Improve your hotel operations and add value to the guest experience with our suite of tech solutions.
The technology operations playbook
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With industry-wide labor shortages creating daily challenges for your whole team, the need to improve hotel operations and efficiency has never been clearer. So, to provide the required level of service, you need to implement solutions that satisfy your guests’ expectations and create a sustainable working environment for staff.
As Curtis Crimmins, the co-founder of Roomza, says “When you’re looking at what your guest experience needs to be, you’ve got to start with what your employee experience is.”
Throughout our hotel operations series, we speak to Curtis and other experts to explore how you can move toward an automated model that provides a quality experience for your team and guests, and gives you control and visibility over operations while saving on costs.
In this article, you’ll find practical advice on how to:
- Save money and time with tech solutions
- Automate processes
- Communicate effectively across teams and with guests
- Provide a high-level, personalized service with a smaller team
How to set priorities when experiencing labor shortages
When we spoke to Curtis Crimmins, he talked extensively about the ways hospitality labor shortages are impacting hotel operations, but identified one issue as the main problem: “Productivity is down… And the reason productivity is down is because burnout is up… And once these people burn out, there’s no one to replace them.”
Optimizing hotel operations has always meant prioritizing the guest experience. But in the current climate, taking stress away from staff is equally critical.
As Curtis says, “if you’re turning over a front desk agent three times a year, those are three sets of name tags, and three uniforms… All this really starts to cut into these already thin margins.”
So, while you still need to prioritize your guest-facing tasks, you also need to prioritize reducing staff turnover.
And with automated processes, this is possible. Modern guests are crying out for tech-assisted convenience throughout their customer journey, which at the same time gives you the opportunity to reduce your team’s workload.
Meanwhile, John Ryan, owner and managing director of The Ardilaun Hotel in Galway, Ireland, says that placing special emphasis on guest arrival has a crucial impact on your guest relationships.
“If the guest arrival and check-in is good, even if they have a small issue later, it’ll remain a small issue. You’ve already created that trust. But if they don’t get a good welcome, the chance of issues multiplying is huge.”
We look at creating a seamless, positive arrival for guests that takes pressure off your front desk, next.
Adopt contactless technology for a more efficient front desk
“A front desk can now sometimes have one person for a 500, 600 room hotel. People are waiting in line 45 minutes to an hour to check in,” says Curtis. Both self check-in kiosks and mobile check-in provide solutions to this stressful workload.
With mobile check-in, though, you completely remove any friction from the check-in process. And, when your check-in solution is part of a robust guest experience platform (we look at this more closely, below), you can engage guests pre-stay with information about amenities, local events, and more.
This reduces cancellations, makes guests more independent, and frees up your front desk. But to go even further, you also need to provide keyless entry.
Without the need for a keycard, guests have no reason to wait at the front desk at all. They have control and flexibility over their arrival, and you can operate with a smaller front desk team.
With Operto, this is how you can optimize guest arrival without compromising guest experience:
Pro tip: Use Operto Boost to upgrade your old locks to smart locks with BLE functionality. You’ll save $1,000s in hardware and installation costs AND long delivery lead times on industry-grade smart lock orders.
Automate processes to manage your staffing shortages
Automation makes guest arrival fast and easy. It also reduces the operational errors that can slip through the cracks in the face of understaffing, and gives your guests a modern hotel experience that’s in line with what they’d expect from a major hotel brand or self-service short-term rental.
For example, by automating how you share information, insights, and instructions, digital guidebooks preemptively answer typical guest questions and remove their need to go to the front desk.
As Curtis points out, this helps improve rapport with guests and how your team can add to their stay.
“Automation makes for a better and more resilient guest experience, as it facilitates more meaningful interactions with your staff.” By increasing guest independence, your team can use their time to better meet guest expectations.
Here are some of the insights you can share with a branded digital guidebook like Operto Guest:
- Arrival instructions
- Room access
- WiFi access
- In-room instructions
- Restaurant menu
- Events and nightlife
You can also use our digital guidebooks to link to personalized add-on services. With Operto Guest, your guests can click customizable smart buttons to do things like:
- Hire equipment
- Request poolside service
- Book a guided tour
Create solid cross-departmental training programs
Rut Morales, a hotel operations manager in Europe, emphasized that strong training processes are essential to allowing small hotels to compete with larger ones. The key is to listen to your staff’s wants and hopes, implement cross-training to make them more adaptable, and give them opportunities for professional development.
Through this, team members will gain an appreciation of each other’s roles and be able to support each other more effectively. And, as John highlights, “comprehensive training helps employees feel happier in their jobs.” So, investing in their development enables you to reduce turnover and increase productivity.
Consider implementing the following into your training programs:
- Cross-departmental induction training
- A combination of presentation, demonstration, and repetition for complex processes
- A buddy system for any staff new to switching departments
- Clear timelines, objectives, and performance expectations
- Regular assessment and feedback from supervisors
Use a dedicated tool for better team communication
You will increase efficiency by using a dedicated tool that optimizes communication for hospitality teams. Operto Teams, for example, gives your staff access to an app where they can interact with management, see their priorities, and gain up-to-the-minute visibility on room status.
While solutions like WhatsApp provide a convenient way to get teams together, as Rut highlights, “messages can be easy to miss or too long to read.” Keeping your team in the loop with the right communication tool helps you avoid errors and streamline workflows.
For example, if your accommodation assistant notices a leaky tap or blocked drain, they note the problem in the staff dashboard, upload an image or video, and the maintenance manager can immediately see what their task is.
Strong communication also improves the guest experience. Let’s say a guest has a late special request for their room. The front desk creates an urgent task for an accommodation assistant, and then instantly sees in their dashboard when it’s done.
With a smart, integrated communication tool, you can reduce the steps it takes for each task to be completed, be more responsive to guest requests, and make the job of managing teams easier.
Facilitate easy communication for guests and the team
As Curtis succinctly described, “to a lot of people, the front desk is just a nuisance.” In-app communication allows guests to receive the attention they need without taking time from your team on the ground.
With a mobile web app like Operto Guest in their pockets, visitors can access instant support and key information 24 hours a day. They can be poolside as they book a table for food in the evening, or on a boat trip as they ask your team for a recommendation on where to lunch.
Meanwhile, your guest management team can see all those communications in one centralized location within the Manager Dashboard and provide attentive remote customer care.
Provide personalized services with customer personas
Efficient problem-solving is one thing, but guests also now look for an extra level of personalization during their stay in the form of tailored recommendations and add-on services, and even surprise treats.
Providing this quality of service with consistency while still adjusting to labor shortages isn’t possible without tech solutions and automated processes.
Once you’ve determined your guest types, you can build out customer personas to understand their needs and preferences, which can be used to inform your marketing, branding, upsells, and recommendations.
For example, you might find that the largest group of guests to frequently rebook are business professionals attending conferences. You could use this to inform your web copy, curate a list of recommended locations to work from, and even provide an in-house media center.
With an understanding of your guests’ needs, customized digital guides, in-app communication, and a suite of persona-specific add-on services, you can provide a tailored experience for guests that doesn’t rely on high-touch service, and helps win return guests.
Increasing guest independence with efficient operations
Running a successful hotel in the midst of an industry-wide labor shortage means you need to make the absolute most of the team members you have and trust.
You also need to support that leaner team with solutions that make their jobs easier and, where possible, more diverse and fulfilling.
By automating key processes and making your guests independent, you can reduce your team’s workload, effectively manage your staff-resourcing challenges, and respond to modern guest expectations.
All of the following strategies can improve efficiency:
- Automating processes to manage staffing shortages
- Adopting contactless technology for a more efficient front desk
- Providing a digital guidebook and keyless access to make guests independent
- Creating cross-departmental training programs
- Using dedicated technology for team communication
- Providing personalized services with customer personas
With the right tools, you can operate efficiently with a smaller, happier team, and consistently deliver a fantastic experience for the modern guest.
Improve your hotel operations and add value to the guest experience with our suite of tech solutions.