Covid has hastened the adoption of technology, so make sure you use it correctly while keeping your people skills personal, says Matthew Margetts.
The automation of processes throughout your hospitality business can help you save money and increase efficiency, even in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic. In fact, Covid-19 has likely accelerated the adoption of automation in your sector.
Smart technology allows a lot of mundane tasks associated with compliance issues to be automated. Examples include checking the temperature of fridges, ensuring that waste bins are not overfilled, listening to fire alarm tests and looking at the flow of guests through common areas to inform cleaning rotas.
Other repetitive tasks also present opportunities for automation, including loading and unloading dishwashers, slicing vegetables in preparation for foodservice, carrying food and drinks from the kitchen to a table, and lifting crates and putting products into storage.
How do I make the most of my human resources?
In an age of potentially fewer staff working with the same number of guests and rooms, you can seek to improve productivity through technology that is simple to deploy and acts to reduce the workload quickly. By leveraging workflow automation for specific business tasks, you can free up your employees' time to focus on your customers.
Investing in innovative technology can also help an industry with a typically high staff turnover to successfully manage and retain frontline workers.
What are the benefits of proactive and predictive maintenance?
Smart automation allows business owners to be proactive by ensuring that key equipment such as air conditioners are not rattling or misfiring. Maintenance can be carried out on a proactive basis and staff know ahead of time the problem they are going to fix.
Take, for example, some work we did with a five-star hotel. In one of the hotel's quiet reception rooms, the air conditioner sounded like a jumbo jet taking off. No one noticed it until a guest complained, and no one had checked the maintenance of the unit, which was mechanically unsound. A smart sensor would have picked this up and alerted the management team before it compromised the guest experience.
How can I enforce social distancing by default?
Automating functions that were previously done in-person allows your business to enforce social distancing, reduce human interaction and minimise contact between guests and hotel staff.
- auto-deployed sanitation, such as bots that kill bacteria using ultraviolet light;
- using contactless technology (such as mobile apps and digital keys) to enable guests to check in and out;
- smart temperature-checking cameras for automated access control, based on an individual's temperature and/or facial recognition;
- allowing customers to place orders on an app rather than with waiting staff; and
- potentially using robots to provide meals to guests in appropriate settings.
In the fast food sector, McDonald's has already installed automated servers that allow customers to place their order on a touchscreen rather than through a customer service assistant.
These technologies not only promote social distancing, but can also enhance the customer experience by making processes faster and more seamless. Promoting automation may also boost consumer confidence, as hotels and accommodation providers strive to prove that they are clean and safe in a Covid-conscious age.
The stats also speak for themselves. According to Oracle's 2019 Hospitality Benchmark Report, 90% of respondents stated that the guest experience could be improved using smartphones to manage basic services such as booking a room and managing the check-in and check-out process.
As the hospitality industry adapts to new working practices brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and technology advancements, smart automation is coming to the forefront as leaders in the industry become increasingly aware of its potential and profitability.
Matthew Margetts is director of sales and marketing at Smarter Technologies
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