Thursday, 15 October 2015

Take me to the clouds above - how the cloud and smartphones are streamlining hotel operations and improving services

Accommodation comes in all types of different shapes and sizes in all places around the world. And today, accommodation is managed in different ways with so many different tools and tricks for the trade. On a daily basis accommodation managers have to deal with software such as Property Management Systems, Computer Reservations Systems, Channel Managers, accounting systems software, and keycard software.

On a daily basis accommodation managers also probably deal with Online Travel Agencies, hotel wholesalers, and emails from travel agents, and local tourism organisations. Accommodation managers also have to constantly worry and deal with online reviews on Tripadvisor, and comments in social media. If a negative comment about the accommodation comes up on Facebook or wherever, then it needs an immediate response so a bad reputation does not spread. And of course don't forget that there are guests and housekeeping to deal with too. Finally there is key management.

But once upon a time, accommodation management was so much simpler. Relationships with travel agents would ensure a steady flow of guests, and when the guest came to check-in they would sign a paper register, get a metal key to their room, which they would return on check-out. When the guest left, the housekeeper would go up to the room and clean it.

In this day and age, with so many many different things to juggle on a daily basis in accommodation management, sometimes things can go wrong. For example a double booking may result after an accommodation manager takes a phone booking and not updating their room availability across all Online Travel Agencies immediately. If a double booking happens then the accommodation manager is responsible by law to find another room in the local area of a similar or better standard. And if this other room costs twice as much as the double booked room, then the accommodation manager is responsible for paying those extra costs.

In this day and age, accommodation managers need tools to help them manage their accommodation more efficiently, with less possibilities of things going wrong. There is a quote from Bill Gates that summarizes everything we've just said about accommodation management, and that is "the first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency".

Today accommodation managers have inefficient operations. These inefficient operations have just grown organically over time. The introduction of PC's in the early eighties brought reservation software to rid the 'paper sign in register'. The introduction of mag-stripe technology in the late eighties/early nineties brought keycards (and operating software) to rid metal keys. The introduction of the internet in the mid nineties brought Online Travel Agencies(OTA) to rid the travel agents (although in recent times the travel agent has made a bit of a comeback). And as Internet use spawned across the globe it brought more and more OTA's and so Channel Manager software was needed to help manage all the OTA listings.  Introduction of social media in the early 2000's brought online reviews. Accounting software in recent times helps with bookeeping, to rid...well...books.

Here is what an efficient cloud based hotel management system looks like. With cloud based systems, digital keys, digital check and smartlocks come into the picture to allow data flows and automations.

What accommodation managers need now to help with their efficient operations is a system that brings all the past technologies and software together in one place- and that place is the cloud/mobile. Hotels are already going to that cloud/mobile place, following in the footsteps of airlines, streamlining operations and improving services. Several major hotel brands have recently announced digital strategies with plans to migrate to the cloud, and install digital check-in and digital key systems to help with efficient management. These hotels include Hilton, Starwood, Accor and Intercontinental.

If you're an accommodation manager interested in learning more about digital check-in and digital keys, please get in touch with us

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