Hotels and the hospitality industry continue to suffer the effects of COVID-19.
According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the pandemic wiped out ten years' worth of job growth. Forbes reports that on top of seven out of ten hotel rooms being empty, the industry has lost close to 4 million jobs and more than $21 billion in revenue.
But things are set to change thanks to hotels embracing new cloud-based and "touch-less" technologies that promise to improve the guest experience, including hotel maintenance software.
Hotels are hoping to win back guests with a new focus on technologies that improve safety. The goal is to promise a better, safer experience to encourage happy guests to keep coming back.
Improving hotel customer service with "touch-less" tech and facial recognition
Hotels first embraced online solutions years ago, and long gone are the days of people calling on the phone to inquire about vacancies. In fact, 94% of pleasure travellers use multiple Internet-connected devices when planning and booking a trip.
But for a lot of hotels, the tech stopped at the front lobby, with guests still using old-fashioned physical key cards and having to call down to the front desk to order room service or request a wake-up call.
That's set to change as organizations across the industry are looking at new solutions, some starting before guests even officially arrive. At the Marriott Rand Tower Hotel in Minneapolis, guests must pass through a "health kiosk" before checking in. Here's how they work: when someone approaches the machine, a thermal camera reads their temperature to ensure they are not running a fever. The machine then prompts them to sanitize their hands and even checks to make sure they have. Once they get the "all clear," a gate opens, allowing the person to continue to the front desk.
Some solutions rely on facial recognition with an artificial intelligence reading each person's face to ensure that they're wearing a mask and that they have properly fitted it over their mouth and nose. If the AI detects an issue, it can alert the front desk, and an employee arrives to offer help or an approved complementary mask.
Other solutions do away with the front desk completely. The Starwood chain of hotels and resorts introduced keyless check-ins, where guests can use their smartphones to open their doors. Instead of stopping at the front desk, as soon as they're in the building, guests can head straight to their rooms.
Many of these new technologies are out in the open, and guests interact with them directly. But hotels and resorts need to also invest in new technologies that are more "behind the scenes," including hotel maintenance software.
Improving hotel facilities with hotel maintenance software
With the right set of features, modern CMMS solutions make it much easier for hotels and resorts to offer better, safer accommodations with a focus on guest experience and guest satisfaction.
It all starts with work orders, the building block of efficient maintenance management.
Data-packed work orders for older assets and new technicians
Many old work order management systems rely on paper, making it difficult to include enough information.
Think of the average paper-based work order. There's only so much room where you can scribble in any information. And even if you somehow had the world's best handwriting, every time you deal with data manually, there's a good chance of accidentally adding in errors that confuse techs and corrupt your data.
Modern CMMS software takes the hand cramps out of generating efficient work orders. Instead of having to copy everything over by hand, you can use customizable templates to quickly add all the data techs need to work efficiently, including:
- Comprehensive asset maintenance and repair histories
- Digital images, schematics, and O&M manuals
- Step-by-step instructions
- Customizable checklists
- Associated MRO inventory
- Interactive site maps and floor plans
Specifically for the hotel industry and its current challenges, what are the benefits right now of data-packed work orders?
Get assets up and running faster
For a lot of assets, there are specific steps to lock out and tag out then safely. For example, if you need to do repairs on the meat slicer in the hotel's kitchen, there is an established process for making sure the tech can close out the work order without getting hurt. They might need to unplug and disassemble some parts of the slicer and then add tags to ensure no one plugs it back in mid-repairs.
But for many hotels and resorts, their assets and equipment were not simply offline for repairs. Instead, they were shut down long-term because of the lack of guests. For example, instead of a hotel temporarily turning off the pool heater for maintenance, they drained the pool completely. That means a lot of the techs are about to wade into unknown waters. They might know how to check and fix the heater, but that doesn't mean they know how to restart everything starting from Square One.
When the maintenance manager can quickly include comprehensive instructions, checklists, and the associated inventory, it empowers techs, guaranteeing they do the right work the right way.
Get new techs up and running faster, too
Even experienced techs need help getting shuttered assets and equipment back online. But less experienced techs need help with every procedure and process, from the brand-new to the well-established.
When COVID first hit the hotel industry, organizations cut staffing to the bare minimum, and that meant also letting go of a lot of maintenance technicians. As things start back up again, only some of those technicians will be able to come back, forcing hotels to find and train new maintenance techs. By having the department's SOPs formalized inside the work order software, hotels can save time and money with new techs.
Now, instead of running back to the office to ask for help, techs have all the information they need right in the work order, which they can access from any Internet-connect mobile device.
Hourly PMs for better sanitation schedules
Before COVID, for a lot of guests, "cleanliness" at hotels was mainly about those door tags requesting maid service. But with COVID, guests expect full-fledged disinfection programs.
Modern preventive maintenance software makes it a lot easier to schedule and track preventive maintenance tasks, which means hotels can quickly set up and track surface cleaning programs with detailed instructions for techs on everything from which chemicals to use to how to properly wear and dispose of personal protection equipment (PPE).
Instead of trying to stay organized with clipboards and scraps of paper, the maintenance department can quickly create and schedule PMs. As soon as the software generates a new PM, the software automatically sends the assigned technician a notification. And as soon as the tech closes out, the maintenance manager can see the updated status in the software.
Automatic inventory control for critical PPE and cleaning chemicals
Preventive maintenance software for hotels and resorts makes it easy to schedule PMs, but it also ensures techs have the tools they need to close them out.
When the maintenance department first sets up the PM schedule, they make sure every PM comes packed with data, including the associated parts and materials. And for a PM connected to cleaning, that likely means the chemicals and PPE.
When the technician completes the PM and closes it out, the software automatically updates the inventory levels of any associated items. As soon as you hit your customizable min, the software automatically sends you a warning that you're starting to run low. From still inside the software, you can start creating and sending a purchase order to ensure you never actually run out of supplies.
Mobile maintenance app for faster on-demand work order management
No matter how well the maintenance department plans ahead, there are always unscheduled, on-demand work orders. Some of them are minor. One guest accidentally dropped their wedding ring down the bathroom sink. Another had trouble putting the in-room ironing board back, and now the closet door won't close properly. Others are more serious. A pipe burst in the hotel restaurant kitchen. The air conditioning units on the roof stopped working, and guests are complaining about the heat.
Hotel maintenance departments need a fast, reliable system to review requests and generate, prioritize, assign, and track on-demand work orders. And maintenance technicians need all the support they can get once they've been assigned a work order. Mobile maintenance apps are the solution that delivers everything techs need without them needing to run around in circles picking up new paperwork or dealing with old, stale data.
Even a small hotel or resort is a maze of floors and rooms. If a maintenance manager needs to hand off a paper work order, it takes them a long time to track down the right technician. But with an app, techs can access their work orders directly from their mobile device while staying on the move.
Get new maintenance features on the go
And because the app lives on a mobile device, it can also tie in directly with the hardware, opening up opportunities for new features. For example, as soon as the maintenance department assigns a tech a new work order, they get a push notification, where their phone chimes or vibrates and a message appears on the screen.
When they arrive, techs can double-check that they're at the right asset by using the device's built-in camera to scan barcodes on the assets. For example, when a tech is sent to check on the ice machine on the fourth floor, they can scan the barcode to confirm they're working on the right one. Barcode scanning also gives them access to the asset's critical data, including maintenance manuals.
During the repairs on the ice machine, the tech might run into trouble and not know the current best practices. With traditional paper- and spreadsheet-based systems, they'd be reduced to wasting time trying to track down another tech for help. But with the app, they can quickly take a picture of the problem, upload it directly to the work order, and then also upload comments asking for help. And after the repairs are completed, they can upload a picture of their finished work, requesting a remote visual inspection.
Ready to learn more how hotel maintenance software helps improve guest experience? Or, are you still early in the process and want a basic overview of your options, including features and prices?
The hotel industry is set to make a comeback as vaccination rates increase and restrictions lessen. Many organizations are embracing new technologies to assure nervous travellers that their facilities are safe, including automated health checks and facial recognition AI that checks for proper mask use. One of the key technologies is hotel maintenance software, which allows organizations to improve the guest experience and customer service by bringing assets back online, training new technicians, scheduling cleaning programs, and tracking associated inventory. Maintenance apps ensure the maintenance team can quickly close out on-demand work orders.