Asset value continues to be a priority for owners as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. One of the areas where owners can realize long-term value is through the implementation of technology solutions. At one time hotels were leaders in the implementation of technology, e.g., indoor air conditioning was a mainstay in hotels long before it was in personal homes. But as the franchise model took hold and the brands ceded asset control to external owners, the cost for technology was shifted and many times hotel owners had other priorities with their hotels than continuously introducing new technology. And while many owners are preserving cash more closely than ever, this may be the time to consider how technology can offset costs over the long-term and thereby increase asset value.
Even amidst the pandemic, labor costs continue to be the largest variable cost for hotels. Increasing minimum wage, the resulting upward wage pressure for all team members, and the increased costs of benefits have become a constant source of conversation. And while effective team members deserve a fair wage commensurate with their experience and position, there are roles that technology can play in alleviating some of this concern. For example, self check-in has been commonplace in the airline industry but is only available on a limited basis at hotels. If passengers can check themselves into an airline and choose their seat, then guests can check themselves into their guest room. While many guests still prefer personal interaction at the front desk, there is an increasing segment that prefers to check-in and obtain their key on their mobile phone. Especially for business travel, simply walking to the room and using the phone to unlock the door is a convenience worth having. The front desk is notified that the guest is checked in and the automated process alleviates the need for extra front desk team members.
What’s important not to overlook is the importance of back of house systems and the effectiveness of technology to streamline processes resulting in long-term cost savings. For example, many of the major hotel accounting systems including DataPlus and M3 have integrations available with many major Property Management Systems. In addition to the automation of revenue, expenses can be integrated as well reducing many of the manual accounting functions that must take place on a daily basis. With this work automated, personnel with accounting responsibilities can focus on analysis and training to constantly seek efficiencies at your hotel thereby increasing revenue opportunities, identifying opportunities for expense savings, and ultimately resulting in higher profitability and increased asset value.
These are only two of the many technology solutions that are widely available to hoteliers. Amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to identify opportunities that will result in greater efficiencies over the long-term and by extension, increased asset value. Budgeting for technology is an important reality of current hotels and while set-up and procurement costs can be eye popping, the long-term savings will benefit operations making for a more profitable and efficient hotel. In times like these, thinking beyond today can be challenging but taking the time to pursue these opportunities will be to your benefit for years to come.