How the right PMS can increase guest satisfaction

Property-management sytems are the core of a hotel’s technology and operations and can be what make a property exceptional. Photo credit: Agilysys

The right property-management system can not only help hotels save time and money, but can actually help improve guest satisfaction. The perfect PMS for a property enables hotel staff to focus on meaningful interactions with guests, most often leading to increased guest satisfaction.

“Investing in the right PMS can facilitate frictionless guest experiences and interaction on guests’ own terms, with features that help hotels give guests options to personalize and take control of their own experience,” said Todd Sabo, president of RMS North America. “A PMS that offers online check-in and check-out, communication with hotel staff through a guest portal, access to rooms using mobile keys, loyalty programs and seamless guest communications (text, email, guest portal messaging) will drive guest satisfaction and revenue.”

There are a number of aspects involved in developing a guest’s experiences on property, which manifests with things such as positive reviews, repeat visitors, and increased spending. “Satisfied customers will spend more because of their experiences,” said Luke Pfeifer, senior director of product management at Agilysys. “There are so many direct guest touchpoints that are integrated with the property-management system that will increase guest satisfaction.”

The touchpoints include booking online, self-service and mobile check-in and check-out and digital room keys, among others. “The better the process of these things, the better the guest experience will be,” he continued. 

But those guest touchpoints need to work correctly every time, all of the time. “You must have dependable solutions,” Pfeifer said. “Sure, you can have a nonintegrated check-in, but the moment there’s a glitch and it doesn’t work correctly, you’ve lost that guest’s trust.” 

A PMS that offers online check-in and check-out, communication with hotel staff through a guest portal, access to rooms using mobile keys, loyalty programs and seamless guest communications will drive guest satisfaction. Photo credit: Agilysys

The pursuit of the right PMS system needs to include a centralization of the guest profile in a single database in order to manage the depth of requirements for that property across all facets of the operation, Maestro PMS VP Audrey MacRae said.  “This is related to staff productivity, personalization based on the central data available to all departments and ultimately enhancing the overall guest experience.”

It should allow for multiple points of connection between guest and staff for consistent engagement in their digital and on-property guest journey. “It should provide personalized offers to upsell the guest from first point of contact, from online booking of rooms, spa, activities and add-ons to mobile check-out and everything in between,” she continued.

The right PMS for your hotel should drive yield and rate strategies as part of the centralized solution with automated 'set it and forget it' capabilities that are based on multiple market factors for optimum rate management, MacRae continued. “It should carry a philosophy of 'playing well with others' to provide further opportunity for hoteliers to work with their third-party vendors of choice through a collection of APIs, thus ensuring each part of the guest journey is a touchpoint to both personalize the experience and drive ancillary revenue opportunities based on the experiences and preferences,” she said. 

The PMS should allow the staff to know the guest and anticipate needs based on a centralized guest profile and a single database shared across all operational departments, all in order to attend to guests' every booking need from spa to activities, from updates on group meetings and itineraries, all from any property touchpoint, ensuring the guest is served instantly and not moved from department to another to reserve their stay experiences, MacRae said.

Biggest Benefits of a Mobile PMS

As mobile property-management systems become more popular, they are changing the way hotel staff interacts with guests. Mobile allows hotels to deliver a personalized experience whether it’s being greeted at the door after the guest completed an online check-in or even as they pull up in their car. “Mobile PMS has changed the paradigm of the interactions with guests,” Pfeifer said. “Mobile PMS is really at the forefront of driving guest interaction these days.” 

One of the biggest benefits to mobile PMS is guest convenience. “It brings the system to the guest versus making the guest walk to the system,” said Carson Foerster, Springer-Miller’ Systems' director of sales. “Mobile PMS also can be expanded to include guest messaging, housekeeping, maintenance, operations dashboards, electronic guest signature capture and more, offering a true mobile experience for all staff.” 

There are options for a mobile web browser-based PMS with the latest mobile apps while having the ability to host data and application on a hotel’s own servers. Photo credit: Maestro

Mobile PMS also offers the ability to create more upsell opportunities through point-of-sale transactions, automated promotions and engagement before, during and after a guest’s stay, Sabo said. 

Mobile also gives managers the ability to access on the go. “They can now view operations anywhere, anytime,” Pfeifer said. “They can make housekeeping assignment changes and even tell the staff important details about guests while on the go.

While cloud-hosted PMS technology is becoming more mainstream, not all properties can or want to adopt the cloud-hosted concept but they still want mobility, MacRae said. Understanding that there are options for a mobile web browser-based PMS with all of the latest mobile apps while having the ability to host their data and application on their own servers is key.  

“This [allows] the operator to keep data local with a provider that offers each client use of the system platform best suited for their property without sacrificing any technology advancements,” she said.  “The mobile browser-based PMS also offers the operator the ability to present a more engaged guest experience by providing check-in tools to promote guest interaction with staff, increase housekeeping staff efficiencies with integrated mobile housekeeping apps and proactive guest stay management.”

Retaining Employees

The right property-management system can equip front-desk staff and other employees with the tools they need to do their job in the most efficient manner. When the PMS is in the direct hands of the staff, it has the most impact on that staff, empowering them to deliver better customer service, said Pfeifer.

“Of course this is important for staff that has a direct touchpoint with guests, but it goes beyond that as well,” he continued. “The valet, the concierge, housekeeping. They might not have a direct touchpoint with the guest, but because of the mobile PMS, they can offer a superior service to the guest.” 

Teton Mountain Lodge in Teton Village, Wyo., managed by Noble House Hotels & Resorts, uses a PMS that integrates with other systems, such as an online spa booking engine to streamline operations for staff. Photo credit: Springer-Miller

For example, housekeeping can offer turndown service while guests are dining at the in-house restaurant or clean the room while the occupant is at the on-property conference. 

The right PMS can allow for role-based menus, allowing front-desk agents to access functions they use most frequently, right from their home screen, Foerster said. 

Users also should be able to access the help site directly from within the PMS. “With this, e-learning videos, documentation and recorded webinars are just fingertips away, allowing staff to quickly get the support they need and return to focusing back on their guests,” Foerster continued.  

A PMS with a built-in internet booking engine, central-reservation system and integrated channel manager streamlines the booking process and therefore reduces the time front-desk staff must spend managing reservations, Sabo said. “The right PMS also streamlines operations to make daily tasks easier and more efficient for hotel staff with ‘set it and forget it’ functionality. Features like dynamic pricing, triggered correspondence and automated reporting can simplify staff members’ experience, increase job satisfaction and give them more time to focus on the guest experience.

From an employee-retention standpoint, the PMS needs to be easy to use, Pfeifer said. With an increasingly younger workforce, technology needs to be uncomplicated so it doesn’t become intimidating. Housekeeping staff oftentimes are used to a piece of paper for room cleaning so the upgrade to technology needs to be easy and quick to learn. 

Hands-on practices with live data will help engage users to be part of the change and empower them with knowledge to execute better guest experiences and be a more productive member of their teams, MacRae said. “The solution should give staff ways to connect with the guest from all points of contact including collecting guest profile and preference data in an interactive digital registration card process,” she continued. “It should allow them to interact with the guest to provide a smooth check-in experience with an express option if the guest checked in online.”