Seasonality, 24-hour service expectations and the ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment makes organized workflows vital to efficient hotel operations. Although work activities will at times flow in a smooth sequence, during busy times these same activities may take overlap. This makes an efficient communication system an important part of the rules, routes and roles that go into an organized hotel workflow.
Plan the Workflow
Create a vertical workflow diagram that identifies each department or area and depicts the sequence of tasks using text boxes, connecting arrows and numbers to identify the direction of the workflow. For a small hotel, these might include customers, the front desk and the housekeeping department. For example, the diagram would break booking a room into each of its component steps: a guest makes a reservation, receives a confirmation and arrives at the front desk, where front desk employees process the check-in. When the guest checks out, the front desk processes the checkout and notifies housekeeping.
In a hotel work environment, there are times when tasks and responsibilities must overlap. Using the workflow diagram as a reference, analyze tasks performed during each shift to better anticipate staffing needs. For example, third-shift front desk employees may be able to handle light housekeeping duties and additional administrative tasks such as updating the reservation database or answering emails. This may eliminate the need to schedule overnight housekeeping and free up time for first- and second-shift employees.
Both employee scheduling and task deadlines must be flexible. For example, if your normal check-in time is noon., housekeeping must have rooms clean and ready by that time. However, you will need to adjust schedules or hire temporary employees during busy times. The same is true for front-desk personnel. If you normally schedule two people during the day and one person overnight, you may need to adjust work schedules -- sometimes with little prior notice -- to provide overlap coverage during busy times.
A good communications plan is vital to an organized hotel workflow. Review the workflow diagram and identify critical communication points. Examples include shift-change meetings, on-call procedures, housekeeping emergencies and procedures for updating incidental purchases guests make during their stay. For example, housekeeping employees must inform the front desk when a guest removes items from the room’s refrigerator. Include procedures for communicating workflow changes to make sure nothing is overlooked. This might also require purchasing additional equipment such as two-way radios or cell phones for on-call employees.
- University at Albany Center for Technology in Government: What is Workflow
- Bell Technologies: Al Gobo Hotel-Functional Specification
- Edraw Visualization Solutions: Create and Design Your Own Workflow Diagram
- University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business: The General Employee Scheduling Problem
Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.