Features & Functions of a Property Management System for Small Hotels
Read Part 4 of 8 of our Complete Guide to Small Hotel Property Management Software to discover the key functions of a property management system for small hotels, as well as what small hotel PMS features you should look for.

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1. Functions of a Property Management System

The key function of a property management system is to help property managers or hotel owners organize and coordinate some or all aspects of their hotel operations.

Using a variety of features (more on these in a moment), a hotel PMS can support a number of separate functions that will make it easier to manage almost every aspect of running your hotel, including:

Property management systems for small hotels can handle all of these key functions, but are specially designed to meet the unique needs of small hotels, inns, B&Bs, motels, experiential lodging, and other independent establishments. This means they will offer features that are most beneficial to small properties, such as cloud accessibility and a direct booking engine, as well as the option to build a custom PMS package that includes only the key tools you need.

Keep reading to learn more about the key features of a hotel property management system and what hotel PMS features to look for for your small hotel.

2. Key Features of a Hotel Property Management System

We know that the primary function of a hotel PMS is to help property managers and hotel owners manage some or all aspects of their hotel operations—but how exactly can one software platform handle so many unique functions? In this section, we’ll take a closer look at 11 key features of a hotel property management system to understand how they simplify managing almost every aspect of running your hotel. We’ll look at:

  1. Cloud accessibility
  2. Direct booking engine
  3. Reservation management
  4. Channel management
  5. Housekeeping and task management
  6. Real-time and advanced reporting
  7. Revenue management
  8. Payment processing
  9. Online check-in and check-out
  10. Website development
  11. Customer relationship management (CRM)

Let’s jump in.

1. Cloud accessibility

The ability to access your hotel PMS in the cloud from any connected device is one of the most important features of a hotel property management system, especially for small hotels.

We don’t need to tell you that managing a small hotel is a 24/7 operation, and you can’t always be sitting behind your computer reading reports, adjusting reservations, and scheduling tasks for your staff. By providing anytime anywhere access to your property management software, a cloud-based PMS provides small hotel owners with the flexibility and support needed to operate a true 24/7 business. That means you can stay in total control of your hotel’s operations from wherever the workday takes you, whether you are traveling between properties, are attending an off-site meeting, or are cleaning a room because your housekeeper is out sick.

Cloud-based software also typically offers automatic free system updates without requiring on-site installation. Plus, data is stored off-site by your software vendor, which means small hotels can implement a hotel PMS system without dropping a bunch of cash on major tech upgrades—and stop relying on tech-savvy team members to act as in-house “IT support”.

2. Direct booking engine

Next to cloud-based access, a direct booking engine is one of the most important features of a hotel property management system for small hotels. With a well designed online booking engine, it’s easy for guests to compare rooms and prices, check availability, reserve add-ons and upsells, and book their stay on any device right from your website. That means fewer fees and commissions paid to OTAs and more money in your pocket.

A direct hotel booking engine should offer these key features to help create a seamless booking experience for small hotels:

  • Rate checker: Your website’s direct booking engine should ideally show the exact same rates you send to OTAs (or lower) to help reduce abandonment to OTAs and save on commissions and fees.
  • Availability calendar: Guests should be able to view availability and rates by room and by date so they can plan their trip accordingly.
  • Upselling options: Make it easy for guests to reserve and pay for upsells or add-ons at the time of booking, such as meal packages, bottles of wine upon arrival, spa visits, and more. innRoad clients typically see 10% more revenue by offering unique upsells and add-ons during booking!
  • Mobile access: Your booking engine should be mobile optimized so guests can book their stay on their phone. 81% of reservations are made on a mobile device!

HOSPITALITY FACT: innRoad customers report seeing a 20% increase to their direct bookings from our high-converting online booking engine and increased visibility through channel management. Learn more about our hotel booking engine.

3. Reservation management

Some hotels have a separate central reservation system (CRS) that works alongside their PMS, while others like innRoad integrate their CRS functions into an all-in-one PMS to simplify property management even more.

For small hotels, integrating your CRS into an all-in-one property management system makes it as easy as possible to manage reservations, including:

  • Creating, modifying, and managing reservations from any device
  • Setting custom room rates and classes
  • Comparing ADR to occupancy percentages
  • Updating inventory and rates on all OTAs from one dashboard

4. Channel management

A direct booking engine can help you capture more bookings right from your website, but what about guests who prefer to book on non-direct channels like OTAs or through travel agents?

A hotel PMS and channel manager connects directly to other booking channels like GDSs and major OTAs so you can sync rates and availability instantly with no third parties to slow you down. That means you can quickly update your rates and availability on one platform and all of the relevant information will be synced across all OTAs and your direct booking engine. With prices and availability updated in real-time whenever someone makes a booking, you can say sayonara to double or overbooking rooms.

HOSPITALITY FACT: 3 million+ reservations have been created for innRoad customers through OTAs. Learn more about our hotel channel manager add-on.

What about Google Booking Links?

Google search results now display free hotel booking links just below paid hotel ads, offering small hotels a new (and free) opportunity to get more direct bookings without paying advertising costs or expensive commissions to OTAs.

innRoad will do all the heavy lifting to get your property listed in Google Booking Links at no extra charge—it’s included in your monthly PMS subscription. This means:

  • Guests can book their stay faster in fewer clicks
  • Live rates and availability are automatically displayed
  • You’ll get an official site badge to help your hotel website stand out
  • Your Google Booking Links will be directly connected to your booking engine for a seamless, commission-free booking
  • Referral bookings from Google Hotels will be tracked for your reporting needs

5. Housekeeping and task management

Whether you have a team of two or twenty, managing everyone’s to-do list along with your own is never easy (and never ending). With dedicated housekeeping and task management hotel PMS features, you’ll get complete visibility into the status of different tasks that need to be tackled around your property. You can:

  • Create, assign, prioritize, and track tasks for different departments and individuals, such as front desk, maintenance, or housekeeping
  • Prioritize tasks based on guest arrival time
  • Assign tasks to team members and mark as complete in real-time

6. Real-time and advanced reporting

Real-time and advanced reporting is one of the most powerful features of a property management system for small hotels. Your PMS should come pre-loaded with reports that give you visibility into all areas of your business so you can easily track personal goals and increase your revenue. You should also have the option to create custom reports that show the metrics that matter most to you.

With innRoad’s advanced reporting features, you can:

  • Customize, filter, and save specific reports for quick or daily reference. For example, our Daily Flash report provides a quick glance at current performance and operational data, while our Pace Report shows year over year pacing on occupancy, revenue, and other top metrics.
  • Analyze front desk activity with an in-depth peek into everything from reservation details, guest contact info, cancellations, compliance, and more.
  • View all of your financial reports in one place, including advanced deposits, account balances, folio and ledger balances, and transactions
  • Get insights into task performance, resource allocation, and productivity
  • Batch reports for different business areas
  • Schedule and send reports to employees or teams
  • Create custom reports that suit your needs

7. Revenue management

Some PMS systems offer revenue management features so you can set goals and monitor your progress—an important task that many small hotel owners struggle to find time for while they’re busy managing their day-to-day operations. Look for revenue management tools such as:

  • Goal setting: Set custom goals for key metrics like ADR, occupancy, and revenue, get recommendations on how to meet your goals, and see real-time projected revenue forecasts.
  • Monitor progress: Get key metrics automatically sent to your inbox daily, weekly, and monthly so you can track your progress towards reaching your revenue goals. For example, you can monitor your daily occupancy percentage, ADR, revenue, RevPar, cancellations, and total available room nights, and even compare performance year over year.
  • Surge alerts: With real-time notifications when bookings surge, you can adjust your rates in real time to make the most of the increased demand.
  • Automated rate changes: Some property management systems can automatically adjust your rates in response to changes in booking activity—that’s one less thing for you to worry about! For example, innRoad’s Yield Management tool can increase or decrease your rates based on occupancy percentage, and will automatically issue a rate change when you receive a surge alert or reach an occupancy target.

8. Payment processing

Some property management systems make it possible to integrate payment processing directly into your PMS so you can avoid costly credit card processing fees. With negotiated discounted processing fees, innRoad clients have saved an average of $57 per month on processing fees alone.

Incorporating payment processing into your PMS can help you simplify operations by using just one vendor to process payments. That means instead of managing multiple vendors, you can manage all your payments, chargebacks, and deposits from one dashboard.

INNROAD TIP: Make sure your PMS provider’s payment processing feature is PCI DSS compliant with point-to-point encryption for all transactions.

9. Online check-in/check-out

Guests are increasingly demanding contactless or online check-in and check-out to streamline their arrival. Some PMS systems offer online or contactless check-in and check-out by allowing guests to submit contact information, IDs, credit card details, and sign registration forms online before they arrive, helping to speed up the arrival process and provide a better guest experience.

With innRoad’s online check-in add-on, you can schedule emails inviting guests to check-in online before they arrive. Their anticipated arrival time will be saved with their reservation so you can make sure essential housekeeping tasks are complete before they arrive. If they plan to arrive before your usual check-in time, you can even upsell early check-in during the online check-in process, along with any other products or bundles you want to include.

10. Website development

Your website is a key customer touchpoint, but unless you’re tech savvy (or have a tech-savvy team member you can rely on), it can also be a major pain point for busy small hotel owners.

In addition to providing key property management features, some PMS providers can also help you create a simple but effective website that makes it easy for guests to get to know your property and book their stay—and for you to make pain-free updates.

innRoad offers a website development option that provides multiple templates to choose from and customize, including:

  • Multi-page websites with your own branding, photos, calls to action, and more
  • Responsive design for easy booking on mobile or desktop devices
  • Built-in search engine optimization tools to maximize your visibility online
  • Comprehensive training so you can make edits on your own
  • Full access to and ownership of the final site

Simply choose a template, provide the required information, and we will build out your site and send it to you for review before we launch.

11. Customer relationship management (CRM)

With a CRM platform integrated alongside other hotel PMS features like your CRS or front desk system, you can more effectively collect and organize guest data in order to better understand your guests, plan for return visits, and anticipate their needs. CRM features can also help you measure and improve the guest experience so it’s easier to personalize stays, create membership and loyalty programs, or simply remember guest preferences for their next visit.

3. What Features of a Property Management System Do I Need for My Small Hotel?

Ultimately, the key features of a property management system that you should look for for your small hotel will depend on the unique needs of your property. At the least, you should look for the following hotel PMS features:

  • Cloud accessibility so you can access your PMS data on any device
  • Direct booking engine so it’s easy for guests to book right on your website (saving you OTA fees and commissions)
  • Reservation management to make creating and modifying reservations as easy as possible
  • Task management features to organize your neverending to-do list and coordinate key activities like housekeeping and maintenance
  • Revenue management tools so you can set goals, monitor your progress, and take advantage of opportunities to earn more money
  • Reporting so you can quickly see your property’s performance and compare it against the previous year

You may also benefit from additional features, such as:

  • Channel management so you can connect directly to all your OTAs and make updates to all your profiles in just a few clicks
  • Payment processing to integrate payments right into your PMS
  • Online check-in and check-out so guests have the option to check-in before they arrive
  • Website development so you don’t have to worry about creating your own site

Some PMS providers include some or all of these features as part of an all-in-one system, while others will offer a selection of features with other tools available as add-ons for extra functionality. This flexibility can be especially beneficial for small hotels—instead of paying for a complete suite of features you don’t need, you get the essential features of a property management system with the option to add the extras you do need.

If you already have software that provides some of these features, look for a PMS that offers free data migration, or which can be easily integrated with your current systems so you don’t end up creating irritating data silos that make it harder to manage your property.

4. Checking Out

The key function of property management systems for small hotels is to centralize and simplify the daily operations of running a small hotel, from making bookings to reporting on your progress.

When you switch to an all-in-one cloud-based hotel PMS like innRoad, you get access to all the essential features of a property management system, including:

  • Cloud accessibility
  • Direct booking engine
  • Reservation management
  • Housekeeping and task management
  • Real-time and advanced reporting
  • Revenue management

innRoad also offers a number of add-on features for additional functionality, including:

  • Channel management
  • Payment processing
  • Online check-in and check-out
  • Website development

Discover innRoad's Small Hotel PMS

Request a free customized demo to see how innRoad's small hotel PMS can help you get more bookings, streamline operations, and increase your revenue.

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