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Paying attention to often-overlooked elements of operations can guarantee efficiency.

Primary Category: Opinions

Secondary Categories: Independent Insights, Independents, Operations

What gets measured gets done. That’s why a comprehensive strategy for auditing hotels is essential to efficient operations. However, a successful hotel audit goes beyond the financials. A results-driven program will delve deeper, taking stock of several front and back-of-house aspects to ensure an authentic and seamless experience for guests and employees.

The following are five crucial elements that often get overlooked when conducting hotel audits; however, they are essential to thriving operations at any hotel.

1. Culture is king
Company culture plays an integral role in how employees will treat your guests because creating a positive atmosphere starts at the top and trickles down. Unfortunately, this is one area of operations that often gets overlooked during audits, as it is seen as more subjective. Nonetheless, it’s crucial, as a positive company culture directly relates to employee retention. During a walkthrough, observe how your team interacts. How do employees engage with each other? How does management support its line-level team members?

Pay attention to how the hotel’s team celebrates success. Is there clear and concise communication between management and staff? To further support this, consider displaying boards in common employee areas that showcase customer feedback, metrics and internal celebration items.

2. It’s all in the experience
What is the customer experience like at your property? Observe as if you are a guest. Are the ways in which employees handle interactions with guests how you would want to be treated as a customer? If not, it’s time to formulate a plan or training programs that can help with changes.

Consider dining at the hotel’s restaurant and make notes about patrons’ experiences. Did you overhear a comment from a diner that is useful feedback? Jot it down. Additionally, as you walk throughout the property, observe how employees engage with guests in places such as elevators and hallways. Is every team member greeting guests as they pass by? If not, they should be.

Go into the audit with a positive attitude and make sure your employees understand that the process is part of a collaborative effort. Instead of viewing the audit like a “one-off” experience, encourage team members to treat it as a regular day, in which they all play key roles in the guest experience. Then, you will be able to find success measuring the items at hand. Of course, you may also work with a third party to assess your hotel, as employees will not be familiar with those faces.

3. Get physical
Examining the physical asset might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s equally important to document everything you discover during a walkthrough to follow up with action items at a later date. Photograph everything that requires attention, and reconcile your notes with these photographs to implement an actionable plan to initiate change.

While some branded properties will already have an inspection tool in place, that’s not the case for independent hotels. Hospitality management companies will be able to use their own proprietary application that allows auditors and independent hotels to document and make notes within the software. Team members inspecting properties can simply pull up this app and use their own mobile device or iPad during walkthroughs.

4. Scrutinize safety
Safety and risk management are key items to look at during audits, and they should have their own sections in quality assurance reports. Be on the lookout for any safety pitfalls, such as slip hazards or security issues, and immediately follow up to address them.

Again, look beyond safety issues that can arise for guests but also for employees. Make sure that all the safety programs that your hotel has in place are up to date and being followed by your team members. Those conducting the audit should be familiar with all internal policies as well as local, state and federal requirements. Then, ensure employees are in compliance and gather any supporting documentation that proves it.

5. Inspect the internal
Human resources and accounting tasks such as bank audits might seem minor, but they are important to check. This part of the audit can’t really be done by a third-party inspector, so ensuring that you have your own internal company processes for these audits is a true advantage.

For instance, work with one or two employees to ensure that policies and procedures such as cash handling are followed correctly. Also, take a moment to connect with your general manager or human resources leader to examine employee files to ensure all the necessary documentation is in place. Staying on top of these tasks will only help in the long run. A proactive nature here will dispel any future headaches that could arise from labor issues.

With all of these tips in your audit tool belt, your hotel and its many facets will be on the way to effective, streamlined operations. The key is to trust, while continuing to verify.

With a career that spans two decades, Gavin Philipp has successfully managed and operated some of the best-known hotels across the country, including properties in Vail, Charleston, Boston, Miami, Austin, Houston and Washington D.C. Since 2013, Philipp has been a vital component of the Charlestowne Operations Team, overseeing various flagship properties in the company’s hometown of Charleston, SC. It was under his leadership that The Spectator Hotel was awarded the coveted title of Travel + Leisure’s Number 1 hotel in the US. Since then, Philipp has become an integral leader of countless special projects and business development needs, including the operational management of the company’s adaptive reuse projects. From restoring a turn of the century steel mill into The Foundry Hotel in Asheville, NC to reimagining a mid-century bank as Nashville, TN’s Fairlane Hotel, Gavin offers a range of expertise that allows him to optimize and unify the efforts of his team and partners.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now 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.

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