Focus On Productivity: How COVID taught us to do more with less resources...
— 17 experts shared their view
According to the Global Travel Staffing Barometer, due to the pandemic, travel companies around the world have laid off or furloughed over half a million people, and the number of LinkedIn users in the hospitality space applying the #opentowork hashtag to their profiles grows day after day. Most hotels are struggling to run operations with skeleton crews only, yet they do not have any real alternative. In some countries, in fact, the financial help coming from governments is close to zero, so the only option for these hotels is to get rid of "superfluous" staff and try to run their businesses with a fraction of their employees. This forced most properties to heavily concentrate and focus on productivity, trying to get the best out of dire circumstances. How will this situation affect hotels? Can a global reset actually be a good thing, after all, forcing the industry to get more done with fewer resources? Or will this trend damage the guest experience in the long run?
My view is strongly that hospitality needs real people or it can't be hospitality. The humans need to be there to make the guest feel welcomed and taken care of. A little friendly contact goes a long way to improve guest satisfaction. For this reason I feel that technology should not replace friendly interactions.
At the same time, there are a number of jobs that don't fall into this category; where humans doing mindless tasks in place of machines is not great for anyone. Revenue management is a prime example. At RoomPriceGenie we find our customers are so happy to save a huge amount of time on pricing and actually get better results in 15 minutes a week than they used to get in 7 hours. They use this extra time doing other high-value activities, including marketing and focusing more time on their guests.
Independent hotels have traditionally been relatively slow to adopt this kind of technology, with the sector booming and labour relatively cheap. We are seeing this reset is having the effect that as hotels come out of furlough (often with less business than previously), they are trying to reduce the reliance on salaried workers.
In answer to the question, in my opinion, how well the industry comes out of this depends on how much they are able to reduce the inefficient administration but without losing (and maybe even spending more on) the vital human aspect of guest experience.