Operations lies at the very heart of every hotel, whether it has a recognised and dedicated department committed to it or not. Efforts to improve operations may home in one particular part of the hotel or cover the entire organisation as a whole. However, the key commonality is that operations is responsible for making sure that a hotel’s advertising efforts fulfil all their promises and mean every guest’s stay is as good as possible – and that they therefore go on to book more rooms in the future.
Positive operations can result in repeat business that can be the lifeblood of a hotel and drive priceless word-of-mouth advertising that might even reduce spending. But how can hotel managers ensure that best practices in hotel operations are always followed so that this can be achieved? In their article published on this topic in the journal Hotel and Restaurant Quarterly (40, 42-53), JA Sigauw and CA Enz from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration suggested there are four approaches that can mean a hotel runs as smoothly as possible and satisfies almost all guests. We will go through these in more detail below.
1. Hotel-wide methods of improving operations
This is a way of ensuring that an entire hotel works together like a well-oiled machine to improve performance and there are a number of different techniques that can be used to achieve such a system. For example, managers could be placed on bonus schemes that are dependent on performance. Each month or quarter, they would be accountable for their responsibilities and achievements – and if they are not up to a certain standard, they do not receive their bonus. Improved training is another hotel-wide method of improving operations, with regular training days providing a way of ensuring everyone is up to the job they are doing. However, there are lots of other, smaller things that can be done too, such as only sending emails to relevant teams rather than the entire staff body to prevent important information being missed and standardising occurrences such as breakfast presentations for better punctuality.
2. Improving the efficiency of maintenance and housekeeping
Although this aspect of hotel operations will be largely invisible to guests, it is essential in making sure that the hotel runs smoothly and visitors feel their stay has been pleasant. However, it is also a department that can be prone to timetabling issues and staff problems, so managers need to run a tight ship prevent this. For example, they could also implement bonus schemes for good work in this area, as well as raising standards by carrying out spot checks during visits from head office management teams in which team members are held accountable for their performance. One good preventative measure is carrying out time and motion studies in which hourly positions and tasks are assessed to work out how long each job requires. Teams can then be expanded as necessary to make sure the entire hotel is covered and staff do not fall behind.
3. Improving check-in procedures
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, hotel managers now have more tools than ever before at their disposal to speed up and simplify the check-in process, so it should no longer be the time-consuming and frustrating process it once was. It is a good idea to check that any potential measures and tools that can be put in place to improve guests’ experiences are invested in as soon as possible, rather than put off for a rainy day. For instance, check-in via smartphones can free up time for front desk staff, while guest recognition programmes will mean frequent visitors can go straight to their rooms instead of having to fill in their details at reception.
4. Implementing and maintaining quality standards
Since a shoddy-looking hotel will let down interior operations in one fell swoop, keeping on top of maintenance is essential. Simple measures can be brought in to keep up high standards, such as empowering maintenance teams to make decisions on problems as they arise, rather than having to wait for management to give them approval to solve them. Management can also help by establishing a budgeting process that will maximise the property’s potential, with bigger establishments obviously requiring more funding.
Inspections might assist with this stage of operations too, as regular audits will provide an incentive to stay on top of maintenance issues before they become a problem.Clearly, all of the measures and approaches outlined and expanded upon here focus on achieving customer satisfaction levels that are as high as possible, while also streamlining hotel functioning and keeping a tight hold on costs.”Managers must recognise and incorporate the practices that will best assist the organisation in satisfying the guest and ensuring repeat customers. Hotels cannot remain static. To retain the lifeblood of the hotel business – repeat guests – managers must constantly seek to improve operations,” Sigauw and Enz concluded.