Traditionally, aspiring hoteliers enter the industry because they have a passion for service. And we have groomed them as such. But as COVID-19 has so resolutely proven, that time is resolutely over.
Gone are the days when a GM or rooms division manager could pawn tech problems or new integrations off to IT personnel. Yes, those technical wizards are still instrumental to the smooth functioning of all parts of the tech stack. Two such areas where these managers will forever be vital are cybersecurity and building two-way software connections or using APIs to bring data from one system into a central hub.
Now, though, because our properties are exceedingly reliant on various software to optimize our operations, it behooves every hotelier in every department to not only understand the many intricacies of those platforms already deployed, but to also investigate further technological upgrades so as to ‘future proof’ the hotel.
As has often been remarked about the pandemic, many of the resultant trends affecting hospitality are ones that would have transpired regardless, but that the evolution occurred over a matter of months and not years. Such trends as online training, mobile keys, contactless check-in and check-out, digital payments, guest messaging apps, online sentiment analysis, robust CRMs, smarter maintenance work order systems and housekeeping optimization software all existed prior to Covid, but there was no gun to our heads, so we didn’t act.
The next decade for hotels and resorts will be defined by those organizations that are able to strip away the 20th century mentality of good service only being possible via high-touch interactivity with the guest. Many of the pandemic-born traveler behaviors are here to stay and customers will continue to prefer those properties that embrace the convenience (and safety) of no-touch service delivery.
While we are all yearning for the pandemic to end so that we can get back to business as usual, the sad truth is that there’s no going back. Accepting this and embracing its implications necessitates a profound cultural shift within your organization so that you can continue to find technological solutions that will put your hotel(s) at the forefront year after year.
Here are some steps you can take to make that happen:
- At the most basis level, all managers should be invited to share their thoughts on any pain points they are experiencing so that tech solutions can be identified to solve those needs
- Embracing tech must start at the top for acceptance at the lower rungs to occur, and thus both owners and GMs should encourage new tech discussions within executive committee meetings
- Set up specific monthly or bimonthly meetings to review what can be done to enhance operations in every single department
- Share technology articles internally, either peer-to-peer via email or LinkedIn, or posted on the company bulletin
- Cross-departmental presentations that can be added into any town hall whereby one team members gives a quick overview of the tech they use and how it helps
- Siloed thinking must not only be discouraged but also reprimanded so that managers feel empowered to share what ideas they conjure up or what articles they read, all of which may benefit another department not specifically under their purview
- Going one step further, perhaps it should be a part of every hotelier’s job description to read about the latest and greatest developments, either with a smaller time allotment set aside each week or something that is to be done outside of regular office hours
- Traditionally, only IT directors, GMs, asset managers and owners have had the privilege of attending tradeshows focusing on tech, but perhaps there’s room here to motivate team members from other departments by letting them attend once in a while
- User conferences or virtual training seminars designed to widen the usage of the full feature set within a current platform should be heavily promoted
- While you likely have little power over what schools teach their students, all younger or new hires should be screened for their aptitude and attitude towards enterprise platforms
- Senior executives must know tech – no exceptions – with some form of testing, oral or written, that assesses a broad understanding of core software and common physical devices, required prior to signing on any new director or team leader
- Climate change is not something hotels can ignore, with automation tools that affect numerous operations helping to curve energy usage and realize some cost savings in the process, and be conscious of this global movement must become a part of your culture in order to derive technological solutions that will help
Above all, what should be stressed is how technology can help reinforce the vision for the future of the organization and any properties owned or managed. Thinking ahead ten years, what does a popular urban hotel look like? What new amenities and features does it have that are only pipedreams today? How is technology incorporated into the guest experience in ways where it is presently lacking? And how would this be different for a resort?
This is not meant to be an ultimatum, but these are the questions you simply must ask in order to prime your hotel for the decade ahead – again, future proofing. It is as much a knowledge problem as it is a cultural one. Embrace technology on all levels because every department will ultimately benefit and because you never know where the next break though will come from.
Larry and Adam Mogelonsky represent one of the world’s most published writing teams in hospitality, with over a decade’s worth of material online. As the partners of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice, Larry focuses on asset management, sales and operations while Adam specializes in hotel technology and marketing. Their experience encompasses properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Their work includes six books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013), “Hotel Llama” (2015), “The Llama is Inn” (2017), “The Hotel Mogel” (2018) and “More Hotel Mogel” (2020). You can reach Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org or Adam at email@example.com to discuss hotel business challenges or to book speaking engagements.
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