As Hilton’s recent 2023 Travel Trends report has shown, alongside the need for more personalized and sustainable options, travelers are always looking for a frictionless experience. Although a good guest experience is always top of mind for all hoteliers and teams, there are operational complexities that can stand in the way of this. Achieving a frictionless experience for a guest in a hotel requires a full team, from front-of-house to back-of-house and managers.
The hospitality industry is still facing the fallout from the challenges of the pandemic. As we reflect on 2022 and look ahead to next year, there are some clear considerations for hoteliers that are shaping the crucial behind-the-scenes operations of a hotel to ensure that it runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible to the frictionless experience travelers are looking for.
Retention is just as important as recruitment
Staff shortages in the hospitality industry, and many others, have been exacerbated by the pandemic and continue to be front of mind for housekeeping and operations teams going into next year.
“It is important for me that we focus on retaining the staff that we have, as well as recruiting new members,” said Luis Gago, housekeeping manager, Staycity. “Housekeeping and hospitality are people-led industries so I want to celebrate my people as much as we can. At Staycity, when we receive positive feedback from guests on the cleanliness of their rooms or standout moments in their stay, I can look back through our hotel operations solution to see who was working on those rooms or guests so we can celebrate and share the positive feedback to the back of house as well.”
He continued, “The turnover of housekeepers and operations team members has always been a challenge for the hospitality industry, but it has of course been made much more difficult since the pandemic. For me, with my team, it has been incredibly important that we have a unified and consistent training process so that new team members can be onboarded as quickly as possible and get up to speed on the latest protocols and requirements.”
Invest in the right technology to do more with less
The hospitality industry has always been a perfect avenue for innovative technologies, but it has typically been slow to adopt. This is the same in hotel operations. We are still seeing hotels using the traditional pen and paper method to manage teams across different departments and properties.
The introduction of automation and predictive technology such as AI and machine-learning has been a huge development in the hospitality industry and one to watch for next year as hoteliers look to manage with leaner teams. Going into next year hoteliers will be looking to run an efficient and productive operations team but are faced with rising costs and increased guest demands. Investment in technologies such as AI and automation will be critical to help reduce the time the team is spending on day-to-day tasks, streamline the hotel operations team and ensure communication so teams can eliminate any easy mistakes or misplaced pieces of paper!
Information is the antidote to chaos
We are in the age of information, and it is time hoteliers make the most of the information at their fingertips. The behind-the-scenes operation of a hotel is complex and requires many moving parts and people. Most importantly, for the people managing those teams, it is the visibility of all these components that is essential to see where the gaps are and where possible savings could be made. Not only would access to data, such as clean times and room attendant routes, be useful information for housekeeping managers daily, but it also helps with future planning. Having a centralized operation with full 360 visibility over team performance and efficiency means hoteliers can also use the data to benchmark and forecast for the future based on their current and past insights.
Liz Weeks, executive housekeeper quality assurance manager at Rodd Hotels & Resorts, revealed, “In order to monitor housekeeping progress across the hotel, I need as much information as I can get. Guest expectations are going to continue to increase into next year, so it is vital that we’re able to meet and exceed these expectations. The ability to track not only room turnaround times, but also the teams move around time is critical for my team and these are all insights at our fingertips daily.”
Looking ahead to 2023
Jan Schwarzer, hotel operations manager at Penta Hotels, observed, “The guest expectations are higher than ever and will continue to remain that way as people continue to travel more. They are expecting the same, if not better, level of service that we had pre-pandemic which is pushing our operations teams more than ever as we are still continuing to recover from the pandemic. For me, technology will be a critical tool going into next year, so my team can operate as efficiently as possible and meet the guest demand and expectations.”
We are at a new stage of renewal for the hospitality and travel industry, as demand has never been higher. However, the operational complexities to achieve great guest experiences continue to be a challenge behind the scenes. The back of house operational side of hospitality is an often-overlooked area that is central to achieving an overall great experience for guests. It is a key area in helping hotels stay competitive and profitable in these challenging times and should be front of mind going into 2023.
Katherine Grass is CEO of Optii.
This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.