Every hotelier wants to improve their hotel operations. Even if you’re already delivering remarkable experiences for guests, it’s always possible to streamline further, to uncover more revenue, to make guests even happier. 

This article covers ten of the most impactful ways for independent hoteliers to enhance their hotel operations. You’ll notice that at the heart of every point is one recurring theme: the importance of great technology that’s matched to your specific needs. Get that right, and it will unlock operational excellence.

Table of contents

What do we mean by hotel operations? 

Let’s quickly make sure we’re all on the same page. When we talk about hotel operations, we’re encompassing the entire process of how a hotel runs on a daily basis. There are lots of moving parts that must be closely coordinated across multiple teams, all with the goal of delighting guests and running an efficient business. 

The main areas in hotel operations

What are the main departments or areas in hotel operations? Well, it includes day-to-day management of the hotel, such as housekeeping, maintenance, concierge and front desk tasks, and it also covers areas like staff training and back-office roles. Essentially, it’s any task or process that contributes to the guest’s or staff’s experience with the property. Namely: 

1. Front desk 

Your front office staff are the most visible to your guests. Traditionally, this team was literally behind a front desk, but the spread of more agile, mobile technology is transforming lobbies and reception areas so that staff can be more engaged with guests and move around the property freely. 

Key responsibilities include checking in arrivals and checking out departures, while acting as a knowledgeable guide on everything from breakfast times to nearby attractions.  

2. Food and beverage (F&B) 

F&B teams are also customer-facing, with a big role to play in providing memorable experiences. Even if a hotel embraces the latest F&B technology like seamless, integrated point-of-sale (POS) solutions, someone still has to cook the food, mix the drinks and deliver it to the guest. The quality of this service can set the mood for the rest of the guest’s stay. 

This is often the largest department in a hotel, as it encompasses restaurants, bars, room service and event hosting like conferences or weddings (although this can also be outsourced). 

3. Reservations and marketing 

While front office teams handle guests who are onsite, reservations and marketing departments are the ones responsible for attracting those guests in the first place. 

Sometimes together in a single team, these are the people who manage bookings, work with third parties like travel agencies and distribution channels, and deliver marketing strategies to maximize occupancy and revenue. Those in marketing will also have a big role in shaping and maintaining the hotel’s brand, from communications to imagery. 

4. Housekeeping 

Rooms don’t clean themselves. Most hotels have an in-house housekeeping team, although some prefer to outsource to a specialist company. Either way, a well-oiled operation is key to fast turnarounds, happy guests and even maximizing revenue through early check-ins. 

The relationship between housekeeping and the front desk team is one of a hotel’s most important. Good communication is needed to ensure that room status is updated accurately and swiftly – in the past, this meant constant phone calls, but modern hoteliers prefer to use an app. 

5. Maintenance 

Even in the most operationally seamless hotel, sometimes things go wrong. The maintenance team will fix anything from utilities like heating and plumbing to hotel technology like Alexas and other smart tech. 

Their tasks will often come through the front desk team (having been reported by a guest or the housekeeping team), and having a connected property management system to track these tasks will be a big operational timesaver.  

6. IT 

In an independent hotel, the IT team may consist of just one person, whereas a hotel group may employee several technology specialists. Either way, IT is hugely important within a modern hotel.  

As well as being a key decision maker in choosing the most appropriate platforms (PMS, RMS, POS etc.) for the property, they’re also responsible for areas like onsite digital security and integration management. 

7. Management and finance 

Hotel management ensures every team is working together towards the same goal: creating remarkable guest experiences while maximizing efficiency.  

They’ll supervise other departments and often take an active role in hiring new staff and improving staff motivation and retention. They’ll also work closely with the finance department to oversee expenses, income and profit, and to identify areas and strategies that will help to optimize revenue.  

10 ways to improve independent hotel operations 

This is why you’re here, so let’s get to it. These are 10 ways to improve your hotel operations. 

1. Choose cloud native 

Cloud-native technology is not the same as cloud-based technology. Why? It’s all about philosophy and how that filters down into usability. 

If software is designed to exist in the cloud in the first instance, it typically means it’s not bound by traditional ways of thinking or operational processes. Moreover, these solutions are typically faster, easier to use and more secure than non-native options. 

Software that began as something on-premises usually tries to replicate all its existing processes and transfer them to the cloud. That’s not innovative thinking and it means that hoteliers won’t benefit from a more streamlined vision of hotel operations. 

The majority of hotel software integrations are cloud-native, but this is not the case with property management systems. Choose a cloud-native PMS and you’ll be able to better automate operations from booking engine to check-out. 

2. Simplify operations 

Hands up if you enjoy performing repetitive manual tasks? Thought so. Tasks like typing in passport details or taking card payments don’t add value to your guest’s stay – they distract your team from providing more personable experiences. 

Find a hospitality cloud that simplifies and streamlines the management of your day-to-day tasks. This is particularly important for independent and smaller hotel groups who often have a smaller staff size than bigger brands. 

It’s not only your guest-facing staff who’ll benefit. Revenue managers and similar back-office roles can have their jobs transformed by automation, saving them huge amounts of time that can be spent on strategic thinking. 

3. Drive more revenue 

Speaking of revenue management... What operational changes can you make to boost your bottom line? The most obvious place to start is by maximizing occupancy and optimizing rates, and as good as your revenue manager is, there’s no RM that couldn’t be helped by a modern revenue management solution. Automatic rate management uses live and historic data to set your prices and get more heads in beds. 

But that’s not the only way to boost revenue. You should also diversify. One of the great advantages of independent hotels is that they have more flexibility than larger chains. If you have the right technology, you can move quickly into new areas like selling day use rooms, desk space and parking spots.  

4. Focus on guests 

One of the best ways to differentiate your independent hotel or group is by providing attentive service and experiences. This guest-centricity stems from staff empowerment. If your team is too busy tackling manual tasks and processes, they'll have less time to focus on delivering the best-in-class guest experiences. 

Counterintuitive as it sounds, you should find technology that your team will use as little as possible. Manually adjusting room prices every day or typing in every guest’s middle name by hand doesn’t add any value to your guest’s stay. It just slows you down. From housekeeping to reservations, check-ins to reporting, automate anything that can be time better spent elsewhere. 

5. Invest in solutions you can trust 

Just as your guests trust you to provide them with a delightful stay, you should trust your technology partners to provide you with reliable and effective solutions. Again, this is where cloud-native solutions have the advantage: they’re able to release product updates and new features without any system downtime. Pro tip: always ask for SLAs around platform uptime. 

Find someone who values you as a partner and not just a client. What might this look like? If your PMS opens beta testing to its hoteliers, has open feedback channels and dedicated customer success managers and support, these are good indications that you’re with the right provider. 

6. Empower your teams 

While we’re on the subject of trust, successful hotel operations require managers who trust their team. Despite the important role of technology, hospitality remains the most human of industries, and it’s vital that you empower your teams to provide remarkable hospitality. 

For front desk staff, that means freeing them from repetitive processes and chunky desks and computer screens. For reservations and marketing teams it means giving them the tools to better understand guests and deliver personalized experiences. For housekeeping it means streamlined communication (an app is the best way to go). 

Want to unpack this more? Download the Empower Your Teams guide for smarter working

7. Provide excellent staff training 

Training new staff can be a drain on time and resource, so choosing a PMS that’s easy to learn is vital for maintaining high standards of service.  

This comes down to two things: first, that it’s modern in design as well as function. That will make it easy to pick up, particularly for people new to hospitality. Equally, it’s important to have comprehensive training tools that staff (new and old) can access at any time. Online training with job-role based learning paths, video tutorials, live sessions, exams and certification should all be on the menu. 

A quick note on onboarding, too: no one knows your property like you do. That means you’re in the best position to decide the type of deployment that best suits your team and operations, whether that’s self-guided, online or with an onsite expert help. Make sure your provider gives you options. 

8. Explore more integrations 

Connectivity is a powerful tool in the independent hotelier’s arsenal. With an integration marketplace, you can access hundreds of specialist tools that will enhance your hotel operations. 

Assuming you’re with a provider who doesn’t charge connection fees, one of the best things you can do with integrations is test test test. Take revenue management, for example. There are dozens of software solutions for this, and most likely there are a couple that are better suited to your business. However, it isn’t always obvious from the outset, which is why you should test one for a few months, and if the results aren’t what you were hoping for, try another. This may not be as big a time investment as you think, as many integrations are plug-and-play, meaning you can set them up in just a few clicks. 

9. Champion sustainability 

Sustainability is a big concern for most modern travelers. More and more guests actively search for eco-friendly hotels, and if your brand doesn’t address this issue anywhere, you risk losing out on business.  

There are several ways that you can embrace green hospitality. By automating and removing unnecessary processes, it means a reduction in physical waste like paper receipts and printed reports. Specialist eco-friendly integration partners can help in areas like planting trees and temperature control cost savings. 

If hotel sustainability is something you’re passionate about, check out the guide on The Green Hotel of the Future

10. Invest in future-thinking solutions 

Quick fixes are important, especially when it comes to hotel operations. But don’t focus so much on immediate challenges that you forget to think about the big picture. 

Consider scalability. Is your business likely to grow in the future, and if it does, will your technology partners be able to support this growth? As we’ve seen in the last few years (AI being the prime example), technology can change expectations and operational demands very quickly. Make sure you're confident that your hospitality cloud can keep pace with this evolution and will be able to roll out new features. 

Essential software for efficient hotel operations 

We’ve hinted at it already, but in order to improve operations in any independent hotel, you’ll need technology partners that you can rely on. There are literally thousands of hospitality solutions out there, but it’s most important to get the core of your technology stack right. For that, there are three essential software decisions to make. 

1. Property management system (PMS) 

Without doubt, a property management system is the most important piece of hotel software. It’s the platform that handles all key hotel operations like managing reservations, settling bills, guest check-ins and check-outs. Front desk teams rely on it to perform guest-facing tasks, while management uses it to track performance. 

A PMS is the glue at the center of any tech stack. It should be able to easily connect with other leading technology and have the flexibility to provide the kind of guest experiences you want. 

2. Revenue management system (RMS) 

A sophisticated revenue management system can be a game-changer when it comes to maximizing revenue. Historically, revenue managers had to spend hours researching, analyzing and manually inputting room rates throughout the year. Now, smart algorithms can do all of this in seconds. 

A good RMS will continually track demand and market activity, pricing rooms to boost occupancy as well as your hotel’s bottom line. Needless to say, it should sync seamlessly with your PMS to ensure up-to-day inventory and no overbookings. 

3. Point-of-sale (POS) 

If you’re running any kind of bar or restaurant, an integrated point-of-sale solution is a must-have. A hotel POS allows you to receive orders (digitally or in-person) and send them to the kitchen, manage your stock and take payments. 

The best POS software will connect to your PMS so that guests can add bills to their guest profile rather than pay at every visit; this also gives you better oversight into your guests’ habits and total spend. 

The Independent Hotel Playbook 

Inspired to pursue even more remarkable hotel operations? The Independent Hotel Playbook explores how to elevate your hotel operations with Mews Hospitality Cloud. You can get the guide for free now: