How to manage a hotel, serviced apartment resort or B&B - making the most of your property management system - part 1
Thinking about a career in hospitality? Do you aspire to or do you already run your own hotel, serviced apartments or other accommodation business?
If the answer is yes, or you’re simply looking to re-boost your business and improve your property operations, then you’ll likely know there are several different areas of focus when considering how to manage in today’s fast paced, fast evolving, technology driven world…
Whether working for or owning a hotel, serviced apartments or other hospitality business software will be really important. Elina PMS has a software platform to help you grow.
At the heart of most hospitality businesses (after of course the people…) will be – or should be – a property management system (PMS). A property management system is designed to automate processes and operations for hotels, serviced apartments, resorts, B&B’s, Guesthouses etc. When this is done well, it makes operations smooth and saves a lot of time – freeing up your time to be spent with your guests.
The key question is however, what processes should be automated and to what degree? Most importantly, which problems does this actually solve for you?
Below we’ve compiled a list of common tasks and challenges for hotel and serviced apartment operators, highlighting which property management system features help to automate and solve them. This will help to demonstrate how to manage hotel or serviced apartment operations optimally and efficiently, giving you again the time back to develop and grown your business the way you want it to.
To keep it simple, we’ve broken it out into some key areas: bookings, additional products & services as well as considering some other popular themes such as multi-location properties, and multi-owner management – and for each we take a look at common issues, and those all-important solutions!
In Part 1 below, we take a first look at Bookings…
“Bookings; administrative OVERLOAD!”
For those new to the business, or for those where business has grown in size, or you’ve increased your occupancy rates, keeping track of your bookings and preventing double bookings is a big job. We know some of you are doing this manually (or with a spreadsheet) and it is not exactly surprising if you find this overwhelming!
Solution: If this is you, then you need an Occupancy Calendar. This is the centre of most PMS systems, and should have a simple visual representation of your upcoming occupancy. If done well, this should feed into the rest of the processes controlled by the property management system, and be interactive - allowing you to shuffle your bookings easily to optimise your availability.
“Making bookings and handling enquiries takes all of my time.”
Handling enquiries for your rooms/apartments is an important part of customer service, and of course guests always want an answer RIGHT AWAY (even if they don’t want to book for 3 months). This can be incredibly time consuming, and tricky to stay on top of. Not to mention, if guests are booking from different time zones, it is pretty tough to coherently get back to them whilst half asleep at 4am... Email typos to guests are never a good look (have you seen the sign off: Best fishes??) and let’s face it, can be quite embarrassing in the cold light of day...
Solutions: First, you need an Online Booking Engine on your website so that guests can book directly without you lifting a finger. Ideally this should be dynamically synchronised with your property management system, so your availability and rates are live - preventing any double bookings or incorrect rates. This provides guests instant information plus the option to book there and then, saving you time creating new reservations manually, as well as providing an efficient professional service to your now soon to arrive guests!
Secondly, if you have a low enquiry to conversion rate then you may want to find a PMS system with a quote function- allowing you to send these to guests automatically and keep track of exactly who needs to be followed up with!
“I spend too much time following up with guests to gain confirmations and arrival times”
This is a common complaint and a particular problem for serviced apartment providers with multiple apartment sites that offer a personal greeting service. This can produce a mounting pile of emails, and can be really damaging if you miss an email and fail to get back to a guest in time (or fail to actually meet them when scheduled…not a great start!).
Solutions: If this could be an issue for you, you need an Automatic Emailing Function to send confirmation emails to allow guests to confirm themselves, combined with a clear colour scheme on your occupancy calendar to remind you to get in touch with those who haven’t replied as yet. Additionally, a summary page of when guests are arriving each day is essential.
If arrival times are also a little tricky to manage, you may want to consider using an Online Booking Engine that ensures that guests will give you arrival times as part of the booking process. Alternatively, you could incorporate this into your automated emailing as part of a welcome email, and double check guests’ arrival times shortly prior to their due date.
Even better, you may want to consider a property management system with a ‘guest lounge’ on your online booking engine which will allow guests to check and edit their bookings directly online via your website, without you having to lift a finger!
Check out some other recommendations for your check-in check-out process here: How to make sure your arrivals & departures run smoothly
“Keeping track of guest information”
Losing guest details never looks good and can cause much frustration for both you and your guests. Furthermore, it’s important to keep track of guests who come to stay regularly and ensure that they feel valued and recognised for their loyalty. Managing this can be tough, especially when you have lots of staff who are not in every day- this needs some organisation!
Solution: This is easily solved if you have a good property management system complete with a CRM or Guest Profiles function which keeps track of all guest booking behaviour and details as part of the booking process. If you have an excellent property management system, this module should allow you to also track staff/owners’ profiles (more on this later) AND handle company profiles for your corporate clients.
Additionally, you may want to consider whether your provider is certified to carry billing information. An important aspect to check is whether they are PCI compliant, and who will have access to guests’ billing details.
“Coordinating my listings on online travel agents (OTAs) is a nightmare, and I regularly end up with double bookings & mismatched pricing.”
This needs to be avoided at all times. In the worst case scenario you may get double bookings and not have space to accommodate your guests. Many OTAs will then make you pay for and organise alternative accommodation, which is really damaging to your reputation, not to mention the loss of income!
Solution: You should work with a property management system that can connect to a channel manager with two-way functionality – this will mean that your pricing, rates and availability will be synchronised automatically. If you would like to be able to alter your pricing for individual OTAs, then you will need a system with dynamic pricing rules.
If you are connected to a lot of OTAs then you are likely to be getting high occupancy rates, however, you may also be paying a lot of commission. If you would like to reduce this, you may also want to consider options to increase your direct bookings. (see our recent blog on direct bookings... ). It may be that by using other property management system tools e.g.: the email marketing tool, online booking engine and rates and promotions you can reduce your need for OTAs.
Part 2 of How to Manage your Hospitality Business is Coming Soon!
Look out for Part 2 which will take a close look at those all-important revenue enhancing additional products and services, as well as a look what is often thought as the more complex areas of multi-location properties and multi owner management… automation here again is key!
And remember, if you would like to discuss anything in this blog or perhaps your particular requirements, please get in touch, and we would be delighted to help!
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