The hotel industry is going through a paradigm shift right now. COVID has changed this industry forever and customer expectations, employee expectations and investor expectations have all changed. For example, in many countries, the number of employees in the industry has declined and will probably continue to decline. Yet, with wealthier, more demanding guests, service delivery will be the key differentiator and without enough people, technology will become critical to service delivery. When I say service delivery I mean everything from a well maintained hotel to efficient and quick guest service, anticipating guest needs, and superlative housekeeping and food and beverage services. A hotel with technology powering its housekeeping operations, for example, will be able to provide a higher quality service to its guests at a far lower cost than a competitor without such technology. In our case, this power is not only the power of the best housekeeping optimization system in the industry but also the power of combining it with Unifocus’ best in class suite of staff forecasting and management software products.
Hotel technology is a long game, and it seems many of the hottest hotel innovations may finally be at an adoption tipping point. So, what’s next?
Hospitality, at its core, is an industry of people taking care of people, and has a long-standing commitment to cleanliness and service standards. While the housekeeping team is central in the delivery of those standards, it operates in the background, out of view. Room attendants and supervisors moved around discreetly to be as invisible as possible. However, COVID-19 has thrust housekeeping into the limelight.
A few years ago in the US, state by state, we were notified of newly released staff safety button regulations and legislation that had started to be passed more aggressively. As the industry began to respond with the rise of new vendors, partnerships formed, positions communicated by large brands and forums like AHLA, we swiftly followed State protocol and embraced the requirement. I would like to think…and the facts dictate that the US hotel employees are safer because of it.
If there was a silver lining to the current pandemic, I think it would be that it has given the industry and all of us personally, the time to reflect and think about what we can do better and more effectively. Our team at Knowcross has been trying to leverage this reflection period by inviting hoteliers and industry experts from across the globe to participate in our leadership webinar series. The third edition of this series just took place and this time, we discussed the evolution that is occurring in hotel operations in the Asia Pacific region, specifically around the topic of housekeeping.
We recently had our second webinar in the Leadership series with two seasoned technologists. As I sat in my living room, listening to Barry and Jo describe their battle-readiness with COVID, I couldn’t help but notice the underlying theme present… How fragmented the thought process of our industry has been toward technology over the last couple of decades!
There was a rawness evident during our hotel leadership webinar last week surrounding two hoteliers who survived and operated their respective hotels in two of the hottest COVID-19 hot spots- New York City, New York and Wuhan, China. These two warriors, Chris Horn from Sixty Hotels and John Png from Frasers Hospitality, battled their way through a war of sorts and 67+ Days of lock down in their respective cities.
It used to all start with a smile and a handshake or a hug (considered quite normal in most regions), isn’t it? All your business meetings, a guest welcome, an evening get together whatever it be ... The eye contact and the physical presence has been such an integral part of all our interactions thus far, especially the Hotel industry which thrives on socialization and human interaction.
Customer Support is really important to us. We care. I care. As an organization, we try to constantly strive to improve our responsiveness, our tools and understanding of our customer base challenges and concerns. We know some consider having a service optimization platform as a luxury. We view it as a necessity to operate a business today---same goes with 24 hour support during this time---a necessity.