With hotels seeing an average of 60 staff vacancies 1, could tech be the answer to the industry-wide staffing shortage?
Whether a boutique B&B, multi-property chain, or sprawling resort, the industry is facing a massive staff shortage. NPR recently reported on this issue of understaffing, describing hotel owners jumping in to wash dishes or strip beds to try and make up for the lack of staff.
“Business owners say they understand why many Americans may not be racing back to work. Some are still anxious about contracting the virus. Some have decided to leave the industry for other more stable, nine-to-five jobs. And given the extra government benefits available, some are simply content to stay home.” 2
In many places, travelers are ready for things to go back to normal, but the decrease in available employees is creating a new wave of difficulties for hoteliers trying to make up for the loss of profit from the last year.
So what can hoteliers do to support operational strength with less staff? The good news is, there’s more hospitality tech now than ever before. Specifically there’s more tech now that can be leveraged to make your guests feel like you are working at full capacity without adding additional work for the staff you do have.
Let’s take a look at some issues understaffed properties are trying to combat and see where tech might be able to help.
The Dreaded Front Desk Clog
“It’s imperative for hotels and restaurants to learn how advanced technology can help with this staffing dilemma now before they hinder post-pandemic financial recovery.”
– Mark Heymann, CEO & Co-Founder of UniFocus 3
Reduced staff plus an influx of guests inevitably leads to a clogged front desk. This backup usually happens for one of two reasons: A line for checking in, or tied up phones due to guests calling in. When it comes to lines, encouraging guests to check-in on their phone or a mobile kiosk decreases front desk foot traffic. Mobile or kiosk check-in shortens lines and lets the guest have more control over how and when they check-in. And for properties that utilize mobile room keys, many guests can skip the front desk entirely. This frees up front desk staff without compromising service and while improving guest experience.
Trying to get the front desk running smoothly while dealing with guests calling in for service requests can also contribute to slow-moving lines and unsatisfied guests. Hotels with an app are able to shift this weight of service requests to their digital platform. Through an app, guests can place requests and get automated updates. Pivoting to digital service requests helps ensure things don’t fall through the cracks, while freeing up the phones and front desk so your staff can focus their attention where it’s most needed. And the best part is: an efficient app process for simple service requests gives guests the feeling of full service, while reducing tasks for staff.
Work Order Pile Ups
“Three words: Automation. Automation. Automation.
As always, most innovative hotels that have upgraded their tech stack will recover faster and thrive, leaving everyone else behind.”
– Ira Vouk, Revenue Management & Pricing consultant 4
As events, business trips, and vacations ramp back up, many properties are noticing a decrease in work order fulfillment efficiency. Especially now, in the middle of the summer travel season, making sure work orders are completed in a timely manner—not to mention prioritized accurately—can be extremely frustrating and difficult to achieve.
Investing in digital ticketing may be the way out of disorganized work order systems. Many hoteliers are finding success by utilizing an internal ticketing system through their hotel app’s backend. The benefit of implementing digital ticketing is, once again, taking unnecessary steps off your staff’s plate and leaving less room for human error. Automated ticketing allows management to set work order priorities and track the status of each work order in real time.
When Service Recovery Struggles To Recover
“Hospitality organizations throughout the world took drastic measures to cut down costs to survive through the pandemic crisis. As hotels open and demand returns, many are struggling to provide a consistent level of service.”
– Sharad Kapur, Revenue & Distribution Strategist
It’s no secret that bad reviews and negative word of mouth are the bane of the hoteliers’ existence. It’s also no surprise that efficient service recovery can be hard to come by. Efficiency can feel unattainable at times due the sheer number of things to keep track of during the process of any given service recovery task.
Implementing tech to manage and direct the flow of every individual recovery case keeps things from falling through the cracks. From following up on a complaint, to having a bottle of wine delivered to a guest whose food arrived late— a digital service recovery system can help ensure any mistake or mishap is quickly followed up with proactive recovery.
Less Staff ≠ Worse Service
The strategies above are based on recurring pain points we’ve noticed, issues compounded by last year’s hit to the hospitality industry as a whole and the continued fallout of industry-wide understaffing. But there is hope. The tech ideas mentioned here only scratch the surface of what’s possible and available. For properties running into workflow issues—invest in tech. As hotels, resorts, and casinos work to ramp back, hoteliers can maximize their limited staff’s time and without compromising on guest experience through tech. So what are you waiting for?
Not sure what tech your hotel needs? Request a demo to see what digital options INTELITY has to increase operation efficiency and guest experience.
1 Filip Boyen, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide
2 NPR – Hotels And Restaurants That Survived Pandemic Face New Challenge: Staffing Shortages
3 Forbes – How Hospitality Can Leverage Tech To Alleviate Staffing Challenges
4 Hospitality Net – Focus On Productivity: How COVID taught us to do more with less resources…