Bringing it Together: How Business Process Management can help hotel operators

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By Mark McGregor

More than ever before, hoteliers need ways to increase their productivity and leverage technology for staff, customer and client communications. Events are getting more complicated, hotel guests more demanding and everything is getting faster. Business Process Management (BPM) can help hotels and airlines sustain innovation and optimize their operations to ensure the consistent delivery of better  customer experiences, ensuring ease of use for everyone involved. Business Process Management brings hotel operations together, simplifying things for staff, stakeholders and customers while also offering actionable insights into the customer journey.

Hotels have a staggering number of moving parts, from management to maintenance, and their efficient administration (another part!) is key to maintaining customer satisfaction. Business Process Management provides a practical framework for consistently doing so. Too often, travel companies forget that lasting impressions are created when customers interact with people, not systems, and focusing on technology at the expense of understanding the complete customer journey risks alienating the same customers whose experience you set out to enhance.

Too many processes, too little time

The sheer number of processes needed to effectively run each location is one of the most difficult pain points. In a hotel, they typically fall into three categories: core processes, operating processes, and managerial processes. The core processes allow for employees to transparently view internal documents as well as policies and procedures that can be accessed by any staff member. Operating processes deliver on products and services specific to customer requests and needs. The front-facing operation of the organization is the process in which the customer experiences, but never realizes. The managerial processes are key to the basic functionality of the organization and may touch all aspects such as product supply, guest arrival and departure, as well as food service. All of these three fundamental elements must coordinate together into what the customer understands as their resort experience.

Too often, however, they don’t coordinate well, or at all. On the ground, staff can be left overwhelmed by what they’re supposed to know. It is amazingly common to find that they have have to call the same people their customers do in order to get information, and often cannot actually get more or better information than the customers they’re helping. They’re stuck navigating a constellation of software products, property management software, point-of-sale software and electronic document management systems that ultimately affects everything from the massive annual conference in the ballroom to a couple’s honeymoon weekend.

Simplify, simplify

From an operational perspective, a BPM system manages all of this. Through the system, the hotel can confirm reservations, facility upkeep and payment. The system can automatically understand popular seasons and occupancy rates, and can assist in keeping a hotel booked at full capacity while avoiding the issues created by over-booking. Using business process management, specific rules and commands can be made internally, automating various parameters to maximize operational efficiency and return while minimizing risk. It can offer insight into customer engagement and even monitor day-to-day operations for tactical, on-the-spot decision making. You’ll not only give your management the tools they need to improve operations across the entire property — or group of properties — but you’ll give the staff the tools they need provide prompt customer service.

Overall, with the digital transformation of a Business Process Management suite, customers and clients are retained through positive experiences with all departments in the hotel. Check in and buying processes are made simple, activities made more accessible, housekeeping made more reliable and experiences made more enjoyable, establishing trust and encouraging customer retention.

This piece was also published in Restobiz.

About the Author:

Mark McGregor is Head of Strategy at Signavio. A former Research Director at leading IT industry analysis firm Gartner, McGregor has an extensive background in enterprise architecture, business process management and change management, having held executive positions with a number of technology companies. Widely respected for his knowledge and views on business change, he is the creator of “Next Practice” and has variously been described as a “BPM Guru,” a “thought leader’ and a “master of mindset.”

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