Creating an Auditing Strategy for Efficient Hotel Operations

What gets measures gets done, says Gavin Philipp, vice president of operations at hotel management company Charlestowne Hotels. That’s why, Philipp explains, it’s critical for hoteliers to have a comprehensive strategy for auditing hotels. “A results-driven hotel audit delves deeper than the financials and takes stock of several front and back-of-house aspects to ensure an authentic and seamless experience for guests and employees,” he adds. Philipp shares with LODGING his tips on creating an auditing strategy for efficient hotel operations.

What elements are typically overlooked during a hotel audit? 

Hoteliers are often so focused on the financial aspects of an audit that the more subjective elements—including culture and the guest experience—get overlooked. Nonetheless, these less tangible elements are crucial, as these are what build guest loyalty and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

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After an audit, what tips do you have for hoteliers looking to improve company culture or the guest experience? 

When it comes to internal culture, pay attention to how the hotel’s team celebrates success. Is there clear and concise communication between management and staff? To further support this, consider displaying boards in common employee areas that showcase customer feedback, metrics, and internal celebration items.

As far as experience is concerned, observe the property as if you are a guest. Are the ways in which employees handle interactions with guests how you would want to be treated as a customer? If not, it’s time to formulate a plan or training programs that can help with any changes that need to be made. Dine at the hotel’s restaurant and make notes about patrons’ experiences. Was a comment from a diner overhead that is considered useful feedback? Jot it down. Additionally, when walking throughout the property, observe how employees engage with guests in places like elevators and hallways.

Safety is always important in any hotel audit. What advice do you have for hoteliers as they consider property security? 

Safety and risk management are key items to look at during audits, and they should have their own sections in a quality assurance report. Be on the lookout for any safety pitfalls, such as slip hazards or security issues, and immediately follow up to address them.

Be aware of issues that can arise for employees, as well as guests. Make sure all the safety programs that the hotel has in place are up to date and being followed by team members. Those conducting the audit should be familiar with all internal policies as well as local, state, and federal requirements. Then, ensure employees are in compliance and gather any supporting documentation that proves it.

How can hoteliers better equip their employees before, during, and after an audit? 

Go into the audit with a positive attitude and make sure employees understand that the process is part of a collaborative effort. Instead of viewing the audit like a one-off experience, encourage team members to treat it as a regular day, in which they all play key roles in the guest experience. Of course, hoteliers may also work with a third party to assess their hotel, as employees will not be familiar with those faces.

Additionally, human resources and accounting tasks such as bank audits might seem minor, but they are important to check. This part of the audit can’t really be done by a third-party inspector, so ensuring that you have your own internal company processes for these audits is a true advantage.

For instance, work with one or two employees to ensure that policies and procedures such as cash handling are followed correctly. Also, take a moment to connect with your general manager or human resources leader to examine employee files to ensure all the necessary documentation is in place. Staying on top of these tasks will only help in the long run. A proactive nature here will dispel any future headaches that could arise from labor issues.

What are some tips that can help independent properties, which might not have inspection tools in place, better audit their hotels? 

While some branded properties will already have an inspection tool in place, that’s not the case for independent hotels. Hospitality management companies will be able to use their own proprietary application that allows auditors and independent hotels to document and make notes within the software. Team members inspecting properties can simply pull up this app and use their own mobile device or iPad during walkthroughs.