Identifying opportunities for service optimisation in hotel processesHilary Murphy & Karolin Kokaz
The hospitality industry is process driven, to a large extent. These processes involve people, equipment and services. There are certain critical processes that can be easily identified and defined e.g. the reservation process, the booking process, the housekeeping process, customer relationship management etc. These processes have remained largely static in their form and function over time with technology being introduced, mostly on an ad-hoc basis, to enhance and improve these processes. The question as to whether they add “value” and “save costs” remains unanswered to a large extent (HTNG, 2002). Nonetheless hospitality firms are continuously fighting for improvements in productivity, service quality and profitability (Jones, 2002). One of the defining drivers of the hospitality industry which makes process re-engineering more challenging is the considerable difficulty in accurately tracking / mapping / measuring and assessing these processes in order to optimise their execution and delivery. This is further exacerbated by fluctuations in demand and typical patterns of fluctuation occur at the daily or weekly level or may be due to yearly seasonality (Guerrier and Lockwood, 1988). Hospitality firms want to be able to respond quickly to changing customer demand and services requested and therefore accurate mapping of goods, services and personnel within the sector should have a positive impact on productivity, service quality and, ultimately, on profitability.
Mapping and documenting processes has traditionally been done manually and may be a complex process that results in standard operating procedures for certain tasks. Service maps are developed in order to better understand the service system, help identify failure points to then develop procedures to avoid them, and for work simplification in order to improve the efficiency of processes. Service mapping could become a very time consuming activity, if not done properly, due to the need of observing the system to gather the necessary accurate data through time and motion studies, which are the parameters of the process to be mapped and the goal of the exercise (Harvard Business School, 1992). There is little evidence that hotels and the small and medium sized (SME) hotels in particular pay any regard to formalising their process in terms of service mapping or blueprinting. The challenge is then to optimise the process (and therefore save costs, improve processes, enhance customer satisfaction), when no real documentation exists and/or reengineer the process in the light of customer/ strategic partner/ internal/ external requirements
October 2007 - April 2009
Academic partner: Ecole d’ingénieurs du canton de Vaud
Economic partners: Société des hoteliers de Montreux & Geomatic
Financial partner: HES-SO