Wired Hospitality

Published Date
01 - Jan - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Jan - 2006
Wired Hospitality
Located close to Mumbai airport, The Orchid is Asia's first certified eco-friendly five-star hotel. Popularly called an "Ecotel," a term used for environmentally-conscious hotels, The Orchid has received numerous awards for being a pioneer amongst such hotels. It has used technology extensively to further its commitment to the environment, and also to keep a track of all activities on the premises.

The Orchid uses 43 software to  maintain extensive digital records and manage processes such as property management, material management, accounts, inventory, and more.

Ideal Material Management
Since it opened in 1997, The Orchid has been using the ShawMan Material Management Software (MMS), a comprehensive program that  manages the inflow and outflow of goods, generates regular consumption reports and thereby facilitates supply chain management.

Shailesh Bhagwat, EDP (Electronic Data Processing) manager, of the hotel says, "Whenever there is a requirement for a product-be it a bar of soap or a sofa set-the concerned department makes an entry in the ShawMan MMS. This requisition is authorised on the software by several personnel before it reaches the purchase department."

The Orchid has made innovative use of the ShawMan MMS by assigning ratings to its retailers based on the reports generated by the software.  When goods supplied meet the hotel's standards, suppliers are assigned ratings based on parameters such as rate, quality etc. All these are recorded in ShawMan. The MIS (management information system) reports that ShawMan MMS generates gives a complete picture of stock received and dispensed, and helps the administration team decide on the best suppliers. These results are on our database, suppliers have to maintain the same quality at our other outlets.

The software, according to Bhagwat, simplifies things: "Though the process seems long-drawn, it actually takes just a few minutes and at the same time generates a higher degree of accountability."

Efficiency And Cost Control
There's more to the ShawMan MMS than its ability to maintain records and rate suppliers. When The Orchid issues tenders and invites quotations for items, details such as the lists of goods, quality, rate and product codes, are maintained in the software. ShawMan MMS thus keeps track of the movement of materials between vendors and stores, and helps get quality goods at best prices-an example of how centralised software can aid a business.

ShawMan MMS ensures error-free inventroy control

The Orchid has instated annual rewards for the best suppliers, who win the hotel's patronage. Being an ISO certified organisation, The Orchid also sends personnel to suppliers' warehouses and thus ensures that standards are maintained. These results are maintained in the ShawMan MMS.

Recipient of The Orchid' "best supplier" rating since 2002, Fruit Supplies, in Khar, Mumbai, has been supplying goods to the hotel since its inception. Proprietor Vilas Shinde says, "We have to follow strict standards for deliveries. The Orchid  also sends personnel to survey our godown,  ensure timely delivery and good quality. The ratings have given us an incentive to work harder."

Inventory control is another area where ShawMan MMS is a big help: if a hundred bottles of wine have been supplied, using the software, one can keep track of each and every bottle, leaving no scope for pilferage. Moreover, ShawMan has been tweaked so that requisitions are accepted only if they have been budgeted for. 

Having a centralised software generates higher degree of accountability"
Shailesh Bhagwat.
EDP Manager, The Orchid

Ecology And Technology

The other critical software the hotel uses is Orchid Honour, which was developed in-house to meet its specific needs as an Ecotel hotel. Based on Visual Basic, the Orchid Honour software helps the administration see all occupancy-related figures and this information is used by the hotel to serve customers better.

The Orchid Honour provides detailed data on occupancy

The screen is akin to a spreadsheet, and shows all statistics about the 245 rooms in the hotel-from indicating which rooms are occupied to whether there's a 'Guest In' or 'Staff In'. This data appears automatically thanks to the key card every guest has to insert in a slot at the doorway of the room. Other details of guests' requests for services become visible on the Orchid Honour screen.

This is possible courtesy the bedside Pamba panel in each room, a microprocessor-based room control system. The Pamba panel has switches that let the guest control appliances in the room, and call the butler. A unique feature here is the 'Eco' button;pressing this increases the temperature of the room by a mere 20 C, thus helping save electricity. Bhagwat adds,"In air-conditioned rooms, one gets accustomed to the interiors after a while and a slight rise in temperature is not perceptible". Even the information of how many guests have pressed the button, shows up in Orchid Honour. Guests are informed about the "Eco" feature of the panel, and those who press the button get a certificate of appreciation.

If there's a guest complaint, it appears highlighted in green on the Orchid Honour screen. If it's not resolved within a specified duration, the complaint gets marked red, and the matter proceeds to the seniors. The software has a paging interface wherein any complaint is also sent as a beep to the pager of the duty manager on the floor. The hotel is now trying to expand the software's reach to mobiles so that SMSes can be sent to the concerned personnel.

The software also records all pertinent data about guests-including demographic details, number of visits, duration of stay, food preferences, and so on. Equipped with this information generated by Orchid Honour, the hotel is able to offer loyalty programmes to guests.

Tech All The Way
At The Orchid, technology has revolutionised the way information is managed. It has streamlined activities and reduced the probability of human error, at the same time increased productivity and quality levels, and reduced costs. Some aspects-such as the 'Eco' feature in rooms-are unique to the hotel. But given the benefits and the ease of use of software such as the ShawMan MMS, any three, four or five-star hotel would do well to move towards centralised control.

Team DigitTeam Digit

All of us are better than one of us.