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Hotel Service Delivery & Optimization Software Articles

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 days 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 hotelkit has evolved from old-school paper checklists 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 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 hotelkit 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.

4 hotel jobs that benefit most from the Quore software platform

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

At its worst, hotel operations technology exacerbates divisions between departments, which continue functioning as isolated fiefdoms. At its best, an operations platform pulls everyone together by promoting collaboration and clear communication in hotel operations. 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.   Your maintenance tech will 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 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   Your housekeeping manager will manage shifts more efficiently 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 platform 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   Your front desk manager will deliver better service 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   Your general manager will achieve budget more often 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

This is why hotel brands shouldn't build tech in house

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

When enterprise companies spend loads of money on technology they usually think about building tech in house so they can have more control over development and ultimately save money.  Sometimes this equation favors building tech in house and other times it does not. Several high profile failures in the hotel industry include a collaboration amongst all major hotel groups to create an online booking platform called Room Key which was eventually shuttered.  We’ll discuss this initiatives and more in detail below. Most sophisticated enterprise companies (think Nike and McDonalds) understand that they are not tech companies so they effectively outsource their tech R&D spend to 3rd parties that are focused on innovation.  Could McDonalds build software to help franchisees manage their listings? Yes, but they partner with Yext.  Nike could definitely build prototyping software in house for its digital products, but it chooses to partner with InVision.  Firms like Nike and McDonalds have become innovators by being experts at identifying trends and partnering with top tech companies to meet their core business goals. So the question is, if McDonalds and Nike outsource their respective technology needs - should hospitality companies really be building tech in house? We believe that when hotel brands try to build tech in house it ultimately brings them into precarious waters, here's why: 1. They lack the resources to compete with pure play technology companies 2. Hotel brands usually underestimate the ongoing effort required to maintain and scale a technology business (let alone multiple business lines and products)   Hospitality companies don't have the resources to compete with tech companies. Charles Schwab is a massive financial institution worth more than $60B.  The firm could easily build custom marketing automation solutions for the business but they choose to work with with Marketo because they know that Marketo will be able to innovate over the long run.  Even Citrix and Microsoft, technology companies themselves, use Marketo’s marketing technology so that they can focus on their core businesses. IDeaS, a popular revenue management software company and it’s parent company SAS just announced a 3-year plan to invest $1B in artificial intelligence.  SAS is a company that deeply understands the power of focus and investing in its core competencies. "If I want to host a SaaS application, I choose a cloud host. If I want to manufacture a consumer product, I partner with a company like Foxconn. If I need delivery for my restaurant I work with a delivery company. Yet, brands without a technology focus still believe it will be cheaper and more effective to build their own software internally when history has shown us, time after time, that these projects will be over budget, unsustainable, and competitively weaker than the professional tech products in the market." ~Adam Harris, CEO, Cloudbeds The median publicly traded software company spends 23% of revenue on R&D with many high growth firms spending 50% of revenue.  It’s hard to imagine that even Marriott could afford the spend levels to develop one competitive product let alone multiple product lines that compete with a myriad of different specialist software businesses.   Technology is not a static good. Sophisticated enterprise companies buy into the future of a tech product as much as the present. Technology requires immense amounts of capital to scale and increasing investments to remain competitive.  Technology requires even more upkeep than hotels. Where hotels build up their capital reserves and renovate roughly every 5-7 years, tech companies are constantly “renovating” their products daily through product sprints.  When enterprise companies “buy” tech they are partnering with tech companies for the future as much as selecting products for the present. The reason that the SaaS business model (recurring subscriptions) aligns value so well between buyers and sellers is because the product is constantly being reinvented so it forces tech companies to maintain their end of the bargain.  When you sign up for SaaS (software as a service) you are not only signing up for the product today but you’re buying into its roadmap for the future. Hotel companies that try to build tech in house are rarely prepared for the constant investment required to maintain let alone scale products and keep up with the ongoing massive investment, iteration and innovation of tech firms. So what does history tell us about hotel companies who have miscalibrated this decision? Starwood was bought by Marriott for $13B and itself has taken huge losses on technology investments when they were no longer able to invest enough to remain competitive. According to Starwood’s (now Marriott) 2015 10K filing, the firm took a $6M charge for “technology related costs and expenses that were no longer deemed recoverable.”  Go back further to Starwood’s 2013 annual filing for stockholders and you’ll find a $19M charge related to “technology related expenses” that the firm “decided to absorb” because they couldn’t collect from managed and franchise properties.     When we draw the analogy between maintaining software and maintaining a hotel, Starwood was effectively unable to properly renovate its technology and investors paid for it.  Every hotelier knows what happens when you let a property go too long without renovation and the same happens when software isn’t maintained properly. Similar to Starwood building tech in house and having trouble maintaining the infrastructure, Choice created Skytouch PMS internally with the vision of transforming the tech market and has similarly struggled. “In 2014, it [Skytouch] generated a net loss to the company of up to $20 million. Investors have pressured Choice to either make SkyTouch profitable, sell it, or close it down.” Choice stopped reporting the results of its Skytouch division and now includes those results within its “Corporate & Other” expense line (pg. 102 of Choice 2018 10K filing). So while Choice no longer gives updates on how Skytouch is doing - it is highly inprobable that a company like Choice would decide to include the a business unit as an expense line if that unit was doing well.  In addition to the Skytouch debacle, we've also heard that Choice is winding down its Choice Labs innovation division.  Accor, too, recently reported a $288M write-off on tech investments such as AirBnB competitor Onefinestay and concierge service John Paul. Accor even tried to sell it’s distribution to independents and shuttered the project after 2 years, here’s what happened in the words of Accor’s own spokesperson. “This initiative is no longer relevant in regards to the Group’s strategy and its new profile as per today.  Results are below expectations” Accor wanted to plug independents into its massive distribution which in theory could add a ton of value if executed well and even that didn’t work. Even when all the big hotel groups banded together to build the online booking platform Room Key they failed (Choice, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott, Wyndham) - isn’t it time that hotel companies learned this lesson? Even Booking.com had to shut down it’s hotel software operations after some high profile acquisitions - a testament to how tough the business really is.   Conclusion: Hotel brands shouldn’t build tech - they should get better at buying it The lesson here is clear - hotel brands need to focus on what they do best.  They should leverage their scale and clout to secure great service and attention from tech partners. It’s up to franchisees and investors to ensure that operators stay focused. Hotel brands have insanely complex businesses managing many stakeholders who often have conflicting interests.  The business of running a hotel is a huge feat both operationally and from a revenue/distribution perspective. "Because the skepticism exists and because tech can take long, hoteliers reach the wrong conclusion. They decide to build instead of buy. I have witnessed a transformation in travel tech. Increasingly, hotels are embracing the rules of comparative advantage and are embracing tech where they can move fast, learn fast and benefit quickly." ~Alexandra Zubko (former IHG Lead Strategist) Because of these factors, hotel companies who want to succeed in the digital age should be experts at technology procurement and management.  Historically hotel brands have been very weak when it comes to technology procurement and management so many have tried to compensate for that weakness by building tech products in house. Unfortunately this strategy often leads to write-offs, burning piles of cash and consequently the executives who lead these disastrous projects being pushed out. "Great technology products enable a valuable job to be done to be easily performed with maximum success and consistent results. With the blistering pace at which the world is changing, our expectations change. That means jobs to be done change. And that means software needs to rapidly iterate and evolve. That is why the world is headed to simple, modular solutions that can nail jobs to be done as they evolve. The smartest brands know that to create compelling and lasting technology advantage, it’s now about identifying and bringing best-in-class interoperable solutions together into powerful system that gives lasting advantage.  From a cost, resource, time to market and life time value perspective, you’ll waste literally millions of dollars even before calculating the opportunity cost. Brands need to get amazing at hand-picking and investing in their strategic technology partners who are proven to design, build and iterate the purpose-built software hotels require, so they can then focus on delighting guests, growing locations and enhancing the value of their networks for franchisees." ~Marc Heyneker, CEO @ Revinate   Large enterprise brands have some clear motivations: (1) They want to expand to more and more hotels worldwide, and be able to do so quickly and efficiently. That means needing a consistent stack of solid technology that can be deployed, enabled and operationalized to run and add those hotels to the overall system. (2) They want to proudly position their Technology Stacks and enabled programs as unique value-adds that differentiate their Brand and their Brand value. So they can both convince Owners why they’re better, and monetize and justify their Brand fees in an age where consumer preference for brands is in decline. This sometimes gives large enterprises the false sense of belief that they need to build their own. In fact, building your own puts both goals in jeopardy, almost immediately. These multi-million dollar, multi-year, multi-faceted technology projects become sinkholes for capital investment, anchors to business progress and optimization, and turn into tough write-downs as we saw in the examples above. Hotel brands should instead be focused on rethinking their technology organizations to be better buyers and managers.  Corporate hotel purchasing units have historically focused on price negotiations and software customization (i.e. product roadmap hijacking) but in order for brands to thrive in today’s hyper competitive markets they are in need of a massive strategy shift. Red Lion Hotels Corporation is one such company that has taken a deep look at how it buys technology and optimizes its tech stack. Red Lion Hotels Corporation CIO John Edwards shared his firm's approach to technology vendor selection with Hotel Tech Report. "At RLHC, we have been able to establish ourselves as leaders in hospitality innovation by focusing on what we do best: finding the right technology partners to create solutions that meet our hotel’s needs. We believe that is the fastest way to change the technical landscape in our industry.  RLabs and Canvas Integrated Systems were created to house our already existing technology and innovation solutions, which provide customized best-in-class solutions for our hotels. Our tech stack includes well known industry solutions such as IDeaS, Opera, & WindSurfer as well as new industry solutions such as Monscierge and HAPI." Digitally savvy hotel owners want technological choice and they want the procurement benefits that brands command with scale.  The brand development teams that win in the digital age will be the ones who are able to deliver choice to owners around which technology vendors to use, the scale that comes with warehousing and leveraging data from that warehouse and the cost benefits that come from bundled negotiations with vendors.   Recommendations to hotel brands who want tech to be a core differentiator 1. Map out clear technology systems required to deliver on core business goals and all potential providers 2. Lay foundational infrastructure for open systems and clean data Design scalable processes to constantly beta test competitive products in the market and identify new products that can drive core business goals. 3. Set aside designated resources for technology management. Hotel groups should maintain a vendor CRM and dedicated staff for managing vendor relationships. This staff should also be tasked with collecting market insights and sharing new technological developments as well as vendor status updates on a regular basis with leadership. 4. Set clear and tangible KPIs with each vendor that must be met in order to retain the contract (e.g. customer support response time) Create clear roadmaps for switching systems in the event that suppliers do not deliver on KPIs 5. Invest in tech startups that fit your strategic criteria above! Highgate (invested in Stay Wanderful, Travel Tripper, LodgIQ, OTA Insight) and CitizenM (invested in Snapshot, exited to Shiji) have been incredibly successful executing on this strategy. They put strategic money to work then derisk their investments by giving those startups proof of concept in their properties. 6. For hotel companies that don't have the resources to start a fund internally like them there are great strategic venture capital firms that are focused on real estate and can do the heavy lifting for you - check out Metaprop VC and Fifth Wall Ventures. Investing enables you to gain access to innovation and lend your expertise without snuffing out the creativity. Leadership is about investing in great people and trusting them to do the work, not about micromanaging every aspect of the process yourself.

How Adam Isrow and his team built GoConcierge into a global empire without venture funding or a marketing budget

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months 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.

The future is here: how modern messaging enhances hotel employee and guest communications

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

During a recent interview with Jon Albano, host of the Lodging Leaders podcast, HelloShift CEO Sudheer Thakur discussed how the hotel industry is shifting from print-based communications like logbooks, forms, and memos to modern messaging tools like newsfeeds, text messaging, and chat. Thakur is the founder and CEO of HelloShift, an integrated messaging platform for hotel teams, managers, guests, and website visitors that was recognized by hoteliers as the #1 Staff Collaboration software in the 2018 HotelTechAwards. A technologist by training, Thakur previously founded various Silicon Valley start-ups, including one that built a messaging app to connect travelers with locals. After he sold the company, he began thinking about messaging from a hotel perspective. “There was a communications revolution going on then,” he said. “A new category of business software was being created. Yammer brought Facebook-style newsfeed communications to businesses, making it easy and fast for employees to communicate in real-time. Things really exploded with the introduction of Slack, which integrated all business operations into the same feed. People loved it.” Thakur decided to develop Slack-style software to meet the unique needs of hotels. “Our first product offering was a staff collaboration tool designed to help staff communicate with one another across shifts and departments,” he said. “It integrates social media features like newsfeeds, tags, and mentions with features like messaging, tasks, and checklists. It brings all staff communications under one platform. It’s about operational efficiency.” Next, HelloShift introduced its guest messaging platform, allowing hotels to text guests before, during, and after their stay. Guests can initiate a conversation too. All messaging feeds into the staff collaboration platform. “It’s an efficient way to deliver customer service and enhance guest satisfaction,” said Thakur. More recently, HelloShift introduced a website chat widget to target travelers and offer assistance during the pre-booking stage. All conversations are integrated into the HelloShift platform. “People are looking at multiple sites when they’re shopping for hotels,” explained Thakur. “They have questions, and if someone is there to answer it puts the hotel ahead of competitors.” He mentioned a hotel client that received group bookings within hours of installing the chat widget on its website. “The chat widget goes directly after the top line by increasing direct bookings,” he said. Asked what differentiates HelloShift from other software solutions, Thakur said, “When we were named #1 in the Staff Collaboration category in the HotelTechAwards, one thing stood out for hoteliers: ease of use. There’s a lot of turnover in the hotel industry, and training staff to get up and running on software is time-consuming. With HelloShift, staff can be onboarded in five minutes if they know Facebook.” “But it goes much deeper than ease of use,” he continued. “The key difference is our vision. In software-as-a-service, the vision matters. You're not buying what you're getting today—you're buying all the future versions of the same product." “Our competitors are taking old-school ways of doing things like logbooks and digitizing them. They are solving the last generation’s problems. HelloShift recognizes that there’s a messaging revolution taking place in the world, and we are preparing hoteliers for the next generation's challenges. “That shows up in the architecture of our product. We’ve taken messaging architecture and integrated it into hotel operations. Everything goes into one feed: staff collaboration, guest communications, and communications with future guests. We’re leveraging people’s familiarity with Facebook, building on it, and delivering a platform for the future. “I’m excited for that future. When you’re directly in touch with your customers, you are in a much more powerful position.”

Streamlining the Operations of a Hotel Maintenance Department

by
Lillian Connors
3 weeks ago

Maintenance staff are the red blood cells of every successful hotel. Without their dedication and coordination, any hotel would lose first guests, then revenue, and soon be forced to shut down. Of course, the first thing a visitor sees are the friendly and chatty desk clerks whose job it is to check guests in and handle the payments. Then, there is the housekeeping service, who make the rooms up every morning. However, it’s the maintenance staff that provides an invisible hand that makes the operation of such a complex system possible. Preventing bad scenarios Trapped guests thumping on the broken elevator door isn’t a desirable image in any hotel. Why wait till you’re full to the rafters to hear about the cable television issue? Hotel managers are aware that it’s much better to prevent breakdowns before they occur than to wait for guests to complain. Accordingly, their job is to make sure the maintenance department performs routine checks of all the major systems such as heating, AC, plumbing, cable and Wi-Fi. Tackling safety issues While replacing a single burned out bulb is relatively fast and clean, tackling a bigger electrical issue may require staff marching back and forth down the hallways, trying to figure out the component that short-circuited. It is on the maintenance team to ensure smooth operation of the hotel by running weekly, monthly and yearly preventive checks, replacements and repairs. In many ways, they are responsible for the guests’ safety by regularly changing air filters and making sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have functioning batteries. They are also in charge of the locks on the main entrance, bedrooms, conference rooms and areas that need secure access. Cleaning pool filters and taking care of tripping hazards such as raised carpet edges or dislodged floor tiles is also in their purview. Handling repairs If one of the systems mentioned above go out, the consequences can be disastrous, as sometimes the whole floor or even the entire hotel can be affected. If the whole building blacks out, aside from ensuring a speedy recovery, you need to deal with disgruntled guests and spend money on finding them other accommodations. It’s up to a highly trained and experienced maintenance crew to localize the emergency as quickly as possible and prevent a huge loss. A good hotel maintenance crew needs to be able to repair all of the major systems in the building without external help. Maintaining curb appeal Even though, today, a huge number of hotel bookings are made online, with users browsing only through the beautiful photos provided by the hotel PR department, a hotel was and will continue to be a walk-in business. In this sense, the first thing a potential guest notices about a hotel is the exterior of the facility. This is the reason why the maintenance staff needs to pay close attention to the building, the parking lot and especially the landscaping. Signs of neglect such as chipped paint, litter and fallen leaves and other debris can diminish a hotel’s reputation. In order to perform these tasks, a hotel’s staff relies on a range of supplies and equipment like power washers and leaf blowers while a multi-purpose telehandler is indispensable in lifting heavy equipment to high places. Their interchangeable attachments make them suitable for a wide range of tasks. Beauty is in the eye of guest Big hotels usually hire subcontractors for periodic overhauls that involve painting, wallpapering and relaying carpets. However, it’s on the hotel’s maintenance department to carry out minor aesthetic touch-ups. When a luggage cart scrapes against the corner or rips the wallpaper, maintenance is there to make it right. Hotel maintenance teams need professionals experienced in various trades and beautification skills such as painters, glaziers, carpenters, etc. Customer calls Murphy never sleeps in the hotel business. A television remote may not work in room 305, the hot tub may not make enough bubbles in room 103. When a sofa bed mechanism jams, or the water shower goes cold at 3 a.m. guests will call maintenance to solve their problems. Unless you want to deal with an angry guest in the morning desk shift, make sure the crew is on a 24h standby for maintenance calls. While hotel reviews focus on great food and Egyptian cotton sheets, most guests are unaware that their comfort hugely depends on an invisible workforce of hotel maintenance staff whose job is to make every faucet (pardon the pun) run properly. If these people remain unseen, it means they are doing a good job.

HelloShift Named 2018’s Top Rated Staff Collaboration Platform in the HotelTechAwards

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

February 12, 2018 -  Hotel Tech Report has named HelloShift 2018’s top-rated Staff Collaboration Platform based on data from thousands of hoteliers in more than 40 countries around the world. Over 100 of the world’s elite hotel technology products competed for a chance to win this prestigious title. The HotelTechAwards platform (by HotelTechReport.com) leverages real customer data to determine best of breed products that help hoteliers grow their bottom lines. HelloShift exceeded the category average by 10%, with top ratings for likelihood to recommend, ease-of-use, and onboarding. Founded in 2014, HelloShift is modern messaging for hotels. Hotel teams use HelloShift’s integrated platform to manage guest communications and collaborate across shifts, departments, and geography. Teams quickly come to rely on HelloShift’s simple approach to notes, tasks, and checklists with familiar social media tools like newsfeeds, tags, and notifications. Managers keep their fingers on the pulse of hotel operations and can instantly message their whole team. “Just as we bring transparency and ease to hotel software acquisition, HelloShift brings transparency and ease to hotel staff collaboration,” says Adam Hollander, co-founder of Hotel Tech Report. “HelloShift has an incredible user experience that’s easy for new employees to pick up and optimize out of the gate.” In review after review, hotel users pointed to how easy HelloShift makes communication for hotel teams and guests. One reviewer described how HelloShift helped his hotel save thousands of dollars. A maintenance manager for a branded property in Virginia told Hotel Tech Report: “We had a major water issue in our hotel and I was able to find out about it within minutes because of HelloShift all before the issue got out of control.” “Modern messaging for hotels changes everything,” says HelloShift founder and CEO Sudheer Thakur. “We have watched hundreds of teams transition from skeptics to modern hoteliers, transforming their operations, sales, guest satisfaction, and direct bookings with HelloShift’s integrated messaging platform. This HotelTechAward shows the delight modern hoteliers experience when they wholeheartedly embrace our tools in their daily work life.” To read the full review and more, head to HelloShift's profile on Hotel Tech Report About HelloShift Say goodbye to logbooks, forms, and miscommunication. Say hello to modern messaging with HelloShift. Modern hoteliers use HelloShift’s integrated messaging platform to increase operational efficiency, guest satisfaction, and direct sales. With HelloShift, hotel guests and website visitors can message the front desk 24/7 through texting and real-time chat. Hotel staff can manage guest communications and collaborate using social media tools like newsfeeds, tags, and notifications. Managers can keep their fingers on the pulse of hotel operations and instantly message their whole team. Learn more at www.HelloShift.com

Customer Service Or Just Lip Service?

by
Gary Hernbroth
1 year ago

I placed a $20 bill on top of the front desk at a major brand hotel, and asked the front desk agent if she would please break it up for me, for tips and such. She immediately extended her arm and pointed me in the direction of the other side of the lobby."Sorry," she said, not too apologetically, but more like she was explaining directions to a tourist. "They don't give me a bank out here." I must have looked quite perplexed to her, as she added, "You see that Starbucks over there, across the lobby? They'll make change for you."It was the morning. We all know what the line at a Starbucks in the morning looks like. Forget it.Well, well, well. The front desk customer service approach sure has changed since I spent my time as a management training candidate out of college at the Westin St. Francis many years ago.Back then, we were given banks, with plenty of money in different denominations. And all crisp new bills and washed coins, too. We were not only customer-service driven, but we did it with some style and class, too.Another hotel, another city, and another moment for the customer service Hall of Shame. It was a major brand "limited service" hotel. The pantry located next to the front desk had 5 shelves, which are typically stocked with candies, snacks, toiletries, and other such items that guests may need and want to purchase.Old Mother Hubbard would be sad to find that this cupboard was virtually bare. I counted 4 small single-serve bags of potato chips, 12 mini-boxes of detergent, and 3 Slim Jim snack sticks in a box that was lying on its side. A sadder scene I'd never seen in a hotel.I asked the front desk agent about getting some cookies or a snack other than potato chips. He shrugged and said to me quite matter-of-factly, "Oh yeah. They usually just stock us once a month (this was a busy corporate travel hotel in a business section of town, mind you), and nobody has been able to go to Target in a while.""Oh? Where is Target?" I inquired."Right across the street," was the answer. Thud.Scenes like this, and many more, are being played out in hotels everywhere, every day. Sure, many wonderful, shining moments of customer care are also happening. But shouldn't we as an industry pay better attention to what helps drive customers away?I recently used stories like these in a luncheon keynote address I made at the recent CH &LA and AAHOA conference held in May in South San Francisco, titled "All Hands On Deck." There, I exposed my audience to my concept of the "Get 'ems" and the "Keep ems."The concept is simple. The external sales team is really the "Get 'em" team “ they are out in the marketplace pursuing customers and booking group contracts. They get 'em in. The internal service team I call the "Keep ems," whose job it is to do what they can to keep the guests coming back and not running off to the competition. Their JOB ONE is to keep 'em in.It's cliche to say "everyone in our organization is member of the sales team." Sure they are, or at least should be. I hear this all the time. It is rarely the case.So I say "prove it."I asked my audience at CH&LA (mostly hotel operators, general managers, and owners) to think about what was REALLY happening to the guest back at their hotel in room 425 or 620. I pointed out that while hotel management and ownership groups are adept at understanding the STR Reports and RevPAR indexes, how in touch are they with the day-to-day happenings in the "foxholes" back at the hotel?While we espouse to brag about our customer service on our websites and marketing materials, is that REALLY what is being delivered at the front desk, in housekeeping, in the restaurant, on the phone?Often times, many guests can be put off by simply what comes out of the mouths of hotel staffers, as in my examples above. Oh, it isn't that they intend to say dumb, illogical, or insulting things. They just do. I call those things "Bozo-isms" in deference to Bozo the Clown from my childhood years on Detroit area TV. Bozo-isms are rampant. They run the gamut from "That's not my job" to "I don't know why they sent you here," "Everybody complains about that," "It's our hotel policy," and so on.Immediately after my luncheon address, one enthusiastic vendor attendee shared a Bozo-ism she herself encountered at a hotel recently. "I had asked a hotel staffer whether they could do something for me, and their response knocked me over," she said. "'That's above my pay grade, ma'am' was all they could say to me. What kind of service answer is that?"Space limitations preclude me from laying out all of the actions hotels and hospitality organizations should be doing to insure that their internal service team REALLY IS a fully-functioning extension of their external sales team. So let's just start with some fundamental X's and O's that can have a positive impact on your guests' satisfaction, their loyalty to your hotel, and thus “ ultimately “ your bottom line:Let's try to stay out of our own way “ The service industry can be a grinder. Let's not make it tougher on ourselves by saying the wrong things to guests. You might as well serve soup in a dirty cup or leave spots on the bathroom mirror as respond to the guest such as the ways illustrated here; Think like an owner “ Everyone on the service team must understand their part of the bigger picture as a stakeholder, and be empowered to think and act as if they owned the place. It is the role of management to make this clear and set the rules of engagement; Accountability “ Everyone owns a piece of this. No departments or individuals on the team are left out of being held accountable for their deliverables to the guests or each other; Communication “ The red-headed step-child of all things that go wrong. But why? Communication means a lot of things “ Verbal, written, person-to-person. It must be clear and understandable both internally and externally. Some of my hotel clients are going to "no email Fridays" as a place to start, to get people talking to each other again. Easier said than done, but this fight is worth it. Collaboration “ Everybody pitches in; If one of us is in trouble, we all are in trouble “ All hands on deck to help fix an issue or make it happen for the guest. Working in silos is NOT welcomed here! Comaraderie “ Your people have to want to care about each other, to give a darn enough to pitch in together. Problem-solving together and coming up with a home run for the guests or the team is in itself a terrific team-building moment; Having a sales/service mentality vs. a transactional mentality “ When you are selling, you are providing a service, and when you are providing a service, you are in essence selling, too “ selling the guest on the fact that through your excellent service you are reinforcing the fact that they made the right decision in coming there. They are being "re-sold' for a return visit. All hands on deck, sure. All hands on deck doing the right things, consistently, and together? That's where the real gold lies. Don't just claim to do it. That's lip service. Really delivering it at a high level of excellence? Now THAT's customer service.

Hospitality Technology 2020

by
Karthik Namasivayam
1 year ago

The Hospitality Management department at the Rochester Institute of Technology is housed in the College of Applied Science and Technology. I cannot imagine a more appropriate home for a hospitality program today, given the rapid incursion of technology in a historically tech-shy, high-touch oriented industry. Technology is everywhere: Josh Bersin notes that business models are being rapidly disrupted and organizations have to respond to the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. Platform technologies and business models are displacing established ways of doing business. The hospitality industry is not immune to these developments “ witness Airbnb, a prime example of the platform revolution and its impact on legacy hospitality (if only at the peripheries at this point). Other technologies are advancing as well and as Carson Booth, Vice President Global Property Technology at Marriott International, notes, technology such as "AI will become embedded and ubiquitous" in the hospitality industry.The purpose of this essay is to understand some technologies that will impact the hospitality industry in the near future “ the year 2020 is arbitrary, I had first titled the article as 'Hospitality Technology 2025' but the pace of technological developments shifted the horizon! In a survey of the rapidly growing commentary stream on technology, it appears the following will have a great deal of impact on the hospitality industry: robotics, 3-D printing, internet of things and data, artificial intelligence, and "trust-through-algorithms-and-ratings". Each of these is elaborated in the next paragraphs. Caveat: This is a very quick overview. Each of these technologies is complex and is associated with a number of 'human' and moral questions. For example, who is responsible for a death if the vehicle causing the accident is a self-driving car? Are consumers ready to accept a high-tech, low touch hospitality environment? Is society ready to support displaced employees? And there are, of course, other technologies not covered here.Robotics has the potential to be a big disrupter of current hospitality industry models. A number of trends “ advances in robotics, the ability of robots to 'empathize', to touch, feel, the development of sensor technologies, and demographic and societal changes that accept robotics as a given in many service jobs means that robots will become increasingly common in the industry,. Already a number of hospitality organizations both large and small are 'proof-of-concept' testing robots in their front office and check-in operations “ for example Hilton (McLean, VA), and the Henn-Na Hotel (Japan). Other applications include in housekeeping and in the kitchens. Currently, Asian consumers appear to be more readily accepting of service and humanoid robot servers and support staff than in the West. The International Federation of Robotics predicts strong growth in a variety of applications to the end of this decade. This trend towards greater number of robots becoming inserted into the service-value chain is likely to grow stronger with advances in artificial general intelligence, deep machine-learning, and neural networks.3-D Printing is another area that may have profound effects on a number of hospitality operations areas including in the kitchens, engineering, guest amenities and related areas. If spares can be printed on-demand, associated costs will probably change. On a larger scale, even complete hotel buildings can be 3-D printed “ an extension of the modular construction methods adopted by a number of hotel companies in Europe and in the US. A number of companies are experimenting with 3-D food printers for the domestic markets. How much longer before 3-D printers render room-service obsolete? When 3-D printed foods gain wide acceptance in the domestic markets, it has implications for take-away and eat-in restaurants alike. Together with robot kitchens that produce chef quality meals, 3-D printing will transform the F&B industry.Data Mining and the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly becoming important in industry. John Keller notes that "billions of sensor-driven devices [connected] to each other, the Internet, national networks and distant cloud-based applications" carry large amounts of data "that can be captured and analyzed" to enhance business operations. He identifies the hospitality industry as one that depends on the IoT to personalize the guest experience. Mobile devices are used by guests to check in and enter their rooms, sensors adjust room temperature and lighting to guest requirements and help provide the guest a unique experience. Data collected from guest stays help rationalize the use of power and utilities in hospitality operations. Some utility companies can now remotely manage home thermostat settings to reduce the consumption of fuel and provide economies to both homeowners and the utility. The data generated from the various devices that guests and hospitality associates use can provide valuable insights that will enhance guest experience; customized, individualized experiences will be only a button away.Artificial Intelligence (AI) appears to be the lifeblood of the advancements in robotics and IoT. Experts distinguish between generalized and specialized AI. Specialized AI is about using algorithms to figure out increasingly complex but narrow set of tasks; generalized AI refers to the ability to discern actionable patterns out of masses of data using neural networks and deep learning. The driverless car, IBM Watson's abilities, and Google's DeepMind project are examples of generalized AI. As AI becomes more sophisticated, a number of tasks in the service value chain can be replaced with AI driven robots “ for example, hotel room pricing decisions or inventory management. Already concierge services, room service delivery, and housekeeping operations are supported by AI. For the hospitality industry, simultaneous translation capable robots may replace consumer contact service individuals.Trust through algorithms and ratings is an area that has great significance for how hospitality operations are managed. EBay and Airbnb are examples of this: both buyer and seller rate each other and this defines the level of trust and propensity to do business again. It also defines the ability of the seller to attract new buyers. In an increasingly algorithm and ratings mediated business environment, organizations have to perhaps reimagine their customer relationship models “ how is trust in a brand generated? The ability to build trust through algorithms and the advent of the 'gig' economy may change the employer-employee relationships and have an impact on hospitality industry employment practices.Conclusion Hospitality organizations will have to respond as these various technologies are adopted at a higher rate in the general organizational environment. It is important that they adopt a proactive and strategic stance and fundamentally (re)design themselves as technology-centered organizations. Technology-driven transformations will impact the structure of the industry as well: in some organizations, technology will be used visibly front and center (for example, service robots) in guest interfaces and back-of-the house operations with the aim of economizing. In others, technology will be used in back-of-house and support operations but have human guest relations experts at the guest interface to provide the 'high touch' experience that those willing to pay premiums for it will demand. Back of the house operations such as inventory management, room pricing decisions, or human resource management are likely to be equally technology driven. The choices made about technology and human interfaces with guests will distinguish groups of organizations.Thus, it appears that the industry is on the cusp of a very big transformation driven not only by technology but also demographic and economic changes.

Prioritizing technology for your hotel staff

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 year ago

In the last few years, there has been a steady uptick in integrating the use of technology within the hospitality industry. Hotels are now heavily investing in guest-facing technologies such as booking engines, mobile apps, digital concierge services, keyless entry systems, beacons, automated check in and check out processes amongst many other, especially for their guests. In a recent New York Times article, Scott Dobroski, of corporate communications for Glassdoor, says that 'All companies are becoming technology companies to some degree, and this is especially true in the hospitality industry'.This phenomenon is definite progress for the hospitality industry, and it is time to shift the focus on adapting mobile technologies for your employees too. Stefan Tweraser of Snapshot writes about how employees are using multi faceted systems that can affect productivity and even shrink job satisfaction. These systems are so complex that guests are left waiting while employees navigate the user interface for information “ information that should be mobile, on their fingertips and readily available at any given point of the day. Mobile technologies that allow for internal connectivity, communication, access to all information can be extremely valuable for operations and in-house staff.A mobile platform can provide more benefits due to its flexible nature. For instance, staff members have instant access to the company intranet allowing them to provide enhanced service to guests. Gaining that access to daily news and real time updates increases their ability to work efficiently and with complete information. On the other hand, management can use employee behaviour data to optimise their operational processes. The key is to find technology that will save your employee's time in doing routine tasks with all the required information to perform their job, available for their use at any time along with giving managers access to gather and analyse staff data. It will fit your operational purpose with simplicity in function and adaptability and most importantly, help improve your strategic goals and bottom-line.By finding platforms that are multifaceted and provide different features to tie your operational processes together, it could provide valuable data into how staff carries out their work, and how it affects factors such as employee retention, satisfaction and productivity. These metrics have a direct impact on guests as well as the bottom line.Features such as communication could include sending out daily updates regarding VIP guests or check in's or having a portable database with documents on security, personnel HR, training, employee marketing and departmental reports. These enable staff to remain informed at all times, stay updated with recent knowledge and skills allowing them to do their tasks optimally and provide impeccable guest service. Just by using such a feature, guest satisfaction and retention can increase; along with productivity, again, positively affecting the bottom-line.Added features such as surveys and feedback provide management with the opportunity to engage with their teams and have open dialogue frequently. Managers can respond faster to employee feedback, take action, and create a sense of community. As a result, employee retention boosts, satisfaction surges and the costs of hiring are reduced!Bonus functions such as chatting, conducting assessments, filling checklists and inventory lists allow for optimising operational processes, reduced paper trails and collecting analytical in-house process data that can help management strategize better.To simplify this, it is advisable to contain the adoption of technology within one department initially. This can help gauge responsiveness from both employees and management. From there on, the technology can then be adopted by others (property wide or company wide). Management, too, can better adapt the use of this app and observe staff responses. Once the platforms are in use, and then integrating them into existing systems to heighten usage and optimise processes amplifies seamless operations.When fully functional, management can create reports to recognise their team skills and compare and correlate usage within the app to metrics such as employee satisfaction and retention, guest satisfaction and retention, printing costs, training costs and productivity levels, all of which will be demonstrated financially as well.By working with developers to customize technology to best suit your property, it allows you to exploit every function for maximum efficiency. With all the technology available at our disposal, do not invest in technology without purpose; rather invest in technology that serves your staff to serve your guests better eventually.