Hotel Operations Software & Your PMS: What’s The Difference?

Technology has worked its way into every department of a hotel, both operational and administrative, guest-facing and staff-facing. From hotel operations systems, to property management, channel management, online booking engines, revenue management and everything else in between, there are hundreds of companies offering tools for hoteliers.

Two equally important pieces of software are a hotel’s property management system (PMS) and its hotel operations software. To put it simply, a PMS is the engine of your hotel, but an operations system is the gas. They operate simultaneously, and ideally, cooperatively, but both with different purposes, functions, and goals.

As contactless hospitality emerges as a key component of service delivery, and guest communication, a hotel’s operations system is just as important as a PMS, which stores so much information.

Can a hotel business run without an operations system? Sure, as long as operations are very small, and very simple. As a hotel’s operations grow, an operations system is needed to help scale task management, service delivery, accountability, communications and guest recovery across a hotel.

Hotel operations software is the tool that helps your operations perform more efficiently, more effectively, and takes the guest experience to the next level. Operations software expands on the other systems in the hotel, enabling your team to have better access to use, to share and to act on information that traditionally is ‘locked-up’ inside of other solutions.

Property Management Systems (PMS) are great solutions and are often the ‘source of truth’ for hotels. Hotel operations systems help hoteliers operationalize and act on every single piece of data that is stored in a PMS.

Here are some of the key differences of a PMS hotel software and hotel operations software, and how they can work in tandem:


There is a ton of data everywhere. Software with clear, actionable reporting is important for both systems. PMS solutions provide the best source of information for statistical reporting on the financial success of the hotel. Accounting ledgers also live in a PMS: City Ledger, AR Ledger, Advanced Deposit Ledger, and more are all housed in the PMS.

Using an operations system allows hotel teams to have access to reports that can identify chronic problems and to use that information to make long term changes to resolve them. Operations relying on a radio system and a paper guest log book don’t have the ability to identify that room 201 gets complaints every Tuesday that the fan is loud, or that the light bulb on the fourth floor landing needs to be replaced three times as often as other bulbs.

Using a system that organizes hotel data and puts that information in front of your team helps them address these issues that have been ‘hidden’ in other systems. That’s where an operation management solution, like ALICE, comes into play.

Guest Profiles 

Personalization is a huge selling point for businesses. There is nothing better than having a barista memorize your coffee order and preference for milk and sugar. The equivalent at a hotel is when a concierge or front desk agent greets you by name, references your last stay, and your bill at check out has all of your charges on one account.

The PMS also has guest ledgers, often using data exchange interfaces to collect data from Point of Sale or other systems at the property to present one final bill to the guest.

Guest services tools are a key component of hotel operations software. A guest’s individual profile, as well as notes on their previous hotel reservations, are great sources of information for hotels that strive to provide personalized service.


We’ve all heard it before, “communication is the key to any good relationship,” and in the hotel industry, this couldn’t be more true. Good staff to staff communication, staff to guest communication, and department to department communication are essential for a well operating hotel.

Staff to Staff communications is a challenge for many hotels. While some departments utilize radios, it is not operationally feasible to have every team member on a radio. Plus radios are inefficient ways to communicate instructions or detailed information.

Even hotels that use paper ticketing programs need to wait for a team member to bring the ticket to the drop off point prior to being assigned to another team member. By using an operating system like ALICE’s Service Delivery, team members can message each other or create tasks from their current location. Managers can be alerted that the drapes in room 1049 are off the track, assign to the closest engineer, and the associate is alerted in real time, with specific details about what is wrong and what needs to be done to resolve it.

One area that is sometimes overlooked is the way two pieces of software communicate with each other. A well-built PMS is a great communicator. Many systems connect to the PMS and share a myriad of information: room status for housekeeping, guest name for PBX, Credit verification for POS, authentication information for Wi-Fi, occupancy status for HVAC and inventory for OTAs.

Guest Recovery

Even the very best hotel will have guest issues. From lack of hot water to noisy neighbors, to the internet crashing, to the big game not being available on the hotel TV, things can go wrong anywhere. The sign of great hospitality is tested when things go wrong and using an operations system helps turn a dissatisfied guest into a happy one.

Good communication between a PMS and operations software (and the employees that use them!) is essential when it comes to guest recovery. A PMS knows exactly what room types are available in case of a last-minute room change, as well as the number of guests allowed, location, amenities, and features. This is all built into a PMS.

Additionally, a good hotel operations system will let your team track any costs related to taking care of the guest, from a comped meal to a discounted room rate, giving your operations team the reporting needed to know how much problems are costing. When it comes to tracking and recouping the costs of guest recovery, operations software gives your PMS all of the key data points.

In Conclusion

Hotel technology is essential. It helps your hotel plan and operate efficiently. Different technology is needed for different purposes, but at the end of the day the guest experience is what must shine for every single guest, every single time.

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