|By Terry Cunningham, President and CEO InfoGenesis
August 2006 - In the not too distant past, hospitality companies relied on their intuitive sense of business and flawed data gathering to try and come up with a strategy that would lead them to success. The insurmountable task for most was having to maintain the proper level of guest service while focusing on profits. This resulted in a balancing act that often failed to produce the desired long-term results. As the strategy was executed, many also found that traditional reporting methods only exacerbated the problems inherent to this balancing act—making course corrections and positive bottom line results more difficult.
Today, hospitality companies that embrace technology enjoy a high level of competency when it comes to mission-critical operations. This is done through ever-evolving solutions that are integrated and customized to meet specific business needs. Now, more than any other time, technology streamlines service in a way that both ensures greater profitability and increased guest satisfaction.
But the real key to maximizing revenue with technology is understanding and taking advantage of the fundamental shift that is occurring in hospitality technology. The idea of technology being central to the guest experience is something that is beginning to change how business is done. From the days of relying on intuition, to technology that smoothed operations, to the current age of guest-centric technology, hospitality companies have implemented powerful new tools that help them stay successful. Specifically, guest-centric technology enables companies to know who their guests are, give them the service they want, and drastically increase per guest revenue. The following is a look at three diverse, yet notable properties that are maximizing revenue by using technology to push the limits of what is possible not only for them, but their guests as well:
A Casino Phenomenon
When it opened a few short years ago, the Borgata was the first new hotel in Atlantic City in 13 years. In order to be successful in a marketplace with such experienced competition, the Borgata had to have a phenomenal opening and be profitable from day one. Management had its hands full with this multifaceted operation, which features more than 2,000 guestrooms, a 128,000-square-foot casino, 11 restaurants, a 50,000-square-foot spa, 11 specialty boutiques, a 1,000-seat theater, and 70,000 square feet of event space.
Technology played a major role in maximizing initial and ongoing revenue, as well as putting the guest at the center of what they do. Through an integrated, flexible, and easy-to-use POS solution, the Borgata was able to take their disparate outlet operations and put them on the same page. By having everything from retail and bars to the buffet and fine dining able to use a single system, it did several things for their opening and their ongoing business. It streamlined operations and put the focus on the guest. That focus extended beyond the service outlet managers provided. For upper management, it enabled a better business focus. Because they were able to get consolidated, usable data, they cut many potential labor hours and gained the ability to react and plan much more effectively. The POS system also pushed information to them—enabling better corporate communication.
But it is integrated systems that take technology from operations-based revenue generation into the arena of guest experience management. By integrating with PMS, player tracking, and other systems, the Borgata was able to offer day-one guest benefits that drive continued business. By guests being able to use rewards accumulated in their player tracking system for meals or shop purchases for example, the Borgata effectively gave guests more reasons to stay on-property spending their money. This is the real power of integrated, guest-centric technology today—the ability to increase guest spending and loyalty. Combine this with the operational-based revenue benefits of technology and you have a powerful upper hand in realizing success.
An exciting thing to note is that casinos as a whole are also experimenting with other guest-centric technology that promises to enhance per guest spending and loyalty further. Self-service is being used across properties—from in-room ordering to kiosks in buffets. New property-wide guest awareness of dining availability through displays is also beginning to be implemented. Imagine screens placed strategically throughout your property that effectively direct traffic and help you increase on-property spending by giving guests an idea of how full each of your dining outlets are. All this guest-centric technology effectively reduces lines, increases guest satisfaction and increases spending.
Historic Luxury and New Technology
Halfway across the United States in idyllic Colorado Springs, the historic Broadmoor Resort is also using guest-centric technology. This resort is one of the few in the country to have earned the Mobil Five Star and AAA Five Diamond ratings every year since the awards were established. The 700-room resort is nestled on 3,000 acres near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It includes 45 holes of championship golf, nine tennis courts, two heated pools, a world-class spa with 28 treatment rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center and an indoor heated pool. It also includes 52 function rooms and 11 restaurants that range from the elegant to the casual.
The Broadmoor needed to expand its use of POS technology to all current and future outlets and capitalize on all available revenue streams. They also wanted to maintain their high standard of service while at the same time improving upon what they offer to guests. This essentially meant full charging privileges for guests anywhere on the property.
Technology here again played a big part in improving operations. The POS solution they chose, with its centralized database, gave them the ability to easily add POS terminals where they were needed without having to invest large amounts in new infrastructure. This represented a significant cost savings and enabled more consistent and efficient operations across the property.
But in terms of maximizing revenue through technology, the integration and convergence of systems played a major part. For the Broadmoor, this meant integrating technology in a way that gave guests anywhere charging convenience. By starting with the integration of PMS and POS and adding a mobile network with handhelds, they created a layered solution that produced important results.
Poolside at the Broadmoor, where handhelds are implemented, food orders are placed wirelessly via handhelds. Guests can charge directly to their PMS folio. This is a huge convenience to guests—letting them enjoy the Broadmoor in a new way. For the Broadmoor, handhelds have meant a 90% reduction in guest complaints related to timeliness of food delivery. The POS solution pulls everything together by acting as the central integration point for all the other systems—allowing for improved guest service. With integrated solutions in place that are guest-centric, guests are happier, which means they are spending more money and improving the bottom line.
Going California Casual
Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach is perched above the Pacific Coast Highway between Los Angeles and San Diego overlooking miles of surf. Since its grand opening in January 2003, it has become known for superior service, top-notch amenities, and events.
What this property needed to become more successful was enhanced reporting and communication between systems. POS again played a central role in integrating systems and taking technology beyond an operational-based revenue generator to something that produced guest-centric results.
The integration between the central POS system and the proprietary PMS was critical in attaining these results. While the integration eliminated duplicate data entry and data compilation efforts—resulting in a more effective, cost efficient operation—it also changed the way guests interacted with staff. Charging to a PMS folio was just the beginning. Guests, through the integration, can also charge meeting rooms and other services.
In terms of banquet operations, catering, and meeting rooms, specific feature functionality was created in the POS system to enhance the way things were done. All meeting event information is now prompted for at the POS terminal and printed on the client check. For the guest, it translates into increased satisfaction through better communication. This POS technology gives the hotel reports with financial data relevant to events. With this information, they can effectively improve operations without having to manually record event details. The net result is better use of staff time and savings for the resort. POS flexibility for Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach ultimately creates benefits both on an operational and guest level.
It is also through integration that hotel staff can see charges in detail from the PMS that are incurred in the POS system. Giving staff this kind of knowledge gives them the power to avoid or defuse issues that can cost the hotel money. It also reduces frustration for the guest and enhances the ability of the hotel to produce loyal guests.
What is interesting throughout these very different properties is that guest-centric technology is pushing revenue in a way that compliments operational-based technology. Finding a solution that improves operations is not difficult. Hospitality technology has been doing that for a long time. What is harder to find is the central solution that allows guest-centric integration and convergence of technology. This is the real value in today’s technology. Maximizing revenue takes both operational and guest experience enhancements working in conjunction. It is about improving what you offer to your guests on a daily basis in addition to improving your processes.
Cunningham is President and CEO of InfoGenesis, the award-winning technology
company that offers hospitality and foodservice operators feature-rich
solutions for mission-critical operations. Primary solution offerings include
InfoGenesis Point-of-Sale (POS), Self-Service and Reservations. Solution
development focuses on the guest experience management (GEM) concept, which
at its core is about giving guests more convenience and increasing per
guest revenue for operators. Industries served by InfoGenesis include hotels,
resorts, casinos, cruise lines, sports and entertainment, restaurants and
managed foodservice. For additional case studies and information on solutions,
Reprinted with permission by www.hotelexecutive.com
|Also See:||Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa Goes With InfoGenesis POS To Help Blaze The Off-Strip Trail In Vegas; Eighty Percent of All Major Casinos in Las Vegas Now Feature InfoGenesis Technology / August 2006|
|Trevor Roots and Mark Tapling Join the Executive Team at InfoGenesis / June 2006|
|InfoGenesis Teams Up With Leading Companies to Form Innovative Relationship; Unique Offering Provides An Integrated Solution Suite For Gaming Industry / May 2006|
|InfoGenesis Las Vegas to Open in May 2006; New Worldwide Solution and Briefing Center to Showcase the Latest Products and Solutions from InfoGenesis and its Partners / March 2006|
|Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group Selects InfoGenesis for Hong Kong and Tokyo Hotels; Award-Winning Operator of Luxury Properties Chooses InfoGenesis to Complement Exceptional Customer Satisfaction / November 2005|