By Jeff Parker, Hotel Operations Expert
When I started in hotels, I was lucky enough to work for one that had already modernized their hotel systems. The property management system (PMS) was on an old IBM monster that was bigger than a refrigerator, sat in a room with its own sound-proof air conditioning, and a green-bar printer. It was so loud you could not be in the room as it printed out pages of reports multiple times a day.
The front desk had green-screen terminals, and the best agents were able to run the system by keyboard without ever looking away from the guest they were checking in. I did night audit once, and the backup tapes were 14’ in diameter taking a total of two to back up for the night.
At the time, this was modern technology as most other hotels at the time were still operating manually, with big boards in the back office noting guest stays and future reservations.
Even with the technological advances of the fridge-sized IBM PMS solution, most of the hotel processes were still largely paper based. Housekeeping took the green-bar report of rooms and assigned rooms, by-hand. A piece of paper with the handwritten rooms and service (daily or at check-out) was distributed to housekeepers.
The process was an artform, only a couple people on our property really understood the nuance. For our 250 room hotel, this daily process took about two hours.
Now, hotels have been completely transformed by the adoption of hotel housekeeping software. Here are three of the biggest ways that it is changed hotels:
1.) Updates and changes happen in real time
Hotels equipped with housekeeping software have the ability to look at the entire house at once, and have the system automatically assign rooms based on the number of housekeepers using credits, minutes, or rooms. A manager can then tweak the assignments to meet the needs of the team, saving time and increasing staff productivity. The assignments are available to the team on their devices (tablet, or small handheld), as soon as they are configured.
Every hotel is an ebb and flow of occupancy. Early departures, Late Check Outs, Do-Not-Disturb signs, VIP arrivals, and Room Damage notifications all impact what rooms need to be tended to. My hotel had radios, after a supervisor would receive a call that room 201 was an early check out, a housekeeper would then have to update their board for that room to a check out clean instead of a daily.
2.) Team members are re-directed as needed
When a guest checks out, the housekeeping software will then change the room status to be cleaned on the assignment list. This allows housekeeping management and staff to know what rooms have already been cleaned, rather than knocking on guests doors.
This housekeeping management software is even more important with how housekeeping staff has had to adjust in order to keep their guests and staff safe in this global pandemic. Sending your team to rooms you know to be vacant reduces the potential exposure related to proximity spread.
Hotels with these systems are not radioing, and then hunting down attendants, they simply update the housekeepers assignments in the system and in real time, the next room will show up on their device. When a team-member notes a room has a DND, the system marks it, and the manager can add additional rooms to boards based on new resource availability.
When I was a front desk manager, every day about an hour before check-ins started there would be a feverous rush of radio communications between my team and the housekeeping supervisors. Confirming rooms were vacant, clean, or if rooms were checked out early… Even with a telephone interface, we still had daily radio chaos.
3.) Cross-departmental communication is improved
Using their devices, housekeepers are able to change a room’s status to vacant, clean, ready for inspection or as an unexpected stay over. The system then automatically updates and every team member is able to view that status. Some hotels also use this system to mark when a housekeeper enters a room to start cleaning, allowing the front desk to update a guest who is potentially waiting, or providing information for the Director of Sales that has a VIP coming in. Communication is now instantaneous, and radios are silent.
While these are the biggest ways that software has changed hotels, here are a few other ways housekeeping software improves hotel operations:
- Labor forecasting is improved: With COVID concerns and social distancing, this will help hotels stagger team-members so smaller groups can come in throughout the day, rather than 20 housekeepers coming in at 8:00am.
- Communication can happen in multiple languages: The workforce is diverse, having a system that can reflect this diversity in Spanish, Korean, French and more... allows for better communication to each individual team member.
- Historic data can be analyzed to improve performance: Leveraging reporting allows for guest satisfaction and better time management if they can see that a double-queen room typically takes five more minutes to clean over a king.
- Laundry needs can be predicted: Systems can be used to make sure that linen carts are properly stocked and that each floor has the right amount of towels on hand. This will increase efficiency when scheduling laundry attendants or even third party services.
Putting in a housekeeping software system like ALICE is a key component to making your hotel operate at peak efficiency, keep team members happy and keep people safe. Schedule a demo of ALICE today to learn more about how ALICE Housekeeping can help your hotel!