April 26, 2023
By Kim Campbell

For a hotel to run successfully, interlocking departments and procedures must operate simultaneously, like individual gears in a massive clock. Thousands of individual tasks must be executed correctly and in succession for things to run smoothly. Having a proactive hotel operations management strategy can help make that happen. Optimizing hotel operations can also lead to increased revenue, occupancy levels, and guest satisfaction, but failing to focus on operations could cause hotels to fall behind in increasingly competitive markets.

In this post, we take a deep dive into hotel operations management. We break down what hotel operations are and discuss how they impact each department, employee, and guest. We review real-world best practices, automated tools, and helpful resources hotels can use to improve day-to-day and long-term operations. If you’re looking for ways to speed up time-consuming and error-prone manual processes, increase productivity, improve the guest experience, or boost team morale, you’ve come to the right place.

The ins and outs of hotel operations management

What is hotel operations management?

Hotel operations management is precisely what it sounds like: the process of managing hotel operations. It is the process of skillfully deploying resources, equipment, finances, and staff to optimize daily efficiency and maximize hotel profitability. From anticipating expenses and choosing software systems to scheduling staff and collaborating with other managers, hotel operations management encompasses every operation that keeps the business up and running.

Direct and energetic operations management can improve a hotel’s efficacy and efficiency. Efficacy describes the ability to get things done, and efficiency is the process of getting things done in the most economical way. Successful hotels have worked out how to complete daily tasks quickly, efficiently, and in high volume.

Are there different categories of hotel operations?

Although hotel operations management describes the entire process of overseeing hotel efficacy and efficiency, each department has separate roles, goals, resources, and responsibilities. To grant your property the highest chances of success, work to optimize every category of hotel operations, including:

• Front Office
• Food & Beverage
• Maintenance
• Housekeeping
• Sales & Marketing
• Meetings & Events
• Revenue/Finances
• Management
• Guest Services
• Hiring/Training

Smooth, seamless, and well-managed hotel operations are at the core of optimal property performance and a satisfying guest experience. Hotel managers can improve how the entire property operates by ensuring each department has strong leadership and performs at peak efficiency.

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Why is managing hotel operations so important?

Hotel operations management is about understanding what guests want from a hotel and giving it to them, while simultaneously increasing hotel profits. Proper budgeting, resource allocation, technology utilization, and staffing are necessary to meet and exceed guest expectations. Managers can meet these goals by proactively managing the complex web of hotel operations without overworking team members or sacrificing service.

Who is in charge of hotel operations management?

At many hotels, the general manager also functions as the operations manager, as numerous responsibilities overlap. Focused-service hotels may split the duties between a GM and an AGM. In contrast, specialized managers are frequently hired to oversee more complex operations at large properties, luxury hotels, and full-service hotels. As each hotel department performs separate roles and specific procedures, interdepartmental hotel operations management is crucial, with a leader guiding each department to peak performance.

What does a hotel operations manager do?

The operations manager at a hotel is responsible for utilizing hotel tools and resources in the most efficient way possible. They oversee the performance of each department, from maintenance to the front office, ensuring that each department fulfills its role and enabling the entire hotel to run like a well-oiled machine.

In addition to managing big-picture operations, an operations manager has a wide range of responsibilities, including:

• Creating and implementing hotel Standard Operating Procedures and best practices
• Interviewing, hiring, and onboarding new employees
• Training staff on new processes, procedures, and technology
• Ensuring that all employee certifications, licenses, and safety training requirements (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, first aid certification) are up to date
• Providing excellent customer service to customers
• Creating efficient service spaces where employees and guests interact
• Managing quality assurance procedures and programs
• Helping the hotel meet budget, revenue, and business goals
• Quickly resolving guest complaints
• Finding fast resolutions to problems that could affect guest satisfaction levels, such as maintenance projects or amenity outages

The operations manager is also responsible for tracking the hotel’s overall performance. They provide hotel performance reporting to on-property leaders, including fellow managers, directors, and department heads. Many host team meetings regularly to review budget and resource allocation, discuss the implementation of new procedures, review departmental expenses, and more. With a clear picture of how well the hotel has been operating, they may choose to refine or switch up the current hotel operations management strategy.

Which software systems do hotels use to manage operations?

Robust hotel management systems, like the property management system (PMS), revenue management system (RMS), and point of sales system (POS), can supercharge hotel operations, significantly reducing the time and employee power required to complete everyday tasks. Furthermore, hotels with integrated systems have access to a wide range of essential market metrics and property performance data at their fingertips.

1. PMS

Modern PMS systems give hotel staff broad check-in and checkout capabilities, housekeeping management tools, and robust data security. With a powerful PMS, the Front Office team can operate more efficiently, reduce data errors, and spend more time focused on serving guests than manually entering reservation data. Outside of selling guestrooms, the PMS manages most hotel tasks, with modern integrated systems allowing hotel employees to communicate quickly, share updates, mark tasks completed, and more.

Choose hotel booking software that provides the front desk team access to real-time hotel details and room status updates, enabling them to assign rooms as soon as they are ready. If the housekeeping team notices major repair needs, they can quickly place the room out of order and notify maintenance that an issue requires their attention. Maintenance can use the PMS to provide project updates, close open repair tickets, and schedule room repairs in advance, allowing the front office to make room assignments in the least disruptive manner.

2. RMS

Integrating a third-party RMS with the hotel PMS can optimize various revenue management operations, from rate loading and inventory control to add-on availability and yield management. Instead of manually reviewing future reservations to identify occupancy trends, demand shifts, or drops in booking pace, revenue managers can quickly survey all channels for accurate analysis of minute-to-minute market reporting. With this data, they can make fast, impactful decisions, including whether they should:

• Raise or lower rates
• Release or restrict inventory
• Close high-demand dates
• Implement booking restrictions
• Limit specific booking channels

Integrated hotels that use competitive insights tools have access to real-time demand reporting. They can run future forecasts, rate shop the competition, track shifts in demand, analyze competitor RFP responses, and more, significantly increasing the speed at which hotel managers can recognize and react to market changes.

3. POS

A comprehensive hotel POS system manages all of the property’s sales, including restaurant sales, sundry shop exchanges, and spa package purchases. A modern POS system can enable hotels to speed up various day-to-day sales-related tasks, including:

• Reservation management
• Inventory tracking
• Preauthorization procedures
• Payment processing
• Billing & invoicing

Integrated POS systems receive information from the RMS and PMS to reflect pricing and billing changes as soon as they occur. The F&B team can automatically attach dining charges to the guest’s room, streamlining the billing process. After checkout, housekeeping can tally mini-bar charges and post them directly to the room’s bill, helping the property recoup expensive amenity costs. An automated sales system can reduce chargebacks and billing inaccuracies caused by manual entry mistakes.

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Tips & tools for improving hotel operations management

Whether you’re stepping into operations for the first time or are looking for innovative ideas to invigorate your hotel’s operations management strategy, we’ve compiled a list of tips, tools, and best practices to help.

1. Stay organized. Use a master hotel operations checklist that outlines the daily to-dos the operations manager must complete.

2. Never stop training. Keep staff updated with policy changes and continue training employees on new and improving technology, guest service procedures, safety, and wellness. Cross-train employees to boost productivity and empower your staff.

3. Automate hotel reservation procedures. Set up automated email and text services to communicate important reservation information to guests. Automatically send booking details, confirmation information, deposit requirements, and check-in reminders based on the guest’s arrival date, freeing up the front desk for other activities.

4. Use the PMS to improve financial management. Access invoicing functions, revenue reporting, and petty cash tracking. Manage OTA commissions, accounts receivable, debts, deposits, and more, all in one place.

5. Embrace technology in every department. Hotel technology can optimize operations all over the hotel, not just at the front desk. Digital checklists, robotic vacuums, and air purifiers would help the housekeeping department. Digital menus, room service apps, and automated billing could make life easier for the restaurant team. Look for tech opportunities everywhere, as optimizing operations in one area could boost performance for the entire hotel.

6. Improve the management of hotel groups. Maximize the efficiency of group booking operations using automated and intuitive software. Not only will it save you time, but many of those manual and time-consuming processes can be simplified down to a few easy steps.

7. Eliminate back-and-forth with planners. Use room block software to create custom group booking websites, automate data collection, and more. Give group planners the ability to assign rooms, make rooming list updates, and change guestroom assignments as needed, freeing up your sales team to focus on uncovering new business opportunities.

8. Invest in your team. You get out of your employees what you put into them. Create a strong workplace culture by investing in employee training, benefits, and career growth opportunities.

9. Listen to feedback. Improve your operations management style by putting constructive input to good use. Encourage guests, employees, and other managers to share feedback freely and honestly in a respectful manner. Anonymous surveys are fantastic tools for engaging hotel employees and enticing honest answers from apprehensive team members.

Frequently asked questions about hotel operations management

1. What makes a good hotel operations manager?

To be a successful hotel operations manager, you must be present and available for employees and guests. A good operations manager checks in often. They are there to handle day-to-day questions, concerns, guest complaints, employee issues, and any other problems that may arise at the hotel.

2. Do hotel operations managers have to report to higher-ups?

At franchised properties, branded hotels, and chain accommodations, the operations manager may also be responsible for providing executive managers (i.e., owners, operators, or regional heads) with performance reporting. Higher-ups may request a comprehensive accounting analysis, detailed market reporting, hotel revenue tracking, or other KPIs at any time. Using above-property business intelligence reporting, operations teams can provide a big-picture analysis of hotel and marketing performance, illustrate progress toward property goals, or even make a case for improved resource allocation using data from multiple brands.

3. What is “waste reduction” in hotel operations management?

Reducing waste is an integral component of hotel operations management, encompassing more than limiting physical waste. In addition to implementing comprehensive waste management systems, operations managers are tasked with reducing financial waste, reusing materials appropriately, allocating inventory, and maximizing hotel recycling efforts.

Bookmark this guide to hotel operations management!

Now, you’re equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to improve operations at your property. Meet with fellow managers and department heads to discuss which hotel operations management strategies will benefit your property, staff, and guests. Work together to formulate the best operating procedures for your unique needs.

Up next, we continue our exploration of hotel operations by providing hoteliers and managers with actionable management strategies. We look at ways to combat staffing shortages, explore the value of cross-training, review risk reduction procedures, and more. Follow along and learn how to improve hotel operations in seven simple steps.

Headshot of Cvent writer Kimberly Campbell

Kim Campbell

Kim is a full-time copy and content writer with many years of experience in the hospitality industry. She entered the hotel world in 2013 as a housekeeping team member and worked her way through various departments before being appointed to Director of Sales. Kim has championed numerous successful sales efforts, revenue strategies, and marketing campaigns — all of which landed her a spot on Hotel Management Magazine’s “Thirty Under 30” list.

Don’t be fooled though; she’s not all business! An avid forest forager, post-apocalyptic fiction fan, and free-sample-fiend, Kim prides herself on being well-rounded.

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