PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
The application of computers in the hospitality sector is of great importance because this area offers the greatest potential for improvement- cost reduction, better management information, reduced training and manpower costs and prospect of more interesting work.
PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (PMS): In recent times, hotels have started using PMS in order to manage and respond to guest needs efficiently and effectively. A PMS is a single site version and is need-specific to an individual property. A PMS is a generic term used to describe the computer applications (computer hardware and software) in managing the interface of various departments in a hotel in order to manage the property effectively. A PMS is important and essential to front office operations in modern hotels. It includes the process of reservations, registration, guest accounts, guest check in and checkout, handling discounts and allowances and the night audit.
- Energy Management System (EMS)
- Material Management System (MMS)
- Point of Sale (MICROS)
- Human Resource Information System (HRIS)
- Accounting System
- Call Accounting System (CAS)
- Management Information System (MIS)
BENEFITS OF A PMS:
- The operations are improved by the reduction of repetitive tasks.
- The internal operations of a hotel can be kept in a standardised manner making it easier to control which would be difficult in a manual system.
- The information needed by management to make decisions is current and accessible.
- Better internal control can be exercised with quicker and current information being available.
- Information is more difficult to compromise with user records being maintained by the system. The service provided to the guest can be improved with regard to timing andü accuracy of information and with greater levels of personalisation.
The PMS application for the front office has different modules for the efficient functioning of the whole department
Reservations Module: The reservations module is used to create and manage guest reservations; both for individuals as well as groups .The reservations module includes the following features:
- It provides room status records when the date of arrival, date of departure, and type of guest room is entered in the system.
- It colour codes the room status by using different colours .It can check the reservation status of a guest quickly as it can search by guest name, company name, group ID, confirmation number, or arrival and departure dates.
- It displays room availability status (of up to 14 days at a time) by simply selecting a date.
- It can attach guest messages to relevant reservations, to be delivered to the guest upon arrival.
- It can automatically calculate rates based on the room type, the rate code, arrival and departure dates, and the number of adults and children.
- It can create group blocks and rooming lists for standard groups, tour series, and allotments.
- It can create special group rates.
- It can use the rooming list feature for rapid reservation pick-up.
- It can pre-assign rooms to guests when making a reservation or at any time using a graphical tape chart.
- It is able to define a ‘share with’ reservation in group bookings.
- It automatically transmits confirmation of a reservation via e-mail, fax, or Internet.
- It is able to post an advance deposit on a room.
- It can enter ‘remarks’, which are visible upon reservation retrieval.
- It can reserve and track the availability of service items such as rollaway beds, cribs, and refrigerators.
Front Desk Module: The front desk module manages the registration of guests. The following features/functions are included in the front desk module:
- It can access guest information easily and quickly for viewing, modification, or check-in procedures.
- It displays a graphical room layout with the room status information, which shows the exact location of rooms.
- It tracks all guest activity for the length of their stay.
- It prints registration cards.
- It attaches individual, group, company, or travel agent information to each guest folio.
- It automatically transfers guest accounts to the city ledger when the guest checks out.
- It can create an incidental folio.
- It updates the system in case of a guest room change.
Rooms Module: The room’s module allows the staff to manage the hotel’s rooms and floor plans. The following are some of the functions performed by this module:
- It displays the entire layout of a hotel, showing a single floor/wing at a time. One can easily go to another floor/wing by using the scroll buttons, and enlarge or reduce the size of floor plans by using the zoom buttons.
- The display of the floor plan can be changed to show housekeeping, front desk, or specific room status.
- It provides latest room status information to both housekeeping and front office departments.
- It schedules the maintenance work for rooms.
- It automatically adjusts room inventory.
- It schedules linen change in long-term stayovers.
- It can track discrepancies in the room status.
Cashier Module: The cashier module is used to manage guest folios, raise bills, and perform checkout procedures .The following are some of the functions that can be performed with the cashier module:
- It can add incidental folios and move charges between folios with one click.
- It can locate any account by entering the room number or name.
- It manages all aspects of the guest folio, including debits, credits, adjustments, transfers, and voids. It allows the viewing or printing of folio details and summary information.
- It consolidates all transactions and produces an accurate bill quickly, enabling a speedy check-out.
- It allows the attachment of unlimited folios to each guest account.
- It carriers out the transfer of charges from folio to folio, from one room to another, in amounts or by percentage.
Night Audit Module: The night audit module is used to balance the day’s activity and complete the hotel’s accounting functions for the day. The following are some of the features/functions of the night audit module:
- It can perform routine tasks of posting room charges, changing non-guaranteed rooms reservations to no-shows, and changing the status of guaranteed no-shows with one touch.
- It takes an automatic back-up of data to optical disk. It has the ability to rebuild room availability afresh in case there is a system failure.
- It has direct access to the reports module.
- It allows the auditor to view a scrolled display of various processing steps.
- It automatically posts service charges like garage fees, crib fees, etc.
- It automatically posts finance and recurring charges.
- If a room is scheduled for maintenance work, it automatically changes the room status to out of order.
- It automatically sets the housekeeping status of occupied rooms to dirty.
- It can do batch printing of registration cards.
- It has the ability to process no-shows with deposit payments.
- It can print customized reports automatically.
- It can archive all records.
- It has the ability to perform close-out without a system shut down; other users may perform any task while the audit is running.
Set up Module: The set up module is used to define system settings. These settings allow for customization. Some of the key features/functions of this module are as follows:
- It can specify mandatory fields for required information
- It can customize according to the market, source and rate codes
- It can generate and customize colour codes.
- It allows access the function areas in the system using unique user IDs and passwords.
- It specifies rate codes, room rates, and rate availability along with the restriction of rate availability by date range, days of the week, or minimum stay.
- It creates and maintains profiles of individuals, groups, companies, and travel agents.
- It can define the phone extension for each room, including multiple phone extensions for a single room.
- It can display all message prompts and screen text in the local language.
- It creates a list of all room features available throughout the hotel and generates the display of attachments to specific room types and rooms.
- It can customize the reservations calendar with user-defined text for holidays, special events, and reminders.
- It sets a time limit for retaining the guest folios and profiles.
- It assigns request codes to anticipate the special
Reporting Module: The reporting module has various reporting formats which allow the management to retrieve operating or financial information at any point of time.
- With this module, the management can quickly access information such as:
- The availability of rooms on a particular day
- The number of guests arriving on a specific day
- Listing of guests’ folio balances
- Outstanding balance reports
Back Office Module: The back office module provides an integrated system for managing the hotel’s financial and statistical information.
- It simplifies accounting processes such as posting of accounts payable, transfer of accounts receivables, compilation of the payroll, budget preparation, and the production of the hotel’s profit-and-loss statement and balance sheet.
- The financial information entered on a terminal in back office updates all accounting records.
- The back office module is also linked with the night audit module, which helps in streamlining the accounting process.
Point of Sales
The points of sale (POS) are the products/services other than accommodation from where the hotel generates revenue. These include restaurants, bars, discotheque, night club, health centre, etc. Each point of sale is equipped with a stand-alone automated support for billings. If this is linked with the PMS, the data is immediately transferred to other modules for further processing.
Call Accounting System:
Hotels provide telephone facility to their guests. The resident guests can make local as well as long distance calls from the comfort of their rooms. The call accounting system is a stand-alone automated system, which tracks all outgoing and incoming calls. It has the following features: identification of outward dialing, automatic route selection, and call rating programme. When the call accounting system is integrated with the PMS interface, the calls are automatically posted in the respective caller’s account.
Energy Management System:
An energy management system is designed to manage the operations of equipments and instruments that consume energy. One typical function would be to shut down the operations of equipments that are not is use.
Electronic Locking System:
The electronic locking system is used widely nowadays. This system helps the hotels to control access to guest rooms. Only a person with the proper card key coded for the specific room can enter that room. When the electronic locking system is networked with the PMS, the front desk person is able to code the room keys for the guests. The coding is such that the key will become non-functional after the check-out time on the date of departure.
SELECTION OF A PMS
Since the PMS is a capital investment, great thought goes into the decision for the shift of a manual working system to a fully automated one.
Needs Analysis: It includes such issues as analysing the ease with which the telephone system can be used; the availability of room status; the length of time taken to complete a reservation request; analysis of needs includes such issues as how do the F&B report guest charges? How does Engineering monitor and control energy usage in guestrooms? etc. Similar information is researched and various operational and administrative needs are combined to determine which computer application would be appropriate for the property in question. . So, the needs analysis enables to know what is needed and what is not needed and will help choose from the many PMS available in the market.
Software Selection : Today, software is available in modules to cater for different areas in a hotel. Based on requirements based on the conclusion of the need analysis, a hotel may go in for the entire PMS or parts of it, i.e. certain modules. Many hotels combine modules for different departments from various PMS available. Proper software selection is important as it involves heavy investment. It should be configured or customised as per the need of the hotel. Other features of a software that should be considered are:
- Growth and flexibility: it should be able to handle present needs and grow with the hotel; i.e. can be added on with increased number of services.
- User friendliness: should be well designed with clear menu prompts, self-explanatory input screens, simple error correction, should require minimum training, etc.
- Operating system should be carefully selected and compatible with the hardware.
- Multi-user capability: several users can have access to and enter data at the same time.
- Report generator: to meet special requirements of the hotel those are meaningful to management.
- Stability: PMS should be able to operate without crashing and causing loss of information.
- Secure: the PMS should be able to incorporate security needs of the property- establishing user rights, tracking changes with user ID, etc. in order to establish accountability of actions of the users.
Hardware Selection: Hardware selected should be appropriate to run the selected software with the basic concept to:
- Processor speed – how fast a CPU makes calculations per second
- Disk drive: in megabytes is the access time- the time taken by the processor to retrieve information from the hard drive in milli- seconds.
- I-O ports (Input and out put devices): keyboards, printers, monitors, mouse, modem, CD drives, etc.
- Other supplies: paper, ink, toner, CDs, DVDs, etc.
- Other factors to keep in mind are:
- Positioning of hardware: this is based on the workflow analysis done during the needs analysis.
- How does it benefit the guest? Who will operate it? Who all will require access to the system at that position? And so on.
- Climatic conditions: whether location will be where air-conditioning is required, especially in back-of-the-house areas?
- Ergonomics: ergonomics is the study of the psychological and physiological effects of designs of equipment and other work conditions on people in the workplace as these affect productivity. For example, glare and flicker from the cursor, a flashing point on the monitor that indicates where the data can be entered, can cause eyestrain. Neck pain may result from improper positioning of the monitor, extreme pain in finger joints caused to excessive use of keyboard, and so on.
Note: The form of computers used today may vary from a desktop p.c. to a laptop for check in; tablets are being widely used in guest service while smart phones are also being widely utilised by hotel management today to provide the latest technology for the convenience of the guests.
Vendor Claims: (claims made by the supplier) One may inquire about the product from current users whether they are satisfied using their system.
Installation Plans: Proper planning of installation is essential for maintaining guest satisfaction and employee morale. One must have a complete plan laid out for hardware and questions such as who would be installing the hardware and cables, etc. should be clearly identified.
Training: Is classroom and on-the-job training provided by the vendor or not? If yes, is it charged for separately or is inclusive in the price quoted? Whether a training module is included or not?
Documentation of Procedures: Clear-cut procedures and instructions, guides and manuals provided- yes/no?
Back-Up Power Supply: Provision of UPS sources- yes/no?
Maintenance Agreement: The cost of repair and replacement of hardware and software; provision of emergency services should be considered. Annual Maintenance Contracts- AMC- may be a good idea to keep the system functioning smoothly.
Financial Considerations: The following should be considered:
- The decision regarding option of purchase or rental of a PMS since it is a heavy investment it can tie up cash flow of an organisation.
- If cost benefits are not realistically projected, profit may be difficult to come by.
- Analyse the savings in terms of overtime paid to employees, losses due to late charges, cost of marketing, database collection, etc.
- Advantages of outright purchase as opposed to staggered payments (instalments) should be considered. There may be discounts offered for outright purchase in cash.
- Advantages of lease- application of leased payment to purchase price, tax advantages of leasing, etc.
There are several companies that provide the PMS software to hotels, with their own unique features to suit the different requirements of various hotels. Some of the companies providing PMS software also provide other tailor-made products to their clients are:
- IDS Fortune
Micros Systems provides PMS software solutions to the hospitality industry through:
- Opera Enterprise Solutions
- Micros Fidelio
The Opera Enterprise Solution (OES) is a fully integrated suite of products that can be easily combined for deployment at any size of organization from a single-property hotel to a global, multi-branded hotel chain. Opera modules include:
Opera Reservation System: The Opera Reservation System (ORS) is a centrally managed computer reservation system that handles all types of reservations individual, group and party, company, travel agent, multi-legged, multi-rate, and waitlisted.
Opera Customer Information System: This gathers and manages profile data of guests, travel agents, sources, groups, and companies in a central database that can be shared by multiple properties.
Opera GDS Interface: The Opera GDS Interface links the hotel’s database and the global distribution systems (GDS) and web booking engines (WBEs) through a third-party switching company.
Opera Sales Force Automation : Opera Sales Force Automation (SFA) is a central sales support tool for a hotel chain’s regional or national sales team. SFA is fully integrated with Opera’s central reservation system, ORS.
Micros Fidelio range of software products include property management systems (PMS), reservation systems, and points of sale (POS) systems.
Property Management System It takes care of tasks like guest information, night audits, inventory control, profit management, and report generation.
Reservation system Configured to a hotel’s specification, it gives the hotel staff instant room status and availability report, leading to instant reservations.
POS systems Micros-Fidelio points of sale (POS) software systems facilitate faster information retrieval, which aids faster transactions.
Amadeus property management system can be integrated with front office, sales/marketing, and financial management functions. It allows the user to move faster in all core aspects of guest experience management.
Front Office Module This module offers full availability, reservation, yielding and billing functionalities, which in turn generate useful performance statistics. It provides data on performance indicators such as sales, accounts, source, and segment activity, which is monitored to analyze business efficiency and used to generate management reports.
Sales and Marketing Module This module aids the sales and marketing professionals to target potential guests and effectively manage customer relationships.
Conference and Banqueting Module Event planning is a feature that helps generate revenue for hotels. The key features of the conference management system include real-time conference/meeting room availability and equipment management. An interface with front office helps the sales agent to book rooms according to conference dates and guest preferences.
Financial Management It is designed for liquidity planning and control along with comprehensive accounting, financial reporting, and analysis.
It offers the following three PMS for all categories of hotels:
Fortune Enterprise It provides centralized data integration along with colorful displays to aid the absorption of the important facts at a glance.
Fortune Express This has the flexibility needed to manage mid-segment and budget hotels. A single database keeps all aspects of management, speeding up information sharing for greater efficiency.
Fortune Genie It has been designed to cater to the needs of limited service hotels, motels, and serviced apartments. A single database gives a clear overview of the entire enterprise, ensuring transparency.
The ShawMan PMS is an integrated front office management software that can host multiple properties and handle guest reservations simultaneously across many units, including an integrated web-based reservation agent and an auto confirmation manager.