Hostel management systems are software solutions used within hostels, in order to carry out key managerial tasks and oversee operations. In this article, you can learn about what these systems are, how they work, why they are so useful, what their main features are, and how much they cost.
- Why Do Hostels Need Hostel Management Systems?
- What Are the Main Functions of Hostel Management Systems?
- What Are Some of the Additional Functions of Hostel Management Systems?
- How Much Do Hostel Management Systems Cost?
- POS Systems and Hostel Management Software
- Hostel Management Systems and the Value of CRM
- Hostel Management Systems and Other Essential Software
- The Benefits of Hotel and Hostel Management Software
Why Do Hostels Need Hostel Management Systems?
Hostel management systems allow those involved in the management of hostels – as well as their employees – to centralise important information and data. This, in turn, allows individuals to carry out a wide range of common tasks from a single place, which can be especially valuable for improving efficiency.
As with other businesses within the hospitality industry, hostels are busy workplaces, where many different elements need to be overseen at the same time. This could include everything from managing inventory and reservations, through to processing payments and selling additional products or services to customers.
The best hostel management systems not only allow hostel owners and staff members to manage these various aspects of the business from one location, they also offer the possibility for employees to access the system remotely, and information that is updated within the system will automatically update for everyone using it.
Many parts of the travel industry are seasonal, and this can sometimes mean handling sudden spikes in demand, with limited staff. Hostel management systems can make work within a hostel both easier and more efficient, while the automation options available can also help to free up staff to focus on other parts of their job.
What Are the Main Functions of Hostel Management Systems?
Different hostel management systems will offer a different range of functions, but there are a number of core features that you might expect to find in the majority of software packages of this kind, such as the ability to keep track of reservations and current availability, or the potential to manage different distribution channels.
Payment processing and the ability to track critical business data are also seen in most hostel management systems, while some of the top-of-the-range offerings may include features you might expect to find in a point of sale systems, such as payment processing and the centralisation of performance metrics and business data.
Below, you can learn more about some of the most important features:
Inventory management is an important part of managing any accommodation, but it can be especially vital within hostels, because these properties may sell individual beds and private dorms. Doing so requires those in charge to carefully oversee the way in which reservations are handled, so that revenue can be maximised.
Beyond this, reservations need to be managed so that rates can be adjusted based on current levels of demand, so that double bookings are avoided, and so that all distribution channels are showing the correct availability information. This can help to avoid the kind of costly errors that impact upon a hostel’s reputation.
Hostel management systems generally include options to manage reservations, see data in the books, and make adjustments to prices. Additionally, there could also be options to manage other inventory, such as equipment, or food and beverages, in order to prevent situations where important products or items are out of stock.
Many hostel management systems include the primary functions associated with a hostel or hotel channel manager. This means users will typically have the ability to oversee listings across the various distribution channels being used, which could include online travel agencies, hotel meta search engines, social media platforms, and more.
The channel manager functionality within your hostel management software will allow you to automate some of the key tasks associated with managing these distribution channels, such as adjusting prices based on availability.
High-quality solutions will provide integration with hundreds of distribution channels, along with the ability to track performance. Additionally, using hostel management systems, it should be possible to update information like availability and pricing and have these changes apply across the board.
Video: What is a Channel Manager?
Another major feature seen within most hostel management systems is operations management, which allows hostels and similar forms of accommodation to oversee many of the fundamental operations that need to occur on a day-to-day basis in order for the business to function successfully.
Using this particular feature, it is usually possible to add specific tasks that need to be completed to a work schedule and to allocate those tasks to different departments, or different individual members of staff. This can be especially useful for managing and coordinating the various housekeeping tasks.
In situations where there are multiple hostels to manage, the different properties can be divided within the platform, so that all operations are handled efficiently. Performance metrics may also be available to view here, which can help to alert employees to areas where the hostel may be failing to hit targets.
What Are Some of the Additional Functions of Hostel Management Systems?
When comparing and contrasting different hostel management systems on the market, there are some additional features that you may wish to give consideration to, such as the following:
Direct Booking System
Hostels, like other parts of the hospitality industry, tend to utilise multiple distribution channels in order to maximise reach. However, direct bookings are going to be by far the most profitable channel, because these bookings are not subject to the commission fees commonly associated with online travel agency bookings.
With this in mind, some of the very best hostel management systems include a direct booking platform, which can be used to attract bookings from customers over the internet. The main booking page can be placed on the hostel website, promoted on social media, and linked to in email marketing and other marketing content.
Booking systems can afford hostels excellent opportunities to upsell or cross sell at the most opportune moments, and customer support tools can also be provided. Additionally, attracting direct bookings can help hostels to have greater control over customer data, making re-marketing efforts significantly easier.
A point of sale system, or POS system, is used to process payments and this is essential for any hostel that sells additional products or services, whether these are food, drinks, or access to additional facilities. A hostel management system that includes POS system features will allow hostels to process and track customer payments.
A modern POS system should always be connected to a property management system, because this creates greater consistency with data and ensures information is always up-to-date. Even in situations where the hostel management system does not have a built-in POS system, it should be able to integrate with an external application.
The most comprehensive hostel management systems may offer customer relationship management tools. This could include customer profiles, allowing communication between individuals and the hostel’s customer service staff to be captured, stored and referred back to. Profiles could also include the personal preferences of past guests.
Meanwhile, this CRM functionality may integrate with wider marketing management tools too. In practice, this could allow a hostel to send tailored marketing messages to customers, so that they are presented with offers that are most likely to appeal to them, on the platforms that they are most likely to be receptive to.
The price of hostel management systems can vary significantly, especially in an age where the Software as a Service (SaaS) model is becoming more common. This means that, in some cases, software is not acquired outright but is instead paid for through a continuous monthly or yearly subscription fee.
Top end software paid for on a subscription basis is likely to cost somewhere in the region of $20 to $70 per month. For on-premises deployment, where software is purchased outright, solutions are likely to cost upwards of $50 and could be well over $100. Free options do exist, and may be good enough for those with very basic requirements, but these options tend to have limited features and the quality of support on offer is likely to be lower too.
Hostel management systems often share features or offer integration with POS systems, which are primarily used to process customer payments. However, the overall importance and value of POS systems within the hospitality industry extends far further, especially as they can be used to update and centralise crucial company data.
You can explore the topic of POS systems and the ways in which they are valuable to hostels, hotels and similar properties by reading “POS Systems: Overview and Importance in the Hospitality Industry”.
Another key area where hostel management systems can contribute to the day-to-day success of a business is through customer relationship management. This is essential for managing customer communications, understanding the specific needs and wants of your target audience, and delivering the kind of personalised experience people want.
This topic and related issues are explored further, with expert insight and opinions from professionals working in the industry, in the article “Is a CRM Essential For Delivering Personalised Hotel Experiences?”.
Although hostel management systems serve multiple functions, they are unlikely to be the only software solution utilised by a successful property of this kind. Some of the other applications or packages that may be needed include a distribution channel manager, a revenue management system and reputation management software.
A lot more information on the essential software for managing properties and keeping customers happy can be found in the article entitled “5 Hotel Management Software Solutions Every Hotel Needs”.
The Benefits of Hotel and Hostel Management Software
When it comes to the use of hostel management software and the equivalent hotel management software solutions, there are many notable benefits, such as the opportunity to reduce labour costs, increase revenue earning potential, streamline common processes, and deliver a superior guest experience.
You can read about this topic more and learn of the specific benefits associated with using hotel or hostel management software in the “Hotel Management Software: What Are the Benefits for Hotels?” article.
Hostel management systems function as multi-purpose software solutions for those operating hostels or similar forms of guest accommodation. They typically include a variety of features, such as operations management tools, POS options, CRM functionality, and the ability to manage multiple distribution channels.