We sat down with Craig Coughlin, CEO of LUXXE Outsourced Hotel Services to understand the hospitality challenges they are seeing in their market and the central role that technology and flexible outsourcing solutions can play in helping hotels to achieve success.
So Craig, tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the hospitality industry?
I’ve been working in hospitality all my life, moving from Toronto to Melbourne, Australia working in some of the leading hotel chains such as Accor, Radisson Hotel Groups and SPHC. I went on to join an outsourcing company and loved it straight away. No day was the same when you’re managing multiple sites and the transformation we can provide for hotel operations had me hooked. I joined LUXXE in 2015 as I saw huge potential to grow the business and provide flexible outsourcing solutions to hotels in Australia, and that is what we have been doing ever since.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing hoteliers today?
Significant complexity has been added to managing the operations within a hotel. Growing labor shortages around the world mean that teams are running really lean and having to cope with a lot of change in terms of what they are being asked to think about and cover on a daily basis. And top of mind for any hotelier is managing costs. Labor represents the largest spend for hotels so now more than ever, they absolutely have to find a way to run their operations as efficiently as possible.
In today’s environment, hoteliers are also facing unpredictable occupancy numbers. Particularly here in Australia we have been in and out of lockdowns that have wreaked havoc on hoteliers’ ability to predict occupancies. We have months with very low occupancy levels and then sudden surges in numbers which makes it very hard for hoteliers to have the right workforce in place at short notice.
How can outsourcing help address this?
As the largest headcount in a hotel, housekeeping departments can bring huge time and costs such as payroll processing, recruitment and training. When you outsource with a company like ours, you get the extendable support of a team that are specially trained for just that part of the operation, so all of the efforts are put towards creating a more efficient and better process. In short, outsourcing provides hotels with the flexible solutions they need to adapt to these extraordinary times.
At LUXXE our leadership team is made up of hospitality professionals who know the daily challenges hoteliers face and the difference an efficient housekeeping team can make. We have dedicated support personnel to help implement strategies so hoteliers have support beyond their own in-house teams.
What role does technology play in all of this?
It plays a huge role! Although hotels may have been slow to adopt technology before, the pandemic has meant hotels can no longer ignore the potential of technology to transform their day to day operations. The investment in technology to streamline operations and ensure faster and more direct communication is critical in this fast paced hotel environment.
At LUXXE we implemented Optii technology across our portfolio and we have seen huge benefits for both our team and our customers. So many hotels were using traditional housekeeping methods such as pen and paper and highlighting tasks manually, having lengthy morning briefings eating into critical time that teams could be out on the floor. Now technology automates so many of these tasks.
One of the biggest benefits of technology such as Optii’s is that it provides efficiency for teams. Managers have visibility of each team member when they are up on the floor, they can see how people are doing and provide any additional resources or training that are necessary. It also means that we are able to provide our hotel customers with peace of mind and granular detail on pace and efficiency of our service. Optii Chat allows clearer communication so teams don’t have to find each other across a property. Movement is money in hotel operations so anything that can minimize unnecessary movement is a money saver.
The reporting capabilities are also essential. Our customers that use Optii benefit from two reports, one daily activity on property and one that is a monthly snapshot. These reports mean that managers have full visibility over their operations, so they can see where the challenges are and where there are areas that need extra attention.
What do you think about the future of hospitality?
The impact of the pandemic is going to be felt for some time in the hospitality industry and I think the need for flexible solutions such as outsourcing and implementing technology solutions that help to save time and money is going to be critical for hotels.
For me though, the hospitality industry is all about the people. Hotels value their workforce and know that without a strong and efficient team, the guest experience is going to suffer. People are at the heart of what we do and I’m excited for the future where we will hopefully be able to see a more stable industry where employees and guests will benefit.