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Hotel Automation: No Longer Just a 'Nice to Have'

Hoteliers are under considerable pressure to accomplish more with less resources. One of the most effective ways to do this is by implementing technology, which can ease the burden on staff and help to deliver outstanding guest experiences.
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As the pandemic loosens its grip on the travel industry and people are eagerly booking their long-awaited trips, it’s important to acknowledge that guest behavior and preferences have changed. After spending so much time at home, people are looking for more unique and even bucket list experiences and are willing to spend to get them. Hoteliers need to understand what their key audiences care about now, then identify strategies to address these concerns and priorities to deliver the type of experiences guests have been craving.

Of course, this can be easier said than done. Navigating the pandemic was tough enough, but the consequences of reduced budgets and labor shortages put a significant strain on hotels – many of which are still struggling to fill the void. Now, rising occupancies are stretching already understaffed teams extremely thin, especially around the busiest times of the year. Combine this with the elevated expectations of today’s guests as well as higher room rates, and hoteliers are under considerable pressure to accomplish more with less resources. 

As a result, hoteliers are rising to the challenge by empowering their operational teams wherever possible. As the group responsible for keeping the property running smoothly, these critical behind the scenes players need to be supported to work to the best of their ability. One of the most effective ways to do this is by implementing technology, which can ease the burden on staff and help to deliver outstanding guest experiences. By helping their teams to feel empowered and effective, hoteliers are better equipped to deal with the demands of today’s travelers. 

Tackling Operational Challenges Head On

In such a fast-paced and demanding environment, hoteliers need to support their staff however they can if they want to build cohesive teams. Room attendants are a large labor cost, and with current inflation, teams must find new, creative ways to solve today’s business challenges. Hotels are working with tighter budgets to do more with less and leveraging technology to ensure teams are working as efficiently as possible. 

Using intelligent technology, hoteliers can streamline their operations with a renewed focus on efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and guest satisfaction. One of the key points which can accelerate the industry on its journey towards these objectives is finding innovative ways to automate everyday tasks. The benefits of using tech to automate room assignments, housekeeping opt-out programs, and scheduled maintenance checks is two-fold – it gives back precious time to scaled-down teams, allowing them instead to focus on high-value, face to face guest interactions and completing service requests.

Monitoring and analyzing operational data is also important, as it helps hotel staff to understand both the obstacles they face on a daily basis and how to overcome them. This is especially key when it comes to reducing guest recovery incidents, which can sometimes pop up if the hotel needs to reimburse or compensate a guest based on a negative experience they had. By having access to data and visibility of daily operations, teams can develop strategies which proactively ensure the delivery of memorable guest experiences, even with a leaner team.  

Some of the biggest obstacles hotel teams must surmount on a daily basis are early check-ins and late check-outs. These can seriously throw a wrench in the plans for staff who have to manage room cleaning. When guests request (or expect) early check-in or late check-out, it can create significant complexity to amend prioritization of housekeeping services and lead to delays in getting guests access to their rooms. While this can damage a hotel’s reputation with guests, it can also hurt the bottom line if housekeepers are forced to work overtime. Using smart technology is the best way to avoid these issues. 

Rudy Garcia, Director of Facility Services and Loss Prevention at La Cantera Resort & Spa, who has more than 16 years of experience leading engineering departments, knows the benefits of hotel technology for boosting operational productivity. His advice: “By implementing robust housekeeping schedules, centralizing information on occupancy, and enabling housekeeping and maintenance issues to be resolved rapidly, technology equips hotels and their staff with an arsenal of features to put them in the best position to deal with unexpected difficulties.” 

Empowering the Housekeeping Operation

Making sure housekeeping runs smoothly and effectively is half the battle with hotel operations. As long as rooms are ready on time and in top condition for guest arrival, management becomes a whole lot easier. The constant turnover inevitably provides daily challenges, but, backed up by a tech stack that has operational efficiency at its core, hotel managers can be confident that operational processes have been optimized to ensure that staff members are focused on delivery of high value interactions.

Housekeeping technology eliminates the manual, time consuming processes that can lead to miscommunication and errors characteristic of old-school operations. Keeping track of and communicating with housekeepers used to be slow and laborious for front desk managers, especially when staff is spread throughout the property. This challenge is only made more significant in larger hotels.

However, with a powerful service optimization solution, connectivity between staff no longer has to be strenuous. Clear communication channels leading back to a front desk with a holistic view of the whole operation enables issues to be identified, logged, and acted upon swiftly, even on a tight cleaning schedule. Daily decisions such as turnover schedule and room assignment can be automated by intelligent software that draws on data such as guest preferences and check-out times. 

Do More with Less

The industry now stands at a crossroads. With the pressures of the current hospitality ecosystem, hoteliers are going to have to face the facts if they want to survive and thrive -  ride the technological wave or be left behind. Technology provides both productivity and profitability benefits, allowing hotels to do more with less. It empowers staff, increases satisfaction, and ultimately helps to provide guests with memorable experiences for the right reasons!

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