From solving fluctuating staffing requirements to ending the IT headache, discover the tech that’s changing the world of hospitality. Every day it seems there’s another piece of technology promising to take some of the efforts out of the hospitality sector’s day to day work. But which elements have ‘legs’, and which are the flashes in the pans destined to occupy shelf space next to the Betamax, the Palm Pilot, and Myspace? We’ve been looking at the technology that’s making a real difference by addressing five core hospitality challenges.
Software as a Service SAAS is hardly new, but it’s taken a while to become common in the hospitality sector. The fact it has is down to the core advantages of SAAS: cost and simplicity. Once, before you could get started with your hotel management system, there were a few hurdles to overcome. You needed the hardware, of course. Then you’d install the software. Then, when that didn’t work properly, you’d call IT who would blame something you didn’t understand and fix it until an update was required, when the whole cycle would begin again. Cloud technology replaces the cost of much of the physical hardware and all of the physical software and replaces it with a (much cheaper) subscription service. When there’s an upgrade, it’s handled automatically, so the system is always up to date. For your hospitality business, that means you spend far less time spent banging your head against the desk having conversations with IT. In fact, many hotels have been able to ditch on-site IT support entirely, leaving far more time to devote to guests.
Hospitality and social. Even the words are bedfellows. So it’s unsurprising that social is a critical part of the hospitality toolset. We’re not simply talking about posting events and offers on Facebook. We’re talking about monitoring social feeds from TripAdvisor to Twitter and using comments either to build relationships or as a barometer of opinion. Yes, TripAdvisor may be the technological equivalent of the picky guest who complains about everything, but when you stop seeing it as an irritant you can find some real service nuggets that can help you improve what you do. Better still, you can then use the same platform to tell everyone what you’ve done about it.
Hospitality doesn’t play by the rules. One moment you’re ticking along on a skeleton staff, the next you’re expected to have a team that can cope with an event for hundreds. Traditionally, that has made staffing the most challenging part of the hospitality business. After all, how do you build up a loyal, experienced workforce when, on any given week, your people may get lots of hours – or none? That’s the value of a technology-based staffing solution such as Staff Heroes. You don’t have to worry about finding the staff – because they’re all in one place (on the app) and easy to search. You don’t have to worry about keeping them gainfully employed between jobs, as there’s always someone else who will. You don’t even have to worry about the practicalities of logging hours and paying wages – because it’s all managed simply through the system. A staffing software solution enables you to develop a dynamic pool of trusted people from whom you can use as many as you need to cope with the fluctuating demands of hospitality. It may not remove the need for forecasting your staff needs, but it certainly reduces the headache of finding people to meet those forecasts. And if your forecasting is a little out? Well, when you can call people in quickly and simply, it’s much easier to avoid the occasional staffing crisis.
It’s not so much what the technology is that matters, but the difference it can make to the most ingrained processes. Take check-in, housekeeping and ordering in the restaurant or bar. Give mobile devices to your staff and ‘meet and greet’ becomes a flexible concept which happens wherever your guests are: in the bar. In the grounds. Even on the coach in the car park as the latest arrivals wait for another party to leave. Give mobile devices to your maintenance or housekeeping staff and you can alert them to issues in real time rather than having to go searching for them. Mobile makes processes slicker, waits shorter and delivering a premium experience cheaper – and the low cost of the tech places it within the financial reach of virtually everyone, not just the big hospitality chains.
Whatever the hotel, whatever the location, James Bond is able to arrive at the desk to find a receptionist who knows his every last preference. Not bad for a spy who’s supposed to spend his life undercover. But now those same levels of personalisation can be experienced by everyone – even if they’re not a spy. The secret isn’t simply data – there’s masses of data ‘out there’ about all our hotel preferences but that doesn’t stop, for example, the mini bar stocking things you don’t like or the room air con being turned up too high. The key is joining it all up – having the ability to collect the right information, then bring it all together in one system that recognises personal preferences and either delivers them automatically or flags them for action. With the right data management system, your hospitality business can deliver the prestige and personal without significant cost or effort.
We’re not the people to help you wrangle your data or develop a new mobile strategy, but staffing? That’s something we can help with. If you’d like to explore how the Staff Heroes staffing system can transform the way you hire, get in touch.