If you own or manage a small hotel, you don’t need us to tell you that small hoteliers face different challenges than owners or managers of larger properties. As a small hotel owner, you know these challenges first-hand.
With fewer staff to rely on and smaller budgets to work with, managing a smaller property often calls for a more time-consuming, hands-on approach that involves wearing multiple hats every day. But we’re not here to tell you what you already know—we’re here to help you find the right tools to manage your staff, budget, and workload so you can cut costs and increase your revenue.
The right property management system (PMS) can make managing a small hotel easier by automating tedious tasks and processes, streamlining booking and reservation management, scheduling housekeeping and maintenance, and more. But the best PMS for a larger property isn’t always the right choice for a smaller hotel, inn, or B&B. So how do you know what is the best PMS for small hotels?
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about small hotel PMS systems, including:
- What is a small hotel PMS?
- What can a small hotel PMS do for you?
- Key small hotel PMS features to look for
- The best PMS for small hotels
Let’s get started.
What is a Small Hotel PMS?
A small hotel PMS is a property management system designed specially to meet the needs of small hotels, inns, BnBs, motels, experiential lodging, and other independent establishments. With the right small hotel PMS, you can easily manage reservations, monitor property performance, and streamline your operations so you can focus on providing the best guest experience (and boosting your revenue).
What Can a Small Hotel PMS Do For You?
A small hotel PMS can do a lot for you. The best PMS for small hotels will offer a variety of features that will help you operate your property more efficiently and increase your bookings without including unnecessary and costly tools and features you don’t need. With the right small hotel PMS, you can:
- Automate time-consuming administrative tasks like adding in new reservations, managing housekeeping, prioritizing early check ins and late check outs, and accepting payments
- Manage reservations easily with all reservation information available at your fingertips
- Simplify complicated channel management and boost your property’s visibility by directly connecting to all the major OTA’s through one easy-to-use platform
- Improve your booking experience by offering guests simple online booking options, including mobile booking
- Increase revenue by adjusting room rates according to demand and easily adding up-selling and cross-selling opportunities during the booking experience
- Streamline staffing, housekeeping, and maintenance by assigning tasks and prioritizing them by guest arrival time
- Quickly adjust room rates on all OTAs based on demand, room class, and occupancy percentage
- Get better insights into your hotel’s performance using detailed reports, as well as powerful revenue and performance review tools
6 Key Small Hotel PMS Features To Look For
How can one software platform help you access all of these benefits? There are a few key features you should look for when searching for the best PMS for your small hotel, including:
- All-in-one property management system
- Simplified channel manager
- High-converting booking engine
- Easy upselling and cross-selling to generate more revenue
- Performance reporting
- Cloud-based and mobile accessible
Let’s take a closer look at each of these features.
1. All-in-one property management system
Small hotels typically have fewer staff than larger properties, which often have large teams dedicated to handling different activities like housekeeping, maintenance, and front desk. This means that for small hotels, managing each team member’s task assignments (including your own) is both more challenging and more critical to providing a positive guest experience.
For small hotels, an all-in-one property management system will make it easier to manage different aspects of your property all from one platform. Look for an all-in-one PMS that offers:
- Revenue management tools: A small hotel PMS should include the ability to set revenue goals and monitor your progress. Options to create surge alerts so you can adjust rates in real-time and take advantage of high demand, as well as automate rate changes in response to booking activity are also key revenue management tools to look for in a small hotel PMS.
- Manage reservations: Your small hotel PMS should enable you to quickly and easily create or modify guest reservations from your computer or mobile device.
- Rate and inventory management: Look for a small hotel PMS that can create custom rate and room classes, compare average daily rate to occupancy percentage, and update inventory and rates on all OTAs from one platform.
- Housekeeping and maintenance: The best PMS for small hotels will include task management tools that help you better manage your staff by assigning tasks quickly, prioritizing tasks based on guest arrival time, and easily marking them complete.
- Payment processing: Payment processing is an important feature for any small hotel PMS. Your software should be able to manage all payments, chargebacks, and deposits with integrations for all major credit card processors. Payment processing features should always be PCI DSS compliant.
2. Simple channel manager
An easy-to-use channel manager is an essential tool for small hotels. With a channel manager, you can directly connect your property to all leading OTAs like Google Booking Links, Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, and more so guests can easily find you wherever they prefer to book.
Smaller hotels may have less time and budget to devote to marketing, so being available on all major booking channels is often a key strategy to maximizing your occupancy rate and connecting with guests anywhere in the world.
HOSPITALITY FACT: 3 million reservations have been created for innRoad customers through OTAs.
The best PMS for small hotels will offer a variety of channel management features, including:
- Real-time occupancy and pace alerts
- Complete visibility into the highest performing channels
- No manual entry
- A dynamic distribution model that allows you to post only the rooms and rates you want on the dates you want
You should also look for a PMS whose team will help you get your property set up on different OTAs with ongoing 24/7 live phone and email support.
3. High-converting booking engine
Most small hotel PMS systems will include some kind of booking engine, but not all booking engines are created equal. The best booking engines for small hotels will include:
- Your hotel’s branding to create a seamless experience between your hotel website and the guest booking experience, making it easy for guests to confidently book the right room.
- A built-in rate checker. With a small hotel PMS, you can always guarantee the best rate when booking directly and save on commission fees by showing guests the same rates on your site as they see on OTAs.
- Room-by-room availability checker so guests can book their preferred room or plan their trip based on the best rates or the best rooms.
- A group reservation function to make multi-room reservations.
- Mobile capability so guests can make reservations on the go.
- Support for multiple properties, languages, and currencies.
HOSPITALITY FACT: innRoad clients have reported a 20% increase in direct bookings using our booking engine, which uses your hotel’s branding to create a seamless experience between your hotel website and guest booking experience.
4. Easy upselling and cross-selling to generate more revenue
Add-ons like bottles of champagne, turn-down service, breakfast vouchers, and other unique experiences are especially important for small hotels. Perks like these can provide that extra touch that makes your small hotel stand out from the big brands, inspiring guest loyalty while also increasing your revenue. Win-win.
HOSPITALITY FACT: innRoad clients that have added these benefits into their booking engine have reported seeing a 10% increase in room revenue.
5. Performance reporting features / data analytics
Small hotel owners have a lot on their plate, and reviewing data to unearth insights can be both confusing and time-consuming.
The best PMS for small hotels will include performance reporting features that make it easy to read and interpret data about your business performance over time, for everything from revenue to maintenance scheduling. With the right small hotel PMS, you can get important data sent directly to you daily, weekly, and monthly, along with year-over-year comparison metrics and an easy-to-read overview of your property’s progress towards reaching your goals.
6. Cloud-based and mobile accessible
A cloud-based hotel PMS is completely web-based, which means you can access it from any connected device, including mobile phones and tablets. On-premise PMS systems, on the other hand, are locally hosted, meaning you’ll also only be able to access the software on devices with the software installed. On-premise systems also require significant investment in hardware, especially if you want to access your PMS on more than one device, and these costs can add up quickly for small hotels.
Besides requiring significantly less investment in tech infrastructure, cloud-based PMS software offers small hotels a number of advantages:
- You can access your PMS from any connected device, anywhere, any time. For property managers and owners, sitting behind a desk watching over your PMS all day just isn’t a realistic prospect, but with a cloud-based PMS, you can keep your most valuable management tool available at all times so you can make adjustments on the go whenever they’re needed.
- Because data is stored by the vendor and not on-site, you don’t need to worry about investing in in-house servers, hardware maintenance, or data security—your vendor will take care of all of this for you. All you need is a connected device, a strong internet connection, and a web browser.
- You’ll also receive software updates more frequently, with new features released regularly. Some small hotel PMS systems, including innRoad, release new features monthly.
- Cloud-based PMS systems are much easier to integrate your PMS with other systems like OTAs.
Mobile accessibility is important for your booking experience as well. Your small hotel PMS should include a mobile-accessible booking engine that enables guests to book rooms easily from their mobile device.
HOSPITALITY FACT: 81% of hotel industry bookings are made on a mobile device!
What’s The Best PMS for Small Hotels?
So now that you know about the key features of a small hotel PMS, how do you know what’s the best PMS for your small hotel? The answer is simple.
The best PMS for small hotels is a cloud-based platform that meets your needs without exceeding them. Many PMS systems designed for larger properties will include features and functions that your small hotel may not need, but you’ll still be paying for them. For smaller hotels with smaller margins, the extra cost of these unused features or hardware infrastructure can have a major impact on your bottom line.
For small hotels, the best PMS will feature the key functionalities listed above, with options to add additional tools as needed. To create the best PMS for your small hotel, look for a provider that will work with you as a partner to create a custom platform that handles the tasks you need without the extra bells and whistles. This way, you get the key features you need without paying for tools that you don’t.
Add-on features can include:
- Housekeeping modules
- Payment processing tools
- Integration with other software, such as door locking systems, cash drawers, guest communications, or self check-in or check-out systems.
- Group bookings
- Automated rate changes
- Demand management tools to set ADR, occupancy, and revenue goals, monitor performance against goals, and automate rate changes
- Performance digest and detailed reporting
- Surge alerts
- Website development tools
- Online check-in and check-out capabilities
- Guest communications and messaging tools
Managing a small hotel comes with a unique set of challenges that managers or owners of larger properties may not experience. By automating tedious tasks and processes and streamlining booking and reservation management, the right small hotel PMS can help you cut costs, improve your guest experience, and increase your revenue.