Text by Katja Blažič, Housekeeping Supervisor, Grand Hotel Bernardin
The hotel industry is labor intensive, but these days an important economic opportunity. Investing in employees and work processes is essential for success in all industries that are focused on guest satisfaction. Communication between a hotel’s departments is ex-tremely important, indirectly affecting the quality of the provided service. In addition to a clean room, pleasant front office and other areas, welcoming atmosphere, and helpful staff, guests also expect responsiveness. This will determine how fast and well our guests’ expectations and wishes are met. It is essential to address our guests’ require-ments as soon as possible, and to get information to staff members who are responsible for fulfilling them faster, regardless of whether it is a light bulb that needs replacing or whether a guest wants an extra towel.
Streamlining Communication, Improving Ties between Hotel Departments, Cutting All Types of Waste
Hotels use various types of communication between departments. Phones are used most frequently; however the use of applications in the service industry is on the rise. Several applications have been designed for hotel industry, they however focus on communica-tion between two departments, while Facility supports communication between all departments, including the management.
The Grand Hotel Bernardin in Portorož introduced Facility with the purpose of shortening communication paths and better connecting organizational units, as the application connects almost all hotel units on one platform. The aim was to decrease waste of all kinds that is caused by a slow or non-existent information flow. Our biggest challenge was communication between the supervisor and housekeepers, since housekeepers did not carry their phones and the supervisor had to search for them through the hotel to pass them any piece of information. Communication between housekeeping and maintenance was slow and information could not be exchanged in real time. We also had issues with maintenance work that could not be done immediately for various reasons, and was not logged systematically.
Improving Work Process Efficiency and Information Flow
Facility is an innovation that improves work process efficiency and supports quicker communication between units, better control over work organization, as well as information and data traceability. All this makes it the perfect replacement for outdated organizational and communication methods. The management can optimize work processes and maximize service quality based on statistics and performance indicators.
Facility supports efficient and simple management over smartphones, tablets, and computers, and employees can even make calls through the application for no additional charge. The application requires an internet connection on any smart device. Facility is customized for various types of users, so that certain information is only available to certain users depending on their job. Housekeepers can only access information about the rooms that were assigned to them on that day, while supervisors and head housekeepers have access to all the information. The application logs every user click, and provides a comprehensive oversight of internal organization and employees’ work. We can check who ordered and who completed a task or repair, and when it was done.
Facility Develops and Adapts to Hotels Needs
Facility was further developed and adapted based on our needs and expectations from the very beginning. It brought a lot of innovation to our hotel, and its most significant effect was improved communication between all organizational units. It also greatly affected the amount of wasted time and money, which we practically eliminated. We also improved long-term quality by analyzing work processes and optimizing them through Facility. The hotel’s finances were also indirectly affected by cutting the consumption of consumables, especially paper. Work organization was greatly optimized, especially that of the supervisor, who can now schedule her time based on the situation in the hotel, which she can check at any moment. The application also allows us to organize our work in advance, so we can plan and assign tasks, and set deadlines for finishing them. We can at any time check who performed the task and when it was performed.
At the beginning we only implemented the application in housekeeping, maintenance, and the front office. Over the course of a year we included all organizational units, includ-ing those in charge of food and drinks, the restaurant, the congress center, and our spa. Our main goal was to simplify and speed up communication between maintenance and other units, which was the biggest issue and which is now centralized. The application’s Statistics module allows us to check hotel occupancy, room status, the number of house-keepers, time spent on cleaning a room, number of errors identified by the supervisor, a list of the most common errors, the number of repairs, a list of most common repairs, the average time lapsed before a repair is accepted, the number of repairs per user, total min-ibar consumption, average minibar value per room, as well as the most popular minibar item.
Outcomes of Testing the Facility Application
In March last year, we tested Facility for 30 days. The test included our front office, housekeeping, maintenance, and partly our manager. By analyzing the data we estab-lished that the application saved us at least 200 man-hours in the test period, which is more than the average monthly work hours of one person.
Savings are one of the main reasons why the Grand Hotel Bernardin’s management de-cided to implement the application in housekeeping. Analyzing data from Facility showed that we successfully reached our goals: we cut communication paths and strengthened the ties between departments, we saved man-hours, and we cut out costs.
(Based on Katja Blažič’s graduation thesis Izboljšanje kakovosti s pomočjo implementac-ije aplikacije Facility v gospodinjstvo Grand hotela Bernardin (Improving quality by imple-menting aplication Facility in housekeeping of Grand hotel Bernardin), Faculty of Tourism Studies – Turistica, Portorož, 2016)