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  • Ryan Haynes

Adapting hospitality management

Michael Jones, Director of Revenue tells us how Effective Hospitality Management emerged from the pandemic by building a business model for today's hospitality management.

In this episode, we get to understand:


  • How management business models and service deliveries have changed to meet today's needs

  • The changing behaviours of guests

  • Managing staff, changing processes and engaging in technology

  • Changing the distribution strategy

  • Assessing new tech providers.



With 150 years of senior management experience leading prestigious hospitality operations over the last 25 years, EHM introduces strong sales and revenue processes to ensure that the hotel business is well positioned in the market. www.effectivehospitality.co.uk


Programme Notes


Ryan Haynes:

Hello and Welcome to Travel. Market Life. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes. And in today's show, we are going to be talking about Adapting hospitality management with Michael Jones, director of revenue at Effective Hospitality Management with 150 years of senior management experience leading prestigious hospitality operations over the last 25 years. During this interview, we are going to be talking about changing Behaviours, managing the staffing crisis Adapting to technology, how distribution strategies are changing and the utilization of systems and working with partners.


Ryan Haynes:

Hello Michael. Thank you very much indeed for joining us today. So there has been such a change in the last couple of years and effective hospitality management has really come out of the pandemic and really noticed a change in need in the marketplace as of consequence of emerging from the pandemic. We'd love to know how have you adapted the business model for hoteliers and the type of service delivery needed to meet today's demands.


Michael Jones:

Hi, Ryan. So yes, starting a business during the pandemic, with my colleagues Kevin and John Dunn was probably a very bold and scary move, but there was a need. We identified during the process, for the smaller hotelier that obviously the support, how they adapted during the pandemic. It was very, very difficult, especially with obviously everything that happened, the non-government support for the tourism industry, obviously at large.


Michael Jones:

So, we identified this and Kevin and John at the start started to go through this and identified what was needed. Obviously, the biggest thing was staffing cost control for owners in smaller businesses that don't have the, basically, the large corporate background that has all these procurement bases and the revenue management skills, the huge reservations teams. There was a huge need there for basically all the fundamentals that you would take from a very, very large hotel.


Michael Jones:

You take for granted if you have a head office base that you don't have in a guest house, for instance, from a guest house up to a small hotel, up to 50 bedrooms. We've identified this going forward. What basically what we've done is we've taken what we've done in large hotels, we, we've taken the budget process, the forecasting process and, and the Pricing process, which is obviously one of the most key important parts. And we've scaled that down to be able to adapt and help these smaller businesses. One of the large things was technology.


Michael Jones:

I think especially what I've noticed going into properties that have been privately owned and maybe run for maybe 10 to 15 years by a couple, say, for instance, was a lot of manual processes. And when I say manual, going back, they were using for the booking system, they were using a diary. Right. So Adapting, Adapting to the change and then obviously the large one for me out of the pandemic especially has been the technology side.


Ryan Haynes:

I mean it really is a complete rethinking though, isn't it, as you say. I mean it's like there's so much need now for businesses of any shape or size to really understand how digital works, how you engage with consumers on that level to be able to bring those bookings in and then also to deliver that digital service, which again, concludes exactly our expecting, but how do you then ensure that you've got the hospitality experience when people arrive on site? And I've seen that there's a lot more of that shift now to really bring in those outsource specialist advisors like yourselves to be able to support really those main mechanisms so that at the hotel itself, they can focus on what they do best.


Ryan Haynes:

And, and, and I I guess this is where you are really able to bring that best practice from larger hotels and provide a template for the smaller properties to succeed.


Michael Jones:

Exactly. Then obviously throughout my career, I've always been told the most important thing in a hotel is the guest. Yes. Then important, you always get told that but some type, obviously special ed is what we said just prior there in a smaller hotel, a lot of these processes take up so much time if they don't have the skill to do this process and they're having to learn all these processes, but as they're going along, it's the guests that suffer. So, when we go and we take that process and the background away, the fundamentals of concentrating on the guest, the guest experience is at the forefront. It's right at the front, and then everything in the background is taken care of. What you were saying there about the culture of the staff and things like that, it has been difficult. People are used to sitting at a reception desk handing over a key. They're just used to standing behind the bar, handing over the gin or the cocktail or the pint of a lager. The, what we've tried to do is, is when we go in and I obviously John and Kevin's say they're very, very good at bringing the team together and looking at people's transferrable skills. And when I say transferrable skills, they're hospitality skills.


Michael Jones:

It's not just a case. So yes, I'm great, I make the best gin and tonic. Yes. But you can also be the get the best at checking in the guest or taking the guest to the room or explaining about the business. So, it's looking at it and as an overall, so instead of having these segregated departments like that, well, I only work in the restaurant, I only work in housekeeping. We, we brought the teams together and so not, not in a sense cross-trained them, it's educated them to a sense of you actually know how to do it, it's just you've just got this bit in the back of your head it says, no, this is what I've been employed to do.


Michael Jones:

This is all I do. And then obviously that fix against a journey like that as well. So yeah.


Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, I mean I guess it's that needs to be able to, as you say, sort of flex demands throughout the hotel utilizing and resisting staff force, especially when it might be restricted as we are seeing, you know, where demand needs at the front desk, have the people at other parts of the Howard Hotel working there, then they shift over to the other departments and as you say, you're working within a small hotel. I guess this also, once they really understand how they can transfer their skills, they become much more empowered and much more involved in how you can make the property a success.


Michael Jones:

Exactly. So, I'll give you an example. So, we have a hotel that before the pandemic had three receptionists, who would look after reservations, answer the phone, and we work alongside Fusion group and we have a reservation centre. So that element of reservations, reservations, checking, and taking payments has been lifted out, the hotel and then your staff on property. Instead of having three receptionists, do you maybe just go down to one or have two duty managers and then one administration person and they're concentrating on the guest, the concierge side of things, how can they make the guest experience better?


Michael Jones:

So that administration element, which is, which I personally think in a lot of hotels, people get themselves bogged down with when the focus should be on the guest and making their experience as much as, as, as, as good as possible. And also, then picking up if there is an issue, which as we know in hotels, there always is an issue, but we don't normally because we're highly professional, we don't probably show there's an issue. Yeah. We just sort of always make sure that the guest is happy. And a lot of that is it's all coming to technology.


Ryan Haynes:

And you, you, if you've talked to me about some of the ways and those changes by removing that receptionist, the automated check-in, the digital payments, the automated reports, you know how have they, the staff been able to adapt to that? And I guess at the same time, isn't that a consumer demand or get a demand or expectation from the guest?


Michael Jones:

I think so we started, so the pandemic started, and I always use this example, my dad was 76 before the pandemic, he was a techno folk who did not like technology. He now, after two years, two and a half years off a pandemic has an iPhone and an iPad and he, they just put their flights to spend to go on holiday done on themselves, on the iPad from the hotel side of things. When a member of staff has been doing something for a long time and they take pride in that and they take this is, this is what I do, this, this, this is what drives the business.


Michael Jones:

When you take that away there, there's a lot of change. What we've done is we have taken them on the journey. We've, it's not just, you would think if for instance, if you just went into the business in turnaround stage, right? You're not doing that anymore. You're not doing this. and we make that member of the staff probably not that great, not wanting to work there anymore. So we've taken them on the journey, we've, along the whole stage shown them the technology as their involvement. Reservation centre, for instance, everybody goes to the reservation centre, they spend the day there, they see what the team at the reservation centre do, but they also see what their involvement needs to be, how they need the work. So, they're still doing the job that they used to do before.


Michael Jones:

They're just doing it a slightly different way to match this type of technology. So instead now a checking, I would say 60% of the guests now do online checking based on, based on obviously from what I've seen over probably eight hotels, maybe 60%, but the, now the member of staff on property needs to identify who's checked on online and then just see how they can adapt that other 40% of the guests of how they can check in online. And then the other interesting thing is the age bracket for the person who's doing the online check-in is from 60 years old upwards, which is to me, I think that's fantastic.


Michael Jones:

I really do think that's great because everybody's adapted. Everybody roughly has email now they have an iPad or, some form of a tablet or they have a smartphone.


Ryan Haynes:

It that's absolutely fascinating. And as you say, you know, whilst consumers and guests have moved in that direction, it's about really helping your staff understand their role and how they can be part of that. And one of the other things that you were telling me that has been a big change is how the chefs also engage at some of your properties. Please tell us about what you've been doing there.


Michael Jones:

I mean, I think it's a case of one team. It's it, and it is one team that should never, ever be segregated down the kitchen staff stay in the kitchen. And when we've got hotel up in the port app, the chef makes a great effort up there to come out. If food needs to get explained, yes, the restaurant manager can explain it, maybe not me as much, but if I had to do it. But it's a case of having that the member of staff front of the house, having the confidence to go and say to the chef, can you come in and explain where you got the scallops, where the oysters came from? And he will do that. He has his clean jacket sitting there and his clean apron and he'll put it on and he'll come into the restaurant and talk to the guest, recommend the wine that goes with it So it is building the team together.


Michael Jones:

And, and, and I think that's an important thing that everybody is one team. Everybody helps each other in a hotel


Ryan Haynes:

And, say is from a smaller hotel and you know, there is that family environment and you know, it is almost the heart of a community for a lot of people. And you know, it, it makes sense to look at it that way. Now, one of the other areas I'd love to talk to you about and learn about is the distribution strategy and the role between your OTAs and how important they are and the emphasis you put on that from a sales perspective versus your website because you know, that's a big discussion that's been an ongoing direction.


Michael Jones:

Discussion and it always has been for years. It's like we want more direct bookings. We want more direct bookings. Your larger corporations, your Hiltons, your HG yes they have the drive, they have dedicated teams that are able to focus solely on that coming down to our smaller properties. So, the ones that I work with, yes, we would love to have everything direct. I mean, it, it would just be amazing, but when you have your Booking.com that have such a high budget, I mean it's a budget that you didn't even dream of having yourself, but they spend in one week a hotel probably wouldn't spend in 30 years on online marketing.


Michael Jones:

So there needs to be an element of, so how I look at when I budget there needs to be an element of how we work with the OTAs, but how we also work with other channels, the good one for me, it depends out Google do Google Zero now you can now. So, when you go into Google, normally it would be TripAdvisor that we'd come up in your sidebar and things like that. Now Google is taking bookings for you, but they're pulling it from the rates from your own booking engine. So that in a sense is pushing your direct business. So, we've been looking at making sure our Google business pages are up to date, opening times are up to date, all the things that an owner can do, as well as a huge corporation looking at keywords, looking at the scary thing, Google Analytics


Ryan Haynes:

As they go to change them to GA four. And that's, that's the minefield.


Michael Jones:

But I've just learned Google Analytics. No, but yet it's, it is looking at it if a lot of independent places do work with places that do their websites for instance. So, and we work with these companies and it's like, okay, can we put a simple thing like on is a heat map on our website me saying a heat map to, to yourself or any of my colleagues? Yes, they understand, but then we need to explain that to an owner that's like that. Okay. And the way the basic, the simplest way I see it is we put a sheet across your website and then it comes out with a colour to see where people are clicking, making sure the booking engines are up to date. I mean how many clicks does it take for me to make a booking? I think booking.com, I think it's five or six clicks now to make a booking. That's great.


Ryan Haynes:

Oh, it's phenomenal. Yeah. It's so fast.


Michael Jones:

And I think it's even faster on the app. I lost my train of thought there. Yes. So going on. So, we're identifying the information in the background. So, the Google business page, anything that we do mailing-wise, mailing if, if you would think doesn't work. I mean it's just like, oh it's a waste of time. We've actually proved it in one of our properties. It does work. The owner does a newsletter to her database and the uptake in there I think was this year. So, their financial year, financial lives month, I think 20% of their bookings came from that newsletter.


Ryan Haynes:

And that's phenomenal. you know, how are you utilizing all these different types of systems now and the role that they're playing and you know, that's, that's, that's certainly, you know, as, as come to the final questions here Michael, we'd love to hear from you about how you assess new technologies, systems and partners and the technology that you're looking at next.


Michael Jones:

So, the technology we're using at the moment, so o over all the properties we use, I think I use a different PMS in every property. Six of the properties that I have are on one and then the rest are all separates. The fundamental thing, they all do exactly the same thing. The big one for me is the distribution from that system. How easy is that distribution when you load a rate, how far does that rate go as I would call it? Does it go out to your, or does it push it to your website?


Michael Jones:

The other one is guest confirmation. So, we've managed, we've got all now set up. So, confirmation is sent time of booking seven days before the guests arrive, they will get another email. Is it anything else you want to be at the table for dinner? Then there's a hyperlink in there. They can go in and book the road table for dinner, which then takes the element away from the hotel and then after they've stayed, I think it's six days after they'll get mail, is there anything that we could have done better?


Michael Jones:

So, there's nothing pushy, everything. The first two are helpful, and the last one's feedback and that's down to the system as well. You just put a system into edge called hop, a Scottish-based company. I have to say, I'll tell the truth here, never done online training. I set up the system but it's done in a way if you've worked in a hotel or used another system, it was a very natural flow where you had to go, how things are worth it in the system, how the reports are worth it. So even though you'd never worked in hospitality before in your life, you would think of the word that you want, but that's what the report would be called.


Ryan Haynes:

So really important for you as part of utilizing new technologies and systems is usability. It's about being intuitive. Definitely easy to understand, easy to follow and use the language that you are used to on a day-to-day basis.


Michael Jones:

Definitely, language is a big one. I think larger companies, so your Mars have their terminology, Hilton has their terminology. It all comes to the same thing at the end of the day. The other one is as well, it's across So. it is not a case of, it has to be on a static desktop computer at reception. It could be on a mobile phone. There's a version for mobile phones and there's a version for tablets. So again, it stops a member of staff from being stuck at a desk. So, you just pull your tablet, that's some you've just taken the order in the restaurant for and then you can check somebody in on that tablet.


Michael Jones:

That's what we've done in one of the properties, which it's just, and it engages the interest of the guest as well. Because they're like that. Oh, what are you doing? So, it engaged. So, you can explain to them all, we'll send a new bit of technology that's been brought out in the past two years. We can check you in here, we can do everything here for you. I can even send you an email from him.


Ryan Haynes:

That's, that's wonderful. And so yeah, it's, it's, it's easy for your staff, it's easy for your guests. It's not disturbing the flow and it's allowing your team to be much more flexible on site.


Michael Jones:

Exactly. And it's doing it when you're doing the flow. So, you could be checking the guest standpoint, you're walking them to the, it's interesting, there's technology coming out all the time. It's very, very difficult to keep up with it. Actually, very difficult. I think I do LinkedIn lives and try to research at least once a week just to see what's coming out because it is interesting and it's fascinating and everybody can say yes the pandemic was terrible, but if we haven't had that, I don't think we've, we'd of progressed as quickly as we have.


Michael Jones:

Cause a lot of these companies have probably been thinking, oh yeah, we'll maybe do this in the next five years. And they've ramped that up and made sure that was there and they've done it in a year. Yes, there are teething problems with it and a lot of education for the guest especially. But I think as long as you make it fun and make it fun for the guest and for the member of staff in the way that you're, that you put across and how you're doing the training, I don't think there's an issue. If my dad can adapt to using an iPad at 76 years old, anybody can do it.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. Absolutely. Absolutely. Michael, thank you ever so much. Those insights are incredibly valuable and as I say, it's very admirable to see the scope and growth of you guys, particularly over the last couple of years since forming. Obviously, Effective Hospitality management is now going to go from strength to the strength and I wish you guys all the best and look forward to catching up and hearing more in the near future.


Michael Jones:

That's great, Ryan, thank you very much.


Ryan Haynes:

So that was Michael Jones, the director of Revenue at Effective Hospitality Management. Explain to us how they've had to adapt hospitality management and work much more closely with their staff and utilize technology. Check out more of our episodes on www.travemarket.life where you can find our full series of Hoteliers’ Voice of other hoteliers and their experiences. Adapting and utilizing Technologies. Thanks for listening. Ciao for now.

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