By Aaron Belton, Head of global hospitality, DocMX (www.docmx.io)
While entering a new year offers a level of optimism, as the hospitality industry hopes to soon resume operations, there are still numerous challenges ahead.Aaron Belton, Head of Global Hospitality at DocMX, comments on how the industry can use this time period best described as ‘limbo’, while the UK experiences its third national lockdown, to consider how best to stream- line and future-proof operations whilst preparing to welcome back guests, when safe to do so.
REVIEW BACK-OFFICE PAIN POINTS
Companies all too often focus on digitising customer-facing processes but there are also significant improvements and cost savings that can be made in the back-office.
While hotels have their doors closed to customers, there’s time avail- able to review the hotel or clusters’ back-office operations to consider what works, are we as efficient as we could be and how forward-think- ing improvements will benefit in the long run? Organisations are now presented with precious time to invest in technologies that will assist them reopening with streamlined and efficient processes set in place, which will not only allow a smooth new operation, but aid them in the event of any future crises. Now is the time to consider reviewing operations to become more agile and reduce risk by utilising leading edge automation technology to maximise profitability.
AUTOMATED PROCESSES TO MATCH THE NEW CHALLENGES IN HOTEL OPERATIONS
The current pandemic has demonstrated that hospitality organisations cannot continue to operate as they have in the past. Hotel occupancy won’t resume at pre-Covid levels, therefore hospitality organisations will need to adopt a ‘do more with less’ approach. Almost all hotels around the world have experienced a drop in occupancy to less than 20% during the last 12-months. Operators must consider first and foremost the bottom-line and how it can be improved by optimising the way their teams work and by looking to increase efficiency across all areas of the business.
Utilising automation and AI technology will guarantee efficiencies and financial savings when processing operational tasks such as Income Audit, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Human Resources, and even Food and Beverage administration.This technology allows employees in all departments to devote time and energy focusing on more big-picture planning, protecting the hotel against future risk and maintaining and improving the guest experience.
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE, POST-BREXIT
Looking forward, with Brexit, the pandemic and perhaps as yet unseen industry challenges, the question of staffing is likely to become increasingly topical, as the industry overcomes the challenge of staffing levels. When asking, when the industry reopens, can hotels operate more efficiently with less staff? And if so, how?
In my experience, there are no two-ways about it: to succeed, hotel owners and operators need to prepare to re-open leaner, rather than returning to the pre-pandemic status quo.To reduce risk investing in proven, leading edge, automation technology now, will ensure that once properties are able to re-open operations are leaner, money is not wasted, and efficient processes are set in stone to help the hospitality indus- try thrive now and in the future.
Digital automated processes, which are easy to implement and user friendly, will benefit both the organisation and its staff.This is why automation will continue to be one of the top hospitality technology trends of the future. Review, analyse, structure your efficient processes, and standardise these efficiencies into a digital platform capable of running administrative tasks automatically. Enhancing operational efficiency will save valuable time for employees, which in turn can boost revenue and help to increase guest satisfaction. For example, the daily tasks of a Front Office Manager may include the review and signing of numerous financial reports to remain compliant for the internal and external auditors, a multitude of checklists and HR tasks to be completed, plus other administrative tasks which could all be easily streamlined.These time savings will allow managers to empower their departments to focus on delivering 5-star customer services.
Digital transformation is not just for the big industry players, all companies large and small can benefit. Affordable and simple-to-use tools are accessible to even the smaller hotel operators who get by without a dedicated IT department. In short, digitisation and automation should be at the forefront of every forward-thinking hospitality leader’s plans.