By Karen O’Neill, President-Americas at Knowcross
The writing is on the wall: across industries today, it simply does not pay to be resistant to change. Not only do customers, or in the case of hospitality, guests, expect more from the brands they give their business to, staff expect more as well. For hotel staff, their job is entirely ruled by the delivery of service; their role exists to assist the property in running smoother, all the while ensuring each guest enjoys their stay. In many cases, this can be a complex job. Guests are increasingly particular, expectations for requests are hasty, and pivotal touch-points are often exacerbated by manual set-backs or limitations.
Across a hospitality landscape that is so heavily influenced by emerging technology and heightened guest expectations, hoteliers are often faced with a series of important considerations. What matters most to guests? Which platforms can best enhance guest service? Is there a one-size-fits-all management solution that can adequately optimize all departments? Are legacy systems doing enough? If not, how much will an update to existing technological infrastructure cost?
Understandably, a property-wide update of platforms might appear to be a complicated and costly process. Hoteliers eager to carefully allocate their budget to only a select few updates may find themselves grappling with the decision: will waiting to invest in a new service model save money? While the most glaring question may seem ‘how much will it cost,’ I urge you to consider this with a new perspective: how much will it cost to continue relying on outdated technology? Let’s explore why a hotel management technology refresh has become a bottom-line requisite.
The True Cost of Outdated Technology
It may surprise you to learn that there is often a greater cost to holding on to legacy systems, than updating to more agile modern hotel management platforms. With the accumulation of security risks, loss of staff productivity, antiquated reporting methods, and increased costs, allowing management platforms to exist beyond their expiration date is not only costly but detrimental to the guest experience. Most experts agree that organizations that are reluctant to refresh devices and migrate to newer technology will be exposed to security risks and heavy costs. And in our industry, that is simply a risk that hoteliers cannot afford to take.
What is state-of-the-art today may be obsolete tomorrow. As legacy systems age, they are increasingly prone to malfunction, slow processing time, and require frequent manual updates, all while lacking the capability to work seamlessly with newer, more efficient software programs and applications. They also often require expensive on-premise management in comparison to modern SaaS solutions that are cloud-based and budget-friendly.
Legacy devices often lack the ability to run multiple apps or provide mobility or support software, reducing workplace productivity as a result. The loudest message there is that the cost of your technology is more than just what you spend to keep it running.
Manual Processes Can’t Keep Up
For hoteliers to keep pace with the expectations of modern travelers, they must find a way to make menial administration tasks quick and easy. Hotels still relying on manual processes for daily operations are simply unable to support their staff in the way they need. Why? Because staff are likely distracted and consumed with those manual, menial tasks which could be better conceptualized and simplified within a modern, automated platform. ‘Work smarter, not harder’ should absolutely be the prominent mindset in place when building out your operational framework, with the help of management technology.
After all, hotel staff can’t be expected to ‘wow’ guests if the property’s antiquated processes or legacy technology is standing in their way. When your operational processes (reporting, cross-department communication, task prioritization, etc.) becomes a daily source of frustration for your staff, wasting valuable time and constantly interrupting workflow, there are long-term costs to your organization’s performance.
Integration is Key
The goal is rather simple: vet and install hotel technology platforms that have been created specifically to optimize operations, reduce costs, enhance staff productivity and, ultimately, achieve the highest tier of service. But costly challenges arise when these systems don’t effectively interface. Legacy system providers see integrations as revenue opportunities, charging high fees for connectivity that are often anything but seamless.
Integrations with other software in current use can be of enormous value to any hotel. Modern cloud-based applications developed with Open APIs enable widespread compatibility with other critical apps that work to enhance guest service, ensure staff safety, and more.
The hotel business is constantly evolving, and your software must be able to be flexible and scalable. If not, you’ll be forced to adapt your business to your legacy system, and this will stunt your ability to grow your business.
Service Quality Management
Past studies indicate that on average, only 22 percent of hotel customers are fully engaged with the hotel they visit most frequently, and just 21 percent of guests strongly agree that the hotel they visit most frequently takes care of their well-being. In a YouGov survey of 1,219 hotel guests, 38 percent indicated that a source of frustration was the front desk taking too long to complete requests, while 31 percent were irritated by delays in service. Clearly, there is room for improvement in the realm of attentive service levels.
With room rates often not rising fast enough to rival the increasing wages of hotel workers, hoteliers must look to new technology to ensure all their resources are productive, working smarter, not harder. Staff needs to be empowered with the same savvy, digital processes that guests also demand.
This is where an advanced quality optimization application can truly transform a hotel’s service offering by shifting away from manual spreadsheets and legacy systems. Employees from all departments can benefit from the automation and tracking of guest requests, housekeeping, complaints, assets, inspections and maintenance jobs. More importantly, proactive management of tasks, customized triggers, real-time reports, status updates and follow-ups all lay the foundation for a more responsive and in-depth service framework.
Impact on the Bottom Line
In the case of hospitality, rising labor costs, utilities, lost productivity and maintenance expenses are often the largest operating costs. In fact, one of the highest expenditures for hotel organizations is labor, typically representing between 20-25 percent of overall costs (not including management salaries) with labor expenses on the rise for the third straight year in 2019. And when it comes to property maintenance, a single leaky toilet can cost as much as $840 per year or more.
The challenge for operators is to find that delicate balance of maintaining service standards with all these rising costs while empowering their staff. Not only does the bigger picture of guest experience directly impact a hotel’s bottom line, but hoteliers need to garner actionable insights into the day to day in order to strategically optimize, identify areas for improvement, and make smart business decisions. Having a finger on the pulse of each aspect of guest service, across various teams, and even properties, acts as a catalyst to cost savings and enhanced profits.
Without a modern hotel management platform in place to effectively manage these critical areas of operations, hotel profitability is at risk. To keep up with demands, hotels need to put their investments toward innovation, not maintenance. The benefits to any property of keeping up with technology outweigh the costs and risks of using outdated systems.
How does your existing technology align with your business goals, increase your efficiency, and make you more competitive?