What is a Property Management System (PMS) - A Complete Guide thumbnail picture
  29 Jul 2021
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What is a Property Management System (PMS) - A Complete Guide


It was a stressful time when businesses had to use old-fashioned, paper-based methods to coordinate basic operational functions. 

Today, we have Property management systems often referred to as PMS, which present an efficient way of doing things by using automated, computerized systems. 

Read on to find out more about PMS, its features, and how it can help you better manage your properties.

Table of Content 

  • History of Property Management System (PMS)
  • Purpose of Property Management System
  • Features of Property Management System
  • Importance of Property Management System
  • Cloud-Based PMS VS On-premise PMS. Which is Right For You?
  • Things to Consider When Choosing a Property Management System (PMS)
  • Final Note

What is a Property Management System?

A property management system (PMS) is a software application for the operation of various businesses, especially in the hospitality industry. Property management systems are sometimes referred to as hotel management systems, and often people limit their services to being used in hotels. 

However, a property management system can be used in various organizations such as real estate, manufacturing, logistics, intellectual property, government, and commercial or residential rental properties.

Some people wonder - what exactly does a PMS do? What can it do for your business?

The best way to think of a PMS is as a centralized online system that manages day-to-day operations such as organizing, scheduling, account management, occupancy management, and much more.  

They are the ultimate organizers for businesses that are looking to automate their workforce and maximize efficiency. 

Most professional property management depends on a PMS solution to maximize their business’ functionality.

History of Property Management System (PMS)

To truly understand a thing, one must know its origin story. The acronym ‘PMS’ refers to a property management system.

A property management system is an embodiment of several features that we will discuss further down in this article. One of those prominent features is a reservation system. 

In the ‘40s, the first reservation system was introduced to the hospitality industry, and all through the ‘70s, there were varied versions of property management systems.

It wasn’t until the 90’s that software systems were incorporated into the property management system niche.

Before the 90s, the property management systems in place were dependent on hand-written registers, exhausting spreadsheets, and other paper-based methods to coordinate basic operational functions.

The 90s and 2000s saw a rapid growth in the use of technology in property management and the old-fashioned way of PMS became modernized and presented in the form of PMS Softwares.

In 2010, the first generation of cloud PMS was released.

Over a decade later, PMS continues to evolve and provide property management solutions that have changed the way that hoteliers and property managers do business.

Purpose of Property Management System

To put it in the simplest terms, the purpose of a property management system is to streamline the day-to-day operations in an establishment.

A good property management system should be able to help you achieve the following:

Improve guest experience

Customers expect basic treatment such as making online reservations, easy communication with your staff and so much more.

These are achievable with the use of a good property management software.

Contactless service 

Now more than ever, the need for contactless service is in high demand. Whether it is making deliveries, booking appointments, collecting data, making complaints and even leaving feedback.

This in turn helps with customer service and improves employee accountability. 

Automated systems

Perhaps one of the most important uses of a PMS is to automate tasks in an establishment. 

Irrespective of your industry, there are recurring tasks that arise. These tasks include paying bills, receiving payments, property and employee maintenance, scheduling appointments, and more.

A PMS allows you to automate all your tasks and thus helps in saving time and creating better efficiency.

Proper data collection and analysis

By collecting accurate data and updated reports and analyzing this information, you could be able to predict customer behavior.

But that’s not the only reason why proper data collection and analysis is important. Here are some reasons data is important:

  • To gauge the rate of work completion 
  • Finding useful trends from competitors or similar businesses
  • To measure success
  • Risk assessment before embarking on projects

The efficient use of data results in a drastic increase in revenue as seen in various establishments and even smaller businesses can use data to boost sales.

Enhance Employee Productivity

An added advantage, the use of PMS software to manage your organization will help you keep an eye on and monitor the productivity of your employees.

Some PMS provide applications that all employees can access on their devices and update the status of various activities in your establishment.

Features of Property Management System

Reservation system

A reservation system is a core feature of any property management software but what is it exactly?

A reservation system is a software tool that allows you to digitize your reservation calendar, allows your customers to make their reservations online and also make their payments. 

This feature is not exclusive to hotels alone but comes in use in several industries such as Transportation, Events, Fitness and wellness classes, Tours, and activities.

Even when manually handling reservation management for a small establishment, it’s easy to overlook some details, write incorrect information - or even misplace the schedule. 

You might think it’s something you can handle on your own with a spreadsheet but, take a minute and think of all the tiny errors that could mess it all up. Devastating. And we haven’t even talked about the amount of time wasted.

These are some of the reasons why most establishments, especially larger establishments, always invest in a Reservation system:

  • The system updates room availability in real-time to avoid overbooking.
  • It allows your staff to easily modify or cancel bookings as per your guests’ requirements.
  • This system stores all your guests’ data that helps you to check their contact details, special preferences, and also in providing loyalty rewards to them in the future.
  • With the help of the reservation system, you can also upsell your services to increase the revenue for your property.
  • It makes it easier for you to manage all inventory and channels via one interface and one platform to reduce booking errors.

Booking Engine

A booking engine is an application on hotel websites and social media pages to capture and process direct online reservations.

Often, a booking engine and reservation system are used interchangeably but, there is a difference.

What is the difference between a Booking Engine and a Reservation System?

The difference is that a booking engine often refers to the software used to complete an online reservation by processing the data entered by the guest. 

It’s usually presented through your website or social media. Most booking engines are easily integrated with existing websites. 

On the other hand, a reservation system refers to comprehensive software used to manage a reservation in its entirety.

A simple way to differentiate between a booking engine and a reservation system is that a booking engine presents pages to your customers while a reservation system is for you, as a manager to handle the behind scenes of the reservations made. 

Some of these reservation system duties could include modifying or canceling a booking, adding charges, notes, and many more options. 

Some of the uses of a booking engine are as follows:

Direct Sales

A booking engine helps increase direct sales by streamlining the process and by turning a hotel’s website into a self-service online shop that’s available 24/7. 

Building Revenue

With a booking engine, you can offer added services on your own website to enhance the shopping experience and make your guests’ lives easier.

Meeting Guests Expectations

Let's face it, guests expect a seamless booking experience. In this present day and age, people want to check out your website, take a look at your services, and all the options available before they make a booking. 

Personalization

Your website helps you deliver a highly personalized service to guests. Knowing your hotel’s target market, you can tailor to it by adjusting room types, pairing additional services, or creating packages. 

You can make sure that your messaging caters to your ideal guest type, inspires them, and answers frequently asked questions. 

Create brand awareness

For growing businesses in travel, establishing a unique brand is of significant importance. Besides showcasing your property’s unique value proposition, your brand helps build trust and loyalty in a B2C landscape, such as hospitality. 

Once you’ve defined your brand attributes, from the logo and colors to your brand personality, your website is the perfect place to start applying them. Look for a customizable booking engine that you can adapt to your brand.

Accounting system

You’ve probably heard of popular accounting software like Zoho. Most fully equipped PMS provide an accounting system as part of the software package. The larger the establishment, the more urgent the need for an accounting system.

In a survey of over 500 businesses, 52% saw a decrease in financial errors by using accounting software. 

Along with the advantage of cutting financial errors back, having an accounting system has other benefits. Some of these include:

Centralized information

Accounting software keeps your information in one place, making it simple to reference past transactions. You won’t waste time digging through paperwork or spreadsheets.

Automation

Automatic totals are also more accurate than hand-calculated figures. You have less room for error when the software computes income and expense totals for you. That means you will have a clearer picture of your business’s bottom line.

Always ready for an audit

Accounting software helps you look professional and organized. Audits are usually shorter for businesses with formal records than those with hand-recorded books. Instead of reviewing your transactions line-by-line, an auditor can navigate figures and reports within the software

Financial history

What’s a better way to track progress and milestones than to take a trip down memory lane. 

 This gives you the best in-house financial management solution in the market. This way all things money and transactions can be in order.

Point of Sale (POS)

Not all but, some PMS provide point of sale services, A POS system allows your business to accept payments from customers and keep track of sales. 

Many businesses are integrating POS systems with their existing systems. Within 2020, the mobile POS transaction value was $1,017,982 million, and 54% of businesses have utilized mobile POS to process transactions.

For stores that are using mobile POS systems, 79% of them are small and mid-sized brands with sales less than $10 million, while 21% of them are large enterprises.

Using a POS system to handle your transactions has many benefits. Some of which include: 

  • Quick Payments
  • Simple Invoicing
  • Better security 
  • Increased Revenue 
  • Increased efficiency

For a detailed explanation of what a POS system is, you can check out this article - What is a POS system? 

Data Reports and analysis

It’s not news anymore that one of the most powerful tools that businesses utilize is data analytics. 

One of the largest and most successful hospitality companies in the world - the Marriott, explained that they were able to get a competitive advantage from their use of big data analytics. 

By collecting accurate data and updated reports and analyzing this information, you could be able to predict customer behavior and determine if your marketing strategies are effective and much more.

Ultimately, proper use of data analytics can be used to boost your business. 

A PMS provides data analytics tools that are embedded into your website to automate data collection and reports. 

These reports are presented to you in a clear, easy-to-understand format. They are also analyzed to indicate activity, success, failures, and other indicators which when utilized properly, can be used for many purposes. 

Find out all there is to know about data management and the best ways to utilize your data and increase revenue.

Importance of Property Management System

Despite the many features and abilities of a PMS, many business owners and managers still fail to understand the importance of investing in one.

After all, if you already have a method or your staff are very acquainted with the difficult and long procedures of managing your establishment, then what’s the urgent need for a PMS anyway?

In present times, guests expect safe, fast, and contactless check-in, so they are not going to appreciate standing in a public space to complete check-in formalities- sharing pens, pads, papers, or touching surfaces which are now considered ‘unsafe’.

Property management is important in the hotel industry especially and also in real estate and restaurant businesses. Guest experience is enhanced with the use of PMS software to handle simple tasks digitally. 

With a good property management system, you can:

Have control over your business

There’s one thing in common in all of the features which have been mentioned which is that, the use of technology helps you to have more control over how the affairs of your business is run.

Take a chain of hotels for example, how do you run all the properties at the same pace when they are different locations being run by different staff and you’re not even there?

With the use of the right PMS you can have proper control over all of your properties and know what you’re really doing.

Have a proper management system for your employees

Give no room to slacking off on your team and amongst your staff.

With everything being automated and properly documented, you can have proper management of all the members of your staff.

From housekeeping to maintenance, security and safety, you can ensure all hands are on deck.

Integrate with third-party applications

There are many useful third-party applications that are important in every business and need to be integrated with your company website and existing systems.

A PMS will help you integrate with these third-party applications easily and run everything from one place without any hassle.

Some of the PMS software already have existing relationships with these third-party applications and working with them helps reduce cost, save time and get you the best service available.

High efficiency and time saved

It’s no surprise that any successful hotel establishment or real estate facility is dependent on a PMS of some sort to manage their property.

This is because its utilization of technology helps to increase overall functionality and in the end saves time. 

You can now focus on other things involving your business since you have all these other things under control.

Generate Revenue

Revenue management refers to the strategic distribution and pricing tactics you use to sell your property's perishable inventory to the right guests at the right time, to boost revenue growth. 

You can achieve this through the use of data reports and analytics helping you to predict when they’d be in high demand and thus influencing the pricing of the services you deliver. 

In the end, it helps to boost your establishment’s finances.

Cloud-Based PMS VS On-premise PMS. Which is Right For You?

Before settling with a PMS software of your choice, you need to understand if it is on-premise software or cloud-based software.

While most people understand the general concept of the cloud, it’s important to see the big picture.

By definition, a ‘cloud-based system allows users access to software applications that run on shared computing resources (for example, processing power, memory, and disk storage) via the Internet.’ So the reason why we can access our photos or files or software applications from any device across the internet is that they are cloud-based. 

On-premise or “local server-based” require on-property hardware that typically include a dedicated data server, a terminal server if the system is to be accessed from other locations, workstations (computers) with a compatible operating system, dedicated computers for any interfaces to external systems.  

Because technical jargon can be a bit of a tough pill to swallow, here are highlights you should take note of when the topic of cloud-based and on-premise applications come up.

Cloud-based vs On-premise

Deployment

In a cloud-based resource are hosted on the premises of the service provider but enterprises can access those resources and use them as much as they want at any given time.

While, in an on-premises environment, resources are deployed in-house and within an enterprise’s IT infrastructure. An enterprise is responsible for maintaining the solution and all its related processes. 

Cost

As expected, the cost of cloud-based software is significantly lower than that of on-premise software. 

This is primarily because, in on-premise software, the providers are responsible for the ongoing costs of the server hardware, power consumption, and space.

Also, cloud-based software breaks down the cost into monthly subscription fees which are much cheaper.

Security

Security is the major aspect where on-premise-based software comes out on top. On-premise hosting security depends on staff who maintain it physically. 

With the right amount of money to spend, this is an ideal solution for organizations such as government-owned institutions and banking industries.

For industries such as real estate, restaurants, apartment complexes, and hotels, cloud-based solutions provide the amount of security required without breaking the bank.

Control

In cloud-based software, you don’t have direct access to the hardware.

In the case of on-premise, you have full control and infinite customization options. This contributes to why on-premises are quite expensive.

So which one is right for you?

On-premise based software comes with one major advantage which is complete control and more security (although you risk losing all your data if something were to damage the hard drive).

This is right for you if you are:

  • A banking firm or industry
  • A government-owned institution with highly confidential data

Cloud-based software on the other hand comes with a lot of flexibility, a friendlier price tag, low risk of completely losing data, and more.

This is right for you if you are:

  • Hospitality industry
  • Restaurant/ Bakery/ etc
  • Government institutions with less sensitive information
  • Others.

Final verdict

Unless you run a business with highly sensitive information and a much bigger budget, you really don’t need an on-premise-based software. It’s not sustainable and the future is in the cloud.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Property Management System (PMS)

There are a plethora of PMS in the market, which only makes it an even more difficult task to choose the right one. 

Trying to choose the right PMS for your establishment but confused on which way to go? Here are some key things to always look out for when choosing a PMS

5 Things to look out for in a good property management system 

Cloud-based vs On-premise

Before settling with a PMS of your choice, you need to understand if it is a traditional-based software or cloud-based software. 

Most PMS will mention if they are cloud-based; if not, you can simply ask before committing to their services.

Support system

An ideal property management system comes with helpful and readily available customer support. Look out for a PMS with a history of reliable customer support and detailed contact information to get in touch. 

Easy and simple Integration

The last thing you need is a PMS that only adds to your workload and brings on a load of technical confusion in your establishment. 

You need a PMS that can be easily integrated with your current legacy systems and then modernize your operations. 

In addition, you need to look out for a property management system that easily integrates with other applications and software that you may need as well. 

Some integrations to look out for are integrations with CRM software, POS systems, , Booking engines, and financial integrations. A PMS which can provide you with these integrations is a well-rounded one. 

Transparency and honesty

In every business, transparency is highly rated. The pricing, features to be provided, and all other information you’d require before signing up for their services should be able to provide these openly.

It’s very easy to detect a service that isn’t being transparent. They offer prices that aren’t straightforward, their services and features are inconsistent, and they make loads of promises that reviews confirm they do not deliver. 

The safest way to find out how transparent a PMS is by opting for a trial if available or finding out more about them by getting on a meeting/call with them before signing up.

High-level Organization

You’re about to, in some ways, put the digital fate of your establishment into the hands of an external system. 

You must choose a PMS that is a high-level, high-performing organization. One which you can confidently hold accountable for running the digital management operations of your property. 

A high-level organization will usually possess characteristics: a quality management team, openness, continuous improvement of their product (PMS), long-term orientation, and quality employees.  

What is the Future of Property Management System?

Some say the future of PMS is already here- in the form of cloud-based PMS. 

Not too long ago, the only PMS software available were those built on-premise and cost huge amounts of money to implement. Now, modern PMS are almost exclusively cloud-based.

A study by Fortune Business Insights says that the global property management market size will reach $23.63 billion by 2026. So the future of property management is on a steady growth. 

The future of property management is filled with the prevalence of new software tools and applications. 

Every trend in the hospitality industry and general properties revolve around technology and improvement in the PMS niche.

Some of the trends include:

Digitalization, Automation and Technology

From contactless payments to mobile check-in technology, and the use of chatbots - it’s clear that the way to go is with automation. 

The advantages of contactless technology are endless and it’s a bonus factor that it helps to uphold one of the safety precautions of the pandemic which is social distancing.   

With the use of Artificial Intelligence(AI) and IoT, you can give your guests a seamless digitized experience and leave them impressed when it’s time to check out.

Personalization

This is a strategy that keeps getting more effective day by day thanks to the use of smart technology. The data collected from your guests should be channeled into creating a personalized experience for them. 

This may sound like a little bit of hard work but that's where your PMS and customer relationship management (CRM) tools come in to take most of the burden off your shoulders. 

Leverage your PMS and CRM tools and give your guests the special stay they are looking forward to. This will surely leave a good lasting impression in their minds.

Check out more of the Top Hospitality and Hotel trends.

Are You Ready To Invest in a PMS?

If you made it to the end of this guide, then you’re ready for the next step.

You know the origin of the PMS and why it is needed. You know the features, benefits, and what the future holds for this niche.

Most importantly, you know what to look out for before investing in any PMS.

You’re looking for a cloud-based PMS software that can easily integrate with your existing systems. An easy-to-use system with 24/7 support and packed with all the features you need with the option of customization.

You’re looking for a PMS like the Booking Ninjas PMS. It’s an all-in-one PMS that offers a trial to test it out before you have to make any commitments. 

To set up an appointment with a member of the team and discuss the peculiarity of your establishments’ needs, all you have to do is click the link below- 

Schedule an appointment or start your free trial today

References

  • T, Quinn. “Retail POS Trends And Statistics for 2021.” connectpos, Quinn T, December 2020.

www.connectpos.com/retail-pos-trends-and-statistics-for-2021/amp.

Accessed 22 July 2021.

  • Fortune Business Insights. Property Management Market Size, Share & Industry Analysis. May 2021.

Fortune Business Insights

www.fortunebusinessinsightscom/

Accessed 22 July 2021.

  • H, Seraphim, and Yallop A. “Big data and analytics in tourism and hospitality: opportunities and risks.” 2020.

Emerald

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JTF-10-2019-0108/full/html.

Accessed 22 July 2021.