Nowadays the day-to-day management of a hotel cannot be done without the help of IT solutions. However, there are so many softwares available on the market that it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between each one and their different functions. What’s more, these software are all constantly evolving and offering functions that sometimes overlap with one another, which doesn’t make your choice any easier.
For this reason we have provided here a summary of the main distinct features of the entire IT ecosystem within a hotel, with some examples of corresponding software.
This list is split in two parts, in this first article, we will discuss the following functionalities:
- Managing the hotel - Distribution - In-room technology - Housekeeping and maintenance
The PMS (Property Management System)
The core software of the hotel for the management of rooms and billing
The PMS is the reference softwarefor all other hotel software systems because it manages the distribution of rooms, bookings, the main guest information, and billing. Information from the PMS is essential for the functioning of the hotel, which means that it is necessarily be connected with the distribution software and, if possible, the other software systems in place at the hotel. Unfortunately though the interface issues are not always so simple
There are many PMS providers, a number of which have been on the market for decades. However, new providers are entering the scene with very modern ergonomics and a “cloud” operation, which can tend to include distribution features. Some PMS are even specifically adapted to the management of several hotels (multi-property), which is necessary for a hotel group.
In our opinion, beyond the necessary functionalities for your establishment, the key elements to consider when choosing a PMS are the ergonomics of the screens for the user and the interfacing abilities with other tools. The quality of customer service is obviously a criterion to be taken into account, as for all the tools that we will mention later.
- Planning and assignment of rooms - Check-in and check-out - Billing - etc.
Booking Engine and Channel Manager The sale of rooms and the relationship with distributors
Distribution channels are the different ways through which guests can book a stay at your establishment.
First of all we have the booking engine, which is the tool integrated into the establishment’s own website which makes it possible to check the availability and prices of rooms and to make a reservation. Above all, the booking engine must be interfaced with the PMS in real time and in a bidirectional way, so so that a room is no longer shown to be available, the second that it is booked. The general ergonomics is obviously absolutely essential not to “put off” the client wishing to book.
OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) such as Expedia and booking.com (to name the most important), are another form of distribution channel. These channels are important to reach customers who hadn’t previously known about the hotel.
This is where channel manager comes in, . It gathers all the platforms on which the hotel’s rooms are available for reservation and as a result facilitates the management and updating of the prices and availability of rooms.
The hotel's website is considered a channel in the same way as an OTA. Some channel managers are connected to the hotel chain’s reservation centre that the hotel is part of (CRS), and, in order to maximise sales and be visible to all travel agencies around the world, some channel managers are linked to the GDS (Global Distribution System).
KEY FUNCTIONS :
- Booking engine - Display availability and prices of every room according to numerous different factors (length of stay etc.) - Payment collection - Update the PMS
A room should always be as welcoming and as comfortable as possible. Behind the bedding and the decoration, technological innovations are becoming more and more integrated into the heart of the room in order to offer the guest a new experience. This starts even before you enter the room, with smart locks that you can open with your phone.
Once in the room, the next thing the guest does is connect to the Wi-Fi. Many players provide this kind of service, but what is important is a Wi-Fi. good quality connection and the simplest access possible. For the hotel or hotel chain, Wi-Fi offers a very important opportunity to contact customers, that must without a doubt be exploited.
There are two possible options for setting up a Wi-Fi network in an establishment: either call a specialised operator who will manage the A to Z installation and access to the internet, or an installer who will only be responsible for the installation of the wifi terminals, whilst the hotel will connect itself to its internet access.
In the room there is usually a screen for access to TV channels. Some integrated systems also offer a selection of VOD (videos on demand) VOD (video-on-demand), as well as informative content on the hotel and its surroundings. Sometimes these systems allow guests to connect their devices (smartphone, tablet, PC) to the screen via screen mirroring (AirPlay by Apple) to view their own content. This is a feature very much appreciated by guests.
Finally, certain hotels are beginning to use home automation systems such as lights, curtains, or air conditioning, which can be controlled intelligently.
All these technologies are interesting, but the difficulty lies in making them simple to use for the hotel guests. Ideally these solutions should allow a guest to find a room with the television, lights and temperature set in the same way as it was on their previous stay.
This hotel management software enables the optimising of the different tasks of the housekeeping and technical maintenance teams. By improving productivity and reducing the hassle of the work of these teams, the hotel greatly improves the quality of service that is offered to customers. In fact, rooms are made available earlier upon arrival and guests experience fewer technical problems.
An interactivity with the client portal and/or the hotel app allows customers to follow the requests they have made. This can be useful on hotels where the average length of stay is high.
KEY FUNCTIONS :
- Manage the room cleaning schedule - Assign tasks to cleaning staff - Update the room status in the PMS - Supply management (towels, pillows…) - Preventative maintenance of the rooms (change of the filter of the air conditioning, …)
Providers are mentioned in this article in alphabetical order and do not reflect any preference on our part. This list is not exhaustive, if you think that a solution should be included in this article, do not hesitate to tell us.
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