Managing the Hotel Digital World

By Mark Ricketts President & Chief Operating Officer, McNeill Hotels | July 08, 2018

Today, a guest can make a reservation online, never speak with any of our hotel staff in advance of arriving; check in digitally; and ask for services through cell phone texts. It's further conceivable that our housekeeping, maintenance or front desk staff might never see this guest during her or his stay; and, then, he or she checks out in the same stealth mode as upon arrival. The only trail or record of this visit will be an electronic one.

Made possible by today's best technologies, are phantom guests really the future of hospitality? It's certainly not the fondest of thoughts for a true hotelier. 

We won't quite call it the Digital Divide, but we are finding that today's digital world presents a host of considerations with respect to guest interaction and privacy, as well as staff training and our own comfort level with many new and extremely powerful technologies. How do we graduate some of our older or less technically adept, but capable and valuable, staff into digital ways? Is there potential friction among those who are good at technology and others who are less so? How do we factor technology skills into the evaluation process? Is the latest technology always the greatest way to accomplish our objectives?

In this article we will consider how hospitality organizations need to use care in deploying new technologies as we endeavor to be efficient and profitable while serving guests to the best of our abilities, in a highly competitive and ambitious industry environment. In essence, the question is, how do we take advantage of everything that technology can offer us with without diminishing our own best human qualities?

The Advent of the Digital Era

While we inhabit a world of physical reality, including those vibrant but immovable objects we call hotels, and our economy still thankfully manufactures things, there is a reason ours has been called the Information Age.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.