How The Mandolay Hotel Defied The Odds: More Revenue With Half the Staff

Matthew Milliken has increased upselling revenue at his hotel tenfold. And he’s willing to share the story of how he did it. 

Managing Director of The Mandolay Hotel, Milliken often finds himself looking for efficiency in his own travels. “Sometimes I just want to get to my room – the less interaction the better when I’m tired.” 

He’s not the only one thinking that. And it’s an opportunity for technology to improve hospitality for both the people providing and experiencing it. 

The need for change

The Mandolay Hotel previously used a legacy property management system that had limited functionality and couldn’t support the needs of the modern guest journey. 

Supporting guest needs and expectations today is important as an independent hotel in competition with the biggest hotel chains. “They have millions to spend and we don’t,” Milliken shared. “We need technology to be on our side and help us fight these big global chains who can throw money at any problem. We need to be at the cutting edge of things, rather than being left behind.”

The hotel found it hard to meet its revenue goals without being able to support guests as they wanted to be engaged.  “Our biggest frustration was continuously trying to get our receptionists to upsell.” There would be a big training on this and push for a couple of weeks, but things would return to the status quo after a few weeks. Incentives with commission didn’t seem to help. 

A change was needed. 

The search for technology

Milliken and his team started a process of looking for how they could make themselves more agile and efficient and decided to move to a new property management system

And they didn’t stop with changing their property management system. “We asked ourselves, ‘What else can we do?’ From online check-in to registration cards, managing from iPads – we were looking at everything.”

Their goals were to streamline their workflow and future-proof their business. “We needed to work with companies that would keep updating their technology over time and evolve with our guests’ needs.” 

After speaking with their PMS provider, they were introduced to a number of prospective hotel technology partners with integrations, including Canary Technologies

Making the business case

The business case for the technology initiative to ownership was three-fold: 

  • Growing top-line revenue
  • Reducing the need for additional staffing
  • Providing the ability to survive a tight labor market 

The evaluation process was run with these criteria in mind. “Canary quickly emerged as one of the most interesting technology providers,” Milliken shared.

Getting signoff from the owner to proceed was straightforward with a strong business case. “We’re quite fortunate. If we decide we’re going to go ahead with something because we see the value, we can move quite quickly because we’re privately owned.”

Efficiency: for both staff and guests

After implementing Canary’s Check-In/Checkout, Upsells, and Messages technology, The Mandolay Hotel has seen benefits across their operation, starting with efficiency for the staff. “Our team would be a lot more burdened if we didn’t have this.”

Both staff and guests like the new check-in application, as it speeds up the process for both. Instead of worrying about dozens of people staying in reception trying to check-in at the same time, there’s now a separate area for those who pre-registered, and simply need to show their ID to get the key. “It’s a lot more simple now.” 

It’s not only about check-in. Checking out is also easier now. “It’s simple and easy for guests. And it’s great for staff because they know who has already checked out and can focus on the people who want to do the check-out face to face.” 

This new process speeds up processes like housekeeping, which previously wouldn’t have known if a guest had left.  

The results 

Milliken was able to quickly deliver results across all areas of his business plan, starting with upsell revenue. 

“We’ve gone from a couple hundred pounds a month to £2000+ last month.” That continues to increase. On the day of this interview, the hotel already had £235 in upgrades on a Tuesday that wasn’t even fully booked yet. 

Canary technology has also reduced the need for staffing at reception, going from having two members of staff on every shift on the front desk to just one person most days. This is because Matthew can be more precise in staffing. “If we know we’re fully booked one night, I can bring someone in for the check-in period for three hours rather than paying for an eight-hour shift.”

The financial impact? “I’ve cut the wage bill in half.” 

Finally, it has supported the hotel in a tight labor market. “I’m so glad we’re relying on technology for operational areas of our business, because it means we’re not really feeling the pinch as much as others.”

Overall? “The system pays for itself. It’s a no brainer. Of all the software we’ve bought, Canary is the best of all of them.”

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