You likely have your blinders on for the summer ahead. It will be an exciting one to say the least as travel recovery gets underway and we continue to contend with labor problems. But an issue with keeping a laser focus like this is that it can leave you blindsided as future trends take hold. Instead, you need one foot in the present and one stepping into the future.
You need to know what to do in 2022 that will help with the top and bottom lines for the calendar year, as well as set you up for future success as guest demands evolve. What you do in the here and now should involve fixing or upgrading those low-hanging fruit – tasks that can be executed under constrained labor conditions and without inducing any operational hiccups. Beyond this, it gets more nebulous and you should look to brainstorm then plan the course of the action while setting aside time for later follow-up and additional measures.
For the here and now
- Automation. It’s 2022 and no guest will accept waiting in line to check-in. Give them the option of doing this via their mobile phones. As well, some spas still require you to phone ahead to book an appointment, bogging down receptionists and acting as a disincentive to booking a treatment. Solve these and others now to both increase guest spend and save labor.
- Staff as family. The labor dynamics are such that wages are bound to increase. But to reduce employee churn, you need to develop your organizational sense of belonging. Staff lunches, daycare programs, gym membership discounts and continuing professional development are all critical right now to keep your lean teams intact so that no operational snafus occur.
- Lean ops. Many are now expecting fewer touchpoints of interaction with the hotel. Be it stayover cleaning as an opt-in rather than an opt-out, mobile check-in or check-out, mobile keys and virtual concierge, you simply cannot fight these trends. Instead, think of them as a way to refocus on the non-transactional interactions with your guests – to reintroduce the human element back into the hotel even as technology pervades every touchpoint.
- Get your reviews back. Post-pandemic guests are very sensitive, and they are looking for guidance from third parties as to whether a property has its act together after so much downtime. This means they will be scrutinizing those reviews accrued roughly mid-2021 onwards. Moreover, with so many labor problems in the near-term, work hard to automate error recovery pathways so that you don’t suffer any negative online reviews as a direct result from understaffed conditions.
For the visionary hotelier
- Consolidate your tech stack. Systems are overlapping and you need all data to merge into a common source of truth so that you can develop personalized service, refine your marketing approach and save costs.
- Hotels need better experiences. With short-term rentals and cruise lines rapidly becoming direct competitions, hotels are no longer just about heads in beds. To develop loyalty, you need to give guests unique experiences and develop strong relationships. The upside is that such efforts are rewarded by higher ADRs that are less sensitive to market downturns.
- The curse of climate change. It’s real and guests will increasingly be voting with their wallets for brands that take this issue seriously. Do your part and develop a clear road map.
- All that metaverse. The world of blockchains, cryptocurrencies, DeFi, NFTs and CBDCs is complex and still the Wild West in its development cycle. Learn this as it will inevitably impact the way your hotel gathers buzz, gains reservations and secures payments.
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