By Gary Patrick, CEO of Hotel Internet Services
With a year of record-low guest reservations now thankfully behind us, the hotel industry now finds itself facing another unexpected challenge in the form of mass labor shortages. Despite what should be the welcome news of a pending surge in travel this summer, many hoteliers are rightly concerned that insufficient staffing levels will lead to substandard service and rising guest dissatisfaction that can jeopardize hotel reputations.
Worse still, the inability to retain a sufficiently staffed workforce risks a property having to limit the number of guest bookings at a time when occupancy levels are above 50 percent for the first time since the pandemic. Much of the root cause behind this is simply the fact that many furloughed employees have since found higher paying jobs and are reluctant to return to the industry. To prevent the stalling of their recovery efforts, hoteliers must therefore find creative ways to fill the gaps and ensure that guest service quality remains high regardless of occupancy or staffing levels.
Fortunately, advances in technology are now able to be leveraged by existing hotel staff to allow them to do more with less. Yet with a wide range of options to choose from and with limited revenue available for new investments, it can be a daunting task to determine which solutions are essential to running more efficient and responsive guest services. Read on to find out exactly what technologies should be in in any hotelier’s toolkit to make the most out of the pending travel surge while ensuring complete satisfaction for each and every guest.
Break Down Barriers to Exceptional Guest Service With IoT
One of the biggest challenges for hotel employees in meeting guest expectations is simply keeping track of and responding swiftly to the multitude of requests that are made each day. However, the same in-guestroom technology solutions that are being used to enhance guest convenience and social distancing can also be used to provide employees with much-needed support. For example, IoT-based comprehensive in-room service platforms are widely recognized for their ability to provide guests with instant access to hotel information and amenities such as room service at the touch of their fingertips. Yet behind the scenes, more advanced solutions that can seamlessly integrate with a hotel’s PMS can also fully automate the directing of requests to appropriate departments. This not only results in faster service but also means no staff members have to needlessly serve as a middleperson to ensure that requests are delivered and handled by the correct personnel.
From requests for extra towels to making reservations at a hotel’s restaurant or inquiries into available promotions, advanced in-room service solutions are also invaluable in preventing tasks from slipping through the cracks and leading to a lapse in service quality. Employees that are stretched too thin can easily become distracted and overlook the completion of previous requests. However with an in-room service and PMS integration, the status of requests can be easily reviewed at any time and can be escalated to ensure that all tasks are completed by staff in a timely manner.
Invest in a Smarter Workforce Strategy
Self-service technology has been around for quite some time within the hospitality industry due to its ability to offer instant convenience, but has since become even more sought after since the rise of the pandemic. Able to minimize germ exposure risks by encouraging social distancing, self-service platforms are now favored by more than 70 percent of hotel executives as a way to maintain guest safety and rebuild their trust. But one less discussed advantage of self-service technology is its ability to lessen staff workloads. Using digital check-in and keys as an example, arriving guests are not the only ones that benefit from being able to avoid the front desk and instead gain immediate access to their guestrooms. Frontline employees are also able to receive some relief by sidestepping routine, yet time-consuming check-in processes. By regaining time otherwise wasted on a task that does little to enhance guest experiences, hotel staff can instead re-focus their efforts to other areas where they are needed the most and that can actually lead to increased satisfaction.
Despite the reputation that the hotel industry has in typically lagging behind other markets in technological development, circumstances have undeniably changed to where adopting new solutions and ways of managing operations are critical to business survival. Yet rather than viewing recent innovations as a potential risk to sidelining the human element which is central to the guest stay experience, hoteliers instead should recognize that these new technologies are empowering their employees to perform their jobs better, not serving as a means to replace them. When backed by innovative tools that can instantly streamline operations, hoteliers can ensure that their employees are always able put their best foot forward in seamlessly achieving the high-quality experience that each returning guest now expects.