There are numerous options when it comes to operating a hostel but one must-have is a PMS. While there are still hostels getting by on paper & pencil or basic spreadsheets, it’s becoming far rarer as owners and managers discover just how much time, money, and energy a great PMS (property management system) can save you and your hostel. Simply put, having great hostel front desk software is a business game changer.
A high-end PMS for hostels can cost thousands of dollars. However, some hostels will not have the budget to implement such expensive solutions, nor do they need to! There’s a common misconception that more expensive equals a better product or service. This does not mean that some of the higher cost PMS’s are not worth their price point, but rather that just because a system is cheaper does not mean it isn’t high quality.
Luckily there are numerous PMS’s on the market that are solid products while remaining budget-friendly to hostels. You may have heard of HostelSnap, FrontDesk Master, or Cloudbeds, but a new player to check out is LobbyPMS. Lobby is one of the newest all-in-one property management solutions for a hostel. With plans including more functions at lower prices than most other systems, it may be an excellent investment for your property.
So what exactly does a PMS do?
At a minimum, a good PMS should be able to handle all of your basic functionality for hostel operations such as reservations, housekeeping, and ancillary sales, like activities or tours. Beyond that, PMS’s start to vary widely in their offerings. For many hostels, their baseline PMS needs also include a booking engine to accept direct (i.e. commission-free) bookings as well as the ability to sync with a channel manager to avoid overbookings.
LobbyPMS offers all of these features (and many more) as part of its baseline software but is soon going a step further to implement an integrated channel manager as an add-on option. It will start with the most popular channels and expand from there. This means all of your availability across all platforms will be updated in one system. If you save a reservation in Lobby, all your OTA channels are updated automatically. On the reverse, OTA reservations are imported immediately into Lobby and your availability across other channels is also updated. Not only does this keep you from overbookings (every manager’s “oh sh*t” moment), but the coming full integration means there will be seamless communication between systems as well as savings from a more expensive third-party service channel manager.
A view of the interactive calendar on LobbyPMS
24/7 Operations- Yes, even when the cloud is down
“Cloud-based” may seem like a buzzword, but the train is not slowing down of nearly everything going into the interwebs for storage, including your hostel data. There are so many reasons, both convenient and necessary, to use cloud-based products & systems. To that point, many PMS’s pride themselves on being cloud or web-based. But what about places with spotty internet? Or just that crazy storm that rolls in and knocks out the power for a few hours?
If you are relying on a solely cloud or web-based system you may be in for a long night when Mother Nature decides not to cooperate and a new group comes to check in. Even worse if you’re in a place where the internet fails frequently. This is why LobbyPMS developed offline functionality as part of their web-based system. Although banging your head against the reception desk begging the wifi to return might feel therapeutic in the moment, being able to check crucial information while offline is far more productive. A simple but effective application allows you to view guests, pending reservations, and invoices all offline, reducing the risk of losing money or having problems simply because of internet issues. Choosing online hostel management software is a must, but having additional offline capabilities is a huge asset.
How do you pick the right PMS?
One of the hardest parts about switching your hostel’s PMS is finding the one that has all the right features for your unique situation. While there are some common core elements of operating a hostel, there are also countless options when it comes to the execution, systems, and procedures. This can become an extra struggle when software options seem to take a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Many PMS’s offer a variety of custom settings, but even those can have limitations. No system is perfect, but it can be really frustrating to find a PMS that works great in nearly every way but is just missing a key element that would help you operate with more ease or efficiency.
With hundreds of features- everything from POS and inventory control to reports and statistics- it’s likely LobbyPMS will suit your hostel’s needs. However, if you still feel stuck, one of the huge benefits of using Lobby is the ability to request customized adjustments for specific functionality. Is there something you consider necessary to improve the control of your property? The Lobby team will analyze your requests and quickly communicate with solutions for your particular requirements. How helpful is that?
A view of Lobby’s POS (Point of Sale) system
When choosing your next PMS, decide on your must-haves followed by your monthly budget and any specialty features you’d like. It can seem like a daunting task to find the best option for your hostel but with numerous excellent features, offline capabilities, customized functionality, and low-cost plans starting at just $25/ month, LobbyPMS may very well tick all your boxes. They offer a free 15-day trial so give them a try and see how life can be easier with a great PMS!
Thanks to the team at LobbyPMS for sponsoring this post.