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08/12/2021

How Back Office is Integral to the Hotel Industry Recovery

How can we as a business ensure we are able to function operationally, without needing to increase our headcountt? More hotels are looking towards technology for the answer.

As we know, the COVID pandemic has negatively impacted the global hotel industry, and staff shortages are making it difficult for some hotel businesses to bounce back.  Notably, staff shortages’ needs to be separated into two buckets. First, those businesses who may have yet to fully reopen or are only partially operational, and in turn may still be running on a skeleton team, and secondly, those businesses that are struggling to fill current vacancies.
With the latter as a hot topic across hospitality in general, we are starting to see an increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR), which is great news; however, this is further perpetuating the struggle of those staff shortages.

 

Factoring in the above – the question raised is, how can we as a business, ensure we are able to function operationally, without needing to increase our headcount either intentionally or not. More hotels and businesses are looking towards technology for the answer.

 

[24% of hotels are allocating their 2021 IT budgets to rolling out and implementing new solutions, according to HT's 2021 Lodging Technology Study.

At the onset of the pandemic there has been an abundance in technology adoption or at the very least, hotel companies looking at different software solutions options, ranging from automated scheduling tools, promoting contactless to investing in smart room technology. While these types of solutions may address part of the issue, they may not solve them all especially if you do not have the ‘heads’ to carry out various tasks, and inevitably look after your guests.

We could spend all day talking about robotics, AI and machine learning and associated functions – which yes can be exciting and very much how the future is shaping up, but in reality, looking at the current need, the hospitality industry needs a back-office solution that can facilitate the following:

  • Streamline functions where possible
  • Offer true mobile applications to promote mobility, and still drive control and compliance 
  • Provide near-real-time reporting, keeping your finger on the pulse of all spend activities, declining budgets
  • Keep your guests happy with optimum stock levels
  • Reducing or eliminating waste 

Technology tools should be easy to use especially when dealing with transient staff, while allowing team members to carry-out day to day activities without being stuck behind a computer. The ideal solution will also enforce your SOP’s seamlessly, and ultimately keep costs in-line and to budget.

[Detailed data analysis of hundreds of thousands of events points towards a robust, but not evenly distributed, recovery for accommodations industry across the US and the world.]

Monitoring Guest Reviews 

Tracking guest reviews and feedback has always been pivotal to running a successful hospitality business, but even more so today where occupancy numbers are low, and the competition is fierce. The guest profile is evolving, primarily being driven by Millennials to Generation Z, and these groups are not as loyal to the traditional hotel groups as previous generations. They are looking for a unique experience when staying at a hotel – this can range from décor to your F&B offerings, sustainability policies and reducing waste.

Having access to guest reviews in a timely manner is paramount. Most hotels will have their own internal guest survey apps and may have mechanisms in place to scrape guest sentiment data from sites like TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp. Where this data becomes impactful is firstly having the ability to pull this information together as quickly as possible and  provide those insights to teams so they can make those informed decisions or changes immediately to avoid any negative impacts.

Being ‘lean and agile’ is very much the nirvana a lot of businesses are striving for in current times, however, not to the detriment of running a successful operation or sacrificing the quality of services provided. It is a balancing act, and where technology comes into play.

Simply, let the solution do the heavy lifting -  promoting automation where possible and driving compliance and consistency across the operation. Being able to pull up consolidated reporting from a tablet that gives a bird’s eye view while away from the office is the end goal.

About the Author 

Angela Hart is Fourth's Director of Pre-sales, Hotel & Retail Strategy.