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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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.