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A guide to hotel operations: Strategies, trends, and technology

Linda Pashaj

By Linda Pashaj

Hotel operations are like a theater production. An immense amount of preparation is required, and when guests arrive, and the curtain rises, it’s show time. 

When everything goes well, the guest experience is a beautifully choreographed production that generates rave online reviews and sold-out performances. If things go wrong, it can harm guest satisfaction, profitability, and reputation. 

How can hotels stage a blockbuster production for every guest? Here, we look at all the components that go into smooth and efficient operations for independent properties today, from staffing to communication and automation.


What are hotel operations?

Hotel operations refers to the day-to-day running of a hotel. It encompasses all the activities and tasks employees perform to prepare for the arrival of hotel guests and take care of their needs during their stay and right through to departure. 

Hotel operations can be divided into two main areas. Front-of-house operations comprise departments where staff interact frequently with guests, including the front desk, guest services, room service, and the bar and restaurant. Back-of-house operations comprise departments where employees interact less frequently or not at all with guests, including housekeeping, maintenance, the kitchen, and stewarding.


Key operational areas in the hotel business

While virtually every department in a hotel supports operations in some way, core operational functions are provided by three main departments, each of which has both back-of-house and front-of-house staff members and management.

  • Front office
  • Housekeeping & maintenance
  • Food & beverage

Additional departments include:

  • Sales & marketing 
  • Revenue management 
  • Meetings & events
  • Human resources 
  • Guest services 

In larger, full-service hotels, these departments are run by entire teams, and strong leadership and communication are especially important. In small hospitality businesses, there might only be one or two employees per shift, and multitasking and organizational skills are fundamental. 


hotel front office SOP


5 ingredients of successful hotel operations

Together, different departments must work in sync to provide a seamless guest experience from arrival to departure, ensuring that guest requests and concerns are taken care of quickly and efficiently. 

This requires focusing on five key areas: 

  1. Employee skills. Staff must have the skills and hotel industry knowledge required to perform daily operations and meet guest expectations in real time.
  2. Employee attitude. Staff must have a can-do attitude, hospitable nature, and problem-solving skills.
  3. Communication. Employees must communicate effectively with guests and each other across different departments.
  4. Technology. Hotels require easy-to-use but powerful and innovative software that improves operational efficiency by automating tasks and workflows, speeding up transactions, and facilitating communications.
  5. Support. Hotel management teams must plan carefully, ensuring team members have the leadership, tools, training, guidelines, and support needed to fulfill their duties. 


One of the biggest challenges facing the hospitality industry today is finding and retaining employees. In a June 2023 survey from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, 82% of respondents indicated they were experiencing a staffing shortage, 26% severely so. 

To offset labor shortages, hotel general managers and owners are rethinking their approach to operations. This has given added impetus to three trends that are expected to gain further momentum in 2024.


1. The rise of hotel automation

Hotel automation is becoming a staple in hotel technology, helping lodging businesses automate tasks and transactions typically performed manually by employees. Cloudbeds’ 2024 State of Independent Lodging Report shared that hoteliers can expect AI to be meaningfully integrated into most operational processes, from guest communication to revenue management and hotel marketing, to automate workflows for lodging businesses.

Here are just a few ways automation can be used in hotel operations:

  • Optimize pricing algorithms
  • Translate guest feedback and communications 
  • Write social media post
  • Answer commonly asked questions 
  • Automate internal workflows (ie., if a guest sends a text asking for a towel, an automation will trigger a ticket to housekeeping)


2. An increase in self-service technology

During the pandemic, self-service gained mass adoption as travelers sought ways to minimize contact with hotel staff. Today, hotels are reimagining the front desk experience. Utilizing digital check-in, guests are able to skip the paperwork at the front desk and instead can connect with staff upon arrival to learn more about amenities and local attractions. 

While some lodging professionals expected self-service technology to hinder the guest experience, in reality, it’s making it better. Removing these tedious, time-consuming barriers can lead to the implementation of processes and procedures that truly enhance the guest experience, from personalized recommendations to guided property tours and more. 


3. Changing hotel job descriptions

Automation and self-service are transforming traditional hotel job descriptions, another trend identified in Cloudbeds’ Lodging Report. Thanks to automation, hospitality jobs are becoming more technical but also more challenging and enriching. The trend calls for hospitality management to rethink the traditional criteria for hiring and training staff, with greater prioritization of technological and analytical skills along with traditional hospitality skills. 

Thankfully, especially for independent hotels, many technology providers are building intuitive, easy-to-use platforms that team members are able to pick up fast. These platforms enable new users to do their jobs with minimal training and also empower them to learn new skills and expand their contributions across various departments.


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The role of hotel management software

The backbone of successful hotel operations is hotel management software. Today, hoteliers have dozens of software applications to choose from to automate and augment operational tasks. However, if applications aren’t integrated and don’t communicate with one another, hotel technology can be more of a hindrance than a help.

To overcome these challenges, top hotels are moving to cloud-based hospitality platforms with deep integrations that fulfill every part of hotel operations. This includes the property management system (hotel PMS), booking engine, channel manager, revenue management system (RMS), payment systems, and more. 

By consolidating guest profiles under one unified system and automating an increasing number of tasks, hotels can ensure greater efficiency in workflows, data capture, and communications across departments.


See why Cloudbeds was voted the Best Hotel Management Software.


7 strategies for leveraging technology to improve hotel operations

Successful integration of automation technology in hotel operations requires careful thought and planning. Here are seven hotel operations management strategies.

  1. Identify touch points throughout the traveler’s journey where communications among employees and guests can be handled more efficiently with technology. 
  2. Decide which operational tasks and transactions can be automated and which should continue to be handled by employees. 
  3. Give guests more control over their stay by offering self-service solutions that are convenient and reliable. 
  4. Divest from outdated, fragmented PMS systems that slow down operations. Invest in a cloud-based platform with deep integration capabilities.
  5. Find a modern solution with an easy-to-use but powerful interface to reduce training times and improve the employee experience.
  6. Monitor performance over time to evaluate results and find more ways to fine-tune operations and deliver higher guest satisfaction.
  7. Take advantage of your technology vendor’s expertise and ask for their advice on ways to streamline operations at your property.


hotel software features


Improve hotel operations with Cloudbeds

Critical to success in hotel operations is finding a technology partner that provides the tools, training, and support you need. Cloudbeds is redefining what it means to be a PMS. At its core, Cloudbeds offers an award-winning PMS, booking engine, and channel manager with the option for properties to add more value through operations, guest engagement, digital marketing, and revenue management tools. 

Cloudbeds has the following functionality to help improve hotel operations.

  • Guest messaging and live chat
  • Digital check-in 
  • Team chat & tickets
  • Housekeeping 
  • Group management
  • Split inventory 
  • One-click reporting
  • And much more (check out our platform page)

Cloudbeds also offers an extensive marketplace with deep integrations into dozens of other technology providers (plus an API to build your own connections if needed). The integrations offered are two-way, meaning that information easily flows between systems, ensuring all your data is accurate and up-to-date.


The stage is set

Optimizing operations can lead to increased hotel revenue, occupancy levels, and customer satisfaction. By putting the right staffing, communications, and technology in place, hotels will have all the elements needed to stage a hit production that keeps guests coming back time and again. 


See how Cloudbeds can help you streamline operations.
Published on 06 January, 2023 | Updated on 10 July, 2024
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About Linda Pashaj

Linda Pashaj

Linda Pashaj is the Content Marketing Specialist at Cloudbeds, the hospitality management software for properties of all sizes. Her previous experience includes running the operations of a small short-term rental agency in Barcelona, as well as content management for a vacation rental software. She is passionate about travel tech, digital marketing and “all things cats”.

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