Mobile technology has transformed the guest experience: from snappy online bookings to poolside ordering, hotel customers have benefitted from significant investments in innovation over the past five years. The employee experience, by contrast, has remained largely static. And yet that same technology, already pervasive in their personal lives, offers the opportunity to transform the employee experience. In turn, that promises to take the guest experience to the next level. The employee technology transformation is finally beginning.
The hospitality industry continues to suffer from two pervasive and related problems: low employee engagement and high employee turnover. No position is immune to the trend: general managers have demonstrated an equal propensity, on a per capita basis, to quit their jobs as housekeepers and restaurant servers. According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the turnover rate in the nation’s hospitality segment rose to 72.1 percent in 2015, up from 66.7 percent in 2014—the fifth consecutive year of turnover rate increases.
These trends are not surprising to hotel operators and area managers who deal with operational and financial realities every day. High turnover rates are not only costly and inefficient, but they also translate to poor customer service. After all, employees who are not invested in their jobs are often disengaged and less likely to deliver excellent customer experiences, which equates to a potential 20-percent loss in annual revenue growth.
By definition, high turnover rates also mean a constant flow of new employees. Many workers receive rushed or minimal training, which not only sets these employees up for failure, but also puts the hotel brand at risk. Negative customer experiences can have an impact not only on the individual hotel but also on the associated chain or franchise of hotels. Eighty-nine percent of consumers now report that they will stop doing business with a brand after a single bad experience, a trend associated with the millennial mindset.
Well-trained and informed employees make a huge difference for hotels that are focused on operational excellence. The challenge lies in bringing short-term employees up to speed quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality. Workers must be provided the tools and information they need to answer customer questions, follow company policies, and uphold brand standards. Forward-thinking hotel chains and franchises are looking to mobile technologies for an answer.
Value of Mobile Enablement
Employee engagement starts by providing both new hires and current employees with interactive, mobile-ready standard operating procedures (SOPs) and job aids. For many hotels, that requirement means replacing paper binders and PDFs with searchable digital apps and communication tools that are accessible on any mobile device.
- Sample challenge: Many employees never read or fully comprehend onboarding information contained in paper binders or PDFs, especially during a rushed training process. Workers are left unequipped to answer even the most basic questions from customers, and they never return to those resources.
- Mobile answer: Employees who can pull out a mobile device and instantly search across critical reference guides, operational information and hotel promotions are much more likely to feel empowered in their jobs and provide successful customer experiences.
Many hotel and hospitality workers are employees without desks. With a mobile enablement platform created specifically for deskless workers, the answer to any question is just a swipe away. Real-time updates ensure that employees always access the most accurate version of the hotel’s policies, procedures, and promotions.
Embedded analytics provide insights into usage by employees, managers, and hotel locations, which makes it easy to measure content effectiveness, employee engagement and operational consistency. These insights allow hotels to make adjustments to onboarding, training, and content when necessary and to address issues with workers who are not utilizing the materials.
Employees empowered with mobile content consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences. With the summer travel season upon us soon, now is the time to solve one of the biggest challenges facing hotels and the hospitality industry by providing employees with the knowledge they need—right in the palm of their hands.
Matt MacInnis is the founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Inkling, a mobile enablement platform for deskless workforces.