HTF Roundtable: Empowering the Workforce with Mobile Tech
The hospitality industry is being revolutionized by the various uses of iPads, iPhones and mobile devices. These tools put tremendous capabilities directly in the palms of employees and are being implemented in hotels that empower staff members to better serve guests and meet expectations at service levels. At the recent Hotel Tech Forum, a group of hotel executives discussed this topic and how hospitality workforces can leverage technologies to improve day-to-day operations and customer experiences.
Out of all the mobile devices available today iPads seem to have risen to the top as the most popular and “friendly.” iPads are being incorporated into the work place becoming common sights at front desks and around properties. In addition apps are continuously being developed around property management and POS systems to improve customer service.
Making a mobile sales force
iPad implementations range across property services but first and foremost is the sales department. Sales staff members carry iPads loaded with sales materials to share with potential guests when making sales calls. The iPads have sales presentations in Power Point using the Microsoft-based app Keynote. Various slides describe the property and contain photographs and videos to give potential customers a true view of the hotel including where it is located using Google maps and Google Earth. Rooms are showcased with photographs, 360 degree views, plus rates that they offer to clients showing rack and special negotiated rates for businesses that provide small, medium or large volumes of business.
These presentations also offer details on all the facilities a property has to offer including photographs of lobbies, pool areas, fitness centers, spas, restaurants, bars, and concierge services. The programs can display layouts of all meeting and conventions spaces with measurements, capacities and different settings. Sales staff can also use the iPads to show menus and pricing including photos of food presentations such as single dishes, buffets, or finger foods for receptions. The smallest details can be presented and gone over, even down to table settings with samples of past events, weddings, banquet dinners, lunches or breakfasts.
Transitioning to mobile technologies
Training staff to employ this new age of sales technology can be a challenge. The biggest hurdle is often creating the content that is customized for each client. Different tools such as Zen apps in the cloud have proven successful in facilitating the process to put sales and catering on mobile iPad devices. Moving Microsoft exchange to Google apps for collaboration using Google Plus for group sharing documents was mentioned by operators in the roundtable as a step that proved conducive to mobile functionality.
HR functions are also being moved to mobile application platforms. SharePoint is also becoming mobile using Droid and is very good. It is very important that the C-Level buy-in happens. Creating a Google site for videos for training on how to use apps is also possible so that the staff members can use mobile technology for training purposes on how-to videos. These tools allow staff to produce videos and post them on mobile devices for training purposes.
Cloud technologies and using virtual desktops are also being used or considered to empower the workforce, enabling staff members to work remotely. Through cloud capabilities staff members are able to access information that is required for them to be more productive and provides the ability to work anywhere, anytime via a mobile device. Productivity can be increased by keeping the workforce active, on time and on task. This helps staff members to perform at higher levels and the culture drives the staff members to be more engaged, skilled and successful.
Technology is allowing staff members to telecommute rather than go to traditional offices, using mobile phones and tablet computers. The creation of “virtual offices” using these tools delivers seamless connectivity allowing workers to become more productive and efficient. The nature of conducting business is evolving with the changing purchasing patterns of customers. Employees are still able to respond to guest needs because of the communication capabilities of mobile devices. They are able to meet guest expectations sooner because they carry the devices with them and do not have to depend on desktop computers to access tickets or requests. They are able to face guests and work with mobile devices.
The key to mobile technology for staff members is to provide them with information in time to react to situations or the needs of the business. This is followed by the mobile technology to distribute information that the management teams can use to measure their performances.