Discovering the latest industry trends in booking behaviours has uncovered several noteworthy topics around the adoption of technology and bridging the staff shortages gap. The early May webinar organised by Bookboost featured prominent experts from Siteminder, Atomize, OTAInsight, and Apaleo.
Despite economic challenges, one fact remains clear: the desire to explore the world persists and grows stronger. Inflation and increasing expenses may be daunting, but wanderlust continues to thrive.
The discussion began with a concerning topic: staff shortages in the hotel industry. A recent study by AHLA (2022) showed that 97% of hotel owners and managers are struggling to find enough staff. Moreover, the Bureau of Labor Statistics concludes a 70-80% annual turnover. This is especially worrying considering the changing travel patterns of guests, who are increasingly becoming more spontaneous when booking their next trip.
However, technology may provide a solution to the staffing crisis. During the panel, a mutual client story was showcased about Lindemann Hotels, as an impressive example of their fully-automated guest journey. Lindemann is processing 60% of their check-ins online and 42% of their payment processes are automated, giving back invaluable hours to their employees.
The automated guest journey helps hoteliers handle busy times by reducing the pressure on staff. This is especially true during check-in processes, where guests are often left waiting in long lines. By embracing self-service technology, hotels can provide a better guest experience while reducing staffing demands.
Digital transformation is the top IT priority for global organisations in 2022 (Statista), with 75% of companies already making significant strides in their efforts. This number is up from around 50% in 2021, showing the growing importance and impact of this process.
Achieving a successful digital transformation journey is no easy feat. It’s important to note, however, that the process doesn’t begin with implementing technology - it starts with laying the groundwork of the business strategy first. For hospitality leaders seeking to enhance their organisation’s performance through the use of technologies, it’s crucial to prioritise the needs of their stakeholders and focus heavily on data. By identifying operational pain points, such as repetitive manual tasks, staff shortage, or distribution issues, leaders can effectively analyse and strategise their approach first, before committing themselves to implement technology.
Digital transformation requires change management, which is a company-wide effort and has nothing to do with technology. Without a clear strategy and purpose behind the implementation of new technology, hotel employees may resist the changes. It's important to recognise that digital transformation is not something to fear. Instead, it's an opportunity to enhance skills, balance work and personal life, and make guest-facing jobs more enjoyable.
Gone are the days when traditional legacy systems should dictate business processes. Adopting digital experiences is more than just implementing a new solution. It's about ensuring that the entire company is on board and fully embraces the change.
To make the most of digitalisation, it's crucial to adopt technology into hotel operations and culture. This is where change management plays a critical role in ensuring that digital solutions are adopted effectively to achieve the desired business objectives.
A practical example that was discussed by the panel was the use of guest-facing chatbots. The effectiveness of this tool highly depends on hotel employees keeping it up-to-date with relevant information. When seamlessly integrated into the booking engine and other workflows, chatbots become an extension of the hotel's existing systems. Ultimately, when adopted right, chatbots guide users to the booking funnel and drive more revenue for the accommodation providers.
As the hospitality industry continually evolves, it's essential to have the right expectations, goals, and strategies in place. By prioritising a guest-centric approach and embracing digital adoption, hospitality businesses can leverage automations and other digital-led experiences to enhance their overall business strategy.
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