By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (www.hotelmogel.com)
The necessary response to the new viral sanitization guidelines stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic affect every department in a hotel. As you look to ramp up occupancy over the summer, incorporating all these new procedures without significantly increasing the cost of labor will require some major updates to your management software so that automation can handle much of the ‘grunt work’.
Moreover, you want your teams to be able to get up to speed as quickly as possible and without any fears for their own safety or demoralization from all the new steps they have to remember. From the guest’s perspective, the heightened productive from Covid-specific features in management software help to ensure proper service delivery so that the hotel experience never suffers.
With this in mind, what should you look for in a management platform so that you are able to digitalize as many of these new guidelines as possible? Let’s run through ten features and the Covid-specific problems that they solve.
- Viral safety checklists. Housekeeping will have a lot on its plate over and above what was typically inscribed in a pre-pandemic guestroom cleaning procedure. Not only will each room attendant need a reminder to ensure they get it right, but a sanitization checklist like this can, if required, be forwarded to the incoming guest so as to give them peace of mind that their room has been properly disinfected.
- Time analytics. Knowing how long it takes each room attendant to complete a checklist may be just as important as the list itself. This will give you insights into how long the new guestroom SOPs should take to finish so that you can plan housekeeping boards appropriately and keep costs down. You may also want to set up an alert for when a room is marked done prematurely, which may indicate that corners were cut.
- Breakroom and lunchtime social distancing. For now, the mandate is to limit the number of employees in any given space at any given time, meaning staggered start times and breaktimes. Dictating who is authorized to get underway or kick their feet up for a few minutes at any point during the workday is simply too hard to govern manually.
- Inventory management. The short-term demands of COVID-19 have resulted into worldwide shortages of PPE, sanitizers and a host of other products necessary for a safe hotel experience. You need to know as far in advance as possible when your inventory is running low so that you can place another order or find a new supplier.
- Contact and temperature tracing. With many employees reaching you via public transportation, managers need to have a pulse on where all their team members have been throughout their shifts as well as a quick reference of their bodily states upon arrival, so contact can be minimized and so records can be produced in case an employee tests positive. All this should, of course, be automated to relieve managers’ time and to avoid generating a mound of paper archives.
- Online training. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your property. The issue now is that we must make our operations as contactless as possible, thus necessitating the shift to web-based training for all these new protocols so that your team can get up to speed quickly, without having to cluster into a classroom setting. Critical here will be some form of accountability metrics – such as document completion tracking or quizzing – so that management knows whether or not a staffer has actually absorbed the knowledge or merely glanced through it.
- Enabling BYOD. In the not-too-distant past, bringing your own device to work came with a few big issues concerning data security and cellular payment coverage. Now, however, we must focus on minimizing contact, making BYOD imperative via an intuitive employee app, while still including features to prevent data breaches. Plus, everyone already knows how their own mobile phone works so this will help to limit onboarding.
- Bulletin boards. Being able to electronically notify team members of important information is nothing new as we’ve all had email for decades now. The difference now is that managers should be able to automatically segment these written or video notifications so that they only reach those employees for whom it is relevant. Not only will this alleviate ‘inbox paralysis’ but it will also temporarily eliminate the need for the morning lineup or daily standup to thereby reduce contact.
- Image posting. A picture is worth a thousand words. Giving employees the ability to post an image in the appropriate messaging board will be a lifesaver for efficiently tracking tasks like maintenance repairs, lost and found, room service, minibar or virus-free guestroom security seal stickers, all while limiting person-to-person contact.
- Interdepartmental communications. The ramp up to high occupancy levels won’t be immediate, meaning that certain staffers will be ‘pinch hitting’ for other departments until such time as they are fully engrossed in their designated duties. The only way to make guest service fluid with employees migrating from one role to another is to utilize a platform where managers have an overview of what’s currently happening in other operations. As a bonus, such cross-department exposure will help raise team morale by giving staffer a holistic view into how to a run a hotel so that they can find where their true passions lie.
For some extra insight, I spoke with Adria Levtchenko, CEO and Co-Founder of PurpleCloud Technologies which recently launched a free-of-charge Covid Response platform. “Outside from preventing viral spread, the only way we can restore customer confidence and earn the trust of future guests is to consistently execute a brand’s safety promises,” added Adria. “With so much knowledge required, this is only possible with a smart management system so all team members understand their new roles.”
As we look to thrive in the new normal, a more accurate term may be the ‘next normal’ as there will undoubtedly be waves of different global travel patterns throughout the rest of 2020 and 2021. The only way to succeed on a lean and cost-efficient team is to deploy the proper software and hopefully these ten features have helped lead you in the right direction.
This article may not be reproduced without the expressed permission of the author.
Editor’s note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry directly.