One thing above all that is driving the future of change is DATA. It has started to completely change how we manage our hotel operations, and if we open our minds, data will completely change how we run whole regions and resolve challenges that many might consider unsolvable.
It has become so important that certain hospitality schools (such as the University of Delaware here) have started to form new programmes focused solely on data and its application towards decision making and strategies. Some of you may think that “Big data” is nothing new, and you are right. But what is new is that we now know how to harness it.
Collecting & analysing hotel operations data in completely new ways
Recently, we took a look at a region approximately 1000 km long on the Adriatic coast, where Flexkeeping manages over 45,000 hotel rooms, camping units & apartments, bringing the vast majority of hotels together under a single platform. Looking at these facts, we realised an important point – if a whole region is under a single hotel operations software “umbrella”, and we are generating so much data, there has to be an opportunity to transform daily hotel operations into a more efficient and data driven “machine” for providing excellent service.
And so we decided to take a closer look at the above data, prepared a special “wall” called HOF – Hotel Operations Facts, and presented it at the regional event called HOW. The purpose of the wall was to provoke new thoughts by looking at some of the data we all have access to, but don’t necessarily utilize to provide us better answers and management options.
Here are 6 HOF facts we presented, together with some thoughts around them.
- 7 to 9 am
and 3 – 5 pm are the times most guests report maintenance problems or request extra services. Is this an opportunity to adopt a preventive/proactive approach rather than reactive when it comes to delivering services? Can we plan better in the future and be 1 step ahead of guests, while also optimising hotel operations?
- 7.656 x Toilet seat
Is # 1. (primary/main) cleaning mistake when inspecting rooms. Should we search for solutions by training Housekeepers more extensively, change the design of toilets or even using automated toilet cleaning devices?
- 21.9 rooms per housekeeper
Is the average number of rooms our Housekeepers are cleaning daily. As per standard, Housekeepers should clean 12-15 rooms per day. If cleanliness is the most important factor for our guests, why are we pressuring our Housekeeping with so much additional work?
- 11,327,643€ of minibar sales Natural Water (1st), Coca Cola / Pepsi (2nd) and Mineral Water (3rd) account for 55.2% of total minibar sales. If we knew our guests better, could we sell even more via personalised F&B services? Should we limit our minibars to only these 3 items? Or is there an opportunity for completely new concepts with in-room Food & Beverage service ?
- 73.8% of all service tasks are reported from the side of Front Office or Housekeeping. Why are other departments not more actively participating in back-office service communication? Are more multi-disciplinary teams the way to go in the future?
- 9.3% of all service tasks are being planned for the future, while the rest are reactive and communicated daily. Can better planning of work improve services, reduce stress level for staff and increase profitability? Maybe even lower staffing needs?
These 6 facts are just some easy to understand practical examples of DATA that we all might be aware of, but do not necessarily look at from the right perspective. There is a greater depth of the information that we can look at, and we have to keep an open mind to opportunities hidden in the numbers. It’s important to collect as much data as possible, look at it curiously from every possible angle, and be open to completely new opportunities that present themselves .
3 key principles to adopt to get most quality data out of technology
1. Technology should be implemented with the purpose to (first and foremost) resolve challenges or improve your business, whether it’s increasing sales, optimising hotel operations or increasing guest satisfaction. This should be the absolute number 1 focus when searching for tech solutions. If problems are resolved in the right way, it means the chosen technology is working as it should. It also gives you lots of quality data. Implementing technology simply for technologies sake , won’t make your staff any happier, they won’t use it actively, and we won’t get the data we really need.
2. Data should not be measured, but rather collected and analysed. What we mean by that is, for example, you should not measure the time it takes to clean a room, but rather get that information through collecting various other information around room cleaning and analyzing them to get a 360 view. If we only measure how long it takes to do one task, we essentially only measure one person’s productivity. But the key information we don’t get is what caused that person to do that task in that amount of time. Keep in mind – every service you provide is actually driven by your guests or activities it takes to run the property. A night lamp breaks because someone used it. A room needs to be cleaned because someone slept in it. Your waiters are there because someone is ordering drinks. The point is, we need to understand that catalyst that is triggering your services in order to really understand your property’s operations, how costs are created and how we can improve.
3. Collecting data should never interfere with your operations processes. Using the above example, the time it takes to clean a room – we should not force housekeepers to “tap a button” so that we can measure the time it takes them to clean a room. Tapping an extra button has nothing to do with their primary job of cleaning rooms, it is just interfering with their process and doesn’t improve the quality of their work or increase their satisfaction. Instead, we have to return to the first key principle: build a product that helps every staff member with their work and figure out how to get relevant data as an outcome.
We are moving from reactive service to proactive and predicted hotel operations, based on guests
Once we have these principles in place and completely understand how individual guests are impacting our operations, we will be able to accurately predict our operations and it will become a simple mathematical formula. It will minimize the cost of operations and at the same time maximize service quality and profitability, based on an individual guest. It might seem a bit “science fiction” for now, but I believe all of this is actually already possible and some hotel companies have started using predictive AI (Artificial Intelligence) to forecast sales and operations. The last missing piece is the link between individual guests and the exact amount of operational costs they produce. The good thing is – we now know how to calculate this data.
So, we are just one step away from turning our profitability into a simple formula, driven by DATA.
Are you open to DATA driven discussions?
If you would like to know more about how we see data impacting the future of hotel operations, we would be happy to share our vision with you.