A guide to the essential functions IT performs in the hospitality workplace.
When people think of the hospitality industry they don’t automatically think about IT. This is because when people think of IT they tend to think of computers, rather than the more literal definition of Information Technology. The truth is, running any kind of hospitality based business, whether it’s a pub, a greasy spoon or a five star hotel, is all about information. If you don’t have the following kinds of information, your business is going to go under in no time at all.
Stock is the fuel that keeps your hospitality business’ engine turning. The stock might be wines, meats, or even teabags, but whatever it is you’re stocking you need to know all about it. You need to know how much you have of any item, but that’s only the beginning. You also need to know how long any given item will last and you also need to know how quickly each item is selling.
This is one of the first areas where a well realised hospitality IT system comes into its own. Not only will it allow you to continually and automatically update these figures, it will also allow you to combine them, noticing patterns that might eluded you before. For instance, if it turns out that large numbers of a perishable item are going off before they can be sold, a well designed hospitality IT suite will let you know not only that you’ve been ordering too many of that item, but how many fewer of those items to order next time.
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You might be a hotel needing to keep track of which rooms are free, or simply a restaurant needing to know which tables are free, but to keep your business running smoothly your front of house staff need to be able to determine which customers are going to be where at any given moment.
An effective hospitality IT system will let your front of house staff instantly record whenever a booking is made, and make that information easily accessible to any other staff who need. This not just helps you avoid embarrassing mistakes such as double bookings, but also allows you to know in advance which rooms need cleaning, which tables need clearing, and which parties need gently nudging along to make room for the next customers.
Hospitality IT is also about managing your most valuable resource, your staff. Your staff are the people who keep the business running even when you’re back is turned, and so it’s crucial that you know where they are and what’s needed at any given time.
On a day to day basis, this means know which staff members are supposed to be on at any given time, and who you can call upon if holidays or sudden sick days mean you need to bring in back-up staff, as well as, crucially, making sure everybody gets paid what they should.
However on a long-term basis these systems also allow you to monitor performance, seeing which staff members are reliable, which ones are working the shifts that bring in the most sales, and who is most keen to help out when there’s a jam.
After all, knowing which people you can count on is every bit as important as knowing they can count on the machines and software that they’re using.