Smoky Mountain Resorts, a family-owned business known for its portfolio of three unique family-friendly hotels – the Creekstone Inn, Country Cascades Waterpark Resort, and The Resort at Governor's Crossing – is dedicated to delivering a high level of excellence even amid labor challenges and rising costs. With fewer hands on deck and a need for greater accountability among all staff members, management sought potential technology partners capable of offering greater control and oversight over daily operations. This included a complete upgrade of its employee communications and workflow tools to promote a mobile-first operations strategy. What they discovered was PurpleCloud Technologies, a service optimization platform designed to increase productivity and decreased labor costs, especially in the housekeeping department, one of the largest cost centers in hotels.
“Like many hotel companies, Smoky Mountain Resorts faced growing challenges that came with reduced staff and higher guest expectations as business began to recover,” said Adria Levtchenko, PurpleCloud Co-Founder and CEO. “Each of their hotels relied on legacy technology before the pandemic, limiting their teams’ ability to perform their duties on the move and adding unnecessary steps to daily operations. This minutia was compounded amidst high turnover and increased worker stress levels, creating multiple barriers to meeting guests’ service expectations. They needed a solution and found it in PurpleCloud.”
Housekeepers at Smoky Mountain Resorts properties lacked an efficient way to inform the front desk when rooms were finished cleaning, as they were still dialing the front desk to update them on each room’s status. If a guestroom needed additional attention, a specific housekeeper would need to be located on property and told to revisit the room, creating a backlog of activities and derailing the process of efficiently making rooms available to guests.
Similarly, the maintenance department at each of location was manually printing work orders to receive a list of tasks. This process took more than five minutes and often contained outdated information – a real problem during high-traffic periods. This problem also extended to managers, who were often forced to check in with each department individually and rely on their reporting to understand the status of work orders and how they have been prioritized. It required tracking down each department head in person multiple times per day and became increasingly overwhelming with limited staff.
These issues shared a commonality: they required each department head to be in a specific location on property to receive or provide crucial operations information. In today’s fast-paced hospitality environment, this became a detriment to the brand’s stellar reputation among travelers and necessitated a change.
“Communications restrictions compounded these challenges,” Levtchenko said. “To stay in contact with each associate, their managers used a third-party messaging app. Although it improved overall communication, the app also created security and operations concerns and provided sub-par cellular service when making onsite calls. At the beginning of each shift, staff had to start new chat threads using the platform. This was limiting and made it difficult to follow up with past conversations and impossible to create a log for long-term conversations.”
PurpleCloud reduces time spent on staff moving from one location to another simply to receive new work orders or update management on their current status. It oversees operations, monitors guestrooms' status, and streamlines daily property checklists.
Available on tablets, mobile devices, and computers, the PurpleCloud app enables staff to quickly review hotel status and any relevant requests via its built-in chat feature. This digital approach to workforce management eliminates redundant paper use, as work orders and property information can be viewed directly within the app.
“We have successfully eliminated many communication barriers and challenges by having operational information flow seamlessly between resort departments and teams,” said Kay Collier, Smoky Mountain Resorts CEO. “Our ability to monitor and maintain consistent accountability within our resorts through daily and weekly checklists is a feature in PurpleCloud that we were not able to find in any other software.”
After adopting PurpleCloud’s suite of operations engagement and insight tools, hotel workers begin their day by checking the PurpleCloud app for assignments, updates, and relevant information. Notifications are delivered to departments or individuals to provide additional information before each shift, and each department receives new updates as tasks are completed in real-time. Management, engineering, housekeeping, and front-office workers all received access to PurpleCloud, creating greater consistency across all departments.
“PurpleCloud’s built-in chat feature improved communication across the board,” Levtchenko said. “Staff could reliably contact one another in an emergency, as our app’s text chat feature supports longer conversations with time-stamped messages that are easily recalled. PurpleCloud creates greater accountability for each department by leaving a clear trail noting when requests were made, addressed, and completed. It allows hotel managers to quickly identify areas for improvement and note successes within their staff for recognition. Most importantly, it helps different departments manage their responsibilities and reduce unnecessary minutia limiting operators’ capabilities.”
Staff at Smoky Mountain Resorts no longer need to leave their departments and visit a central hub to print physical work orders. By using their mobile devices to access PurpleCloud’s application and stay up to date on issues as they arise, the company reduced the time it takes to address work orders by 50 percent. The system also reduced the time it takes for hotel managers to receive an overall update on each department, down from 15 minutes to just a few moments throughout the day.
Housekeeping room inspection times have also dramatically reduced, as room availability is updated quickly. Room inspectors can now mark rooms as clean or needing additional attention directly on their mobile devices, keeping housekeepers informed on the status of each room throughout the shift. These changes have increased the efficiency and movement of every worker on property, cutting unnecessary trips to the front desk and improving workflow.
“With a greater level of information available to the hotel team at all times, Smoky Mountain Resorts’ operation has nearly doubled in efficiency,” Levtchenko said. “Their people are more aware of their priorities, and managers have clear metrics to help them track areas of improvement. Accountability for every team member has increased, contributing to improved guest review scores. These investments show the resorts’ commitment to service and operations excellence and it will help better position Smoky Mountain Resorts for continued success as hospitality resumes recovery.”
Visualization is a powerful tool, and Smoky Mountain Resorts are making use of PurpleCloud’s technology to better manage its rooms, reduce reliance on paper, and cut down on unnecessary trips to the front desk. Corporate now knows more about each property than ever before. Staff are assigning rooms more efficiently because they know the status of a room, its inspection score, and when it is available. These capabilities have better equipped Smoky Mountain Resorts to succeed in today’s hospitality landscape.
“Using PurpleCloud this past year has proven to be successful in reducing administrative costs and time spent handling paper records,” Collier said. “Our focus has been on prioritizing the use of technology to increase efficiency for our team and guests. PurpleCloud has been an integral part of that process. In our next phase, we hope to introduce gamification to encourage our employees and add some fun to the workday. The feedback from the people using PurpleCloud everyday in our organization is overwhelmingly positive and we are truly happy with the choice to incorporate it into our business.”