Summit Hospitality Group Increases Operational Efficiency Across Multiple Properties with Push-to-Talk Voice Services
Summit Hospitality Group is a hotel management and consulting firm that builds and operates hotels and restaurants. Founded in 1989, Summit owns and operates 18 hotels for the Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt hospitality brands in North Carolina.
Summit Hospitality Group had a communications challenge among three adjacent properties in the Crabtree Raleigh area (a Courtyard by Marriott, a Residence Inn by Marriott and a Fairfield by Marriott) that share personnel and management. The three properties, while separate, frequently needed to coordinate in order to best serve their guests. Adding to the challenge was the necessity of also coordinating with each property’s shuttle service.
An example of the challenge faced by the team: sometimes an urgent maintenance issue would crop up on one property while the maintenance team was working on a different property. Tracking down the right team members required the Front Desk to make several calls to other properties to figure out the team’s location. During a busy time of day, calls might be delayed in favor of serving the immediate needs of guests, further delaying needed maintenance.
Summit also faced a challenge with coordinating their shuttle drivers: since shuttle drivers weren’t allowed to utilize cell phones while driving, it was difficult to coordinate shuttle service whenever heavy traffic or guest needs required a schedule adjustment.
Summit’s staff were forced to use multiple communication methods for daily operations, which reduced their efficiency. If one property needed attention and a manager was located at another property, multiple rounds of phone calls would ensue. If a manager couldn’t answer their phone, perhaps because they were interacting with a guest, a staff member would call several more people before finding help. Further complicating matters, team members were urged not to use personal devices while on duty, because guests might might misunderstand why employees were using their smartphones. In addition, there was no method to broadcast a request for help to anyone who might be available.
General Manager Nidal Alawar sought a solution that would seamlessly connect every staff role across properties. Radio wouldn’t work because it couldn’t gracefully handle the range; mobile calling handled range concerns but was designed for one-on-one communication and couldn’t enable easy multi-property team collaboration or communication with shuttle drivers. Seeking a purpose-built solution, Alawar evaluated several options and chose the Orion voice platform.
Summit’s Crabtree Raleigh properties initially deployed Orion’s push-to-talk services to front desk representatives and shuttle drivers. Staff buy-in was immediate, as Orion’s unlimited range capabilities eliminated previous difficulties with keeping in touch with shuttles. Orion rapidly proved its ease of use and value over other solutions, and in a few weeks, Summit onboarded additional key operating teams such as maintenance, housekeeping, and management.
This points to a primary advantage of the Orion platform: since Orion is device agnostic, the Summit team was able to connect in all ways that made the most sense for each team member. Additionally, adding new users doesn’t require ordering hardware or involved set-ups: onboarding a staff member is as simple as downloading an app onto a smartphone.
Nidal Alawar, General Manager of the three Summit Hospitality properties in Crabtree Raleigh, found that using Orion made cross-property collaboration easy. Alawar remembers one particular incident stood out at the beginning:
“Our three properties are right next to each other. Early on when we started using Orion, a guest came to one of the hotels — sometimes guests know they are at a Marriott but don’t which one exactly — saying he had a reservation, but he wasn’t in the system for that property. Before we started using Orion, figuring this out would have involved potentially a lot of calling back and forth between the Front Desks. Instead, they were able to instantly communicate with each other and direct our guest to the correct hotel.”
Alawar also enjoyed having more command and control acoss these mobile teams of staff, for example, coordinating maintenance became nearly frictionless:
“Probably the biggest beneficiaries of Orion have been the maintenance crew. They are always on the move between the three properties. Before Orion, it had been a challenge to reach someone if they were not on the same property as you. Now, it’s easy to give the maintenance staff the information they need so they can act in a timely manner.”