INCREASING HOTEL PROFITABILITY AND EFFICIENCY
Hotel Management Software Advantages: What solutions to implement and why
“In the initial lockdown, we managed to retain people. But then in ’21 there was a lot of drift. I lost experienced staff, some of them retired, some of them went on to other businesses. There was huge turnover, and people accepting jobs without turning up. So resourcing the business is a big challenge.”
This is what John Ryan told us when asked about his biggest concerns as owner and managing director of four-star hotel, The Ardilaun Hotel, in Galway, Ireland.
Despite those challenges, though, The Ardilaun has had a fantastic year. As John said, “After two years of pandemic, we’ve come back exceptionally strong. Now the trick is to keep it going.”
A key part of the strategy is modernization: “There’s a big expectation for technology from the customer, and we need it in place to achieve efficiencies: Sustainability has become a huge part of our focus.”
So, how can the latest technology affect your team’s performance and the guest experience? What tools will make you competitive in the face of a labor shortage and tough economic conditions?
In this piece, we look at the advantages a boutique hotel operating up to 100 rooms can gain from implementing hotel management software, looking specifically at the following key benefits:
- Becoming a tech-enabled operation
- Providing a digital guest experience
- Streamlining your internal communications
- Optimizing revenue
- Protecting your compressed margins
We also look at a new solution to updating your old locks so you can bring them online without having to swap out your existing hardware.
See how Operto’s automated processes take pressure away from your front desk, make guests independent, and improve the guest experience.
Become a tech-enabled operation
The hospitality industry has moved towards tech solutions and automated processes, with three main forces driving this change.
One of these, as we look at below, is customer expectation. Guests increasingly demand tech-assisted solutions to their stays, which gives them more flexibility and control throughout the guest journey, so they have the convenience that’s in line with their other consumer experiences, and contactless access, which has been essential since the pandemic.
Another driver of technology is the sheer economic pressures at work in hospitality now. Margin compression, which we also look at in this article, is a fact of the hotel industry. Key contributors to this are inflation, the labor shortage and all its associated costs, and the inefficiencies that permeate traditional hotel operations.
And the other key driver of technology is the major hotel chains, whose immense operations have for years demanded automation, streamlined communications, and advanced reporting.
But until now, the idea of modernizing and becoming a tech-enabled operation seemed like a remote possibility for small, independent hotels.
Upgrading your locks: The key to smarter operations
The cost of revamping an entire hotel access system used to be prohibitive; a tailored internal communications system could only ever be implemented by the Marriotts or Hiltons of the world; and the same was true of a branded hospitality software solution for guests.
With cutting-edge technology like Operto Boost, though, this is no longer the case. A small boutique hotel doesn’t have to replace its locks—you can upgrade your existing locks to a smart system with BLE functionality and keyless access. Now you can be a tech-enabled operation capable of implementing automated solutions throughout your day-to-day operations.
Being tech-enabled allows you to automate and compete
By upgrading to smart locks, your 50-door hotel has access to the same digital key program used by Accor.
Now, you can integrate your property management system (PMS) and channel manager, locking systems, and guest experience platform within a single operating system and all-in-one dashboard. You can connect your solution for team management with your PMS and smart locks. And you can provide guests and staff with the tech-assisted experiences that put you on an even footing with the major hotel brands.
John Ryan told us, “As a small independent hotel, it takes us a little longer to perform key operations than the big group hotels.”
With today’s access to modern hotel technology via a solution like Boost, that competitive disadvantage has disappeared.
Provide an enhanced guest experience
John Ryan said that technology is increasingly a guest expectation. So how exactly do guests experience that technology? And how can these experiences meet or exceed their expectations?
First, let’s look more closely at what modern guests want from their stay.
Modern guest expectations
- Hotel guests today want touch-free hotel experiences that allow them to waltz past any lines at the front desk on arrival.
- They want the control and flexibility they experience when they stay at a self-service short-term rental (STR).
- And they want the tech-enabled convenience that’s consistent with their home and work lives.
You can see these ideas reflected in our Tech-Enabled Stays survey of hotel and STR operators, below:
In summary, the guests you’re competing for expect:
- Contactless service
And, with the right hotel management software solutions in place, this is exactly what you can offer.
Exceeding expectations with hotel management software
As discussed earlier, a tech-enabled solution to the guest experience starts with smart locks that can integrate with your PMS via a hospitality operating system. With this in place, you can connect your operations and guest management with your latest booking information, and automate key processes, like check-in and room access.
For example, with Operto, when a guest books a stay, we automate a confirmation email that includes a link to Operto Guest. This is a branded mobile web app and digital guide that includes an auto-generated unique access code or mobile key, and a platform for digital self check-in.
With the digital guide, you can pre-emptively answer your guest’s questions about how to arrive, park, and find their room. You can provide instructions on how to use the in-room amenities, a map, and other useful information, like the menu for that day or how to access the pool. And you can share insights and recommendations about the local area and what to do.
When your guest uses the branded web app to check in, they’re guided through the digital verification process, and when that verification is complete and the security deposit confirmed, the mobile key is activated. So, when your guest arrives, they’ve already checked in and can have the no-touch access they searched for when making their reservation.
They already have all the information they need about their stay within the digital guide, so they’re as independent as they wish to be. And since your front desk team doesn’t have to handle lines of arriving guests anymore, they’re free to provide more personalized care and attention to your guests throughout their visit.
Streamline internal communication
Accommodation management in most independent hotels relies on a mix of traditional processes and modern messaging platforms. For example, room attendants will often confirm each turnover to the front office with a dialed telephone code, and message across various departments from within a WhatsApp group for the team.
These are practical and largely simple solutions for key on-the-ground operations, but they’re also limiting and, occasionally, just flawed and inefficient.
Tasks get missed and you can’t see when a job’s done
When one of your accommodation assistants finds a broken lamp, how many steps are there for that to get reported to maintenance? How can you be sure when that’s been dealt with—or even if the maintenance manager has it on their radar?
Or if you have a last-minute special request come in at the front desk, is dropping that into the general WhatsApp group enough to ensure it gets prioritized by the right member of the team?
This is why the major chain hotels have a dedicated solution for internal communication. It cuts down the number of steps for each process, makes it easy to direct tasks to the right department or individual, and avoids jobs getting lost in the white noise of everyday interactions.
The problem is that small, independent hotels didn’t previously have access to this kind of solution. But that’s no longer the case—you can bring in a ready-made tool for hotel operations that gives you the flexibility and efficiency that WhatsApp doesn’t, and the simple, streamlined processes for task creation that big hotels are accustomed to.
A ready-made solution for better communication
Here’s an example of how it works with Operto Teams:
- A guest checking in 50 minutes’ time calls the front desk to ask for balloons in their room.
- The front desk creates and assigns a task, sending the room attendant a text message with the details.
- This also creates an urgent task the whole team can see in the Scheduling Calendar.
- The assignee then confirms when the job’s done with a click of a button in their smartphone or in-room tablet app, so the front desk knows as soon as the task is complete.
So you have control and flexibility over your tasks and communication, which also means you get to provide a better service to the guest.
Meanwhile, if your room attendant sees there’s a tap that needs fixing, instead of calling the front office or leaving a message in the WhatsApp group, they can create a task for maintenance in the staff dashboard on their smartphone.
The maintenance manager will instantly know about it, and the whole team will see the task in the calendar alongside the time of that room’s next check-in.
Maximize RevPAR with dynamic pricing
Even as you modernize your operations by
- bringing your locks online
- centralizing your tech stack
- automating processes
- and providing a digital guest experience
you’ll still be at a competitive disadvantage without a revenue management system (RMS) that increases hotel profitability by dynamically optimizing your rates.
Optimized pricing isn’t the only advantage of an RMS, though; its demand forecasting can also help you more accurately staff different departments months in advance. Meanwhile, using an automated pricing tool saves your management team the task of manually determining room rates via a blend of cost, customer, and competitor-based pricing models.
Protect margins with insights on productivity
All of the ideas we’ve discussed in this piece can have a powerful impact on your ability to protect your margins.
- Implementing smart locks and centralizing your tech stack allows you to automate processes like ID verification and room access.
- Providing digital check-in, a digital guidebook, and keyless access means you can manage the front office with a smaller team that no longer has to be present around the clock.
- Using a dedicated tool for internal communications makes your team more efficient and responsive to requests and tasks.
You can also give yourself a clearer picture of how to optimize hotel operating costs by tracking performance. Operto Teams does this with a robust time-tracking tool that makes reporting incredibly fast and simple.
With just a few clicks, you can run a report showing you every departure clean over the last six months, see the average cleaning time with highlights in red and green to identify who’s going too fast or too slow, and run a range of pivot tables for drill-down analysis.
So your productivity reports can be user-friendly, or, since they’re very data-rich, suitable for further investigation.
Gaining access to the advantages of hotel management software
With the ability to become a tech-enabled operation by upgrading your locking systems instead of replacing them, a small boutique hotel can now implement the same hotel management and guest experience solutions enjoyed by the biggest brands in the industry.
With those software solutions in place, you can increase your efficiency and profitability, even despite today’s economic and labor challenges: Because streamlined communication and automated processes allow you to reduce your collective workload, increase output, and give guests what they’re looking for.