HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT, TECHNOLOGY

How Information Systems Improve Hospitality Management

How Information Systems Improve Hospitality Management

Hospitality Information Systems: Digital Dashboards

The evolving hospitality industry is able to benefit from applications which were once strictly used in manufacturing or in product-oriented industries. Advancements in information technologies allows for the integration and benefit of these new software technologies. One of the leading applications being integrated into the hospitality industry is the digital dashboard.

The digital dashboard or executive dashboard is like its automotive counterpart in that it is designed to give the manager a broad overview of the different systems and processes. Digital dashboards provide critical information on processes, performance, and progress toward goals using visuals that may include charts, graphs and other at-a-glance displays designed to impart knowledge quickly. Managers can establish warnings and alerts in the event of poor performance, and drill down detailed data (IBM, 2012). The effectiveness of a dashboard relies on the comprehensiveness of its data (O’Brien, 2002). This system affects all areas of hotel management including: operations, marketing, accounting, and human resources. These four business functions are affected by the dashboards ability to align these functions with objectives goals.

How Information Systems Improve Hospitality Management2

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The operations of the organization can be aligned more efficiently with goals through the real-time ability of the dashboard to monitor current activities. For example, if the dining room is using too much overtime, the dashboard can alert managers when any employee enters into overtime hours. This not only helps with scheduling, but allows managers to have control of the situation without having to watch the clock consistently. As well, the dashboard can show the manager where there are deficiencies in particular areas such as a lacking of human resource (Gambhir, 2012). By analyzing the data from dashboards, operations can be streamlined because managers can gauge when and where labor is needed.

The ability to manage operations in this way extends to human resource development. Dashboards give managers an overview of employee production levels and other HR functions such as lateness or absenteeism (Gambhir, 2012). The dashboard has the ability to link specific employees with operational performance and this shows managers which employees need more training or improvement.

Both operations and HR can be linked with accounting systems which can give a complete view of not only where money is being lost but also what areas of the organization are performing profitably. This is important because the accounting function allows managers to see where HR needs to be allocated differently and where specific processes might be underperforming (Gambhir, 2012). Managers can make decisions in real-time as to where processes need assistance and where HR needs to be changed. This allows for a more dynamic decision making environment in which managers can make changes as necessary.

Perhaps the most important function that is improved with the use of the dashboard is the marketing function. Using all areas of the business, customer information can be extrapolated and matched with purchasing patterns and even with online customer feedback. Customers can be sent customized deals that are based on their individual purchasing patterns which increases the likelihood of sales conversions (Gambhir, 2012). The dashboard will show customer service problems not just after it has become a problem but trends that can warn managers about issues before they become urgent. For example, customer wait times in particular areas such as check in or dinning can be measured consistently and this can warn the manager when a problem is beginning to occur.

The sophistication of the dashboard allows for it to be integrated into the property management systems, global distribution systems, or as a standalone system for individual property management. When integrated into the property management system or with global distribution systems the dashboard can be designed with access of on an as needed basis (Gambhir, 2012). While a corporate manager would be able to access multiple locations and utilize sales and marketing data collectively, a frontline manager or general facility manager would only have access to the functions in the scope of his or her location.

The ability to integrate property management systems with digital dashboards allows for a large competitive advantage. Organizations utilizing this type of integration are capable of tracking customer purchasing habits in a more comprehensive manner. This type of tracking can allow the organization to suggest other locations within its network. If a customer does use a different location the consumers’ needs and habits are already in the system. This tool can be invaluable in building customer loyalty.

Depending upon the type of property management system being used the dashboard can be used to track many different automated functions such as check-in, office accounting, marketing, phone, reservations, restaurant and pay-per-view movies. This allows for property management systems to become more informative as the information that they track can be utilized in comprehensive reports (IBM, 2012). For example, senior managers can use the two systems to create sales reports that show when room vacancies are at the highest. This in turn can be used to control other functions such as employee work scheduling.

While the global systems are more comprehensive they are extremely expensive. Linking a dashboard with any system of this nature would be costly mainly due to the fact that the dashboard will need to be customized to the property management system. For this reason, internal property management systems are often used because they can be fitted for much lower cost. The main factor in choosing one system over another would be the size of the company. Large organizations with multiple locations throughout the country or world would need to use a global dashboard and property management system where as small organizations with limited locations would not necessarily need a global system and could use an internal system.

The use of digital dashboards continues to grow within the hospitality industry as more and more applications and tools are made available for use. The growing use of these systems allows for organizations in the hospitality industry to continue to expand while streamlining processes and increasing efficiency. Eventually most organizations within the industry will need to utilize these systems.

References

Gambhir, A. (2012). Understanding the new hotel performance dashboard. Retrieved from http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/3037/understanding-the-new-hotel- performance-dashboard

IBM. (2012). Executive dashboard. Retrieved from http://www- 01.ibm.com/software/analytics/cognos/executive-dashboard.html

J. A. O’Brien. (2002). Management Information Systems: Managing Information

Technology in the E-Business Enterprise, 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Tesone D.V. (2006) Hospitality Information Systems and E-Commerce. Ch. 3 Wiley, John & Sons

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