Summer is finally here and for the hotel industry, the time is now to bring their A game for this peak travel season.
The U.S. leisure travel market alone is expected to grow 6 percent this year, amounting to more than $380 billion by the end of 2017. On the corporate side, almost three-quarters of U.S. travel managers anticipate an uptick in business trips. Accommodating this influx of customers will inevitably entail recruiting more full-time and seasonal hourly employees.
Mass seasonal hiring can come with a number of pain points around onboarding, training and scheduling. With the right employee engagement strategy and solution in place, hotels can overcome the challenges that seasonal staffing and service bring.
A Checklist for Engaging Hourly Hotel Employees
Frontline employees, even those who only work three months out of the year, are hotels’ built-in brand ambassadors. They’re the first people to hear from a dissatisfied customer, and often the first to detect issues in a hotel’s day-to-day operations. Investing in tools and processes that keep hourly employees motivated is an investment in your customer service – and your profitability.
The right employee engagement platform makes it easier for hotels to offer what hourly workers need to be truly engaged, including:
- Collaborative scheduling: Under and over-staffing are expensive problems year-round, but they can have an outsized impact on revenue and employee morale during the hectic summer rush. Unlike with manual scheduling methods, the right digital tool makes shift management a two-way street, resulting in more balanced staffing for managers and employees. An employee engagement app, for instance, can help hotel managers capture workers’ preferred shifts and availability (or their own summer vacation plans). This information can be used to assign more accurate schedules, reducing absenteeism and no-shows as a result. Managers could also use this technology to broadcast open, unfilled shifts, giving employees the autonomy to volunteer for hours that match their needs. By involving the frontline in the scheduling process, hotels can manage summer labor needs more effectively while ensuring employees are happy and engaged.
- Agile training: Hiring seasonal employees doesn’t mean offering part-time or abbreviated training; it means hotels need to get those workers up to speed faster to deliver top-quality customer service. But traditional training methods such as in-person shadowing, workshops and manual instruction are time-consuming for managers and new recruits alike. Shifting hotel employee training materials onto a digital engagement platform minimizes the burden on supervisors, giving employees the opportunity to learn and review material at their own pace, from any device. Taking advantage of online or app-based learning also lets hotels transform training from a dull, mandatory process to an engaging, continuous part of employees’ professional development and education. What once took up pages in a training binder can become a series of short videos and interactive quizzes – formats that improve knowledge retention and can be “gamified” to incentivize ongoing learning.
- Meaningful rewards and recognition: During the frenzied summer season, it’s easy for year-round employees to feel burned out, and for seasonal staff to lose motivation knowing they won’t be around past August or September. An employee engagement platform gives hotel managers the ability to tie tangible rewards (e.g., digital badges, points and physical merchandise rewards) to specific performance metrics such as customer service win, customer feedback, upselling, or completing a certain number of training hours. Rewards not only demonstrate employers’ appreciation for their staff’s effort, they can also be “exchanged” to unlock additional benefits, like the first pick of open shifts. For seasonal workers, these rewards become a transferable record of skills and accomplishments that can set them up for long-term careers in the industry. Recognizing and praising employees’ good work fosters engagement, which ultimately contributes to a greater overall customer experience.
For the hotel industry, a busy summer is a good business problem to have. With the right employee engagement strategy in place, hotel leaders can ensure all employees are prepared for a productive season by making them an active part of day-to-day decision-making and long-term wins.