Mr. Lachance

Technology

As Hotel Brands Go Digital, Asset Management Must Not be Overlooked

By Paul Lachance, President, Smartware Group Inc.

Hotel executives are starting to catch on to digital technology as they strive for better customer experiences across the board. With powerhouses like Hilton and Marriott (1) leading the charge, competitive hotel brands are raising the standard for guest experiences in the digital age.

A recent study by Hospitality Technology (2) found 57 percent of hotels plan to spend more on technology across the board in 2017 than they did in 2016. And while improving customer engagement and enhancing payment and data security stood out as the top priorities for many hospitality industry decision-makers, it appears far fewer are considering a critical investment: Enterprise Asset Management (EAM).

Cloud-based EAM technology empowers hotel staff to better understand the real-time maintenance needs of their business. With rising operating and property management costs, the hospitality industry must stay abreast of the latest in EAM technology.

Avoid Potential Catastrophes That Can Inconvenience Guests

There's a lot that goes into creating a positive, hospitable stay for guests, but even one complication can ruin the experience. Heating and cooling failures, electrical outages, alarm system errors and more are a pain to deal with in the first place, but can have major consequences when they occur while paying guests are present.

These unplanned catastrophes are not only expensive to address on their own, but can require reimbursement for unhappy guests and lost revenue from cancellations. Additionally, a bad experience (like a blaring alarm in the middle of the night or a power failure) can permanently scar a hotel's reputation, scaring patrons away from making future reservations and earning negative reviews online. Clearly, a simple problem that goes unaddressed can quickly become a hospitality nightmare for guests and employees alike.

Unlikely disasters aside, even small problems that might easily go unnoticed can detract from a guest's experience. Flickering lights in guestrooms, faulty technology in a conference room or damaged furniture are easy oversights that quickly wear on guest perceptions, even if they don't necessarily report issues themselves.

A cloud-based EAM system enables a preventive maintenance strategy so that employees can identify and fix issues before they ever become major disruptions. An employee trained to use an EAM system can catch a small issue and log it via a mobile app on the spot, even outside of routine checks that too often miss problems. With advanced knowledge of potential pain points, employees can either address small issues (like a bad light bulb) immediately, or plan time to fix larger problems later - avoiding inconveniences to guests entirely.

Additionally, using labor analytics, managers can also better use time and talent to implement more efficient processes that can prevent problems and avoid the need for repairs that might otherwise occur. For instance, reports like asset life cycle analysis and trends analysis give insight into asset performance over time for better purchasing decisions when those assets eventually need replacement. A labor analysis report, on the other hand, identifies where employee time is spent, and therefore helps uncover areas where processes or specific troublesome assets may be dragging down overall efficiency.

Replenish Supplies More Quickly and Efficiently

The supplies and equipment that keep a hotel running smoothly are numerous and difficult to keep organized without a proper solution. Things like cleaning supplies, filters, bearings and other spare parts must be available at a moment's notice, and maintenance managers need to be able to replenish supplies quickly, accurately, and cost effectively. An EAM mobile app makes this process even easier as employees check inventory availability on the fly, minimizing potential stock-outs and delays.

A cloud-based EAM system can allow employees to access inventory levels in real time to anticipate and make needed purchase orders. And an EAM with integration capabilities can ensure this data flows through ERP or corporate procurement solutions for a 360-view of MRO procurement data (3). An integration-capable EAM also provides the potential to weave maintenance and equipment data into corporate reporting tools to build complex reports on assets, equipment, work orders, parts, purchase orders and more.

By connecting software systems across the enterprise, hotels can drastically minimize order delays, excess or siloed inventory and emergency shipments. For example, integrating your procurement solution could automatically trigger a requisition if parts fall below a reorder point in the EAM. You could even have your EAM integrated with your HRMS to sync employee certifications, labor rates and employment tenure.

Additionally, employees can be given various levels of access to EAM software. Buyers, housekeeping supervisors, front desk agents, and others can be given appropriate Specialized User roles to make maintenance requests or actual work orders, and view inventory or PMs - effectively reducing or completely eliminating roadblocks.

Cut Costs From the Moment EAM Systems are Implemented

Only 15 percent of businesses surveyed in the Hospitality Technology study aim to reduce the cost of managing technology in the next year - probably because leaders understand that improving hotel operations involves significant investments in digital solutions that are already lacking in many companies. But modern EAM technology can ultimately reduce costs across the business, making a pretty compelling ROI case.

We know that EAM technology enables a preventive maintenance strategy, which allows staff to address issues as recommended by manufacturers and best practices and before guests are inconvenienced. But nipping problems in the bud also significantly reduces the cost of maintenance by empowering staff to more efficiently follow business processes, manage tasks and prevent small issues from becoming larger, more expensive ones.

It's easy to see where the cost of fixing a minor plumbing issue - like a small leak - can quickly be eclipsed by the added costs of replacing carpets, repairing pipes and losing room revenue.

Maintenance specialists that have an accurate, real-time view of hotel facilities through a mobile EAM app, in conjunction with a cloud solution, not only identify potentially larger problems early, but can then schedule repairs at ideal times, with adequate preparation. Even more ideal is an EAM that easily integrates with other business systems. Maintenance and asset data cannot help an organization reach its full potential when isolated.

Providing maintenance teams with a complete view of assets, PM tasks and solutions, and priorities saves time, as these personnel can come equipped with the right tools and understanding of problems to repair quickly and efficiently. An on-the-spot repair for a major issue takes more time for staff, who must rush to identify issues and gather tools and equipment. Additionally, these unplanned repairs might come at inconvenient times or during peak hotel hours that disrupt guest stays.

CMMS eliminates another area of friction for maintenance teams. Logging PMs in a CMMS or utilizing barcode technology in conjunction with CMMS makes it so staff does not have to deal with hours of paperwork. This not only saves time, but ensures that accurate data is in place so technicians can easily see past repairs and issues with appliances (like HVAC units or refrigerators) and adjust plans accordingly. For example, if technicians are constantly dealing with repeat problems on the same appliances, managers can either give better training to staff or swap out machines to avoid further problems.

By enabling thorough preparation and mitigating large problems, EAM systems can easily cover the initial costs of a system implementation, as well as ongoing savings through continued, effective use.

Real Digital Transformation Starts on the Backend

Hospitality Technology's study reveals that 52 percent of hotel executives are prioritizing digital customer engagement this year, and they've got the right idea. Improved digital strategies are vital to improving the customer experience, from frictionless check-ins to more user-friendly loyalty programs. But hotels can't provide an optimal digital experience on the customer side while continuing to use legacy systems that limit growth on the backend.

Cloud-based EAM systems are a must-have to ensure that growing hotel operations run smoothly. No brand can get ahead of the digital curve without the right technology, and the right EAM solution should be one of the first investments that competitive hotel brands make.

While providing the latest and greatest in digital experiences to customers is a top priority, and rightfully so, it shouldn't come at the expense of your facility and asset maintenance management. If you're revamping your hotel brand's mobile app, but still relying on pen and paper to keep track of your assets, it's time to reconsider. Because when it comes down to it, you can have the greatest website or mobile app in the world, but if your facilities and assets are deteriorating, customers aren't going to book a stay.

At the end of the day, it's all about balancing your brand's digital transformation to bring all of your systems -- from frontend to backend -- up to date across the enterprise.

References

(1) http://http://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/points-miles/hilton-honors-loyalty
(2) http://hospitalitytechnology.edgl.com/reports/2017-LODGING-TECHNOLOGY-STUDY---Frictionless-Hotels--Enabling-the-Omni-Experience-108230
(3) http://www.bigfootcmms.com/event/mro-procurement-integration/

Paul Lachance is founding partner of Smartware Group, Inc., producer of the modern Bigfoot CMMS solution for maintenance organizations worldwide, and currently serves as the company’s president. Lachance has developed specialty CMMS and EAM software for maintenance professionals for almost 20 years. Prior to founding Smartware Group, Mr. Lachance and his business partner Dave Peelstrom started a software company in Colorado during the dotcom boom. After the company was acquired, they moved to New Hampshire and formed Smartware Group to fill a niche in the maintenance software market. Mr. Lachance can be contacted at 866-858-7800 or paul.lachance@bigfootcmms.com Please visit www.bigfootcmms.com/company/smartware-group for more information. Extended Bio...

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