The hospitality industry is starting to embrace digital solutions, with hotels being in the forefront of the industry. Still, many hospitality businesses downplay their IT requirements.
Hotels, hostels, resorts, bars, and restaurants assume they will see no benefit from investing into IT. Their main argument being that they don’t have the time or money to hire and keep IT staff. This is where an IT managed service provider (MSP) can help.
So, here are some of the things, we deal with and take off the plate of our hospitality-based clients.
1. Be Your IT Supplier Liaison
Whether it’s an equipment failure that needs repairing or replacing, software and domain licenses that need renewing or simply negotiating the best deal for tech rentals (think printers etc.) we can help.
As a managed service provider, we act as the middleman when it comes to dealing with suppliers and 3rd parties to talk their lingo and get things sorted as quick as possible. It’s a time saver, and chances are we can save you money long-term with supplier agreements.
2. Provide 1st – 3rd Line Support
Many MSPs provide various stages of support, from 1st-3rd line. Whether you need on-site assistance or a dedicated number to call, your MSP should have it covered.
Unsure of the type of support you need?
- In the case of minor IT issues, you can access 1st line support and talk to general help desk operators that will guide you through the troubleshooting process. Common 1st line issues are related to email passwords and account access.
- For more complicated IT issues, 2nd line support takes over, for example, a non-critical issue with your equipment or tills.
- 3rd line is your specialists who are trained in your specific systems. They are often the most qualified and certified and deal with complex or emergency issues. For example, your POS system going offline during service.
3. IT Management
If you already have an IT team but are struggling to tie it together in your operations and strategy, an MSP can help here too. A hospitality IT managed service provider can deal with your entire IT infrastructure, or just part of it depending on what you need.
They will proactively monitor your IT operations, assess the current efficiency, and suggest improvements and integration options to ensure the highest uptime and optimal data flow between systems. So that you’re making the most sales and providing the best customer experience possible.
4. Backup Solutions
The hospitality sector handles vast amounts of data, and with the introduction of digitalisation and the internet of things (IoT), the amount of data will steadily increase. It includes everything from sensitive data and credit card information to info gathered from your guests and customers that helps you segment them. This allows you to follow the latest trends, and offer personalised experiences, all the way to complex automation operations.
Your MSP will take proactive steps to ensure all your data is safe in case of system failure, power outage, or natural disaster by using a cloud-based backup and disaster recovery system. This system ensures you have access to your data at any time, no matter what circumstances. It’s a reliable solution that offers better safety and protection than you could set up in-house. Check with your MSP to see which backup vendors they partner with, for us, it’s Microsoft Azure.
5. Handle Wi-Fi Security
It is very common to find unsecured or badly secured networks in the hospitality sector. Many restaurants and bars have unsecured Wi-Fi or use the same Wi-Fi that they offer to their guests, which leaves them vulnerable to security threats, most notably hacking and data breaches. To ensure the highest security, your MSP will establish a secure Wi-Fi network throughout your entire establishment or chain that only your staff will have access to, with a fully separate POS network solution.
They can also ensure the protection of your customer data and improved experience by setting effective customer Wi-Fi.
6. Ensure Compliance
While compliance in hospitality is traditionally tied to things like food safety, IT systems bring about their own set of compliance regulations to be followed. Your MSP will ensure that your technology and software solutions are compliant with government regulations (like GDPR) by utilising secure systems like Microsoft’s Azure Information Protection. They can also help with PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance for your POS systems.
7. Standardise Equipment
A very common practice for medium to large enterprises is to standardise equipment to reduce costs and make maintenance and upkeep easier. But, for smaller businesses, this isn’t often attempted, because people don’t know how.
Your IT managed service provider can standardise current systems as well as oversee purchases to make sure they really are necessary and compatible with your current systems. Having this in place will allow for better monitoring, applying updates and reducing response times.
8. Offer Cost-Effective Solutions For Better Customer Service
Your MSP is more than just IT support. They are IT professionals with specific knowledge of your industry that follow the latest trends. Their goal is to align with your goals and help you offer an amazing service to your customers. In hospitality specifically, your IT managed service provider can advise on ways to improve customer experience through technology, whether that’s free Wi-Fi or even marketing beacons.
9. Facilitate Expansions
When opening a new venue or location, your MSP can help fit in the IT seamlessly with your design plans so you can future proof your venue. From simple tasks like outlets and power supplies to the larger, more intricate technological planning, expanding to meet the same IT standards you have currently has never been easier. For example, we liaise with contractors and project managers during construction to make sure IT specifications and planned equipment are tailored to.
10. On-Site Upgrades
Whether your equipment is due an overhaul or you’re in need of repairs, your IT managed service provider can implement them on-site with minimal effect to your customers. Often they can work out of hours to deal with upgrades at less busy times, but if not, they understand how best to proceed with the least impact. Luckily, when you hire an MSP they normally have notifications and analytics to check to deal with these upgrades ahead of time before anything goes wrong. But, even if issues occur, they are dealt with easily and swiftly.
11. IT Budget Management
All businesses out there have a limited budget, and it can be hard to determine just how big the IT budget of a business in the hospitality sector should be. The industry average suggests around 2.5% of your turnover should be spent on technology, but this will vary depending on the type of business you have.
Your MSP will assess your current situation and offer a detailed overview of where you can save money and how. This will most commonly include software and hardware standardisation across all your devices and establishments. Additionally, hiring an MSP for your IT requirements means that you will pay them a fixed monthly fee, which is considerably lower than paying for specific IT services when something breaks down, when you need a major overhaul of all systems or emergency fees when you need something done quickly (that could have been prevented.)
12. Meeting and Function Room Setup
Do you make income from function or meeting room rentals? Improve your technological capabilities, become an innovative location for events and not only provide a better experience, but charge more!
Your MSP will inspect your meeting and function rooms in detail and suggest the needed technology and software to implement so they are fully equipped for social gatherings, ceremonies, or conferences. They will also offer their services to the party that booked your meeting/function rooms and help with the setup.
13. On-Site Repair and Maintenance
While traditional IT services offer maintenance and repairs only when you request it, managed service providers conduct proactive monitoring. This helps them spot an issue early on before it becomes a much bigger problem. They will repair and maintain equipment on-site as soon as they detect issues to give faster turnarounds before it breaks completely.
This also means you don’t have to sit on hold to a helpdesk who try to explain how to do the fixes yourself! It just gets done!
14. New Software & Hardware Audits
An MSP will continuously research new software and hardware options to see if they are viable and relevant to your business. An MSP has the required industry and IT knowledge to assess new software and hardware and determine whether they would benefit you. Often times, restaurants and other key players from the hospitality industry opt for solutions that might be a good fit for their needs but are not compatible with their current systems. An MSP will ensure that the tech solution you choose is compatible and won’t cause major disruptions during or after implementation.
15. IT Consultancy
Some MSPs won’t include consultancy, but we do. From consulting on IT equipment and device policies, to making innovative improvements to your security or processes that ultimately help you make money!
All of these tasks aim to improve your customer service and ability to sell to customers or maintain that relationship. Technology is overlooked in the IT indsutry, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.