Having analyzed in previous articles in this series what a property management system, or PMS, means in a hotel, and having also described their closest and most fundamental functional systems (the main internal operational modules, the back- office financial system, etc.), we shall now proceed to discuss how our PMS interacts with applications until now not mentioned, but equally essential for the efficient internal management of a hotel unit.
As we saw in previous chapters, this interaction will occur primarily through computer interfaces, which will enable our central system to communicate effectively with their respective plug-ins. Today, in order to handle magnetic keys and the system of opening rooms in general, or to control and manage the client Internet service, or to interact with other added systems such as the energy system of the hotel or the internal network of points of billing, a guest establishment generally cannot (or should not) dispense with these modern applications. Many of them are programmed and offered by independent technological manufacturers, who consequently put special emphasis on coordination in order to ensure a broad compatibility. A modern hotel PMS provided by a market leader in the technology can currently provide hundreds of different interfaces! All of them adequately developed to work with other applications from independent suppliers.
Some of these applications are among those enumerated below, briefly described so that those who are not so familiar with a modern hotel operation can understand a little better what they are and what role they play in the hotel:
- Internet and IP telephony services. With the rapid evolution of technologies applied to today’s hospitality industry, we have IP switchboard telephone systems, with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), in addition to the already well-known Wifi networks that provide Internet service to hotel guests. Among many other advantages, these allow the hotel to use the same network for data and voice services (saving significantly on communications). In the same way more and more hotels have installed and integrated surveillance systems or intercom systems into this technology, in order to better monitor access to the hotel and other sensitive points. And of course, our hotel central management system, or PMS, will need to have access to all these applications in order to manage them. All of which is achieved through a specific and consistent interface in each case, as explained above in this article.
- Entertainment and Video-on-Demand Services. Similarly, there are technological realities, fully developed and operational in many establishments, known as advanced entertainment systems for the room (games, various client services, etc.) as well as television systems via IP, to cite two examples. Through the abovementioned systems it is possible to offer our guests television, movies on demand, Internet integrated into the TV itself, etc. Logically, those systems also need their corresponding interface in order to be properly connected to the hotel unit PMS.
- Control and access systems (electronic locks). Another system that has to be tightly coupled to the hotel PMS is that which manages our hotel with respect to the electronically controlled locks, keys and the custom accesses. These applications make it easy to manage the different levels of access to both guest rooms and all other facilities within the hotel using a system of electronic entry: warehouses, offices, bathrooms, electrical rooms or other sensitive and restricted interior spaces, etc.
- Maintenance and energy management systems. Increasingly popular in today’s hotels, these systems allow you to efficiently organize and plan the maintenance and repair work handled by the department of technical services, in coordination with other internal areas of the facility. To be done adequately, communication between technical services and (mainly) reception/housekeeping inside the hotel is very important. That is why a satisfactory functional link between maintenance systems and both the front-desk and guests is essential. This means that the PMS of the central unit can always count on detailed and updated information, which will allow the management team to operate successfully. In the same way, the modern energy control and monitoring systems are connected to the central system, not only to synchronize information with respect to reports, consumption, etc., but also in order to obtain an adequate overview of the hotel, its occupancy, the distribution of guests by floors or areas, which in turn enables decision-making with respect to air conditioning, disconnecting electrical devices, lighting, among other possible actions.
Having said all that, now let’s look at how would be the general outline of systems, in the hotel model that we have been describing along the different parts of this series dedicated to the technological systems of a hotel unit:
As we see, all of our systems in the hotel are taking shape, especially at the hotel level (which is where the articles to date in this series have mostly focused).
In the next chapter we will begin to pay more attention to the external systems (sales tools, commercial distribution channels, website, etc.), without losing sight of how they all interact and connect with our hotel and its professional staff.