Industry Update
Opinion Article18 January 2018

5 Ways Platforms Can Transform Your Hotel Operations

Making A Hospitality Solution a Priority For 2018 Will Make Profits Soar By 2019

By Alex Shashou, President & co-founder of ALICE

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When it comes to hotel management, there are so many demands starving for a slice of your fiscal pie that it can become overwhelming to figure out where funds can be utilized most effectively. But surprisingly, the most important concern of guests is something hotels can drastically improve upon. "Staff Service" was found to be the top guest complaint found in online reviews, according to a survey of attendees at last year's Revenue Strategy Summit (RSS). Although resolving this issue may seem like a daunting task, it is actually very simple thanks to today's technology.

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In the 2016 book, Platform Revolution, a platform is defined as a business model that "uses technology to connect people, organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosystem in which amazing amounts of value can be created and exchanged."

This immediate value includes impressive time-saving and revenue-generating benefits, which make platforms the best use of budget funds.

Here are five reasons why you should budget for a hotel platform in 2018:

1. Businesses Embracing Platform Strategies Are Thriving (And Vice-Versa)

From Airbnb and Uber to Amazon and Netflix, businesses utilizing platforms are shaking up industries. This new model resolves issues of communication gaps that have been plaguing hotels for centuries, as platforms allow hotels to consolidate their front desk, concierge, maintenance, housekeeping, and operations departments with guests and vendor relations, which has proven imperative for hotels to compete with lodging service. Seamless communication through platforms leads to accountability and efficiency, and enables hotels to adapt to the fast-changing demands of guests expectations. But that's only the beginning. Even better platforms have an advanced open Application Programming Interface (API) that connects hotels with other systems that may be currently in place, including PMS, POS, and third-party management systems. When combined with the wealth of data stored on times, costs, and ratings, the platform is able to reveal valuable data for GMs to gain insight into what are the most cost-effective options.

2. Guests are Getting the Message

For today's tech-savvy consumer, customization and instant gratification aren't an added perk. They're a way of life. Text messaging has become the favored means of communication due to its ease of use and convenience, and has exploded in recent years as the engagement channel of choice at hotels, and not just among Millennials. Pew Research reveals that 99% of text messages are read by recipients and 90% read within three minutes of delivery - it's no wonder texting is replacing the traditional means of communicating with guests. By allowing guests to request services more easily and using guest activity to personalize messages, texting also increases engagement and drives guest loyalty.

The best hospitality platforms funnel text messages into the same integrated back-end to create an organized text trail that neither phone nor in-person conversations provide. Keeping guests happy has never been more of a priority before due to the increased impact of online reviews on revenue, as today's guests have easy and instant access to write about their experience on their mobile phones and in real-time across multiple channels. The challenge for most hotels is that there is no system of accountability to find out how long housekeeping is taking to deliver pillows, or for maintenance to fix a broken A/C, so many hotels are discovering their issues the worst way possible - reading about them in online reviews. The right hotel platform offers a more proactive approach through data reporting, and fixes issues before they become widespread or even before they happen to begin with.

3. The Best Way to Improve Performance Is to Measure It

While most hotels rely on radios to communicate with staff, radios don't offer systems to track fulfillment, make note of issues, or allow guests to voice a complaint if a service didn't meet their expectations. These interactions have no traceability, using paper records are difficult to coordinate, and guest requests are not captured in a searchable place so hotels can't learn about guest habits over time. Hotels using analog tools have no idea what their issues are, so they can't fix them. Not only does a shared platform enable staff and guests to communicate together to know when things are going right or wrong, it also provides a trackable system of metrics for management to know how long services are taking and where things can be improved.

4. Easy Set Up and Quick Learning Curve

Most GMs are so consumed with putting out fires, they feel that they don't have time to invest in long-term solutions that will prevent all those problems to begin with. Successful leaders are those that take measures to prevent problems from returning. The reality is, not only is the pain of upgrading short, it's not even as painful or time-consuming as most GMs assume. In fact, most hotels making the switch to hospitality solutions can start with a slow roll in a matter of weeks and are fully converted within a couple months or less. Another worry is whether consumers really be embracing new technologies quickly enough to make the investment worthwhile. Executives at Blockbuster had asked the same question when they had an opportunity to buy Netflix for $50 million back in 2000. Sure, that's a different industry, but where are all the hotels these days without irons, key cards, and WIFI? Hotels who adopt technology early and implement platforms to ease customer communication will come out on top with the new generation of travelers.

5. You Can't Put a Price Tag on Security

Whether caused by nature, machinery, or man, life-threatening emergencies do happen. When they do, it becomes extremely important to have the most streamlined method of communications available. A platform integrated with security systems can assess the situation and go on lock-down if necessary and can send an emergency message to all staff and guests immediately at the touch of a button. The right platform can not only offer data to help make security assessments, but can also help you manage them if they're already in progress.

Alex Shashou

Alexander Shashou is the co-founder and President of ALICE, the hospitality industry's first fully integrated operations platform, uniting back of house service optimization with front of house guest experience management and messaging. ALICE’s technology suite brings together the hotel front desk, concierge, housekeeping, and maintenance teams, and connects hotel guests to their hotel with a mobile app and SMS.

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    About ALICE

    ALICE is a hotel operations platform that empowers operational excellence and meaningful guest experiences. By bringing all hotel departments together with a single operations platform for internal communication and task management, ALICE helps hotel staff act as a team to provide consistently excellent service. Since the company was founded in 2013, ALICE has gained significant traction in the industry, working with more than 2,500 hotels and tens of thousands of hotel staff across many of the world's leading brands, including Marriott International, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Viceroy Hotel Group, Firmdale Hotels, Dream Hotel Group, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and The Leading Hotels of the World. The company acquired concierge technology provider GoConcierge in 2017. ALICE is the Forbes Travel Guide Brand Official Staff Technology Platform, an Inc. Best Workplaces of 2019, and winner of Best Place to Work in Hotel Technology, Best Concierge Software, Best Engineering & Facilities Management, Best Guest App and Top Staff Task Management & Collaboration Platform at the 2019 HotelTechAwards.

    For more information, visit https://www.aliceplatform.com.

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