Why should independent hotels hop on to the cloud PMS bandwagon?

Aditya Sanghi

Better control over business, expanded market reach, improved guest experience, better cost controls, and anywhere/anytime access are topping the list of reasons why hoteliers are moving their PMS to the cloud.

The dramatic shift to online bookings in recent times has changed the dynamics of the hotel industry, and it is giving small and mid-sized hotels the power to compete for bookings with the big brands (which they were unable to do previously). As such, hoteliers are beginning to expect more from their property-management system than just reservations and billing. The role of PMS is changing from an operations tool to a strategy tool.

Smaller hotels and independent operators have struggled for years to compete with the big brands and remain profitable; they are looking for the right tools to manage their property better and sell more rooms online.

Existing legacy solutions are holding these properties back from reaching out to customers in real time, and as a result, they are losing online customers. The high initial costs associated with managing on-premise technology is also a deterrent to a small hotelier. This has led to the rise of the cloud PMS — a modern and agile tool that gives small and medium-sized enterprises a level playing field with the larger brands.

According to the 2015 Lodging Technology Study, 21.6 percent of hotels surveyed said that migrating their on-premises technology to the cloud this year is a top priority. The study shows a dip in on-premise PMS investment (from 17.05 percent in 2014 to 14.11 percent in 2015) as “more hotels move to a cloud-based PMS.” It is reported that PMS will see the greatest cloud adoption in the coming 18 months.

Investing in a cloud-based PMS is enabling hoteliers to manage their properties, operations, business relations, guests, travel agents and corporate clients from anywhere using a basic Internet connection. Having the flexibility to access all guest and operations data remotely and see what’s going on at the hotel at any moment is critical to making smart business decisions.

Here are five key reasons why hoteliers need to join the growing PMS migration to the cloud:

Better control over business: Cloud based PMSs are technologically ready and are a natural fit to collaborate with online marketplaces for real-time distribution. They have a strong technological advantage over legacy PMSs to connect and distribute online room inventory in real time. By controlling rates and inventory distribution from a single point dashboard above property, it enables hoteliers to plug in to the global online marketplace and more easily distribute inventory in real time, thereby increasing revenues. Consider this: Hoteliers work in a challenging environment. Every minute of every day a decision needs to be made regarding a hotel’s most perishable good – a room night. Room rates fluctuate, occupancy needs to be monitored, and allocations need to be done to various online distribution channels; and all of this needs to be facilitated in real time. A cloud-based PMS enables hoteliers to manage room rates and availability on a real time basis, thereby eliminating rate parity and double booking issues.

Expand Market Reach: With a cloud PMS, room rates, inventories, reservations and more can all be managed centrally online. For small and mid-sized hotels, dealing with multiple systems for online distribution poses a big challenge. A centralized system delivered via the cloud makes interoperation between departments not just smooth but also in real-time. By not having to deal with infrastructure and associated overheads of technology, the hotelier now has more time to concentrate on business and customers. Integration with other cloud providers also is made possible. Most hospitality and travel technology systems like OTAs, review sites like TripAdvisor, CRMs and revenue management systems are cloud based, and cloud-based property management systems readily integrate with other online tools and provide unmatched convenience to hoteliers.

Increased guest experience: Big brands have the processes and technology to manage guest expectations. Automating operations and distribution would give independent hoteliers more time to focus on the guest experience. For small to medium size operators, losing a guest to its competition would be a nightmare. Getting guest service right is not just about ensuring a decent night’s sleep, it starts even before the guest checks in and remains even after departure. Superior service equates to positive reviews; positive reviews equates to repeat, loyal customers. While the big brands might have multiple advantages like the location, brand, and service, independent hotels can increase their odds by focusing on ROE (Return on Experience) instead of just looking at ROI (Return on Investment) as they have the added advantage of innovating and not just following the brand guidelines. With a cloud PMS, hoteliers can simplify the hotel management process and connect with guests on a personal level and delight them at every step of the guest lifecycle. Guest preferences and behavioral trend data is saved centrally, enabling properties to access the data in real time to provide a satisfying experience to the guest during to his/her stay. For example, the cloud PMS can save guest preference data that was provided during the reservation process on any OTA, and later use that information to provide exceptional service.

Better Cost Controls: By opting for a cloud-based PMS, owners can reap faster returns on their investments because cloud solutions cut down on IT, maintenance, infrastructure and manpower costs. Set-up, training and retraining costs also are reduced. In addition, hoteliers can save a lot of time since operations are automated, and time = money. Moreover, by automating the operations and online distribution, hotels are able to completely avoid errors.

Anytime anywhere access: A cloud-based PMS enables hoteliers to access the business anywhere and at anytime. Hoteliers will be able to monitor housekeeping stats or browse through reports even if they are not present at their property. Since cloud requires just a basic Internet connection, it can be browsed from any mobile device, including tablets.

Migrating a hotel’s PMS to the cloud can play a crucial role in a small hotelier’s success, and it is proving to be a wise investment for hoteliers wishing to cater to demanding guestsThis versatile and user-friendly tool will simplify operations without having to involve a lot of staff; just basic monitoring is required. From handling operations, departments and guests to keeping all departments updated, a cloud PMS is a one-stop solution without the hassle. It can help generate revenues, increase occupancy, manage room inventories, handle reservations and improve brand visibility.

The article was originally published on Hospitality Net.

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