So why is buying for hotels so complicated? First, there’s a lot of moving parts – specialist departments with a clear idea of what they need. This opens the door to maverick purchasing. Something unexpected comes up or someone forgets to order in time and there’s an emergency. The head of department reaches for their nearest supplier or someone who always comes up trumps – and considerations of cost and quality take a back seat.
Second, as soon as you have a few hotels, it makes sense to consolidate your buying into clusters, grouped by geography or brand. This saves money, enables compliance and helps control quality. However, it requires a central management system with clear processes for control and approval and transparent records of every purchase.
Thirdly, hotel groups often have multiple brands and need to develop a consistent offer across each. The products and services they provide need to match the brand promise, whichever individual hotel a guest stays in. You need a specialist purchasing department to source all the products to meet these standards, some of which may be fairly weird and wonderful.
However, for a hotel group with multiple brands, this can create a problem by diluting spend. If you offer different bathroom toiletries in your variously branded hotels, you have to balance the benefits of distinctiveness with the disadvantage of reduced volumes.
This can have repercussions elsewhere too. For example, having different bed linen for each brand can create problems for your centralised laundry operation. The examples are endless – and you can rely on purchasing to find a way to make it work.
However, you can make it easier for them by taking a number of steps:
Establish a clear purchasing strategy
Get purchasing to work closely with finance to outlaw maverick buying
Set and communicate the purchasing process and procedures
Show staff how purchasing operates and how it can support them
Use technology to streamline purchasing and control spending
To find out more about best practices for purchasing in your hotel, download our white paper.