3 Strategic Decisions You Can Make to Overcome the Hospitality Staff Shortages
Along with the travelling restrictions, one of the changes that the pandemic brought to the hospitality industry had to do with staff shortages.
Daan de Bruijn
Oct 31, 2022
5 min read
Along with the travelling restrictions, one of the changes that the pandemic brought to the hospitality industry had to do with staff shortages. Even though the industry already started to recover, the lacking of staff remains.
Due to the pandemic, many hospitality workers lost their jobs while others had to be in quarantine and sometimes wouldn’t even be able to return to their job. At the same time, many other reasons affected hospitality workers, such as low wages, difficult work conditions, lack of work/life balance, and job insecurity.
All of this has resulted in an industry that is constantly looking to recover its workers by increasing wages or giving new benefits but without succeeding.
The hospitality industry is recovering and numbers are rising, even more than in pre-covid years, but the staff shortage continues to affect hotels. According to a survey made by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), 97% of the hoteliers participating were experiencing staff shortages.
And this is not affecting only one type of employee. On the contrary, the vacancies are diverse, from front-desk staff to restaurant chefs or managerial roles.
How to overcome the hospitality staff shortage?
With inflation, the costs for all products and services are increasing, and offering higher wages every time becomes an unsustainable solution for hoteliers.
Therefore, it is necessary to look into other areas and possibilities not only to overcome the challenge that staff shortages imply but also to find new opportunities.
Here are three strategic decisions that will help you to design the future path of your hospitality brand, to overcome and make the most out of the current staff shortages situation.
Automate low-value touchpoints to increase performance
Many tasks around the guest journey don’t add as much value as others. To face the staff shortage you need to recognize the ones that add the least value to your workflow and automatically take care of them.
At the same time, the highly value-adding tasks are the ones that must be prioritized among your staff. In this way, you avoid having your staff spend energy and effort unnecessarily, and you strategically position them to use their talents not only where there are most needed, but also where they have the most impact and potential.
Once you identify the low-value-adding tasks, you can create workflows and use tools to improve them or automate them. These can be the administrative parts of check-in, the check-out, booking adjustments, among others.
You will maintain and even increase your level of performance, putting people where they are most important, and optimising your operations.
This will help you to be less impacted by the staff shortage and, at the same time, it will make your staff feel they are growing by involving themselves in new projects and using their soft skills where they are most needed, so they want to continue being part of your brand.
Lead the guest journey and communicate clearly at the right time
When you take control over the guest journey, you are also creating a better guest experience. Today everything is about the guest experience. Guests want personalisation and clarity to qualify a service as a good one.
But what does have to do with hospitality staff shortages? In short, when you lead your guest through the guest journey and modify your touchpoints to deliver clear information, you lower the unclarity and also the amount of support needed.
There will be fewer angry and confused customers knocking at your door, and more satisfied guests leaving positive reviews. Another way to see it: instead of having your staff take care of complaints for misunderstood information, they will be providing outstanding service and taking care of other value-adding tasks.
On the other hand, this also makes your staff less emotionally tired, a key point when discussing hospitality staff shortages.
To take care of this area, several hotel tech solutions are designed specifically to amplify the power of your communications to create value during your whole guest journey. From integrating your different communication channels to scheduling a whole guest journey and segmenting your audiences according to their characteristics.
Again, when you are experiencing a staff shortage, you need to not only look for ways to be more efficient, but also for opportunities where value can be added in a faster and more effective way, while positively impacting your staff.
Use technology to manage all-incomings and innovate work dynamics
Technology can not only help you to automate touchpoints but also have complete control over your data and your workflows, provide your guests with better service, and give your staff useful tools to complete their tasks.
Here are two examples of how this helps you to deal with staff shortages:
First, you can improve your customer service by having a ticketing system. With this tool, you can monitor, track and report guest issues from beginning to end. You can automatically prioritise the issues, categorise them and make bigger analyses as input for future decisions.
Again, it all comes down to acknowledging opportunities for technological improvement in your workflow, as a way to increase productivity even with a low staff count.
In second place, technology can also help you to innovate the way your staff works. After COVID, everyone values work/life balance, but also the opportunity to work remotely and collaborate from wherever they are, without having to be at the office.
Hospitality, however, is an industry where this hasn’t been prioritised, which is another reason that adds to the staff shortages happening. With the right tools in hand, your staff can also make use of this, and effectively collaborate without the need to be physically present.
As you can see, you can close the loop on every decision you make for your business and see how it impacts your staff. You can either continue being part of the crisis of hospitality shortage or you can start making changes to grow a brand that is not only thinking about its guests but also its team.