in other words, the degree to which the PMS can automate different core functions and processes.For example: Can it automate the process of managing reservations and rates, checking guests in and out of the property, assigning rooms and managing room inventory, servicing guest requests and handling accounting and billing requirements? Can it automate housekeeping services, room service delivery and maintenance management? Can it automate routine tasks like deposits, cancellations, confirmations, wait listing and room blocking?Some prospective buyers may want to know about revenue management features -- whether the PMS can automate yield management processes, including setting and controlling room rates based on availability and anticipated demand.Most hoteliers will expect front desk features to include guest messages and wake-up call modules and back office functionality to include the ability to manage revenue transfers along with a host of analytic reporting tools. Most hoteliers will be interested in financial features related to cashiering (managing deposits, settlements, adjustments, etc.), accounts receivable (direct billing, invoicing, etc.), and night auditing procedures. Increasingly, hoteliers may expect the PMS to include features related to customer relationship management and sales and marketing (e.g., social media integration and loyalty and rewards systems).Traditionally, large, full-service hotels used locally-installed PMS. These systems require on-premise terminal and data servers as well as backup systems and in-house IT expertise. For some buyers, on-premise installation may have certain benefits compared to cloud-based deployment, including reduced concerns (whether justified or not) about data security. Some people maintain that these systems can provide more robust functionality when dealing with massive volumes of data.The main downside of on-premise installation lies in the fact that the lodging property is responsible for installing and maintaining the hardware and providing data security. While this may be of little concern to major brands with extensive resources and large IT operating budgets, it is certainly a consideration for mid-tier and smaller hotels. Cloud-based systems typically employ pay-per-use subscription models, which means that the cost can be treated as an operational expense rather than a capital expense. This is important if long-term technology commitment is a concern.As with most enterprise technology solutions, most systems are moving to the cloud, and even larger brands are benefiting from the global scale, the distributed access to interfaces and information, and the cost benefits that cloud deployment can provide, especially in support of growth in emerging markets. Importantly, cloud-based systems provide a common platform that is generally easy to implement and to which owners and franchisees can readily comply. Additional benefits include reduced stress on hotel technology infrastructures, and, in some cases, more seamless integration with other applications and modules.To download a complimentary copy of The 2015 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems, please click here.