One of the most common refrains heard in hospitality today is the importance of delivering personalized service. But sometimes, all guests want is the freedom to take care of themselves.
After all, what can be more personalized service than self-service?
Helping guests come and go as they please, by offering simple online booking and comfortably furnished rooms, is the business foundation of Finland-based SSA Spot Apartments, which operates 120 units in seven locations throughout the Helsinki area. Although it caters primarily to corporate customers – for example, project workers who need long-term stays – Spot is flexible enough to accommodate families on vacations who might just spend a night.
But with properties scattered across the city region and no reception staff on site – guests check in and check out on their own – Spot needed a sophisticated, centralized property management system to make its business model a success. And its existing platform clearly lacked essential functionality.
“It all comes down to leading with knowledge,” said Jani Liljavirta, Revenue Manager of SSA Hotels Oy. “We barely got any data or reports pulled out from the system, so from that point of view, evaluating and developing our operations was challenging. The system that we used earlier was more like a reservation calendar. It simply did not provide us what was needed to get the business to the next level.”
Recognizing not only the need for better reporting but integration capability to readily adopt new technologies, Spot turned to OPERA Cloud for its PMS solution. Immediately, OPERA Cloud’s key benefits such as centralized control of information and operations, elimination of on-site servers, and reduction of IT cost and complexity began yielding dividends.
With so many technologies and innovations emerging today, Spot leadership made it a priority to select a PMS that could grow and evolve with its business, meaning it could integrate “best-of-breed” solutions wherever they originated. In fact, OPERA Cloud’s integration capabilities made it simple for Spot to incorporate its own guest-entry system into the PMS platform. Spot’s digital team had created the entry system, which automatically notifies guests of their room information and access code upon booking.
OPERA Cloud also enables Spot to better oversee housekeeping and do it more efficiently.
“Earlier, communication and daily tasks required multiple calls throughout the day, because everything was handled manually via phone,” Liljavirta said. “Housekeeping staff needed to wait for our calls and vice versa, but nowadays they get their daily tasks from OPERA Cloud straight to their tablets. Once the room is marked as clean, our automated check-in system informs the guest that the room is available, and our reservation department monitors that the process runs smoothly. This way, we were able to improve our service for our guests, which is the most important point of view in our business."
Visibility of operations across Spot’s properties may be the most profound change OPERA Cloud has brought to the business.
“Our management and departments that rely on data, such as accounting, are loving it, because now they are able to see clearly what is going on and how the business is evolving,” Liljavirta said.
And that unlocks endless possibilities. Indeed, Spot’s parent company, SSA, is preparing to launch its newest property next summer: VALO Hotel Helsinki will be a seven-story building with 422 rooms. All rooms can be converted into meeting rooms or offices for day use. The facility also will feature co-working spaces, a wellness area on the top floor, and lounge and restaurant services. The new concept – which also will sell rooms as investment opportunities – is an ambitious undertaking. But integrating it into SSA’s portfolio no longer will be a worry.
Said Liljavirta: “With OPERA Cloud, we’re managing everything centrally, and our business model matches our infrastructure.”
Like its guests who can virtually do everything self-service, SSA now can practically operate itself.