How to manage hotel staff

Having great leadership is always important to build team engagement, but it plays an even bigger role during a crisis. This may sound straightforward, but especially when you are navigating uncertain times, it can feel challenging.

To help you show true leadership now, three experts in the hospitality, learning and employee development fields share their top tips with you in this article. This can put you in a tricky situation when your hotel has to furlough or let go of team members and you need to manage the situation effectively all while remaining compassionate.

Doing this is a great starting point when you know you might have to prepare your employees for the worst. It allows you to build your team’s trust in communication and your ongoing support. This is the key to keeping up motivation and engagement even during a crisis.

This is true for employees who stay on board and those you’ve had to furlough or put on temporary leave. Connor Vanderholm, Area Director of Revenue Management most recently with Hersha Hospitality Management, outlined how his company stays in touch with staff via emails and text messages to show them they are still a valued part of the team. Handwritten notes were sent to those who had been laid off, a gesture which was much appreciated.

Keeping your team motivated

During a crisis, keeping your team motivated and engaged is more important than ever. You can do this in simple ways like encouraging your team to get involved in what you’re doing to save your business. That way you give them a sense of ownership of the situation and you may even be surprised by the great ideas your staff has.

Projects or initiatives you could launch include community support projects, brainstorming ideas on saving costs and improving operations at your hotel or helping team members find ways to support each other, be it at home or in the workplace.

Prepare to relaunch your hotel

Pending the opening of borders and therefore of international tourism, the decompartmentalization of regions and the gradual reopening of businesses planned for June 2020 are the two bases on which the operators of accommodation establishments will be able to concentrate their efforts.

As a result, managers will have to develop a plan based on domestic markets and hyper-local clientele: families and friends who will have a strong desire to meet after several weeks of isolation and business trips between and intra-regional could prove to be prime targets for recovery.

For this, create family, meet & greet or reunion packages and think of developing corporate rates for companies whose activities have resumed or will resume in the coming weeks. With all the international business events that have been canceled, it is possible that some companies may wish to meet for a strategic retreat in their community and that they may wish to encourage hotel establishments in their region. Some even suggest privatizing entire premises for establishments that are able to offer this type of option.

It can be strategic for associations to coordinate the recovery with their members to ensure that prices are not pulled down. Positioning the destination and playing as a team, between hoteliers, could prove to be a long-term winner.

Initial signs of travel industry

According to BVA BDRC, nearly 40% of consumers polled plan to book an accommodation, whether a hotel or vacation rental, within the next three months. In addition, providing clear communication on cleanliness measures should be top of mind for accommodation providers. Here are points for accommodation partners to consider:

  • More than 50% of respondents expect hand sanitizer to be available throughout the hotel and enhanced cleaning regimes;
  • Forty percent of respondents expect staff to wear protective gear, such as face masks;
  • Vacation rental guests similarly expect new cleaning standards, with more than 50% expecting hand sanitizer on property;
  • Nearly half also expect a company-wide cleanliness standard for vacation rentals comparable to hotels. 

Price consciousness is top of mind during trip planning

Expedia Group search data shows a 9-point increase from mid-April to mid-May in the number of searches for 2-star hotels, with 3, 4 and 5-star hotel searches down, indicating that lower price points are a factor in booking decisions. This value consciousness is further supported by BVA BDRC research showing a 57% increase from April to June in intent to use an online travel agency to book a trip, with 73% saying their reasoning is to get the best nightly rate. To meet traveler expectations on price, hotels should consider adding flexible rates and promotions to draw attention to their listings. 

Travelers take the wheel in the near-term

According to the BVA BDRC survey, more Americans are considering traveling by car this year for their next vacation, up 20% year-on-year. Traveler interest in motorhomes and campervans is also on the rise, while trains, ships and planes are down approximately 25% to 35% from last year. Only 15% of consumers polled plan to book a flight for a trip in the next month, with around 1 in 10 showing interest within the next one to three months. With drive-to destinations on the rise, hoteliers should consider marketing strategies to attract customers within a 250-mile radius.

The path towards customer-centricity

Customer-centricity – or guest-centricity – should be one of the major concerns of managers in the hospitality industry. In fact, in my experience, when interviewing or engaging with hotels directors on this topic, almost all of them have the perception of being fully guest-centred. This is very interesting as our industry needs really to cater to guests during all the stages of their customer journey. However, looking at the academic literature in the field, what appears clear is that there is scant evidence of organizations really addressing customer-centricity in every aspect of their service delivery and operations. Often there is a glaze of cosmetic customer-focus towards the clients, but actually the organization is not really examining the question properly.

Customer-centricity deals with a deeply embedded mindset and norms that make customer relationships the top priority within a hospitality organization. Being serious about this issue means to redefine the whole organization’s orientation and culture, encouraging employees at all levels to engage with customers, generating value for them and for the establishment. Focusing on the hospitality industry, it is possible to argue that often the success of these particular businesses resides in the differential value the organization is able to provide to their guests, thanks to relationship-building and personalization of certain aspects of the service.

One of the seminal academic pieces on customer-centricity (published in 2006 entitled “The Path to Customer Centricity”) describes the areas of intervention for achieving customer-centricity in practice: (i) leadership commitment; (ii) organization realignment (i.e. cultural and operational shift); (iii) systems and process support and (iv) revised metrics (i.e. key performance indicators).

Essential hotel marketing strategies

Running a hotel is a demanding venture that requires you to invest a lot of energy and become a Jack-of-all-trades sort of multitasker that can handle complaints and strike big deals with prominent players in the field of tourism – all within the same day.

Of course, you’d need some help to make this happen, but the gist of it is – you have to assume an outgoing and vivacious persona to impress both your potential business partners and your customers alike.

Now, when it comes to the creative aspects of this, how you’re going to build your company’s brand is entirely up to you. That said, there are still some strategies that you need to employ in order to channel these ideas and solutions of yours in an efficient way.

In this article, we’re going to talk about these strategies and list a couple of essential ones that you cannot afford to miss out on. The great thing about these is that they work no matter what sort of hotel business you’re running. So, you can rest assured that if you follow these, you won’t be making a mistake.