In the last two years, the hospitality industry has gone through a series of unprecedented changes that have forever altered the business. After overcoming the seemingly biggest threat to travel in recent memory, we are left with a new lasting challenge—a serious labor shortage.
While travel was not the only industry affected by these turbulent times, the labor shortages have dealt a critical blow to the way hotels operate. Now hotels face everything from short-staffed reservation departments to underperforming front desks staff and beyond. The current labor shortage is, without a doubt, affecting the way most hotels operate. But it doesn't have to.
In 2022, we now have technology that can convert leads to reservations, answer FAQs, and communicate across any language without further burdening hotel staff. No longer do hotels need to rely solely on overworked reservations departments or live receptionists who are often busy handling other tasks.
To understand how technology can be harnessed to solve the greatest modern threat to the hospitality industry—labor shortages—we must first understand how today’s labor shortages affect the day-to-day operations of hotels.
Reservations – The Revenue Generators of Your Hotel
When your reservation department falls victim to labor shortages, calls get dropped, guests are left frustrated, and sale leads fail to convert. When a customer calls your reservation line, they expect to be immediately put in contact with a helpful and knowledgeable hotel representative that can quickly book their stay.
However, when a customer calls an understaffed reservation department, they’re forced to jump through hoops and blindly follow cyclical call bot patterns for longer than they care resulting in a significant loss in business.
Whether your reservation department is critically understaffed during these turbulent times or are depending on outdated IVR systems to handle the large call volumes associated with the recent travel rebound, chances are they’re falling to effectively convert leads to reservations.
Hotel Operations – Your Guest’s First, Best, and Last Impression of Your Hotel
Not only can labor shortages affect your reservation department, but they can have a serious impact on the day-to-day operations of your hotel.
For instance, if your front desk is short-staffed, guests are left waiting in long lines to check in, ask simple questions, or get the concierge's help. Staff shortages in other departments, like housekeeping, can leave your hotel struggling to keep up with modern standards of cleanliness while leaving guests frustrated and increasing the likelihood of bad reviews.
Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions
Given the extent of today’s labor shortages, the hospitality industry must find a cost-effective solution to combat labor shortages while still meeting the increasing demands of travelers in 2022 and beyond. Solutions that use artificial intelligence to hold multi-turn, sophisticated conversations are the future for the hotel industry.
Consider this, the technology now exists that allows an AI-powered virtual agent to understand what callers say, no matter how they say it. This virtual agent creates a near-human personal experience due to its sophisticated Natural Language Understanding system specially designed for customer service use. Callers can interrupt, digress, and even change subjects without causing an issue for the virtual agent. Plus, it can handle call routing, create a personalized experience using local accents, offer transfer options at any time, communicate in any language, send follow-up text, accommodate frequent updates and changes, handle restaurant calls, and more.
Artificial intelligence is the future for hospitality and virtually every industry. As the foundation of computer learning, AI is able to receive, analyze, and optimize a tremendous amount of data and use it make smarter and faster decisions then humans. As labor shortages continue to plague the hospitality industry, hoteliers must adopt AI to better serve the needs of their guests. Travelers not only welcome a better guest experience, but they also expect it. And there’s no better time than now to adopt and deliver.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John created the Travel Outlook concept in 2006, after more than twenty years’ experience in owning hotels and hospitality management. Smallwood earned a BBA from New Mexico State University, and before starting in the hospitality industry, he worked with AT&T.