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PMS integrations: The key to efficient hotel ops

Last updated on February 5, 2024

Property management systems (PMS) are the mainstay of any hotel operation. Designed to drive productivity and efficiency across the hotel, they are at their best when integrated with specialist software. Online booking engines, point-of-sale systems, payment gateways, interactive TV and table management are just some of the many integrations we will discuss in this article.    

What is a PMS integration? 

A PMS, also known as a hotel operating system, is software that hospitality businesses use to carry out their day-to-day operations, from taking bookings, billing customers, and taking payment, through to managing room allocations, staff schedules and reconcilliations.  

Each PMS comes with its own set of functionalities, and they are all designed to be integrated with other specialist software so that the PMS can be the central ‘go-to’ place for the user. There are hundreds of integrations out there. The important thing is to identify which ones will be most useful for you and whether the PMS you are using or considering can integrate with them.  

Let’s look at the most popular PMS integrations, starting with one that is essential for most hotels. 

Most popular PMS integrations

Channel manager software 

Almost any hotel marketing strategy relies on Online Travel Agents (OTAs). Booking.com, Expedia, Airbnb, and regional leaders such as Ctrip (China) and Agoda (Asia) can provide hotels with access to a large customer base, each with their own specific requirements such as location, price, quality of service and amenities.  

Approximately two-thirds of hotel bookings come through OTAs, so it is important that your PMS system can connect with them. That is where channel management software comes in. It’s essential unless, of course, your PMS has a robust channel manager module built in.  

Channel Manager software will ensure that all your distributional channels (including OTAs and, if you are using one, the Global Distribution System (GDS) are correctly synchronised to your PMS. This will facilitate all the associated transactions automatically and eliminate the need for manual management of the booking process. 

Further reading:
How to calculate Guest Acquisition Cost (GAC)
- Top 9 Online Travel Agents in 2024

Revenue management system  

A Revenue Management System helps hoteliers maximise their revenue by charging the best rates at the right time. They are complex pieces of software utilising advanced algorithms, historical data, competitors' rates, local events, and seasonal activities to review and improve pricing strategies and optimise rates continually. A Revenue Management System will also update prices across all distribution channels (usually through the channel manager) so that you can sell rooms at optimal rates. 

Most PMS will be able to do some part of this. For example, they may be able to manually open or close availability and rates based on occupancy to help optimise sales through each channel. Some PMS have gone a step further and can offer dynamic pricing modules to perform simple revenue management tasks. But in most cases, an integrated Revenue Management System will be able to do much more. It’s just a question of whether you will need it.  

Further reading:
7 strategies for hotel revenue management 
What is revenue per available room (RevPAR)? 

Hotel booking engine 

An hotel booking engine has several alternative names. You may see it referred to as an Web Booking Engine, Online Booking Engine, or Internet Booking Engine. This integration will enable you to offer a seamless experience as users navigate from your website to making a booking. Look for customisable features that enable your brand (colours, font, photos, design style, etc) to be followed through from your website in a consistent format.  

This integration will also integrate into your PMS to automatically update all the important booking information that the booking engine captures, such as arrival and departure date, package or room type, room rate, discounts applied, additional requests, number of guests, and guest names. 

If your hotel attracts international guests, then understanding what multilingual functionality is available will be essential.  

Point-Of-Sale System (POS) 

If your hotel offers on-site amenities such as a restaurant, gym or spa, then you will be running multiple POS terminals. A POS terminal enables the team to administer each transaction, automate payments and keep all the important financial data in one place. A POS integration will ensure that this data is managed and stored from a central place (your PMS), so that there is one master record of all transactions, by customer or room number, for the entire premises.    

This is important because customers may be visiting multiple POS terminals for food and drink from your restaurant, café or mini bar, other in-room services such as TV or Wi-Fi or from your spa or gym.  

Further reading
What is a Point of Sale (POS) system?
- EPOS: Everything you need to know

Hotel marketing software  

Hotel Marketing Software, will enable you to run promotional marketing campaigns to help maximise your revenue streams. You will be able to automatically promote relevant and timely offers to different sets of current and past guests and previous enquirers. The software will be programmed to look for past booking patterns and segment like-minded customers to engage them with offers or suggestions that may work for them. It may be as simple as offering your best customers restaurant booking dates, times, and tables that you know they enjoy, alerting them to an exclusive event you are planning or promoting spa, gym, or pool usage at less busy times. You could also up-sell a booking already made (such as a room upgrade) or email them a survey after they have checked out. The options are endless as long as you have the right software to help you.  

Guest messaging  

Guest Messaging technology accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet the need for good communication and contactless services. And it was about time too. After all, most guests don’t want to call the front desk when they need something; it means they would need to be close to a hotel phone when what they are normally close to is their own mobile phone.  

Mobile messaging is the preferred communication choice for most guests. The challenge of any guest messaging system is to ensure that the guest messaging service can be integrated into the PMS and incorporated into hotel operations. Reservation data from the PMS is automatically sent to the guest messaging application to initiate a series of customised text messages sent to guests before they arrive, during their stay and, if required once they have left. Any incoming messages from guests are matched to the guest's reservation data, leaving a record and alerting staff of any messages that haven’t been responded to. 

Payment platform  

If your hotel accepts card payments, then you will be working with a payment gateway. Also known as a Payment Platform, the payment gateway plays a vital role in ensuring that your guest’s payment information is transferred securely to the payment processing network.  

With a payment gateway integration, payment information submitted by guests is automatically sent through the payment processing network. These transactions are then routed to the PMS in real-time so that they can be automatically checked against standard procedures such as the cancellation policy. Without this integration, then you will probably be resorting to manually posting reservations in the PMS, which is something to be avoided.    

Payment gateway integration is an important PMS integration for any hotel because it simplifies payments, authorisations, and refunds while also optimising payment security. 

Further reading: 
How to integrate a payment gateway into a mobile app 
Setting up a payment gateway: A step-by-step guide

Analytics  

Data drives decisions. It is important that the management team have the right data at the right time. Integrating your analytics platform and your PMS will help combine data from your PMS, such as reservations, inventory and availability, with benchmarking data, including comparison data from your competitors, putting you in a position of knowledge and power. However, all the data you could possibly need is no good if you don’t utilise it, which is where a good integration will come into its own, enabling you to create tried and tested reporting templates and customise these into reporting formats that work for your business.  

Analytics integrations are powerful tools with a comprehensive range of functions. However, your PMS or your Revenue Management System offer sufficient functionality without you having to incorporate an analytics integration, so this is something to consider.  

Access control system  

Access Control System is a specialist integration that takes care of property access. This enables staff to have access by role and property zone and guests to have access set to pre-established rules.  

Key cards have been widely used for some time now. Key card integration is simple. The key cards are managed and encoded through the PMS, which automatically feeds the key card system with relevant reservation data such as the room number, check-in and check-out timings and guest access zones. With this integration, the front desk team can enter this information into the key card system manually. With it, they swipe the card to encode it. 

Widely used by larger hotels, keyless access using mobile keys or keypad locks is becoming more common at small properties, too. And as demand increases, so does the technology controlling it. The PMS automatically sends reservation data to the access control system before generating a mobile key or keycode that is activated at check-in and deactivated at check-out. 

Both systems have been designed so that access set-up is automatically initiated within the PMS system, reducing manual input by the front of house team. This creates a speedy, and hopefully, seamless guest experience. 

Self-service kiosk system 

Self-service kiosks increased in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they aren’t just a tool used by large hotels to relieve pressure from the front desk team but a widely adopted tactic that empowers guests. This integration enables the PMS and self-service kiosks to communicate with one another, ensuring that self-service is as seamless as it is front-desk lite.  

Table management system  

A Table Management System is a useful tool for hotels and restaurants to manage guest data accurately and efficiently. It helps allocate guests to tables, records guest data and when linked up to a PMS, can feed data to the CRM and hotel marketing software, whilst informing staff which guests are staying at the hotel, what room they are in, whether they have any allergies any additional information such as preferences, eating habits and past visits. After all, what is more welcoming than a staff member greeting you with a ‘Well, it’s nice to see you again’? 

Customer relationship management (CRM) system 

Whether CRM system integration is required will depend upon the systems the hotel uses to store customer data (on its guests and past enquirers) and communicate with guests before, during and after their stay. Some PMS systems offer basic CRM functionality, and other integrations, such as hotel marketing and guest messaging, offer some cross-over.  

CRM systems enable staff to create email templates that can then be automatically pre-populated and personalised to confirm reservation details and restaurant bookings, promote future events and special offers, and collect feedback after the stay. 

Good to know: Protel's cloud-based PMS integrates to over 1000 different hospitality integrations - including many popular OTAs. If you would like to find out more you can visit the Marketplace (App store) here, or reach out to one of our integration experts by clicking here.

FAQs

What is a PMS system? 

Hotel property management system (PMS) is software that facilitates all aspects of a hotel’s day-to-day operations. Using integrations, a PMS will cover front-desk operations, channel management, reservations, rate and occupancy management, payment processing and housekeeping. 

What is an OTA? 

OTA is short for Online Travel Agents. With brand names that include Booking.com, Expedia and Airbnb, OTAs are an important part of the accommodation world, providing many properties with guests who have chosen their accommodation to meet specific criteria such as location, price, quality of service and amenities. OTAs also rely on great reviews, which also helps keep the hotels on their toes. 

What is a GDS? 

Although its heritage is airline reservations, a Global Distribution System (GDS) also distributes hotels, car rentals, cruises, rail travel and insurance. There are currently three major GDS providers: Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport. Used predominantly by travel agents, hotel bookings are the second most popular field of GDS activity after airlines. It enables the user to book a flight, hotel, and hire car reservation at the same time under one confirmation number.  

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