Never has the Irish hospitality industry been more ready to leverage the power of technology. It’s time to #FillTheGapWithTech
Clio O’Gara – Country manager Ireland, Guestline (A global leader in hotel cloud-based property management systems, distribution and guest engagement technologies)
Digital transformation and acceleration in the hospitality industry continues to be a hot topic. Whilst technology companies continue to develop new solutions, hoteliers continue to strive for new ways to meet and exceed guest expectations.
Many of the advances made in recent times have been born out of the ongoing challenges operators face in terms of recruiting and retaining staff. The balance between maintaining operational efficiency and delivering a true experience of hospitality that can only be achieved with a human touch is a fine one.
At Guestline’s #FillTheGapWithTech Connect event taking place at the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, this Thursday 24th November we will hear a keynote speech from Kathleen Linehan, Strategic Director of Human Resources at Trigon Hotels and a chaired discussion alongside Ted Robinson, MD of Barberstown Castle and Altaf Khan, Group Director of Operations at the Savoy Group, on ‘The Future of Staffing in Hospitality – who will work, how they will work, how to find them and how to keep them.’
So, what role can technology play in addressing the staffing challenge and what are the opportunities for the two to work together?
To ensure buy-in and a harmonious working relationship between high-tech and high-touch across your team it is important to get it right from the start. When considering what to include as part of your tech-stack, what systems to install, what upgrades to introduce or what partners to work with, speaking to heads of department and team members is critical when doing due diligence as part of this process. Team members who are ‘at the coal-face’ of operations have an innate understanding of what and where the gaps are, including the tools they need to have at their fingertips to make both the staff and guest journey more efficient. Including staff in the technology switchover process is a powerful way to demonstrate that their opinion matters and they have an important role to play. Asking questions like “What are the technology gaps in your role and how do you think we could best fill them?” is one way to achieve this. Staff will not only feel empowered but you are also more likely to see greater staff retention as they feel valued, that their opinion matters, and their workload is likely to become easier with greater automation. In a similar vein to the buy-in, adoption and return on investment of any new system that is introduced is also likely to be significantly higher if staff are involved throughout the process, implementing sufficient training also broadens their own skillset. A win win.
The same principle applies when future-proofing your workforce and considering where the next generation of staff will be coming from. For many operators this is Gen Z – those born between the mid-late 1990s and early 2010s. Also referred to as ‘digital natives’ given they are the first generation to grow up with widespread access to the internet and mobile technology. It’s therefore fair to suggest that technology is part of their DNA and with this is the expectation that the workplace will deliver in terms of technology experience and training opportunities. The principle of involving all team members in decisions around technology should also apply to, and include, Gen Z in the recruitment, onboarding and training processes. Platforms that offer flexible, online / remote and virtual reality experience learning are all worth considering to ensure technology runs across operations and supports retention of the next generation.
Also, consider with any tech installation (if you don’t already have in place) selecting more popular, widely-used and recognised systems. Whether it be a PMS, Channel Manger or Revenue Management System this can increase your chances of attracting the best talent as it is likely they will already know their way around the system, especially for those staff coming straight out of Ireland’s highly respected hospitality colleges i.e. Shannon College of Hotel management, who use our Guestline PMS technology as part of their training. This is preferable to all as there is less time spent learning a brand new system which could otherwise be seen as a deterrent in the decision making process when candidates are considering who their future employer may be.
For many hospitality owners and operators the prospect of introducing new technology or upgrading existing technology is a daunting one. It costs time and money. With this in mind, it is important to take a long term view and recognise that investment in technology now will pay staffing and operational efficiency dividends in the future. Not least because it equips staff to spend less time on the mundane, repetitive tasks that are often time-consuming, as these can now be automated. This alone can make a role and working environment more attractive to a potential or current employee who will be encouraged by the opportunities that are available to meet their own professional goals without the hurdles of administration and reporting.
For many working in, or considering a career in hospitality, technology is an enabler to do more of what they love – providing a great welcome and experience for guests, being able to focus on building a relationship with them so that the guest feels comfortable and encouraged to book again. This pattern is invaluable in driving bookings and revenue. As technology can make a team member more effective and efficient, the same is then true of the impact it can have on a venue’s operations and profitability. Staff turnover is costly but can be mitigated if technology is plugged into the recruitment and training process.
Join Guestline at this week’s Connect event. For more information visit: Hospitality Conference Ireland- Connect 2022 by Guestline