THE CHANGING FUTURE OF THE PMS / THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN LEAD TO BELIEVE
I cannot remember a time when there has been so much excitement surrounding technology, not only in the vacation rental/travel sector but all technology, primarily spired by Artificial Intelligence particularly ChatGPT and to a lesser degree Bard, Watson and You. This is probably the first time in Google’s existence that they feel threatened and ChatGPT is primary reason.
How does this relate to tech in the vacation rental sector? The future of vacation rental tech is changing significantly as well and the change is coming from the PMS (Property Management Software).
The single most important component in the vacation rental tech stack is the PMS. I accurately predicted in /2018 that Track PMS was the PMS of the future when Track was awarded the first Key Stone Award(s). At that time Track’s PMS was built primarily around its CRM and Booking Engine. I predicted that would change and that is exactly what has happened.
On January 31/2023 Track released its roadmap to their future which is a 100% commitment to its core, the PMS. As I predicted in /2018 the future of the PMS would not be the delusional concept of plug and play, where the most critical component of a tech stack is morphed into nothing more than a glorified reservation software with endless integrations, endless third party dashboards, endless usernames and endless passwords. Many have tried and the predictable outcome is the most important component of the tech stack is now the weakest component of the tech stack and then these companies turn around and market themselves as the all-in-one solution.
For many years the number one single biggest complaint regarding tech in our industry has been fragmentation. Our industry has been looking for leadership, direction and an answer to fragmentation. Whether property owner’s or small and larger PM’s know it consciously, they certainly know it subconsciously that leadership and direction has to come from the PMS. When I look at property owner’s and PM’s and look at their PMS it is really easy to say, this makes no sense, technology scares them, the can’t accept change but this is not the case, it is the conscious and the subconscious at work.
My theory of the demise of the PMS as we currently know it with excessive dependency on plug and play with little or no innovation has been validated by my theory and prediction of doing more on one platform was the future of tech in our industry. That theory has been validated by the three technology companies that are not a PMS which I consider to have the best technologies in our in our industry, who are in no particular order Breezeway, Dack and Enso. What do they all have in common, doing more on one platform.
There can be no better illustration of a lack of innovation within the PMS. The preferred mode of communication for over thirty years regardless of age or gender has been SMS. I have lost count of how many PMS’s that cannot send a simple text message to guest and the only mode of communication is email. The sad reality is people under forty rarely check their emails.
To be fair we have to ask, what are realistic expectations of a PMS.
The Track roadmap to the future more clearly defines realistic expectations and I fully expect future releases and acquisitions to go even deeper, all with the single intent to be the closet platform in the industry to the all-in-one solution.
In CEO Ryan Bailey’s own words, “we are the hungriest team in the industry, building the gold standard, the PMS is the central core to everything we are building” “CONSOLIDATING YOUR TECHNOLOGY FOOTPRIT” “ OUR THE NEW HOPITAILITY HUB, CONSOLIDATING INTO A SINGLE PLATFORM” “THE FUTURE OF THE GOLD STANDARD IN OUR PLATFORM IS THE PMS.
Further stated, we really believe that the Track PMS system at its core in our vision is to continue to consolidate your technology footprint, think about it as a single pain of glass, a single login, a game changer, no one has ever done it in our industry.
When have you ever heard this before in our industry >>>right now we are making best in class solutions native to our PMS, soon all essential hospitality functions will be available within the platform and because they are made to work together those tools will perform better than any solution you could piece together on your own<<< “Imagine reducing your vendor relationships from fifteen to three or even fewer” In my words, the antithesis of plug and play.
*KEY FEATURES/HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FUTURE OF THE PMS (PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE*
*ENCHANCED AIRBNB COMMUNICATION
This is an all in commitment to Airbnb and respect for the dominance they have in our industry. As Airbnb reservations continues to close the reservation gap on Vrbo (in North America) there is a big commitment to enhanced Airbnb communication. Triggers, automations and all communication will go through the Airbnb API. Communicating the same way you would with a direct booking. Additionally, Airbnb channel error notifications and much more.
Free access to Key Data in a single sign on PMS dashboard. There is no doubt in my mind Jason Sprenkle and Key Data are years ahead of any pricing platform in our industry and they are going to take revenue management in our industry to an entirely new level. TravelNet’s acquisition of Rented is a strategic move to bring revenue management to a single platform and position itself into the leader of revenue management on our industry. Additionally there will be an enhanced Key Data Dashboard and metrics only available to Track customers.
*THE STRATEGIC ACQUISITION OF RENTED
A multi-facet acquisition that is not a simple acquisition of a pricing tool. It is revenue management, not rate management. This acquisition is a strategic play directly related to the “HOSPITALITY HUB” and how it relates to DERIVATIVE PRICING, CANNEL MANAGEMENT, probably UNIT TYPES, integrating it all into the KEY DATA partnership, then consolidating it all into one-interface. Compliments to RENTED/ART, after a deep dive demo it is easy to see why Track wanted this technology.
*CHANNEL MANAGEMENT/DISTRIBUTION REIMAGINED
This commitment goes far beyond distribution.
A commitment to more direct channel integrations, reducing dependancy on channel managers. A much deeper distribution strategy with an integration with Travel Click and access to whole sale travel companies such as (Costo Travel). This commitment will be a gateway to leveraging Unit Types/Clustered Inventory and bring into play the blurring lines between hotel and vacation rental inventory, which is feature below.
I wrote here in /2021 the future of our industry is massive distribution and the closed loop is over, (what is the closed loop, in North America it is Vrbo and Airbnb, in Europe it is Booking and Airbnb). We are already seeing it play out, market saturation, bookings down, the self proclaimed Airbnb prophets with no distribution strategy are hurting and are at a dead end street, the only way they can compete now is in a race to the bottom with their rates. The closed loop bares not sympathy.
Additionally, coming to market is something our industry has never experienced, a CHANNEL TOOLBOX, to optimize channel listings with a human element. As every channel gets more complicated, products and services with be added including audits, analytics, health checks, updated connections and channel failed notifications. What does the human element look like, a dedicated person who understands distribution, a distribution wizard, a knowledge expert.
Personal note, this is not the end for channel managers, our industry has seen the last Avantio unparalleled distribution.
*UNIT TYPE INVENTORY/BOOKINGS
Revolutionize inventory distribution, relating back to clustered inventory, the blurring lines between hotel and vacation rental inventory and enhanced opportunities. A commitment to changing the way vacation rentals view vacation rentals.
*NIGHTLY HOTEL/CLUSTERED INVENTORY AUDITS
Nightly hotel audit, again relating to clustered inventory/unit types, and the blurring lines between vacation rental and hotel inventory, more hotel functionality.
Not all channels are created equal, pricing channels differently, the ability to change derivatives by season (which brings the acquisition of RENTED back into play).
*POS (POINT OF SALE) INTEGRATIONS
This is really both a pre-emptive move and a positioning move for the future. Initially it will be ancillary services charged back to the folio but in my mind the future of travel is what Brian Chesky predicted as far back as September 25/2017 “The future of travel will be the guests experience” As an industry we have been slow to react to this not because we don’t have the technology, the third party vendors don’t have the technology. When the technologies align and we finally move past the early check-in, late check-out, mid stay cleanings and gap fills, I don’t think Track will be conceding the future to Xplorie, Dack, Enzo, Breezeway and the explosion of other venders that will enter our space competing in this category. As over populated as the PMS category is, the next over populated category will be the guest experience platforms.
*PAYMENT DIFFERENTION SOLUTIONS
Google Pay, Apple Pay, market share has about doubled in the last year and market research has suggested it will double again in /2023. Additionally there will be other payment solutions. A cohesive payment solution, deposits, transactions, charges, voids, refunds, pulling in confirmations, pulling in lease agreement, pulling in voice recording, facilitating chargeback documentation, in a single all-in-one interface. Personal note, it is refreshing not to see the unusual and and unhealthy commitment to Stripe and Stripe only which is so prevalent in our industry.
*ONE VOICE AND THE FRAGMENTED EXPERIENCE
In CEO Ryan Bailey’s own words “an absolute game changer” an internal project we are calling “ONE VOICE” our vision is to consolidate you technology footprint, consolidate the experience, consolidate the support footprint, driving that one voice to make sure the crisis of disconnected people and systems reach one person.
First a few more quotes from the CEO:
*I am not going to mince any words *we want to be a fully integrated platform * it is not a question of all-in-one or a question of best in class *we can do both *we can build that single platform and we can build the single best eco system *what we hear from our customers constantly is *how do I consolidate my venders, *how do I consolidate my technology stack *I can’t handle another disjointed customer success review call *I want to consolidate, I want to consolidate into one partner *our tools will perform better than any solution you could piece together on your own *and we want to deliver that to the market.
There is no doubt that this strategic business model will have far reaching consequences on tech in our industry for many reasons.
- PM’s with 35 or more properties will always, always gravitate to the strongest PMS.
- Our industry has been crying out for direction, strength and leadership from the PMS.
- Our industry unequivocally wants and needs more tech on one platform.
- This business plan will result in increased market share and market dominance for Track.
- The so called best in class PMS, does not exist, it never will and it is a delusional concept.
- This business plan with have nothing but a positive influence on many of the most respected PMS’s in our industry, Streamline, Guesty, Avantio, Lightmaker, Hostfully, Hostify, Direct, Maxxton
- The dominant and most respected PMS’s will separate themselves from the rest of the market.
- This model with strengthen our industry.
- PMS companies are in big trouble and channel managers are in some trouble.
- The current tech environment is unsustainable.