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What's at the Center of Hotel Technology?

If you bumped into me at this year’s HITEC conference, I probably asked you a question or two about your opinions on the future of hotel property management technology. What are your thoughts on managing properties via a cloud-based platform? Are you trying out applications that mobilize property management functions? Does the term “property management system” bring to mind a technology solution that meshes with your operational priorities?

The traditional model of hotel technology positions PMS as the central nervous system; it’s in the center of the diagram with other systems — the CRS, CRM, POS, etc. — spinning off like spokes of a wheel. As operations evolve, however, and as guests are taking greater control over their hotel stay, it begs the question: does the term “property management system” need a re-tooling to stay abreast of trends?

To place some context, we don’t call automobiles motorized horse-and-buggy systems. When the process of transport changed, the antiquated name was replaced with one that accurately reflected reality. “Horsepower” is a component, but not the central aspect of the automobile. So it follows: should hotel technology be principally understood with different nomenclature, where the PMS is a piece but not the center? The vendor community had interesting and diverse responses to this question. Some readily embrace the potential change, and are already using terms like “hotel operating system” or “guest experience management” to classify their technology.

The term “property management system” will likely be around for a while, even if we don’t like it. The front desk, at least for now, is still the center of attention in the guest’s experience, so whatever system is supporting the front desk is going to be the nervous system of the hotel. As hotels eventually bypass the front desk, that might change.

The full outtakes from HT’s PMS exploration are covered in this month’s cover story,and as always your feedback is welcome.

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