INDUSTRY SNAPSHOT: MANAGING AUDITING AND INSPECTIONS IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY IN THE COVID-19 ERA November 9, 2020

Your hotel/hospitality business is facing the toughest range of challenges in history. You already know that in the digital era your business environment changes by the moment. Competitors move faster and you can’t be left behind. Bookings and rates fluctuate faster than ever. Any small slip-up in your operation can go viral on social media before you can address it.

All this has been complicated by COVID, the new normal that makes every aspect of your job that much harder. Just coping every day as an individual is a challenge, given the overwhelming and sometimes contradictory tide of information we receive. That stress is felt by every individual in your workforce. 

And in the hospitality business, you also have to consider all the thousands of  individuals you serve. You have to absorb the best information and then communicate to your customers that they can confidently book with you, because you have made every possible effort to keep them safe. That means you have to uphold every standard you already had, and add additional standards in the post-pandemic world.

The good news is that auditing technology is equal to all these challenges. With the correct system in place, you will have functionality that’s robust enough to meet your needs in the COVID era. Understanding which systems are best suited to your operation is essential so that you can meet changing conditions, solidify your position going forward, and anticipate new opportunities as the market evolves.

Most of the challenges you face present themselves as gaps in your information flow. What you don’t know can critically damage your brand. That also extends to information you know but learn too late. To reopen responsibly, you need comprehensive, forward-looking information, and you need it at speed. Only then can you confidently deliver the soft values of traditional hospitality and outstanding experience that your guests expect.

To clarify the layered challenges of COVID, it’s helpful to start by reviewing the pre-pandemic role of auditing with regard to hotel environment management, facilities quality management, and guest experience.

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS AUDITING: ESSENTIAL TOOLS TO KEEP YOUR OPERATION MOVING

Your hospitality property is an organic system: all parts of the operation have to work together, and a breakdown in one area affects every other. In the grand hotels of an earlier age, high standards meant eagle-eyed personnel roaming the floors, judging every operational detail and recording it all with pencil and paper. Today’s 24/7 booking environment is just one of the factors that have made the regularly scheduled inspections of the past obsolete and made the time lapse between observation and report unsustainable. 

In its established functionality, the mobile audit process drives multiple strands of decision making that increase profitability by maximizing margins. An effective audit program enables managers to initiate and monitor complex tasks like these:

  1. Start resolving problems as soon as they’re detected with auto-generated action plans.
  2. Automatically assign tasks with custom due dates and priority levels.
  3. Generate standardized checklists to assess room readiness or assess housekeeping quality.

In your hospitality operation, mobile auditing is the essential tool that allows managers to initiate workflows that guide inspections, trigger alerts, and customize task management. Auditors with connected mobile devices can optimize processes such as room turnover and cleaning with no time-to-decision lapse. This real-time, remote functionality is what gives mobile auditing and monitoring the potential to become a primary tool in COVID-era quality management.

ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND FACILITIES QUALITY MANAGEMENT

Long before COVID turned the business environment upside down, audits in the hospitality industry served not just to keep the business functioning, but also to provide direct value to guests in the form of an enjoyable and stress-free stay. You’ve already learned that your in-house environment needs to be monitored at all times, without fail. As guests become more accustomed to the speed of digital business in their own lives, they demand the same speed of responsiveness from their experience with you.

“Hotels are mastering the basics,” notes Deloitte.com, “but guests have no reservations about demanding more.” If your wi-fi goes down for half an hour, you will have furious guests. Count on it! It’s more than IT, of course. Your guests also want perfect temperature, airflow, humidity, water pressure, and power. The best way to have happy customers is to know the problem before they do and have all the information you need to get it solved. With smart mobile auditing software, you can stay a step ahead of all the troubles that might complicate your day.

Facility management monitoring is another aspect of hotel operation where audits keep the workflow moving. From scheduling maintenance and repairs to keeping track of spa and restaurant services, auditing software truly keeps the operation going.

GUEST EXPERIENCE: THE BEST TECH SOLUTIONS ARE INVISIBLE

The most effective use of software often shows up in what guests don’t experience. Here, too, the correct choice of auditing and monitoring platforms is essential. The personal attention guests expect from your hospitality business has become largely digitized via the IoT — the Internet of Things. IoT monitoring defines and activates processes that assess guest needs and preferences and then deliver solutions in the most streamlined manner. When IoT is well managed, the guest never “feels” it. When the IoT experience is not managed, travelers experience stress and aggravation. A couple of examples:

  1. Where’s the Bellman? You check in, tired and impatient, and no bellmen are there to help carry luggage. The irritating parallel in a more utilitarian brand: Where are the luggage carts?
  1. Why Is My Tray Still In the Hallway? You finish off your Room Service tray and put it out in the hall, hoping it will be collected before morning. No such luck. On your way down to breakfast, you have to sidestep trays outside half the doors in the hallway.  

Proper IoT management, expedited by customized audit programs, simply makes these unsightly problems disappear. The guest arrives; the luggage cart is there. The tray slides into the hall; it’s collected in a timely way.

That’s good, because studies show that guests don’t want to think of themselves as being managed through an automated process; they want the personal experience of rest and relaxation they’ve paid for. They want personal attention, even if it’s generated by a digital system.

SO HOW CAN AUDITING HELP MY BUSINESS SURVIVE COVID?

COVID has wreaked havoc in every industry, but the damage to hotels and hospitality businesses is especially challenging. If customers don’t feel safe at your establishment, they won’t book rooms, and without bookings, your hotel can’t survive.

The importance of auditing starts with your own staff. If your workers don’t feel safe, you’re going to have trouble adapting your protocols, meeting COVID-safety requirements, and getting your facility reopened, booked, and going strong. To do all that — while maintaining your brand standards and continuing to provide the no-stress, no-hassle experience your guests expect — you need everyone on your team to be fully informed, with full buy-in that they are being protected as well.

Here are just three of the ways smart auditing help you in the COVID environment:

  1. Mobile auditing lets you monitor facility management operations remotely, with instant visibility into facilities, processes, and equipment conditions. So there’s no need to stop inspections and auditing during COVID. 
  1. Complete visibility into remote work allows you to monitor employees and protect them and the work environment.
  1. Mobile auditing means you can review adherence to quality standards, receive reports in real time, and complete audits fast and accurately. 

The challenge is to move boldly despite the concerning realities of low occupancy and stalled revenue. But the rewards are considerable. Smart auditing can be the essential tool you need to get back to the business of providing great guest experiences. In fact, this period of low occupancy does contain an opportunity, says Jordan Hollander, CEO at Hotel Tech Report.

“Never again will you have this much time to try different technologies,” he wrote in a recent issue. “And lots of vendors are even offering concessions and free tools that we encourage every hotelier to take advantage of for this limited and unprecedented period before we get back to the new normal.”

The forced slowdown of the pandemic truly could be your opportunity to revamp your operation with mobile audit procedures that will improve your ability to respond to  challenges of the future. Whatever tools you were using before, it’s likely that your choice is broader now. From instituting new monitoring procedures to protect your workers, you may expand to improving your facilities management, and from there, you can move on to recharging your business and revitalizing your brand.

For good advice on which one of Process Intel’s mobile auditing and quality software solutions might be right for you, feel free to contact us at info@processintel.com (auditsiq.com, processintel.com).