How Will the New Normal Switch Things Up in the Hospitality Industry?
The pandemic guidelines have more or less relaxed all around the world of late. Mass tourism is on the rise again. But is it all hunky-dory in the hospitality industry? Can you just slip back into your role as the hotelier without making any changes to your property?
The answer is no.
Hotels have incurred immense losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The global tourism industry lost $460 billion in 2020 alone. Either you’ve already been forced to lay off your employees or you are considering it. You now have to reconsider every single penny that you are putting in for marketing and advertising purposes. Cancellations might have seemed like a necessary evil before but now they cause devastating losses.
Situations have altered drastically. In order to successfully adjust to these trying times, you need to make certain changes as well.
This article will answer the following questions:
- How can you best manage your staff force without spending a lot?
- How can you integrate technology into your current workings?
- What new attractions can you add to hook in more customers?
- How can you prevent employee turnover by ensuring employee satisfaction?
Changes Required in the Hospitality Industry to Keep Up in the Post-COVID world
Laying off your employees is always a heartbreaking decision. Especially when such a decision has to be taken in the middle of a pandemic. And this decision has far-reaching consequences as well. According to this Business Insider article, 1 in 3 hospitality workers are not planning to return to the industry. Their reasoning is fair as well. The hospitality industry is more unstable than it ever was.
So, how do you deal with this problem of understaffing? The answer is simple: Make your workforce versatile.
I’ll give you an example to elaborate on why this is necessary.
Ask yourself this question: What is the difference between a concierge, a bell boy, and a front desk receptionist?
Your answer will probably be: “Well, a concierge is supposed to upsell products and services provided by the hotel. The bell boy is supposed to attend to the guests’ needs upon arrival and carry their luggage. A front desk receptionist is supposed to check the guests in when they arrive.”
You’re right. But now, ask yourself this- can all three of these jobs not be performed by a single person? Or better yet, can three people not flit about switching between these three roles?
Of course, they can. The hospitality industry is not one that requires workers with specialized skill sets. At least, not within the actual on-ground labor force anyway.
So, why do you want people to stick to their roles? Changing roles are much more beneficial to you as well as to the employees. Not only do you need to hire a lesser number of people. But you can also easily swap your employees’ departments as per the requirement. If you have multiple properties in the same area, this is especially useful. There are times when the need for a certain service increases. All you need to do is redirect the maximum manpower to that service instead of hiring new employees.
Plus, the inclusion of technology in the hospitality industry has also reduced the requirement of certain roles. In the very next point, I’ll tell you exactly how technological innovation enables you to manage your staff in a better way.
Embrace the PMS
PMS stands for Property Management System. This is the technological innovation that I was referring to in the last point. These are hotel softwares that enable you to manage the everyday workings of your hotel through a single cloud-based platform. And yes, this includes online bookings, inventory management, staff management, and everything in between.
The defining feature of a PMS is its automations. And this is the exact feature that makes some people in the hospitality industry heavily distrust it.
But it’s not a question of Man Vs Machine. PMS is not here to take away any jobs. It’s more of a “Man and Machine” arrangement that ensures greater job satisfaction for the man as well. It enhances the hospitality that the guests receive. And it also makes your life easier as a hotelier. Plus, it saves you tons of money as well.
Wondering how? Well, let’s first take the example of hiring employees. Previously, you had to work hard to find reliable and experienced candidates only. And it was justifiable because you were putting a lot of trust in their manual management skills. Now you don’t have to waste time searching for experienced employees. Newbies will do just as well.
“But don’t I need to waste time training them?” you might ask.
Not really. First, you have to train your existing employees in order for them to attain other skill sets anyway. Versatility is not something that you can readily find in a hotel employee’s CV. Second, training them is not such back-breaking labor with Property Management Systems anyway.
Take StayFlexi for example. It allows the guests to check themselves in even before they arrive. So, you don’t really need to have anyone stationed at the front desk 24×7. A single person may (or may not) greet the guests, carry their luggage, and upsell your hotel’s services. The risky, important things like check-in, payment collection, check-out will be handled by the PMS. Your staff can now solely focus on hospitality.
PMS helps your employees as much as it helps your guests and you. Because of the mobile-first cloud-based approach, now they can be on the move while checking someone in. They don’t need to be stuck behind the front desk 24×7.
Upskill Your Employees
Do you know why 1 in 3 hospitality workers vowed never to return after the pandemic was over? Yes, the pandemic was obviously a reason for instability but their grievance is not a newfound one.
Hospitality workers have always complained about being overworked and underpaid. And this mostly happens because all the work is concentrated during one section of the day. This is when guests check out and new guests check-in.
There are many solutions to these issues. First, you can easily stop this concentration of work by making check-in and check-out hours more flexible. You’re more likely to attract more customers that way anyway. Second, let the PMS set the staff work charter. Most PMSs come with a scheduling feature. Since it is automated, it ensures that everyone’s work is spaced out evenly and that the work hours are not too concentrated or unending.
Now, about the problem of underpaying- I know you cannot afford to pay your employees more. But investing in a PMS will free up funds in a lot of places. You can easily invest this in providing your staff with more salaries. For example, you will not need a technical team or an audit team anymore. The PMS is super easy to use and comes with ready support. Moreover, it provides you with all the analytics and audit reports that you may need.
Also, your management staff can easily work from home. Only the housekeeping services are needed on the ground. In fact, there are many facilities in the United States which already function without a staff. The guests can self-check-in and check out. They can also make their payments with the click of a button. Shifting to a WFH model frees up precious floor space at your hotel that you can use to rent out more rooms.
You can do something else that is extremely beneficial for your employees. You can help them carve out a very versatile CV by upskilling them. Someone who starts out as your employee will not just be trained in multiple roles. They will also know how to properly utilize a PMS. This automatically upskills them and helps them produce stellar CVs.
PMS not only reduces work for employees, it helps them get more money and also get better jobs later. Do you still think PMS poses a “Man vs Machine” problem?
Make it Instagrammable
This might seem like shallow advice but it’s really not. Give me a simple answer: Have you ever gone back to a single hotel because of how perfectly sterile and satisfactory it is?
No, right? It’s not enough for your hotel to be satisfactory. Dozens of hotels in your area boast of the exact same services and facilities as you. The question is- what sets you apart?
People should not just stumble across your hotel because it just happens to be situated where they are touring. If they do that then there’s nothing that sets your hotel apart. Nothing that will make the guests recommend it to their other friends and family or come back later.
Your hotel needs to be the center of attraction. The hotel needs to be the place where they are planning to visit. And to ensure this, you need to make your property unique. You need to make it Instagrammable.
This is the Keemala Resort and Spa in Phuket. This supremely Instagrammable property went viral because of its pod-like cabins and outrageous hanging swimming pools. The absolute seclusion that it offered people was the main attraction.
These are just some of the possible ways in which you can make your property social media hyper-worthy. And the social media hype is one of the best things that you can get. These photos and videos that are captured by travel bloggers act as user-generated content. User-generated content is basically free marketing. The moment your property goes viral, you can immediately expect heavy footfall in the following months.
You might consider hiring a hotel curator to help you out in this endeavor. A hotel curator is basically a concierge 2.0. They have the duty of making sure that the hotel always has facilities that are equipped to stimulate the interest of the guests. This might mean a myriad range of things. Avant-garde architecture, out-of-the-box entertainment, exotic cuisines, or adventure sports.
Anything that makes your hotel stand out is a good idea. It doesn’t even need to be particularly different. It just needs to look different.
Remember when black soft-serve went viral on Instagram? All it was was a vanilla ice cream with activated charcoal for coloring. But that’s what sold in millions. Get the hint?
If you are a hotelier, you cannot be afraid of change. Think about this- even 20 years ago, did hotels have a full-fledged tech team? No, right? The need for that arose suddenly. And things are going to change further in the coming years. Roles need to change and evolve in the hospitality industry to keep up with the changing times. After all, there is nothing more predictable than unpredictability.
You know the constraints that you are working under currently as a hotelier. These suggestions are bound to make things easier for you. If you want to know more about how automations can help you save money, leave a comment below.