It is now the time when the hotel and tourism industry will witness a transformation as the pandemic slows down.
Leisure guests continue to travel, business travelers are returning and groups are booking again after a hiatus. The reset will require better training, renovations and innovation. Most of us are aware that locating talent is more difficult today than it was pre-pandemic. The combination of wages, layoffs, furloughs, government subsidies and immigration laws all played an imperative role in creating hiring challenges. But, never look back — it is time to reset service levels with outstanding customer service and more.
Today, rock stars can be very diverse, and diversity will be a vital aspect for the hospitality industry; therefore, employers must look in less typical spots as today is an employee’s market. The package offered to each employee must be compelling to both attract and retain talent. Technology, communications, analytics and sales skills are key for leadership positions, as well as attitude and culture.What Wins? Culture Fit or Experience?
It is very difficult to teach the culture fit — wrong attitude, wrong employee. So, where do we find talent? First, we must analyze our staffing, check our hires and promotions/pay — are they fair? Then, we need to look at the strong target sources for employees today:
- Recruit internally.
- Historically black colleges and universities.
- Community-based organizations including Hispanic Chamber, Black Chamber, Gay Chamber and women’s leadership groups.
- Indeed, LinkedIn, search firms, etc.
Today, we need to set goals for the number of women, seniors, individuals with disabilities and other minorities by partnering with these organizations. Bill Marriott always said, “Take care of associates, and they'll take care of your customers.” This is especially true in our environment today.The Market Today
We have turned the corner and need to look forward from the past two years. The events industry is still lagging in the recovery, but it is back — especially if we include hybrid meetings.
Explore new ideas that might provide different experiences such as outdoor activities by the pool, game night and wine or beer tastings that will be remembered as exciting and different. Sustainability and wellness are two lifestyle choices that seem to have shifted upwards in importance over the past pandemic years, so incorporate products that reduce our carbon footprint or assist with a better night’s sleep for guests.
One of the many elements we are integrating to attract and retain guests is a wellness program. With our core brand assets of Fairfield Inn by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton, we have crafted an event plan for guests. These include a group run or walk with the general manager and hotel owner, guest fitness exercise classes such as yoga, stretch and strength building, and healthy foods and snacks. These programs, in addition to core programming such as wine and beer tastings, chocolate tastings and more, coupled with excellent customer service, will allow us to competitively price today’s room rates.Why Are Room Rates Rising?
It’s all about supply, demand and the actual cost of servicing and accommodating guests. Liability insurance, health insurance, food and energy costs are all growing beyond the cost of inflation, and inflation is soaring!
To justify today’s rates, try evaluating unconstrained demand. How many rooms could a hotel sell if a 120-room hotel had an unlimited number of room accommodations? This question will help determine when to promote and when to increase rates. We expect room rates to surpass 2019 by the end of 2022.
Another underutilized approach is to conduct research on our competition. We create a grid of all our top competitors and rank them by amenity, location, brand, service levels, reviews on third-party sites and online presence. Speaking of reviews — that may be the single most important factor driving a guest to stay at our hotels. If we do not respond to every review and provide exceptional customer service, we lose.Renovation
If we do not renovate our hotels, it is a disadvantage as there is a new supply of hotels, new short-term rental facilities and an array of newly renovated hotels. It was difficult to do during the pandemic because of a lack of cash and a lack of staff; but, now is the time to inspect every corner of the hotel and fix it up to the best of its ability.
Bottom line? It’s not easy, but it is simple to thrive in 2022. Hire correctly, train, analyze the market and competitors, and renovate. Take care of employees, and they will take care of the guests. To a great 2022 through 2024 — this will be a great run!