Process management or process modeling is one the most underrated applications that can be utilized to enhance the experience of travel. More than ever before, the hospitality industry is looking for ways to increase productivity and leverage technology for client communications.
Business process management (BPM) is the discipline that can assist airlines, hotels and other travel-related entities to sustain innovation and optimization of processes to ensure consistent delivery of a better customer experience.
Travelers' experiences are founded upon the interactions they hold with the airlines, hotels, car services and more. Today, many of these interactions take place online. However, many travel companies forget that most of the lasting impressions are crested when customers interact with people, not systems.
Focusing on technology at the expense of understanding the complete customer journey - including people, some of whom may be employed by third parties - risks alienating the same customers whose experience you set out to enhance.
Hotels today are some of the most complex organizations, with dozens of moving parts that must work together seamlessly to maintain efficiency and customer satisfaction. Business process management provides a practical framework for consistent service quality and improvement among guests.
It is amazingly common to find that hotel staff have to call the same people their customers do in order to get information.
Through a BPM system, a hotel can manage the level of guest satisfaction, including the number of complaints and customer retention rate. One of the main attributes to the success of a hospitality organization is its ability to unify all operations, making them consistent across all geographical regions. Consistent rules, procedures, policies and branding across all hotels make the customer experience one that is most memorable, creating a brand that customers can trust.
One the most regular complaints among regular travelers on any travel forum is the inconsistency with which hotels and other travel companies apply their rules and procedures, often turning neutral customers into angry customers.
One of the most difficult pain points within hotels is not simply the number of systems that are used to effectively run each location, but whether the people on property know how to use them or how they are expected to make them work together. It is amazingly common to find that hotel staff have to call the same people their customers do in order to get information, and often cannot actually get more or better information than the customer.
Many hotels use a combination of software products, property management software, point‐of‐sale software and electronic document management systems. The challenge for many is how to better unify these operations across regions that allows for staff to share information among departments, as well as provide better customer service.
Furthermore, internal processes for physical operations remain separate entities that must also coordinate together. This includes housekeeping, room service, activities and fitness groups, check‐in and check‐out, front desk, as well as behind‐the‐scenes management.
Breaking down processes
Processes specific to the hospitality industry fall into three types of categories including core processes, operating processes and managerial processes. The core processes allow for employees to transparently view internal documents as well as policies and procedures that can be accessed by any staff member.
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Operating processes deliver on products and services specific to customer requests and needs. The front‐facing operation of the organization is the process in which the customer experiences, but never realizes. The managerial processes are key to the basic functionality of the organization and may touch all aspects such as product supply, guest arrival and departure and food service.
The core processes are further seen as supporting processes that help to market and develop business strategy. A core process can assist in filing customer complaints, reviews and even tracking which properties a frequent hotel guest may have stayed at previously. All helping to further understand customers and their buying habits to more effectively market to them in the future.
The managerial processes help to direct, coordinate and integrate the operating and core processes. All of these three fundamental elements must coordinate together into what the customer understands as their resort experience.
Focusing on technology at the expense of understanding the complete customer journey risks alienating the same customers whose experience you set out to enhance.
It can be assumed that hotels would retain a much larger percentage of clientele if they had stronger processes and procedures in place to unify employee functions and better serve the customer. For example, often times, when a customer registers their information for an online booking with a third-party website, the customer arrives and must fill out more information for the hotel system. A process management system can help to further simplify the check‐in of the guest by automating the documentation so that only a signature may be required upon arrival. The BPM makes the process more simplified.
The same process can be applied to that of housekeeping service. Housekeeping can utilize a BPM system to view which rooms need to be serviced, which rooms are occupied, which guests have requested a late check‐out, and even which rooms are completed for future guest arrival. This makes for a simplified and organized model, allowing for no confusion between floors or shifts.
From an operational perspective, a BPM system manages all facets of the booking process. Through the system, the hotel can create offer packages, confirm rooms, conduct payments and process payments. According to a set of filters, the system can automatically understand popular seasons as well as high occupancy and can further assist in keeping a hotel near full occupancy while avoiding over-occupancy resulting in monetary losses in compensation for over‐booking.
Using business process management, specific rules and commands can be made internally. An example is that if availability is higher than 35%, and the booking was reserved more than 30 days prior to the preferred dates in high season, then increase the room price by 20%. If availability is lower than 35%, and the booking was reserved more than 30 days prior to the preferred dates during shoulder season, then increase the room price by 25%.
The hotel has complete control over automated commands. The process helps the organization to save money that may have been lost in the past, and maintain a consistent booking schedule.
From an engagement perspective, hotels work to try to generate and implement new customer‐centric experiences and new opportunities. Asking a customer for their preferences and developing more customer‐centric packages keeps customers interested. For the benefit of the hotelier, insights on customer engagement can be analyzed and monitored as well as implemented into daily operations for tactical decision making.
Lastly, with merger and acquisition activity at an all‐time high, BPM helps unify both brands’ systems when an acquisition is made and two hotels need to operate as one brand.
Overall, with the digital transformation of a BPM suite, customers are retained through positive experiences with all departments in the hotel. Check-in and buying processes are made simple, activities made more accessible, housekeeping made more reliable and experiences made more enjoyable, creating customer retention and established trust.