As hoteliers prepare to re-open, conversations with our own customer base revealed that one of the biggest challenges they now face is also their biggest asset – their people. Since the first lockdown over a year ago, hospitality has struggled with unprecedented difficulties as a result of closure and wider uncertainty around if, when and how restrictions would be lifted.
Many staff who were furloughed or made redundant opted to leave altogether and seek jobs in other sectors such as retail. This is in addition to a significant number of European employees who have also left the UK as
a result of Brexit legislation. So, what do these staff challenges mean and more importantly, what is the solution? This is where technology can step in and play a role – not only to support bookings and operations but also with staff recruitment, support and retention.
As we start to look forward, hoteliers will be focussing their efforts on their staffing requirements and how to recruit and rehabilitate staff back into the world of hospitality. Whether that be reengaging and re-training staff who have been furloughed or encouraging new recruits to join the industry. It can often be an involved and lengthy process to ensure staff are fully qualified, feel empowered and are in pole position to make the best impression possible ready for when guests do come back.
With this in mind, employing easy to learn, intuitive cloud-based systems will pay real dividends in enabling hoteliers to train staff efficiently and get new operations up and running swiftly. With easy access to all functionality and integrations from one central location, hoteliers needn’t restrict their recruitment drive to candidates with prior or extensive technical experience, so they also have the potential to widen their search pool.
Having in-depth knowledge on a new system does not therefore need to take precedence over employing the right people with the right personalities. Those who are keen to work in hospitality, and who have a commitment to providing a warm and welcoming guest experience, can be reassured that they have a strong support system in the technology and software that is in place.
A recent survey amongst our own customer base revealed that many hoteliers already recognise the benefits that more enhanced, intuitive technology can offer, not just for operations but for staff too. In particular, when asked what their priority is in terms of technology and operations for the year ahead, over a quarter (27%) stated it was digital marketing (including enhancing the website and social media presence), whilst a fifth (20%) stated it was overseeing and managing a contact-free guest experience (including a more digital approach to guest communications, upselling, utilising feedback and check-in/out).
Likewise for those hoteliers planning to invest in technology in the year ahead, over a third (38%) stated it would be in contactless payments, whilst 18% are planning to invest further in online check-in / check-out software. More encouraging still, it appears that staff are also willing to embrace a more digital future, as over two-thirds (68%) stated staff have had a positive response to the implementation and adoption of new software.
Certainly, within our network of hoteliers, the introduction of more intuitive, easy to follow cloud systems has paid dividends from a staffing perspective. Staff not only feel better equipped to do their job, hoteliers are also able to offer more flexibility with remote access and greater options for those team members keen to work from home.
The benefits of greater efficiency across operations can also be felt by guests throughout their stay as the administration is dealt with more effectively. Staff in turn have more time to engage with guests and show off both their personalities and the personality of the hotel – all invaluable in building solid guest relations. To help streamline the guest experience and ease workloads, it is worth undertaking an honest review of operations to identify what processes can and should be automated so staff can focus on delivering this personalised service.
We are on what we all hope is the brink of a positive and strong recovery for the industry. But the challenge of falling staff levels is one we must address now if we are to make the most of the important weeks and months ahead and technology looks set to be a powerful ally.
By Sarah Jones, customer success director at Guestline