The hotel industry is under pressure. Hotels have to compete with accommodation solutions like AirBnB, forcing them to provide superior service and consistency to guests. And that’s where the second problem comes in: it has become increasingly challenging to meet that demand due to rising skill shortages and turnover rates. So, how can hoteliers enable their workforce to elevate guest experience? With AI-driven scheduling.
A warm welcome, smooth check-in and clean rooms: they are factors are among many that contribute to the customer experience of your hotel guests. They expect a level of service and it’s up to hoteliers to meet these expectations immediately, especially in an era where they’re only one click away from a bad review. Accommodating these needs can put a serious strain on employees, making them more fatigued, stressed and lowering employee satisfaction. This is something hotels can’t afford. Not only do unhappy employees perform worse, they are also more likely to quit the job and seek their happiness elsewhere – leaving hoteliers with less employees to properly service guests. It’s a vicious cycle they need to get out of.
One way to break that cycle and provide sophisticated guest experiences is by starting to improve employee satisfaction and effectively countering what the hotel industry is notorious for: fluctuating demand and stressful working environments.
Demand will always be fluctuating, but this doesn’t mean hoteliers cannot brace themselves for it. That preparation starts with forecasting demand and scheduling employees to meet that demand without crossing lines. Fortunately, there are solutions that can help with that in the most compliant and cost-effective manner.
Step one to optimise the employee scheduling process is to accurately forecast how many guests and rooms you can expect at a given time. Traditionally, forecasts tend to be inaccurate. This is due to the fact that hotels are located in different environments and subject to different external factors like local events, promotions and seasonality, that are often not taken into account. This inaccuracy makes it harder to adequately price hotel rooms and plan employees effectively. A solution like labour demand forecasting can help hoteliers to accurately forecasts demand and determine the required headcount to perfectly cover demand. Not only will you minimise surprises by knowing how many guests and rooms you can expect, you’ll also get a breakdown of how many of each type of employee, like receptionists, cleaners, cooks, etc., you’ll need to service those guests.
Next up is the step with a great potential for improvement: employee scheduling. This step actually consists of two sub-steps: 1. creating shifts and 2. assigning employees to those shifts. As mentioned before, hotel employees often work in suboptimal conditions which can be blamed on the sheer nature of the industry. Long working hours, back-to-back shifts and a lack of breaks are common and a threat to the well-being of your employees and thus the quality of their service to guests. A simple solution would be to only create shifts that forbid these kind of practises. But how do you make sure to meet demand?
When demand is known, advanced employee scheduling tools can create the exact amount of shifts for every employee type that perfectly covers demand. It will always comply to relevant business rules and local labour laws, including when breaks should be taken and the maximum length for every shift type. Furthermore, hotels can calculate the impact of reducing and adding shifts on cost and service levels. For example, hotels that strive to diminish waiting time can add extra shifts for receptionists and waiters for a given time interval, like when more guests arrive at the same time – and vice versa. Results are employees that aren’t fatigued and in full capacity to finish their shifts with full productivity.
As soon as shifts are created, it’s time to assign employees to those shifts. Hotels that care about employee satisfaction should honour the needs and preferences of their employees when scheduling them. This becomes more challenging when the number of employees grows. Some might prefer to work during school hours while others don’t mind working at night or overtime. So how can hoteliers juggle this? They can use automated shift filling solutions to match employee preferences to shifts and make different combinations of employees, while reducing shift premiums and complying to labour laws. For instance, depending on the local labour laws, this could mean that employees will never be scheduled to work back-to-back or working three night shifts in a row without some time off after. Making schedules in this manner reduces costs, maximises compliance and shows respect towards employee needs, which in turn results in greater customer service.
Strong competition and seemingly unavoidable working conditions are key factors that hurt employee satisfaction and their ability to elevate guest experiences. To help hoteliers lighten up employees’ work, Widget Brain offers a set of individual solutions that help them optimise their workforce planning process. These solutions are plugged into your current WFM systems which shortens development cycles and won’t interrupt current workflows. You can learn more about our solutions here.