Hotels’ Pandemic Pain Point
Labour Shortages & The Need for Operational Efficiency
This year we launched The Micrometrics Hospitality Webinar Series where we invited industry leaders to speak with us about their career experience, how they have had to evolve over the course of the pandemic, and what some of their most significant challenges have been. Without fail, the feedback we’ve heard the most is (1) the challenge of dealing with labour shortages and (2) the need to streamline and automate hotel operations as a result of those staffing issues.
Take Carmella Facchin, the General Manager at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Halifax – Bedford, who explained her situation on our Navigating Labour Shortages webinar:
“We faced a lot of challenges because we couldn’t offer the staff any hours so a lot of people left,” she explained. “Our Premier said he was not reopening the borders to New Brunswick, and then he made the announcement on June 20th that he was opening up all of Canada. So then we were faced with the challenge of the phones ringing off the wall. The rooms were filling up and we had no staff, we may have had eight people on staff at that time. We tried to get more people on board but with the CERB payments that people were receiving and when July weather hit nobody wanted to go to work. So basically the small staff we had plus the management team probably worked anywhere from 80 to 95 hours a week trying to get the rooms done. Some days we started at six o’clock in the morning and we were still cleaning rooms at 11 p.m.”
Obviously, this is not a sustainable situation.
Chris Adams, the CEO and founder of Ellis Adams Group, would agree. In a recent Forbes article he said, “The industry is scrambling – scrambling for people and scrambling to give guests an experience. The hospitality industry now has less help while it seems that guests expect more. I think the industry needs to realign and restructure programs that are highly efficient and take a lot less people to execute.”
So, just how much is the hospitality industry “scrambling for people”, as Chris put it? Well, in a recent poll of more than 13,000 job seekers by the employee search engine, Jobless, more than half of US hospitality workers indicated they were not planning to go back to their jobs after being laid off during the pandemic with more than 33% of them saying they aren’t even considering coming back to the hospitality industry, period! If we extrapolate these findings to be representative of the entire US hospitality industry, we are talking about roughly 500,000 workers not returning to their jobs.
Hospitality Labour Shortage Solutions
For many in the industry, the solution is seemingly to, quite literally, throw money at the problem and offer more competitive compensation to hotel staff. To us at Micrometrics, we absolutely agree that there is a need on this front but we see other LESS costly and more scalable solutions, as well.
Automations & Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Hospitality & Online Travel Tech Consultant, Max Starkov, believes that “investing in technology can solve the current labor shortages through innovations, automation, mobility, robotization and next-gen technology applications.” In his view, the industry can create significant efficiencies by using technology, an opinion we very clearly share at Micrometrics.
How can a hotel better leverage technologies to scale their operations and deliver a better guest experience? Here are a few examples highlighted by Frederick Gonzalo in eHotelier:
- Mobile-first website, powered with a CMS allowing for automated messages and personalized offers
- Virtual concierge on site, to address questions about the destination, places to eat, open attractions, etc.
- Chatbot on property and website, to inform on hotel amenities, handle requests or complaints
- Mobile check-in or kiosk for self-check-in
- Mobile app and functionalities to open room, make requests with housekeeping or room service
- Robots for room service
- Smart rooms, with features on tablet or mobile device, allowing to watch Netflix, control heat and much more
- Vending machines and self-service dining and drinking facilities
- Automated messages prior to, during and after the stay, to ensure quality, reviews and repeat business
Frederick has, essentially, outlined our platform’s value proposition; we help the world’s top hotel brands create memorable experiences, unravel missed in-stay service opportunities and cultivate deep-rooted relationships with loyal guests. Micrometrics facilitates these outcomes with automated messaging, the ability to capture, triage, and resolve guest issues at scale, and increase the volume and quality of online reviews…all while reducing the burden on front-of-house staff.
Delivering Service at Scale
Micrometrics partners with our hospitality clients to create new environments where they can capture service failures across multiple touchpoints, triage those issues, and resolve them efficiently compared to their previous approaches. This allows these properties to streamline their internal operations, save on technology expenses, and improve their internal guest satisfaction scores, as well.
In the height of the pandemic, many hotels around the world were operating with limited staffing while navigating new and ever-changing COVID procedures, like the guest check-in process.
Data capture using unique connections
Inbound messages from ALL guests on property, including secondary occupants, guests who booked via OTAs, etc) are now captured. To improve other marketing initiatives, additional data sets can be made available upon request.
Alerts, comments, & conversations can be received as SMS texts, through hotel wifi-enabled workflows, and QR codes strategically placed throughout the property in key service areas like the fitness center, restaurants, etc.
Automation using experiences
Significant portions of the inbound messages received by Micrometrics can be automatically addressed through intelligent automations and “Experiences” while lowering manual intervention from the Guest Service Team.
Record outcomes and track data on-the-fly to provide actionable insights.
For any issues or inquiries that can’t be handled through automations, they are escalated to a guest services team member who can then assign the ISSUE (not just pass the message along) to the appropriate department within the hotel. As the issue is resolved, outcomes are recorded and data is tracked to provide actionable insights and recommendations on ways to improve service delivery and guest experiences moving forward.
Seamlessly collect guest reviews at scale.
Most importantly, as issues are resolved and guests complete their stay, Micrometrics encourages them to rate their experience at the property without requiring any log-in. Their feedback is automatically synched with TripAdvisor without the need for the guest to log-in to that platform, either.
A More Sustainable Path For Hotel Recovery
The most efficient solution to solving one of the hospitality industry’s most crippling issues, labour shortages, won’t be found in new compensation practices, employee perks, or continuing to demand more from existing staff; the industry needs to embrace the benefits of technology and the positive impact it can have in scaling hotel operations.
By enhancing face-to-face interactions with their guests, creating connections at scale, and leveraging automations to understand their needs, Micrometrics’ hospitality clients are able to improve the guest experience at their properties and do so in a way that was sustainable for their guest services teams during a time when labour has been in short supply!