15 min read

What Is a Hotel Property Management System (PMS): Complete Guide

A PMS is the operating system of every hotel and is arguably the most critical piece of technology to choose from. This article provides an in-depth look at benefits, key features, pricing, top vendors and a advice for how to selecting the right one for your hotel.

Avatar

Jordan Hollander in Operations

Last updated January 26, 2024

image description

A property management system (PMS) is a hotel management software suite that property owners and front desk workers use to manage their business by coordinating reservations, online booking availability, payments, and reporting in one central place. The Hotel PMS streamlines operations for front office staff and guest services in a hotel business to check-in and check-out guests, see room availability, make adjustments to existing reservations, and even can have back office functionality (schedule housekeeping or maintenance ). With a central system, hoteliers can better manage and monitor the key metrics needed to run their business (e.g. average daily rate, occupancy, and RevPAR).

What are the Benefits of a Hotel PMS

A Hotel Property Management System (PMS) is an essential tool in the modern hospitality industry, offering a wide range of benefits that streamline operations, enhance guest services, and improve overall efficiency.  The reality is that a modern hotel cannot successfully run without a property management system in today's market.

Here are the main benefits of implementing a hotel PMS:

  • Improve Efficiency of All Tech Systems Through 2-Way Integrations: A hotel PMS acts as the central hub for all technology systems used within a property. Through 2-way integrations, it ensures seamless communication between different systems, such as point of sale (POS), revenue management, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This synchronization leads to real-time updates, reduces the likelihood of errors, and ensures that all departments are aligned and informed.

  • Streamline Management of Hotel: The PMS streamlines various aspects of hotel management, from front desk operations to housekeeping schedules. By centralizing operations, the system allows for efficient room assignment, quick check-ins and check-outs, and effective management of guest requests. This streamlining leads to smoother operations and a better allocation of resources. Deliver Consistent Guest Service with a Central Source of Inventory and Bookings: With a central source of inventory and bookings, a hotel PMS ensures that all staff have up-to-date information regarding room availability, guest preferences, and special requests. This centralization helps in delivering consistent and personalized guest service, enhancing the overall guest experience and increasing guest satisfaction.

  • Rapidly Onboard New Staff with Better UX and Easy to Use Workflows: A user-friendly PMS with intuitive workflows significantly reduces the learning curve for new staff. The better UX design helps staff to quickly familiarize themselves with the system, ensuring that they become productive members of the team in a shorter period. This also leads to fewer errors and a more consistent level of service.

  • Automate Tedious and Repetitive Tasks to Free Up Staff to Be More Present with Guests: Automation of routine tasks such as sending confirmation emails, updating room statuses, and processing payments allows staff to focus more on interacting with guests and attending to their needs. By reducing the time spent on administrative tasks, staff can dedicate more effort to providing a memorable and personalized service.

  • Bring Hotel Inventory Online to Be Sold Across the Complex Distribution Landscape Consisting of First and Third Party Channels: A hotel PMS enables properties to manage and distribute their inventory across a wide array of channels, including the hotel’s own website (first-party) and third-party channels like OTAs (Online Travel Agencies). This not only increases the visibility of the hotel but also ensures that the inventory is optimally utilized, leading to increased bookings and revenue.

A hotel PMS is not just a tool for managing day-to-day operations; it's a strategic asset that enhances the efficiency of tech systems, streamlines management, ensures consistent guest service, facilitates staff onboarding, automates routine tasks, and expands the hotel's presence in the market. By leveraging these benefits, hotels can significantly improve their operational efficiency, guest satisfaction, and overall profitability.

Get the latest hotel tech tips, trends and insights delivered to your inbox once a month

You’ve been subscribed
Invalid email format
post_faces_combined Join 50,000+ executives from world’s leading hotel brands and get the latest insights delivered to your inbox once a month

Key Features of a Property Management System

These features are true must-haves for any modern hotelier who wants to use technology to improve the guest experience, make back office operations more efficient, and build lasting relationships with guests.

  • Intuitive & easy-to-use interface: A user-friendly interface is the most important factor when choosing mission-critical software for a hotel. If your hotel software is complex and confusing, more mistakes will be made, costing you more money. Common tasks should not take lots of time and steps, as this slows down your team and limits your ability to grow quickly – hence the need for a powerful hotel management software system.

  • Mobile & tablet optimised: When your manager, housekeeping team, and other staff members need to check details on a booking quickly they shouldn’t have to rush back to the office. Any system you use must not only be accessible by, but also optimized for use on mobile phones and tablets. Better yet, your owner should be able to check performance while on holiday.

  • Clear visibility of the grid: Adding special events that are happening in the region, highlighting returning guests, and identifying guests who are yet to pay their bill are all features your grid should enable by default. Your grid should allow you to quickly & easily see key information about your guests.

  • Guest profiles: Are you working on building guest loyalty? Guest profiles store your guests’ contact information, stay history, and even preferences, so that you can deliver a more personalized experience during their next stay. Better yet, a guest profile with stored CC’s of your guest will make it even easier for returning guests. 

  • Email automation: You can communicate with guests and reduce manual work for your staff by deploying personalized, customized, and automated emails. Using your own templates, automated email functionality allows you to build a communication journey from the initial booking to targeted offers for repeat guests.

  • Housekeeping management: Your PMS should allow your housekeeping team to mark rooms as clean, dirty, or out of order. Having this information in one central place gives the front desk visibility of room statuses, so that they can accommodate early check-in’s and room moves without needing to radio the housekeeping supervisor.

  • Reservation management: Perhaps the absolute most essential PMS feature is reservations management and front office features. By housing all of your reservations digitally, hoteliers can make a paper reservation book a thing of the past. Within reservations management, you should be able to set rates, control availability, offer promotions, and visualize reservations on a calendar.

  • Room management: The room management module of a PMS is like your virtual front desk. This functionality lets front desk agents check guests in and out, and cancel or extend reservations with just a few simple clicks.

  • Group bookings/reservations: If your hotel plans on hosting any type of event or group of guests, then group reservations functionality is crucial. Group reservation features include allowing guests to book reservations within the room block, exporting a room list, and configuring billing settings so that you can bill one account for multiple rooms.

  • Invoicing: When most guests check out, they want a copy of their bill, so, your PMS should be able to easily export guests’ folios that contain all charges from their stay. Similarly, you’ll want solid, straightforward financial reporting that helps you reconcile revenue and expenses from room revenue, outlets, vendors, and more.

  • Payment processing: Gone are the days when guests paid with cash or cheque, so you’ll want a PMS with a payment processor integration that allows you to effortlessly charge guests’ credit cards and have secure access to major payment gateways.

  • Business intelligence & reporting: How do you know if your hotel is doing well if you can’t measure your performance? A PMS with robust reporting features will give you insight into your revenue, ADR, RevPAR, and a slew of other metrics so that you can find opportunities for growth – and track your progress toward your goals.

  • Rate management: Do you want to offer a non-refundable rate or value-added packages? If so, you’ll want rate management functionality that allows for multiple, customizable rate plans.

  • User logs & permissions: With so much turnover in the hotel industry, it is important to keep front-line staff accountable with detailed user logs to have an automated record in case of any mistakes, as well as to ensure proper training and issue resolution. Additionally, we are living in a world where consumers demand heightened security, so it is critical that staff are only able to access the parts of the hotel management system required to complete their core tasks without unnecessarily accessing sensitive information like credit card data.

Top Rated PMS Vendors

The following list is not based on opinion or conjecture, it's based on data.  HotelTechReport has surveyed more than 50,000 hoteliers about the software systems they use on property and meticulously ranks vendors based on popularity, innovation, user sentiment, integrations and dozens of other key variables that are important to hotel tech buyers.  Click here to learn more about the HTScore, our rigorous ranking process and methodology that is widely touted by industry leaders like Lighthouse CEO Sean Fitzpatrick who says, "HotelTechReport provides the most transparent, customer feedback-led information on which people in industry can base their decisions. Hoteliers appreciate being able to share their views with each other in an open, no-holds-barred forum with their peers. HTR offers this and has been a real and positive disruptor in creating a new, industry-specific portal to showcase unbiased views on hotel tech. Its awards showcase the best of these reviews, and hoteliers trust them."

 

1. Mews

Good for: Medium to large hotels that value rapid innovation and simple UX.

Mews PMS is recognized as a versatile and user-friendly property management system designed for hospitality businesses. It streamlines operations by offering comprehensive integrations, automating routine tasks, and ensuring a consistent guest experience. Mews PMS caters to various property sizes and types, facilitating management through an intuitive interface and powerful features like online booking, payment processing, and guest management. With its focus on improving efficiency and guest satisfaction, Mews PMS is a reliable choice for modern hospitality management.

Features:

  • Reservations Management

  • Rate Management

  • Housekeeping

  • Front-office operations

  • Space management

  • Data and reporting

 

2. Cloudbeds

Good for: Smaller properties looking for a rock solid all-in-one solution that won’t break the bank.

Cloudbeds positions itself as an all-in-one property management solution, integrating seamlessly across various platforms and services. It's recognized for its robust feature set, user-friendly design, and commitment to improving operational efficiency and guest satisfaction. Whether you're managing a small bed and breakfast or a large hotel chain, Cloudbeds offers tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each property, making it a strong contender in the property management software market.

Features:

  • One-click guest check-in/check out 

  • One-click reservation overview and rate updates

  • Drag and Drop Calendar Functionality

 

3. Oracle OPERA

Good for: Large enterprises and brands that value cyber security and require complex workflows.

Features:

  • Reservations and Profile Management

  • Front-Desk and Room Management Modules

  • Rate Management Functionality

  • Integrated Distribution Management

  • Advanced Reporting and Analytics

  • Integrated restaurant management / POS

 

4. Hoteltime

Good for: Independent hotels in Europe and Middle East.

HotelTime Solutions presents a cloud-based solution designed to streamline operations in hotels, restaurants, SPAs, and event management. It emphasizes time-saving, efficiency, and guest satisfaction, offering features like cost-saving measures, user-friendly interfaces, automation, quick training, robust reporting, and modernization of operations. Tailored for the hospitality industry, it is a product of extensive experience and is aimed at enhancing operational efficiency and guest experiences.

 

5. Stayntouch

Good for: Midscale - Luxury independent properties and hotel groups with rapidly scaling portfolios

StayNTouch is a revolutionary cloud-based PMS solution designed for various hospitality segments. It offers flexibility, allowing properties to deliver unique guest experiences. The platform supports a wide range of hotels and concepts, from boutique independents to full-service resorts, and provides functionalities like mobile check-in, robust automation, and guest-centric services. StayNTouch stands out for its adaptability, operational efficiency, and commitment to enhancing guest interactions, making it a versatile choice in the hospitality technology landscape.

Features:

  • Staff & Guest Mobility

  • Chain Management

  • Reservation Management

  • Front Desk Management

  • Revenue Management

  • Group/Allotment Handling

  • Profile Management

  • Mobile Housekeeping

  • Reporting & Analytics

How Much Does a Hotel Property Management System Cost?

As a general rule of thumb the cheapest PMS players will charge in the range of $5 per room per month.  Buyer beware that these systems will often have barebones functionality and often sparse customer support.  More sophisticated systems can cost in the range of $10-$15 per room per month.

Here is PMS pricing for a few of the major players:

  • Ezee Technosys Pricing: Classic ($50), Elite ($79), Star ($89/month), Champion ($118/month)

    • Classic ($50): This plan offers the basic Cloud Property Management System without additional features. It's suitable for properties that only need the core PMS functionalities.

    • Elite ($79): This plan includes the Cloud Property Management System and a Booking Engine. It's designed for properties looking to manage their operations and also enhance direct bookings through their website.

    • Star ($89): This plan includes the Cloud Property Management System and a Channel Manager. It is aimed at properties that want to efficiently manage their rooms and rates across various booking channels but do not necessarily need a direct booking engine on their website.

    • Champion ($118): This comprehensive plan includes the Cloud Property Management System, Booking Engine, and Channel Manager. It's the most feature-rich option, suitable for properties aiming to maximize their operational efficiency and booking potential both directly through their website and across multiple booking channels.

  • Little Hotelier Pricing: Basics ($30/month + 1% of bookings), Pro ($129/month) (details here)

    • Basics: This plan has a low monthly fee plus 1% booking value. It includes essential features like front desk management, a mobile app, a direct booking webpage, channel management with up to 5 OTAs, and 24/7 email and chat support.

    • Pro: This plan has a fixed monthly cost and offers advanced features, including insights on pricing and performance, an advanced booking webpage, channel management with up to 450 OTAs, and premium 24/7 support including phone assistance.

  • Mews Pricing: Starter ($220/month), Pro ($435/month) and Enterprise $650/month (details here).  

    • Starter: This plan is designed for quick setup and includes essential features like booking engine, channel manager connection, online guest journey, automated payments, and reservation management.

    • Pro: Aimed at more flexibility and advanced features such as company travel, group reservations management, self-service kiosks, complex reporting, and inventory management.

    • Enterprise: Offers comprehensive customization, advanced rate management, unlimited marketplace connections, and robust analytics.

Step-By-Step Guide to Selecting a Property Management System

Selecting a Property Management System may be the most important decision that your hotel ever makes.  Firstly, it will be one of your hotel’s largest costs in terms of technology but even more importantly is that it will inform all other decisions and tools on property since most other software requires integrations into a property management system.

Every hotel has different needs based on region, property size, guest journeys, staff workflows, market segment and so much more.  And yes, a great deal of the PMS selection process is around preference.  Some hotel groups prefer a more local company that can cater to their needs more attentively while others prefer global leaders that are rapidly innovating and delivering new features.

You can start your journey by weeding out companies that either a) don’t serve your local market or b) don’t integrate with your hotel’s most critical tools and systems like your CRM, hospitality TV, revenue management system, CRS, guest messaging software, etc. (unless you’re willing to replace them).  Then you can quickly develop a property management system shortlist by clicking ‘Get Advice’ on the top of this page and leveraging HotelTechReport’s custom product recommendation tool that queries our database of more than 50,000 user reviews (yes, by real verified hoteliers like you) to match you with the systems that are best suited for your property.

If you are operating a massive multi-property operation with large budgets and complex deployments, it’s advisable to engage a hospitality consultant to help you field and rank RFP’s but for the majority of operators this step isn’t necessary and you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish on your own rolling up your sleeves and digging into the steps below.

Step 1: Understand Your Hotel's Unique Needs

  • Analyze Operational Needs: Evaluate your hotel's daily operations, size, category, and revenue mix to understand the specific requirements for a PMS.

  • Consider Guest Experience: Reflect on how a PMS can enhance the guest experience through personalized services, seamless check-ins, and efficient guest management.

  • Technology Infrastructure: Assess your current technology stack and how a new PMS can integrate with existing systems.

Step 2: Explore PMS Features and Functionality

  • Reservations and Bookings: Ensure the system offers robust online booking and reservation management.

  • Guest Management: Look for features that enhance guest relationship management, including personalized guest experiences.

  • Operational Management: Evaluate tools for managing housekeeping, maintenance, event management, and other operational aspects.

  • Data Analysis and Reporting: Check for comprehensive reporting tools to help make informed decisions and improve hotel performance.

  • Security and Compliance: Ensure the PMS provides strong data protection measures and complies with industry standards.

Step 3: Evaluate Technology and Integration Capabilities

  • Interoperability: Ensure the PMS can integrate seamlessly with other hotel technologies, providing a unified view of operations.

  • Deployment Flexibility: Decide between cloud-based or on-premise PMS based on your hotel's needs, considering factors like internet reliability and control over the infrastructure.

  • Customization and Scalability: The PMS should be flexible enough to adapt to your hotel's growing needs and specific requirements.

Step 4: Assess Vendor Support and Services

  • Training and Support: Confirm the vendor provides comprehensive training and support to ensure smooth implementation and utilization of the PMS.

  • Software Upgrades: Understand the process for software updates, including frequency, costs, and how they are managed.

  • Vendor Reputation and Track Record: Research the vendor's reputation, customer satisfaction, and success stories, especially from hotels similar to yours.

Step 5: Financial Considerations and Contract Terms

  • Cost Analysis: Evaluate the costs involved, including upfront investment, subscription fees, and any additional costs for support, training, or upgrades.

  • Contract Terms: Review the contract terms carefully, paying attention to service level agreements, terms of service, and cancellation policies.

Step 6: Make an Informed Decision

  • Request Demos and Trials: Before finalizing, request demos or trial periods to test the PMS in your hotel environment.

  • Gather Feedback: Get input from your team, especially from those who will use the system regularly.

  • Evaluate and Compare: Use an evaluation checklist to compare different PMS options based on your specific criteria and priorities.

By following these steps and carefully considering your hotel's unique needs, you can select a PMS that not only streamlines operations but also enhances guest satisfaction and drives profitability.

Important integrations

It’s critical that your PMS integrates with almost every system in your hotel.  Think of the PMS like the sun and every other app orbits around that.  Without being able to read and write data to the PMS - most other apps are rendered ineffective or completely useless.  The following are the most important integrations but they are not the only important integrations.

A hotel Property Management System (PMS) is the operational core of a hotel, and integrating it with key systems is crucial for maximizing efficiency, revenue, and guest satisfaction. Here's why each of the following integrations is critical:

  • Revenue Management System (RMS):

    • Dynamic Pricing: Integrating with an RMS allows the PMS to dynamically adjust prices based on demand, competition, and other market factors, ensuring optimal pricing at all times.

    • Maximized Revenue: By analyzing historical data and forecasting future demand, the RMS helps identify opportunities to maximize revenue through strategic room rate adjustments.

    • Efficient Inventory Management: Integration ensures that room availability is accurately reflected across all platforms, preventing overbooking and underbooking scenarios.

  • Central Reservation System (CRS):

    • Centralized Booking: A CRS integration centralizes the booking process, pulling data from various distribution channels into the PMS for streamlined reservation management.

    • Global Visibility: The CRS widens the property's reach by connecting it to a broad network of travel agents and booking platforms, increasing the potential for bookings.

    • Data Consistency: Ensures that rate and availability information is consistent and up-to-date across all distribution channels, reducing the risk of discrepancies and overbookings.

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM):

    • Enhanced Guest Profiles: A CRM integration provides detailed insights into guest preferences and behavior, enabling personalized service and targeted marketing.

    • Improved Guest Retention: By understanding guest needs and preferences, hotels can tailor their services to increase guest satisfaction and loyalty.

    • Targeted Marketing: CRM data allows for more effective marketing campaigns, targeting specific guest segments with tailored offers.

  • Booking Engine:

    • Direct Bookings: Integrating a booking engine allows guests to book directly with the hotel, reducing reliance on third-party channels and commission fees.

    • Real-Time Availability: Ensures that the hotel's website displays real-time room availability and rates, providing accurate information to potential guests.

    • Customized Guest Experience: Offers the ability to upsell services and provide personalized booking experiences, enhancing guest satisfaction and revenue.

  • Channel Manager:

    • Wider Distribution: A channel manager integration broadens the property's exposure by distributing inventory across multiple online travel agencies (OTAs) and other sales channels.

    • Automated Inventory Management: Automatically updates room availability and rates across all channels, reducing the workload and minimizing the risk of overbookings.

    • Revenue Optimization: Allows for strategic control of room allocation and pricing across different channels, optimizing revenue based on channel performance.

  • Financial Reporting Software:

    • Accurate Financial Tracking: Integrates all financial data into one system, ensuring accuracy in tracking income, expenses, and profitability.

    • Time-Saving: Automates financial reporting processes, reducing manual data entry and the potential for errors, thus saving time for the finance team.

    • Compliance and Auditing: Helps in maintaining compliance with financial regulations and simplifies the auditing process by providing detailed, organized financial records.

    • Informed Decision Making: Offers comprehensive financial insights and reports, aiding in strategic decision-making and financial planning.

  • Payment Processors:

    • Secure Transactions: Ensures that all payment transactions are secure and comply with industry standards (like PCI DSS), protecting both the hotel and its guests from potential fraud.

    • Streamlined Payments: Integrates payment processing directly into the booking and check-out process, providing a seamless experience for guests and reducing administrative tasks for staff.

    • Multiple Payment Options: Offers guests a variety of payment methods, catering to their preferences and potentially increasing the conversion rate for bookings.

    • Real-Time Payment Processing: Facilitates immediate processing of payments and updates in the PMS, ensuring accurate financial data and reducing the risk of payment discrepancies.

Integrating these systems with the hotel's PMS not only enhances operational efficiency and guest satisfaction but also ensures financial accuracy and security, which are crucial for the successful management of any hotel property.

Deciding on a PMS may be the biggest and most important decision your hotel ever makes.  Switching to a new PMS is also not exactly a small project so it's absolutely critical to properly plan and research prior to making a selection. 


The choice of a Hotel Property Management System (PMS) is crucial for a hotel’s operations, impacting every aspect from front desk operations to overall profitability. An effective PMS streamlines operations, automates mundane tasks, and enhances the guest experience, making it a pivotal decision for hoteliers.

Firstly, a hotel PMS acts as the central nervous system of hotel operations, integrating various modules like the booking engine, POS (Point of Sale), channel manager, and revenue management. This integration ensures that all parts of the hotel, from the front office to the back office, operate in harmony. For instance, real-time updates in room inventory and pricing across different distribution channels, including OTAs (Online Travel Agencies), direct bookings, and travel agents, minimize overbooking and underbooking issues, optimizing occupancy rates and maximizing profitability.

In terms of guest experience, a cloud-based PMS offers numerous benefits. It supports contactless and self-service options like online booking and kiosk-based guest check-in, catering to the modern guest’s preference for speed and convenience. Furthermore, it facilitates the creation of detailed guest profiles, enabling hotel staff to offer personalized services and upsell relevant amenities or upgrades, directly impacting guest satisfaction and loyalty.

The front desk, being the hub of guest interaction, benefits significantly from a user-friendly and intuitive PMS. It automates and streamlines front desk operations, from reservation management to guest check-in and payment processing, allowing staff to focus more on delivering exceptional guest services. Integration with payment gateways ensures secure and efficient credit card transactions, enhancing trust and convenience.

From a management perspective, a hotel PMS provides valuable insights through its CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and analytics modules. These insights help in understanding guest preferences, managing guest data effectively, and making informed decisions regarding pricing strategies and hotel marketing.

For hoteliers managing multiple property types, from small hotels and B&Bs to hostels and vacation rentals, an all-in-one PMS solution like Cloudbeds offers an adaptable and scalable platform. Its cloud-based nature ensures accessibility across devices, be it mobile devices or PCs, empowering hotel staff with the flexibility to manage hotel operations on the go.

The integration with online booking engines like Booking.com and seamless connection with various booking channels and payment gateways ensure a wide reach and streamlined payment processing in multiple currencies. Open APIs allow for further customization and integration with other software solutions, catering to specific needs of the hospitality industry.

Choosing the right PMS is not just about selecting a software solution; it's about opting for a property management solution that aligns with the hotel’s operational workflow, scales with its growth, and continually evolves to meet the changing dynamics of the hotel industry. With features like cloud-based PMS, mobile apps, and interactive, user-friendly interfaces, the right hotel management system can significantly elevate the level of efficiency, guest satisfaction, and ultimately, the success of a hotel business.

Here are a few helpful resources to consider as next steps in your research:

PMS Finder Quiz: Input characteristics about your hotel like location and property size to receive an instant list of free custom recommendations for your property.  Take the quiz

PMS Buying Guide: Want to go one level deeper but not quite ready to connect with vendors or build your shortlist? Download the free 2024 Property Management Systems Buying Guide to level up your knowledge as you get closer to making a decision. Download the free guide.

Author image
Jordan Hollander
Jordan is the co-founder of Hotel Tech Report, the hotel industry's app store where millions of professionals discover tech tools to transform their businesses. He was previously on the Global Partnerships team at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Prior to his work with SPG, Jordan was Director of Business Development at MWT Hospitality and an equity analyst at Wells Capital Management. Jordan received his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management where he was a Zell Global Entrepreneurship Scholar and a Pritzker Group Venture Fellow.