Australia’s hospitality industry is currently facing tough economic challenges and global competition. The high Australian dollar, uncertain global economic outlook and a skills shortage are taking their toll on the industry.
The strength of Australia’s mining and resources sector, combined with consistent economic growth have increased the attractiveness of Australia to foreign investors. Hotels that did not previously face competition from major hotel chains soon may. In order to stand out in an increasingly saturated market, hoteliers need to improve the guest experience with innovative strategies – most notably, mobility.
Establishing a mobility strategy
Many people know what mobility is about and the obvious benefits. However most would be surprised to learn that mobility is outpacing the internet adoption rate of the 1990s to become the largest computing platform ever.
The power to embrace mobile technology will allow hotels to move to the next level of guest interactions and allow staff to perform hotel services anywhere and everywhere, and significantly increase efficiency.
However, there are some critical components to consider when implementing a mobile platform in an organisation.
Many enterprises start their mobile plan the same way that consumers do: see a cool application, download it, use it and encourage others in the organisation to do so. Before they know it, the organisation has a mobile strategy.
While that might work well to find someone’s new favorite restaurant or game, it may not be the best method for implementing applications that can consolidate and view financials, or perform critical operational tasks like checking guests in and out of the hotel. Time must be invested in assessing a number of applications on the market and measuring these against the organisation’s needs.
Another important point of consideration is to determine who within the organisation will drive the company’s mobile strategy. One group of people should be designated to ensure that the implemented applications will deliver significant results to the entire business, rather than just one or two departments. One critical success factor is to appoint advisors who have the ability to balance the “cool factor” of the apps against the organisation’s operational imperatives.
Lastly, it is important to consider the future growth and supportability. Hoteliers want to understand what various devices and apps offer and the diverse development platforms that will support their strategy long term.
When looking at employee applications, consider the broader implications and benefits of enterprise-wide mobilisation beyond the guest-facing staff. Consider enabling the finance or human resources department to be mobile: they could quickly make adjustments, approvals or process requests remotely. What if your sales department had access to client profiles and availability? Would that help them close a deal more efficiently?
Vendor partner considerations
In the hospitality industry, speed to service is critical to a hotel’s success. There are hundreds of helpful applications for hotels to choose from, so understanding the underlying technology and roadmap of a provider’s solutions is a key success factor. Questions to consider include:
Which platforms and devices are under consideration for your mobility program?
What are the security and management policies?
What are the support considerations for global device and network diversity?
To accomplish speed to service, hotels rely on information from their enterprise applications. In most cases, property management systems are the backbone of a hotel’s critical daily operations, providing real-time information about their organisation. Mobile services should serve as an extension of that real-time information.
or individual mobile apps, customisation by industry is critical. While there are generic mobile applications for all industries, to truly take advantage of the technology, hospitality-specific applications are necessary to ensure desired outcomes are met more efficiently and effectively.
The mobile hotel enterprise at a glance
The foundation of mobile hotel services is putting information directly into the hands of employees from all areas of the hotel. Workers from different departments can immediately and simultaneously complete tasks, even if they require coordination with other hotel employees or departments.
In addition to increasing staff efficiency, accountability can be tracked and measured. Managers can monitor employees’ activities, completed tasks and guest interactions in real time, all of which are centered around delivering integrated information across business solutions, departments and users.
Imagine the competitive advantage that could be gained if an organisation deployed these simple tips and shared information with their staff as it happened. A hotel can increase speed of service delivery, improve operations, connect with guests, improve satisfaction and build loyalty; with the ultimate result improving profits.
Ian Desbrow is the managing director, Pacific at business applications provider, Infor.