Chris Stock looks at how hospitality businesses can start to prepare for life in a post-pandemic economy.
The speed and magnitude with which COVID-19 has affected everyone is unprecedented. The hospitality industry in particular has seen its world turned upside-down. Mass cancellations of room bookings, events and conferences have made it a worrying time for the industry, with the majority having to close their doors to prevent further spread of the virus.
While some have been able to diversify their offering to stay ‘open’ in some way, shape or form, others have effectively closed their doors commercially, instead extending their goodwill and kindness to support those in need.
Regardless of which route a hospitality business has taken, there’s a certain amount of ‘downtime’ involved. Time which could be used wisely to reassess processes to get the business in optimum shape for when we can all open fully once again.
And while the talk is of getting back to ‘business as usual’ post-pandemic, it might be that business as usual simply isn’t good enough. Many organisations are now looking to re-evaluate operations so they are ready to hit the ground running when some sense of normality returns.
I have hope. Hope that a post COVID-19 world could bring with it some positives, at least from an economic stance. As the rainbow eludes to, and once the storm has passed so will our supply chains become more localised, with both businesses and families continuing to turn to their nearby markets, favouring locally-sourced produce.
As normality returns, the pressures will still be on to increase loyalty, reduce margins and stay ahead of the competition. Where possible, hospitality businesses can and should use the time available now, to establish new organisational structures, laying the solid foundations on which to build exciting new services and experiences that can be delivered consistently.
By using this time to optimise the business, hospitality organisations can ensure they have the right levels of control and agility in place to weather the current storm. Benefiting from a significant competitive advantage when we all emerge on the other side, ready to face any further challenges that come our way.
For too many, inefficient processes and procedures are hindering business development, particularly when it comes to neglected back office functions.
A legacy network of disparate systems, spanning multiple departments and processes, are simply not efficient enough to provide the capability and agility required in this day and age.
It takes too long to amalgamate information from across the business, a process that is often error-prone, leading to outdated, inaccurate information on which business decisions are based.
Business-wide Finance Function
Many organisations are recognising, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, that they don’t have a thorough enough grasp of the business. Unable to access up-to-date, accurate information as and when needed, puts them on the back foot when it comes to making rapid, effective decisions.
Key staff are spending too long on time-consuming administrative tasks, unable to play a more strategic, value-add role in the wider business.
To solve this, forward-thinking businesses have already implemented centralised management systems. Scalable and flexible solutions that span the entire organisation, capable of capturing and managing key financial information across multiple sites and locations, increasing not only control but providing that all-important real-time view of their performance.
The pressure is always on to find innovative ways to stand out in a competitive marketplace. Pressure that will only increase post-pandemic, as everyone fights to recover lost revenue, with a big push to increase sales.
But, without the right back office processes in place, businesses simply won’t have the infrastructure needed to underpin the successful delivery of services.
Data Into Insight
The right back office system can provide not only real-time business information, but it can turn this data into insight. Applying analytics to deliver real, actionable insight to the right people, at the right time, in the right format.
Not only does this enable the business to monitor performance in real-time, with the ability to compare and contrast, but it means the organisation can also respond quickly and easily to changing conditions. Formulating critical decisions not just on raw data, but on intelligent business insight too.
This insight could include working with customer behavioural data to better inform forecasting and planning. Helping to accurately anticipate trends, or optimising pricing and promotional strategies based on recent performance and forecasted demand.
In short, the right solution provides the necessary information and insight to inform both operational and strategic decisions to boost performance.
Hospitality Recovery Planning
While the current challenges faced by hospitality businesses are indeed unprecedented, the opportunity to re-evaluate the status-quo of operations should not be ignored. Now is the time to prepare for the future. Looking beyond COVID-19 and establishing the solid foundations needed to pursue real strategic growth.
A seamless back office function will underpin efficient and effective customer facing operations, increasing market share and boosting profits. While we all await a return to business as usual, those who can are making plans to go beyond this. Putting themselves head and shoulders above the rest for when the time comes to reopen their doors for good.
If you would like to see how our hotel management accounting software can aid your COVID-19 recovery plan, get in touch or call the Percipient team on 01606 871332.