Answering new challenges for the hospitality industry: the help of digital tools

11 min reading time

Published on 14/07/23 - Updated on 17/07/23

PMS for Hotels

Technology has dramatically evolved in the last few years and is now an integral part any hotel's organisation, helping them save space, time, and money. The hospitality industry faces new challenges and can rely on technology to address many of them. Property Management Systems (PMSs) are at the centre of asset management, and choosing the right one is key to success. Today's travellers and customers are accustomed to digital tools. They prefer using their smartphones to book rooms, request information, or order drinks, rather than waiting in lines upon arrival or at crowded bars. By employing efficient digital tools, hotels can meet this demand. Additionally, employees also expect seamless processes in their daily tasks.

Addressing the scarcity of HR

Since Covid swept the globe, countless hospitality workers have relocated, retrained, and reprioritised. With fluctuating rules and restrictions, the hospitality industry is no longer seen as a safe bet. 

Embracing automation helps run operations with a reduced team. If a team has to spend time on manual tasks like compiling reports and running night audits, they won’t have time to attend to guests. The benefits gained are cumulative. The more you automate across each department, the lighter their administrative workload. Processing payments, amending reservations, managing rates... These are backroom processes that can be performed easily by a smart hospitality cloud, giving a reduced team much-needed time. Several tools can be plugged to the PMS in order to run the business more easily.

For instance, the German hotel chain, Koncept Hotels, saves three hours per day by using a nextgen PMS, thanks to smart automation.

Monitoring housekeeping more closely allows hoteliers to save time and do good for the planet. Many guests don’t expect or demand fresh sheets and towels every day. By giving them the option to skip housekeeping, managers make sure that those rooms that need turning over, will definitely be attended to. Using a special program or offer gives guests a good reason to skip unnecessary cleaning. 

Answering the phone and replying to emails of future and prospective guests can be really time consuming for front desk and reservations teams. Especially when so many of these questions are basic ones. Chatbots are a great way to provide answers to frequently asked questions without taking away any of the reduced staff’s precious time. There are plenty of specialist hospitality chatbots, all of which can provide automated responses with live inventory information straight from the hospitality cloud. Today’s digital tools can be added to a comprehensive tech ecosystem that allows a hotelier to run their business with efficiency and high performance. The PMS remains the heart of this ecosystem and needs to connect them all easily and cohesively.

Need for human contact : the core business of hospitality

Think about how much effort is needed to attract guests. The same attention is required to ensure finding the right people for the team. Often this starts with investing in recruitment or an HR team, making sure they have enough resources to find the best talent. 

Hospitality has a historically high turnover rate for staff. Immerse the team in the property’s values, and conduct regular salary and benefit reviews with a focus on wellness to build loyalty within the workforce. Other options include rethinking hotel job roles: use technology to automate repetitive tasks that no one likes doing, allowing hotels to transform job responsibilities from boring to engaging, shifting the focus to being more customer centric.

With a cloud-based hospitality system, staff can log in to the platform from any device that has access to the internet. For the front-of-house team, this allows them to be much more agile when welcoming guests, and by removing the traditional limitations of staff-guest interactions, conversations can be more personable than transactional.

“We have worked hard on the role of our receptionists. There are no physical desks in our residences; they are digital receptionists who are always available. Technology has made this possible. We are a hospitality company that uses technology. It's important for us to use the best tools and to keep a constant watch on the competition so that we have the best possible environment. The right technological environment means that information can flow smoothly and accurately. Improving our day-to-day operations should enable us to improve the guest experience.” Grégoire Benoît, co-founder of Edgar Suites 

Giving staff better work conditions to foster loyalty 

“There is a richness in what we are able to offer as a company to the new generation that is arriving. In other words, different ways of working that are not simply part of the historic hotel systems, using extremely modern tools. The hotel industry today brings together concepts, tools and expertise. We are no longer in an oligopolistic industry with players who own and operate brands. This 'explosion' has led to the arrival of players like Edgar Suites and technological players like Mews, who bring extremely different tools and ways of working to the table. I think that's the strength of this industry. There are few, if any, industries that allow very young people to become directors after six or eight years in business. That's because there are tools that enable them to do much more interesting things than fill in Excel files for reporting purposes.” Jean-Michel Dalmasso, founder Dalmata Hospitality.

No one understands the pain points of daily operations better than the people in the thick of it. Asking teams what part of the job frustrates them the most and what could be done to improve their workflow and workload,  encourages them to take ownership over their roles, which is a great source of empowerment.

Oftentimes, empowerment is actually about removing time-consuming tasks from the team's day-to-day. This gives them more time to focus on the rewarding, guest-facing elements of their role. For instance, next generation POS features an inventory management system that automatically tracks ingredient-level supplies in real time – that’s as well as smart procurement software to streamline purchasing. 

Providing seamless working tools is also a key point to keep loyal employees.

“When I set up Mews, it wasn't for my customers, it was for my teams, so that they would have a simple, visual tool that was as easy to use as a banking application.” Stanislas Wargny, independent hotelier.

“It’s clear from the first time you see the Mews platform that it’s easy to work with. You don’t have to train people for weeks or even days to understand the system; it’s more like an app where our team can quickly learn all the essential things like check-in, check-out and payments. They really thought about how a hospitality cloud should work in order to serve its users and its guests, things like getting rid of the night audit that was surprising at first, but it works and it simplifies operations.” Jannick Boehme, Opening Director, Wilmina Hotel Berlin

Allowing the staff to work with a simple tool gives them more time to focus on the essential : solving potential problems and serving guests. 

“We chose Mews because it was straightforward to use and understand, particularly for people whose background is outside of hospitality. This simplicity allows us to really focus on creating memorable experiences for our guests. What we really appreciate is that they don’t rest on their laurels: there are always new features and integrations, and it feels like it keeps getting better.” Marie Coatanea, Front Office Manager, Villas Foch

"Today, 90% of the operational process is automated. We have freed up a lot of our teams' time through the use of digital tools. This allows them to concentrate on value-added activities. Whether it's sales, services or team management. 4 years ago, we convinced Accor to use the PMS we wanted in our hotels.

We have set up very precise pricing monitoring, and we change our prices every hour. This is possible thanks to technological tools." Jean-Michel Dalmasso, founder Dalmata Hospitality.

Make square metres even more valuable

Most hoteliers are completely focused on what goes on within the walls of their property. But there are big gains to be had by maximising outdoor space or developing partnerships.

Combining softwares can provide hoteliers with a tech stack that allows them to send an automated email after booking that encourages guests to check-in online, saving time upon arrival and boosting engagement. Guests are also able to book add-on experiences when making their reservation (or at a later date), such as a spa experience or bottle of wine upon arrival. 98% of upsell revenue is made through pre-arrival emails.

Operational excellence is largely about maximising revenue and minimising time waste. Les Lodges Sainte Victoire hosts a booking engine on its website for direct bookings, which is easily managed in their hospitality cloud. Multiple rates can be added for one room (Les Lodges have five per room), while bookable extras like flower bouquets, champagne upon arrival and pet charges can be easily added and removed on a room-by-room basis. The hotel also uses a channel manager, and thanks to the live two-way integration, room rates and availability are automatically updated across channels. If a room is booked via their booking engine, it will be reflected in the OTA sites, and vice versa.

Hotels aren't just a space to sleep and eat breakfast anymore. They can make use of their space to maximise the property’s full potential, whether that’s parking spaces for the length of the stay, reservations in a rooftop terrace, or co-working space. Whatever it is, you can monetise it, opening up new revenue streams. It’s also the perfect opportunity to differentiate from the competition and build strong, targeted marketing campaigns around new services and experiences. This also spares the front desk team from having to resort to spreadsheets or other manual processes to manage bookings.

Increasing key metrics like guest spend and ADR is one of the main outcomes of operational excellence. The more efficiently a hotel can run, the greater the impact on revenue. A performant booking engine allows hotels to increase their proportion of direct bookings and average guest spend. Guests have a clear, simple user journey to book a room, with an inbuilt price comparison widget that improves conversion. 

Guests that are fully engaged with a property will spend an average of 46% more than disengaged guests.

New generation PMSs are comprehensive tools built to boost asset management. Choosing the right one is key to perform in the long term. 

“When I joined the Group in 2016, I launched decentralisation. This corresponds to the advent of SAAS [Software As A Service Editor's note] solutions. For us, the technology ranges from omnichannel communication solutions that mean we no longer have to print out bookings and then look for the paper. It also involves the scanning of invoices (Optical Character Recognition) with a reconciliation of transactions to enable real-time management control. Now that all this can be done in hotels, it creates enormous value. So the job we offer our employees is a rewarding one where you have everything you need to be autonomous. 

The average age of our officers is 30, and they run businesses with a turnover of €3 million. Technology allows us to do all this, but we still need to invest 100% in people.” Stanislas Wargny, independent hotelier.

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