How To Better Connect Your Hotel’s Front Of House & Back Of House
One of the reasons may hotels offer the same sort of guest experience is the fact that people who work in the hotel business tend to move from hotel to hotel quite a bit. That means they tend to take their tendencies and methods with them to the next job. The long-term effect is that many hotels tend to operate – especially back-of-house – in the same way. Now that isn’t terrible, but instead of just accepting the common way for managing operations, hoteliers should instead be constantly on the lookout for ways to become more efficient. Let’s not forget that operational efficiency will translate to a positive guest experience, which is the life-blood of the business.
So if efficiency is the goal, where do we look for new ideas? There is a line running from back-of-house operations, like housekeeping, though front desk staff and ending with the guest. The line that connects these three parties is communication. Faster and more accurate communications means things get done quickly and correctly and the hotel guest is happier. The problem with many hotels is that this line of communication is asynchronous. Meaning there is a delay between communications and actions.
How do we make our front-to-back of house communications sync? Mobility is your catalyst.
Let’s look at housekeeping. The fact is that guest status is a fluid thing. We really never quite know when they are checking in or checking out. In US hotels, many guests simply just leave without ever stopping by the front desk. If a housekeeper has a mobile device connected to the hotel PMS via the cloud, he or she can instantly inform the rest of the hotel of the guest status without having to pick up a phone or walkie-talkie and engage someone in a conversation. That means ready rooms are more likely to be available for the guest who is checking in early. An article in HotelManagement.net last year noted, “The right technology solution ensures enhanced communication between housekeeping and the front desk (and less confusion about what rooms are ready when), and that accurate information is seen and then shared all around so job responsibilities are flawlessly executed. Technology encourages a quick turn-around of room cleaning without sacrificing quality.”
What’s more, many hoteliers are starting to monetize early check-in. That means that the faster a room is back into the ready pool, the more likely the hotel can sell an early check-in. So faster communications between the back of house and the hotel PMS can mean more revenue.
The scourge of housekeeping these days is paper. Print-outs still rule the day, unfortunately, at most hotels and that goes for the supervisors too. That means either data needs to be re-keyed into the PMS, or it never get in there at all. Accountability and work management suffer as a result. A tablet-equipped supervisor can see and manage workloads in real time across multiple floors and is able to see who is working efficiently and who isn’t. This data can later be outputted in reports to better understand staffing allocations across occupancy periods.
Mobile-enhanced communications work in the opposite direction too. Your mobile enabled employee can walk the floor of the hotel and take requests and notes in real time while they are speaking to the guest. If the guest requests something on the pool deck to be delivered to their room, the staff doesn’t have to walk over to the front desk to key in the request. They can get the request going faster and potentially have the delivery beat the guest to the room. That is the next best thing to instant gratification if you are a hotel guest.
In summary, there are lots of known tricks to the back-office, such as washing sheets at night when electricity is cheaper, but lesser known are the communications and technology tricks that have a direct impact on revenue and the guest experience. A mobile-enabled PMS provides the hub for a system that decreases lag time between actual guest status changes and front-office (and guest) actions. And a cloud-based system that puts love and synced work management onto a supervisors tablet means greater accountability for your staff. Mobility is the catalyst to help you achieve your efficiency goals.