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Hotel Housekeeping Software Software Articles

Here’s Why Hotel Operations Software is Exploding in the Pandemic

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the hotel industry with flights grounded, global travel restrictions, and high unemployment.  Once in a century crises like this often bring about long term societal and behavioral change.  Those who are able to identify these tectonic shifts and adapt their businesses are most likely to succeed in the years ahead. Capital markets often act as a canary in the coal mine to help identify these shifts as they’re unfolding.  Massively popular video communications firm Zoom has seen its stock grow more than 6-fold during the pandemic as all meetings have moved to virtual.  In-person conferences and office meetings have been put on furlough enabling video meetings to jump years ahead of where they would have been without the pandemic.  Hotel groups that are able to successfully leverage video in their sales process are setting themselves up for outsized returns in the months and years ahead. You’re probably thinking “yeah, everybody knows about Zoom”, right? While Zoom is obvious, there has been an explosion of operations software that has been far less publicized.   Collaboration Tools Are Exploding Right Now Project management, team communications, and collaboration software have absolutely exploded during the pandemic.  Here’s are some of the biggest success stories: Airtable is now valued at $2.6B Monday.com is now valued at $2.9B Slack is now valued at $14.5B in IPO Atlassian is now valued at $41.7B Task and project management tools enable teams to collaborate with each other cross-functionally and remotely.  These tools help workers do their jobs - so why are their valuations exploding while unemployment is reaching all-time highs?  Shouldn’t fewer workers mean fewer users and lower revenue for these businesses? In reality, a smaller hospitality workforce has meant each worker needs to be more efficient with time which has led to the rapid adoption of platforms like those we mentioned above.  As companies across the globe have gone fully remote, collaboration tools have become more important than ever to ensure that these businesses can deliver consistent service to their customers.  Signing up for software like Airtable brings productivity equivalent to hiring new team members at a fraction of the cost.  As workforces shrink, managers use these tools to augment productivity.   Hotels Look to Software to Do More With Less Remote work has been a huge driver of the collaboration tool revolution because workers have needed to organize themselves and communicate around specific projects without face to face interaction like never before. Hotels historically already had this need.  Hotel teams have always possessed characteristics of remote work that demand efficient collaboration.  Housekeepers, for example, often work on completely different floors yet need to stay in sync around room turns and assignments.  Concierge and engineering teams often work different shifts without setting foot on property at the same time, yet need to manage requests and projects across shifts without face-to-face interaction.  Adding to this complexity, hotel teams have needed to work cross-functionally without direct interaction. Think about the case of  VIP guests arriving early.  Their room cleaning needs to be prioritized, rushed, assigned to a housekeeper, and then communicated back to the front desk. Without software, these kinds of service optimizations are nearly impossible.  Great operations software like ALICE has kept these teams in sync for years and now, like the collaboration tools mentioned above, is more important than ever. Global furloughs and layoffs in the hotel industry have meant that the fortunate workers who retained their jobs have needed to wear multiple hats and perform tasks they’ve never done before.  Here at Hotel Tech Report, we’ve heard stories of IT Directors helping out with housekeeping and Sales Managers running shifts at the front desk.  It’s been beautiful to see everyone come together and hotels without the right software were caught flat-footed when evolving their staffing and operations models. Despite tightened budgets, the smartest hotels and hotel groups have used downtime as an opportunity to dial their operating models, increasing chances of survival in the short term, and maximizing profit potential in the long run.  These businesses have learned to embrace collaboration software to bring their businesses into the 21st century.  Instead of seeing a cost center, they view tools like ALICE as a source of strategic value and savings making each worker more efficient and effective.     How Oslo’s Clarion Hotel The Hub Leveraged ALICE to Maximize Efficiency During the Pandemic Marianne Høybakk has been a Hotel Manager at Oslo’s beautiful 810 room Clarion Hotel The Hub for more than 2 years and ALICE has completely transformed the way her team operates connecting departments like front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, and concierge in a single platform that is also used to communicate with guests via messaging functionality and request ticketing.  At a massive property like The Hub - operations software was a must-have according to Høybakk long before COVID-19.  After implementing ALICE’s guest messaging functionality, The Hub experienced a 126% improvement in guest satisfaction scores. Prior to the pandemic, ALICE was already the key hotel software keeping Marianne’s team and guests in sync.  When the property ran a fire drill before using ALICE’s guest messaging software, hundreds of frantic guests would flood the front desk asking questions.  During COVID-19 a situation like this would be untenable.  Using ALICE, Marianne’s team now instantly messages all guests prior to fire-drills to warn and inform them which helps keep everybody calm and improves their stay.  Housekeeping managers no longer need to take long trips across the property to find out new room assignments have been distributed and every maintenance issue can now be tracked in real-time to ensure the property is running smoothly. ALICE’s messaging functionality has also grown even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic at The Hub with constantly changing local regulations.  The Hub has been using ALICE to distribute updates around property rules and restrictions mandated by the government in order to keep guests safe and informed in a rapidly changing environment.  ALICE has also helped The Hub reduce checkout lines by offering an app-based checkout option for guests who don’t require additional service.  This allows the hotel’s team to deliver impeccable service even when they’re short-staffed since they can focus on the guests who have more specific needs. Hotel management is incredibly complex. Within every hotel, there are literally thousands of daily tasks.   Now that hotels have cut staffing levels while also dealing with ever-changing regulations and health conditions, it’s more important to invest in operational tools like ALICE that can make every single team member on the property more productive and efficient.   This content was created collaboratively by ALICE and Hotel Tech Report.  

Hotel Housekeeping Duties: A Day in the Life

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Do you want to jump into an exciting new career? Or brush up on your hotel operations knowledge? The housekeeping department is a crucial part of the hotel business, but you may be wondering how exactly it functions. Housekeeping staff perform essential tasks to keep the hotel running smoothly, and a housekeeping job can be a great launchpad for a successful and fulfilling career in hotel management. In this article, we’ll define which roles you can find on a hotel’s housekeeping team, explore hotel housekeeping duties (including the duties and responsibilities of a housekeeping attendant), and offer tips for finding a job in the housekeeping department. By the end of this article, you might be inspired to consider a career in the housekeeping track - but you’ll definitely feel more appreciative of the hardworking people who make each hotel stay a pleasant one.   What Hotel Jobs are in the Housekeeping Department? Housekeeping teams can vary greatly depending on the size of the hotel. Small boutique hotels may have just a handful of room attendants, while giant resorts can have hundreds of housekeeping team members. The enormous MGM Grand in Las Vegas has nearly 400 room attendants working on a given day! But room attendants are just one part of the housekeeping department. The entire team can include several sub-departments, each with different responsibilities and areas of expertise. Leadership roles: In very small hotels, the room attendants might report directly to the front desk manager or the general manager, but most hotels have a leadership role within the housekeeping team. In medium-sized hotels, this role could be a Housekeeping Manager or an Executive Housekeeper, and in large hotels, there might be a Director of Housekeeping who is supported by an Assistant Director of Housekeeping, a Housekeeping Manager, or an Executive Housekeeper. The head of housekeeping is responsible for scheduling staff, managing expenses, and ensuring all rooms and public areas meet the hotel’s standards of cleanliness. Rooms: All hotels have guestrooms, so all hotels have room attendants that are responsible for cleaning rooms during and after reservations. In some hotels, floor supervisors might oversee the room attendants on each floor and perform quality control checks. Public areas: Just like guestrooms, a hotel’s public areas also need to be kept clean. Public area attendants keep the lobby, meeting spaces, restaurants, bars, offices, and any other public areas neat and tidy. Laundry: All those sheets and towels need to be cleaned somehow! Some hotels send their laundry out to an off-site laundry service, but many hotels have on-site laundry rooms. Laundry attendants are responsible for cleaning, drying, and pressing all of the hotel’s linens, towels, and uniforms. Many hotels also offer valet laundry for guest clothing, so specialized laundry staff handle those items. Some hotels also have on-site tailors and upholsterers to fix or alter uniforms, furniture, and guest clothing items. Linen room: After the sheets and towels have been washed and dried, linen attendants organize them in the linen room and distribute them to various departments in the hotel. Other roles: Some hotels have a dedicated phone operator for the housekeeping department, who answers calls from guests and other hotel departments and forwards the request to the appropriate housekeeping team member. Some hotels also have minibar attendants, who are responsible for restocking and billing minibar items, as well as housemen, who bring housekeeping items to guestrooms upon request, such as additional pillows or towels.     The housekeeping department works closely with other hotel departments too. The front desk communicates with housekeeping constantly, working to coordinate check-ins and check-outs, and following through with guest requests. Housekeeping staff partner with the engineering department to resolve maintenance issues and fix broken items, and even the food and beverage department works with housekeeping to ensure linens are pressed and dining spaces are clean.   Daily Tasks for the Hotel Housekeeping Department There’s never a dull moment in a hotel’s housekeeping department! The entire team works together to make the hotel shine - literally - so that guests can have the best possible experience. With so many moving parts, strong housekeeping departments utilize housekeeping technology, like Optii Solutions, to streamline communication within the department, reduce errors, prevent communication lapses, and improve overall efficiency. Communication can be challenging for a big team that often works in different areas of the hotel, so housekeeping-specific systems can make communication between the room attendants, public area attendants, laundry staff, and management team easier. But what does each member of the housekeeping department actually do each day?   Hotel Housekeeping Manager Duties The housekeeping manager’s role is to organize the housekeeping department’s operations. He or she is usually the main point person for the housekeeping department when communicating with other departments, like in emails or meetings. The housekeeping manager sets the department’s schedule and holds the team accountable for upholding the hotel’s service standards. A housekeeping manager’s daily tasks include: Gathering arrivals and departures reports Scheduling housekeeping staff for the week or two ahead Working with the front desk to arrange special requests or welcome amenities Attending hotel leadership meetings Holding pre-shift team meetings Responding to guest requests Resolving guest service issues related to housekeeping Leveraging technology to communicate with other departments and track task completion Managing department expenses, like supply costs and payroll   Room Attendant/Hotel Housekeeping Duties A room attendant has one of the most important jobs in the entire hotel. If a guest’s room isn’t clean when they arrive or if essentials aren’t restocked mid-stay, then the guest can have a negative impression of the hotel. They might never stay at the hotel again, and they might write a bad review of the hotel online. On the other hand, if a room attendant goes above and beyond to provide quick service and attention to detail, the guest could have a very positive experience that inspires them to return again and again. Room attendants have a lot of responsibility and can make or break the guest’s experience. Room attendants usually work in shifts of 8 hours, during which they may clean as many as 16 guestrooms. Many hotels offer housekeeping service only once per day, so room attendants would work one daytime shift (usually 8am to 4pm, approximately), while high-end hotels that offer evening turndown service would have a second shift of housekeeping staff who work afternoon and evening hours. Some hotels also might offer 24-hour housekeeping service, so a few room attendants may work overnight shifts. Duties and responsibilities of housekeeping attendant include: Cleaning guestrooms mid-stay and after departure Making beds Replacing dirty linens and towels Restocking guestroom amenities like toiletries, drinking glasses, and notepads Removing garbage, recycling, and room service trays Picking up and returning valet laundry items Organizing and stocking housekeeping carts Notifying the maintenance department about broken appliances, old light bulbs, or damage Upholding the hotel’s confidentiality and security standards Respecting “do not disturb” signs and the guest’s privacy   Public Area Attendant Duties Like room attendants, public area attendants have a big impact on a guest’s impression of the hotel. Nobody wants to see overflowing garbage cans, dusty lobby furniture, or dirty carpets in the hallways when they stay at a hotel, so a public area attendant’s job is instrumental in creating a positive guest experience. Some public area attendants work daytime shifts, while others work evening or overnight shifts to clean high-traffic areas, like lobbies, when guests aren’t using them. A public area attendant’s daily tasks include: Cleaning public spaces like lobbies, restaurants, and meeting rooms Cleaning back-of-house areas like office and employee changing rooms Cleaning stairways, hallways, and elevators Emptying garbage cans in public areas Reporting broken items to the maintenance department   Laundry/Linen Room Attendant Duties Though most laundry or linen room attendants don’t interact directly with guests, their work is crucial to the hotel’s overall operations. Without clean sheets and towels, room attendants can’t do their jobs and guests will want to stay elsewhere. Daily tasks of laundry staff or linen room staff include: Sorting, washing, drying, folding, ironing, and organizing all hotel laundry, which can include towels, sheets, bathrobes, napkins, tablecloths, uniforms, and more Removing linen that has stains or holes Operating washing and drying machines Mixing and measuring soaps, detergents, and cleaning products Handling guest valet laundry and dry cleaning within the agreed upon timeframe   Skills and Requirements for a Hotel Housekeeping Employee While hotel housekeeping duties are very important - and a career in the housekeeping department can be rewarding - the work is often challenging. Housekeeping staff need a variety of skills, a passion for service, and a high level of dedication to be successful in their roles. Housekeeping employees, especially room attendants, need to be able to perform various physical activities, which can be strenuous: Push/pull a housekeeping cart Stand, walk, or kneel for an extended period of time Lift or move heavy objects, like mattresses or chairs Use hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills Besides the physical requirements, housekeeping staff must have a strong work ethic and many soft skills, including: Attention to detail Guest-forward thinking Teamwork and collaboration Organizational skills and time management Listening skills Honesty and integrity High energy levels If you’ve never worked in a housekeeping department, that’s okay! Most staff members get on-the-job training for the specific housekeeping skills needed for their role, like how to make a bed and how to operate the laundry machines.   Finding a Job in the Housekeeping Department Are you interested in working in a hotel housekeeping department? You’re in luck! Hotels are always searching for good housekeeping employees. Most hotels post their housekeeping job openings online, so you can easily search for open roles and apply online. You will be able to find job posting on individual hotel website or on popular job boards, like Indeed. In addition to applying online, you can go to a hotel and apply in person. Most large hotels have human resources departments that accept in-person job applications. Once you’ve applied (online or in person), you’ll likely need to have an interview with the hotel’s human resources department, the housekeeping manager, and maybe even the general manager, depending on the size and quality of the hotel. The housekeeping department is an essential part of hotel operations, and the hardworking staff who perform hotel housekeeping duties contribute greatly to the overall guest experience. But the staff can’t do it all alone; technology partners like Optii Solutions can help the housekeeping department run more efficiently, reduce communication gaps, and handle guest requests. Optii’s analytical features can even help housekeeping departments decrease costs and improve performance by revealing trends and areas of opportunity. With the right tools and a strong team, the housekeeping department can do their part to ensure every guest’s experience is a good one.   Want to see career paths, salaries and hotel housekeeping job descriptions? Check out our article detailing hospitality career paths or our article about how to use the Hcareers platform to find your next housekeeping opportunity.

Why Hasn't Technology Lead to More Productivity Improvement?

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

The past decade has focused heavily on digital media innovations, which “occupy a mindshare that's out of proportion to their overall economic importance” (Vox) but haven't lead to large productivity improvements in the economy. The truth is that, while consumer media companies like TikTok and Snapchat have captured consumer eyeballs (and investor capital), they don’t necessarily increase the productivity of the average worker. In fact, productivity gains have stalled noticeably in the past ten years when most would expect continuous improvement given more advanced production processes and new technology innovations. In part, this is due to investors’ search for the next unicorn, which usually focused on companies with potential for global monopolies. Investors wanted in on the next big (consumer) thing. Today, however, with just a handful of global companies controlling the lion’s share of consumer attention, achieving scale for B2C has become prohibitively expensive.  Social media app Instagram famously created a billion dollar business with just 12 employees. In pursuit of the next big opportunity, investors are now looking at B2B companies as “the next wave of unicorns.” These companies focus narrowly on industry niches with plenty of room to run as far as leveraging technology to improve margins, streamline operations, and reduce inefficiencies.  Think of a product management software like Jira that promotes high productivity with focused to-do lists and time management tools. Ultimately this tech enable teams to complete more work in less time which is why great technology is the key to productivity improvement strategy in B2B.  Higher productivity starts with process improvement and focusing on specific problems that can improve employee productivity. For hotels looking to buck the historical trend and invest in more technology, this is a welcome evolution. Healthy competition means that hotels don’t have to rely on the same legacy companies they’ve been stuck with for decades. There are now more vendors serving the industry than ever before, which brings prices down and quality up. We’re in a Golden Age of Hospitality Technology, where hoteliers have their choice of intelligent solutions that solve real world problems and increase productivity. One of those problems facing hotels is how to do more with less. In a world of staffing shortages and high turnover, productivity has become a pressing priority. It’s also a competitive advantage; if you can run your hotel more efficiently, and thus more profitably, you’ll have more pricing flexibility and be more resilient in the face of changing market dynamics. Here’s everything you need to know about productivity and its place in today’s hotel industry.   What is Productivity? Productivity is a measure of labor efficiency; it's calculated by comparing the amount of  goods and services produced with the number of hours needed to produce those goods or services. It's an important business metric as productivity gains fall straight to the bottom line; a more efficient staff makes more profit for the company. Some measures of productivity in hospitality are: How long it takes to complete a maintenance request How many rooms each housekeeper cleans How many guests your front desk agent checks-in How much revenue each room makes  How many covers a restaurant server handles How long it takes to fulfill a guest request In each of these cases, optimizing each asset (human or room) boosts productivity (and profitability). And that’s where technology comes in: it’s the ultimate productivity enhancer. To maintain service standards in spite of these staffing challenges, hotels can now implement staff collaboration tools and property management systems that boost productivity and enhance communication across all departments, These tools, such as Guestline, give hotels a competitive edge in the competition for talent while also making existing staff happier more productive.   So Why Isn't All This Technology Improving Productivity? Productivity gains have been a feature of the modern economy. As technology filtered its way through the economy, workers were able to do more with less. Businesses benefited from a greater return on their investment and workers faced fewer menial, mechanical tasks. The result was a steady and reliable rise in productivity, powered by the adoption of technology in all aspects of global business.     Elsewhere, global productivity gains have noticeably slowed.  Productivity gains in the industries that employ the most people, such as retail, restaurants and hospitality, have been far less transformational until relatively new innovations like Guestline's cloud PMS have come onto the scene. As we all know from experience, front-line workers in these industries still work much in the same way as they have for decades. The U.S. economy operates at 18% of its digital potential. The sort of productivity gains that digital technologies should be enabling are not showing up in the broader economy. -McKinsey Digitization Index For the world’s largest industries, such as hospitality, this digital gap has prevented productivity gains from reaching the level of transformation seen in industries such as financial services, media, and professional services - but that is starting to change. Why is that? Reason #1: Work vs Play For one, our productivity calculations don't do a good job of accounting for the differences between digital and physical transformation. Our current wave of innovation hasn’t impacted productivity in ways that electricity or plumbing did. It also doesn’t effectively account for the impact of consumer platforms, such as Snap and TikTok, on how we play versus how we work. As Vox concludes in a well-reported piece on the impact of technology  on productivity, these consumer platforms have captured leisure time without necessarily having a positive impact on productivity elsewhere: “Technology is changing how we play and relax more than it's changing how we work and produce.” We’ve also reached a point where the biggest productivity opportunities have been met by technology: factories are mostly automated and the big transformations are complete. These productivity gains have accrued unevenly, focused mostly in industries where automation transformed the very nature of the work (think factories and fields that use technology for performance improvement to reduce costs). Reason #2: Underinvestment in Technology While consumer-facing platforms exploded in value, industries like hotels and restaurants have historically underinvested in technology, limiting potential productivity gains. This lackluster transformation appears in the data: according to Gartner’s Lodging Technology Study, the industry invested only 3.5% of its revenue into information technology (IT) solutions. This underinvestment is partly due to marketplace dynamics, as much of the tech innovation over the past decade was in consumer-facing technologies. This underinvestment creates a “digital gap” that is exacerbated by a lower “degree of digital usage” in the hospitality industry, says McKinsey. The research also found that “digital engagement between companies and their suppliers and customers is five times larger in the leading sectors than in others.” In other words, industries like hospitality just aren’t using digital technologies as effectively as their peers in other industries and aren’t unleashing comparative productivity gains which is why they should consider investing in productivity and hotel operations and property management software like Guestline to make their operations more efficient. Reason #3: The Nature of Work Historically, technology has made it easier to get work done by increasing the efficiency of workers worldwide.  Automation enables workers to produce more with fewer inputs, while communication and project management tools make each hour more productive. However, these productivity gains have slowed measurably in the last ten years, with the gains especially anemic in the industries that employ the most people, such as retail, restaurants, and hospitality. The nature of the work affects productivity. These industries often higher lower-skilled workers at lower rates, which makes investing in productivity-enhancing Technologies less appealing. Also the nature of work is manual in ways that make automation difficult.  It's really challenging to have a robot make the bed, for example. In addition, these are customer-facing roles, defined by high-touch human interactions that defy automation.    How To Increase Productivity At Your Hotel Digitization and productivity are closely linked. Over the last 20 years, the top digitally-enabled sectors enjoyed a 2-3x increase in productivity and profit margins over their peers. And those that lag on the digitization front also have lower productivity performance, which is why hotels must act now to increase productivity in the workplace. One of the toughest questions is where to invest first? Between revenue management systems, housekeeping management software, business intelligence tools and a dozen other hospitality technology categories listed on Hotel Tech Report, there are many ways to improve productivity at your hotel. Many hotels start with staff collaboration tools which improve productivity, accuracy, and communication across departments: maintenance techs will prioritize projects more efficiently; housekeeping managers will manage shifts more efficiently; your front desk will deliver better service room cleaning schedules; and your general manager will benefit from actionable reports that benchmark performance over time. Whichever technology you start with, it’s advisable to have a method for establishing a productivity mindset at your hotel. You need to do three things: make productivity a priority, identify bottlenecks and invest in the right tools. Prioritize. It may take some convincing to show management and staff why productivity matters. After all, monitoring productivity can come across as Big Brother. Focus specifically on how it will make work like better for staff while also improving the guest experience. Most workers are frustrated by inefficiencies, so focus on the “why” and win allies.  Identify.  With organizational buy-in, you can now turn to identifying the biggest bottlenecks. Look for two things: issues that directly impact the guest and behind-the-scenes interactions between staff. Eliminating bottlenecks in those two areas will have the highest impact. Once you’ve identified the areas for improvement, align everyone around the right metrics: rooms cleaned per hour, guests served per shift, average guest request response time, ancillary revenue per room  Invest. To avoid further disruption from companies like Sonder and AirBnB, hotels must get better at buying and investing in technology. As you evaluate vendors, refer back to your specific bottlenecks and ask each vendor how their solution helps solve those. Then, invest the time and money in a pilot to trial the most promising solutions. You can then evaluate performance and base your investment decisions off actual data. Hospitality may have traditionally lagged other industries in adopting productivity-related technologies, but things have changed. “Boring” B2B unicorns are finally delivering the greater productivity gains seen in other industries. With a proper approach to evaluate, purchase, and implement software, supported by a modest budget, your hotel will capture the upside of greater productivity: happier guests, more satisfied staff (with better work life balance), and more profitable resource allocation. These efficiency gains simply make your hotel better, across the board. And, as a powerful ally in building productivity-driven profits, these tools help you build a culture of incremental improvements, helping your hotel get just a little better each day. Over time, this means major gains -- and a healthy return on your technology investment.  

How to Leverage Kaizen In Your Hotel Business

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Over time, incremental improvements or small steps can make big changes. Small changes each day lead to dramatic shifts over time. These changes can be especially powerful because they don't cost a lot upfront. There's no major change initiative, no stakeholder alignment, no big announcements or rollouts. And most definitely no overnight transformations. It's really just about making your hotel operate as smoothly and efficiently as possible, with the objective of improving just a little bit each day. There’s a word for this approach to incremental improvements: Kaizen. And it can be a powerful philosophy for hospitality businesses. Here’s why.   What is Kaizen? Kaizen is a Japanese word and the definition of kaizen is “change for better” or “process improvement.” After World War II, the term became synonymous with the Toyota Production System philosophy of continuous improvement throughout all levels of the company with the goal of reducing waste (lean manufacturing). The approach focuses on improving the efficient use of labor, supply chain and technology to standardize operations ensuring total quality management. Kaizen aims to help organizations implement quality controls that help identify the root causes or bottlenecks in an operation.  Once these conrtols are in place, managers who implement kaizen can work through problem solving. The Japanese philosophy of emerged around World War II due to the fact that there was “neither time nor resources” to devote to massive innovations or transformation during wartime: “Instead of encouraging large, radical changes to achieve desired goals, these methods recommended that organizations introduce small improvements, preferably ones that could be implemented on the same day.” Even though it was designed for assembly line workers, this transformational management style is perfect for hospitality. It's rarely feasible to implement a wholesale overhaul of an entire system or workforce. And it most certainly is immensely challenging to evolve the physical space of a hotel that remains open to the public all day, every day. A philosophy of continuous improvement reflects the true challenges and opportunities of an industry built on details and moments. For hospitality operators, kaizen promises a more gentle approach to making hotels better.   How to Use Kaizen in the Hospitality Industry To manage the process of continuous improvement, consider using service optimization technology that wrangles data into a common dashboard for teams. This will help your operations department gain real-time visibility into what needs improvement and even what is currently improving.  You'll want to make sure that whichever service optimization (also known as staff task management or hotel operations software) tool you use deeply integrates with your hotel front desk software (PMS). These solutions focus on leveraging technology to improve operations across departments on a day-to-day basis, ensuring that small-but-steady improvements improve the hotel’s operation. One such solution is HotSOS (by Amadeus), a comprehensive software suite that makes on property life easier for workers across the hotel. Here are some of the key ways that HotSOS helps hotel managers become kaizen masters to deliver better outcomes for hotels: HOTSOS FEATURE BENEFIT, KAIZEN-STYLE  Real-time problem management Solving problems quickly means that your team learns continuous improvement by doing; it becomes embedding in your hotel culture.  Digital workflows The elimination of paper workflows reduces manual errors, saves time, and makes staff happier. See next point. One-click updates  With service optimization software, it only takes one click to update checklists and standard operating procedures. This ensures that everyone has the latest process and that kaizen-related improvements get out to the team instantly.  Automated room assignments The system works as your silent kaizen consultant by adjusting your team’s room assignments on the fly. This means that staff can be more efficient, all without having to overthink it. Performance analysis Without software, managers must rely on instinct, observation, and feedback from others to identify high-performers and laggards. As we all know, this can magnify interpersonal conflicts and gossip. Since kaizen is all about incremental improvements at each point. Maintenance prioritization With automated prioritization, rooms are kept up to brand standards. As last-minute stay-overs affect room availability, the system re-assigns work as needed.   These features empower individual staff members and entire departments to be more mindful of incremental improvements. Each day becomes a shared puzzle to solve together, in collaboration and with full transparency.   If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It To achieve the true potential of a Kaizen philosophy, it takes a strong measurement mindset. “If you can't measure it, you can't improve it” is an adaptation of the famous quote from management consultant Peter Drucker, who once said “you can't manage what you don’t measure. There’s no baseline without proper measurement. For hoteliers, measurement is what makes the intangible trackable. Measurement increases visibility and accountability across the organization, empowering frontline staff with clear markers of progress. Pulling these metrics to the forefront also creates transparency and trust, ensuring that each team member is held to the same standard.  Without a doubt, this boosts morale and aligns teams around common goals and shared expectations. Brand standards are easier to match and there’s more pride of work. What exactly should you be measuring in your hotel? The short answer is: everything.  Each departmental head should be focused on 4-5 key metrics that will make the most meaningful long term impact on your hotel’s P&L. You should make those metrics clear to all relevant staff and orient your reporting to celebrate wins and call out areas for improvement.    One case study showing the possible improvements from using kaizen in hospitality   Take housekeeping for instance. In the case study above, kaizen reduced the average turnaround time for rooms by 40%. It also improved linen turnaround time so that housekeeping remains stocked with the items necessary for their work. The housekeeping department thrives when it’s coordinated and aligned but becomes chaotic with poor communication. A service optimization tool, such as HotSOS (by Amadeus), aligns teammates across the department by putting KPIs at the center of the process; this allows all staff to see status and orient around daily improvements. The technology empowers front-line staff and guides management with relevant data. With HotSOS Housekeeping, historical data can be used to improve performance over time, while HotSOS relies on real-time assignments to maintain optimal efficiency on a given shift. Management can then track KPIs, such as the average cleaning time and the average inspection scores of each housekeeper. With that information, management can then strive to deliver those incremental improvements that define the kaizen approach.     The Result: Continual Improvement at Your Hotel Stale processes that haven’t been revisited in years can lead to equally stale guest experiences. If you're not always monitoring and watching for areas to improve, the experience will inevitably slip and guests will notice.  To get to continuous iteration in your hotel, the following steps should be second nature:   Engage employees, as they’ll have the best ideas of focus areas for improvement.  Make a problem list and then prioritize according to those with the greatest impact. Match problems with potential solutions.  Test the solutions so that you have on-the-ground insights into what’s working.   Analyze the results. If there's improvement, adopt the solution. Repeat the process and empower staff to do this as part of their own contributions.   It’s fairly simple, and you may already be doing some of these steps but mastery takes incredible discipline. That’s the beauty of kaizen: it’s a natural process for hospitality. With an intentional approach, supported by the right technology, morale grows, mistakes dwindle, and the guest experience improves. It’s a promising vision that can be pursued each day by applying kaizen’s slow-but-steady philosophy to hotel operations.  

Hotel Checklists: How They Train Your Staff To Be More Productive

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

In some industries, checklists are the difference between life and death. During the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969, the team of astronauts considered their extensive collection of detailed checklists – covering everything from flight plans to data cards – their “fourth crewmember.” In Scotland, the 2008 requirement that hospitals complete a Surgical Safety Checklist during high-risk surgeries led to a 36.6% drop in the post-op mortality rate. Science has proven time and time again that checklists have a direct impact on productivity, time management, memory, and focus. While hotel checklists don’t have the same life-or-death implications as these other examples, they are a vital tool for improving staff performance and overall hotel operations. Hotel operations software like HotSOS has evolved from old-school paper checklists (put your hotel sustainability hat on!) to be more transparent, efficient, and organized for hotel teams working around the property. What’s the psychology behind hotel checklists that makes them so powerful? How should your hotel be using checklists to motivate your team and improve operations?    The Psychology of Hotel Checklists There are a few reasons why hotel checklists are powerful motivators for your team. First and foremost, checklists define goals in strategic, manageable steps. Anyone who’s ever attended a business seminar knows the importance of setting SMART goals – that is, outcomes defined as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Software organizes your checklists within SMART parameters to show your team that these bigger goals are achievable through small, manageable steps. “Breaking down your projects into smaller, bite-sized pieces helps you stay motivated and positive throughout the process,” writes one expert. Why are smaller tasks more motivating than big-picture goals? When we experience a feeling of achievement, no matter how small, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is connected to the feeling of pleasure, learning, and motivation. Checking a task off a list is all it takes for the brain to release a small amount of dopamine – which in turn motivates us to check more items off the list. Not all items on a checklist are created equal, however. Psychologists have found that tasks must be challenging in order to trigger the dopamine response. Small goals must be meaningful not only to work toward your SMART goal, but also to generate a sense of satisfaction that keeps your team motivated. If you consider checklists in your personal life, for example, taking out the trash each week doesn’t lead to the same feeling of accomplishment as hanging a new frame or building a backyard swing set. Keep this in mind while designing your hotel checklists.    What Hotel Checklists Does Your Staff Need? Running a hotel’s daily operations means keeping tabs on lots of moving parts at once. Today’s cloud-based hotel checklist software aligns your team no matter where they are on the property. These checklist tools are a way to improve every guest touchpoint, from housekeeping to restaurant inventory. Checklists standardize the guest experience and build loyalty by establishing a level of trust between the guest and the brand. Over time, the aid of hotel checklists can increase positive reviews. There are a number of different types of checklists in hotels, such as:  General property checklist: to assess if the staff has all been trained, all hotel areas are up to brand standards and to evaluate guest rooms for comfort and cleanliness.  Room checklist: to assess that rooms are clean, damage-free, and that furniture and decor are all in good condition. This checklist should be used before check-in and after check-out.  Housekeeping checklist: to assess if the housekeeping team is in uniform, and to assess if all areas of the hotel are clean, sanitized, and presentable to guests.  Bathroom checklist: to assess that bathrooms are cleaned, and to assign which items and fixtures need to be scrubbed. Also, include inventory for things like shampoo and conditioner.  Inventory checklist: to assess whether your property is fully stocked with hotel supplies, food and beverage for the on-site restaurant, and complimentary items. Hotel Maintenance checklist: to keep track of ongoing and occasional maintenance such as power washing, plumbing, electrical work, fire protection, security systems, and deep cleaning. These are just a few examples of the checklists hotels can use to improve their service and organize their teams to run a tight ship. Other checklists, like a spa and health club safety checklist, hotel concierge checklist or restaurant health inspection checklist, should be added depending on what your specific property has to offer. How detailed should your checklists be? It’s a balance between meeting the demands of your customers and keeping your team motivated. Remember the psychology behind checking off tasks: items should be meaningful to trigger a feeling of accomplishment but not too large that they require significant thought.    How to Facilitate Hotel Checklists  The Apollo 11 team filled their spacecraft with wall-to-wall written checklists; but, that probably won’t work for your hotel team. Hotel operations software facilitates checklists with teams at work on different parts of your property, keeping everyone aligned and making sure no task falls through the cracks.  Tools like HotSOS connect employees through a single platform to manage tasks and delegate throughout the day. Individual checklists can be set up for room inspections, daily to-do lists, and more; managers can delegate clearly, adding transparency to the hotel’s operations. One hotel’s Director of Operations reports, “The information flows very easily between the departments in a quick view; everyone knows what is happening in the hotel.”  When you set up a hotel checklist, make sure the tool or platform you use is set up to reflect the guest experience. Walk through each step in the customer journey and design your checklist accordingly: what does the check-in process look like? What does the guest see when they first enter their room? When can they expect room service to arrive? The best hotel checklists will anticipate a guest’s needs and categorize services to align with customer touchpoints as a way to clearly assign tasks to different team members. Bottom line: make sure the tasks on your checklist are achievable, but still provide the feeling of a job well done to keep your team motivated, productive, and goal-oriented. Use hotel operations software that has integrated checklist functionality to keep your team constantly in sync no matter where they are on property.  Checklists with small measurable goals and software that helps your staff easily track their progress inevitably helps improve guest satisfaction scores by ensuring nothing falls through the cracks between shifts or gets lost in communication.

Hotel Housekeeping Departments Depend On Great Software

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 days ago

With simultaneous rising labor costs and stubbornly high turnover in the hospitality industry, hotel housekeeping remains a top challenge facing the industry. According to STR’s 2019 HOST Almanac, a compilation of operating statistics of more than 5,000 U.S. hotels, 2018 labor costs tallied an estimated $70 billion. As a percentage of total revenue, the median full-service hotel spends 30 percent, while limited-service hotels spend 22 percent.  And that number is only going up. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 3.2 percent increase in hourly wages for non-supervisory works in the accommodations business at the end of 2018. At the same time, job openings are also near record-highs: per the BLS, the hospitality industry had more than 900,000 job openings. And that’s despite the wage increase! With low unemployment it becomes increasingly difficult to fill full-time or even part-time housekeeping jobs. On the supply side, labor shortages are likely to worsen as hotel pipelines continue to grow. STR reported nearly 18 percent growth in global hotel inventory during the decade between 2008 and 2018 while CBRE’s December 2018 edition of Hotel Horizons accessed a 1.9 percent net increase in U.S. hotel supply in 2018. More hotels are competing for fewer capable employees. This labor crunch is especially acute in the housekeeping department. Adding fuel to the fire, immigration laws are tightening in primary markets like the United States and in parts of Western Europe. To do more with less, hotels must deploy housekeeping software that streamlines housekeeping’s day-to-day tasks while still maintaining strict brand standards.  Technology is the key to less stress amongst hotel housekeepers, faster room cleaning and happier hotel guests.  Ultimately software helps executive housekeepers manage their teams more efficiently so that they can deliver better guest service. “The use of such software is dramatically speeding up the process of turning rooms over, leading to lower costs and higher revenues.” -HTR’s Housekeeping Management Software Buyers Guide  With technology, time-consuming tasks, such as creating housekeeping schedules, tracking room attendants’ progress, and adjusting to changing requests in real-time, are much simpler. Staff carry mobile devices, which centralizes communications and optimizes routes in real-time throughout shifts. In short, housekeeping software expedites housekeeping operations, captures data to continuously improve performance, and makes your hotel more organized than ever.  Historically sophisticated housekeeping software was reserved for chains like Marriott and Hilton; however, there has been an explosion of tools on the market that are much more affordable and intuitive.  Many of these tools integrate with other hotel systems to facilitate engineering tasks as well as lost and found.  Forward thinking hotels understand that housekeeping software is as critical as vacuuming equipment and cleaning supplies.  As you look to find the right software solutions for your property, the list below can help narrow your search to find the right vendor for your property and team. Here’s what to look for as you start evaluating housekeeping management software vendors.   What to Look for in Hotel Housekeeping Software When evaluating the best housekeeping management software for hotels, here's what to look for at a higher-level: Mobile-first. A non-negotiable. Mobile-optimized applications ensure that your staff can do the work whether they are on property. Reporting. Accurate, timely, and useful reporting ventures your teamIs optimized for performance. Find a solution that gives you the visual reports in formats that work best for your team. Automated room assignments. Manually assigning rooms isn’t efficient, especially for routine cleans. Look for automation to eliminate wasted work. Intuitive user interface. Tech that isn’t easy for everyone to use  will cause more headaches than its worth. Focus on usability so that your staff needs less training on the software. Plenty of integrations. Your housekeeping management software will be severely hobbled without the appropriate integrations. Be sure that any solution you select integrates with your existing property management system! With clearer visibility into the hotel’s day-to-day operations, owners and operators can also make more informed decisions to improve their bottom lines. To help you decide which tool to select for your hotel, here are the 6 housekeeping tech tools that have hoteliers talking.   Popular Hotel Housekeeping Software Vendors   1. ALICE Housekeeping Hotel operations platform ALICE debuted its latest evolution in June (check out our exclusive coverage), a housekeeping solution that enables direct and immediate communication between individual members of housekeeping staff as well as between housekeeping and all other hotel departments. The platform can directly reduce a hotel’s labor costs by at least 10 percent, and the company says it saves an average of four minutes in cleaning time per room. The platform is wholly customizable, with a tool kit that includes: A dashboard-like feature that gives housekeeping managers a comprehensive overview of their department’s operations, from room attendant assignments and task sheets to room clean status, special requests and personalized guest details. The ability for managers to automatically prepare staff task sheets and balance assignments The ability for room attendants to track their cleaning progress and immediately report any unexpected issues The new housekeeping software solves for two critical pain points that typically drive up hotel operations costs. ALICE Housekeeping reduces training time for new hires by replacing the numerical code-based systems with icons and colored labels to indicate tasks and other messages. It also directly connects front of house and back office teams, the software drives a 60 percent reduction in radio and in-person communications.   Notable feature: The platform can also alleviate housekeeping managers of the daily and time-consuming burden of accessing the day’s room inventory and subsequently assigning available staff to occupied rooms and rooms in the midst of turnover. ALICE Housekeeping has an algorithm for that. Just hit the “auto-assign” button –or override it for manual control. What clients say: ALICE is popular with boutique properties around the world, and comes recommended by 97% of HTR users, ranking Number 2 in popularity.   2. OPTii Solutions OPTii streamlines housekeeping operations by optimizing room-attendant path of travel and reducing manual communications by at least 60 percent. This housekeeping software can automatically estimate cleaning times to predict, manage and optimize housekeeping schedules in real time, allowing managers to automate the vital tasks of creating daily schedules. On average, hotels that use Optii see up to 500 percent within just months of implementation by reducing housekeeping labor costs up to 18% and increasing productivity up to 24%. Additionally, OPTii gives managers the ability to identify room status as it pertains to housekeeping, including those ready for inspection. Managers can also view room attendant progress, for real-time insight on how well each attendant stays on, ahead or behind schedule, how quickly they’re completing rooms and how many rooms each attendant has completed at any given time during their shift. Notable feature:  OPTii also has in-depth reporting capabilities that can compile metrics and analytics to generate 15 different reports. These reports can be personalized to deliver a quick-and-easy way to stay on top of your team’s performance trends. What clients say: The product is recommended by 72% of HTR reviewers and scores 3.8 of 5 in both ease of use and support. A number of users also commented that they would like to see an option to delete and edit notes or the addition of a real time messenger system so that housekeepers can instantly be notified of reservations changes.   3. Flexkeeping Flexkeeping’s housekeeping feature is purpose-built to keep housekeeping staff up-to-date, rooms clean, and workflows organized. Since the platform provides an intuitive home for housekeepers, there are fewer miscommunications and far less confusion. In fact, hotels that use the app have an average of 70 percent fewer disruptive phone calls to housekeeping.  With a clear overview of rooms that need servicing, housekeeping managers can dynamically assign available staff, with the added ability to confirm room cleanliness instantly and manage other duties such as turndown service and minibar refills. On the housekeepers end, the app has clear checklists and integrated messaging to keep on top of quality and recent requests. The app also offers an inspection checklist for quality control in addition to a translation feature to accommodate non-English speaking staff. Flexkeeping allows for integrations with several Property Management Systems (PMS) including Oracle Hospitality OPERA Cloud Services, Mews Systems, Cloudbeds Myfrontdesk and protel. The app is described by one hotel manager as “simple to use and very helpful.” Notable feature: The Flexkeeping interface is colorful and clear. It’s easy to see at a glance which rooms have been tended to and which ones still need attention. With this interface, managers can be more efficient and spend less time on room assignments and more time on quality control. What clients say: Flexkeeping is recommended by 98% of reviewers on HTR. Users rate its ease-of-use and support highly, as the platform is simple and helpful, allowing users to fix issues quickly.   4. RoomChecking With both intuitive mobile and desktop applications, RoomChecking directly connects to a hotel’s PMS, with dozens of integrations available. The platform streamlines communication between housekeeping, maintenance the front desk and management so that operational tasks can be expedited and tracked.  As one HTR reviewer explained “all employees use the same software (room attendant, maintenance, front office, F&B).” But the same user also noted that load times can sometimes be long.  RoomChecking’s housekeeping product is equipped with a mobile app for room attendants and another for supervisors inspecting rooms as well as schedule planning and a function to convey housekeeping changes in real time. The software also warehouses all cleaning and inspection records. As far as cost, implementation fees range between $1,000 and $2,500, while the monthly subscription cost is around $3 per room on a monthly basis. Notable feature: RoomChecking has standalone apps for different parts of your business. With its Cleaner, Inspector, and Runner apps, each role has specific tools at its disposal, while still benefiting from communication across the different applications. What clients say: RoomChecking’s housekeeping product comes in at Number 6 on the HTR popularity index; 96 percent of reviewers recommend the product. The software’s highest overall rating was for ROI, scoring 4.7 out of 5 with ease of use following just behind at 4.5 of 5. The platform was given a score of 4.2 of 5 for support and 4 of 5 for implementation.    5. HotSOS Housekeeping (by Amadeus) HotSOS Housekeeping’s purpose is threefold; the app prioritizes the process of guestroom cleaning, digitizes the guest room inspection process; and virtually mobilizes management of the housekeeping department. In 2016, it saved hotels $166 per room. More specifically, the launch of HotSOS Housekeeping throughout one hotel client’s property resulted in a 14 percent increase in productivity and a total labor savings of $136,000 annually.  HotSOS was one of the earliest housekeeping products brought to market and has the largest install base.  The drawback of going with the largest player is usually legacy that comes with scale. When a software is widely used it can be hard to change this drastically without alienating users.  For HotSOS one major drawback is the code based system used which can be confusing for room attendants who haven’t yet memorized the platform and have lots else on their minds. The benefit of this system is that it’s widely used so many experienced room attendants will be familiar with it from a previous property. Another client, the 159-room Prince de Galles hotel in Paris signed on with HotSOS Housekeeping when an insufficient inventory of clean rooms upon guest arrival became a chronic issue. Room attendants had to located by radio or physically in order to be updated on last-minute changes and new cleaning priorities, leaving supervisors with little time for department management and room inspections. To solve this, HotSOS Housekeeping provided the team with an automated solution for consistent communication in real-time. The consistency pushed cleanliness scores higher, as the hotel’s Director of Housekeeping said:  “Our GEI scores for 2016 show a 2% increase in guestroom cleanliness and a 5% increase in guestroom condition since 2014. Having more time to spend on guestroom inspections and the ease and efficiency in reporting deficiencies in real time, have helped improve our guest ratings.” Notable feature: HotSOS’ focus on service optimization includes an automated dispatch feature that pushes operational and guest requests to the right person instantly to reduce wait times and increase efficiencies. What clients say: 96% of reviewers would recommend HotSOS, which is used across hotel categories, with reviewers appreciating fast housekeeper responses and the customizable reports.   6. HKeeper is a startup newcomer in the housekeeping software space While HKeeper is one of the newer entrants in the housekeeping software space, the Company's product is surprisingly mature.  The founding team at HKeeper is comprised of hotel owners who have built and extensively tested the software on their own properties long before bringing the product to market. Using HKeeper, you will find requisite tools to avoid unnecessary problems that arise as a result of lacking collaboration between departments. HKeeper will optimize all daily routine processes, improve your guest relations quality, and free up more time for working with projects and vendors. Hkeeper is one of the best tools for managing the personnel of the hotel and tracking material usage. With HKeeper, you can streamline workflows, reduce the turnaround time between tasks, and increase employee productivity. HKeeper also monitors working progress in real time and analyzes staff performance by counting active working time, turnaround time, and time required for each task. Another exceptional function in the HKeeper program is that the mobile application can work off-line. Not all similar programs are offering integration with PMS software, and HKeeper does, so hotels can easily stay updated on room status, availability, and guest information. Notable feature: HKeeper offers a unique feature that allows tracking all materials used during cleaning and preventive maintenance tasks or other operations through the program in real time.   7. Quore Cleaning Plus Quore’s Cleanings Plus software has been named the top Housekeeping Management Solution for two years running in the HotelTechAwards. This was its second consecutive year at the top spot, likely influenced by the fact that the tool is used at more than 3,600 properties across 80 brands in 29 countries. With Cleanings Plus, housekeeping managers can record and view room updates and also schedule, manage and track cleanings and inspections. Additional functions include analysis of individual and department-wide performance trends as well as the ability to immediately report work order requests.  Rooms can be assigned by cleaning type and a virtual breakout board can be created in the app for everyone to view. Room attendants also have the capability, via mobile access, to make relevant updates on their end. As one HTR reviewer pointed out, much of the data is retained so hotel management can go back and reference it without the hassle of having to physically store older information. “[I like] having so much in one program and the ability to keep so much historical data without keeping paper files,” he said. Notable feature: The software is available in 22 languages so staff can communicate in their native tongue. This is a fantastic way to improve productivity and staff engagement, not to mention stronger guest satisfaction when they communicate in their native tongues as well. What clients say: Quore is extremely popular with branded properties in the U.S. and is highly recommended by 95% of its users. Clients rate Quore 4.8/5 for ease of use and 4.7/5 for customer support making it the most highly recommended software in its category on Hotel Tech Report.  

ALICE Housekeeping: A First Look At The New Software [EXCLUSIVE]

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 year ago

If you own or operate a hotel, you know that labor is the single largest expense on your P&L and that housekeeping is typically the largest expense within your labor budget.  If you want to boost NOI, look no further than your housekeeping department. Cleaning the average hotel room typically costs between $10 and $16 with luxury hotels often spending more than $20 (CPOR).  The majority of that cost (~65%) is spent on housekeeping salaries and wages. Hotels that are laser focused on housekeeping optimization often enjoy higher margins and ones that pioneer new housekeeping initiatives often enjoy a significant competitive advantage. Starwood’s “Make a Green Choice” program is one such initiative that not only drove company profits but also fundamentally changed the hotel industry.  Starwood’s program allows guests to opt out of room cleanings in exchange for loyalty program points or F&B credit and is still running today - over 10 years later.  In fact, the program was so successful that almost every hotel in the world followed suit. As pioneers in the “Make a Green Choice” movement, Starwood enjoyed a competitive advantage for years as the competition slowly caught up.  Today hotels around the world are enjoying a similar competitive advantage through the early adoption of cutting edge housekeeping management software. Shockingly, most hotel housekeeping departments today still operate the same way they did in the 1980s.  Every morning, housekeeping managers create boards for their room attendants to reference in order to be able to identify which rooms they have been assigned to using age old tools like pen and paper, PMS exports, radios and other manual methods.  Due to the manual nature of the task, this process can take anywhere from a half hour to several hours each morning and the plan immediately becomes obsolete as soon as anything changes--even something as simple as a housekeeper arriving to their next assigned room to find a do not disturb on the door.  Manual methods also hamper efficiency offering little in the way of performance optimization data and lots in the way of potential human error. Housekeeping management software provides a suite of manager and room attendant tools that combine real time departmental communication and synchronization with sophisticated reporting and analytics. This week, New York City based hotel tech darling ALICE made an announcement that is poised to shake things up for hotels across the globe with its all new Housekeeping product.     While ALICE has always offered a flexible staff communication and task management platform that is used by housekeeping teams across the globe--the all new housekeeping offering is designed from the ground up to deliver a magical experience that will leave even non-housekeepers wanting to take it for a spin.  The platform packs a punch with mission critical housekeeping management functionality like automated room assignments but delivers this functionality in an elegant and easy to use solution that integrates each department on property like a finely tuned orchestra. ALICE gave us a glimpse into the future of housekeeping with an exclusive behind the scenes tour of their reimagined housekeeping product. Let’s dive in, shall we…   The All-New ALICE Housekeeping at a Glance A fresh take on a department that is one of the biggest cost centers for hotels, yet hasn't changed the way it operates in decades Forward-thinking design and intuitive user interface based on a system of simple icons and labels that minimize training requirements and maximize team adoption Push one button and watch your rooms inventory get magically assigned to the optimal members of your team based on your properties’ bespoke rules and characteristics Real time updates and notifications that make manual entry, tracking and repetitive tasks a thing of the past Automated reporting that unlocks new levels of visibility into real time and retrospective performance to bring more to your bottom line Platform approach enables seamless inter departmental handoff to supercharge your team’s collaboration and put an end to expensive and frustrating human error   The all new ALICE Housekeeping boasts clean lines and an intuitive user interface that your team will actually want to use One of the single biggest problems in hotel tech is adoption (i.e. getting your team to actually use software and use it correctly).  When hotel software implementations fail it’s usually due to the fact that on property teams lack the product knowledge needed to properly leverage the tool.  For this reason, hotel software must first and foremost be simple and easy to use--clunky and bloated software rarely (if ever) reaches its full potential. With ALICE, you can put this concern to rest.  The new housekeeping app design is stunningly beautiful and shockingly simple.  The product team over at ALICE has taken design hints from best-of-breed user interfaces like Facebook and Google.  Students of product design know that simplicity has long been the holy grail of product adoption and customer experience.  Housekeeping teams often suffer from high staff turnover, challenging language barriers and in many cases and a lack of formal education.  These factors make design one of the most important factors when selecting housekeeping management software for your hotels. Legacy housekeeping software platforms often run on confusing code based systems (e.g. code 1724 = clean room) that can be difficult to train new employees on.  Contrastingly, ALICE runs on an intuitive set of icons and colored labels which deliver an easy to use experience for new hires and housekeeping veterans alike. Great software design delivers direct business benefits such as reduced training and generally faster on-boarding of new hires.  There’s also a significant indirect benefit to ALICE’s cutting edge UX design which often gets overlooked by hoteliers. Choosing a technology vendor is as much about the future as it is about the present. Legacy software vendors often have hundreds or even thousands of features developed over the years that 90% of their users don’t even know exist (let alone know how to use). ALICE’s intuitive design ensures that your team will be able to easily learn and adopt new feature functionality as the platform progresses.  In fact, the ALICE interface is so simple and intuitive that your team can literally get started with little to no prior training on the software. It's not surprising how intuitive ALICE Housekeeping is given that the product team didn’t even begin designing the product until they had spent more than six months shadowing hotels and performed more than 100 user interviews with hoteliers across various segments and geographies to learn about their pain points, daily routines and what makes them tick.   Push one button and watch your rooms inventory get automatically assigned to the optimal members of your team based on your properties’ bespoke rules and characteristics While ease of use is critical for team adoption--the true magic lies in ALICE’s pièce de résistance which is (drum roll please…) automated smart room assignments. If you operate your housekeeping department the old fashioned way (as most hotels still do), your executive housekeeper sits down at their desk each morning to assess available labor and rooms turnover.  They then spend anywhere from 30-minutes to several hours assigning ‘points’ to staff (ie. the standardized way of allocating housekeeping labor availability to demand on a daily basis) ensuring that all rooms that need to be cleaned are scheduled to be cleaned as efficiently and quickly as possible to accommodate incoming arrivals. This process can be extremely manual and intuition based which leads to lots of guesswork and a myriad of snowballing sub-optimal decisions that cost your hotel valuable time and money. For hotels that want to skip the guesswork and run an efficient housekeeping department,  ALICE’s new housekeeping product allows your team to press a magic button then watch everything fall into place like a game of Tetris.   Once you press the “auto-assign” button, ALICE’s algorithm instantaneously matches your staff with their optimal room assignments based on your hotel’s pre-determined staffing and inventory rules. This process can save your housekeeping managers anywhere from one to three hours each morning. Your housekeeping managers can then use that time saved to focus on other mission critical items that improve the guest experience and optimize your assets. Don’t want to let the computer do the work for you? No problem, ALICE offers complete flexibility for human override coupled with a simple drag-and-drop interface.  You know what they say though, once you go auto-assign you never go back. Auto room assignment is only the tip of the iceberg because in a hotel, things are constantly changing. These critical changes don’t just happen daily, but hourly and sometimes even by the minute. A housekeeper calls in sick.  A guest arrives early. An elevator breaks down.  The list of exceptions, changes and variables is nearly infinite so keeping track of them and adjusting in real time is critical - this is where ALICE really shines. Every room change, late checkout, VIP arrival, etc. upends your whole plan and requires you to reoptimize.  These types of real time optimizations with hundreds of variables and constraints are extremely difficult (if not outright impossible) for the human mind to compute.  With ALICE, however, things like a rushed room will trigger the software to re-optimize room assignments instantaneously sans the mental math and back and forth team coordination. So unless your housekeeping manager is able to calculate sophisticated optimization algorithms on the fly - they’ll be forever grateful for your decision to invest in ALICE.  The platform is likely to save them time, alleviate stress, make them better at their jobs and allow them to focus on the more strategic decisions within the department. Not to mention, it may even help them fend off some grey hair.   Just considering the time savings alone for each fully turned room, investing in housekeeping software should be a no brainer for bottom line focused hoteliers The fatal mistake that many hoteliers make is that they are so caught up in the day-to-day operations that they miss the bigger picture and the impact that seemingly small boosts to efficiency can have on their bottom line at scale.  A few minutes here and a few minutes there might not seem like a big deal in the moment (especially if you don't have software to track and measure this inefficiency) but that's exactly what makes these types of invisible inefficiencies so dangerous silently sucking profit out of your operation. Let's look at an example.  Imagine you operate a 200 room hotel running 80% occupancy and 2.5 night LOS (length of stay).  Based on those numbers, you are going to be cleaning north of 20,000 rooms each year and that's not even considering turndown service, mid-stay cleanings or special requests. So while shaving 4-minutes off of every one hour room cleaning might not seem like a big deal on its own can actually have a major impact on your hotel's bottom line.  In fact, this one optimization alone has the potential to lead to enough in cost savings to pitch ownership on upgrading your hotel's housekeeping software to the 21st century as a 2-4x ROI initiative as shown in the image below.   The new housekeeping product stays true to ALICE's platform approach creating a one stop shop for running and optimizing your hotel's operations With this robust new housekeeping offering, ALICE’s platform creates a seamless symphony between front of house and back office team members while enabling hotel owners and operators to gain critical visibility into their operations and make more informed decisions that ultimately lead to serious bottom line results.   The day-to-day operation of a hotel rests on hundreds of daily requests both internally between departments, and from guests.  Each of these requests involves subtle critical details, back-and-forth communication, execution and follow-up which is what makes seamless pass-on of critical information to the right team member, with native escalation procedures so essential when it comes to identifying and reducing human error. Equipped with ALICE, a housekeeper can leave a note about damaged equipment which automatically creates a work ticket, assigns the ticket to an engineer and notifies them to address the issue.  A room attendant can quickly tag an item left behind for lost & found by snapping a photo so that the front desk knows which guest to expect a call from in real time. ALICE has done an incredible job converting the daunting complexity of hotel operations into elegant simplicity. What’s also great is that once you start using ALICE, you can say goodbye to all manual tracking, note taking and back and forth communication relays thanks to automated notifications, updates and task routing built directly into the platform.     Is ALICE Housekeeping right for your property? The platform is a fresh take on a department that for most hotels hasn’t changed the way it operates in decades. While housekeeping features like automatic room assignments and real time progress reporting stand on their own as valuable additions to the ALICE product suite, the power truly gets unlocked when the platform is utilized by your whole team: front desk, engineering, concierge and housekeeping. Leveraging the full ALICE platform gives your team the tools they need to operate at peak performance by being completely in sync with each other. The all new ALICE Housekeeping combines the computing power of the cloud with deep operational expertise to simplify hundreds of housekeeping decisions made on property each day, and ensure that the optimal decision is effortlessly made in even the most complex scenarios. For some hoteliers, the intuitive UI and sheer awesomeness of ALICE’s new automatic room assignments feature will be enough to upgrade their hotel's housekeeping software.  But if that's not enough for you then the promise of empowering your team to make better decisions that shrink the single biggest expense on your P&L is likely to do the trick. So the question is, if your team can save time, communicate seamlessly, decrease human error, reduce operating expenses, improve service delivery, foster happier employees and give management the visibility and tools to make better decisions from the comfort of their desk - why wouldn’t you give ALICE a try?     This content was created collaboratively by ALICE and Hotel Tech Report.

What is Quore? A Hotel Operations Software Review (2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 hours ago

Hotel operations and hotel management are insanely complex.  On one hand hoteliers and their management companies need to deliver an outstanding guest experience and on the other they need to run profitable day-to-day operations.  How do you get happier guests while also keeping your owners happy with profit margins? Automating tedious tasks that are prone to human error is one of the easiest ways to deliver great (and profitable) guest experiences.  Hotel management software comes in many flavors with most vendors serving modules targeting different departments from maintenance to concierge and housekeeping to front desk. One such solution is Quore, a workhorse that harmonizes hotel operations for 3,600 hotels in 22 languages and 29 countries. Its cloud-based platform enables more efficient communications and operations management across housekeeping, engineering, and guest relations. For some hotels, the integrated approach to handling guest requests on the platform led to a 50% improvement in problem-handling score. Effective, reliable communications also improves the staff experience -- something that matters more in a tightly competitive labor market. Staff want the right tools that help them do their jobs well -- and many will leave in frustration without them.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the 2018 hospitality turnover rate at 74.9%, so hotels that use technology to make work better will out-perform their peers in both retention and referrals from current staff. With an eye towards empowering employees, here are four team members that will be thankful for the Quore hotel operations platform.   Preventive Maintenance to Prioritize Projects Better Guests hate discovering a maintenance issue upon arrival. It's an unwelcome challenge, presented immediately. It also makes even the most forgiving guest wonder why the hotel missed such an obvious thing, such as a burnt-out light bulb, a clogged toilet, or a broken doorknob. Quore’s functionality makes it easier for preventive maintenance to overcome these challenges and work more efficiently in three key areas: Real-time problem management. When something goes wrong in the guestroom, it’s nearly always urgent. Guests don’t want to sit around and wait for an engineer, and, some things (such as a flooding drain or a sweltering room) are emergencies. Quore provides real-time problem handling that can quickly be assigned to the right team member -- and visible on that team member’s mobile device. Zdravko Bengez, a maintenance technician at the Hilton Garden Inn and downtown Nashville puts it like this: “With Quore, I know in seconds what needs to be done.” All relevant details appear on his mobile device, without having to chase down more information. Resource and project prioritization. Prioritizing resources is a daily tug-of-war, especially for larger properties. To effectively prioritize resources (including urgent problems like the ones mentioned above), Quore gives maintenance a quick overview, showing the up-to-date task list, as well as whether it was made by supervisor, the front desk, or a guest. This allows technicians to make on-the-fly decisions about where to go next, As well as stay in-the-loop with colleagues across the hotel. Preventative maintenance. PMs shouldn't be guess work. Quore supports hotel maintenance techs and engineers with preventative maintenance checklists that are automatically surfaced at the right time. As these lists evolve, changes are applied universally to keep everything consistent. Quore has robust enginnering features to support your maintenance staff: Prevenative maintenance, Pool chemical readings, Work orders, Boiler readings, Asset tracking, Meter readings, Custom inspections   Housekeeping Room Assignments and Shift Management Housekeeping has many responsibilities that require regular communication and precise time management. Before a guest checks in, housekeeping must ensure that a room is available -- and up to brand standards. During a guest’s stay, housekeeping must service the room and fulfill guest requests for specific items. After check out, housekeeping must flip the room efficiently (and to brand standards) so that it's available for the front desk to assign. “The way in which a room is cleaned, tidied and presented to its guests is in direct relation to the level of service the hotel prides themselves on. Housekeeping provides guests with a clear indication of how they are valued.” Paul Duverge, General Manager, Menlyn Boutique Hotel Quore’s housekeeping software module makes this daily cycle easier on the housekeeping manager by supporting: Preparation. Each housekeeping shift is a puzzle. In advance of a shift, it's all about preparation and planning. Quore helps housekeeping managers to set each days priorities, as each stayover and checkout is clearly defined in the system. It simplifies the process of assigning rooms to housekeepers before they clock in. Prioritization. Things change throughout today. Real-time updates on things like stayovers becoming checkouts helps the housekeeping manager match staff resources with guest demand. Accountability. There's also very important advantage of a paper trail. As Liz, the assistant housekeeper manager at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Nashville learned after starting at a hotel with Quore, there's less accountability without a written record: “[With walkie-talkies] it's easy to not write something down. With Quore, it's like having a paper trail, so there's more documentation. Also, I can start and complete an activity all through Quore which is helpful for tracking.” Quore has robust houskeeping features to support your staff: Housekeeping assignments, Guestroom inspections, Deep cleanings, Lost & found, Room notices, Custom inspections, Digital breakouts, Room status tracking, Work orders, Brand standards compliance   Front Desk Agents Never Miss a Beat It takes a certain amount of finesse to work the front desk. The ideal team member here is pleasant under pressure, with a knack for creative problem solving. Yet, even the most creative employee will be hobbled by poor information. The front desk is, in many ways, the central command post for a hotel’s operations. As the front line of guest communications, one of the toughest challenges encountered by most front desk agents is the unevenness of information. Quore’s smooths out these imbalances by adequately equipping the front desk to solve guest problems quickly with its: Dashboard. The Quore platform provides a single unified dashboard to collaborate quickly and across departments. This synchronization allows the front desk to focus on the rapid resolution of guest issues and avoid poor service situations, such as assigning an unclean or out-of-service room. Instead of less reliable means of communication, such as walkie-talkies or face-to-face, the front desk can communicate guest requests efficiently, says Finesse James, a front desk agent at Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Nashville: “It's a great method because it can keep us from having to call them when things are busy up here, and we are multitasking. It's easier to click and type in that we need them to do something. We can put all the specifics in the comments so they don't need to call and clarify.” Ease-of-use. The front desk is usually an untipped entry-level role, which means higher turnover. Quore’s consumer-friendly interface is familiar to anyone who’s used popular messaging and social media apps. It's intuitive, which reduces training time. The ease-of-use also keeps staff engaged and less frustrated, as they feel that the technology is working for, rather than against, them. For millennial's used to well-crafted interfaces, this is actually an important part of their expectations for the workplace. Digital logbook. No more deciphering chicken scratch or calling a colleague from a previous shift about “complaint from 402.” Standard log sheets keep staff informed from shift-to-shift. The digital log book also connects with related items, such as guest complaints or requests, so staff can easily find updates on notices mentioned in the digital log book. Quore has robust front desk features to support your front office team: Local attraction directory, Guestroom notices, Guest request management, Guest complaint management, Satisfaction callbacks, Key sign-in, sign-out and audit, Log book, Cash count log, Guest SMS, Security walks, Wake-up calls, Guest shipments   General Managers Get Peace of Mind The best general managers know the power of consistent, clear communications. And many have learned this first-hand, rising up the ranks from entry-level desk clerk. According to a 2016 AH&LA study, 45% of respondents said that at least half of the general managers began in actionable positions. Quore allows these veterans to focus on providing fluid and flexible workforce communications that empowers rather than discourages. The Quore platform becomes a GM’s stalwart ally in running a consistent hotel operation by supplying: Centralized, digital log book. A GM can’t be everywhere at once. Quore’s position at the center of a hotel’s operation relives some of that pressure.  As Gerald Loughran, the GM of Hilton Franklin/Cool Springs emphasizes, Quore’s digital log book is his hotel’s bible: “We’re religious about putting everything into Quore. If it’s not in Quore, it didn’t happen.” By pulling staff together into one shared operational brain, it’s much easier to maintain brand standards and close communication gaps.   Go-anywhere access. A GM also has to go home at some point! Quore enables managers to keep track of staff to-do’s, tasks and track overall productivity across their hotel from any device. The go-anywhere access means that GMs aren’t out of the loop when off shift, at a conference, or on vacation. Actionable reports based on historical data.  Historic data is easily accessible so that GMs can achieve growth and measurable improvement. This gives GMs the confidence that work is being done as it should be -- or quickly services areas that need work. When a GM spends less time on inspection or micro-management, it frees up time to focus on other metrics that matter -- such as guest satisfaction, revenue, and profitability. Quore has robust features to support your general managers:, Analytics & reporting, Asset tracking, CapEx management, Attendance tracking, Custom inspections, Budgeting tool, Checkbook visualization, Daily property walks.   -- Guest services in the hospitality industry is extremely complex but hotel tech is making it easier and more fun by the day.  Quore has developed a powerful platform that facilitates every guest and staff interaction from check-in to check-out without missing a beat.  Quore has robust multi-property functionality and already works with many of the major hotel brands like IHG where large owner groups can check-in on the status of their property via mobile app with ease.  Quore reviews on Hotel Tech Report by users are stellar, so if you're looking for more efficient staff communication maybe it's time to take a look at Quore and streamline your operations with a smarter team (and happier one).

How GoConcierge's Adam Isrow Built a Global Empire Without Venture Funding or a Marketing Budget

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 year ago

What do you think of when asked to picture the founder of a dot com era startup founded in the year 2000?  I picture an arrogant and sharp elbowed hype man with an inflated ego who’s selling the dream of world domination and hockey stick growth.   Adam Isrow founded GoConcierge in the year 2000 during the heyday of epic dot com busts like Pets.com and Webvan but his story couldn’t be more different from his infamous peers.  If you got to trade your boss in for a new one - Adam is the kind of guy that everyone wants to work for. He’s humble and soft spoken yet firm and disciplined. While tech founders were out chasing exponential user growth in the early 2000s Adam was focused on the fundamentals.   Webvan stock chart from 1999-2001 shows the quintessential dot com bust   The GoConcierge story sits in stark contrast of companies like Webvan that were founded around the same time.  While his peers were busy seducing investors and big media with glitz - Adam focused on moderate, consistent and steady growth.  His character attracted a strong and loyal team solely focused on the elevated customer service that helped him build the GoConcierge business almost exclusively through word of mouth.   “Everyone wants some magic pill—some life hack—that eliminates the need to do the work. But that does not exist.” – Jocko Willink   Adam is not the kind of leader who looks for a magic pill.  His favorite book, Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink is a navy seal commander’s tale of humility, loyalty and discipline - three qualities that deeply characterize Adam’s leadership style. So how did Adam grow GoConcierge to more than 1,000 hotels globally without traditional venture funding? His background in the hotel industry is a huge piece of the puzzle.  While working in hotels Adam learned humility through dedicating himself to service.  The hospitality industry also taught him a deep sense of empathy that enabled him to develop technology that would become loved by even the least digitally savvy concierges. The teamwork he learned in the front office enabled him to attract and retain a team of loyal high performance contributors.  Adam’s story embodies the true spirit of hospitality in every way. While he personally considers work and service to be rewards in themselves, Adam’s years of dedication were recently validated when ALICE bought his firm GoConcierge for millions in 2017. What was your background prior to starting GoConcierge? Coming out of undergrad, I wanted both sales and management experience as a foundation to begin my career. Prior to starting GoConcierge, I had worked in hotel operations for a hotel in Los Angeles.  The goal was to turn around each department in the hotel and prepare the hotel for being sold. While overseeing guest services and ultimately the rooms division, I saw how much work the team was doing manually with logbooks and binders.  I thought if we could create a tool with a database of vendors and directions (this was pre Mapquest and Google Maps) and the ability to track activities, that it would enable our team to spend more time and attention on the guests. Just prior to launching GoConcierge, I worked for another technology startup focused on disseminating digital assets in the entertainment industry.   Once that company was sold, I was still intrigued by the Concierge tracking idea and while going back to earn my MBA during the dot com era, decided to launch GoConcierge.  Hard to believe that was back in 2000 and here we are today. What made you decide to jump in and start GoConcierge? After spending several years in hotel operations, I saw first-hand the importance of adding efficiencies where possible.  So much of the day-to-day operation in a hotel is manually driven and at the time, there were very few systems outside of the property management system.  We had created our own tools using Microsoft Access for yield management and also tracking any challenges throughout the operation. One night while talking with my partner, we discussed creating a database for vendors so that we could have a knowledge base of everything our guests were asking.  This way, no matter who was working, we could help the guest right away. I spent the evenings typing directions into each location since there was no Mapquest or Google Maps at the time. I felt it had to be extremely user-friendly and I remember having an amazing gentleman in guest services named, Frank, and he was in his 70’s and was not comfortable using a computer.  I remember thinking that if we could get Frank comfortable using this, we were onto something. Fortunately, Frank was able to use it and the team noticed that they were able to do their job better by having more information at their fingertips vs. having to look in logbooks and binders. Plus, I have terrible handwriting and if I wrote something in the logbook, there was a good chance others would not be able to read it.   Adam Isrow sold his business GoConcierge to ALICE in 2017 Who was GoConcierge’s first customer? Our first Customer was a Hyatt Hotel in Los Angeles.  I called several times and spoke to the Rooms Executive at the time and she was intrigued enough to allow me to present to her.  Fortunately for me, she understood the vision and she and her team believed that GoConcierge could enhance their day-to-day operation and ultimately the guest experience.  In addition to providing the application, I also guaranteed that I would provide exceptional support and would exceed expectations. I worked hard to earn trust and have her provide me with an opportunity. I felt if I could just get into a hotel like that, it would add credibility and help me gain additional hotels.     GoConcierge was acquired by ALICE in 2017 - how do the businesses work together today? We have created the first operations platform with a goal of going to our customers with a suite of services.  So often in hotels each department purchases their own applications. Therefore they operate as silos and most of the time and don’t communicate with each other.  We believe that there is significant value in providing one solution that can add value to multiple departments. The ALICE Platform has various modules including Concierge, Service Delivery, Messaging, Preventative Maintenance and Housekeeping.  Customers can pick and choose what is best for their property and because we have an open API, we can also facilitate integration between various systems.  Having one platform can provide cost savings to the hotel instead of paying setup fees and multiple subscriptions fees for multiple systems.  ALICE Concierge has a customizable database powered by Google Places and tracks all activities arranged for guests, creates personalized confirmation letters, itineraries, communicates with guest and team members via SMS and other platforms.  Using ALICE for service delivery, the property can dispatch requests such as towel delivery, challenges in the room and even manage preventative maintenance. ALICE provides a complete operational solution that will allow your team to provide a very personalized and exceptional guest experience. ALICE’s modern dashboard connects departments seamlessly   What's the biggest misconception that hoteliers have about technology? Perhaps the most common belief I used to hear was that the Concierge didn’t need an application because they could use Excel or their logbooks.  We obviously felt differently especially after spending time behind the desk and seeing the amount of work done manually and the importance of providing a tool to enable the team to be more efficient.  We believe the role of the Concierge should be in the center of the hotel operation since their work touches so many departments and has such a significant impact on the overall guest experience. A good Concierge team does the job so well that they make it look easy.  What is often not recognized or seen is the volume of work being done behind the scenes to deliver such a great guest experience. Investing in a tool allows the team to be more efficient and spend more time and attention on the guests. I believe the reason guests come back now is mostly because of the way the Concierge and other team members make the guests feel when they leave, more so than just having a beautiful hotel.  Without a tool such as ALICE, it is very difficult to be efficient and create that great guest experience. What's the most surprising thing you've learned about scaling technology into hotels since founding the business? In hospitality, we are a 24/7 operation and since we have customers around the world, there really is no downtime.  As we have scaled the company, in addition to our application, we remain keenly focused on our environment and optimizing the performance of the application for our users.  This is a major effort and something that requires focus for achieving results today and in the future, domestically and internationally. If you could partner with any vendor in hotel tech, who would it be and why? With respect to vendors to partner with, we believe the PMS provides a mutually beneficial opportunity.  The more integration we provide, the better we serve our customers. We are interested in speaking with any PMS that believes there is value in integrating ALICE to enhance its offering Where do you see ALICE in 5-years? We envision ALICE being the operations hub for the hotel. We are striving for that now and in the next 5 years, we want to realize our ambition of allowing all hotel staff to work effectively together and while enabling innovation around us. Ultimately, we want to provide a platform that is so widespread and so open that all innovation in the guest space can connect into it and hotel companies can deliver hospitality through it. We believe there should be full transparency where the guests can realize the same type of control and experience they love from other industries. How will the concierge software space change in the next 5-years? We believe that that Concierge will need to be connected to all departments throughout the hotel- like the hub of the operation.  Our customers will need as many efficiencies as possible to provide a high-level of service to the guest. We envision the Concierge department will have to be equipped to easily initiate requests for any department on behalf of guests. Do you have any new products or feature launches of late (or coming soon) that you'd like us to promote to our users? We are very excited to be developing our Room Assignment feature as part of our Housekeeping module.  We have gained first-hand knowledge from our customers and our team of hospitality experts about what the ideal solution would be and we are actively working on this right now.  Adding this functionality to our platform will allow us to achieve our vision of providing our customers with a complete solution for their operation and specifically, their largest department, Housekeeping. Is there anything that the community can do to be helpful for you? We are focused on interacting with other thought leaders to gain insight, share notes and collaborate together. We welcome the opportunity to connect with leaders that have grown and/or are building emerging technology.  We have a speaker series where we bring in leaders with various backgrounds from various industries to speak about successes and failures and learnings along the way. It would be great to have more thought leaders from the community share their experiences with our team. ALICE won Hotel Tech Report’s ‘2019 Best Places to Work’ in Hotel Tech competition   What's one piece of advice that you have for any entrepreneurs looking to get into hotel software? In any space it’s critical to surround yourself with the best possible team.  Specifically within this niche of hospitality technology be sure you fully understand how you can add value and be willing to adjust along the way.  The vision you start with may not be what you finish with. Be agile enough to shift when needed. What is the best book you've read lately and why? I really enjoyed reading Extreme Ownership: How Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.  This is a story about taking ownership and leading by example.  The story is told by two Navy SEALS and their life altering experiences in battle and how those lessons can be applied to both business world and your personal life. What is your favorite podcast? I like listening to The Tim Ferris Show and hearing his interviews with both business leaders and athletes. What is one thing that most people don't know about you? I did sports broadcasting in college and also am passionate about speaking to groups about my experience of working with the world’s finest hotels and Concierges and the impact of consistently delivering exceptional service.

Learn how Kevin Brown went from Guest Services Manager to Product Marketer at a $30B dollar hotel tech company in under 4 years

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

Working as a front desk agent at a hotel is insanely hard work.  Hotel guests have extremely high expectations: they want to be checked in fast, they want amazing service, a 24/7 smile and they want to be upgraded to the best room for free.  They want you to know everything about them but not too much that it’s creepy. They want friendly conversation but they don’t want you to talk too much. Check-in systems break down, reservations are lost, overbookings happen and so much more can go wrong that is completely out of your control.  All that said the buck stops with you as the front desk agent. Rarely will guests ever call your GM to tell them how great you were but they are quick to let your boss know when you’ve messed up in their eyes. So you’re frustrated and stressed behind the front desk - what do you do? If you’re anything like Kevin Brown you’ll find your passion and put in the work to follow your dreams.  Today Kevin Brown is a Product Marketing Manager at Amadeus Hospitality, creator of global hotel management software like Delphi Sales & Catering, HotSOS operations software and core GDS solutions for hotels.  Most front desk managers and housekeeping managers would think that Kevin’s role today is out of reach.  The good news is that your successful career as a technology executive is completely within reach. To get there you’ll need curiosity, outside the box thinking, self guided learning and lots of hard work while your colleagues are going out for drinks after their respective shifts.   Here at Hotel Tech Report we’ve recently documented similar career rises like how Matt Welle parlayed his role as a Hilton sales rep into becoming CEO at Mews Systems, one of the hottest technology startups in the hotel software space and creator of a leading property management system for hotels. “What I wish I understood far earlier in my hotel career is that the hotel and travel industry actually set the standards of service for every other industry out there. The skills you develop in hotels DO translate, and frankly what you learn about service in the hotel industry is cutting edge.” ~Kevin Brown Kevin began his career in hotels at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, a property known for its sophisticated technology integrations and infrastructure.  While at the Cosmo, Kevin took every opportunity possible to learn about the technology under the hood of the hotel. His unquenchable thirst for knowledge led him into learning the intricacies of every system in the hotel and developing a clear understanding of what was working as well as what wasn’t.  Kevin took advantage of his role at the hotel to build relationships with technology companies, he became a power user of their products and they began learning from him as much as he was learning from them. When Kevin first met the Customer Experience Manager at Amadeus Hospitality he knew that’s where he wanted to be.  Kevin’s story is an incredible journey that demonstrates how you can leverage your role behind the front desk into a successful technology career so we interviewed him to learn tricks and tips for hoteliers who are thinking about a career in technology down the line.  Remember to build close relationships with your existing technology vendors, try lots of different technology products and never stop learning.   Can you tell us about your career background in hotels? My career in hotels is quite odd since I only worked in one hotel before I became a part of the tech industry.  I originally came from the marketing and production world of the music industry. It was by happenstance stumbled upon an opportunity at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.  During my time there I was able to hold almost every major departmental role in the hotel division; both traveler facing and back of house areas. What I enjoyed most about working in hospitality was the blending of so many cultures and nationalities and how much I could learn from people.  The only part I dislike about the hotel industry is that it is the most overworked and underappreciated industry. What every hotel industry professional has to go through and deal with on a day to day basis is astounding. To create memorable experiences for travelers is truly nothing short of extraordinary, and yet a majority of the time the only feedback hotel staff get from travelers is negative.  Many travelers do not get to peek into how much talent and effort goes into making their stay amazing, and I think hotel staff like room attendants and call center managers deserve recognition for that level of service.   What was one technology that you couldn't live without while working at the front desk? I could not live without any tech that automated my work processes and ability to quickly turn data into knowledge.  Manual process and effort is the absolute bane of our industry, and with the rapid evolution of traveler and group expectations for personalization and quick response times I do not know what I would’ve done without those empowerment tools. I was lucky enough that I was immediately introduced to technology the moment I stepped foot into the hotel industry, and I feel like I was exposed to cutting edge stuff like chatbots, task automation, and traveler profiling years before hoteliers even knew about it.  When the Cosmopolitan opened, the vision of tech integration was a key foundation to the success of the hotel's brand. What would you say is the most widely held misconception that hoteliers have about technology? I think the single biggest misconception is that hoteliers think the solution to their traveler personalization problems is to invest in traveler facing technology and create an omni-channel experience.  The biggest problem hoteliers face is actually their staff turnover. What is the point of having traveler facing technology, without experienced staff that have the right technology to empower them to deliver on the brand experience?  Your staff must always come first if you want to truly personalize and fulfill your brand promise. This means hoteliers need to balance their traveler facing and staff facing investments more effectively. Tell us about your journey from hotelier into the technology industry. I am 100% a geek and love keeping up with the future of technology.  Once I got into hotels, with an immediate exposure to technology, it became a goal of mine to inevitably work with hotel technology. When I was a customer many vendors just wouldn’t listen to the real pain points that my teams had.  Many vendors that I was exposed to were just trying to sell their technology without showing me what value they were bringing to solve an actual problem that we had.  I developed a strong point of view on what great vendors did and what bad ones did so that I could start adding value and also to help me identify where I’d ultimately want to work. When I met my CEM (Customer Experience Manager) with Amadeus, he and I struck a solid relationship that built over time into a really strong partnership.  When my CEM decided to get back into hotel operations, he asked me if I wanted to replace him. Every staff member I met from Amadeus was solely focused on solving problems for their customers.  After my interview with my soon to be leaders, and learning that almost every one of my teammates worked in hotels in the past, I knew I had found my new home. The rest is history! What was the most challenging part of moving from hotels into technology? There really was no challenge for me.  For me, the adjustment was so surreal to see how greener the side of this world is that suits my passions when compared to the constant, fast-paced nature of hotel operations in Las Vegas.  I have to admit, I am lucky beyond measure to let my inner geek out, travel, meet incredibly brilliant people I can learn from, and tell stories that have real meaning for our industry. You obviously loved Amadeus as a customer even before you worked there, what is it that stood out to you about the company? Hospitality is all about the human connection and a property’s ability to deliver positive experiences for guests. Amadeus’ technology solutions provide cloud-native capabilities for the Central Reservations System, Property Management System, Sales & Event Management, Business Intelligence, Media, Guest Management solutions, and Service Optimization. These solutions not only cover the entire life-cycle of a guests’ journey, but offer properties the added benefits of usability, functionality, and visibility into guest data. This represents a game changer for the industry, as venues commonly work with multiple technology vendors and have fragmented views of their guests. Imagine that you're going to open the hotel of your dreams tomorrow.  What kind of hotel would it be? My dream hotel to open would be independent, targeted at middle upper to luxury travelers.  It would be small with about 75-100 rooms in the heart of Chicago or Las Vegas that catered to music, art, and entertainment with a 40’s-50’s post modern flair.  I would also ensure that the property had tactful touches of advanced technology bordering on science fiction levels of experience. I would love to find the right way to bring back the big band era style of hospitality.  That post-modern design, and the elegance back then was so timeless. Pairing that timelessness with technology would really be unique in a market so saturated with the same kinds of offerings. I would name it The Indigo.  Not only do I enjoy the color, but indigo dye has a really interesting history and it was one of the largest influencers in the globalization of the world. From a technology perspective I would focus on building the hotel with the best infrastructure out there so it was future proof for the next 10 years like fiber lines, BLE, mesh sensors, and building management automation.  Otherwise, if I didn’t I would have to keep upgrading every other year or so which is so much more expensive in the long run. I would actually highly limit traveler facing technology, and be tasteful with what channels and tech travelers were exposed to.  I would then invest in the best staff facing development tools and technology money could buy to ensure that  my staff could work smarter and not harder. I believe staff should always come before the guest, so I would want make every effort to ensure my staff to have every tool they need to easily conduct their day, maintain building integrity, and have knowledge about any traveler they interact with to make the ecosystem engaging and meaningful for both staff and travelers we would host. What's one piece of advice you have for hoteliers who have dreams of working in technology one day? Surprisingly, there are many hospitality tech vendors out there in the world with a majority of staff that have never worked for a hotel a day in their lives.  Because of this problem, I think we actually need more hoteliers to move into the tech space than ever before. Thankfully with Amadeus, I am surrounded by decades of hotel experience between my teammates, but almost everyone I work with shared a similar sentiment when they were in hotel operations. Many hoteliers think the moment the work in a hotel, they are sucked into a vacuum of an industry they cannot get out of, and that their skills cannot translate to other industries because travel is so specific.  What I wish I understood far earlier in my hotel career is that the hotel and travel industry actually set the standards of service for every other industry out there. The skills you develop in hotels DO translate, and frankly what you learn about service in the hotel industry is cutting edge. It takes years for other industry sectors to adopt hotel industry best practices, so you have more to your advantage than you think. What's one podcast, newsletter or book that you recommend hoteliers read if they'd like to eventually move into tech? Read everything by Malcolm Gladwell.  Blink, The Tipping Point, David and Goliath, read all of his stuff. His work opened my mind to new perspectives about how to help others, learn, and gain a greater understanding about what it means to be in service to others. Hospitality is about engaging with people, and dealing with human problems.  There is no uniqueness to the problems hoteliers face every day. Travel technology needs as much humanity as possible because travel is all about connecting with a place, with people, and with yourself. What is your favorite hotel in the world? As much as I have thought about this, I honestly cannot pick a favorite hotel in the world.  It is just too hard because every great hotel I have stayed at has always offered something different that I enjoy.  Each one stands out in its own way. However, I can say this: I think the best hotels in the world are the ones that anticipate my behavior and needs based on what they know about me, especially if they greet me by using my name. What is the most exciting technology you've seen in the hotel tech space that is not built by your own company? Why? Mesh networks and beacon technology.  I think that is one of the most impressive future hardware developments not only for hospitality, but for the world.  While it is an extremely fine line – where many data collectors have pushed the creepy line to the edge with tech like this – I think that mesh network and beacon technology can truly enhance the lives of travelers and consumers alike. What is one thing that most people don't know about you? I am an identical twin.