The Most Important Challenges Faced by the Hotel Industry

One of the most affected industries drastically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic is the hospitality industry. While the lifting of restrictions has helped the industry bounce back in some ways, there are still some issues to overcome. But technology just might be the answer to ensuring a quicker solution.

In the first episode of Be Our Guest, host Gabrielle Bejarano spoke with two people who know the industry best — Jeff Aguiar, the Vice President of Partnerships and Business Development at avgo and Kelley Coats, the Senior Director and Head of Commercial Business at SkyTouch Technology. Both Aavgo and SkyTouch are hospitality platforms meant to facilitate day-to-day hotel operations.

Some challenges are just hard to avoid. “I think hoteliers are already focused on these challenges, when I speak with owners they’re focused on finding new ways to drive profitability, specifically they’re looking at … finding new ways to address labor shortages, or how do they control rising labor and operational expenses, while still delivering secure services,” said Aguiar.

“The labor shortage in the hospitality industry has been incredibly resilient through this entire pandemic, and so while from a positive we continue to see pent up demand and probably many of us out traveling,” said Coats.

Coats added how the lack of resources and misconceptions about the field can be a setback in progress but stated that the right tools can play a beneficial part in improving odds. “On the other side, [we] continue to have the challenges of shortage of labor and finding the right talent. And so we’re really trying to help with having the resources, and I think it’s really an opportunity to reinvent the perception of the hospitality industry,” said Coats.

Coats said that the belief that jobs in the hospitality industry offer poor pay and aren’t jobs for career growth is something that needs to be challenged. Employee retention is a major aspect in the functioning of hotels. Aguiar said that companies have robbed themselves of decent retention rates with a mindset that there will always be someone to do the job. As the labor shortage has shown, that is not the case and he said that it actually creates more turnover.

Oftentimes companies in the hospitality industry think pay increases are the main draw factor for new employees. But Aguiar disagrees. I stated that the concerns of employees are one of the things that need to be met alongside salary.

“It’s just not sustainable to nearly ratchet up pay to try to attract and retain employees. I think it’s important that owners, managers, leaders, build a culture and programs that reflect what employees need and want, and ultimately create a great working environment,” said Aguiar.

Not only can hotels review how to attract new staff, but also how to attract new customers. Aguiar added that the expansion of these tools like Aavgo are being used by both high-end and economy hotels — something that normally started with luxury hotels first before reaching others.

“That’s not traditionally been the way in which new technology is adopted. Typically technology, it would start on the upper end segment of the industry, but with our solution we’re seeing the gamut,” stated Aguiar.

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