Yes, I’m a Google Fan Boy. It’s VERY difficult to beat FREE and due to the fact that I have enough tech expertise to manage my own infrastructure, this has helped my hotels save TONS of money and increase productivity.
Here are some examples of how Google has saved us money:
NOTE: Google Apps recently limited the number of users to 10 for their free accounts which may GREATLY limit its cost effectiveness compared to FREE. When I signed up, I was able to add at least 50 users which is more than enough for my hotels.
Google Apps consists of numerous applications and I’ll try and break them down.
Google Mail – Every front desk agent has an email address and basically every employee except the ones that really have no need to access a computer (ie. some housekeepers, banquet staff, cooks, etc). I set up group email addresses, such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to make email messaging easier. I also setup each agent to reply from “firstname.lastname@example.org” so that when an individual replies to an email from the front desk, it’ll go to all front desk agents.
Soocial – You can get this through the apps marketplace. Forget the hand written Guest Service Log! This application will allow all your front desk agents to communicate with one another similarly to Facebook. It also makes searching a breeze regarding specific guest issues using the search function.
Google Sites – I created a Wiki for the front desk and for our management staff. This includes contact phone numbers, frequently used files like credit card authorization forms, passwords, etc. I even used it for our http://conference.hojomaingate.com as our public site along with redroofbp.com It’s pretty simple to use as long as you know how to manage domains registrars.
The Wiki is used to create “tickets” for our housekeeping and maintenance staff. The back end staff can access the “tickets” and address issues and resolve them in live time with the front desk. I even gave a laptop to my maintenance staff, so that they go room to room without having to go to a workstation to check for tickets.
Google Docs – For most employees, they do not need an advanced word editor or spreadsheet program. The Sales team uploads group contracts into Google Docs and shares them with everyone in the hotel for read access. There are some key personnel which need the advanced office features, but this greatly minimizes the software costs. Google Docs also greatly aids in collaboration efforts. I recommend Open Office if you’re really needing something high powered and is free.
I also use Google Docs to organize large amounts of accounting files with our CPA or lawyers. Often there are large and numerous files, and it’s often more efficient to send them the link to a Google Docs folder you created for them than trying to email them all the files in complete chaos.
Google Calendar – The Sales Team creates all day events for large groups, and puts hyper links to the Google Docs folders that house the group information. The Wiki for the Front Desk has a Calendar that they can click through to see all the detailed rooming lists, details, and notes etc for the group. The front desk essentially has the most up to date information in REAL-TIME so miscommunication is minimized.
The banquet staff also lists all banquets and conferences that are happening on property on the Calendar. This Calendar is shared with the public which is listed on http://conference.hojomaingate.com so that the public can see all events coming and past events. This is an added marketing bonus as this allows people to see what kinds of events we’ve housed.
Google Voice – For different key personnel’s cell numbers, I attached a Google Voice number as their primary contact number. That way if the cell number needs to change for whatever reason or the employee changes, the vendors know which number to call.
Capsule CRM – This is another apps marketplace program that’s used by our sales team. This is relatively cheaper to run than SalesForce.com and much simpler.
That’s it for now that I can think of. Do you have other ways you’ve utilized Google Apps to streamline operations at your hotel?