Why Flexibility is the Future of the Hospitality Industry?
What does flexibility mean in terms of the hospitality industry? This question has a rather multi-pronged answer. And that is exactly what this article has set out to explore along with another follow-up question. Why is flexibility essential in the hospitality industry?
Most people will draw the line at “flexible working practices” when it comes to answering the first question. And while flexible working is definitely necessary in recent times, it’s not the only sector where flexibility is required.
There are always three interested parties in the hotel business: You- the hotelier, the staff, and the guests. Flexible working, as I am going to elaborate upon later, is beneficial for the staff. But this article will explore the various methods in which flexibility can help you and the guests as well. And I will also explain how you can help yourself while helping the guests and the staff.
Let’s get straight into it.
How to Implement Flexibility in the Hospitality Industry?
Flexible Working Practices
Since I mentioned this in the introduction, let us get this out of the way first. Flexible working practice is a growing trend in every industry. Especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. This basically refers to workers being allowed to choose flexible work hours. They can also choose if they want to work from home or come to their worksite.
Now, I know this sounds like a difficult prospect in the hotel industry. After all, maintaining hotels is a labor-intensive process. But at the same time, you cannot ignore that the staff’s demands are justified. The large-scale worker strikes in the US are clearly proving that workers hold power. 1 in 3 hospitality workers is already not planning to come back to work after last year’s mass lay-offs.
So, you must grant workers reasonable working hours and fair pay. But how can you do this with a fraction of your original workforce?
The answer is simple. Opt for a Property Management System. This is a software that single-handedly controls every aspect of your hotel management. No, a PMS is not a machine that is meant to completely replace your workers. Instead, a PMS can allow your workers to have exactly what they want. Flexible work hours.
If you have a PMS like StayFlexi, you don’t need to have anyone but your housekeeping staff on the property. The tech staff and office staff can easily work from home. After all, the entire process of running the hotel is digitized. You don’t even need to have anyone at the front desk at all moments or an overseer. This frees up precious floor space on your property that you can now monetize on.
Not only does StayFlexi provide your staff more control over their work hours and work environment. It also ensures that you gain more revenue and decreases the room for human error.
Currently, there are multiple staff-less properties in the US itself.
Flexible Staff Roles
This has much to do with the current labor shortage as well. It is very possible that you are running out of staff in a particular sector. Let’s say you have a shortage of staff members who are trained to check people in when they arrive.
With a PMS, this won’t be a problem. First, guests can check themselves in via their phones if you have StayFlexi. But besides that, any member of your staff will be able to check-in guests through their phones/tablets. Moreover, they can do it from anywhere on the property. So, you don’t need to have anyone man the front desk at all times.
The flexibility of staff roles is an important facet of the future of the hotel industry. You shouldn’t have rigid boundaries between various sectors. The same staff members should be trained to perform whichever role is assigned to them. This way, you will never run out of staff in a particular department. And you don’t have to hire staff with specialized training every time you have a labor shortage either. The versatility of the staff goes a long way when it comes to the hotel business.
I will give you a simple example. Big hotels normally have three separate positions for lobby staff. The concierge, who is meant to upsell the features of your property. The receptionist, who is meant to check people in upon arrival and hand them their keys. And finally, the bell boy who is supposed to carry the luggage to the rooms.
These three separate rolls are now redundant with a PMS like StayFlexi. A single man can perform all three roles. Because oftentimes, the work of upselling, checking in, and providing room keys are all done by the PMS itself.
Flexible Staff Charters
This point is directly related to what I mentioned regarding workers’ rights in Point 1. Along with flexible working hours and fair pay, the workers also have a third crucial demand. They do not want to be overworked just because of the labor shortage.
You, as a hotelier, must know that, in hotels, work piles up at a particular period during the day. This is when guests check out and new guests start arriving. Rooms need to be cleaned, people need to be provided their bills, new people have to be checked in. Once this is all done, their rooms need to be prepared according to their preferences, and so on.
And this entire work is concentrated within a 2-3 hours timespan. This obviously creates a huge hassle for the staff.
The solution to this problem is distributing work in an organized fashion and making sure no one person is overburdened. If one staff member is already engaged in some work, the duty should fall upon a backup member.
StayFlexi allows you to do exactly this with their Smart Housekeeping feature. Not only are the staff charters prepared in a way that the tasks are equally distributed. But also, no human is in charge of instructing the housekeeping staff what to do. If the guest makes a request through their mobile app/website, this request is directly sent to the staff. Once the concerned staff member checks the notification, they can set out to perform the task. If they are busy, the task is re-routed to a member who is currently free. Once the task is done, the staff member can simply update this on the site/app.
The Smart Housekeeping option also maintains accountability. No guest requests can go unaddressed when they are directly being updated on the hotel app.
Flexible Check-In/Check-Out Timings
This one is for the guests. Your plane lands at 4 am. And your hotel won’t check you in till 9 am because that’s their scheduled check-in time. What do you do? You simply get another hotel.
And that’s a problem that nearly all of us have encountered once. Just like we have been forced to wait at the airport for hours. This is because the checkout time was fixed and our plane got delayed.
Hotels normally have fixed check-in and check-out hours because it is extremely confusing to update the inventory otherwise. How can you check a new guest in if that room has not been vacated yet? But the thing is, this is just a problem if you have 100% occupancy. Which you, as a hotelier, must know is very rare. Especially during this pandemic. You can easily accommodate the new guest in another room.
Don’t turn people away just because inventory management is hard for you. Instead, automate the process. Auto Inventory Management is StayFlexi’s signature feature. If automations manage your inventory, you don’t have to worry about shuffling your guests around. The PMS will take care of it.
StayFlexi, therefore, also makes sure that your guests can book rooms on an hourly basis. Requesting extensions has never been easier either. All your guests need to do is register a request on the hotel site/app. If there are free rooms where new guests can be accommodated, your request will automatically be granted.
You might be wondering, “Why should I complicate this process just for the sake of flexibility? Where is my profit in this?”
The answer is very obvious. Your guests will stop canceling once they figure out they can check-in and check-out whenever they want to. They will stop booking backup hotels. This directly translates to more revenue. Not just that. If you take hourly bookings you can sell rooms that are going empty due to last-minute cancellations.
Plus, you’re not really complicating the process. You are simplifying it by handing over the responsibilities to the StayFlexi automations.
Last but not the least, you have to be flexible in your approach while dealing with various guests.
Not all customers are the same. That is the entire point of targeted marketing. Don’t you think the same is valid for your hospitality measures?
Different kinds of people want to be treated differently. A large portion of the guests are preferring to avoid interactions with the hotel staff because of COVID-19. To respect their wishes, limit the hands-on approach of your staff. Rather, automate every process that can be automated. And StayFlexi pretty much allows you to automate everything.
Your guests can order food from their phone app/website itself. Similarly, they can book entertainment options, spas, walking tours, sightseeing rides, and so on. Since the check-in and check-out processes are automated, they never need to wait at the front desk. StayFlexi provides you with payment links as well. So, there’s no need to walk up to the front desk and ask for a bill or a card reader either.
Now, don’t assume that everyone has the same preferences. There might be guests who do actually want to talk to the staff. Even in this situation, StayFlexi helps. Since it takes away the burden of performing rote, repetitive actions, the staff is actually free to talk. They can focus on hospitality and really interact with the guests. Every conversation does not need to be dragged back to, “Ma’am, could you please provide your credit card details?”
Personalizing is a key facet of the hotel industry now. And having a flexible attitude while dealing with the guests is the primary feature of personalization. Guests want to be treated as individuals. Not as mere statistical figures. StayFlexi gathers enough customer data so that your staff can really focus on fulfilling your guests’ specific demands.
Flexibility is a feature that needs to be embraced in every sector of the hotel industry. This is more important now than it ever was before. And this is because COVID-19 has completely obliterated all future predictions of the past. Data collected before 2020 has almost no value now. This is because it is impossible to predict how the trends of tourism will change.
These are volatile times. You have to deal with unexpected scenarios as they roll out. This is why staying on your feet and being flexible is so important. You cannot pre-plan the unknowable. But you can prepare to be flexible enough so that you can face whatever the future holds for you.
This core principle of StayFlexi is flexibility, of course. This is why it has so many features that make the hospitality industry not only flexible for you. But also for the staff and the guests. And this flexibility, as I have described in this article, ultimately gets you more revenue.
How else can flexibility be implemented in the hotel industry? Do let me know your thoughts regarding this issue in the comments below.