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hsk-knoweldge.com sat down with Stuart Derricott, Director of Sales Europe at FCS to discuss the latest trend in housekeeping and the use of software solutions in hospitality.
What are the most pressing issues you see in the housekeeping department today?
The biggest challenge we see for hotel housekeeping departments is keeping up with, and effectively responding to, the ever-changing needs and expectations of today’s traveler.
The state-of-the-art technology that’s now available, combined with the sharp rise in the use of social and digital media channels, has raised expectations for a highly personalised hotel guest experience, which is still a challenge to deliver in many hotels around the world.
The increased use of technology and automation in hotels means that management teams have access to a lot of valuable ‘big’ data on guest preferences and trends, but it’s often challenging to translate this data into a highly personalised experience practically, which can lead to a disconnect in managing guest expectations.
A second challenge remains finding the right talent for your hotel operations. Hospitality is renowned for being a highly transient industry and finding and retaining the right talent is critical to delivering a consistent, high-quality guest experience and to run a smooth and efficient operation. Hotel automation, and the empowerment it brings to housekeeping teams in organising and managing their day to day work, will help make housekeeping and rooms division more attractive departments to work in hence making it easier to attract and retain talent.
Lastly, there is an ever-increasing focus on cost management and efficiency and hotels are continually asked to do more with less, making it challenging for teams to focus on innovation and continuous improvement as there is less available time.
We all experienced the period of streamlining operations and automating processes and systems. This resulted in more technology and less staff. Now we are talking about using technology to improve efficiencies so that staff can re-establish connections with guests. What are your views on the balance between automation and human touch?
Finding the right balance between automation and human touch is, and will always be, incredibly important in hospitality as it’s such a people-centric industry. Our solutions are designed to help hotels achieve that optimum balance by using technology to automate a hotel’s back-of-house operational processes, which are largely invisible to the guest, in order to enable and empower employees to spend as much quality time with the guest to create a memorable experience. We don’t see technology as a way to reduce the human factor, but rather as a tool to strengthen the human connection that’s so critical in our industry.
FCS helps hotels rethink their hotel operations through digital transformation. Successful staff empowerment can be enabled by innovative mobile apps that not only support the creation of enhanced and unique guest experiences, but also helps to achieve greater levels of operational excellence. In a nutshell, FCS empowers hoteliers to do what they do best!
You talk about staff empowerment as a key benefit of housekeeping automation, can you explain what that means for housekeepers on a day to day basis?
Absolutely. Housekeeping automation has many benefits for hotel employees, all of which are designed to make their day-to-day work easier, more enjoyable and efficient; freeing them up from mundane paper-based tasks and allowing them to spend more time to really connect with guests in order to give them the best service and memorable experience possible.
Amongst other benefits, housekeeping automation minimises the room for human error, making day to day work smooth and easy for everyone involved. It allows employees to communicate effectively within their own teams as well as with other departments, being able to send and receive more accurate information, quicker answers to questions and more detailed briefs on guest preferences. Hotel automation also reduces the amount of potential double work that may result from paper-based checklists, rooming lists and cleaning instructions throughout the day, allowing teams to work with real time information throughout their shift. FCS Housekeeping also enables housekeeping management to recognise and reward employees by tracking productivity and quality through room inspections and lastly, employees will benefit from a simplified workflow that simplifies their day to day work.
How can FCS Housekeeping/ housekeeping automation help a hotel become more sustainable through greener operations?
One of the core benefits of using housekeeping automation is that it eliminates the need for paper-based documents such as manual room lists, checklists, maintenance sheets and team schedules. Hotels will see a significant reduction in the use of paper as a result of automating their operations, which doesn’t just save costs on paper but also the environment. Employees are increasingly looking for employers that have best-practice sustainability standards and automation helps hotels become greener and more sustainable in their operations.
How can analysing guests request data help a hotel improve and optimise its housekeeping operations? What top improvements have you seen from clients using FCS Housekeeping?
There are so many ways in which guest data can help improve a hotel’s housekeeping operations. Firstly, recording and using guest preferences effectively through hotel automation will help teams anticipate guest needs and deliver a more personalised experience ahead of a guest’s arrival. Placement of preferred pillows, extra beds or specific amenities can be done well before the guest arrives as the system will incorporate these requests within the automated room allocations and team scheduled. Also, through real time data, housekeeping and engineering teams can adjust their cleaning and maintenance schedules based on the needs of guests throughout their day; for example through the activation of the do-not-disturb sign in the system which will allow preferences to be updated in real time and communicated to the team or attendant responsible for that floor.
How does FCS Housekeeping fit in with other departments in a hotel, how can housekeeping automation help in a hotel’s digital transformation?
The FCS Hospitality Operations Management suite of solutions enables full integration across all core operational departments in the hotel, from, Housekeeping, Maintenance & Engineering to Glitch Management, Laundry and Concierge Services. The solutions seamlessly connect with data shared across the various solutions to provide a seamless experience for employees.
Analysing the data from across the solutions will result in valuable information to guide the management team to optimise service delivery, anticipate guests needs and to further personalise the hotel guest experience.
Stuart Derricott and hsk-knowledge.com are due to continue their conversation on the latest trends in housekeeping technology shortly.
Do you have ‘burning’ questions you want to ask? Please feel free to post them as a comment to the discussion in the hsk-knowledge.com LinkedIn group or email email@example.com directly.
(For questions to be considered for the interview, they need to be posted / received by Sunday, 10. November 2019.)