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Kerzner International Hotel employees

Lessons from the Frontline: Using Tech to Enhance EX in the Hospitality Industry

Learn how Kerzner International's innovative approach to internal communications boosted employee morale and retention rates.

Frontline colleagues are at the heart of the hospitality industry. They play a pivotal role in shaping the guest experience and influencing the reputation and success of the brand. As in any industry, hospitality employees have higher expectations of their employers than ever, and investing in employee experience is crucial to meeting those expectations. Such investments not only improve employee retention and boost morale but also contribute to better integration across the company, resulting in a more engaged workforce.

So, if hotels expect employees to provide seamless, positive experiences to their guests, why shouldn’t those employees expect the same from their employers?

To solve our frontline colleagues’ unique challenges, our team at Kerzner International adopted a mobile-first intranet platform. Here’s how it helped us improve our frontline colleagues’ experiences across our brands worldwide.

Significant Frontline Workforce Calls for Reimagined Solutions

The conventional approach of employing basic one-size-fits-all internal communications is no longer enough. Frontline workers are seeking more sophisticated and accessible digital tools that help them find the exact information they need with less hassle, but one-size-fits-all tech solutions rarely address frontline worker demands.

Eighty-four percent of frontline workers feel they are not kept properly informed by management, which often leads to burnout, lack of motivation, and missed opportunities, further highlighting the need for reimagined solutions. And employee experience is not just for the employees.

According to a 2023 report by Gallup, not engaged or actively disengaged employees accounted for a nationwide productivity loss of approximately $1.9 trillion.

To transform the way we engage and enable our colleagues, employee experience leaders must invest in an employee platform that provides a tailored experience based on the information employees will use in their day-to-day.

Closing the Frontline Connection Gap

Prioritizing employee experience is pivotal, but the hospitality industry faces unique challenges. Hospitality workers require a much more involved strategy due to widely distributed teams where the frontline often gets the short end of the stick.

Frontline workers are twenty-nine percent less engaged than remote or hybrid workers, and half of them are considering quitting to look for a better experience. These statistics underscore the importance of comprehensive employee experience strategies addressing the intricacies of the hospitality sector.

What’s more, frontline workers are often left out of essential internal communications due to their positions outside of an office. The result is what’s called the Frontline Connection Gap, where employees feel disconnected from the company’s mission and their overall goals. Hospitality leaders of deskless or distributed teams with a frontline workforce have likely experienced the Frontline Connection Gap, but few know how to close it.

Employee Experience Takes the Front Seat

This was further evidenced when, in the wake of a decade-long streak of increasing job satisfaction, the United States witnessed an unprecedented drop in employee satisfaction in 2021. This downward trend continued into 2022 and 2023, with internal communications emerging as a significant factor.

This lack of internal communication made it increasingly difficult for employees to find the information they need to carry out their responsibilities and stay connected to one another and their organization.

A study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that a mere twenty-three percent of employees feel aligned with their companies’ strategies, highlighting a significant misalignment between organizational goals and employee understanding. According to Fortune, employees who are overworked and undervalued may lose their connection to the company’s mission or perceive limited internal growth opportunities, further contributing to their disengagement.

Fortune’s insights expose the multifaceted nature of the problem. With excessive workloads, little access to company initiatives and a perception of limited internal growth opportunities, making employee experience a top priority becomes imperative to the overall success of the organization.

Connecting a Global Workforce with Internal Communications

At Kerzner, we lacked a formalized employee experience platform and information was scattered across the organization. Seventy percent of our workforce is made up of frontline colleagues without access to desktop computers or email, rendering them hard to reach with corporate communication and culture-building activities.

Our leaders had to close that gap and give colleagues access to the information that would help and support their experience. With four unique brands operating across multiple destinations around the world, it was crucial for our team to connect the dots.

With the help of employee experience technology from Unily, we managed to solve the problem. We are now connecting frontline and knowledge workers through a dedicated internal communications platform, achieving over seventy percent adoption for our mobile app and further improving the employee experience for 15,000+ colleagues worldwide. The results are undeniable: engaged and satisfied employees directly improve customer satisfaction. In hindsight, it’s hardly surprising.

After all, happy employees pave the way for happy guests.


About Rachel Knowles

Rachel heads up the internal communications function globally for Kerzner International supporting its iconic brands, Atlantis, One&Only, SIRO, and Rare Finds, and managing and producing internal content companywide to a workforce of 14,000+ employees. She is an expert in creating and elevating extraordinary workplace cultures through innovative people-centric initiatives including employee wellbeing, employee branding, and employee engagement programs. Through the company’s industry-leading digital workspace, expertly targeted and built around the entire employee experience, Rachel empowers all colleagues to deliver exceptional guest satisfaction, from back-of-house and desktop-based users, through to front-line, guest-facing employees.

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