As we are all preparing for the coming year, it is time to look back at what the past year has meant for us and reflect upon what we have learned. The past year can be summed up into one word: resilience. As Merriam-Webster describes it, resilience is the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens. 2021 has tested us in many ways, and moving forward has meant being resilient.
2021 – Expectations vs. Reality
At the end of last year, while we were still trying to get a grip on the COVID-19 pandemic, it was hard to look ahead to what 2021 would bring. It was the first time any of us had had to deal with a global health crisis of this scale, and we had no empirical data to help us forecast what the new year would bring. Everybody was planning with whatever data was available and a good portion of common sense.
Seeing how we ended 2020, it was clear that the road to recovery would not be linear. We saw how the virus went through various waves, forcing countries to close borders over and again. We saw review volumes drop and rise, and we saw how hospitality had to adapt services and facilities to a health crisis, to later having to reinvent themselves again to deal with global staffing shortages.
After dealing with COVID-19 for almost two years, we are all getting better at managing expectations and preparing for what is next. However, if 2021 has taught us one thing, then it is that the hospitality industry is resilient and that we can bounce back from this with strength and innovation, both now and later. As long as we future-proof ourselves by being efficient, flexible, and always with the future in our minds.
Digital Transformation as a Driver for Efficiency
Previous crises have pushed us to innovate, to look into new directions, and this one proves to be no different. From the many conversations we have had with hoteliers over the past year, we can see that the fear and hesitance of adopting technology to support operations has been replaced by interest and curiosity. Even though we are dealing with different crises, we still strive for operational excellence, and now is the time to embrace technology that can help elevate the pressure of the fewer resources we have.
This year we got market-ready with our latest product, Guest Experience Automation (GEA)™, a set of tools to achieve high service levels with limited human interaction. We started designing GEA ™ back in 2019, unaware of the major events that were awaiting us. However, we were already convinced that technology could help provide operational success for hotels, and this year already, we have seen thousands of housekeeping and maintenance requests created and successfully dealt with by our technology.
Together We Made It a Success
As for many of us, 2021 has been a challenging year. We had to show new levels of flexibility and adaptability within our company. Before the pandemic, we were hesitant to adopt new working models, but the situation pushed us to new hybrid models with opportunities to work from home and abroad.
Now, we are seeing the fruits of our flexibility. One of the greatest moments of this year was to see how everyone across our organization has taken on the responsibility to make 2021 our most productive year yet. We moved closer together as a company to make this year a success. And we did it. We have built more technology and products than ever before and made great customer wins, and these successes have motivated us throughout the year, giving us a positive and optimistic outlook for what is to come in 2022.
Looking Ahead to 2022
The pandemic has forced our society to stand still for a second – literally – and while working from home, we were all pushed to reflect upon our life and work situation, trying to find new balances between our personal and professional lives. I, personally, feel lucky and grateful to say that I enjoy working; I love the technology, the people I get to work with, and I love the industry. At the same time, I also love my family. So, I want to motivate everyone to try and find that balance that allows us to be successful and exceed expectations both at work and at home.
As mentioned before, we cannot know what next year will hold for us. Things will happen outside what we have planned. Nevertheless, we are part of a great industry that has always found ways to innovate and tackle the issues that come our way. Now, innovation lies in new technologies.
Digital adoption is not just for today, but it is to future-proof your business for whatever else lies ahead. Hoteliers need to look into their guest journey strategies and adapt these to the new needs and expectations of guests to ensure their guest experience is still relevant. We have all been pushed into more digital customer journeys across various industries, and hospitality is no exception.
When looking back at 2021, I am proud to be part of an industry that represents resiliency so well. We have all reinvented ourselves, pushed harder than before, and adapted to whatever was thrown at us, never forgetting the core of our industry: delivering remarkable guest experiences.