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Part 2: Quality Management Systems - Providing valuable information to single and multiple properties

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March 01, 2005
Hotel | Quality Management
Geoff Griswold - theomnigroup @mindspring.com

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© 2004 Hospitality Upgrade. No reproduction without written permission.

Quality management systems include several applications such as guest comment tracking, incident reports and tracking the guest’s experience. Quality management systems also include modules for guest recognition, enhanced marketing through the customer relationship management (CRM) approach, room quality inspections and process improvement.

In the fall 2003 issue, preventive maintenance and rapid response systems were reviewed in detail. This article addresses the other applications contained in the overall scope of systems aimed at enhancing the guest experience and guest relations.

Guest comment cards have been around long before the days of sophisicated automation. While providing some valuable input, most cards can be subject to interpretation and are not completed by a high percentage of guests. However, some comment card services are able to overcome these shortcomings with more sophisticated approaches.

Incident tracking, the act of recording all guest input, can be a more valuable tool for analyzing response times and guest satisfaction. Typically, automated systems replace the manual guest log book and provide a vehicle for coding the type of incident for guest follow-up and management reporting. This includes maintenance issues, billing inquiries, room service requests and special items, such as non-allergenic pillows. Rapid response systems are used to inform staff of items that require immediate action.

Guest recognition is another module in quality management systems (QMS). While some property management systems (PMS) provide mainly spending information, a QMS provides a complete analysis of the guest experience. In fact, some systems actually interface to the PMS to capture information. Proper use of this data enhances guest service, satisfaction and loyalty. The data generated is also used for guest follow-up and analysis/marketing by region.

Enhanced marketing capabilities are valuable tools of QMS. Sometimes referred to as CRM, this approach emphasizes the retention of existing customers using the data generated by the system. This includes guest history reports, analysis and mail merge for direct marketing and guest follow-up.

Room quality inspections is another application provided by some QMS. The system completely eliminates the need to complete various paper forms by using handheld reporting devices, such as PDAs or pocket PCs, to record inspection data. The use of these devices improves speed, accuracy and captures data for analysis that would be very difficult to obtain manually. Reports can be generated by employee, housekeeping section, floor and room type.

Process/quality improvement is a main goal of quality management systems. Through the use of data showing response times by employees, trends in service requests and issues, and maintenance issues, management can determine the corrective actions necessary to enhance service and productivity. The use of concise graphs, charts and reports enables those responsible to react quickly and efficiently.

Rapid response systems are sometimes thought to be used solely to respond to maintenance requests and issues. In fact, these systems are used for much more than just work orders. Guest deliveries, special requests, laundry, valet and room service are some other areas served by these systems. Any type of guest request can be initiated through rapid response.

Adding the above applications to a preventive maintenance module can greatly assist either the single property or multiple property environments by providing management the tools to enhance the guest experience and provide higher guest satisfaction.

The following suppliers are some of the major players in the QMS market.

Diversified Computer Corp., the maker of GuestWare (Seattle, Wash., www.guestware.com), offers a suite of quality management products including customer relationship marketing, rapid response, incident tracking, guest recognition and improvement analysis. The system is available both for a single property and as an enterprise solution.

Mike Benjamin, VP of sales for GuestWare, emphasized the reporting and analysis capabilities of the system that are key to process improvement. Some of the greatest successes with GuestWare come from the user-friendly and powerful data mining tools to eliminate recurring issues. Quality teams also use the system to improve problem resolution by measuring and managing staff response times. Guest-reported problems and requests are also linked to the guest profile to improve recognition of repeat guests.

Figure 1 shows the frequency of toilet issues, by month. Graphs are also available by employee to analyze production and staffing levels. Types of graphs available include pie, bar, line and horizontal bar.

In addition to graphs, the system provides a series of meaningful reports including incidents by group, problems by room, arrival lists, guest incidence history and mail merge. Also provided are the guest history report, guest analysis and work order statistics. In some cases the graphs and reports may show trends that do not require an engineering solution, but rather a staffing adjustment or other correction.

Management Technologies (Miami, Fla., www.m-tech.com) provides two complete lines of quality management products: the Espresso! system for single property applications and hotSOSTM (hotel service optimization system), an Internet-based, enterprise solution.

Leo Acosta, director of sales and marketing for Management Technologies emphasized the importance of hotSOS (pronounced “hot sauce”) for guest satisfaction in the enterprise environment. The solution includes guest recognition/profiling, service delivery/recovery, guest hotline and follow-up, proactive rapid response, automated quality inspections and property/enterprise-wide process improvement. hotSOS’ primary function is to help hotel enterprises consistently exceed guests’ expectations.

All functionality is served across the Internet from enterprise servers that may be located either at the corporate office or at a secure data center managed by M-Tech, including workflow management with wireless devices like NextelTM and integration with many property management systems. Hotels can then focus on the core business of serving the guest.

Templates are available for specific brands and types of properties or customized to accommodate specific requirements. These ensure that the unique standards of each classification are being maintained at the enterprise level and that the guest experience is consistent throughout the chain.

Analyzing data with hotSOS is done through simple drill-down, question and answer screens in plain language that produce a variety of graphs and reports.

Metromedia Software, Inc. (New York, N.Y., www.hotelexpert.com) supplies the HotelEXPERT family of products. These include rapid response, operations analysis, dynamic quality assurance, guest comment card tracking, Web surveys and telephone and preventive maintenance interfaces.

The company has recently introduced TaskRepeater, a simplified approach to scheduling tasks and providing reminders to the staff. TaskRepeater can schedule tasks for any department such as engineering, housekeeping and banquets.

A valuable feature of the system is that succeeding tasks are only created if the current one has been completed. This approach keeps the employee from feeling overwhelmed by tasks or developing an attitude of ignoring the system.

Tasks are auto-generated and auto-dispatched by the system. Reminders are first sent to the employee responsible and then escalated to a manager if not completed within certain timeframe parameters. Interfaces are available for inventory control, labor analysis, project planning and purchasing.

HotelEXPERT also offers a simplified call back screen that allows the staff to respond immediately to guests’ concerns. Called a “second effort program,” the system prompts for guest callbacks within 10 minutes of task completion.

Each hotel or chain must decide which of the above areas of expertise is most important when considering a quality management system. Some entities may require additional engineering expertise while others may desire a complete quality management solution that includes rapid response, preventive maintenance, comment tracking, incident reports and tracking the guest’s experience.

Geoff Griswold is a hardware and wiring specialist for the Omni Group. Geoff can be reached at (888) 960-8787 or theomnigroup @mindspring.com.

Wyndham New Orleans Prevents Guest Complaints
One way to reduce the number of calls to a front desk or call center is to implement an effective preventive maintenance (PM) system. Being proactive about guestroom PM reduces the likelihood that an issue will negatively impact a guest’s stay.

Johnnie Martin, area director of engineering for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, recently implemented Dunedin, Fla.-based Mintek Mobile Data Solution’s WinTrack PM at the Wyndham New Orleans at Canal Place. Using handheld scanning devices that read bar codes, WinTrack PM enables Martin and his engineering staff to schedule and monitor room preventive maintenance.

Before implementing WinTrack PM, Martin said his staff used a paper-based filing system that resulted in some guestrooms going unchecked. Oftentimes, it was not until a guest called about a problem that the missed room PM was recognized.

“WinTrack PM helps us ensure that our room inspections are being done,” Martin said. “After completing these PMs we see a 70 percent to 90 percent reduction in guest complaint calls.”

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