The hotel industry had been slow to ditch paper reports and move digital. That is, until the COVID pandemic hit and virtually everything went digital. For forward-thinking Ankur Bhakta, VP of owner-operator Insignia Hospitality Group, digital data management has always been a top priority. The key was to find a solution that could centralize data, taking administrative tasks off the plates of property-level employees so they could focus on tasks that contributed to a better guest experience.
“We’re taking away a lot of responsibilities that used to be a general manager’s responsibility, and we’ve brought it into the administrative level at the corporate office,” Bhakta says. “We’re able to get all our administrative work started in the morning. The KPIs are populated, and you can see monthly trends easily on the dashboard.”
A digital data management strategy is crucial for Insignia, a Midland, Texas-based company that counts 24 hotels in its portfolio. Sharing reports between properties and corporate is crucial for streamlined operations. By implementing a Paperless Night Audit process, Insignia can be confident that important reports are right at their fingertips whenever they need – a process Bhakta says ensures everyone has the information they need to do their job. There’s no wasting time tracking down paper reports – or printing, scanning, and emailing reports to the corporate office.
“The property team used to pick the reports that our administrative offices needed. They would scan it, PDF it, and email it to whoever needed it. For example, it was looking at cash deposits for the previous nights and matching up whether the cash taken in the same amount as the reports are showing,” Bhakta says.
“Now having everything digitized, they don’t need to wait on the PDF – which oftentimes, previously the reports would never show up because the GM was off or the night auditor forgot to do it. Just the tactical things of everyday life at a hotel level, things just weren’t consistent. With MDO now, once audits run, our folks can log in, pull the reports they need, and start their work. That’s helped out tremendously,” he adds.
Accuracy and Agility
Accuracy of data is another big win for Insignia. The company first partnered with MDO in 2016 when it had 14 hotels in its portfolio. At that time, leadership relied on Excel spreadsheets in their email inboxes every morning.
“There were a lot of errors. Someone might input something wrong because it’s 3 o’clock in the morning, and $250,000 easily becomes $2.5 million. It made you ask, ‘Do I have the right data?’” Bhakta says. “Now with MDO, the data is populated and accurate, and you can see in real-time how the properties are progressing.”
That real-time portion is another significant benefit for Bhakta and his team. “With the MDO platform’s dashboard, you can see forecasts and revenue on the books all pre-populated.” The metrics portion is really the meat of what my team does. “We can make profitable decisions because having that live data is super helpful,” he says. “Previously, you’d have to extract the data and put it in an Excel spreadsheet, which takes time. And time is money. “With this data live and at our fingertips, it’s truly been helpful.”
Additionally, Bhakta says the speed at which the data loads helps the team save more time than ever due to a user-friendly dashboard that allows the team to see trends and profit-and-loss statements in a clear and digestible way. “The data is faster, so I’m able to pinpoint trends quicker,” Bhakta says.
Bhakta says a hotel’s overnight position will never go away because hotels will always need someone on staff to tend to guest needs, as is the 24-hour nature of the business. However, he says he foresees the night audit process being able to go completely digital, freeing up time for overnight staff to fully focus on the guest experience – something that’s especially important amid today’s labor shortage strain in the hospitality industry.
In addition to the operational benefits, Insignia’s digital document management adoption has had a significant impact on the company’s environmental footprint. On an annual basis, Insignia’s efforts save 75 trees, 30,802 gallons of wastewater, and 13.56 cubic yards of landfill.