AI's Impact on Hospitality Hiring

By Michael Schubach Strategic Deployments / Program Management Director, Infor Hospitality | March 25, 2018

Anyone who has ever been in the position of hiring a new employee or team member knows that it is no easy task. A resume can only tell so much about a person, as it is merely a well-spun recital of the professional achievements and strengths that the applicant believes s/he possesses. A face-to-face interview, while sometimes more telling, can open the door for personal bias to interfere with the decision-making process. Hiring managers are then left having to pick the candidate that has seems to best fill the role, even when they are not always armed with enough information to make a really well-informed decision. After all, when you are bringing someone new into the fold, you want to make sure it is a good fit for all parties so that the business and new employee can find mutual success.

In the hospitality industry, it can be even harder to find the ideal candidate, as those in the industry are often required to juggle many duties and roles as a part of their one job. Think about the job description of a concierge: their main duty is to help facilitate a great guest experience. When we drill a little deeper into that vague description, we find that a concierge may actually act as a butler, travel agent, tour guide, and so on, depending on the hotel they work in and the needs of their guests. You need someone who is qualified and willing to do it all, while still serving guests with a smile.

The scenario is not exclusive to hospitality. Across all industries and all job levels, there is no such thing as finding the perfect fit – it is a matter of finding the best possible fit while choosing from distinctly individual human options that, by definition, cannot be equal (unless, of course, we get much better at genetic engineering).

Now, what if we could look at the behavioral traits of a job applicant? Is he or she more reserved or a more outgoing "people-person"? Does the applicant work well under pressure, or sweat the small stuff? Much of whom and what we are has been genetically predetermined, and the rest of it is a mixture of background, education, experience, inclination, preference, free will or just plain stubbornness. Not everyone would excel at being an accountant, just as not everyone would be suited for the role of concierge. Nonetheless, our success – both financial and reputational – depends on the people who comprise the team, and the cost of making mistakes can devastating. When it comes down to getting the right person into the right job at the right time, it is not a question of if we should we be investing in the hiring sciences, but how much and how fast.

Enter AI

Over the past several years, companies have been building and improving upon frameworks to support AI technology, but how is it working in HR specifically? Various aspects of AI-based technology are being used throughout the HR industry to help identify candidates that are most likely to succeed in a specific role. AI systems can cast employee lifecycle predictions and help create targeted training to improve employee performance. Employers do not necessarily lack for data once a candidate goes through the pre-employment phase and becomes an employee, and that mountain only grows higher and steeper as the employee interacts with the team. However, for a variety of important reasons, employee data is typically segregated and widely dispersed across the organization; it is often difficult to get a holistic view of any one employee from any one source. With AI, we have the ability to improve the recordkeeping aspects of both the hiring and working experience for applicants and employees alike by consolidating and learning from the data that is already available – somewhere, to someone.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.