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Are Select Service and Boutique Hotels Ready for Automated Maintenance and Guest Response Software?

This may seem hard to believe, but most hotels under 150 rooms still track guest requests and hotel maintenance manually. That’s right, old school paper logs are still widely used to maintain millions of dollars in physical assets, and to service another important asset - the guest! Most larger, full- service hotels use software to automate these processes, but the cost and complexity has been too much for many select service and smaller hotels. Until now. This is all changing rapidly as advancements in technology make this category ripe for adoption in the select service hotel market.

New technology is more affordable, easier to implement and support

Mobile apps and cloud computing were only a vision when full service hotels began automating maintenance and guest response processes in the 1990s. In those days, logging every guest request and work order helped associates optimize work flow and improve management reporting. Those same benefits are still at the core of the product category today, but now vendors promote the latest cloud and mobile trends to impress hoteliers into using the latest technology. Although the capabilities in this software category have expanded significantly over the years, cloud and mobile computing now make it much more affordable, and easier to implement and support than ever before.

Automated guest response and maintenance software is now simple and cost effective enough to achieve widespread adoption throughout the select service and small hotel segment. When you compare the labor costs of the hotel staff with the value from efficiency and quality gains, the software costs are almost insignificant. Spending a couple thousand dollars a year on a system (give or take $1K depending on hotel size and system) is nothing when you look at the labor involved in managing thousands of work orders, guest requests, PM’s and inspections each year. The return on investment is achieved by staff productivity gains, improved accountability to the owner, eliminated costly mistakes, and improved guest satisfaction.

Hoteliers are ready to automate and streamline manual processes

The primary purpose of a Guest Response system is to streamline the process for managing guest requests and urgent work orders. Requests and work orders can be reported many ways including a guest-facing mobile app, phone call or directly from staff, and each request generates a work ticket in the system. Business rules automatically assign, prioritize, and notify the appropriate worker on their mobile device. Tasks can be created, updated, or completed from the associate mobile app, and escalation messages can be sent to management. The staff appreciates streamlining the process while management can use the data collected to identify trends and improve service quality.

Automating preventive maintenance ensures the scheduled work is getting done on-time to maintain the facility and protect the valuable capital investments made by owners. Managing all these assets, check lists, and scheduling the work using manual processes is painfully labor intensive with little accountability. Properly maintaining the facility using an automated system creates a more enjoyable and problem free stay for the guest.

Understanding what it takes for ongoing success

A critical aspect of achieving ROI with any system is the implementation and successful use of the system by the hotel team. Corporate and hotel managers cannot expect instant results without leading the change management aspects of the implementation. Beware of the vendor that promises instant success or talks more about cool features than people and processes. Experienced vendors effectively communicate expectations and have well-defined processes for implementation and ongoing success management. Sustainability requires a vendor with effective online training, tutorials, knowledge base articles, and a responsive support team that knows the hotel industry.

Evaluating the right vendor and product

As you would not judge a book by its cover, the same is true for software. Slick demonstrations are nice, but also look under the hood at the company behind the software. A clean user interface is important, but the configurability often shows the true robustness and quality of the software. Software without good configurability restricts flexibility for essential tasks like setting up a new inspection, maintenance check list, adding new equipment, or custom report filters. The number of vendors in this category has easily doubled in the last 10 years and continues to grow so it is important to evaluate at least three vendors before you make a decision.

The benefits and rewards for a hotel that successfully automates their guest response and maintenance processes are huge. New technology is now available for small boutique and select service hotels to move out of the dark ages to “How did we ever run our hotel without it?” Hotel Executives who can lead their teams to successful adoption of this technology will reap the rewards along with their staff, owners, and guests.

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