In this blog post, we’re going to highlight how hotel technology can help you overcome the problems of staff shortages in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The sun is shining, COVID-19 numbers are down, and slowly but surely, tourists are starting to return to hotels across the globe. But there’s a problem—many hotels don’t have the staff to receive the capacity of guests they could before the pandemic started.
It’s no secret that the reopening of the hospitality industry has left many companies in the lurch due to a lack of staff. When the pandemic hit, many hospitality workers were made redundant, so they looked for work elsewhere or moved back to their home country to be with their families. This issue is not specific to hotels—bars, restaurants, and events venues are all contending with the same problem. According to an article in Business Travel News, this is an issue that has affected hospitality sectors in the US, with writer Dawit Habtemariam stating that “along with hotels, ground transportation firms and restaurants say they are struggling to bring back staff”. The Wall Street Journal also highlighted this issue, stating recently that “hotels say they are struggling to hire enough housekeepers, kitchen staff and other hourly workers—including the ones they laid off early in the Covid-19 pandemic—ahead of an anticipated upswing in leisure travel”.
Similarly, this issue is also affecting hotels in the UK. An article published in The Guardian states that “businesses warn length of lockdowns and ‘furlough hangover’ has led to many staff leaving positions”. It’s obvious that this issue isn’t isolated to one country or region, but is a worldwide effect of the pandemic.
So, how can hotels overcome this problem while still maintaining the high standards that guests have come to expect? Using different types of in-room technology, hotels can bridge this gap in the level of service they’re able to offer. In this blog post, we’ll explain exactly which technological solutions can help and exactly why every hotelier should consider installing one or all of them at their hotel to overcome these challenges.
Bridging the gap between hotel staff and guests
Hotel technology is much more than a new shiny toy for hotel guests to be excited about. It’s also an important part of developing a more responsive and personalized experience for guests. Modern guests expect instant answers to questions or responses to orders, bookings, or purchases.
But, investing in the first solution you come across isn’t going to get you anywhere. With so many hotel tech innovations on the market today, knowing exactly which solution is going to benefit your hotel the most will ensure you achieve a significant return on investment. Here are our suggested solutions for helping bridge the staff shortage gap your business may currently be facing, but there are also many other solutions on the market that will allow you to run your hotel effectively with a reduced workforce.
Self check-in and out technology
Self check-in and out technology isn’t very new, but there are still significant innovations in this area taking place. Many solutions now enable guests to check-in or out on their mobile devices and even receive and store their room keys on their mobile devices. When it first arrived on the scene, self check-in technology was considered gimmicky and quite often guests would run into technical difficulties that would require them to go to the front desk anyway—which completely misses the point of “self” check-in, right?
Nowadays, these difficulties have been ironed out and there are plenty of great solutions out there that make check-in quick and easy for guests. But how exactly is this going to help your hotel when you are suffering from staff shortages? By enabling guests to check-in and out themselves, you’ll greatly reduce the workload for front desk staff during the busiest times.
During those critical changeover hours, when old guests leave and new guests arrive, everyone in the hotel is frantically working to check guests in and out, so reducing the stress on front desk staff during this time will enable your team to do more with less. Ultimately, your guests will be left happier as there will be less waiting around and they’ll also be able to check into their rooms in a socially distanced manner so they can get on their trip.
Hotel room communication
Hotel room communication is a rapidly growing field in the hotel tech industry. For many hoteliers, it’s the best answer to meeting guests’ demands for the instant service they’ve become used to with modern technology. While there are several different platforms that enable you to communicate with guests in the hotel room, including hotel apps and hotel room TVs, the most effective is hotel room tablet devices. To find out why hotel room tablets are the most effective hotel room communication device, check out our blog post, Comparing app-based and tablet-based solutions.
Hotel room tablets help hotel staff do more with less by streamlining many of the guest-to-hotel communications. A good example of this streamlining effect is when it comes to room service orders. In many hotels, ordering room service for guests requires them to call down to the front desk and place an order with the front desk staff. The staff member then needs to relay this information to the kitchen for the food to start being prepared. Depending on how busy the staff member might be at this time, this job could take a backseat, leading to delays and dissatisfied guests. Hotel room tablets integrated with the hotel’s PMS system enable guests’ orders to go straight to the kitchen without a member of staff even needing to man the phones at the front desk. Bypassing this unnecessary step means kitchen staff can get to work performing the order straight away, and guests can receive their order in good time. This type of process streamlining can also be applied to spa booking, the hotel shop, and events booking through the hotel’s outlets.
This, however, isn’t the only way hotel room tablets enable hotels to run more smoothly with fewer staff members. One of the hardest-hit staff areas is room cleaning staff, and they are essential for any hotel to operate effectively. While some hotel room tablet solutions offer you the basic services, SuitePad has gone above and beyond to design an effective feature that enables hotels to streamline their hotel cleaning staffs’ activities. It’s called the Green Option.
SuitePad’s Green Option was originally designed as a solution that enabled hotels to be environmentally conscious while also achieving a significant return on investment. Now, however, this solution is crucial in the management of housekeeping staff at the hotel. When guests choose to forgo the cleaning for their room for the following day, hotel managers are instantly aware of which rooms the housekeeping staff will be visiting the following day, and which ones they will skip. This enables them to create a streamlined staffing roster that can achieve great housekeeping coverage with fewer housekeeping staff. Secondly, this feature also enables hotel managers to actively encourage guests to forgo room cleaning. Rather than simply asking them if they’d like to forgo cleaning, hotel managers can reward guests for choosing this option with a free drink at the bar, a discount on a service at the spa, or any incentive they choose. This reduces the strain on the housekeeping team while also encouraging guests to attend the hotel’s outlets, provides an ROI, and increases the hotel’s environmental sustainability.
Collaboration and service optimization software
It’s not only guest-facing processes that can be optimized with guest room tablets. There are also background processes that can be streamlined using integrated operations platforms that enable hotel staff to use their time more efficiently.
A small team that works well together will always be more successful than a large team that doesn’t work well together. By digitizing facility management and service management operations, collaboration and service optimization software enable all hotel staff to work more cohesively. This includes everyone from the GM to the housekeeping staff. If there’s a job for the on-site handyman, they can be alerted by any member of staff through the system and then perform the repair without the request needing to be passed back and forth through the management team. In this sense, collaboration and service optimization software enable hotels to run more effectively and deliver better service with fewer staff members—a great asset for these trying times.
At SuitePad, we’ve teamed up with hotelkit who provides collaboration and service optimization software as well as housekeeping optimization software that uses digitalization to streamline processes across the entire hotel or hotel group. With SuitePad integrated with hotelkit, hotel staff will not only work more efficiently but also have greater job satisfaction which will reduce staff churn—a massive problem for many hotels during this period. Check out this blog post to find out more about how SuitePad and hotelkit’s partnership can help your hotel and your staff.
The grand reopening of hotels awaits, but are you ready?
We know you and your staff are chomping at the bit to get going again, but is your hotel ready for the onrush of hotel guests that have been locked inside for the past 16 months? You can expect hotel guests to splash out more on room service, hotel restaurant meals, spa, and activity bookings, so it’s imperative that you’re confident in your hotel team before this wave of eager tourists descends on your hotel.
Using digital hotel technology, you’ll be able to streamline and optimize hotel processes for both guests and staff. Ultimately, this will enable your hotel to fully function with a small yet more efficient team. Although optimizing processes will enable you to run the hotel with less staff, it should be noted that digital technology isn’t a replacement for hotel staff and once the market picks up and competent staff are back looking for positions, you can reap even further benefits by enabling them to concentrate on customer-facing service while your new digital systems work in the background to make everything run more smoothly.
- Published on July 06, 2021