The hospitality industry struggled with a staffing crisis throughout the pandemic and felt its affects after – with research from Failte Ireland released earlier this year telling us that as many as nine out of ten hospitality businesses were having big problems with recruitment.
Pre-pandemic hospitality was the third-largest industry in the private sector, was estimated to contribute £133.5bn to national gross domestic product and employed over 3.2m people.
Automation refers to anything (a technology, process or procedure) that exists to reduce or eliminate inputs while maintaining outputs; the technology, process or procedure operates independently and requires little additional intervention.
Given issues with staff shortages that naturally crop up in cycles, paired with a world that’s developing at a pace like never before, it comes as no surprise that automation in many forms across a hotel’s business can not only ease pressure but can also make the guest experience more enjoyable. The point of using more automation day-to-day is to take the hassle out of tasks and free up time better spent elsewhere.
Automation tools can help ease pressure
Automation tools have the ability to streamline workflows, increase efficiencies and improve the ways in which you, as a hospitality professional, serve guests long term. by easing the pressure off your staff by freeing up time spent on tasks that can be easily automated, they have more time to think strategically about your business and engage guests in a personable manner.
After all, what’s the most important thing to us all in this industry? Customer service.
It seems the hotel industry is well aware of the uptake needed in smart technology that will make their guests’ lives easier, with 77.6% of respondents in a recent Duetto survey saying they expect to increase their hotel tech investment in the next three years. When asked to identify the most important trends in revenue management for 2022, 54.8% said automation.
Not only this, but 55.2% of Revenue Managers surveyed reported they’ve increased their focus on strategic revenue management as automation has helped reduce manual tasks such as data entry and reporting.
Avoid unnecessary phone calls by utilising what your booking engine has to offer
When it comes to different types of bookings (like weddings for example), are you utilising everything you can so as to avoid receiving a large portion of bookings over the phone? Within our booking engine, we have a wedding module which allows you to seamlessly manage all room bookings for a wedding in the one place. This is an incredibly useful and personalised feature for your couple too, who you can personalise a landing page for. They will have their own code specific to their wedding and can choose to have a specific package for people to book. Another benefit for your hotel, is that you can also use the opportunity to upsell.
As well as the wedding module, we also offer a corporate module within our booking engine which you can use in relation to corporate bookings. The same idea applies – utilising these modules will mean less unnecessary time on the phone.
There are so many small efficiencies you can make that will create a lasting and positive impact within your hotel’s eco system, which in turn, will benefit staff and make everyone happier.
Making sure you are constantly keeping on top of your FAQ pages will save you time in the long run. You will have your standard FAQ page together, but continue to think about what you can add to it depending on the kind of questions, feedback or reviews you are getting from guests. Perhaps it’s Covid-related, perhaps it’s just something small that’s come up once or twice – whatever it is, get it added to your FAQ page and save time that might’ve been spent explaining on the phone.
Use a channel manager
Channel managers allow hotels to manage their rates and availability in real time across their chosen channels through one online platform. A smart channel manager has a two-way connection that not only sends inventory to your booking engine and OTAs, but reservations are sent directly to your PMS. This saves you time, reduces overbooking and helps you gain the ability to sell the most rooms as possible through as many channels as possible.
Detail everything out within your rate plans – including enhancements
The more detailed your specific rate plans are, the less room for confusion or queries. When you are developing your rate plans, remember to include information on the likes of room extras – do you need to mention a baby cot for families? Or remote working facilities for someone taking a workation or bleisure trip? Include all relevant detail!
You can also cut queries in half by offering and detailing out specific enhancements as part of your rate plans. Whether it’s dinner, wine, a movie night, a spa offer – leave nothing to the imagination.
Review all of your forms and update where necessary
Reviewing your existing site content is as important as paying attention to anything new you’re uploading. Take a good look through all of your website forms for dining, wedding, corporates etc. Make sure all of the fields are relevant and up to date, and importantly, that they are going to the right person internally. This will save time and leave less room for unnecessary confusion!
Plan and automate your social content
A key theme throughout many of these suggestions is in relation to planning. Planning and automation go hand in hand, and it’s no different when it comes to your social content. Using a content calendar and a social media scheduling tool (or the various platform’s own scheduling tools) will not only help your team save time, it will also give you greater visibility of what’s coming down the line – which leaves more room for innovation and creativity.
The appeal of chatbots is one of convenience and speed. Messaging apps have grown monumentally over the last few years, both socially and elsewhere – in fact, a significant amount of businesses are using messaging to communicate with customers and prospects. A Facebook study revealed that each month over 20 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses on Messenger – and when they can help reduce your customer service costs by 30%, why wouldn’t you be interested?
When it comes to the small queries your guests might need an immediate answer to, chatbots can be a helpful solution for both them and you – it means they don’t have to go searching through information to find their answer, and you don’t have to spend time answering something very simple on the phone when you could’ve been chatting face to face with current guests. It’s something to consider if you haven’t already done so.