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Short Paper Proc. of Int. Conf. on Advances in Computer Engineering 2012

An Integrated Prototype of a Hotel Room Management System towards Internal Cost Control Solutions Thakerng Wongsirichot, Alongkorn Jirawansakul, and Wicthsupa Janjeam Information and Communication Technology Programme, Faculty of Science, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand Email: {thakerng.w@gmail.com, 5110210742@email.psu.ac.th, 5110210544@email.psu.ac.th} II. HOTEL FRONT OFFICE DEPARTMENT

Abstract— The hospitality industry is one of the most top income gainers in business. Researchers in various fields attempt to seek for the efficiency and effectiveness operations in the hospitality industry, which means there are many hidden secrets in the industry need to be discovered. Our proposed prototype seeks sales strategies to meet customers’ requests and also internal cost controls. We present three main sales strategies and implement them into our prototype. Each of the sales strategies performs efficiently in different manners. A real case study has been chosen in order to gather information in practice. The prototype will be employed into a hotel for further observations and studies.

A hotel front office department is one of the vital departments that create first contact customers, some says it is a focal point to customers. Main duties of staffs at the hotel front office are greeting customers, organising reservations, allocating and accommodating customers to their guest rooms. However, these are only limited sets of examples of the hotel front office’s duties. Some hotel managers may have other hotel policies that assign other duties to the staffs at the hotel front office department. In general, the hotel front office department’s staffs perform tasks in two phases including “check-in” and “checkout” procedures. The traditional check-in process is illustrated with a flowchart in the following figure.

Index Terms—Hotel Room Management System, Room Sales Strategy, Business System

I. INTRODUCTION In the hospitality industry, there are vast majority researches on methods and techniques in order to achieve exceptional service performance levels which symbolise higher customer satisfactions. Each of the methods and techniques is seldom able to work independently without other influences. The influences include demographics, technology, market segmentation, seasons, travel patterns, etc. Specifically, in the hotel industry, these influences also cause variation in yields of the industry. [1] A hotel consists of a number of important departments including front office (reservation and check-in services), operations, housekeeping, accounting and finance, engineering, foods and beverages. Each of the departments is operating on its own tasks however there are a number of activities that overlap. For example, the foods and beverages department prepares foods and beverages for hotel customers. It requires to report lists of foods and beverages sold to a cashier. Finally, all of the sales must be reported back to the accounting and finance department. It is possible to initially conclude that each of departments does not work independently but there are some interactions between departments. All of the departments are monitored by a general manager who is in the middle-level management of the organisational hierarchy. The general manager performs duties on passing organisational objectives, goals and strategies from top-level managers or committees to operational managers. [2] Figure 1. A traditional check-in process

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Short Paper Proc. of Int. Conf. on Advances in Computer Engineering 2012 check-out procedures presented above are traditional procedures performed in most hotels. However, it can be varying by the hotel policy. For example, some hotels may not allow any credits for customers. [3]

The above scenario is a presentation of a guest for the purpose of checking-in. A staff at the front office should greet the customer and ask for details regarding his/her pre-reservation information. Specifically, customers in some cases may already call for a room reservation by phone call or the Internet. If the pre-reservation information is presented, the staff gathers customer information and his/her special requests such as personal details, payment details, a single/double bed room, non-smoking room, a sea view room, etc. Then, the staff issues a room key for the customer and it is the end of the check-in process. However, if the customer does not have any prereservation information, the staff should check for room availability before asking for the customer information and requests. [3] Towards the traditional check-out process, the following figure is presented.

III. THE PROPOSED PROTOTYPE OF HOTEL ROOM MANAGEMENT SYSTEM There are a number of questions regarding the check-in and check-out procedures. The followings are a list of the questions.  What is the best sales strategy that should be applied in this season?  Which room do we need to sell?  How do we know the current status of rooms?  Which room should not be sold?  What are the properties of this particular room? In order to answer the above questions properly, we have selected a hotel as our case study. Our proposed prototype has been built based on a case study of the Sakura Grand View Hotel, Hat Yai, Songkhla, Thailand. The hotel has 291 rooms with different properties located in the CBD of Hat Yai, Songkhla province. The information processing theory has been used to demonstrate the proposed prototype as follows.

Figure 3. Input – Process – Output of the proposed system

According to the case study, the proposed prototype has five groups of users based on their roles in the hotel. Manager is the front manager in this case study. He/she has an access to specify sales strategy, which will be explained later, to be used at the beginning of the day-shift.  Reception is the staff who is responsible for check-in process as explained in the previous section. Cashier is the staff who is responsible for check-out process as explained in the previous section. Housekeeper physically does the cleaning process in guest rooms however in this case study the housekeeper require to enter room status including used, vacant, and damaged.  Administrator is responsible for manage data in the proposed prototype such as username and password generation. Furthermore, the hotel manager required a function to specify room sales strategies. The sales strategies include

Figure 2. A traditional check-out process

The above figure shows a traditional check-out process. The customer, who has checked-in, is due to check-out. He/she need to return back the key to the front office counter. The staff receives the room key and prepares full check-out process. Firstly, the staff checks room rates for the customer. Each customer may have different room rates due to the agreement between the hotel and each customer or his/her companies. The staff calculates extra charges such as Minibar in the guest room, laundry, foods and beverages, etc. The staff requires to check customer types whether he/she is an account receivable customer (debtor) or not. For the customer who pays by cash, the staff receives cash according to the calculated charges and prepares a receipt for the customer. In the case of debtor, an invoice is prepared and sent to the customer or his/her company. Finally, the account receivable data must be recorded. Both of the traditional check-in and © 2012 ACEEE DOI: 02.ACE.2012.03. 20

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Short Paper Proc. of Int. Conf. on Advances in Computer Engineering 2012 First-In-First-Out (FIFO), Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) and Minimum Frequency Selection (MFS).

3. if Status(Si ) = vacant 4. if freq(Si) > freq(Ri) 5. Si ! freq(Ri) 6. end if 7. i++ 8. end if 9. end for 10. return Si The ideal checking-in style is manually selecting a room from a floor map that will lead to inefficient cost controls. For example, the hotel has 5 rooms occupied in the 10th floor. If there is a guest would like to check-in, the front office’s staff should check the guest in to the 10th floor rather than other empty floor. If it is managed properly, the hotel will only assign a housekeeper in the 10th floor. The following figure is a pre-check-in screenshot. It allows the front office’s staff to pre-configure guests’ requests (left of the screenshot) including room types, the Internet usage, non-smoking, closed to lifts and outside views.

A. First-In-First-Out (FIFO) Description: Select and sell the room that is most aging checked-out, which has been cleaned. Input R is a set of all rooms available in the hotel. S is a set of selected rooms Output Si is the best selected room with the current sales strategy. Methods 1. for all Ri “ R 2. Out_Date(Si ) ! Current_Date 3. if Status(Si ) = vacant 4. if Out_Date(Si) > Out_Date(Ri) 5. Si ! Out_Date(Ri) 6. end if 7. i++ 8. end if 9. end for 10. return Si B. Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) Description: Select and sell the room that is recently checked-out, which has been cleaned. Input R is a set of all rooms available in the hotel. S is a set of selected rooms Output Si is the best selected room with the current sales strategy. Methods 1. for all Ri “ R 2. Out_Date(Si ) ! Current_Date 3. if Status(Si ) = vacant 4. if Out_Date(Si) < Out_Date(Ri) 5. Si ! Out_Date(Ri) 6. end if 7. i++ 8. end if 9. end for 10. return Si

Figure 4. Check-in Screenshot

After the completion of entering a guest’s requests, the system will generate a list of rooms based on a sales strategy, which has been designated by the front office manager. The list of rooms is sorted based on its relevancy to the guest’s requests. Additionally, the following figure is a screenshot of the proposed prototype. It displays the layout of the fifth floor of the hotel. This screen is mainly for the front manager to modify the status of the room. For example, if one of the rooms will require to be closed due to some damages, the manager can configure the status of the room to Lock (L) from this screen.

C. Minimum Frequency Selection (MFS) Description: Select and sell the room that has minimum frequency of sales, which has been cleaned. Input R is a set of all rooms available in the hotel. S is a set of selected rooms Output Si is the best selected room with the current sales strategy. Methods 1. for all Ri “ R 2. freq(Si ) ! 0 Figure 5. Status Configuration Screenshot

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Short Paper Proc. of Int. Conf. on Advances in Computer Engineering 2012 According to our proposed prototype, a housekeeping department also has similar screen as the above figure. However, housekeepers are able to switch all of the room status except locking (L) the room, which only allows for the front office manager.

of. Future research will be conducted to overcome current dilemmas. The following are some of the limitations and future research.  Changing of business requirements: The prototype is classified into the business-based system. Generally, business requirements are changing every moment in order to compete with business competitors.  Final prototype testing: The prototype is still under final testing. Therefore, we should get more practical feedbacks from real users in the near future. Forecasting: There is a vast amount of research related to the forecasting of sales in the hotel industry. The collected data such as the frequency of room usages can be used for prediction of sales in the future. [6] In other cases, these data can be utilised for the room rates settings or accommodated the pricing strategy. More integration: One of the comments that return from the hotel manager is the integration. It is sufficient for the front office and housekeeping departments but there are a number of overlaps between other departments. Local language: The prototype is built based on Thai language, which limited the internationalisation. However, currently the English version of the prototype is developing.

IV. BUSINEESS INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION Most researches are targeting to find better yields or revenue. Some researchers attempted to find better pricing techniques for the purpose of achieving higher profits. For example, some hotel managers lower their room rates to stimulate sales. It is not only the hotel industry but also other service industries such as airline industries. [4] However, researchers also suggest not only reducing prices but also controlling costs. [5] Therefore, the proposed prototype is constructed with the main aims towards better internal cost controls in many aspects. Integration of various sub systems: Our proposed prototype integrates the front office system, the housekeeping systems and other related operating systems together. Ideally, this integrated prototype will improve overall efficiency of a hotel. Reduction of unnecessary manpower: The organisation of manpower especially the housekeeper is fully managed. Due to the sales strategies, the proposed prototype allocates the best selection for all cases including reduction of unnecessary manpower in the housekeeping department. For example, the prototype attempts to fill in guests into floors that already have some guests. This means a housekeeper is also allocated to the floor. Reduction of unnecessary power usage: The hotel, which is the case study of this research, uses a central air conditioning system. An engineering team installed air conditioning circuit breaker for each floor. It will save the whole building’s energy. With this physical installation of the air conditioning system and its circuit breakers, the prototype allocates guests in to the floor that already occupied by other guests. Therefore, the floors with no guests do not require to turn on the floor’s air conditioning circuit breaker. Efficient utilisation of facilities: Specifically, the MFS sales strategy performs efficiently in facilities utilisations. The MFS sales strategy seeks for the minimum frequency of room usage. For example, room 511 has been assigned to customers 50 times from the beginning of this month. Room 515, which has the same properties as room 511, has only been assigned to customers 45 times. In this case without other factors, if the MFS sales strategy has been employed, room 511 will be chosen for the next customer. The core concept of this MFS sales strategy is the room that has been used often will be more deteriorated. Therefore, the prototype can present the rooms with different usage frequency for managers to decide whether the rooms need to be repaired or refurbished or not.

CONCLUSION The integrated prototype of hotel room management systems is only the starting focal point of the integration between vital departments in a hotel. The proposed prototype includes three main sales strategies, which are FIFO, LIFO and MFS together with five main groups of users. The MFS is the delightful sales strategy that assists to target the efficient utilisation of facilities. The proposed prototype will be employed into the hotel, which is our case study. Most of the hotel requirements are included with some expansions in the near future. ACKNOWLEDGMENT This research is fully supported by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Programme, Faculty of Science, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand. The authors would like to thank valuable lecturers, staffs and students at ICT for providing helpful supports. REFERENCES [1] M. J. O’Fallon and D. G. Rutherford. Hotel Management and Operations, 2011. [2] K. C. Laudon and J. P. Laudon. Management Information Sytems: Managing the Digital Firms, 2007. [3] J. A. Bardi. Hotel Front Office Management, 2003. [4] W. J. Relihan, “The Yield-Management Approach To HotelRoom Pricing”, Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, vol. 1, May 1989, pp.40-45. [5] EGENCIA [Online], “Hotel Cost Control: Savings and Opportunities”, Available: http://www.egencia.co.uk [6] M. B. Ghalia, “Intelligent System to Support Judgement Business Forecasting: The Case of Estimating Hotel Room Demand”, IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems, vol. 8, no. 4, August 2000, pp.380 -397.

V. LIMITATION AND FUTURE RESEARCH Even though the findings of our case study represent acceptable results, some of limitations and problems are aware © 2012 ACEEE DOI: 02.ACE.2012.03. 20

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