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Hospitality Leaders Must View Industry's AI Revolution Through the Lens of Employees

Transforming hotel management with AI-driven task management enhances employee experience, reduces training time, and improves guest satisfaction, leading to a more efficient and fulfilling work environment.
4/8/2024

The guest experience has monopolized the conversation in hotel management, but a hospitality labor shortage and a sense that service levels can’t keep up with expectations is changing all that. 

Like a lot of things, in hindsight — it’s obvious. Guests spend most of their time enjoying themselves and not staring at a screen. And yet technology providers are fixated on the digital experience that only the guests have. But what about the employees, who are interacting with the hotel tech stack all day, every day? 

Staff are still essential to quality of service because guests, by their nature, are unpredictable. They forget things, they lose things and they complain — at any time of the day or night. The single point of failure most often lies with the employees, but what sort of experience are they having?

Not a very good one, judging by the inability of many hotel groups to retain staff over the past couple of years. For many staff who find themselves on hospitality’s front line, expectations are high, and the chances of them being met is very low. Poor tech means they were set up to fail, even as guests began to enjoy a better digital user experience.

Now we’re beginning to see that change, partly because hoteliers are starting to see AI differently. Guest messaging has hogged a lot of the headlines but all along the biggest impact of AI was always going to be in the sphere of task management. If you can automate processes, you will automate the hotel in a far more transformative way than if you just employ AI to communicate with guests. That’s because communication with guests is often where new tasks originate, whether they’re complaining, ordering food, getting locked out or wanting a non-allergenic pillow. Communication without action is a pretty poor demonstration of the potential of AI. 

If harnessed properly, no one will struggle to hire enough of the right staff. As soon as you pair employee experience with AI-powered automation and task management, employees don’t have to work out what the solution is every time there’s a problem. It’s all laid out for them in what we call an ‘ampel’ or ‘traffic light’ system. 

As far as hotel management is concerned, it’s like holding the hand of every staff member, cutting training time down from eight weeks to four hours. One interface tells them where their focus should be, so they don’t waste time making unnecessary checks on all guests and all systems almost constantly. Once this happens all in one place, information finds them — they don’t have to go looking for it. This is important because, to be proactive, you need to know what is happening. Staff are alerted if a door isn’t working, they’re told if a guest hasn’t clicked the digital check-in link. The system makes decisions for them, and they get to just wait for prompts and then select the solution they know is the right one, sending that guest that check-in link again, for example. It gets more intuitive for everyone involved. You can surprise guests with prior knowledge of a preferred room or extra pillow, allergies or a parking space for their electric car. 

This means the potential talent pool is much greater, as you don’t need staff with a lot of experience of traditional hotel tech. Imagine hiring someone and having them running guest services by lunchtime — that’s what we’re talking about, and the impact that this is going to have on the industry is clearly far-reaching. An employee experience solution has to bring all the key information into one place by definition, and this means they’re no longer tied to a desk or a big computer because there aren’t dozens of different applications and windows open. 

When we visited one client hotel in Germany, there didn’t seem to be anywhere for them to even sit. When we asked why, they just pointed to the sofas. They now just mingle with guests all day, which is right where they want to be. So, a proper employee experience has removed these traditional barriers. They now behave much more like hosts, lavishing more time on guests, and they’re much more loyal to the business because they get to enjoy doing all the things they dreamed about when they chose a career in hospitality. They didn’t make that choice to spend their lives re-entering data  — they just want to spend time with the people they made happy and who appreciate them. 

About the Author

Markus Feller is CEO of employee and guest experience tool, Like Magic. He has strong leadership skills and extensive experience in innovation, business transformation and change management in the financial and hospitality industries. Markus has a proven track record in identifying, designing and implementing user-centered innovations within both corporates and start-ups, directly impacting on companies’ bottom lines. Like Magic, which Markus built from the ground up, was successfully spun out from its original inception as a subsidiary of SV Group into an investor-backed, standalone platform. After its first year, Like Magic was generating an ARR of ₣1.m. The platform is being adopted by a growing number of hotels and serviced apartment providers across Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Australia and, soon, Turkey and the Netherlands.

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