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How is accommodation management changing?

Clearly the front desk is here to stay!

Despite predictions in the industry as far back as 2010 and 2011 (Amadeus) that the front desk would become a thing of the past, it is still going strong. So why hasn’t it gone the way of airline counters and theatre box offices, you may ask?

Don’t underestimate the personal touch

The simple answer is hoteliers have realised that face to face guest contact remains very important.

A glance at a guest’s facial expression can go a long way in gauging their reaction to enable the receptionist to head any issues off at the pass. The importance of being able to read a guest’s demeanour and respond accordingly shouldn’t be underestimated.

Resort managers want their front desk host to, at the very least, create a great first impression to pave the way for future communication.

That of course does not negate the need for automation and trimming costs where possible. The industry has been through such a tumultuous period, and while well on the way to recovery, the economic pressures of recent times are still taking a toll.

The ability to reduce labour costs and automate processes is vital for many businesses.

How can a hotelier maximise revenue?

Capturing and analysing data is of paramount importance in maximizing your revenue. ‘Data-analytics’” is somewhat of a buzz word for good reason. Understanding your business properly by analysing past and present behaviours takes the guess work out of setting rates, increasing occupancy and engaging in targeted marketing campaigns.

The ability to analyse your competitor’s data adds an extra layer of understanding that enables you to meet the market head on, to ensure that you are not leaving any opportunities on the table.

For instance, imagine if you could not only see the average daily rate of your property but also that of your competitors. Imagine also that their vacancy rates were available to you.

With this information, educated judgement can be made as to how you’re tracking, enabling you to perhaps adjust your rates accordingly.

Consolidation and analysis of this data however can be time consuming and expensive, so finding the appropriate software to provide this information affords a huge benefit and reduces the manpower cost generally associated with collating this data.

Appropriate software plays an integral role in reducing costs and improving a hotel’s bottom line. However, the individual needs of each accommodation property mean that a varying array of software and potential integrations is often required to meet specific business needs.

Beware the ‘Heads-down effect’

This can create another issue for front desk staff and guests. We’ve probably all been subjected to the ‘heads-down effect’ at some moment in time, where the receptionist is so busy flicking from screen to screen to capture the information they need, that they barely make eye contact, let alone create any kind of rapport.

No-one leaves an interaction like this feeling good about the service provided.

The front desk of the future needs a far more personal interaction to create rapport.

The changing nature of software

Your software needs are constantly changing. Specialised software programs are constantly being developed that look after specific components of your business. The likes of housekeeping, reputation and review management, finance and marketing are just a few examples.

The future may hold so many other possibilities. The front desk of the future will need to have the capability to integrate seamlessly to whatever the future holds, without costly development.

So, what does the future hold for the front desk?

The front desk of the future must enable reception staff to capture what they need quickly and easily, and for that information to be integrated to the various individual software programs that the property needs.

It must provide for easy access to date and analytics, to enable hotel staff to quickly determine how they are tracking, to maximise opportunities that give the best revenue outcome.

It needs to empower front desk staff with the ability to focus on the guest, while still ensuring the property’s data and operational needs are met.

The front desk of the future will be a working integration platform, that brings everything your business needs together in one easy to use, visual desktop. It will enable your host to perform all their common daily functions whilst they focus on building rapport with your guest.

If you are considering updating any of your software, it’s crucial that you consider what the future holds for the accommodation industry.

Ensure that your choices won’t be quickly superseded and that they won’t hamper the growth and development of your business into the future.

Look for solutions that have already demonstrated the capacity to integrate your analytics, data, and current and future software functionality into one easy to use platform.

Don’t you think it’s time that you embraced the future?

Sylvia Johnston is a senior executive with HiRUM Software Solutions.

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