Covid-19 spread at an alarming rate causing hotels to take swift action including furloughing team members and temporarily closing their doors. As markets reopen, hotels are being forced to work with skeleton teams. While this is an efficient way of managing operating costs, hotels also run the risk of negatively impacting their guest experience or missing a sales opportunity.
It’s a catch-22.
Hotels can’t afford to bring back their entire teams but they also can’t afford to lose any more business. Now, more than ever, hotels need to implement new technology to help them run cost-effective and efficient operations.
Here are the top hospitality technology trends that we’re seeing that save you time and money, allowing you to spend more time on the thing that matters – the guest experience.
Hotel technology automation allows you to improve your team’s efficiency by streamlining internal processes and minimizing administrative tasks. COVID-19 has expedited the need for automation in the hospitality industry. We’re seeing front desk operations invest in contactless check-in, self-serve kiosks, and digital room keys.
These guest-facing automations had to be implemented to ensure guest safety by limiting lobby traffic and minimizing guest touch points. In the long run, hotels will be able to use this technology to improve the guest experience. Imagine if you never had to worry about a demagnetized room key again or if your guest could sign contracts all online! Your team will no longer have to spend time on these tedious tasks and can focus their energy on enhancing the guest experience.
There are also automations that streamline internal processes and minimize administrative tasks for your back office staff. Hotel sales tools have the capabilities to automate workflows and set task reminders, send personalized emails, and generate proposals. There are scheduling programs that can quickly generate a front desk or banquet schedule based on availability and peak business periods. Business intelligence tools, like ProfitSword, generate reports and provide users with powerful data. Now, your team can spend less time inputting data and more time analyzing the data and developing strong business strategies to further support the growth of your hotel.
Hotels cannot afford a poor guest experience which can lead to a negative review.
Automation provides your team with the tools necessary to increase their overall productivity without taking away from the guest experience.
If you’ve been following our blog, you may have noticed that we are firm believers that integrated cloud-based technology is the future. You might be wondering why we’re continuously touching on this point but the reality is that legacy systems continue to play a dominant role in the hospitality industry and they don’t always provide the optimal technical solution for your property.
Let’s look at the smartphone analogy that Apaleo CTO Alan O’Riordan brought up on the Net Affinity podcast. O’Riordan is explaining to host Niall Lenihan why Apaleo is committed to developing a lean PMS with only a few core features like room inventory, rates, reservations, invoices and payments and reports. If you need additional technology like a sales and catering module, you can look at the marketplace and connect to a product that makes the most sense for your business.
He asks listeners to think of the Apaleo PMS like a smartphone. All smartphones come with the same standard features like calls, text messages, clock, and camera. Each cell phone user can personalize their experience by going to the app store and purchasing and connecting to apps that are necessary for their life. No two smartphones will look the same however they will have the same basic features. The same is true with the hospitality industry and the emergence of the integrated marketplace.
Working with companies that have an open API or a partnership marketplace, can open up a world of possibilities within your property. Not only does this model tend to be less expensive, it also allows you to custom design your entire tech stack to your business’ needs and who doesn’t want that?
Self-serve Onboarding & Training
Modern hospitality tech companies are transitioning from traditional in-person implementation and training to a self-serve model. While there has been resistance to this new style of onboarding, hoteliers are starting to shift their way of thinking and see the benefits that come with self-serve options.
It’s important that we define self-serve onboarding in the hospitality tech space before speaking on the benefits. Self-serve onboarding means a hotelier can purchase software from a vendor and implement and use the product without in-person onboarding or training. Hoteliers typically have access to online training documents and videos, support chat, and support screen share calls.
Not every software company is able to transition to self-serve onboarding however the suppliers that are able to offer this feature typically pass along the following benefits to hotel owners and operators:
1 – Cost Effective
In-person training is expensive and time consuming for suppliers. It involves hiring implementation specialists, travel expenses, and Tech companies pass this expense to their buyers. Through our research, we found hoteliers that have paid upwards of $50,000 to implement software at their property and that doesn’t include their annual subscription fee. Imagine what you could do with an additional $50,000?
2 – Eliminates Implementation Wait Times
You no longer have to wait for an appointment with an implementation specialist to open up. Pre-COVID hotels were being put on year long wait lists to have software systems installed. Now, due to travel restrictions, these properties don’t know how long they have to wait to use their software. Self-serve onboarding completely eliminates these wait lists and allows you to install your software at a speed that works for you.
3 – Higher User Adoption & Stronger Product Knowledge
One of the most difficult hurdles to overcome when installing new technology is employee buy in. Hospitality tech companies that have a self service model often find they have a higher user adoption. Why? Self serve onboarding empowers employees. They are more connected to the software because they played a key role in the implementation of the product. This also results in strong product knowledge because they had to learn the software from the ground up.
4 – Less Reliant on Support
Have you ever needed immediate assistance with your technology and ended up in an hour long queue? It’s frustrating to say the least. Self-serve onboarding paired with online documentation provides users with the materials necessary to solve most of their problems without being dependent on support channels. It also minimizes the suppliers’ support tickets allowing them to focus on issues that users cannot solve for themselves.
The current pandemic has not been easy on the hospitality industry. Hoteliers are being forced to make difficult decisions. Most hotels are operating with lean teams in order to stay afloat. By looking at their hospitality tech stack and the new trends emerging with modern, cloud-based technology, like automation, integrated technology and self serve onboarding, hoteliers are able to increase their overall efficiency while saving money.