Three Essential Elements in Hotel Back-office Digitization
It’s a fact that 89% of companies today are competing exclusively on the customer experience. They’re retooling their customer approaches, redirecting their external messaging, and investing in new customer-facing technologies. But here’s the thing: creating an amazing customer experience doesn’t mean focusing only on customer-facing processes. Back-office digitization is even more essential.
Allow me to clarify, as this detail is often misconstrued: innovating customer-facing functions is certainly crucial, but arguably it’s more important to innovate the back-office portion of a company. In the back office, administrative support and personnel operate behind the scenes of an organization. These are the employees who oversee daily maintenance, inventory, and operational accounting, for example.
Consider the role of these employees within hospitality: they’re the reason a customer has an amazing reservation experience, or why a favorite dish is always available for room service. They’re the reason that extra blankets can be delivered to a room in the middle of the night. The back office is the collective force behind every front-office experience that uniquely differentiates an organization. The back office is the engine that fuels every small but meaningful moment that makes up the contextual, end-to-end experience customers expect.
This makes back-office digitization vital in our smart, connected world. But just how much progress is being made in this area? Although we’ve been seeing digitization within hospitality, many of the innovations seem to be around the front end. We’re witnessing the rise of new guest-facing technologies like intelligent booking engines, intuitive mobile apps, and smart-enabled rooms. Meanwhile, in many cases, the back office continues to rely on siloed, hierarchal architecture that’s filled with challenges.
It starts to make sense, then, why only 5% of organizations today feel they’ve mastered digital to a point of competitive differentiation. The front and back offices must move at the same pace of innovation for hotels (or any organization) to enjoy true digital transformation. To this end, here are three elements in achieving the back-office digitization that every hotel needs:
60% of hospitality managers believe “the inability of staff to effectively communicate” severely diminishes the guest experience. Property management system (PMS) integration is a must. However, even more important is the ability for a hotel to extend and customize telephony and UC features into its PMS to innovate back-office communication and collaboration. Although out of sight, back-office employees must be able to effortlessly work behind the scenes to drive innovative new business outcomes.
Property management technology is about so much more than a list of functions. It’s about being able to dynamically share data across the entire organization to optimize real-time decision making, maximize revenue generation, and reimagine the CX. It’s about making data easily accessible and sharable through open communication.
Operational accounting must go beyond standard system integration to support an unmatched level of communications analytics—the kind that enables hospitality managers to continually learn and adjust processes as needed through constantly updated workflows. This next-gen solution lets managers strategically leverage reports on everything from daily operational activity to vendor management so they can make real-time decisions that improve spending, ROI and TCO.
Using the data that flows through various connected platforms, managers can identify financial patterns and develop predictive insights that can streamline core accounting processes like accounts receivable and payable. The key here is ensuring point-to-point, built-in security that is inherent in systems designed to support this kind of analytics ecosystem (this is especially crucial when it comes to protecting sensitive financial data).
There’s no shortage of rules that hospitality organizations must follow, and complying is a complex, time-consuming and costly activity for most. As the regulatory landscape continually evolves, we’re seeing organizations increasingly digitizing risk and compliance to ease regulatory burdens and create competitive advantages. From automated workflow management to advanced data analytics, hoteliers can digitize compliance to drive down costs and identify links between risk and business performance (something that 85% of companies believe they aren’t fully capitalizing on today).
Overall, “the need to optimize hotel daily workflows” is listed as one of the highest-impact market drivers in the hospitality industry today. Undoubtedly, many of these critical workflows involve the back-office. As organizational boundaries blur and speed of change continues to accelerate, the back office will only further grow as a foundation for the next-gen customer experience.