2022 is off to a rocky start: staff shortages are forcing hotels to run with reduced staffing and services, inflation and supply chain issues are driving up costs, making it difficult for hoteliers to acquire equipment. So, what strategies can hoteliers leverage to improve service levels, and remain flexible in 2022?
Setting the scene
As the industry is dealing with ongoing staffing shortages, operational issues are rising. Staff are working multiple roles, there is no time to properly onboard and train new staff, and the remaining staff is getting exhausted from long hours of fighting fires everywhere.
On the other hand, we are also seeing long-term damage with more strategic issues. Executives do not have the headspace to brainstorm, plan or be strategic for the year ahead. The reduced headcount and smaller talent pool are keeping pressure high.
When looking at the online reviews, we can see these issues reflected in guest comments. There is a rise of negative reviews and survey responses for service, and more specifically for room service, queuing, and waiting.
Guests are traveling with high expectations, and a great need for that “moment away”, so tolerance and acceptance of operational mishaps are low. Persistent communication and service issues will hurt your online reputation, and we need to be conscious of our online reputation as review volume is still low, but reviews are still a key driver in buyers’ decisions.
How to Improve Service Levels with Reduced Staff?
So, what can you do in your business? There are a few ways hoteliers can improve their service levels:
Automate incoming guest communication
Being communicative and responding to guest queries is key for the guest experience. Traveling comes with a lot of doubts and questions, even more in uncertain times like these. However, responding to guest queries can take up a lot of time and resources.
A hotel chatbot can respond to over 80% of incoming queries in real-time, including a wide range of different questions, and assist with bookings. As it is trained to know it all, it is also great support for newly onboarded staff when providing the correct answers. Even if the chatbot is deactivated, staff can still take advantage of the chatbot’s central knowledge base.
Automate outgoing communication
Sending communications to guests can help you provide more personalized experiences and drive guest engagement. By proactively reaching out to guests, you can create memorable touchpoints without adding pressure on staff.
A few ways to successfully communicate with your guests:
- Send out a message before arrival to set expectations and communicate your operational reality.
- Set up smart communication rules, so when you communicate via WhatsApp, guests who do not have WhatsApp receive the information via SMS, or email.
- Send out in-stay or post-stay surveys via messaging channels to increase conversion rate.
Boost staff efficiency by automating processes, so your staff always knows what to do and when. Automatic alerts notifying the right staff at the right time can help streamline processes. It will help your new employees to follow the right processes, and leave less room for confusion, which in turn will ensure quicker follow-up and higher guest satisfaction.
Then, gather data on your team performance, to identify gaps in your processes, so you understand how and where to prioritize staff.
Integrate your tech stack
Many hoteliers have already understood the importance of hotel technology today. It takes out the legwork of your staff, so they can focus on what matters most: the guest.
However, as technology investments are increasing, it is then vital that these tech systems are well-connected to avoid data silos and unnecessary platform-switching for staff. This is where integrations come into play. By integrating your platforms, you can make your technology more efficient, productive, and agile, as they allow you to synchronize data and processes across your organization.
It’s hard to predict how the year will go, but navigating the ups and downs of tomorrow requires a combination of the right tools, knowledge, and flexibility. Watch the recording of our trends’ webinar to see learn more about how hoteliers can apply real-time strategies to key trends shaping the hotel industry in 2022.