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Hotel Operations Management: How to leverage technology to streamline your processes

By July 29, 2022hotels

The huge exodus of skilled workers from the hospitality industry has created new challenges for hotel operators while also increasing the pressure on the hotel staff that remain. Hotels now have to maintain the same or a higher level of service with a fraction of the team in order to satisfy the evolving needs and expectations of modern guests.

You’re probably aware that tech solutions can help your hotel operate more effectively with a smaller staff. But which ones do you choose and how do they work?

In this article, we’ve spoken to operations managers to find out how staff shortages are affecting hotel operations management, and where technology has allowed hotels to create better working conditions and become less dependent on staff. 

Here’s what you’ll know after reading this post:

  • You’ll understand how to digitize your front desk using guest hospitality software.

  • You’ll know how housekeeping tools can help you schedule tasks and teams.

  • You’ll see how in-app communication can speed up reaction times.

  • You’ll understand how smart tech can improve security and management visibility.

  • You’ll understand how automated solutions can save time managing food hygiene and waste.

  • You’ll understand how leveraging technology can boost customer satisfaction and improve the working lives of your hotel staff.

Staff shortages and economic pressures have created new challenges for hotels—but with the right solutions in place, you can optimize your operations and meet guest expectations.

Use Operto Tech to enhance the guest and hotelier experience.


Modernizing hotel operations by leveraging tech and automation

The role of hotel operations manager has never been simple. Combining a mix of human resources, accountancy, and IT skills, the operations manager needs everyone in every department to perform their roles effectively. 

And all this needs to happen behind the scenes so guests have no idea how much effort goes into creating a flawless hotel experience.  

But it’s getting harder. There are 300,000 fewer workers in hospitality than 2 years ago, piling pressure on the staff that have remained.

Image showing a robot hotel worker

The Washington Post has reported on the use of robots to replace staff in a California hotel. Source: Washington Post

However, when you gain awareness of the latest best practices in hotel operations, you can update and improve your hotel’s processes and systems.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can leverage technology and automation to modernize your hotel operations.

Time to digitize your front desk

So much of the guest experience takes place online these days, but most hotels still insist that guests check in at the front desk. This can lead to a great first impression for guests when they’re met by an enthusiastic concierge full of tips about the hotel and local area.

But sometimes the front desk is not the welcoming place you want. One hotel manager told us how due to staff shortages she ended up running the front desk by herself on a busy Friday evening. Before long, there was a line of guests snaking their way out of the hotel door and around the corner. 

To make matters worse, about half of the keycards didn’t work the first time, sending irate guests back down to the front desk to complain about the terrible start to their weekend.

But it needn’t be this way. Just as other sectors like airlines and retailers have established seamless customer journeys, the technology exists for hotels to offer a frictionless experience to their guests, for example with contactless check-in for hotels

Below, we’ve listed some of the main ways you can use technology to digitize, reorganize, and maybe even completely do away with your front desk.

Digital guidebooks answer guest questions for you

Digital guidebooks included with your hotel guest experience software can take over many of the functions of a front desk concierge. Making guidebooks available from booking gets visitors excited about their upcoming trip, and you can save valuable staff time answering questions in advance about:

  • Directions to the hotel and parking

  • Information on the hotel’s restaurant, pool, or gym 

  • WiFi information and in-room entertainment

  • Room service menu and services

  • Tips on making the most of the local area

  • Health and safety information

Image of a digital guestbook showing information about hotel amenities

Digital guidebooks give you the chance to share practical information with your guests from the moment they book their stay.

Guest hospitality software makes digital check-in possible

You can give guests the chance to check in before they arrive. This will streamline the hotel guest journey and let them skip the frustrating wait at the front desk to get an early start on their vacation.

Staff previously dedicated to checking in guests will be able to focus their efforts on other areas, such as making guests feel pampered during their stay.

Image of Operto Guest screen offering a guest an early check-in promotiion

In-app communication and smart buttons allow guests more control over their stay.

To encourage guests to embrace the digital check-in option, you can offer incentives like early check-in and hotel room upgrades. 

In-app guest solutions mean you can remove your front desk

Here are a few other ways that in-app guest solutions simplify your team’s workflow and get your hotel one step closer to a hybrid–or non-existent–front desk.

  • Physical keys or printed key cards can be replaced by keyless hotel door locks with automatically generated access codes that are generated as part of the contactless check-in process. 

  • Credit card payments for room service or the bar and restaurant can be processed online during the stay, to reduce the need for front-desk staff to hand guests a printed bill on check-out.

  • Delegating hotel guest communication to a dedicated remote team will result in faster response times.

  • Save individual guest profiles and share them with other hotels in the same group using a hotel CRM. A hotel marketing manager we spoke to explained why:

“In one hotel group where I worked, you couldn’t share individual profiles of guests across different hotels in the same chain, so the guest always had to give you all their details as if they were a completely new customer. It was such a waste of time!”

  • Direct communication with guests through guest messaging software to answer questions about amenities and take room service orders. You can also send share pre-, in-, and post-stay messages and promotions to generate new revenue streams that sell add-on services.
Operto guest screen showing Google Places recommendation

You can add automated, customizable Google Places recommendations to your guest app.

Need a solution for your overworked front desk? 

Let your guests control their own check-in with Operto Guest.

Your very own mobile-optimized web app gives visitors the experience they want in the palm of their hand.

Automated processes will optimize your cleaning operations

Since the pandemic, hotel cleaning has mirrored the trend in short-term rentals for deep room cleaning after every stay. The concept of ‘certified clean’ has emerged to show a commitment to the latest cleaning protocols. And guests support the initiative, with 57% saying they’d pay more for a room that was certified clean in a 2021 study.

In the context of the great resignation of 2021, these rising standards of cleanliness and hygiene have heaped further pressure onto hotels.

Here are some ways to utilize technology to optimize your cleaning operations.

Connect cleaning schedules to your property management system (PMS)

Vacation rental owner Jill Mason first designed Operto Teams, formerly VRScheduler, in response to the particular problems she faced as a property manager. When there was a sudden cancellation or late checkout, she was left with a missed clean so rooms weren’t ready in time for guests. 

The solution she came up with was housekeeping software that allows managers to seamlessly coordinate cleaning and maintenance for all their units.

Communicate last-minute changes to your team

“Now that travel restrictions have been lifted, everyone’s desperate to go on vacation but staff shortages at airlines are causing flight delays and cancellations. All our guests are showing up late or canceling at the last minute”
- Front desk manager

In June 2022, 23% of scheduled flights were delayed according to flight tracker FlightAware. And more than 20,000—nearly 3% of the total—were canceled. The knock-on effect for hotels is guests arriving late or not arriving at all, making it crucial that your hotel management software gives you real-time visibility over rooms.

Image of Operto Teams Scheduling Calendar

Instead of getting defensive, respond to your guests with cordiality and sincerity if they leave a bad review.

The Operto Teams Scheduling Calendar organizes your tasks, employees, issues, and workflow so you can view everything that needs to be done in one place. The system autogenerates and assigns tasks based on your latest booking information. 

Make the most out of your housekeeping team. 

Use the power of automation to organize tasks, staff, and workflows with real-time room information. 

Operto Teams auto-generates cleaning schedules based on bookings and check-outs.

In-app communication will speed up reaction time and help with urgent problems

The simplest way to communicate with staff is via an in-app communication system that team members use on their smartphones. When you use a single communication tool that integrates with hotel software, you can keep all information in one place so messages don’t get lost.

Staff dashboard for clocking in and out

The Operto Teams Staff Portal allows your staff to communicate, track tasks, and share photos and videos.

The key features of an in-app communication platform should include:

  • Two-way messaging between individuals and team channels

  • Integration with real-time data about bookings and guest movements

  • The ability to assign tasks

  • Custom notifications 

  • Photo and video sharing 

As well as keeping staff informed of what they need to do, they can report any issues to you, like missing supplies, so nothing slips through the cracks.

Image of a hotel guest verifying house rules and generating a message for Operto Teams

Operto Teams sends real-time messages to the staff portal when guests check in.

Track staff for a 360-degree view of the team’s activities

With a smaller workforce, being able to keep a closer eye on staff activity will help you maximize productivity. A hotel software system that integrates with your hotel PMS gives you a 360-degree view of staff, operations, and guest rooms. 

An operations management tool like Operto Teams shows you what your staff are doing, and it gives them a mobile dashboard to complete tasks, upload images and videos, and ask you questions about tasks. 

You’ll be able to track individuals’ performance, efficiency, and the hours they’ve worked so you can reward your best employees or identify any issues.

Make the most out of your housekeeping team. 

Use the power of automation to organize tasks, staff, and workflows with real-time room information. 

Operto Teams auto-generates cleaning schedules based on bookings and check-outs.

Smart tech can improve security and management visibility

Smart locks aren’t just about convenient guest access, they give your whole hotel better security and visibility as hotel staff can monitor guests coming and going on a central dashboard. 

Here are some of the ways you can use smart tech to improve your hotel operations.

Image of a hotel guest verifying house rules in her room generating messages for Operto Teams

Generate unique access codes for every booking

Smart locks are much more secure than key cards that can get lost or stolen. Popular with guests, our research shows that 96.4% of hospitality professionals say their guests either “expect” or “appreciate” keyless tech. 

By connecting your smart locks with your property management system and guest app, you’ll be able to automate the entire guest journey. 

Some systems, like Operto, generate a unique access code for each booking which is sent to guests via Operto Guest, giving them keyless access to their room for the duration of their stay.

Keyless access is a win for the hotelier experience

Smart keyless entry with unique access codes for each booking helps protect your guests and gives them control over their arrival time. It also speeds up operations throughout the hotel as guests become more autonomous and less dependent on the front office. 

When hoteliers free up staff hours, they become less reliant on high staff-to-guest ratios, allowing your on-the-ground staff to be more attentive to guests’ needs.

Use an all-in-one dashboard to maintain visibility across your rooms and the team

According to the hospitality professionals we surveyed for our State of Tech-Enabled Stays report, contactless check-in and smart devices are top priorities for today’s travelers. But, while there’s no shortage of digital solutions, it’s important not to get overwhelmed juggling multiple platforms and dashboards.

Having an all-in-one solution helps you maintain visibility across your guest rooms on a single dashboard. You’ll get access logs for who’s entered a room, so you can track staff activities and tackle any security issues like property theft from a room. The same system gives you control over noise and promotes energy savings, letting you heat up or cool down a room using intelligent, remote control of thermostats, boilers, and split A/C units.

Bring your entire tech stack into one location. 

Instead of losing track of your operations across multiple tabs, automate processes and give yourself a 360-degree view of your business with Operto Connect in one beautiful dashboard.

Sustainability and food hygiene

Over 60 million tons of food is wasted every year in the USA. And the hospitality sector accounts for 40% of this waste, amounting to a jaw-dropping $25 billion each year.

Alongside food efficiency, hotels nowadays need to pass external health and safety checks to demonstrate they’re maintaining high standards for food hygiene. And to achieve this, you need detailed records of procedures and paperwork to show you’re complying with them.

How automated solutions can help

Unlike food preparation and serving which rely on manpower, you can automate the processes of managing inventory, managing suppliers, and controlling food costs. A kitchen and waste inventory management system can help a full-service hotel with supplier management and keep a close eye on inventory levels and costs.

Running a more efficient food inventory will not only save costs, but also help you win over guests with your green credentials. According to research by Booking.com, more than half of travelers consider eco-friendly practices when choosing a hotel.

“Travelers and travel agents can filter their searches for sustainability, so we have to make sure our hotels comply with energy efficiency and food and water conservation standards to keep attracting guests”
- Hotel marketing manager

Automated accounting solutions

Margins are always tight in the hotel industry, but rising inflation and a looming recession mean it’s more important than ever to be cost-efficient.

A hotel accounting solution that integrates with your property management system can save valuable staffing hours, reduce human error and potentially lead to cost savings that will give you an edge over your competitors.

How hotel accountancy systems can help

Here are some of the ways that hotel accountancy systems can help your business thrive:

  • Save time processing invoices with a single booking and billing process that takes credit card payments in advance and during the stay.
  • Bill additional amenities and guest services automatically through the guest portal.
  • Integrate staff schedules with payroll so you pay staff for the hours you know they’ve done.
  • Maintain profit and loss statements and budgets for each department (front office, human resources, bar, restaurant, housekeeping, and maintenance).
  • Use pricing technology to update room prices depending on the time of year, and according to supply and demand, and work with the marketing department to alert guests about special offers when occupancy is low.

Streamlining your hotel operations management

Hotels are currently operating under increasing pressure to deliver flawless guest experiences within the context of tightening economic constraints.

In this piece, we’ve looked at some of the main ways you can alleviate these problems by modernizing and streamlining hotel operations with the help of smart tech solutions.

Our top recommendations for modernizing your hotel are:

  • Digitize your front desk and create a contactless guest journey.
  • Automate housekeeping tasks and staff schedules.
  • Use in-app staff communication.
  • Create keyless access for rooms.
  • Use an all-in-one dashboard to maintain visibility over rooms, guests, and staff.
  • Invest in a kitchen and waste inventory management system.
  • Use an automated accounting system.
  • Ensure all your systems are integrated.
Most important of all, your hotel software should streamline all the different processes with a single solution. This will make your business more agile and scalable, better able to cope with staffing shortages, and prepared for the next challenges—and opportunities—on the horizon.

With the right solutions in place, you can optimize your operations, meet guest expectations, and create better working conditions for all your staff.

Use Operto Tech to enhance the guest and hotelier experience.

Frequently asked questions about hotel operations management

What are the types of hotel operations? 

Hotel operations include the front office, human resources, the provision of housekeeping and maintenance services for guest rooms, guest services, and management of facilities like swimming pools and gyms.

What are the skills required for operations management in the hospitality industry?

An operations manager in the hospitality industry typically has a bachelor’s degree in hospitality business administration and several years of experience working in a hotel front office role. Necessary skills include leadership and interpersonal skills. Operations managers also need strategic thinking skills to keep improving and developing the business. 

What are the main functions of hotel operations management?

The main functions of hotel operations management are managing the steps in the day-to-day running of a full-service hotel including overseeing the front office, human resources, guest services, revenue management, housekeeping, and marketing.