Laurie Stanwick looks at how the hospitality industry can drive performance improvements in the face of adversity.
Undeniably, the last 12 months have been an incredibly challenging period for the hospitality industry. Recent research shows that the sector experienced a 54% fall in revenue in 2020, down to £61.7bn from £133.5bn in 2019, losing almost £200m in turnover every day in 2020.
But, in spite of this downturn, hospitality teams are slowly but surely finding their way through the fog of COVID, putting plans in place now to facilitate a full recovery once we return to some sort of normality.
The early days and weeks of the global pandemic were an extremely testing time for hospitality tech teams, having to rapidly and effectively transition to new, often remote ways of working seemingly overnight. The initial disruption soon gave way to what became the new normal, almost subconsciously digitally transforming many hospitality businesses in the process.
This transformation has highlighted the benefits to be gained from bringing the hospitality industry into the modern era, expediting an often called for digital transformation, with more people now dependent on new tools and ways of working that they weren’t so keen to adopt pre-COVID.
The boom of Zoom and Teams meetings has paved the way for increased digitisation, particularly with regards to back office processes, with people recognising the enabling capabilities of certain technologies.
It seems that finally the important message about digitisation underpinning business longevity and continued success seems to be gaining traction.
More hospitality businesses are recognising the benefits of streamlining and centralising their back office solutions. A newly disparate workforce means it’s no longer as straightforward as asking a colleague on the next desk for a particular update, with easy access to a single source of business-wide information proving to be invaluable.
Similarly, this new inability utilise numerous people and solutions to manage certain aspects of the business has led to an increased amalgamation and automation of some key processes. This in turn has led to significant efficiency savings for organisations, as well as freeing-up staff to focus on more value-add tasks.
Out with the Old
Circumstances have almost forced the hand of some hospitality businesses to digitise more quickly than they could have foreseen. Manual, often paper-based systems are simply no longer workable—the sharing of physical documents can’t happen and the rekeying of information from system-to-system, amalgamating data from disparate and often ageing systems, takes too long and is particularly error-prone.
Online document sharing, updating and editing is now recognised as best practice, with those systems which provide this sharing capability as standard the new must-have for hospitality businesses who know their business continuity depends on embracing a truly digital way of working.
Inefficient processes and procedures hinder development, something that’s been thrust into the spotlight by the business benefits that have resulted from these new, digital methods.
Hospitality businesses are starting to see first-hand how digital transformation can boost business agility, providing business-wide visibility and insight to support faster, more effective decision-making.
A slick, sophisticated back office function forms the foundation of efficient customer-facing operations, something that all hospitality businesses will be striving to provide once lockdown measures begin to be eased.
One of the biggest challenges hospitality businesses will face is trying to maintain this feeling of goodwill towards digitisation, trying to lock-in new systems and ways of working today to ensure the business is in optimum shape to hit the ground running when doors finally do reopen.
Putting the right infrastructure in place today, will ensure hospitality firms can deliver consistent quality services, responding quickly to ever-changing customer needs. As more businesses see how having the right systems and technology in place can be so beneficial, optimising operations through enhanced efficiency, control and agility, maybe 2021 will mark the start of much awaited digital revolution for the hospitality sector?
Sage Intacct for Hospitality
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