Improvements in productivity theoretically mean that the cost of the work done in your hotel is reduced. Increased productivity is therefore clearly desirable – but before we look at some ways in which it can be accomplished, we need to first bear in mind a couple of caveats.

The first point is that there is often a trade-off between productivity and quality; you can certainly get your housekeeping staff to clean more rooms per hour, but they probably won’t be able to keep them quite as clean as before. Similarly your guests may have to wait a little bit longer in the restaurant at busy periods, or the real flowers in your lobby may have to be switched for fakes.

Another issue is the measurement of productivity. At a basic level we can consider productivity of labour and productivity of capital. In practical terms it will be labour productivity which can be most easily adjusted to create better results. However, the choice of what to measure will influence the way productivity improvements are implemented, and there are many factors at play which affect productivity. For example, a group of ten guests can be checked in more efficiently than ten individuals; how will that be assessed? Staff who are currently undergoing training are less productive today; how do we measure the inevitable future benefits? Outsourcing can lead to productivity increases on paper as staff are no longer responsible for tasks in which they cannot specialize, but this can also lead to an increase in the overall cost base.

With this in mind, here are six simple ways you can make improvements in productivity in your hotel.

  1. Targets

This is where we decide what will be improved and by how much, so the issue of measurement is taken into account here. Whatever is decided must be made absolutely clear to all involved. One good idea is to involve staff in setting their own targets. They’ll have a good idea of what can be achieved, as well as what needs to be improved, and they’ll probably work a lot harder to meet their own targets than they would to meet yours.

  1. Communication

If everyone in the organization can communicate directly and immediately with everyone else then you will inevitably save a lot of time on the distribution of key information. For example, if the housekeepers can instantly communicate directly with maintenance staff, instead of completing a report and sending a request at the end of their shift, they’ll be able to report problems which need fixing the moment they find them.

  1. Incentives

If staff are able to meet their targets, they should be rewarded for doing so. It doesn’t have to be anything too costly, but showing appreciation for a positive contribution creates a positive working environment. If you can personalize the reward – find out what each individual staff member likes best (in my case it would be Ethiopian coffee) – this makes staff feel not only appreciated, but also better understood as individuals.

  1. Automation

There are many tasks within hotel administration which could be handled more efficiently by computer software systems, leaving staff free to devote their time to more productive work where they might offer better services to guests. If your accounts department is still doing everything manually, it’s time to change.

  1. Go paperless

This one is partly an extension of automation. Let your Property Management System software take the strain. However, if you avoid paper throughout you operation you’ll also save time on searching for important information hidden within piles of documents, and you’ll be better placed to use your computerized data to uncover other opportunities for savings. That’s hard to do when your staff spend their time filling in forms and hunting through filing cabinets.

  1. Stop wasting time

There are certain tasks within a hotel which take more time than others. Carrying guests’ bags to their rooms might be one example. Eliminating them would lead to immediate productivity improvements, although service quality may take a hit. There are also tasks which take time because your staff aren’t really specialists, so outsourcing may be a better option. Do you really need to bake your own bread for breakfast, or would it be more efficient to have it delivered? You might also like to consider carefully the role of each department within your hotel, and make sure they aren’t duplicating certain functions. For example, sales staff and marketing staff may overlap in some functions while failing to connect adequately in others. This is another situation where better communication can help to eliminate inefficiencies.

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