How to Effectively Train for the Coming Hotel Technology Boom

By Zoe Connolly Co-Founder & Managing Director, Hospitality Spotlight | April 22, 2018

The Internet of Things has fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with businesses.

This could not be more apparent than in the hotel, resort and casino industries. In a hyperconnected world, one where guests have expectations of doors opening based on smart watches, and minibars asking the front desk to restock themselves in real time, it's critical for hotel leaders to understand the shifting mindset of the customers walking through the door.

For example:

  • Hotels are implementing a wide range of streaming devices to appease 'cord cutters,' guests who have eliminated cable in favor of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video.
  • Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant, both of which are smart speakers that can be activated by voice, are becoming commonplace in hotels. These smart speakers are intuitive to use, and replace any number of amenities a hotel can provide (wake up calls and alarm clock for instance, are rapidly being replaced).
  • Many hotels have implemented smart thermostats in their room in order to give guests easier control over setting and maintaining temperatures. As an ancillary benefit, hotels can easily control the temperature of vacant rooms, making it so these units quickly pay for themselves with incremental savings. 

For hotel recruiters and property leaders, it is critical to be abreast of these technological shifts, and understand how it might impact a property's guest experiences. This is also true of the candidates interviewing for roles within a property or organization. The knowledge of the technology required for each department to be successful will give hotel leaders a greater understanding of the knowledge successful candidates will be required to have. This same information becomes more critical for training and enablement programs across properties. Below are three things to focus on when finding the right candidates in the age of IoT.
 
Hiring managers should go through each candidate's technology knowledge and their familiarity with technology stacks. Interviewers should always ask the candidates what software and apps they used at the beginning of their career or when technology became necessary for them to deliver the expected guest or customer experience. They should also ask about examples of how technology has become part of a person's daily routine.

While many candidates will include various software proficiencies in their resume or CV, it's important to gain an understanding of a candidate's comfort level with technology, as well as their  progression using various software and their thoughts behind software and devices. Some common questions to consider might be:

  • How did software and device upgrades help or hurt their daily routine?
  • Can they give examples of software or devices that improve a customer experience?
  • If they could solve one issue through technology, what would it be?

This last question can be particularly helpful, allowing a candidate to show how they think about the technological world, as opposed to trying ascertain which software packages they do or don't know. Due to the explosion of largely intuitive tech in the hospitality space, being able to envision a new approach is often as important as being able to use a particular system, which can be addressed in training.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.