CASE STUDIES

Customized Operations Management for Long-Established Independent City Hotel

Working to Improve Each Hotel’s Profitability by Dispatching General Managers and Providing Section-specific Support

Background

Established 90 years ago, City Hotel G is located in the area’s largest hub city. Having received a consignment of management services from the hotel’s asset management company, Abilitas dispatched a representative director for the hotel company and provided consulting services for the hotel’s overall management. Abilitas then received a new consignment for operations management duties.

Abilitas Hospitality Management Services

The advantages of operations management from Abilitas are customization and flexibility. While scales, markets and special properties differ, Abilitas provides specific operations advice and guidance that, far from uniform, is tailored to each hotel’s circumstances, while sharing a fundamental management mindset. Abilitas realizes timely and continuous operational improvement through the general managers it dispatches, and through the Abilitas operations team and department-specific support that provide the general managers with additional help.

The following is a summary of specific examples of operational services Abilitas provides.

Dispatch of General Managers

General managers are responsible for hotel administration in a wide range of areas related to hotel guests, employees, owners and the local community, and must be knowledgeable on an array of issues. Abilitas examines the attributes of each individual hotel, then selects and dispatches the most appropriate manager. When appropriate, the company also dispatches manager-class executives and supports recruitment for empty positions by advertising within Group hotels.

The dispatched general manager must provide leadership for the entire hotel in all areas, including business results and income and expenditure forecasts, improvement of guest services, organizational revitalization and product development. In this, the general manager is supported by the Abilitas operations team, whose members attend meetings at the hotel, participate in discussions by telephone and email, and provide market information, while supporting the general manager’s operation of the hotel. Moreover, the team provides support for the general manager’s decisions regarding flexible reorganization tailored to market needs and other matters.

In addition to appointing and supporting general managers, Abilitas holds general manager meetings to help each of them develop and grow. At these meetings, managers of hotels in different markets can share information and acquire new knowledge. Classroom lectures, discussions and workshops are held for participants to consider topics such as how to effectively use evolving digital media and create value. These learning opportunities are helpful to both general managers and to Abilitas staff in the creation of resolution methods and mechanisms.

Supplying Management Tools Unique to Abilitas

The role of Abilitas is to establish a program for each hotel to ensure that results, analyses and action plans all work together, and to support the implementation of an efficient PDCA cycle1 to realize it. To that end, the company provides tools to facilitate effective information sharing, analysis and review.

For example, proprietary budget templates are available in a format that permits identification of a hotel’s medium- to long-term course of action, such as visions or three-year plans, and allows for a budget formulation based on detailed analyses. The Abilitas uniform system of accounts is introduced at each hotel, and itemized results for the hotel as a whole and by department are analyzed from monthly statements. Other Abilitas tools include three-month forecasts for room reservations; revenue reports for the rooms, food & beverage and wedding & banquets departments; payroll system; a working hours monitoring system; 360-degree feedback for executives at and above management level; and motivation surveys geared toward all employees. Abilitas provides guidance and support every step of the way, from the introduction of each tool through instruction in how to use them, to performing content analysis and monitoring when future plans and corresponding action plans are established and implemented for each hotel.

Advice on Operational Expertise

Abilitas strives to be the partner that owners and hotels will always come to first. To this end, each specialized Abilitas staff member stays in close communication with each hotel’s persons in charge, not only attending regular monthly meetings, but keeping in touch by telephone and email and through on-site consultations. As an entity that supports the framework of hotel operations behind the scenes, the company uses its operational expertise, cultivated in the operation of hotels both in Japan and overseas, and provides advice through specialized staff to support the autonomy of each individual hotel, working to contribute to the development of operations.

For example, in the field of sales, the company’s support is directly linked to business and includes the provision of methods for acquiring new group bookings, instruction in how to propose hotel uses from a guest perspective, and analysis of sales reports. In marketing, the company provides instruction in revenue management and web marketing, pre-distribution press releases, preview event plans for renovated facilities, hotel brochures and other printed materials, and advice regarding photo shoots and other advertising and promotional activities.

Other areas of operations management include reviewing hotel needs and IT equipment specifications, providing legal support such as contract reviews, compliance instruction, issuing monitoring reports for three-month P&L forecasts, and providing business instruction in finance and accounting to promote timely, accurate value management.

Skill and Motivation Improvement Initiatives

Through the “Abilitas Hospitality (AH) University,” a training program, Abilitas provides guest service training for staff members who interact with guests, as well as professional skills training by field, occupation or level with the goal of human resources development.

Field-specific workshops hosted and facilitated by specialized Abilitas staff members form the core of AH University. In these training sessions, participants learn about the latest tools and methods and work to improve their skills. At the same time, they develop a consciousness of purpose regarding the execution of their particular duties within the hotel by being exposed to knowledge and ways of thinking about the hotel business as a whole. In workshops, case studies are examined through group work, and participants themselves think about how to use what they have learned in their everyday duties.

Most field-specific workshops for persons in charge are hosted jointly by multiple Group hotels. However, Abilitas staff members go to each hotel to implement “Train the Trainers” Programs and Guest Service Training for customer service staff. The content of these workshops is tailored to the level of individual training needs.

Abilitas considers the fundamental purpose of training to be the creation of an environment in which work is enjoyable and all hotel staff can take pride in their duties, regardless of their level or type of occupation. The company creates programs that help participants understand the significance of their own work, emphasizing the fact that they have changed and their skills have improved, thus raising motivation.

Group-wide Sales Promotion

The Tokyo Sales Office is an organization within Abilitas. Its role is to perform lodging and general banquet sales to travel agencies, inbound operators and corporate customers both within the Tokyo metropolitan area and overseas, and to support guest referral to hotels. In addition, it acts as a go-between for reservations, provides the business persons in charge at each hotel with information on market trends and sales, and creates joint sales promotion tools. Abilitas organizes trade shows in the Kansai and Kanto areas, planning each event around a specific theme with the aim of publicizing new features at each hotel.

  • The P (Plan), D (Do), C (Check), A (Action) cycle

A Word from the Person in Charge

In a climate where hotel formats and guest expectations are diversifying, I think it’s important to work systematically and flexibly toward the creation of unique appeal. I believe that the results we have today have been realized by effectively responding to the changes in the environment surrounding each hotel and working closely with the general manager and each specialized Abilitas team to steadily cultivate each hotel’s unique appeal.

February 2016