By Jos Schaap, CEO and Founder of StayNTouch
The purchase of a hotel system is only the beginning of the journey. More planning is needed to use the software to its full potential. In today’s hectic hotel operational environment, the one thing you don’t want to worry about is the support of your technology platforms. If you need something fixed, tweaked or replaced, you want to feel secure that your technology supplier has your back.
Here are a few ideas to help hoteliers maximize value from their technology investment:
- Dedicated Champion On-Property: Make sure that you have a dedicated individual who acts as your technology champion on property. This may indeed be your IT person, but for several hotels that cannot afford an IT resource, it may be your Front Desk Manager or another person on staff. If you have a champion on the property, then your technology partner knows whom to deal with when the time comes to help with service and support issues.
- Support Forums: Ask your technology provider if they have a support forum. Some do, and some don’t. However, if they do, this can be a great tool for hoteliers to discuss issues with their peers and even omit the need to talk to a support representative. Having a support community can make a significant difference in many ways, providing helpful tools at your fingertips. If your technology provider does not have one, ask to see if they can organize a group and moderate it.
- Education: It is no secret that there is extreme turnover in our industry so confirm that each new person joining your team is well educated on using the technology you have on the property. If you spend the time and effort training a new hire on the systems they will be using – there will be far fewer support issues to deal with. Work with your technology partner to make sure that new hire training is in place and available.
- Prioritization: It is important for your team to understand the severity of any issue you may have with your on-property technology. Is the issue an emergency or is it something that can be handled within a 24-hour period? Some departments may think that not having data that they can use is disrupting their work day, but this may not be an issue that is an operational emergency. You should have a grading system related to the severity of problems. Back to the first point, if you have a technology champion on the property, they will be able to assess the issue and then decide what the best course of action is. Is it to send an email, click-to-chat or to call the 800 number?
- Feature Requests: Maybe you have an idea that you may have for a new product feature or enhancement. Technology providers always want feedback from their users, and so a feature request is something they want to know. Find an effective way to communicate these types of needs, outside of the usual support lines. It makes sense to facilitate a discussion with them about your idea and provide input into how the platform grows and addresses ongoing operational issues.
- Take Advantage of Automation. Automating remote diagnostics, monitoring, and issue isolation and resolution can reduce preventable issues dramatically. By taking advantage of these advanced problem-solving capabilities, your hotel can equip itself for proactive prevention, rapid resolution and continual optimization of systems.
- Do Your Homework: When you are deciding to move to a new technology provider, do your homework and investigate their service and support department. Make sure that they will be able to meet your needs and talk to other hotels that are currently using their platform. Be informed as the ongoing support of a system is just as critical as how it helps you operate your hotel.
Other points could be noted. However, the areas discussed above should be top of mind. If the support backbone of your system fails, your guests will ultimately pay the price. An unhappy guest is much harder to manage then a happy one.
One last point, in today’s “social world” – check online regarding the feedback related to the support of system you are looking to implement. It can be quite enlightening. Here is a quote that we found on Reddit regarding one of the largest property management companies in the world and their support level:
“Dealing with [provider name] support is some of the worst things you can do. I do it for a living. You need to understand how the system works. At one end, you have support staff that is paid for how many tickets they can process. Not solve, process. So, expect to get sent around in a loop of different ‘techs’ that do minimal work on the ticket and passes it on to the next person.”
In the business of hotel technology – we are always striving to reach that nirvana state where everything is perfect. While there isn’t a silver bullet to futureproof your hotel’s technology challenges, selecting the right technology partner to match your goals and strategy will help you to set your hotel up for success moving forward.