April 5, 2022
The hospitality industry has proven to be highly resilient and adaptable, particularly over the last two years. Unprecedented times have resulted in positive movements and innovations in a new era. That’s helped organizations move beyond the status quo, and to generate new visions for what they can accomplish.
But what does the future look like as hospitality leaders come to terms with ever-evolving consumer trends, technology innovations, and how those forces converge to shape the future? We talked with Mike Dickersbach, Vice President Global Hospitality Services at Infor, to get his perspective on the current industry landscape in a new era. Here’s what he had to say.
Planning for what the next version of normal will look like
How have recent times shaped our current era and what are some of the most important activities right now for hospitality leaders to consider as they move forward?
The pandemic hit everyone hard. But what we saw frequently going into 2021 was a lot of forward thinking. There have been a significant number of businesses that took the downtime to re-evaluate how they use technology. They asked themselves and their teams about changes they could implement to make better use of new and existing technologies. Basically, they turned disruption into a chance to rethink things in a constructive way.
That type of thinking has helped several players to look past the pandemic and essentially open up to customers with a new lease on their business. That includes new processes, streamlined business operations, and cost savings from the work they spent on technology projects for when we eventually meet what the next version of normal will be. The time is still right to get ahead of that and perform an internal audit of potential pain points and vulnerabilities that exist and realize a business case to improve operations and focus on other key business objectives, too.
Hospitality industry labor and technology
What are the areas in the industry that represent the most opportunities for streamlining operations and what role does technology play in pursuing them?
I think without a doubt, everyone is looking at staffing. The crux of that question is around establishing the most practical and scalable way to run a hotel more efficiently given the current pool of available staff. What we know is that it takes x amount of people to run a hotel and that those metrics now assume a blend of straight labor and technology. That mix has helped to reduce the total amount of FTEs that are required.
Technology will continue to play a role in augmenting the staffing model. Yes, that includes robots to some degree, which we are just now starting to see in practical contexts. What we know is that automating certain aspects of the business – whether that is allowing check in from a kiosk or personal device or delivering room service via robotics – reduces labor costs to various degrees. Having a business model built on efficiencies that incorporates technology solutions and functions can help reduce some operating costs.
Hospitality leaders – proactively responding to consumer trends and behaviors
As technology and consumer culture continue to inform each other, what kinds of conversations do you feel that decision-makers should be having with their teams about how to best appeal to guests over the next year?
These conversations start at the ownership and/or brand level. In global terms, there are many things the hospitality industry is trying out just to see what fits best. Keep in mind though, what may fit an economy style hotel, may not necessarily be the right approach in a luxury hotel. With that said, some things that some hotel groups are asking include – “do I still need a to subscribe to a television plan in my guest rooms?” I think the answer is mixed. But I am willing to bet at some point soon the answer is going to be no on that particular point.
Since the move on the consumer level has been to cut cable cords and go with cloud-based TV and subscriptions services, the logical conclusion for many hotel groups is simply – “why do we need linear TV services in guest rooms? Maybe we just need to provide a TV for guests to cast to, using their own mobile devices and app log-ins”. This is just one example of how hospitality leaders are examining and thinking through what modern guest preferences really are, and then proactively creating an environment – digitally and physically – to support them.
Mobile-friendly functions and processes in the modern hotel
What about other shifts toward mobile technology and guest preferences toward it?
We have already seen the mass transition to mobile locks that allow guest phones to unlock the door. But we will need to continue to follow, develop, and plan for evolving mobile trends in general. This currently includes allowing the guest to use their mobile device to pay at the desk, restaurants, vending, or even provide pool or entertainment access.
One other hot button is giving service teams the tools to access the platforms that they already use on a daily basis. That means making sure your hotel PMS can run on android, IOS, and be accessible via the PC sitting in the corner – whatever and wherever. It means empowering teams with a greater sense of freedom to be mobile themselves – serving guests anywhere. In terms of PMS functionality, perhaps that means removing the line to the front desk as a barrier, or at least diversifying ways that guests can access services beyond it.
We have seen this trend toward mobile and how it encourages greater fluidity in terms of service and access for years now. It has been slow, but now it’s gaining speed. This is particularly relevant at a time when contactless processes and minimal face-to-face time has become a part of creating comfort for many people. Comfort is a big reason why the hospitality industry exists at all. Mobile technology is playing an important part in defining what that means.
Your own journey in a new era
Many thanks to Mike Dickersbach of Infor for his insights here.
What do you think of some of the issues and trends Mike has raised here?
What are some of the shifts in the landscape that have affected how your organization has developed strategy and roadmaps in the last year?
What plans and projects do you have in the works that will help your hotel business continue to adapt and evolve?
Infor is interested in your story. We invite you to connect with us to talk about it.