From small cafes to large hotel chains, cloud services can benefit the entire hospitality industry. Service industries can gain the ability to monitor, test, and implement better quality solutions that improve the guest experience, streamline operations, and provide greater data security—a vital feature for payment processing, as more leaks are reported from POS systems every week.
Both the hotel and restaurant industries handle income and expense sheets, employee records, time records, merchant invoices, receipts, and sales reports. All of this data must be stored in a highly secure and redundant location, where it will be protected from theft, loss, or damage. Any company dealing with credit card information must also be PCI-DSS compliant, a standard that many cloud providers can help you achieve.
Hotels can take advantage of cloud hosting, managed security, and virtual desktops to:
The great thing about cloud services is that they can be obtained as necessary in a prompt manner, which helps reduce costs and resources and shorten the deployment process. As a business grows, the infrastructure can grow with it; however, if the business needs to contract, the cloud services can as well. No need to pay for services that are no longer needed. For hotels, this might mean increasing compute resources during seasonal busy periods to ensure reservation systems and internet-based phones can handle the additional load.
With all applications and data housed in one location, accessibility is increased. Cloud services allow for necessary information to be readily available in a user-friendly set up, with access from not only PCs and laptops, but also mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets. This allows employees to gain access to relevant and essential data from anywhere, at any time. Changes to documents can be seen in real time.
Cloud based Hotel Booking and Property Management Software enables more effective and efficient systems for booking. They include systems to help with reservations, maintenance management, and front desk and housekeeping. In terms of reservations, they provide a customer friendly platform that communicates real time information on occupancy and vacancy within the hotel to customers. When it comes to maintenance management, the software facilitates easier communication with the maintenance staff and their schedules. The front desk and housekeeping systems streamline scheduling, check in and check outs, guest wake up call schedules, tracking the progress of the cleaning staff, and assigning different tasks.
One thing is for sure: the more convenient, the more satisfied the customer. Imagine guests being able to book appointments for spa and salon services or order food from the hotel restaurant from their mobile device. Through connecting multiple application systems in one location, the cloud can offer an improved customer experience while maintaining organization, thus increasing speed of service and ultimately, customer happiness.
Virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI, can also provide a flexible and easy to manage desktop environment for front desk workers. A national hotel chain could set up desktop pools with VMware Horizon View that include all the applications and information that desk agents across the country need daily. These desktops can all be updated or patched from a single virtual machine image, dramatically simplifying troubleshooting and updates. They can share virtual printers and include integrated backup tools, too.
The desktop can follow users even if they log in from a mobile device—so a porter could check the availability of other rooms while helping guests save their luggage from a sprinkler system leak, for example.
Virtual desktops also keep all systems in compliance as long as users are logged in, as the resources consumed are housed in a data center and not on-site. As long as the data center environment complies with PCI, so will the users.
In order for restaurants to increase efficiency and stay competitive, they need to have all of their operation management applications for inventory, staffing, and CRM integrated into one easily accessible, up-to-date location. This will allow for more time allocated to productive activities, such as taking care of customers, instead spending it on managing and storing data.
Cloud services offer cost-effective and timely solutions that can eliminate the need for onsite skilled IT technicians or any investment into costly hardware. All staff members will gain access to real time, relevant information, leading to a smoother workflow and improved customer experience.
There is specific cloud based Restaurant Management Software that integrates with the already existing Point of Sale (POS) system to provide a complete operations overview consisting of employee scheduling, inventory management, and for those restaurants with more than one location, enterprise connection. This kind of software provides the ability to schedule according to forecasted labor, manage inventory levels on a daily and weekly basis, generate reports for cost of sales by menu item, and monitor performance throughout entire enterprise.
Unfortunately, the hospitality industry is a major target for data thieves. With a large amount of credit and debit card transactions, and high employee turnover, which can lead to poor training in security practices, this industry has become an attractive market for cyber criminals.
The cloud can actually provide a safer location for your applications and data than what on-premise infrastructure can provide by supplying a far more secure and controlled environment. Cloud providers accomplish this by running 24/7 monitoring, having additional expertise and more resources being spent specifically on security.
Although cloud technology is nothing new for the hospitality industry, it seems as though some are still cautious to adopt. A service that delivers a faster return on investment, minimizes operational costs, and increases competitive advantage, yet offers increased reliability and security, and has an easy conversion to the platform, cannot be adverse to a hotel or restaurant business.