Hua Hin BizTalk: Converging to modern technology in the hospitality industry

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By Richard Mehr

There’s no doubt that the working world has shifted. For better or for worse, every person in the workforce must now continuously add value, not only to the work they are doing but to the experience that customers have while interacting with them and their product.

Customers today want the whole package: stellar service from beginning to end. There is too much competition out there today to offer anything less than service excellence. How well we do at creating and increasing this value can be the difference between future success and future failure.

Nowadays, hospitality industry experts are recommending steps forward into a ‘new future’ and adapting to the new norms.

It is imperative for small and middle-sized hotel owners, management companies and hotel operators to analyze the past and present situation before jumping into an uncertain future.

It is unquestionable that the domestic market will remain the bread and butter of many hotels in the Kingdom for a long time to come. Those thinking that the international mass-market will return suddenly, the moment all restrictions are removed, remain overly confident, although there are increasing hopes to see changes take place soon.

It is difficult to predict the future! Many countries, including Thailand, are still fighting the pandemic, add to this, the sad and tragic war in Ukraine, the fulgurant increase in fuel prices and more… No one can be certain of what the remaining 8-months of 2022 will bring to all of us, we can only hope for better days to come.

It will take time before international business returns to an acceptable level in Thailand, our focus for the years to come is the domestic market.

Industry leaders, politicians and opinion key leaders must stop feeding false hopes to the society in regards to ‘an eventual return’ of the international tourism within the next few-months, it’s unlikely to happen.

Diversification, innovation, adaptability, outstanding customer services and modernisation are keywords that will define the future of any companies and this will be primarily with the domestic market.

Hotels & resorts are fighting daily to get customers through their doors, by offering attractive rates to increase occupancies, which in return significantly reduces their margins.

The hotel industry has ‘lightened’ its workforce at all levels to minimise costs but now are being hampered in its recovery by a shortage of labor and skilled labor, which impacts the quality of service; slow follow-up, poor service mindset, infrequent preventive maintenance, bad communication, swift promotional changes, not only affect the customer experience, but definitely add stress to the employees who have to cover these gaps in their respective departments.

The lack of manpower creates gaps at the service level which can be resolved with the introduction of modern technology, helping overcome the overload of work whilst optimising planning, service and information and reducing staff turnover.

Converging to digital technology will help increase margins, even though rates have been reduced and will carry out in the future when business resumes, enabling the hospitality industry to keep a core team of employees without overloading them with work.

This in turn will help manage their energy costs efficiently, respond rapidly to customer needs, increase customer satisfaction, promote better communication inter and intra departments, provide them with instant information which will enable them to review their marketing strategies and get a full picture of how well their properties are performing.

The food & beverage sector in particular, is the best example where changes have been witnessed, much of this tech is already in place, particularly on the restaurant side, although the lessons learned over the past year and a half are applicable across the entire hospitality sector.

An unprecedented public health and safety threat, COVID-19 rapidly accelerated the demand for contactless technology. In a matter of months, many traditional touch points within the dining experience were utterly transformed by the widespread implementation of QR code digital menus, self-ordering, and self-payment options accessed via smartphones. This is the new normal.

Guests haven’t just adapted to it, they have come to expect the convenience of all of this consumer-facing technology, which bridges their own personal devices and those of the venue.

Whether it’s table service or room service, guests like to have options when it comes to ordering, modifying orders, or paying—whether that’s directly through servers or by using their own phones or a venue’s built-in tablets.

Digital transformation has changed the guest experience, and it also has the power to transform the role of the hospitality employee into one that is less frantic, more fulfilling, and potentially more appealing to job-seekers.

Rebuilding the hospitality workforce is a complex challenge, and it won’t be solved by simply luring workers in with promises of signing bonuses.

Digital technology can help by freeing staff up from some of their more traditionally mundane tasks and allowing them to focus on customer service in its truest sense.

Creating a more engaging and rewarding work environment for employees pays dividends for employers, too, by reducing the cost of hiring, training, and retaining staff.

But any digital and technology enhancements and additions will have large shoes to fill for cash-strapped hotels which are physical places that evoke human emotions.