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A guide to project management in the hotel and hospitality industry

Unlock the essential strategies you need for successful project management in the hotel and hospitality industry.

Rose McMillan · March 22, 2024
A guide to project management in the hotel and hospitality industry

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For people working in the hotel and hospitality sector, every day brings new guests and new challenges. It’s not enough to meet expectations; you must exceed them, delivering an experience that blows visitors away. On the other hand, even the smallest issue can lead to negative reviews, reduced bookings and ultimately, a drop in revenue.

Effective project management is an essential part of delivering that knock-out experience. Whether you’re renovating your facility, implementing new technology or trying to find other ways to enhance your service, a smooth project helps you improve operations while consistently providing an excellent service.

In this article, we’ll examine the specific challenges involved with project management in the hotel and hospitality industry, along with the skills, software and best practices you need to overcome them.

Project management challenges in the hotel and hospitality industry

Whether you’re running a small B&B or managing a luxury cruise liner, all hotels and other hospitality businesses have to deal with guests’ high expectations. Exceptional service is the name of the game, and anything less than that can spell disaster.

However, no business has limitless resources. You need to balance top-quality service with efficiency, innovation with tradition. Finding that balance takes meticulous planning and execution.

At the same time, most hospitality businesses have a large variety of teams to manage. Effective project management means coordinating those teams, from housekeeping and front desk operations to maintenance, catering and event planning.

This is about more than just assigning tasks; you need to align departmental goals, schedules and workflows so that everyone is working towards the same objective without compromising daily operations.

Finally, hotels and other hospitality companies need continuous improvement to stay relevant. This might mean adapting facilities to take advantage of smart technologies or adopting more eco-friendly standards. In most cases, these changes are in addition to existing infrastructure, adding yet another layer of challenges as you try to integrate the old with the new.

Key skills for effective project management

While there may be plenty of challenges in the hospitality sector, developing these skills will help you successfully manage projects to get the best possible outcome.

1. Leadership and team management

Even the simplest project will mean dealing with different teams (and different personalities). Project leaders need to bring everyone involved together to work towards a common goal. In a practical sense, you must thoroughly know the individuals who make up those teams and then delegate tasks based on their strengths and capacities.

When you have so many different roles coming together, some confusion and disagreements are inevitable. Knowing how to navigate and resolve these conflicts, both within your teams and with stakeholders, will help maintain project harmony and progress.

  1. Communication and interpersonal skills

Communication is a key skill in any business role, but for project managers it’s critical. From discussing your project’s goal with team members to updating management on your progress, you need to be able to get your message clearly across at all stages.

Remember that communication is a two-way street. Managing a project is about more than just giving orders; you need to be able to listen too. Be open to your team members’ ideas and concerns, encouraging a collaborative project environment.

3. Organization and time management

The hotel and hospitality sector is a fast-paced environment, where any delays or other issues may have a significant impact on your business. Project managers must be adept at making the most of their limited time and resources without compromising quality or guest experience.

You need to identify and focus on the tasks critical to project success. You also must be adaptable, adjusting your project plans in response to unforeseen challenges, guest feedback or operational disruptions.

4. Customer-centric mindset

Customer satisfaction is another factor that’s important in any kind of business, but it takes on a whole new meaning in the hospitality sector. The customer always comes first and your projects should reflect that.

The first step is understanding your customers and learning to anticipate their needs and preferences. Prioritize projects that enhance the visitor experience, ensuring that all initiatives align with their expectations and satisfaction. Then, as you complete those projects, incorporate guest feedback into your evaluation process to refine and improve offerings.

Project management software recommendations

Having the right skills is important, but you’ll still need project management software to optimally run the complex projects typically carried out in hotels and hospitality businesses. These tools will help you keep track of the people, tasks and resources that contribute to a successful project outcome.

Task management

Each project is made up of a series of connected tasks and subtasks. These tools enable you to organize and manage those tasks as the project progresses. The best task management software allows you to zoom in on individual tasks while also seeing the big picture of how all those tasks connect.

Top task management tools:

Team collaboration and communication

As we’ve already seen, effective communication is vital for coordinating between different departments and ensuring everyone is aligned with the project goals. Collaboration software allows you to scale that communication, instantly connecting you with your teams so you can share updates, check progress and collect feedback.

Top team collaboration and communication tools:

Resource allocation and budget management

Managing your resources effectively, from staff to budgets, is crucial for successful project execution in the hospitality industry. These tools allow you to see what resources you have available, how work is being allocated and forecast future requirements.

Top resource management tools:

Guest experience and feedback management

Your guests and visitors are the lifeblood of your business, and any successful project needs to take them into account. Tools in this category focus on capturing guest feedback and insights through a variety of channels, so you can choose the right projects and check that they’re having the desired impact.

Top guest feedback tools:

Customer relationship management systems

At its core, the hospitality industry is all about human connections. Customer relationship management (CRM) software goes beyond collecting feedback, enabling you to capture important details and nurture those relationships.

For example, you can use a CRM to create guest profiles based on their preferences and previous visits, and then use that for personalized marketing campaigns and delivering a tailored service. You can also use your CRM to build strong relationships with other stakeholders, including vendors and regulatory bodies.

The best project management CRMs go a step further, including many of the essential project management features you need in one simple package.

For example, Capsule CRM helps hotel and hospitality businesses with:

  • Better task management
  • Workflow automation
  • Contact management
  • Resource management
  • Project progress reports
  • Analytics and insights.

Meanwhile, Capsule’s mobile app allows staff to access guest information and perform CRM tasks on the go, enhancing guest service. You can also use Capsule’s integrations to connect your CRM with your other favorite tools to streamline processes.

Learn more about how a CRM for hotel and hospitality can help your business today.

Best practices for project management in hotels and hospitality

Your project is always going to face challenges; the way you deal with those obstacles will ultimately determine whether your project is a success or not. The following best practices will help through all project stages, from the initial plan to implementation.

Proactively manage risks

You can never eliminate every possible risk that could affect your project, but you can take steps to manage them. Before your project begins, carry out a risk assessment to identify potential issues that could derail the project. This includes financial risks, operational disruptions or delays in supply chains.

Decide in advance how you’ll mitigate those risks. For example, if you’re upgrading a facility with new technology, how will you respond if the vendor can no longer supply the necessary equipment? Is there an alternative vendor? Could you use different equipment in its place?

Having contingency plans in place ensures that your project team can respond quickly and effectively to unexpected challenges.

Be ready to adapt those plans

Mike Tyson once famously said that everyone has a plan until they get hit. Even with the best plan, sooner or later your project will face an unexpected challenge, one without any contingencies in place. By keeping a degree of flexibility in your plans, you can still minimize the interruption.

Be prepared to adjust project scopes, timelines and resources in response to changing conditions or feedback. Some project managers find it helps to use an iterative approach, where projects are rolled out in phases. This allows you to make adjustments based on early outcomes or feedback, leading to more positive outcomes.

Automate the admin

With so many different moving parts to a project, anything you can do to reduce the workload and free up time is worth investigating. For example, automation is ideal for repetitive tasks like data entry and notifications.

Look through your to-do list for any admin tasks or low-touch activities that could be delegated with workflow automation. Capsule’s Growth plan lets you automatically assign tasks to team members, update task statuses, send templated emails and more.

But don’t automate everything

Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are progressing at an incredible rate. In turn, more tasks can now be automated without negatively affecting quality. For example, an AI content assistant can help you get past the blank screen and write the first draft of a relevant email.

However, that doesn’t mean everything should be automated. While it makes sense to offload repetitive low-touch tasks, there are still certain jobs that are best done by a person. This is the case with setting up projects and tracking their progress.

“Workflow automations are great because they standardize your admin,” explains Keith Weir, Customer Success Team Lead at Capsule. “But sometimes people want everything automated. They’ll create loads of automated projects, then they can’t keep on top of them all. You still want to be on top of the work that you’re generating and take responsibility for it.”

A step-by-step guide to better project management

If you’ve got a big project coming up or you want to get an existing project back on track, these steps will help you tackle your projects in a methodical manner to get the best results.

Step 1: Clarify your project scope and objectives

While it might be tempting to jump straight in and immediately start working on a project, taking the time to prepare properly will mean a smoother process in the long run.

The SMART goal-setting framework is a great way to ensure you’ve addressed all of the important aspects for your project:

  • Specific. What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Measurable. How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?
  • Achievable. Do you have everything you need to reach your goal?
  • Relevant. Is this the right project at this time? Does it align with your firm’s overall ambitions?
  • Time-bound. When will you complete each phase of the project?

Sit down with your team and work your way through this framework, getting their input and feedback as you go. Ask them to suggest how you might accomplish this project and get their feedback on what challenges you’re likely to face.

Step 2: Create a project plan

Tackling a large project can be overwhelming at first, so the next step is to take your big goal and break it down into more achievable tasks and subtasks. Assign tasks to your team members based on their expertise and capacity, with specific milestones and deadlines for each phase to ensure consistent progress.

This can be a bit of a balancing act; each task needs to be self-contained and manageable, with enough details to avoid confusion. However, creating thousands of subtasks for a simple job like screwing in a lightbulb is only going to irritate your team and slow down the project.

Step 3: Monitor and control project progress

Projects often seem to take on a life of their own. With differing opinions, unexpected challenges and scope creep, a project can quickly end up going down a completely different path to the one you originally intended.

To keep the project in line with your original plan, establish routine check-ins and progress reviews. Project management software is particularly useful here, as it often allows you to choose different views and dashboards depending on what you need to know. For example, a simple checklist can show you what tasks are still outstanding, while a Kanban board can convey how the project is progressing through different stages.

Step 4: Maintain effective communication

Communication is critical, from start to finish, and should never be left to chance. Ensure everyone knows what’s expected, such as what issues need to be reported immediately, how to report them and who needs to be informed. Promote a culture of openness and transparency, enabling you and your team members to share relevant information and quickly resolve any problems.

This is an area where automation can be a huge help. For example, you can use your CRM to automatically update key team members when the project transitions between phases or when you achieve a significant milestone.

Step 5: Close the project and reflect

Once the project is completed, it’s time to look back and review the process with your team. Did you achieve your original goal? If not, why not? What obstacles did you face? How did you overcome them? Did the process uncover any other projects that may need to be done?

Discuss your successes, areas for improvement and lessons learned. Record your findings. Writing down your results can spur new ideas and create a reference for you to refine your processes in future projects.

Five-star project success

Project management in the hotel and hospitality industry has plenty of unique challenges. You need to create an unforgettable experience for your guests and visitors, all while balancing your resources and keeping your other stakeholders happy.

However, with careful planning, a close eye on progress and by being adaptable to changes, you can overcome those challenges and exceed your guests’ expectations. In the process, you’ll build up a strong reputation and ensure your visitors keep returning for years to come.

Discover more about how a CRM can help your firm manage current and future projects. Enjoy Capsule’s free starter package or start a 14-day free trial and see how Capsule’s features can help you save time and deliver outstanding hospitality projects.

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