MONROE, LA—Like many in the industry, InterMountain Management LLC, based here, develops, owns and operates properties nationwide. With a portfolio of more than 60 hotels and almost 6,000 rooms across 17 different brands, accountability in hotel operations can be difficult to achieve. But Mark Frentz, the company’s director of training & development, said technology can level that playing field.
“Accountability was a huge challenge,” he said, noting that without a technology platform, everything is done on paper. “Engineers, for example, would complete a PM [preventative maintenance]and their record of doing it was marking it in a binder at the hotel, a piece of paper that they checked off. And that’s the only record that there was of it. From an accountability standpoint, we could check those binders when we’d go to visit a hotel, but, truth be told, the engineer could have checkmarked those binders the day before we got there in his office and never gone into the guestroom ever. There was very little accountability when a guest would call down and say a light bulb was out or the TV wasn’t working; we would use paper work tickets, so there was no way to track those in any meaningful way, or track how many TVs are breaking in this hotel, or how many TVs are breaking across our company. There’s no way to quantify that with paper locally.”
Scott Schaedle, founder and president of Quore, noted it’s a common problem for companies of InterMountain’s size. “One of the biggest challenges is taking many different brands and making them all run off the same platform,” he said. “The tried-and-true way is to do QA inspections every six months; that was the only way to really know what was going on with the hotel. What Quore allowed InterMountain to do is be able to see what’s going on at any hotel at any moment, be able to make educated decisions based on what they’re seeing and be able to run all the hotels brand agnostic. They can all run off the same platform, same rules, same policies and procedures.”
And, he noted, there’s no lag time. “One of the tools we have is this inspection tool,” said Schaedle, describing the traditional way inspections are done. “They do their inspection, go home, write a report, send an email with a list of things that need to be done and six months later go check on that list to see if it’s done. With Quore, they can automatically see them being done in real time. They don’t have this wait.”
Cloud-based, Quore offers automated reports and personalized dashboards that allow management to access information at the individual property level or the company as a whole. “When I set out to build Quore, I wanted to create a solution that had everything in it but the PMS,” said Schaedle. “I didn’t want to check guests in and out, but I wanted a complete solution for the hotels. There’s a real reasoning for that. If you have a work ticket system here, a preventative maintenance over there, guest requests here, you’re not going to collect all the data you need. It’s not going to be the standard way hotels use products because it’s just too much for them to remember which place to log in. They’re going to revert back to the Post-it notes and radios. To combat that, I wanted a place that did everything. If there was one place where they did everything, it would become muscle memory, so if someone called down about a broken light bulb, they’d instantly know to put it into Quore.
“The other thing we really focused on was how we designed the solution,” he continued. “We didn’t design Quore for the owners, the regional managers or the executives. We designed it for the engineers, the room attendants, the front desk agents, because they’re the people using the software. We wanted to make sure it worked really well for them because if they used it and understood it, then the guys at the top would benefit from that and be able to get great information out of it so they could make better decisions.”
Frentz noted that InterMountain uses Quore, but the company had tried other technology solutions before that. “Every other technology solution prior to Quore looked like spreadsheets on the screen; they didn’t embrace mobile at all. It was work orders in a spreadsheet,” he said. “Quore was the first to get away from that, and redevelop the whole interface to look like something familiar by using apps. They embraced mobile technology.”
Of course, it was pure luck that InterMountain knew about Quore to begin with. When the technology company was still in its infancy, Schaedle attended the London Olympics, where he met the wife of Dewey Weaver, InterMountain’s owner, at a luncheon. As it usually does, small talk turned to business and “all of a sudden she elbows Dewey,” said Schaedle. “He listened to me for two minutes and said I’ll have someone call you. Two days after we got back from London, I get a call from one of his asset managers. I convinced him to see a presentation, and after I presented to him and some of his operations people, within a month we were off to the races. They had been using a competitive product for several years, and it was ingrained in their culture, but they just loved how Quore was designed, how it functioned and how we used mobile devices.”
While accountability is what Frentz sees as Quore’s biggest benefit for InterMountain, he also noted the advantages of the platform from a day-to-day perspective. “The associates really enjoy using Quore. It’s instantly familiar to them. It’s a system and process they’re used to using now with their smartphones,” he said, adding that the notification piece enables requests to be sent to the appropriate person or department. “We can track that over time, how long did it take us to fix that. At the property level, from a GM’s perspective, that’s extremely powerful to be able to see how are we doing on responding to guests. GMs are judged in large part on guest satisfaction,” he said. “There is a direct correlation between guest satisfaction and how responsive we are to them. Quore ensures we’re responsive and if we’re not, that’s trackable; we can see that at a hotel and department level.”
For instance, one property in InterMountain’s portfolio logged a large amount of guest complaints about the quality of mattresses. “We were able to quantify that, go back and say we have issues, here’s the evidence, and we were able to replace those at no cost,” said Frentz. Quore flagged the trend and, because the inventory was also stored, let the company know that the mattresses were still under warranty, saving the property thousands of dollars.
“The preventative maintenance is also very powerful because we can dictate it at a corporate level, what preventative maintenance programs will be at every hotel, and then track those to be sure they’re being done,” added Frentz. “PM is hugely important. If we’re not taking care of that HVAC unit that costs a hundred thousand dollars, if we’re not replacing the filters and the belts and everything we’re supposed to do, we are lessening the life of that unit and that can be hugely costly to an ownership group.” HB