As more of us make use of hotels for short breaks and business travel, Britain’s Holiday Inn Hotels have been well-placed to meet the growing demand for quality accommodation at reasonable prices.
However, selling rooms is the easy part – delivering consistently high standards of service and hospitality aren’t quite so straightforward.
And in the day-to-day struggle to keep a hotel at the top of its game, effective staff management is probably the most important tool in the hotelier’s kitbag. We met up with Heather Jones, Human Resources Manager at the busy Holiday Inn at Birmingham International Airport, to see how she goes about doing just that….
Human Resources Manager
Heather is enthusiastic about her Holiday Inn – “It’s not just about comfortable guest rooms – we’re proud of our 14 meeting areas, our conference capacity for up to 500 delegates, our fine-dining Grill Room Restaurant and modern Inspire Leisure Club – they all give us an edge”.
Heather joined the business in 2012, and senior management told her they wanted improved staff management, increased operating efficiency and reduced payroll costs. Heather needed a system to encourage efficient staff planning, and one that could help managers match staffing to business needs. It also had to provide financial data to help department heads meet their budget targets.
Heather decided that any time and attendance solution would have to maintain a consistent approach across all the departments in the business — and as every department had different labour requirements and shift patterns, the solution would have to cope with a wide variety of situations.
As a final hurdle, Heather could see that given the pace of business at her Holiday Inn, it was vital that the system kept up with changes, and performed its primary task of helping managers with forward planning of staff requirements.
After the smoke had cleared, Thinking Software’s Rota Horizon stood out as the system that demonstrated the capabilities most closely matched to their business needs. The Procurement Group found that Horizon was flexible, informative and easy to use, making it an obvious choice for the hotel.
Heather joined a group tasked with assessing a range of possible solutions, and considerable thoughtand effort went into an exhaustive and detailed procurement process.
Thinking Software's Solution
In response to this selection process, Thinking Software implemented a three-month “proof-of-concept” trial in the hotel’s food & beverage department. The trial was successful, and early in August, Thinking Software implemented a fully functional system across the hotel.
Heather was positive about the implementation — “Setup and installation were seamless — the Support Team was professional, and covered each area in detail. If we encountered issues, they took care to explain the solutions. They were also careful to keep our existing data confidential.”
“Before Horizon was implemented, each department would be in charge of creating and managing its own Staff Rota. This created serious inconsistencies across the hotel, and meant that error-checking and authorising employee timesheets was a lengthy and unreliable process. Of course, this confusion didn’t just waste admin time – it also increased our payroll costs.”
Heather confirmed that Horizon was easy to use – which was crucial, because many of her department managers weren’t computer wizards. She found that “even the housekeeper of 30 years got on with the system” – a fact which Heather put down to Horizon’s user-friendly interface.
As for other benefits, Heather has noticed that Rota Horizon gets staff to the hotel on-time, and this ensures that her employees are paid for the actual time they’ve worked.
“The Horizon Department Rota is one of our favourite reports – although we also love the costing and payroll summaries – the important thing for us is that the reports in Horizon enable quick, accurate data-checking, and this is vital when inconsistencies arise.”
“As I’ve mentioned, allowing department managers to plan ahead quickly and easily was always high on the agenda. With Horizon, these needs are more than met — managers are spending less time implementing and adjusting their daily rota, holidays are managed more effectively and instances of lateness and absence are monitored more closely. The time saving was quickly noticed and appreciated around the hotel, as was the mass of accurate and up-to-date information which hadn’t been available in the past. “Daily financial information, such as the projected payroll output, gives me a clear indication that we are operating on budget” says Heather.
Heather says, “Support at Thinking Software is also very good – they answer the phone, they know about us, and our tickets are dealt with very quickly. I’m impressed with their modern systems and infrastructure, and I’m always made to feel welcome when I call. Their online system is easy to use and their User Guides have helped me repeatedly with common tasks.”
“We love working with Thinking Software, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to any business looking to save time and money.”