ƒLabor shortages are still causing us grief, with ‘the great resignation’ causing hiccups on the managerial end. Global supply chain issues are a nuisance, while the mirror of this problem via inflation is leading to other adverse effects. And then the omicron variant or whatever is next in the Greek alphabet is causing last-minute cancellations. Hospitality has been through a lot!
This all said we remain optimistic. The skilful operator will always find a way to drive revenues and at the same time, the technology offerings for hotels have never been better for helping automate as much as possible so that you’re ready to pivot for whatever the news cycle throws at us next. With 2022 upon us, let’s look at these macro-issues and how you can put them to rest early in the year so that you can devote more time to pursuing new projects to grow the brand.
The pandemic made people reflect on their work-life balance. As a result of this and several other prominent factors like government relief programs, staff today think less about corporate loyalty and more about their own personal balance. A few extra dollars per hour is often not enough to motivate a wage earner, nor is it a healthy habit to regularly increase expenses without paying them forward. In tandem with this, management teams, having their ranks thinned by all the furloughs, may be suffering from burnout and an overall lack of coverage.
Some initial thoughts and solutions:
- Make a list of all the repetitive tasks your teams have to handle then look for ways to automate via technology, factoring in the SaaS costs and installation fees but also considering how much time and stress this tedium is currently causing
- Continuing professional development (CPD) programs in lieu of wage increases as a means to incentive team members over the long-term
- A close cousin of CPD is succession planning, with assigned mentors and regular one-on-ones to map out a career path and advise on where someone best fits in the organizational structure
- Investigate outsourcing options for support in select departments such as reservations to help reduce lost revenue from abandoned calls, janitorial services for public area cleaning or using a new-age recruitment app for temporary workers
Surviving on lean teams
Strong onsite teams can never be replaced. While we shouldn’t use such a strong term, the fact remains that a hotel’s people are often its greatest strength. The point of technology is thus to increase the productivity of each team member so that they can focus on what really matters – the guest.
This is especially critical to investigate because the lean teams born during the pandemic may become a permanent facet of hotel operations as owners look to maintain margins while occupancies remain erratic. To reiterate a point from above, you must seek out those solutions that ease pressure on these lean teams through process automation and the elimination of repetitive, non-stimulative tasks, all so that you can protect your most valuable asset – your human capital.
To this end, your team’s time is beyond precious and, besides automation, you can start with better meeting efficiency. For each meeting, set a fixed date and time using scheduling software – limit email back and forth. Next, follow the ‘stand up’ rule with no meeting lasting longer than you can comfortably stand – about 30 to 45 minutes. All meetings must have a specific agenda distributed to participants in advance. Allow invitees to opt-out if they are only listeners and not active participants. And lastly, remember to finish each meeting with an action plan.
Coronavirus variants and supply chains are outside of your control, so occupancies and the full return of the corporate segments are likewise market-driven. What you can do is strive to build the amount of revenue you generate on a per-guest basis, as denoted by the buzzy acronym TRevPAR (total revenue per available room).
This is all about knowing your guest and what they want, particularly in the leisure end which will continue to drive our industry’s recovery until there’s more confidence to get business guests flying again. Again, technology is your friend here so that you can have better data integrations and thus make better decisions as to what motivates guests to spend more with you. This will help to guide your packages, your marketing collateral, what you offer during the pre-arrival stage to lock in more revenues, your loyalty programs and how you find lookalike customers to gain new guests.
Solutions abound on the technology front. Always keep in mind not only how they will directly heighten revenues or augment the guest experience, but the second-order effects – freeing up your lean team’s time so that they can stay motivated and work on other projects that will, in turn, build revenues or improve your service offerings. Keep this as the broad goal for 2022 and you will weather any storm.
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