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?
Revenue Management Expert
Travel demand will come back, allowing hotels to open positions and hire back staff members. The question is, what should be the post-COVID19 labor strategy? The pandemic taught hotels to do more with fewer resources and showed the importance of hospitality technologies. Does this mean that hotels should operate with minimum staff and implement robots and technological solutions at all stages of the customer journey? It's up for the debate. The universal model that will be suitable for every hotel does not exist.
These are some considerations to keep in mind:
- Hotels need to find a balance between technology and humans. The goal should never be to replace as many positions with robots as possible. Instead, technology should help free up staff members' time and re-direct it towards learning about the guests, interacting with the guests, and creating customized experiences. Emotional connection with hotel employees is a competitive advantage and the reason why guests come back to the hotel. The time spent by the hotel team to develop such connections and create personalized experiences for guests is an investment in the hotel's future.
- Technology should replace routine tedious tasks, decrease the workload and reduce the stress levels of the staff members by optimizing the processes. Bored, overworked, and stressed employees won't be able to create a pleasant guest experience. If the hotel takes good care of its staff members, they will take good care of the hotel's guests.
- It's vital to know the needs and preferences of the hotel's main segments. Different customers have different perceptions towards technology and definitions of good service. Hoteliers should find the right balance between technology and humans that will suit their guests. Digital check-in might be a great idea for the younger generation, but if most hotel guests are boomers and prefer in-person conversations, the hotel should think twice before replacing front desk staff with check-in kiosks.
It's essential to know the difference between service and hospitality. Service is a process (luggage delivered to the room). Hospitality is an attitude (courteous, smiling, welcoming, and caring staff member). Technology can help optimize services, but it will never create an emotional connection. Hence, humans are and always will be at the heart of the hospitality business.