RECOGNIZE LOCAL CULTURAL NUANCES WHEN IMPROVING PERFORMANCE
One of the big five, multinational hotel chains engaged Carpedia Hospitality to improve operational efficiency at three of their most prominent assets in Japan. Due to high guest expectations and a cultural tendency toward low turnover, the hotels required a new approach to optimize their processes in order to ensure service consistency, and to construct precise staffing models to drive long term financial success. When the project was completed, a 15% improvement to labor costs was achieved across the three properties.
Given the superior service expectations found in the Asian hospitality market, the hotels experienced challenges in finding the right balance between meeting or exceeding guest expectations and optimizing their labor deployment to generate necessary financial performance improvements. Leadership lacked structure and the tools to effectively forecast volumes and patterns of guest activity throughout the day, resulting frequent recesses to active work during hourly shifts across all departments. Roles in some areas were specialized and limited to a narrow scope which led to further downtime given the 7.5 hour minimum shift requirement in the market. Carpedia Hospitality worked closely with department managers to understand the local labor restrictions and cultural practices in order to create customized approaches to optimize staffing guidelines and ensure their consistent application.
In addition to scheduling opportunities, there were also challenges embedded within various operational processes that leadership hoped to address with the assistance of Carpedia Hospitality. For example, storage space was limited or ineffectively structured across the properties, leading to inconsistent placement of supplies and quantities which manifested in service delivery delays and resources unnecessarily engaged for prolonged periods. Additionally, many departments were using manual procedures for administrative tasks where technology was available and able to streamline routine activities.
Carpedia Hospitality’s team conducted hundreds of hours of operational observations and collaborated extensively with property leadership to understand the intricacies of the operation and identify opportunities for improvement. Some of those impactful solutions included:
- A thorough analysis of demand patterns at the seasonal, weekly, and daily level
- Construction of forecasting and scheduling tools to assist management in planning both daily and long-term resourcing needs
- Identification of opportunities for cross-utilization of positions to maximize shifts and responsibilities
- Adjustment to existing layout and storage utilization to allow for easier and more efficient access to most commonly used supplies
- Automation of administrative processes to reduce manager workload
- Development of an annual resourcing plan for each role to guide future hiring practices
Carpedia Hospitality worked extensively to ensure their interactions and recommendations appropriately appreciated the cultural conventions in order to develop a smooth plan for implementation and long-term internal sustainability.
The outlined solutions resulted in a 15% improvement to labor cost across the three properties. However, what the ownership and brand welcomed the most were the newly constructed resourcing plans’ alignment to the revised operating model as this meant that improved performance levels would be sustained across varying operating conditions and inform future staffing decisions.
Local cultural norms must be always considered and embedded in a project’s operating methodology from start to finish. Not only does this assist to ensure service expectations are appropriately maintained or improved but it is paramount to garner buy-in from operational stakeholders to effectively drive the operational changes. Our Japanese project sponsors were proud that this balance was struck.