Hospitality has changed forever. Gone are the days of carefree travellers. The future is for safety-conscious guests who at least for now try to minimise any physical contact and enjoy their vacation or business trip. To provide a good service to this new breed of travellers, it means you also have to change. The key is digital transformation and it will help you solve two big problems many property managers are experiencing
Your current hotel experience is not what your guests expect
During the pandemic, e-commerce has risen 19%. This means more and more people are accustomed to online ordering and self-service. This trend has moved to hospitality. Online offers the convenience that is hard to rival. Most young people hate the fact that they must go to a front desk to clear an issue or call to order something. Guests just expect more.
The self-service low-touch traveller trend was already here before the pandemic, now it merely accelerated. The modern guest does not like to go to your front desk to ask for help. They want to use their phone, to customise their experience. They want to let you know immediately if something is bad. They want to order services using their smartphones, not browse the directories next to the phone. And your property is not able to provide that, your guest satisfaction will be significantly lower.
The solution is digitalising the guest journey to enable all these things. To allow the guest to reach out to you when THEY want, using a device they are most comfortable with, their phone.
We found that 84% of consumers are more inclined to do business with organizations that offer self-service options, but only 61% agree that organizations are providing easy, convenient self-service.Forbes
It will improve your guest satisfaction. More and more studies show that guest satisfaction is higher when guests are engaged vs passive guests. Tripadvisor’s Travellers choice is a testament to that.
Finding good people is hard
This leads to our second problem. This is the biggest internal challenge most hoteliers face with. There are many articles about hoteliers being unable to find people (article, article) and this could have a massive impact on recovery. There are many reasons behind it. One is definitely low salaries. The hospitality industry is notorious for that. If a front-office worker earns 25% of the salary a manager does, where is the motivation?
The second issue is seasonality. The hotel business has always been seasonal. But at least it was predictable. But now with the pandemic, countries go into lock-down semi-randomly. Try to find people working in this environment. Let alone investing time into training them.
By digitalising your guest experience, you reduce the reliance on the workforce significantly while maintaining the same service levels. Those hotels that embrace this, will outperform those, who are stuck in the old way of doing business.
Service industry automation is coming and will change a lot. It will impact the livelihood of some people. But that is the harsh reality. Fewer employees mean reduced cost and by automating some aspects of the customer service, your staff can focus on less menial tasks thus actually earning more tips.
The hospitality industry is changing. First were the OTAs, then came AirBnb and now the pandemic. Change is something you shouldn’t be afraid of. It creates opportunity. If your business model was struggling before, use this moment to adapt and do things differently. By embracing technology, you will stay ahead of the hotel across the street. I know it is tempting to go back to your old habits, but you will risk become obsolete.