Some of the pain points hoteliers encounter with legacy or on-premise property management systems are the high costs, long learning curves and complexity or limited flexibility performing software updates and system upgrades. For years having a PMS was beyond the reach of small and medium sized properties, especially because of the high upfront, license and maintenance costs of these systems. A cloud-based PMS solves all of these problems and more.
Now, there are no reasons why a small or medium sized hotel shouldn't have a PMS (well, maybe one, but more about this later). Even the bigger properties and hotel chains are considering moving to a cloud-based hotel property management solution (Cloud-PMS).
Here are the 8 reasons why a cloud-based PMS is so appealing to hotel managers
#1 Reduced costs
One of the biggest advantages of a cloud-based property management system is a reduction in costs. A premise-based PMS is a major capital expenditure, typically requiring a dedicated PMS server; and, depending on the size of the property, an additional server to manage reservations or handle other needs. Then, there are the software licensing fees, installation and training expenses, and ongoing maintenance costs. With a cloud-based system, no costly hardware – and its three-to-five-year refresh cycle – is needed. As for technical maintenance, it's provided by the Cloud-PMS vendor. The pricing structure of a cloud-based system, which is typically based on a subscription model, can also be an attractive feature because it enables hotels to treat the PMS as an operational expense rather than as a large up-front investment.
#2 Instant scalability
Premise-based property management systems require hotels to purchase additional software licenses with each new server or workstation they add. Cloud-based systems manage resources dynamically as the property's circumstances change. The system adapts to the hotel's needs rather than the hotel having to adapt to the property management system.
#3 Easy accessibility
A cloud-based property management system also offers easy accessibility. Because the PMS uses the Internet to store information, hotel staff – including those employees who may not be tech-savvy – can access data from any computer, smartphone or tablet. This is particularly appealing to property managers who want the convenience of off-site access to the system. And, as more vendors develop versions of their software for tablets and other mobile devices, accessibility will only continue to increase.
#4 Low learning curve and easy of use
No need to be training your staff for weeks on end to understand these kind of systems. This is one of the major differences between the old and new generation of PMSs. Intuitive design for these systems has became a priority. It’s now common to involve designers in the development process to provide the most user-friendly application possible.
#5 Simplified inter-connectivity
You probably know how important a channel manager and a booking engine are to get more reservations. And you know better how difficult it is to manage online channels by hand. Now it is directly connected to your PMS, everything is synchronized automatically to OTA sites and meta-search engines. Here is where you can save lots of time, energy, paper and ink. Moreover, now these modern cloud-based property management systems come with a mirriad of interfaces for call accounting, managing Wi-Fi access, door lock systems, POS (Point of Sales) and more.
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#6 Immediate updates
Cloud-based property management systems simplify the upgrade process and enable hotels to stay current with the latest features and services the vendor provides. The hotel no longer has to schedule upgrades based on the availability of its IT staff. Instead, the property can take advantage of enhancements and new features as soon as they become available. And, because a cloud-based system provides new functionality frequently, the hotel can stay ahead of the marketing trends that provide opportunities for increased revenue.
#7 Enhanced security
Guest data security is paramount, yet IT staff may not always be up-to-date on the latest security techniques. In smaller properties that don't have an IT department, security may take a back seat to other pressing technology concerns. A cloud-based PMS helps ensure the integrity of guest and property data and enables hotels of all sizes to take advantage of outside experts who stay current on security and compliance practices, so that data isn't compromised.
#8 Improved guest service
Finally, guests increasingly expect to use their own tablets and smartphones to request hotel services. This is difficult with premise-based property management systems, due to security requirements and other complexities. With a cloud-based solution, guests and staff can interact with the system, even when they are not in the hotel. This increased interactivity enables new integrated experiences where guests can leverage their social networks to share experiences and recommendations with friends and family. Hotels in turn can use this social media buzz to engage with guests, enhance loyalty, improve brand exposure and drive traffic to their websites.
What's the downside of having a cloud-based property management system?
Using a pure cloud-based PMS has one pitfall: Internet Connectivity. A reliable Internet connection is key to the proper functioning and successful day-to-day operation. Addressing this single point of failure is crucial. There are two ways to tackle this problem.
Redundant Internet Connections: Having more than one Internet provider combined with a load balancing appliance will cover the greatest part the solution. When one connection is down, you'll still have the second (or third) one to guarantee continuity.
A hybrid configuration: Some Cloud-PMS-es come with a front desk application which is installed on one of the desktops (typically at the front office). The front desk application has it's own database which synchronizes all data with the Cloud-PMS. So, when all Internet connections are down, the front-desk clerks can still do check-in, check-outs and reservations.
Is a cloud-based property management system right for you? Probably, considering all the benefits it could bring for your hotel. But choosing one is not an easy task. Now there are hundreds of Cloud-PMS providers out there, each one with a different set of features, capabilities and price plans. Hotelier!ONE can help you sift through the cloud of Cloud-PMS solutions. Start here.
(Parts of this post are adapted from Rehan Jaddi's article "Top Six Benefits of a Cloud-Based PMS". Rehan is Vice President of Engineering at Agilysys).