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04/05/2022

How Hoteliers are Turning to Tech in 2022

From e-tipping to operational overhauls, hoteliers are using technology now more than ever.
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hotel staff

The pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the adoption of technology across the hospitality sector.  Like many industries, adoption has been accelerated to give hoteliers the best chance of thriving amidst the highly unpredictable and constantly changing landscape. 

Audrey MacRae, Vice President at Maestro commented “We are seeing lots of properties evaluating their tech stacks and realizing that they need to adopt more mobile tools. Pre-pandemic there wasn’t much adoption of tech as hotels were fine with the traditional methods they were using. However, the pandemic opened hoteliers and operators' eyes to key areas that could be run more efficiently or just better so we’re now seeing technology demand building across the board.  Understandably, there is slightly slower adoption in the independent hotel sector as rollouts are different and specific to each property so more support and education is needed there but in general, we have seen a massive uptick.” 

With the urgency to streamline operations or introduce new contactless technology, hoteliers have without exception needed solutions that drive real value quickly and do not draw attention away from other essential areas.  Many hoteliers have had to shed staff through the pandemic and the IT departments or people responsible for IT have often taken a big hit.  Technology solutions have to be installed and work with the minimum amount of fuss and the maximum support from the vendor.

Responding To New Guest (And Staff)  Needs

Not all technology fixes will be here to stay though.  Mark Biondi, Vice President, Operations Strategy & Analytics of Host Hotels commented that while touchless technology was a big focus at the start of the pandemic in 2020, the expectation was at the time that it would be used on a widespread basis to enable mobile check-in and mobile keys for example.  However the reality has been for Host Hotels that the number of people choosing to use these types of technology has actually been very small.  The key here is knowing your guests and being guided by what they specifically are comfortable with.

And as guidance around the pandemic continues to evolve, it is fair to say that most hotels are still working out and responding to guest needs at almost every level.  Demands around guest interaction have changed and we have to work with customers to adapt to the style of engagement and offer self-serve for guests and staff where appropriate.  

Using Technology to Help with Staff Retention

Any and every hotelier worldwide seems to be dealing with staff retention. As Austin Segal, Vice President of Curator Hotel & Resort Collection said, “Staff retention is right at the heart of our 2022 our strategy and we want to use technology as smartly as we can to realize as much efficiency and support for our staff as possible.   Alongside this, we want to make sure our staff don’t get short changed because of pandemic quirks - one of which has been people stepping away from using and carrying cash.  We realized that tipping  had fallen off the edge of a cliff so we are in the process of adopting technology that will allow guests to tip our staff digitally.”  It is initiatives like this that will help hoteliers to show their staff that their needs and interests matter and are being invested in.

Technology has a huge role in being able to schedule labor and give management teams the tools to better understand how their scheduling ultimately impacts operations. Delivering technology to housekeeping and operations teams that allows them to work smarter, communicate better and work to realistic targets makes a significant impact not only to the bottom line but also to the morale of the teams. 

Lloyd Green, Head of Operational Effectiveness for Staycity said “I have long been frustrated with hotel technology. Housekeeping is StayCity’s biggest team, and the department is run the most manually when compared to others. We have been actively looking to create a better working environment for the team and as the pandemic unfolded, we looked at the way teams were structured, including areas in which teams could be streamlined and what could best be added to support them.”  Running housekeeping operations is fundamentally more complicated now with the change in cleaning protocols and surges in occupancy and different solutions are needed to make sure they are working as well as they can do. .

Another area of unprecedented change has been around stayover cleans.   Where hoteliers are presenting options to the guest as early in the booking cycle as possible, it is important that what is offered is delivered on. This is very complex for hotels using an old-fashioned system to manage and requires technology to get it right and properly fulfill the choices that are booked.

Conclusion

The pandemic has been incredibly challenging in so many ways but for some, but we have learned from our customers that it has brought about some fundamental changes that will benefit the hotel or group in the longer term.  As we start to see the glimmer of recovery, the changes that have been made will allow hoteliers to accelerate with more ease, capitalizing on the enormous pent up desire to travel.  As Lloyd from Staycity said, “2020 was about survival, 2021 allowed hoteliers to take learnings and do something with them.”

For me, 2022 will be about reaping the rewards of the determination and investment into our industry as we enter a new and exciting phase in hospitality technology.