Things are Changing
Not only are the way hotels managed changing, but so is its workforce. These days millennials rule, and they expect the systems they utilize to match the technologies they’re familiar with.
Did you know?
35% of people working in America are millennials? They’re now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
In real numbers that’s 56 million millennials (those aged 21 to 36 in 2017) working or looking for work. Pew also reports 53 million are Generation Xers, while there are 41 million baby boomers still working.
Millennials grew up with technology in a wholly different way than prior generations. This group never knew a time without the internet, making them digital natives. Older folks are called digital immigrants since these individuals had to adapt to new technologies. It makes younger people more adept at technology in the same way Generation X kids could set the time of the VCR where their parents left it blinking 12:00.
Cloud-based Systems are Increasing Functionality
Fortunately, a smartly conceived hotel operations platform such as a cloud-based property management system is designed to increase employee functionality by using technology to which they’re accustomed.
“With 24/7 [mobile] access to our properties, we can make adjustments at any time,” said Peter Allen, Director of IT with Shilo Inn. “Mobile access has enhanced not only the guest experience but also work productivity for our staff because it’s so much easier for them to use. There’s nothing more frustrating than having systems that can’t be accessed because of an internet outage, which happens quite often with some of our properties on the Oregon and Washington coast. Mobile access has made the experience for the associates so much better. We often talk about the guest experience, but you can’t have a good guest experience if you don’t also have a good associate experience. Our regional managers love having a mobile platform that gives them the ability to access our properties anytime, anywhere. It’s been a great advantage.”
Take employee training. With an average turnover rate of 4.6% per month through May 2018 this year, according to the Department of Labor, keeping employees in the job is essential.
Training time is reduced with cloud-based systems because many are intuitive to operate, even for new employees. That means training is less complicated for millennials, lowering training time to as little as two shifts to get a new employee oriented. After just a single shift, some report newly hired front desk agents rely less on a general manager having to support their efforts. Older legacy-based systems are often harder to operate, and often leads to employee dissatisfaction.
But the real magic created by the cloud is the ability for operational transformation via mobile technology. When tapping into the power of a cloud-based PMS, decision makers needn’t be at the property to keep the property running smoothly. They simply need to connect to the PMS via a mobile device for critical insight.
For example, a quality web-based PMS provides an on-the-run view at front desk activity, current state of the business and more. It even runs hundreds of reports from which smarter operational decisions can be made on the fly. Mobile functionality allows management to get out of the office and run their business while living their lives off property. Owners become more efficient since they needn’t be on site to complete tasks.
“Everybody is on the go. Our managers aren’t sitting in their offices Monday through Friday, nine to five. They’re seldom at their desks. They’re running around the hotel or they’re out making sales calls. They need real-time access to information, no matter where they are,” said Josie Kilgore, Brand President with Cobblestone Hotels. “They’re not glued to the hotel. They have the freedom to get out and be a part of the community. It’s far more efficient. Ten years ago, if you needed to change your rates in the middle of the night you would have to throw on your clothes and run to the office. Now if I see a sudden rise in occupancy and want to make a rate adjustment, I can simply do it from my laptop or smartphone.”
The housekeeping department also sees money-saving efficiencies. A cloud-based PMS allows managers to arrange housekeeping schedules from home, for example. Also, with a mobile-ready PMS, housekeeping staff always knows which rooms are occupied, which ones must be cleaned immediately, and what rooms can be put back into service next. Before, staff wasted precious on-the-clock time determining which room should be cleaned next. Now, the PMS immediately knows, eliminating the need for excess conversations between housekeeping and the front desk staff. End result: fewer employee hours to accomplish the day’s tasks.
Additionally, there’s opportunity to connect better with guests. A cloud-based PMS with mobility features can serve up features such as allowing a guest to save their preferences like picking their own room. Hoteliers glean valuable information from this data, allowing them to know their customers better while learning what customers really want for their specific hotel experience.
“We have less turnover because the system is better. [A cloud-based system] allows them to get trained really well, and when they are trained really well, they don’t want to leave. I feel it is helping with employee retention because the system is not intimidating. I came to Cobblestone after departing a retail position where people had a difficult time with the POS. Often, they would get frustrated and quit. That doesn’t happen with SkyTouch. It’s easy to use and if someone makes a mistake, it’s simple to correct,” says Steve Baggett, a general manager for Cobblestone Hotels.
For hoteliers looking for the winning edge, the answer’s clear; cloud-based computing provides more functionality, it’s easier to use and makes life easier for staff. Make the switch and your increasingly sizable millennial staff will thank you through better performance and loyalty.
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