After 11 years in the hotel industry, Ryan Belford, founder of Room Advantage, noticed an ongoing problem. He could never keep track of hotel housekeepers and which rooms were ready for guests.
“We constantly had to find staff and ask them which rooms were ready,” said Belford. “I figured there had to be a better process, but there really wasn’t. That’s when we created Room Advantage.”
How Room Advantage works
Omaha-based Room Advantage takes the paper out of hotel housekeeping. With Room Advantage, housekeepers can mark the rooms they’ve cleaned, report damages, send instant messages to other hotel staff and keep track of inventory all from a tablet, rather than a clipboard.
Belford explained that one of the main benefits to using Room Advantage is that hotel customer service representatives can find which rooms are ready in real time. This makes the process easier for staff helping hotel customers that wish to check in early.
Saving time and gaining efficiency
From a managerial standpoint, Room Advantage also helps hotel managers keep track of each housekeeper’s efficiency. Belford explained that each hotel has different time limits when it comes to cleaning rooms, but often find them hard to enforce because there was not an easy way to keep track of time spent.
“We provide different types of analytics for hotel managers,” said Belford. “Room Advantage also saves the housekeepers an extra half hour because they don’t have to go through all of their paperwork to add up their time spent. It just makes everything run more efficiently.”
Belford explained that Room Advantage’s damage reporting feature is also helping hotel maintenance staff save time.
“Before this, damages were documented with a piece of paper,” said Belford. “Now the maintenance staff doesn’t have to keep track of all of those papers, they can just access the reports through a tablet.”
Belford added that the housekeepers can also take pictures of the damages to report them more easily. This saves the maintenance person a lot of time because they know exactly what to expect for each damage report.
Adjusting staff to new technology
Coming from a limited technology background, Belford said that the process of making an app has been a great learning experience for him. He added that he also learned that implementing more efficient processes isn’t always easy for everyone on staff.
“Even though technology can really help people out, sometimes they are reluctant to take it on because they don’t like change,” said Belford. “We spent a lot of time trying to make the app as user-friendly as possible to try to help people understand and adopt the new technology more easily.”
What’s next for Room Advantage
Currently the team is implementing the technology at the Microtel Inn & Suites in Council Bluffs, IA as well as their other location in Bellevue, NE. Belford said that if everything goes as planned, they will be testing the app with national brands as soon as next month. He said that the team will hopefully be doing a pilot with about five or six hotels.
Belford added that Room Advantage will probably add more features in the future, but for the time being, the team is focused on trying to connect with as many interested hotels as possible.
“We are creating a form of communication for hotels that hasn’t been there before,” said Belford. “We’re really excited to start growing in the Omaha area.”
Room Advantage is part of The Startup Collaborative, an accelerator and incubator dedicated to radically improving the odds of startup success based in Omaha.
Mel Lucks is a regional freelance journalist and former intern for Silicon Prairie News and AIM.