The hotel industry has always been synonymous with exceptional service and warm hospitality. But, in recent years, the sector has been grappling with a challenge that threatened to put this hard earned reputation at risk – an unprecedented staff shortage.
The outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 exacerbated the issue, with many businesses still struggling to find and retain qualified employees.
In 2021, the average hospitality job vacancy rate in Europe was 3.3%. In some countries it was twice as large, reaching 7.6% in Belgium and 6.6% in Austria (Hotrec, 2022). By 2022, there were 200,000 unfilled positions in France, 250,000 in Italy and 33,000 in Austria.
Technological advancements are transforming the hospitality sector, making digital skills a non-negotiable factor in recruitment. From online booking systems to mobile check-ins and digital marketing, businesses must adapt to stay competitive – and a shortage of workers with the necessary skills means the industry is struggling to capitalise on these innovations.
An Ageing Report by the EU Commission in 2021 found that the working-age population will decrease from 265 million in 2019 to 217 million in 2070. With fewer young people entering the workforce, the talent pool for the hospitality sector will get even smaller.
On top of all that, it’s no secret that the hospitality industry faces a notoriously high turnover rate. Long working hours, demanding schedules, and physically taxing shifts mean many employees look for alternative employment opportunities that offer better work-life balance and job stability.
As the sector faces this uphill battle, forward-thinking businesses are turning to innovative solutions to overcome staff shortages and enhance operational efficiency.
While technology can’t go all the way in replacing staff headcount, there are ways it can ease the pressure and help operators maximise their profitability.
The cornerstone of the hospitality industry lies in exceptional customer service. With fewer staff members to attend to guest needs, response times lengthen and personalised service suffers. This is where technology comes in.
Automation is a game-changer for hospitality businesses and embracing it doesn't necessarily mean replacing staff. It can also mean redefining their roles. By integrating automated payment systems and self-service options, like mobile check-ins or kiosks, businesses can streamline daily operations, enhance guest satisfaction and allow staff to focus on human interactions and more high-impact tasks.
Thanks to 100% automated payment transactions enabled by Apaleo’s seamless integration with visual automation platform, Make.com, MOOI Apartments has been able to save significantly on HR expenses. Now, MOOI staff simply oversee these processes rather than being buried in administrative tasks. The result? A weekly time saving of 5 hours in overtime for employees and a 30% reduction in labour costs for the business.
To address skill shortages, it’s important to invest in employee development. Businesses can bridge the gaps by upskilling their current workforce. By offering continuous training opportunities, employees can acquire new skills and remain agile in a changing landscape.
A robust onboarding process helps set employees up for success. Incorporating self-service options in training allows new hires to undergo easy and quick training, helping them to get up to speed faster. Partnering with software vendors offering online learning platforms like Tipsy enables a seamless, remote training experience.
Intuitive and modern software is key to empowering staff to be efficient and productive. By ensuring that the user interface of hospitality software is familiar and easy to navigate, staff can confidently work with the technology, boosting overall productivity.
For Hotel Illuster, the implementation of Apaleo and a new tech stack has had a huge impact on the successful onboarding of new staff for the group. They have reduced their training time by six weeks and have reported a noticeable difference in happiness of their new staff, who now feel quickly independent at work.
Attract and retain
Staff shortages create a heavy burden on existing employees, forcing them to work longer hours, handle increased responsibility, often compromising their work-life balance. To attract and retain talent, hospitality businesses should explore flexible work arrangements. This can include part-time options, remote work, or flexible scheduling. Offering work-life balance and accommodating employees' needs fosters a happier and more loyal workforce.
Partnering with local universities to offer internships and entry-level positions can be an effective way to attract young talent early on. Additionally, implementing an employee referral program will incentivise current staff to recommend potential candidates, tapping into their networks for talent acquisition.
Employee recognition is another vital tool for fostering a positive work environment. Acknowledging exceptional efforts and achievements boosts staff morale and encourages them to strive for excellence. Providing opportunities for career growth and advancement further motivates employees to stay committed to the organisation.
The power of data
Leveraging workforce analytics allows businesses to identify patterns in staffing, predict peak periods, and optimise workforce planning. With data-driven insights, establishments can anticipate staffing requirements, ensuring that they are adequately prepared to meet demand.
The ability to create comprehensive yet easy-to-digest reports by using Apaleo as a data source to PowerBI has saved serviced apartment brand SMARTments huge amounts of time. Instead of having to spend up to 12 hours manually combing through data to collate insights, now they can access dashboards and reports instantly via Apaleo’s interface. That leaves more time to analyse results and develop new strategies to boost sales and revenue.
In this fast-paced market, the latest breed of property management software isn’t a barrier to innovation for hospitality providers. Instead, it offers operators the chance to make one last switch that will mean their property management platform is never out of date again. That’s how you attract the best staff and the most valuable guests.
Get the latest hospitality tech insights to your inbox