How hotels can tackle staffing shortage and cucumber excess
A friend of mine sent me this picture a couple of days ago, and I was like “sweet, your son made you a drink.” The response: “I’m in a bar. No joke.”
Making a quad-cucumber garnished GT might come across as a silly mistake. However, this picture frames some of the biggest challenges the hospitality industry is facing at the moment: staff shortage and finding experienced staff.
It also made me reflect on my first encounter within the hospitality industry, one that came with no previous experience. It was a bar shift during the 2010 World Cup in football, hence the shortage of staff and too many customers spread across Amsterdam. Imagine hoards of loud Dutch fans ordering jugs of beer in a bar where people couldn’t even keep a 1,5-centimeter distance – similar euphoria levels to when the restrictions were lifted. I had never tapped a beer in my life before that day. This resulted in a 50/50 distribution of foam and actual beer in each jug, together with some annoyed glances from the management. I was clearly wasting both time and money. After that shift, and ever since, I always had great admiration for people working in restaurants, bars, and hotels: true professionals that can look serene on the surface, but paddle like mad beneath.
Now a decade later, we have a staffing crisis lasting far longer than a championship. Experienced staff is scarce, resources are running low and new staff requires blitz training.
Revinate recently released a report discussing several topics tied to a staffing shortage, suggesting that automation could be one way moving forward. Let’s have a closer look at some of the key challenges, and how to potentially overcome them.
- Guests finally seem ready to travel in full stride again, presumably with more money at hand, but many hoteliers aren’t able to meet the demand.
- 94,5% of the hotels we surveyed are struggling with recruiting. Add to that staff were furloughed or let go during the pandemic, many settled for other industries.
- Administrative work is a black hole of time consumption and restrains staff from providing excellent customer service. A hard blow in a time where travelers are getting more critical by the minute, with public platforms to ventilate their frustrations.
- Budgets have been slashed and there’s a long road ahead to financial recovery
- Automate the guest journey: What we found in our report, was that the least exercised method to combat the shortage, was also the most successful one. Namely, “the use of software and automation to optimize the workflows”.” When integrating the PMS with a CRM, hoteliers can automate several steps of the guest journey. Some examples include reservation confirmation email after booking, pre-arrival email time to go out a couple of days prior to checking in, and on-property email triggered by the guest checking in at the hotel. The guest journey is so much more than the on-site experience. Hoteliers have to ask themselves where to direct their staff’s attention, to digital communication or create the perfect environment for guests on-site. Both are essential nowadays, one more beneficial to automate than the other
- Digital employees: Whilst we can’t assist in recruiting hospitality professionals, we can support hoteliers with a “digital employee” in the shape of a CRM. We often hear that the timing isn’t right, and that a new project would be an extra burden on the existing workload. Another way to view it, is that this is the time to rethink and restructure. A user-friendly pedagogic platform will bring transparency and allow everyone to reach common goals – from GM to breakfast staff.
- Set guest expectations: In my humble opinion, setting expectations is some of the most important things in life. Like so many others, I love a good hotel breakfast. Everyone who traveled during the pandemic noticed that the buffet was scrapped, whereas some hotels offered breakfast bags and some had certain time slots, but all in all it was heavily reduced. Email marketing is not only about revenue, it can also free up time for your staff by informing guests’ about new policies, hours of operation and answering commonly asked questions for example. Set expectations to avoid bad sentiment and negative reviews.
- Do the math: The financial situation differs from hotel to hotel, but rather few have seen their bank growing. Moving forward, each and every investment has to be weighed carefully. If a CRM can cover a day’s worth of work each day, consider weighing the cost against a full-time employee. ROI is everything while driving a business.
Think of any software solution as the garnish of a cocktail, it might not be the core of your business, but it’s an essential part to bring it all together. The winners in the hospitality industry are those who innovate to ensure guest satisfaction. Allow yourself to automate what’s automatable, like big chunks of the digital guest journey for example, and let your hospitality stars serve some juicy GT’s with one perfect slice of cucumber on-site.
If you want to explore how we are tackling these topics in-depth, or looking for inspirational garnish ideas, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org