference in it.
Inventory Management is a complicated process. As soon as a suite is booked, this information needs to be updated so that future bookings are halted. However, since bookings happen through multiple channels and multiple agents, keeping the inventory updated is an uphill battle. Even an hour-long delay in the update can cause overbooking.
With a Property Management System like StayFlexi, inventory management no longer remains the headache of you or your staff. As soon as a room is booked, it is updated in the inventory in real-time. And this is not just valid for direct bookings through your hotel website, but also for bookings through various other channels.
Reduces Labour Cost
As you can understand from the point above, reducing human involvement in complicated administrative processes has two benefits:
- You can reduce the margin of human error.
- You can reduce labor costs.
The pandemic has taken away a vital limb of the hotel industry- the staff. And due to the losses incurred, it is difficult to hire a new staff force. The thing is, you don’t have to.
Inventory Management is one of the toughest jobs you have in hotel administration. Hence, you have to pay the ones doing it the most. But with PMS automation handling this aspect of hotel management, you don’t need to hire people for this at all.
And not just this, as you will understand from the points below, you can also cut out an IT professional to handle your website. A cloud-based PMS is extremely easy to handle on your own and plus, it comes with its own support. Moreover, you won’t need analytics specialists either because the PMS itself will provide you detailed analytics and audit reports.
Self Check-In and Check-Out
Guest preferences and expectations have changed. Ever since 2015 (long before the pandemic), there has been a rising trend of self-check-in and check-outs.
If you book your rooms through PMS, you’re provided with a digital key to your suite upon booking confirmation. Therefore, you don’t need to wait for hours at the front desk to check-in.
Post-2020, this is not even just a matter of preference or convenience. It’s a necessity. People are justifiably wary of waiting in a communal space like the lobby with dozens of other guests. Keeping check-in contactless and queue-less is mandatory.
With self-check-in, the guests can check themselves in at their own convenience. They don’t even have to step into the hotel for this purpose. If they decide to check in right after boarding the plane, it’s better for your staff as well. They can start putting in the requested personal touches well before the guest is set to arrive.
Check-out is equally simple. The guests are provided a payment link with all of their additional expenses when they decide to leave. They can simply make the payment through their phones and check out. If they wish to extend their stay, they can do so through the PMS mobile app or website itself. StayFlexi not only has a website that is optimized for mobiles but also an Orchestra app.
Also, self-check-in is great for you as a hotelier as well because this means you don’t have to pay someone to attend to the front desk 24×7.
Since the paranoia regarding the pandemic has calmed down a bit, hotels have started competing with one another again. Drawing in crowds in the hotel business is not easy. Especially because there must be at least a dozen hotels in your area which are offering the exact same facilities.
The only scope you have to set yourself apart is if you focus on personalization.
There are certain perks of allowing guests to directly book their rooms through the PMS. The PMS can track previous buyer behavior. Also, since it meticulously stores data on each new client, it can better understand which facilities to offer them in the future. It can also form an accurate prediction of how long a guest might stay. Or even which POSs they might make purchases from.
This information also lets you perform targeted marketing. Say, a user profile shows you an acute interest in spas. You can advertise that specific service in your hotel.
Not just this. Since the guests get a digital key at the very beginning, you can start sending them questionnaires. The guests will be willing to answer these questionnaires because these can directly affect the hospitality they’ll be receiving.
Flexible Room Rates
Unless you’re very new to the hotel business, you’ll know why hotels never have fixed room categories. There is no fixed Deluxe suite or Executive suite. Even the most basic room can be transformed into a Deluxe during the peak holiday season.
Hotel room prices constantly fluctuate based on demand. And this not only includes seasonal fluctuation rates but also hourly fluctuation rates. Also, you have to set the base price of the rooms based on the neighboring competition.
A Property Management System makes this entire process extremely easy to handle. You can fix both room rates and room rate templates in your inventory.
StayFlexi’s Dynamic Pricing system allows you to set occupancy goals and vary your pricing according to that. Say you set an occupancy range between 60-85%. If the hotel achieves that occupancy rate, the prices of the rooms shall be increased by $50. Conversely, if the occupancy rate is low, the price shall be decreased.
Not just this, you can also offer variable discounts to different groups of people through a PMS. For example, during the holiday season, the single rooms remain unoccupied. So, providing discounts to the business guests during this time is a great idea. With a PMS, you can not only separate these groups but offer them separate services.
Hotels are severely short-staffed after the pandemic. The last thing you want is to lose the employees you have through flawed management practices.
Creating a staff task charter is difficult. You have to assign more than a dozen people separate tasks and make sure that their tasks are evenly spaced out. This can never be done in hotels that do not have a flexible check-in system. All the cleaning work gets concentrated within a two-hour period between the check-out and then the next check-in. Thankfully, having a flexible check-in system takes care of this problem.
With a PMS, your guests can directly summon housekeeping services through the phone app or the mobile website. As soon as they request a service, the staff member assigned to them will receive a notification. If the said staff member is busy, the request will get re-routed to a backup staff and so on.
This practice of smart housekeeping has several advantages. First, you do not need to hire someone to manage the housekeeping staff. Nor do you need the front desk receptionist to suspend his work and act as a middleman. Second, no task will be incomplete just because the concerned staff member is busy. The task passes on to the very next member who is free. This reduces the load of the staff force and uniformly distributes the activities. Three, you can guarantee the utmost customer satisfaction.
These are only a handful of the advantages of having a PMS. Property Management System refers to a whole package of benefits. The importance of PMS might have increased after the pandemic but it had been in demand since 2015 itself. And the reason for its popularity is simple- which other software will allow you to do everything at once?
Do you have any questions regarding what else a Property Management System like StayFlexi can do? Let me know in the comments below!