7 min read

2021 Hotel Industry Challenges: Why Technology is Critical Post COVID

The global hospitality industry has been through a lot in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, hotels have had to alter operations dramatically to keep staff and guests safe. While there is variation across regions, hotels are reopening in many parts of the world. 

Reopening doesn’t mean going back to the way things were before. On the contrary, post-COVID hotel operations exist in a new labor and staffing environment. Two challenging trends have emerged: 1) reliance on a lean staff and 2) a shortage of seasonal labor. 

How can hotels not just survive but thrive in this new world? Technology can empower hotel management and each hotel team member to deliver the full guest experience.

 

Hotels are maintaining lower break-even occupancy with a lean staff

Every hotel has a break-even occupancy - the minimum percentage of rooms a hotel must fill to keep doors open, the hotel staffed, and the lights on. While this percentage can vary depending on hotel service levels, one trend is certain: break-even occupancy decreased notably in 2020. According to STR Data, break-even occupancy dropped 10% on average last year with more drastic decreases at full-service hotels. 

So, how do hotels lower break-even occupancy? By cutting costs. Many hoteliers decreased expenses during the pandemic by stopping certain amenities and reducing staff. Some amenities are relatively universal to hotels and easier to pause, like turndown service. But, limited-service hotels don’t have as many added amenities to pause to bring costs down. As a result, staff must be reduced.

This means hotels are reopening with lean teams and tight budgets. We recently shared a blog post on the new role for housekeeping staff post-covid-19 which addresses the fact that the skeleton-crew of employees are being asked to wear multiple hats. If a hotel is short-staffed in housekeeping, efficiency becomes paramount. Without the right technology in place to work cross-functionally and efficiently, a lean staff environment leads to increased stress. 

Hoteliers require a hospitality operations solution empowering hotel staff to do more with less

 

Seasonal hotel properties are experiencing labor shortages

Seasonal properties face the challenge of optimizing hospitality with a lean staff - but not necessarily by choice. Because they are so seasonal, these properties staff in a unique way where full-time employees represent a smaller core set of staff. These hotels supplement with seasonal workers to handle wild swings in occupancy during the high season. Before COVID, seasonal properties staffed their hotels with primarily international seasonal workers. 

While hotels may be reopening - because of the complicated COVID environment - a lot of international travel is still prohibited. For this reason, seasonal properties are facing a seriously significant labor shortage. As noted in a recent Skift article, “pandemic restrictions on international travel and uncertainty on when that might lift likely means another year without this crucial workforce.”

Bottom line: even if a property is looking to staff up and spend more money on labor, they may not be able to find it. Technology offers an opportunity to fill in the gaps by allowing managers and operators to identify and fill in gaps and more effectively communicate with staff and guests. 

 

Hoteliers are ‘doing more with less’ through integrated technology

Hotel technology (especially contactless technology) enables hotel staff to efficiently wear multiple hats. Throughout the hotel, with the help of ALICE, roles can become more fluid - staff will be asked to cover more ground, adhere to new procedures, and work with smaller teams. Hotel management software streamlines staff communication - eliminating the risk of losing paper notes and ensuring that departments and the entire hotel are aligned. With ALICE, all team members can find all the notes and tickets in the same place for each request. 

In addition to the right technology, hoteliers need trustworthy, reliable, prompt support throughout the process - from software implementation to training to optimization. That’s the role of our ALICE Customer Success “A Team”.  The A Team are hotel whisperers; they help you listen & understand where to take action. 

ALICE is the solution for any hotel hoping to smoothly reopen their doors and thrive in the new post-COVID world. Want to learn how ALICE can help your hotel deliver full guest service with a lean staff? Schedule a demo today!

ALICE Hotel Technology Schedule Demo

 

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Sam Evers

Chief Strategy Officer, ALICE