Estate & Manor Magazine had the chance to sit down with Margarita Amam, the brainchild behind (IMS) Interior Management Systems Crystal. Her app is designed specifically for hospitality professionals working inside private residences and on-board luxury yachts.
Margarita started her career from a young age, working her way up the hospitality hierarchy from being a part-time waitress and bartender during her time spent graduating from a hospitality academy through to hotel and restaurant management. After 10 years in the commercial hospitality sector, Margarita was headhunted by a firm who offered her the chance to work on-board a luxury yacht. Since then, Margarita has worked on various 80-130 metre motor yachts as well as having assisted with operations inside private residences and estates in Europe and the Caribbean.
After 18 years of gathering managerial knowledge and experiencing various and specific degrees of private service professionals such as: Sommelier, Barista and Mixology – Margarita had the idea to create a system which is designed specifically for professionals working inside private residences, such as estate managers and household managers as well as crew on-board luxury motor yachts.
A brief introduction into the thought process behind Crystal. How did your experience in the yachting industry influence the decision to create the application?
The contrast between commercial, private residence and yacht operation in general, as well as the thirst of young crew and staff to learn and grow, needed to be addressed with a formal system, procedures and solutions. Something that surpasses the current state and meets the ever-increasing demands of owners and trends.
On-board there are many untrained crew who haven’t had a formal hospitality education. Basic work-flow, cleaning and hygiene routines etc. need to be covered in a very short period. This is best done on board in the actual interior, where you can control information flow, curriculum, and quality of training and review performance. The finely detailed work such as table service, leather care etc which need to be adhered to when building a +7* operation.
How does Crystal work exactly? And what are the main/most important features?
CRYSTAL works on every iPad and desktop and laptop. You can use it for a single asset as well as a whole operation across the globe. Your data stays in your control; not in a cloud, but physically on-site in the included CRYSTALVaultTM (server). It works both on and offline. Our in-house NDA and philosophy forbids the sharing of clients’ details or data in any form. We protect your data from software to hardware, sensors, access control, encryption and other security measures.
It’s hard to choose the most important function, but for crew and staff the most popular functions are the intuitive & easily maintained inventories, the DutyCalTM with its maintenance & care overview and the DutyTicketsTM with their checklists. The Damage Logbook is a real help across the departments and favoured by engineers and hotel maintenance professionals. For Managers the self-generated analysis on performance and consumption saves time and money while giving a fantastic clear picture of their operation.
How easy is it for a tech-novice to use/navigate?
After testing other platforms, we have had the pleasure of working with Apple Developers to learn about their UI & UX philosophy. We trialed a variety of candidates from different ethnicities, educational backgrounds, other professions and ages ranging from 20 – 70 years. The results were truly amazing. The candidates used the app on the iPad very naturally with a positive almost happy and confident attitude. They intuitively found their way around the app without even thinking or worrying about it. “How do I get to…Ah, never mind, got it!” – was the most heard sentence. That’s what we wanted to achieve!
Considering owners of Private Residences and Yachts all run a tight ship when it comes to the management of their assets, how does CRYSTAL benefit the principal and of course the personnel on a day-to-day basis?
The Principal gains an insight of his assets, staff/crew and the operation from the interactive DutyCalTM alone. He could even track his favourite pair of golf shoes between assets if he wishes.
Management can anticipate budgets with the analysis tools while personnel can improve their skills e.g. by simply swiping through the user-friendly in-app service or housekeeping handbooks.
This level of transparency, DataSecurityTM is under your full control, flexible and completely customised to your asset and preferences. We go beyond the average software known to man and also include services such as video tutorials to support and enhance the level of luxury within your operation.
In an industry where communication is seemingly king, how does Crystal solve communication errors between staff and principal?
When you work out of the App, your movements are tracked and logged. Meaning, if last year’s housekeeper changed the quantity of the Baccarat wine glasses from 24 to 20 pieces, the inventory will contain a time and name stamp in the history/ information button. The new housekeeper can access within the app with a simple left swipe.
The answers are at your fingertips. The information flow and status reports in The Damage Logbook Module are kept in the same clear manner. The system includes a messaging function and you can link your email account to send order lists as .pdfs out of the system (if you have these user rights assigned to you by your on-site admin e.g. Head Butler or Chief Stewardess).
In terms of personnel/crew – how does Crystal support staff in the workplace and what influence does it have relating to staff/crew performance?
CRYSTAL is tailored to each individual interior/ operation. It therefore gives structural and educational tools, which promotes pro-activeness and self-management. The video clips motivate personnel to invest time in their own further development from the comfort of their own work place. Best of both worlds – learning while earning.
What Crystal plans are currently available?
We offer CRYSTAL in the IVORY SubscriptionTM which includes the essential modules. Department Modules: Service-, Housekeeping- and Laundry
Support Modules: Damage Logbook, Guest Preferences, Staff Profiles
IVORY Services include: 2 TB CRYSTALVaultTM, CRYSTALAssistantTM, a Telephone Support Center and of course 2x video clips every month. You can find the details on our website but we always like to deliver exclusive service (by adding complimentary the 24/7 support and other services).
The release of the SILVER PackageTM is planned for Spring 2016 and you can easily upgrade as it will include more modules, functions and features.
If you own various assets around the world or you are responsible for your principal’s assets it may be worth visiting the IMS Crystal Website and learning more about the application. Margarita would gladly give you a personal demonstration of the app in motion. Visit the website: http://ims-crystal.com