3 ways technology can help retain front office staff

With its global workforce said to touch 328 million by 2020, the hospitality industry is one of the largest employers in the world. In fact, the hospitality industry was the #1 employer in the United States, after government services (as of 2017).

While this may appear promising, there are some very widely acknowledged challenges that plague the industry. How to retain staff in the hospitality industry is one of these grave challenges.

Here’s another stat that will set the stage for why its important to discuss employee retention strategies for the hospitality industry. Merely saying that employee turnover is ‘extremely high’ will not suffice. The annual employee turnover rate in just the hotel and motel industry is 73.8%. Just to put this in context, it is universally agreed upon, that a healthy annual turnover rate is somewhere between 10% – 15%.

Alarming, wouldn’t you say! 

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In today’s hyper-digital world, one of the most effective tips for retaining hotel staff is to invest in some much-needed hotel technology. While at first glance it might be the most obvious solution to an issue that has plagued the industry for a long time, let’s look at five ways in which technology can help retain staff in today’s hospitality industry.

1. Better use of front desk staff time & efforts

Did you know that 61% of employees say that their new job is NOT what they expected! This is particularly relevant to hotels that still use traditional ways to manage their property. While the new front office manager might come in fully confident of their skillset, it could come as a rude shock to anyone to see that bookings are still maintained on an Excel sheet! And this is where hotels are forced to depend on finding ‘tips for retaining hotel staff’ because they will most likely quit in such cases.

With more and more millennials joining the workforce each year, it becomes paramount for hotels to cater to the their needs. Millennials are more digitally aware and dependent than any other generation before. Hence, shaking hands with the right kind of technology solutions that help streamline and automate processes will help hotel owners put their staff’s time and efforts to better use.

Let’s get back to the example mentioned above. You run a 20-room property and keep a record of your hotel reservations on excel sheets. Imagine the kind of time and effort that goes into maintaining a log of every single booking/cancellation/no show that happens on a day-to-day basis. It is highly possible that your millennial front office staff will leave you for a better employer in no time, as this is not only an outdated way of managing operations, but also a highly inefficient way of doing it.

With the right hotel technology in place, you will no longer have to read up about ‘employee retention strategies for the hospitality industry’. Technology in the hospitality industry has evolved to such an extent today that adopting a cloud-based Hotel Management System is a must, and no longer a choice.

Invest in a cloud Hotel PMS and you will notice that your front desk staff no longer have to manually perform tasks that they would otherwise have to, thanks to the automation of several daily processes. That apart, they will also have the luxury of time to focus on better guest experience, building your online reputation, etc.

2. Transparency in cross-functional communications

Clarity and transparency in communication across departments within a hotel are of paramount importance. Since the front desk staff are guest-facing, it is all the more important that they are connected to all other departments in the click of a button, instead of having to run around coordinating things and making sure guest requests are delivered upon.

Consider a situation in which one of your hotel guests is stepping out of their room for a little while and has requested Sam, your friendly front desk staff, to inform housekeeping to clean up the room in their absence.  Sam make a mental note of this and just then a prospective guest walks into your hotel looking for a room. Sam gets carried away with making the reservation, checking him in, etc. and eventually loses track of the guest’s request. It isn’t until the guest walks into his room and makes an irate call to Sam, that he realizes the blunder.

This could appear to be a small slip up, but forgetfulness is no excuse to compromise on guest request! And in Sam’s defense, it was a genuine case of “got caught up with something else”. The angry customer leaves a nasty review. You, the owner, lose your cool on Sam. Sam has had it with this pressure of constantly being omnipresent and omniscient and he decides to move out. And you’re back to brainstorming on employee retention strategies. This is where technology in the hospitality industry has made lives easier on so many levels for hotel staff, owners and guests alike.

Hotel technology like an intuitive cloud PMS helps the front desk pass on notes to housekeeping, transport desk, or even the restaurant from within the system. This is a massive boon for all departments as the communication is made in real-time and is also centrally accessible for transparency to prevail. In the same scenario, if you had a cloud-based PMS in place, Sam would have made a note of this as the guest conveyed his request and would have assigned the task to housekeeping. The housekeeping team would have been notified in real-time and would have got to the job. Upon completion, they would have marked the task as done, making Sam aware of the fact that the guest’s room has been cleaned. Everybody wins!

3. Night audit automation

As important as it is to perform night audits in the hospitality industry, it is also a task that can be extremely daunting when done manually. Imagine a busy day when your hotel is fully occupied and buzzing with transactions, your night audit in-charge is going to have a nightmarish experience trying to get everything together and roll over all those transactions manually to the next day! It is not a very smart way of performing a task that crucial. Time to look towards hotel technology and adopt a Hotel Management System before your staff quits.

A cloud-based HMS allows you to not only simplify the process of nights audits but also makes it faster and error-free. Being empathetic can go a long way in redefining the employee retention strategy in the hospitality industry.  

While we’ve discussed a few ways in which technology helps retain staff in the hospitality industry’s front desk department, there are several other departments too where you stand to lose staff in the absence of technology.  Leave us a comment if you enjoyed this article and we’ll be happy to share with you tips on how technology helps retain staff in other departments as well.

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