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 January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.