3 tips for mobile data and exception reporting
3 tips for mobile data and exception reporting
09 JUNE 2015 6:14 AM
What can hoteliers do to maximize profits? Here are three tips to give operators a real-time advantage through exception reporting.
I recently heard a story about a young mother who solved her family’s school morning scramble by allowing her kids to walk to the nearby bus stop instead of driving them. On their own, the children are on time, backpacks ready, waiting to catch the bus. There could be insights here for hotel operators who want to empower teams to make real-time decisions that boost profitability.
Successfully raising children is a lot like operating a hotel. In both cases, we must know where we are headed (forecast); be knowledgeable about what happened yesterday (historic performance); and be on top of today as it unfolds (daily data).
As parents, when our children hit a speed bump it’s a wakeup call. We hope there aren’t many, but we have to know about them to work through them. It’s the same in our industry. Exception reporting is our way of knowing. It is actionable data, pushed to the top of the pile, to help operators tackle their speed bumps quickly.
What is effective exception reporting? 
We produce an endless buffet of reports, and most speed bumps are in there, somewhere. We invest a lot of time on budgets, forecasts and target metrics. Once they are in place, exception reporting finds the bumps and alerts us—quickly. 
It includes data snapshots, powered by a business intelligence system, that lets the owner, operator and property GM instantly see: “How am I doing compared to my peers? Compared to forecast? Are any metrics outside my profitable glide path?” 
It can be benchmarks: “When that condition happens, flag it, notify me.” One example GMs can set an exception alert in the business intelligence system is: “When occupancy is 90% or higher, notify me if out-of-order rooms exceed 3% of total rooms.” 
What else can you do to maximize profits?
Here are three tips to give operators a real-time advantage through exception reporting:
1. Put exception reporting to work addressing your critical issues. Identify yours. Yours might be different than another company’s and will be different next year. Identify them. Color code your criteria: red, yellow, green. Catch forecast exceptions before they hit your bottom line. Basic, but not in place everywhere.
2. Put operational mobile reports to work for you. One example is labor. When the GM arrives in the morning (or probably before), she opens an operational labor report on an iPad or mobile phone. She sees what her labor is right now. A yellow-colored forecast shows the expense trend for next week. Speed bump, but still time to make staffing adjustments and get costs back in the green-color range of planned profitability. 
3. Put your team to work. Times are good. Equip your managers with the right technology to supervise operations from the palm of their hand. On mobile reports, use the pencil icon to draw a red circle around an exception. Instantly email this visual cue to your team for quick action. Exception reporting should be fast, not frustrating.  
Like I said, operating a hotel is a lot like raising children. The bigger the family, the greater the need for speed bump alerts. 
Travel well, and check in often. It’s early afternoon on a bright day in the hotel industry.
Jay Troutman, a member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants, is president of Aptech Computer Systems, Inc. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He and his wife Margo have 7 children and 17 grandchildren.
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns. 

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