By Michael Prifti
Editor’s note: This is the final part in a four-part series of articles exploring the similarities and differences between the design, experience and operations of small, boutique hotels and large-scale resorts. Read the first part here and the second part here and the third part here.
Let’s shine the spotlight on the back of house—those areas of a hotel unseen by the general public but have a tremendous impact on the guests.
It’s crucial for the back of house at a resort to create a pleasant, efficient atmosphere for the employees which, in turn, influences the service they provide to guests and increases productivity.
In other words, take good care of the staff and they’ll return the favor to the guests. Happy employees beget happy guests. Happy guests beget return visits and positive word of mouth.
And modern technology that maximizes efficiency is lending a hand to the process of putting employees in a positive state of mind.
At Revel, the new $2.4-billion luxury property in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the back of house is as nice as the guest amenities at many resorts. With more than 1,800 rooms, 10 swimming pools, 14 restaurants and more than 4,000 employees, having an efficient, enthusiastic and motivated staff is critical for Revel.
Back-of-house technology ranges from appealing details, such as spacious employee quarters and hallways to technological advances, such as dedicated escalators and elevators that shorten travel time between the back of house and the public areas.
Let’s take a look at some of that technology:
At Revel, the elevators are reminiscent of Disney World. You walk to where you need to go, leave the wardrobe area and then magically appear somewhere else. The elevators were designed to be fast. By combining group dispatching with directed elevator shafts and proper speed settings, it’s easy to get employees where they need to be without delay.
The employee elevators at Revel move with efficiency and on multiple tracks, so employees aren’t stuck wasting time traveling from location to location. Instead, the speed instills a sense of energy that’s designed to prepare the staff on a positive note.
Wardrobe conveyor systems
Elevators aren’t the only technological advancements. Employees never have to worry about misplaced work uniforms, having to press their uniform or leaving a piece behind accidentally.
Meet Revel’s wardrobe process and conveyor systems. Each employee is provided three uniforms (one to wear, one as a backup and one that is being laundered).
The system features 11 individual stations. Upon an employee’s arrival, they visit their assigned station and punch in a personal code on the keypad. Their uniform is automatically conveyed to the door, which opens to allow retrieval.
From there, the employee heads to the changing rooms, where there are no lockers. They simply put their street clothes into the bag, return to the wardrobe conveyor systems, punch in their code and hang the bag back on their assigned hook on the rack, with items securely locked inside. At the end of the day, employees repeat the process, exchanging the uniform for their street clothes.
Leaving your phone in that personal space? Not a problem.
Employees can check email and message people from touchdown stations. These stations enable employees to stay in touch with the outside world while at work and when it’s appropriate. Additionally, they can use the touchdown stations to get the latest information on the events in the hotel and other information that prepares them to be a resource for any guest.
Instant communication is a major part of today’s customer service. By communicating through cell phones—sometimes provided by employers—supervisors have quick and easy ways to relate situations to all needed members of staff. Immediate response better serves the guest.
Efficient food services
What is a fantastic way to keep everyone happy? Food.
When employees have to leave work for lunch or worry about paying for food, their attitude on the job can be affected. By providing employees with a hassle-free way to get their meals in a relaxing and calm environment, they can focus on the job at hand.
Quick meals, such as muffins and coffee in the morning and sandwiches and sodas at lunch, are readily available in the employee dining room. This is particularly important for 15-minute mid-shift breaks. Employees are provided access to upscale dining with multiple choices that are available 24 /7.
Any large operation contains thousands of moving parts, and the most important of which are the staff members. Careful planning and engineering is required to ensure those moving parts don’t grind to a halt.
Technology is whatever makes lives easiest. Placing the newest technology in the back of house at any resort is just as important as using it for guestrooms and amenities.
Any customer-centric business is only as good as its weakest link. Money spent on a strong back of house will surely pay dividends.
Michael Prifti is an architect of significant diversity with architectural experience in new construction and adaptive re-use projects for institutional and development clients, with single-purpose and mixed-use programs. Michael and BLTa recently completed the Revel Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Mr. Prifti received a number of honors and awards, including the Thomas Ustick Walter Award in 2010, the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 2005, Architect of the Year from the Coalition of Commercial Real Estate Association in 2004 and 1999, and the Richard Upjohn Fellowship from the American Institute of Architects in 2002. Find more information at www.blta.com
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HotelNewsNow.com or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.