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?
Unfortunately, COVID has been absolutely devastating for most hotels in literally every aspect of their business. This has catalyzed a global reset for the industry, and hopefully, as we begin to navigate recovery, we can draw on some of the lessons and positive changes to come out of this last year. One benefit of being forced to adapt to getting more done with fewer resources is the skillset adaptation and growth that many in the industry have undergone. This will be of huge benefit as technology and its application continue to merge across functional areas.
Smaller staff have led hoteliers to turn to technology to automate processes and operate more efficiently, and most of these guest-facing applications will enhance the guest experience. Newer processes like contactless check-in, as well as digital guest messaging and digital room service, were tools that a new generation of travelers was already seeking pre-pandemic. In some ways, the pandemic forced hoteliers to undergo a digital transformation that was severely lacking previously, and will only benefit them in the long run as the demographics of their travelers change.