HOTEL BUSINESS REVIEW

JANUARY FOCUS: Mobile Technology

 

Enhancing The Guest Experience Goes Both Ways

Here's How You Get it Right

By Kylie Uvodich General Manager, Americas, SafetyCulture | January 2023

What people choose to spend on, how they travel, and where they stay has more thought behind it than ever before.

Consumers today have a wealth of choice at their fingertips and hoteliers would be hard pressed to find a more powerful lever than brand perception.

Your brand is a promise to your customers, and a promise kept is an unmatched guest experience. Beyond logos and labels, it's about tapping into each and every touchpoint that can shape how your guests interact with your establishment. This doesn't just mean front-of-house services - it carries across to back-of-house operations as well.

Enhancing the guest experience goes both ways. Let's take a look at the tips and technologies every hotel needs to ensure a 5-star experience across the board.

First Things First: Take Burnout off The Table

The service industry is known for its high staff turnover. We all know that the nature of the work can be exhausting. And unlike desk workers, working from home is not an option for most staff. Those in the hotel industry are faced with heavy workloads and demanding shifts – where both their personal and mental health is put on the line every day. As an industry, our collective level of burnout is at an all time high, while agility in our response to change is at an all time low.

In my experience, you can't do anything great unless you have a team that is confident, motivated and aligned. So naturally, the needs of staff members shouldn't be a passing thought but a crucial part of the business strategy. Empowering your employees with what they need to receive and adapt to change ensures they can confidently take on whatever comes their way. As we head into 2023, it's crucial we keep our frontline top of mind and equip them with the right tools and training.

As we adopt new technology, we also need to take the time to think about their purpose - how can they better serve us and create efficiencies throughout the work day. Too often, the wrong systems can be a hindrance and this was made clear in our recent research. One in 5 workers (21%) cited bureaucracy and context switching as barriers to making fast and effective decisions at work.

Tech out your teams with intuitive, mobile-first applications that are tailored to their reality of work. Doing so is no longer a competitive advantage; it is a cost of entry into the industry and crucial for staff retention. The key is to connect teams and communicate in the mediums they love to use every day: via engaging, visual, mobile-first content.

Activate Your Digital Brand Advocates

The difference between a good and great guest experience is found in the small details - dust collecting on shelves or marked linen could easily deter a returning guest. Leading hoteliers know that proactive, daily checks are best practice to drive high service standards. Hotels like Accor and the Waldorf Astoria require a robust inspections schedule to ensure a comprehensive system of quality and safety standards is maintained across hundreds of hotels. For them, technology has become key to refining the guest experience. Time-consuming paper reports and clunky systems are a thing of the past. Rather, digital checks act as a brand advocate for hotel managers, whether they're supervising on the floor or from afar.

How does this work? Digital operations platforms allow managers to roll out these standardized inspection and reporting procedures to teams on the go. If anything changes, you're able to update checklists in seconds, instantly deploy them to all staff and track workflows to completion. This way, teams know what to look for and managers have the ability to turn moments of missed opportunities into moments of delight, even from thousands of miles away.

Driving great experiences is hardly a "one and done" exercise, but the work that goes into maintaining top notch standards can be streamlined. The benefits are multi-fold - regular digital checks can double as an effective training tool before any upcoming external audits, with inspection data collected synced and shared directly with the head office.

People-Driven Technology

Scheduled daily inspections are one thing - but what about problems that are identified on-the-go? When you're managing a sprawling resort, the reality is that once you've returned from the far end of the property, you may have forgotten about the faulty door lock or spotted 10 other issues enroute. The solution? It starts with people-driven processes.

Look to digital tools that empower staff members to take ownership of issues on the go. Make use of QR codes technology to allow anyone - whether a facilities manager or resort director - to identify issues as they enter or exit a space as well as log maintenance requests. With clear visibility from start to completion, it's easy to ensure facilities are kept up to standard in a manner that is efficient and organized. Individual voices are amplified and power can be put back in the hands of each and every staff member.

Right now, there are a lot of challenges for the hospitality industry as a whole to overcome and taking your teams on that journey is key. The good news is that technology is here to make the ride easier. A problem shared is a problem on the way to being solved, and with good feedback loops in place, you've made a great start.

Hoteliers can also reap front-of-house benefits from this technology. Use strategically placed QR codes in hotel rooms or dining areas to launch guest surveys. This way, hotel managers can gather critical data around the customer experience and act on valuable guest feedback, straight from the source. After all, customer experience lies at the heart of any effective hospitality management strategy. Leadership should look to validate their in-person customer journey - identifying where there is excellence on display and where there is room for improvement.

Smart Maintenance 24/7 With IOT

Rapid access to critical data was incredibly important over the course of the pandemic, as all employees – from senior leadership to workers at the front desk – were required to stay vigilant and respond decisively. However, this was nothing new to the industry. In hotel management, business happens 24/7 and visibility is critical. Often, teams need all hands on deck to achieve the speediest outcomes. While more manpower may be the go-to solution for accelerating information into action, it can still fall apart if there is a breakdown in communication, therefore a seamless flow of information across teams is necessary to keep businesses operating with agility. Technology can do some of the heavy lifting here, building a 360 view of your operations without surging man hours.

The rise of smart building technology gives you an accessible entry point to get smarter with your data. From sensors and monitoring systems, all the way through to building information modelling: new solutions are entering the market almost every day. Sensors can be installed to detect leaking taps or faulty lights which can trigger actions to either repair or replace them. There's a huge opportunity for hotel managers to reduce manual checks across the property, freeing up staff time in the process. Not only that, you have the ability to make your operations more efficient, create predictive models and even identify potential problems before they escalate with the data you capture.

Closing The Confidence-Competence Loop With Training

A reputation performance score (RPS) is integral to the ongoing success of any hotelier - a badge of success highlighting their guests' experience. Improve this metric and you demonstrate your ongoing commitment to excellence. Doing so requires your entire team to be confident as well as competent in their skills. Training is key to this - it should be a continuous effort to maximise your team's ability.

Having said this, training frontline workers presents a unique challenge to hoteliers - a balancing act of on-the-go access and productivity. To cater learning to all staff members, hotel managers should ensure that every team member can access their training, even if they're not desk based. Mobile learning is a simple solution - one that would allow people to pick up their phones and complete lessons immediately, whenever and wherever is convenient, without a huge implementation rollout.

Consider the way new information is released as well. Introduce training methods that lean into ways people are consuming information. Rather than lengthy, complex courses, look to bite-sized concepts like micro-learning platforms. By breaking things down into easily digestible lessons that can be completed in as little as five minutes, micro-learning results in better engagement rates and information retention.

With confident teams comes consistent, quality service, and with quality service comes patron loyalty. And in a day and age when patrons have higher expectations than ever before, hoteliers should tap into tech to help drive better employee and guest experiences in the long run.

Ms. Uvodich Kylie Uvodich is the General Manager, Americas at SafetyCulture. She is responsible for leading SafetyCulture's US team and growing the business in the US and Latin American markets. Ms. Uvodich joined SafetyCulture's sales team in 2017 and was quickly promoted, working her way up to the role of US sales director. Most recently, she has been leading SafetyCulture's combined sales and customer success functions in the US. Ms. Uvodich joined SafetyCulture because she believes in the company's mission and want to help change the way the world works - for the better. The opportunities for SafetyCulture in her region are huge, and she believes the company will only continue to grow its presence here. She's excited by the prospect of helping even more businesses to empower their frontline teams and harness the power of continuous improvement with our game-changing platform. Extended Biography & Contact Information

HotelExecutive retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.

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The following is the Privacy Policy for HotelExecutive

We can be reached via telephone, email, or online at our contact page. When you visit our site we do not log any information regarding your domain or email address. Information Sharing: We do not share user information with any third parties other than via press release distribution as described below.

Hotel Newswire is a newswire service that distributes press releases on behalf of our users. If you decide to submit a press release for distribution through our system we will transmit your entire press release including any personal information therein contained to our media contacts and online distribution points including search engines. This is the only redistribution of your information that we engage in. Your submission of press releases through our system indicates consent with this policy. The information we collect during your registration process is used to notify users about updates to our service and inform users of any special events hosted by Hotel Newswire. This information is not shared with other organizations for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Cookies: Our system requires the use of cookies to enable the user to log back into our website to access information from the newswire, without having to log in each time using the required username and password.

If you do not want to receive email from us in the future, please let us know by following instructions included in our communication with you. Users who supply us with telephone numbers online may receive telephone contact from us regarding their account, or informing them of new products and services available on the HotelExecutive website. If you do not wish to receive such telephone calls, please edit your account and remove your phone number from your account profile. This can be done from your user account menu.

Ad Servers: We do not partner with or have any relationship with any ad server companies. From time to time, we may use customer information for new uses not previously disclosed in our privacy notice. If our information practices change at any time, we will post the policy changes to our website to notify you of these changes and provide you with the ability to opt out of these new uses. If you are concerned about how your information is used, you should check back at our website periodically.

Upon request we provide site visitors with access to all information (including proprietary information) that we maintain about them. Users can access this information by logging in to their account.

Security: We always use industry-standard encryption technologies while transferring and receiving user data exchanged with our site. We have appropriate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of information that we have collected from you on our site. We do not store credit card information in our systems.

If you feel that this site is not following its stated information policy, you may contact us.

Nadav Avni
Kylie Uvodich
Mark Remijan
Don DeMarinis
Chris Green
Justin Arest
Raianne Reiss
Scott  Lee
Paulina Burbano De Lara
Eric White
Herbert Laubichler-Pichler
Shawn Tarter
Coming up in February 2023...

Social Media: Tailor Made Content


Social media has evolved into an indispensable medium for the hospitality industry. It has forever altered how hotels communicate with their customers and it has redefined how advertising and marketing are conducted. Currently, the biggest social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok. Each has their own appeal and demographic. In order to reach the users of an individual social media platform, it is necessary for hotels to tailor their content to each platform's audience. For example, LinkedIn is more business-oriented so content might be directed to conference organizers, meeting planners, travel agencies, etc. Facebook has a more mature user base so they might be looking for family vacation packages, cultural experiences, or recreational sightseeing trips.  TikTok is popular with a younger audience who might want to know about concerts, sporting events, and gaming competitions, while Pinterest and Instagram focus on exquisite visuals and aesthetics. The February Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are successfully integrating social media strategies into their operations.