The first day of CYBER HITEC 2020 included a virtual presentation titled, “Smaller Staff, Same Service: Five Creative Ways to Use Technology to Support Your Lean Team.” ALICE’s Creative Director Sean Cohen led the conversation about using technology to help hotels run efficiently and effectively with smaller teams. Introducing the conversation, ALICE President Alexander Shashou said that while the industry is on the road to recovery, “what no one is really saying is that getting there is not going to be a predictable slope. It’s not going to be this smooth recovery.” But, using technology can help make that recovery smoother than predicted.
Centralizing communications between team members is important, especially when there are fewer employees on-property. Each guest wants and expects a different experience from their hotel stay, and using a software platform lets them communicate their specific needs. Hotel managers can then deploy the right team member to fulfill guest requests. “Not only have you deeply inspected their requirements and your own, but you do it continually,” Cohen said.
Guest messaging can also help support smaller teams. The ability to text questions and requests to the hotel gives guests more control over their stay and reduces in-person contact, keeping both guests and team members safe. Cohen said that this is one of the more effective strategies to communicate with guests because it also minimizes guest contact with high-touch surfaces in the rooms, too.
In addition, messaging can make hotel guests feel safer and more comfortable before their stay. Messaging guests that their room is clean days before their stay and communicating safety rules and regulations lets guests know what to expect upon arrival. Cohen added that once guests accept messaging as a communication method, “a lot of opportunities, revenue, and exciting alternatives will become uncovered. And it’s for us to ride this wave to find a way to make it clear to our guests that there is a way to interact with us, and we’re here to serve them.”
Guests are also assuming that hotel rooms are both cleaned and sanitized before their arrival, according to Cohen. And hotels generally build their reputation and identity around reported cleanliness from previous guests and via reviews. Cohen said that housekeeping is currently, “an enormous percentage, if not the majority percentage, of your budget,” and technology solutions like software platforms can help track where the budget is being allocated. That way, housekeepers can wear many hats and communicate with other team members what needs to get done.
Although guests are expecting the property to be cleaner, they’re still expecting the same amount of service, even with less staff. They may not necessarily want team members in their room, but they still want an enjoyable experience. This can be overwhelming to hotel staff, who themselves may feel nervous about being on-property. Software platforms and solutions can take some of those duties away from team members by filling in concierge services.
Lastly, technology can help with preventative maintenance and turn the property’s operations from “reactive” to “proactive,” as Cohen said. “Instead of spending your day responding, you’re spending your day being strategic and getting in front of what happens.” Technology can help hoteliers and managers get ahead of and plan for potential equipment malfunctions and other issues that may arise.
While the hotel industry is moving through the recovery process, technology can help hotels operate more effectively will fewer team members. Shashou said, “Your hotel can be a steady reliable, warm, and safe place with open doors as travelers slowly return. Your hotel can not only survive, it can thrive. It can come out of this period leaner, more resilient, and… more profitable than ever before.”