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How to run a hotel with staff who want to work remote

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Tips to master remote working and hiring in the hospitality industry

NAVIGATE 2022: In case you missed it…  

Two numbers are enough to tell the story of the staffing shortage challenges that hotels are facing today. 

73 and 4 million.

Let’s tackle 73 first. 

Remote work 

When “The 2021 Work Trend Indexinterviewed more than 30,000 people across 31 countries and analyzed trillions of productivity and labor signals, it found that 73% of people wanted flexible work options. A majority of these want to work fully remote. 

Now for the 4 million. 

Since February 2020, the leisure and hospitality sector has shed nearly 4 million people or roughly a quarter of its workforce. The staff that shows up is under stress, overworked, and scrambling to stay afloat. 

Flexible work environments and staffing shortages are the realities that we need to contend with as an industry. 

How do we avoid staff burnout and deliver an exceptional guest experience?

How can the hospitality industry find a way forward given these challenges? As travel returns, the urgency to address these realities and avoid burnout, lost revenue, and guest dissatisfaction is immense. 

At Revinate, we brought together a team of experienced hospitality professionals and asked them for tips and insights to chart a way forward. 

At NAVIGATE 2022, our annual Revinate users’ conference, Miranda Cubillas, Director of Reservations and Recreation at Ojai Valley Inn, and Vinny Cuneo, Vice President of Sales and Revenue Strategy at AutoCamp, talked of strategies and how they had leveraged these to the benefit of their businesses. 

Here are some key takeaways. 

Automation: Maintaining efficiency, avoiding burnout, and keeping guests happy

When home office environments distract and lead to drops in efficiency, automation is one way to guard against this and help teams manage their tasks better. 

Automating data capture, for instance, reduces time spent on conversions and turndowns, and instead prioritizes tasks by enabling agents to nurture leads digitally as well as optimize call volume and communications among other agents.  

The result? 

  • Increased efficiency with less time taken to accomplish tasks leads to reduced burnout
  • Remote work is more manageable as automated tools provide data and visibility   

Investing in remote hiring, onboarding, and training

Adopting a remote hiring process translates into screening becoming more practical by including questions about their at-home environment to ensure that it’s not noisy and filled with distractions. Asking for feedback from supervisors in a remote setting is also critical. 

And of course, there are ways to test if a potential reservation sales candidate is ready for the remote role in the presence of sifting through under-qualified workers. 

The result? 

  • Reduced onboarding time from an average of 6 weeks to just 4 weeks given fewer office distractions, more intentional meetings, and less “water cooler talk”. 

[For all those switching to work from home, tapping into tools to manage your team can create a simpler remote environment for onboarding while balancing control and communication.] 

Key takeaways aside, this discussion also debunked remote work myths. 

Debunking remote work myths

While both Miranda and Vinny were initially averse to jumping to a work from a home model, they quickly realized their fears had been unwarranted. 

Myth: Teams won’t be productive

We can attest to technology’s ability to simplify our day-to-day responsibilities. That’s exactly the carry-over that is experienced in the workplace. There’s an opportunity to use tools that automate tasks for staff, actually freeing up time to focus on higher yield areas, therefore increasing productivity. An added bonus is they’re not getting interrupted by the front office nearly as much.

Myth: Communication will break-down

Quite the opposite! There is a greater expectation to preserve communication now that your team isn’t in the same room. Meeting software like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack close the communication gap with instant messaging between staff while maintaining “office-like” consistency with weekly staff meetings. 

For example, Reservation Sales has a built-in team chat feature with channels to keep people connected, while also maintaining the standards needed for effective team communication. You’re going to be strengthening reservation sales agents, as they work in harmony while sharing database insights. 

Myth: Clients won’t take you seriously without an office

Just because you’ve shifted operations remotely, doesn’t mean your business loses credibility and brand awareness. Your brand voice is still very much alive! Clients will recognize your reservation sales performance because of your agent’s performance and conversion. Tremendous time and effort is devoted to training your agents; that’s not going to change because everyone is now at home. Clients will see that!

Myth: Company culture goes out the window

If you’re uniting your team around a common goal and celebrating your purpose, silos are unlikely as company culture will remain intact. Miranda uniquely captures the experience and sentiments of her properties by sending care packages to her staff. Each package is graced with the property’s signature scent or experiences. The staff rallies around this practice as a way to carry on the tradition and the values of Ojai Valley Inn. Vinny brings his employees to their basecamp for an “annual summit” as well and sends his agents to various locations to be immersed in the AutoCamp experience.

What strategies and tips do you have to share about overcoming the challenges of flexible work and staffing shortages? 

Get in touch with us if you want to talk about this more. 

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