Sep 03

The Key to More Productive Staff? Technology That was Built for Them in Mind

In the world of hospitality, hoteliers are faced with the dual responsibility of providing for their guests while also ensuring their staff has all the tools required to deliver an exceptional guest stay. As the need for innovation continues to evolve in order to enhance guest experience, the staff experience should also find itself on a similar, transformative path.

To successfully adapt to the constantly evolving hotel landscape and meet guest demands, hoteliers must leverage effective service quality and optimization technology. However, while vetting prospective platforms, it’s imperative to consider how features, functions and usability will affect staff productivity. Is it user-friendly? Does it require minimal training? Does it help staff to establish new standards of efficiency? After all, investing in technology that empowers your team in their daily roles can, ultimately, make or break a hotel’s success.

Empower Your Staff & Operations

According to a recent study, “3 out of 4 respondents say their employers don’t give them access to the latest technology to do their job efficiently.” In a separate survey by The Economist, respondents who say their employer is either a “pioneer” or “good” at mobile use, score themselves 7% higher for productivity than those who do not. The hospitality industry, at large, has often been condemned for its’ reluctance to technological adoption, which subsequently contributes a notoriously high turn-over rate across staff.

Quite simply, exceeding the expectations of an array of unique visitors on a daily basis is no easy task. Service quality optimization has become a central focus to achieve this, and the latest technologies provide hotels with an unprecedented visibility into what is happening in every department, resulting in dramatic increases in productivity and guest satisfaction. Solutions that are designed to enable seamless communication, automate both back-of-house and front-of-house processes, and manage requests in real-time with the help of mobile functionality, can make life easier for hotel teams. At the management level, data and information is shaped as a mechanism which provides organized reports, alternatives, choices in order to help forecasting and taking better, more informed decisions.

Ultimately, service quality management platforms built to address specific segments like housekeeping, maintenance, asset management, requests, complaints, and inspections empower hoteliers to create a more innovative and intuitive environment for staff to collaborate and work together.

Streamline & Automate on the Move

Recently, PwC conducted a study which looked at the views of 12,000 employees from across the globe. Interestingly, the findings demonstrated a significant divide in opinion(s) between employees and their executives. Specifically, 90% of the C-suite executives polled, agreed that their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing technology, but only about half (53%) of staff said the same. The study’s authors explained, “When you don’t have a clear and accurate understanding of how your people use technology in their jobs, and what they need and want from those tools, the overall experience people have at work can suffer”.

Now, let’s look at the hospitality industry specifically. Last month the organization YouGov polled 1,219 adults about their hotel stays. More than a third of guests polled (38%) indicated that a source of frustration was the front desk taking too long to complete requests, while almost a third (31%) were irritated by delays in service. To summarize, guest complaints were most often rooted in lack of efficiency from staff or negative engagement with staff.

What does this have to do with technology? Well, everything. Staff not inundated with monotonous, cumbersome manual tasks or frustrated by the limitations of legacy platforms are less preoccupied and, in turn, able to offer better service. Reducing operational inefficiencies with the help of the right technology, powered by mobile and explicitly suited to the needs of staff, allows hoteliers to avoid those frequent guest complaints. One of the long-standing inefficiencies faced by hotel staff is a lack of communication across departments. Burdened with manual processes and without formal, streamlined communication pathways across departments, housekeepers and maintenance workers are often unable to work collaboratively. This breakdown between departments often creates a ripple effect, negatively impacting a hotel’s ability to respond pro-actively to the needs of guests, or address guest complaints. The solution lies in mobility —  an intuitive platform that is designed with this critical requirement and organizes data from all departments in real-time, complimented by mobile apps. Staff is finally freed from the confines of a manual operational structure and can work within an intuitive platform via a handheld mobile device to record their tasks, flag issues, communicate with staff members and address guest needs.

Make it Easy to Be Productive

In a recent study, 70% of staff said poorly performing technology is a drain on their productivity rates. Poor technology is also demotivating and results in higher employee churn. And if learning to use the technology is a job in itself, staff is not going to take to it willingly. Technology is, in many ways, another member of a hotel’s team. Overly complex tools impede performance — much in the same way a difficult teammate would.

When looking to invest in new solutions, it is important to consider that the tools staff use should make their job easier. In order for any new technology to succeed, people need to form a habit and make a change in their current behavior—and changing human behavior doesn’t happen on its own. This requires each and every piece of software in your tech stack to be intuitive in design and purposeful with its mission. A system should enable fast implementation, quick learning curve, great support and awesome training materials to support future needs, like training new employees.

Happiness isn’t all that hoteliers have to gain from an intuitive system. Staff productivity will increase as well, because at the end of the day happy people work harder.

Respond, Monitor & Track

The hotel industry like other industries has suffered a high cost of operation because of the inefficiency and poor performance in management, repeated processes, inaccurate operations and transactions and mostly because of the poor decision making as a result of the lack of accurate, on-time and right information.  Whether it’s handling of guest requests, the turn-over of rooms, or the completion of maintenance jobs, hotel staff requires real-time updates and task-sheets in a centralized system. Of course, there is no perfect ‘one size fits all’ solution, but rather, each hotel should comprise a suite of platforms that work together to address their unique operational needs.

The hotel industry, like other industries, has suffered a high cost of operation because of the inefficiency and poor performance of management, repeated processes, inaccurate operations, faulty transactions and mostly because of poor decision making as a result of the lack of accurate, on-time and right information.  Whether it’s handling of guest requests, the turn-over of rooms or the completion of maintenance jobs, hotel staff requires real-time updates and task-sheets in a centralized system. Of course, there is no perfect ‘one size fits all’ solution, but rather, each hotel should comprise a suite of platforms that work together to address their unique operational needs.

Within an advanced service quality and optimization system, requests and complaints can be logged by hotel staff and/or with automated triggers and follow-up prompts to encourage timely completion. Dynamic escalation logic for unfinished or delayed jobs allows staff to effectively determine which tasks are high priority, and which can wait, ensuring a more efficient system across departments. Not only does this help to increase staff productivity, but it will help to reduce guest service time and minimize delays and wrong deliveries — which, as we know, are often the catalyst to a negative guest experience.

​Reporting and analytics can provide managers with data on overall customer servicing and individual member performance. For example, data can be gathered on how many rooms a housekeeper services, how long it takes to accept a service request, as well as how long completing that request takes. This can help managers track and analyze the efficiency of the service and develop ways to maintain or improve staffing, timeliness and efficiency.

When it comes down to optimizing staff productivity, one size does not fit all nor does it need to. Hoteliers must define what its service level commitments are to its guests, what it means to the business and the employees to “optimize,” and then decide what degree of optimization will create the most value for their organization. The quality of that service will either enhance or degrade customer loyalty to your brand and your business. Investing in mobile-centric technology that was built from the ground up specifically with the operational needs of hotel staff in mind allows hoteliers to empower staff and remain ahead of guest expectations, directly impacting the bottom-line both now and in the future. 

About the Author

Karen O’Neill is a thought leader and hospitality industry veteran with over twenty years of experience working with top tier hospitality and restaurant clients. She spent fifteen years with MICROS Systems where she held various positions in project management, major account management and sales and strategies. In her last role as Vice President; Hotel Sales and Strategies, Karen worked closely with leading global hotel chains, independent properties and management companies on their technology strategy, system selection and deployment. Karen also founded KnockOut Hospitality Consulting, LLC. to assist hotel clients in streamlining and managing  key operations. In October 2015, Karen joined StayNTouch, a leading SaaS property management system provider as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing. In this role, Karen managed the company’s global sales and marketing initiatives, contributing to their aggressive growth.

Most recently, Karen assumed the responsibility of President, Americas for Knowcross with a focus to grow and manage the company’s operations and sales initiatives in the Americas region. With the evolution of technology, Knowcross’ game-changing products for housekeeping automation and workflow management are a must for hotels globally, to meet the growing needs and expectations of customers. The Americas is a key market and an engine of growth for Knowcross.

Karen is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science from the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sports Management. 

About Knowcross

With a global customer base across 40+ countries, Knowcross is a trusted partner to some of the world’s most well-known global brands including Aqua-Aston, Capella Hotels & Resorts, Cheval Residences, Hoxton, Hyatt, Hilton, IHG, Kempinski, Minor Hotel Group, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Hotels, Rosewood, Sydell Group, Taj, The Doyle Collection , Sutton Place Hotels and Shangri-La; as well as marquee independents and hotel collections such as Angad Arts Hotel, Dolder Grand Zurich, Grand Pacific Resorts, Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa, Le Bristol Paris, Mandarin Orchard Singapore, Royalton New York, Sixty Soho, The Century House, The Curtain London, The Mark New York, The Ned London and The William Vale Brooklyn.