Mobile Automation: Delivering Better Service with a Lean Staff
As travel and social distancing restrictions begin to be lifted across the globe, hotel brands are finally starting to reopen, and increasing numbers of travelers are finally starting to venture out of their homes.
Unfortunately, the deep budgetary cuts brought on by COVID-19 still linger, and many hotels have been forced to reopen with significantly reduced staff. This dichotomy was captured in a recent survey of almost 500 hoteliers conducted by StayNtouch, ReviewPro and Fuel. While 41% of respondents believed that they would fully recover within the coming year, and 58% said that they were either “confident” or “very confident” that their brand would recover at some point, this came at the cost of broad cuts to staff and budget. In many cases, the scope of these layoffs have been quite severe: about half of the hotels planned on reopening with 25-50% fewer staff members, while 11% were reopening with less than a quarter of their original team.
Of course, none of this means that the requirements for running a successful hotel brand have gotten any easier — if anything, COVID-19 has made it more difficult. Industry associations and even some government agencies are recommending significantly enhanced cleaning and social distancing procedures, while travelers are becoming increasingly sensitive to hygiene and safety concerns.
In order to succeed, hotels will have to learn how to do more with less. More specifically, they must utilize mobile automation to streamline their operations, facilitate guest and staff communication, and enhance the guest experience.
Mobile Technology Can Streamline Back-of-the-House Operations…
A mobile PMS has a number of native features and third-party integrations that can help you get the most out of a lean staff. Because a mobile PMS lets you run your entire hotel from a tablet, your staff can receive updates, communicate with each other, and resolve customer requests wherever they happen to be in the hotel.
This is especially valuable for housekeeping teams who have to implement enhanced hygiene standards while remaining socially distant from guests. To put it simply, the old method of managing housekeeping staff with outdated walkie-talkies and paper lists just won’t cut it in the post-COVID era. A mobile PMS can provide housekeeping with instant occupancy, room status, and guest information, so they can clean more rooms, more efficiently–without violating social distancing by knocking on occupied rooms. The PMS platform can also be integrated with housekeeping checklists, so you can be sure that all of your property’s common touch-points and high-traffic areas are being cleaned according to the exact standards set by the CDC and industry associations.
…And Enhance the Guest Journey
A big advantage of mobile technology is the ability to create a completely contactless guest journey. Guests can check in through their mobile device, or through guest-facing smart-kiosks strategically placed throughout the hotel to promote social distancing. With the right integrations, a mobile PMS can also provide guests with contactless payment and keyless entry, eliminating two of the biggest touch-points (physical currency and keycards) for transmitting germs and essentially automating the check-in/check-out process for a complete digital guest journey.
While this benefits the guest in terms of convenience, personalization and hygiene, it can also be a lifesaver for brands operating properties with limited staff. Instead of having multiple front desk staff performing the same administrative check-in function, you can direct your guests to check in through their mobile device, freeing staff to answer questions, handle requests, or take on other tasks around the property.
Mobility also lets you recoup lost revenue by sending targeted, automation triggered offers for room upgrades, amenities, and early check-in/ late check-out directly to your guests’ mobile device. Guests can take advantage of the offers that they want in the exact moment that they want it, without having to sit through a canned “upsell” conversation at the front desk.
Delivering “No-Touch, Highly Personalized” Service — Even With Limited Staff!
Embracing automation doesn’t mean abandoning your guests to some impersonal “robo-hotel.” With targeted mobile up-sells and mobile guest messaging, you can stay in constant contact with your guests, while giving them the ability to completely personalize their own guest journey.
Mobile messaging lets your staff keep in constant contact with their guests without having to risk actual physical contact. But in addition to convenient and contactless communication, guest messaging greatly enhances the efficacy of each staff member by allowing them to process multiple guest requests at one time, instead of being limited to the “single-serving-service” of analogue phone lines.
While most requests can be processed through contactless interactions, sometimes guests require the physical presence of a staff member. And a mobile PMS can facilitate these interactions as well: Armed with a tablet that let’s them manage their entire property, literally any staff member can assist any guest in any part of the property.
Let Your Staff Break Free From Functional Silos and the Granite Front Desk
The original promise of mobility was to “free your staff from the granite front desk.” Hoteliers shouldn’t be siloed by function, or confined to a specific location in the hotel — they should assist guests wherever the guests happen to be. Ultimately, every hotel brand should have a guest-centric model of service: if a guest needs assistance, a hotelier should be there to serve them, whether virtually or physically. And mobile automation allows hotel brands to maintain this level of guest-centric service even while operating with reduced staff.
Learn more about StayNTouch’s mobile hotel PMS Rover and see how this tool along with Zest Mobile Check-In & Zest Station Kiosk can help change the way you do business while enhancing the guest experience.