A Complete Guide to Hotel Management System Development: Features, Tech, and Cost
Does this sound familiar? You’ve purchased a top-rated hotel management software but it’s far from being great. Probably developers were trying to hit all user types, bringing lots of out-of-the-box solutions that you don’t actually need. Or quite the opposite – these are not the features you’re looking for. Finally, you may want to build a third-party app on top of it but face bugs or timeouts.
Instead, custom hotel management system covers all business needs. Its functionality, design, and solutions work for specific hotel or hotel chain. So if existing software doesn’t meet the requirements, maybe it’s time to stop on creating your own.
In our article, we’re going to review the main functions of a hotel management system, explain what technologies are used to create a well-designed platform, and calculate the approximate development price. So if you’re thinking of giving fresh momentum to hotel business or wondering how a hotel management system works – just keep reading.
Define HMS Modules You Need
Complex management systems are typically split into modules depending on the role they perform. So the number of hours developers spend on delivering a custom management system as well as its total cost depends on modules and features that are filling them. Thus, if you’d like to develop a similar platform, the very first thing to consider is hotel management software modules.
Hotel management system modules can be divided into four groups:
- Reservation operations
- Customer relationship management
Modules handle basic and complex customer requests, monitor front desk and back-office tasks.
Main categories of HMS modules
Hotel Management Software Features
While customers are relaxing and having a great time, the staff have to deliver a number of errands without any delays, mistakes, and miscalculations. For this, they need a swift, stable and secure software equipped with all the necessary features.
Let’s take a look at features you might want to see in each of the modules.
Guests usually start interactions with a hotel from booking a room. That’s why the reservation module should be taken seriously during hotel management software development. It adds and stores reservation details (e.g. check-in dates, rooms numbers, personal customer details) in a database and transfers this information to the front-desk platform so staff members could review it.
Most popular features of this module include online booking engine, reservation means, and channel management.
1. Online booking
Hilton Hotels encourage customers to book rooms directly from their website instead of using third-party distribution channels like Expedia or Booking.com.
According to the latest research, almost 700 million people will be booking rooms online by 2023. As for this year, 580 million travelers prefer online reservations over contacting hotels by phone or email. In addition, guests often book activities (pool service, Internet space, game rooms, bowling alleys, etc.) in advance on the very same website.
Despite a large number of OTA services, many hotels prefer independence and offer to book rooms directly from their website. Or they combine OTAs and booking from their site. We’ve going to cover OTA services in more details later on.
Find out the cost of building a website in 2019 in our detailed guide How much does it cost to make a website in 2019?
This is how a booking engine works:
- System checks available rooms and shows possible check-in dates to users.
- As users choose a hotel room and pay for it, a confirmation letter is sent to the indicated e-mail address.
- After the completion of the operation, booking details are transferred to staff members.
Hilton Hotels booking page
2. Reservation processes
Once a management system receives a reservation request, it marks a number of days the person stays for. This allows hotel employees to check and update room statuses, cancel registrations, and issue receipts when necessary. Finally, it helps staff with checking guests in and out, making the process automatized and saving clients’ time.
According to customers’ wishes, hoteliers can also edit reservation details: change check-in or check-out dates, book additional room services, mark preferable transportation means and so on.
Example of a reservation dashboard in HMS
3. Channel management
Hotel Mantra The Observatory (Australia) achieved a 300% growth in booking requests over one year by using channel manager software. They simply quit manual OTA management and turned to distribution platform.
Channel management is used for synchronizing inventories with various Online Travel Agencies like TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Expedia, Galileo.
To take advantage of custom hotel management software and interact with various OTAs, developers should integrate the HMS with them via APIs. Two-way API integration ensures the delivery of up-to-date information over all channels.
Additionally, to make the booking process as seamless as possible, it’s important to provide OTA partners with full access to vacancy data. So when customers use Booking.com or any other platform, they will see all available rooms and can take them.
Note that distribution agents work with a number of hotels and if your system is not running properly they may decline the partner request form your hotel. Thus, prior to sending it, make sure that your software works in a decent way and all important elements (rates, rooms availability, payment methods) are fully configured.
Channel management feature
Analysis & Monitoring Features
It doesn’t matter if the hotel employs five or five hundreds of staff members – there is the necessity to monitor how well they perform. Same thing with profit. The use of custom-built hotel management systems allows drawing personalized reports at the end of a specific period and keep finances under control.
1. Income management
Marriott International which is the first hotel chain that used income management, increased its sales from $150 to $200 million. Revenue management has a great potential of boosting sales. Imagine the results when combined with a custom-built HMS!
Revenue indicators are vital for monitoring the overall financial situation and taking actions to maximize profitability. Although OTAs and showy marketing campaigns do help to increase the revenue, it’s still important to monitor everyday expenses and income to understand what exactly led to gains or downfalls.
The revenue management helps to monitor competitors’ prices, services, marketing campaigns, and activities they offer. Additionally, the system takes into account future events and monitors the cost of hospitality services to offer best pricing strategies.
Revenue management is simple with a custom-built HMS
2. Building reports
In the end of a specific time-period, hotel management might want to collect information about staff performance, some details about their guests, data delivered by custom hotel property management system and so on.
The main advantage of this feature is that you can create any report depending on the metrics you’d like to check. For example, if the system is connected to OTAs you can understand whether the partnership is successful or it’s the right time to look for other partners elsewhere.
Creating reports is another use case for hotel management system
3. Extra services monitoring
Pantone Hotel offers drinks, delicious breakfast and late-check out right on the booking page. Works for customers and brings additional profit to owners!
If the hotel has additional facilities (e.g. cafes or restaurants, spa-centers, swimming pool, car renting services), guests may want to try them. Extra services monitoring is an additional hotel management system feature. It’s applied for managing guests’ activities by tracking which services customers used the most and which ones generate more profit.
This is extremely useful for automatization of all transactions and for keeping them in one place. Moreover, the system can be built in a way to automatically apply all the gained discounts so hotel managers won’t need to ask customers to show a discount card. Everything can be checked right away.
How extra services may be reflected in the software
Staff Management Elements
Hotel management systems not only process customers’ requests but work with internal clients too. If previously managers had to use phones to contact employees and write down what task is assigned to whom, now all that can be done in a single application with just a few clicks.
So let’s review the most important features related to staff management.
1. Tasks delivery
Meliá Hotels International staff were using MS Excel to track tasks, and printed reports out on paper. Sure, there was no way to monitor latest project status in this case. That’s why they decided to switch to task management system, tracking progress, and getting real-time updates.
In order to streamline business processes, you obviously need to assign tasks to employees and track their progress. Managers can now organize the workflow way more efficiently as they don’t have to contact each person. Instead, they assign specific tasks to certain people via the application.
By using HMS, front office managers can make a list of cleaning tasks for maids to check. At the same time, the maids no longer need to wait for a ‘cleaning hour’ and can prepare rooms for next customers as soon as previous ones have checked out.
Here you can also make use of the property management system. PMS keeps the list of things that require repairing or replacement. So when staff faces an issue of a broken chair or a stolen towel, they can easily report it and come close to problem resolving in no time.
Hotel property management system example
2. Back-office management
Prior to applying HR solutions, Royal Marine Hotel in Dublin had employees sign in at the reception desk, and there was no way to track their breaks, absenteeism or late comings. Using Advance Systems software, they managed to improve staff efficiency, reduce the number of errors and administrative costs.
Staff management is one of the key features of a hotel management system. As it’s possible to integrate custom HMS with staff management channels, you will always be aware of all internal interactions. Managers can easily enter information about distributed shifts, salaries, sick leaves, vacations, and days-off of employees into the database and review it when needed.
Benefits of hotel management system used by HRs
Interactions With Customers
Customer interactions are important in any sphere, especially in hotel management. That’s why hearing guests’ reviews, offering new services according to their tastes and preferences, and making sure the customers are satisfied with your services are the key parts for your success. Guest relationship management is another use case of a hotel management system with a few in-built features for this purpose.
Wondering if a mobile app is a good investment? Read our 'Why Do You Need a Creative App to Make Your Business Prosperous?' article to make sure.
1. Customer data management
Best Western Hotels & Resorts switched to cloud-based HMS in 2015. Keeping customer details on hand and thus applying personalization approach, the hotel chain saw a 143% increase in downloads of their mobile app. And there was a 10% increase in email clicks as well!
Whether guests have appeared in the hotel for the first time or are long-term clients, it’s a good idea to collect more details about their habits, preferences, driving means, the purpose of visit and so on. All this can help personalize customer experience and offer them entertainments and services for their taste.
If a customer stays at a hotel for business trips a few times per year, information about their needs and preferences can be used the next time they book a room. It’s easy to note and pass information that customer, perhaps, needs a Wi-Fi enabled work area, book a conference room for them, or other area for their needs.
An elaborate hotel management system database design is key to storing all the details in one place. Thus, if you’d want to collect guests’ contact details, preferred payment methods, type of rooms booked, total spendings, etc., this feature is the right choice for you.
Using HMS, you can keep customer details in one place
2. Notifications and surveys
Hilton staff sends email to inform subscribers about honor member accounts and their benefits reaching different audience segments. No wonder they have 70 million members enjoying the program!
Confirmation is the first thing customers expect to receive once they get over with booking and complete the payment. This is an affirmation of everything going as planned and the sign saying it’s nothing to worry about.
Being a valuable tool for communicating with customers, notifications are usually sent at all stages of their stay:
- Prior to the arrival
- During the stay
- Shortly after check-out
First, customers receive a notification regarding the booking process, payment confirmation, and list of additional services ordered.
By the way, hotels often mention the best attractions of the city, nearby cafes, places worth visiting, etc.
During your guests’ stay, you may inform them about best offers and discounts the hotel provides, promote extra services and give a list of the most popular dishes in the hotel restaurant.
Once the guests have checked-out, you may ask them to provide feedback by taking a survey or writing a short review.
In addition, offering a discount for the next visit is a good gesture.
How booking confirmation sent via HMS may look like
3. Issuing invoices
Guests may ask for an invoice after checking-in, and it is expected to be issued fast. The custom hotel management system has to provide all the information regarding recent payments and have secure payment methods to keep all the details safe.
Looking for the most suitable payment provider? Check our ‘ How To Secure Payments Processing’ guide out!
Example of an invoice issued via HMS
Technology Stack and Development Team
As we already know what features we need to pay attention to during custom hotel management system development, it’s high time to check what technologies are used for delivering the software and who is working on its performance and UI design.
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Tech stack for hotel management system designing:
Back-end development tools
- Framework: Express
- Database: MySQL
- API documentation: Swagger
- Infrastructure: AWS
Front-end development tools
- Language: TypeScript
- Framework: Angular
Members of a development team
- Business Analyst
- Project Manager
- UI/UX designer
- Front-end developer
- Back-end developer
Please keep in mind that the aforementioned list of tools is approximate and the final list may differ according to your objectives, features added and so on.
How Much It May Cost to Build a Custom Hotel Management Software
At the beginning of the article, I’ve mentioned that the price of a custom CRM software development depends on the number of features to be added. So, prior to contacting company which offers web development services, it’s better to figure out your hotel management system use cases.
However, in order to help you with this complex estimation, our experienced business analysts have calculated an approximate cost of each feature implementing.
Please note that the price is based on an average rate of $50 per hour for software development services in our region (Eastern Europe, Ukraine).
|Module||Features||Average time (hours)||Cost ($)|
|Extra services monitoring||180||9000|
|Staff management||Tasks delivery||80||4000|
|Interactions with customers||Customer data management||100||5000|
|Notifications and surveys||30||1500|
Therefore, you can see that the development cost of a custom hotel management system with all the important features included may take up to $55,500.
Why Develop a Custom Hotel Management System?
The current market is filled with high-technological options in any industry and hospitality is surely one of them. As more and more customers prefer to buy and book services online, hotel owners should be ready to cope with this type of customer activity.
Sure, depending on the kind of your hotel, the number of implemented features in the HMS may differ. Still, some solutions as hotel PMS (property management system) is rather a requirement. These systems are not simply targeted to make customer interactions more convenient but also to improve the working conditions of both managers and employees. Hotel management systems with all their modern features help to watch over everyday processes and ensure the quality of services your company provides.
Finally, hotel management systems are great for increasing your customer loyalty as they keep all the details about your guests and their preferences. It’s extremely important as your main goal for sure is increasing customers’ satisfaction.
After building a custom hotel management system, you get:
- Features developed to be applied according to the needs of a business, without any additional and not-required options (so you’re paying exactly for what you expect to see).
- Completely secure software that keeps customers’ personal and payment details protected. You don’t need to worry about information leaks or theft. Each bit of sensitive data is secured due to the best technological solutions.
- You can always ask developers to add other features as your business expands so there’s no need to build another website from scratch.
- You don’t have to spend tons of time and money on teaching the staff. Ready-made solutions have lots of unnecessary features, and it’s hard to start working with such applications. And this is something you’ll never experience with custom software.
- Custom solution is easy to elaborate, it’s scalable and top functional. And if you want to build a third-party app on top there will be no bugs or timeouts.
In conclusion, we’d like to mention that a well-developed custom hotel management system may become a great asset to your business and completely change the workflow by improving your team performance and allowing you to keep up with competitors.
If you’re interested in creating your own hotel management system, finding great software developers is extremely important. It’s exactly the team of developers who are responsible for how the hotel management system works. Currently, you can look for an experienced team on such platforms as Clutch or GoodFirms. These websites are both easy-to-use and show all the necessary details about the companies you may want to contact (e.g. projects released, average hourly rates, customers’ reviews).
By the way, Cleveroad also provides software development services and has a team of developers experienced in delivering various CRMs – from finance to healthcare. So you’re always welcome to contact us if you need a word of advice.