3 Strategies to Optimize your Seasonal Hotel, Bar or Restaurant in a Ski Resort

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It’s early May in Chamonix. The skiers from all over the world have gone home by now. But for the youth participating in the World Selects Invitational U15 junior hockey tournament, this is the pinnacle of their sporting season! The Hockey Club of Chamonix HC74 organized this prestigious international tournament for athletes born in 2003, where the sport’s future stars compete for glory in the Mont Blanc Valley.

In 2017, iKentoo has the honor of being one of the sponsors of this tournament to support youth athletics and a community that is very dear to our heart: the seasonal restaurateurs and hoteliers in alpine resorts.

With the sharp drop in guests marking the end of the ski season, many establishments must close their doors and take a few months off before the following season. Indeed it’s not easy for restaurateurs facing the low season in ski towns to thrive with such limitations.

At iKentoo, we are all too aware of that dynamic. The idea for our iPad POS solution was born in Verbier, a mythical ski area that is almost deserted between seasons. Our first customers? The town and surrounding area’s restaurants, bars and hotels, who are still with iKentoo today. From the beginning, our close relationship with them has sensitized us to the specific needs of hospitality businesses in areas with highly seasonal tourism.

With more than six years of experience specifically serving “high-altitude” hotel and restaurant businesses, our seasonal clients often ask us for advice on optimizing their operations. Here are three ways to have a successful ski season and enjoy the low season without stress:

 

OPTIMIZE YOUR SALES AND PRODUCTION PROCESSES

It may be obvious, but when the slopes are full you need to make the most of it!

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The key is to put in place super-streamlined sales, preparation and production processes which can kick into gear as soon as orders start coming. To do that, you will need to start by analyzing different aspects of your business to determine where and how to improve your approach. Here are some critical questions:

  • During which days of the week are my sales highest? At what times?

  • Does the number of employees per shift make sense for my turnover? Could I optimize my staff schedule?

  • What correlations can I make between external factors such as weather, holiday schedule, special events and the like?

  • Is my order and production process efficient?

  • How are queues managed?

  • Which dishes are my best-sellers? Is their margin high enough? Is my menu price structure coherent?

  • What impact does a price change have on the average ticket? How much can I increase price without affecting demand?

  • Do my purchases correspond exactly to the meals served?

  • Do I have a regular clientele or only tourists? How did they discover my establishment? How can I contact them to announce specific events or products?

  • Is it easy / fast for my guests to pay the bill? Is this a bottleneck that creates dissatisfaction? Should I add another credit card machine?

  • Do I have menus in the languages my clients speak? Can I accept other currencies from neighboring countries or from my clients’ home countries? Can I easily change the exchange rates?

To answer these questions, you need data on your business’s performance. This is critical to be able to understand your operations in detail and pinpoint any improvement areas. Moreover they will help you keep an eye on the efficiency of your establishment’s various processes over time so you can intervene when needed.

But where to find them? A good starting place is to select a cash register and POS system with a complete management platform. Most modern tablet-based POS systems have management and reporting tools included in the solution. They are typically digital interfaces accessible either directly from the order-taking interface, through a website portal, or via a smartphone, and which aggregate all the data of the establishment in different forms.

If you take the iKentoo Back-office management platform, for example, you can follow all your key performance indicators both in real-time and on a historical basis, such as:

  • average ticket
  • peak hours
  • stock levels
  • tracking the hours worked by your staff

All this allows you to perfect your operations and maintain a 360 degree perspective over them.

 

CHOOSE EASY-TO-USE TOOLS

Finding qualified staff for the season is often a challenge for high altitude restaurateurs, and getting them up to speed in a short time is never easy. So how can you minimize their training time and limit potential mistakes during the first few days?

You should choose intuitive and ergonomic tools that make your team’s daily tasks as easy as possible. The POS system is a key element, especially when managing spikes in demand over short periods of time. A classic loss of efficiency happens in the following workflow: order-taking >> passing the order to the kitchen >> producing the meal in the kitchen >> serving the guest their meal. During a hectic shift, with many tables to manage in parallel, a novice waiter can easily be overwhelmed by all orders and requests from customers. How can you avoid, or at least limit, those situations?

Using remotes to take table-side orders electronically is an increasingly popular practice in full-service restaurants. And with good reason: by automatically sending the order to the kitchen after ordering without the waiter needed to go there in person, production in the kitchen starts right away and reduces the guests’ waiting times. Many remotes, such as iKentoo’s, also allow waiters to accept payment and pay the bill without having to go to the main POS station in the room. All this means that they can spend more time on the fundamentals of great customer service instead of constantly running around on small tasks.

One of our alpine customers, Le Kuklos Restaurant, explains the advantages of an integrated POS approach:

"Our restaurant Le Kuklos, the largest in the resort of Télé-Leysin in the heart of the Swiss Alpes Vaudoises, can accommodate up to 250 people in its 2 rooms and on its terrace. Thanks to the synchronization of the table-side remotes with the POS, you see everything, right away! The interface is simple, pleasant, intuitive. Our servers are more attentive to our customers. And the real-time, clear and comprehensive sales and inventory reports have improved our management: they allow us to adjust our orders and our menu according to the demands of our consumers. As a Manager, I no longer am worried about whether everything will work during each shift. "

 

LIMIT YOUR COSTS IN THE OFF-SEASON

Finally, it's all well and good to have great sales during the season, but it is not worth much if you have to burn all your profits on fixed expenses during the off-season.

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Rent, mortgages and asset depreciation are difficult to avoid. But what about other expenses, like your management and professional tools? You can opt for those who offer either a very competitive price or a flexible subscription model. The former allows you to pay off your material investment faster, and the latter to suspend your expenses at the end of the season.

With POS solutions and cash registers, one tip is to find a partner that offers lightweight and flexible software solutions. After the season you turn off the software, and stop paying. At iKentoo our approach is to help our seasonal clients with a POS system that fits their needs and budgets with flexible, month-by-month renewable rates and compact equipment. If you have a restaurant on the ski slopes, you probably shouldn’t be paying for a full POS solution in October!

 

To our seasonal hospitality colleagues: what are your tips? We'd love to hear from you on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or by email

Are you in the market for a POS solution or are looking for more information? Our client advisor team would be delighted to meet you and make an offer that fits your specific needs.