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How Automation can improve processes and enhance HR value in the Hospitality Industry, in Dirhotel

11 Jul 2023
In the newest edition of DIRHotel magazine, Ana Sofia Castelo, General Manager of e-GDS, presents an opinion article. At the invitation of ADHP (Association of Hotel Directors of Portugal), she delves into the practical ways in which automation can effectively assist in optimizing processes and bolstering the value of human resources in the dynamic field of hospitality.

Read the complete article here!

"The valorization of human resources, talent acquisition and retention, work-life balance are central concerns that reveal themselves as critical success factors today. At a time when we are experiencing an unparalleled revolution, driven by technology and artificial intelligence, automation can serve the hotel industry in a fundamental way by assisting in internal processes, operations, distribution, and, of course, human resources valorization.

One of the basic principles of technological adoption lies in the willingness of users, which is greater when they perceive the added value that these technologies can bring to them. And if recent years have tended to soften barriers to technology entry, the question of balance between technology and human resources is now more than overcome: In the face of the current shortage of human resources, it is already these resources that "demand" more technology and better processes.

In fact, there are numerous ways in which technology and automation can be useful in assisting processes and human resources valorization in the hotel industry:

1. Automation of Operations and Security
Today, many routine and repetitive tasks are not efficient without the use of technology! In fact, many are operations that can be automated, freeing up time for hoteliers to dedicate themselves to higher value-added activities, such as customer service! Take, for example, the case of reservation entry between systems, or even secure billing.

2. Automation of Pricing and Availability
Automation in reservation, distribution, and hotel management systems is essential for agile operations, enabling quick sales openings and closures, price changes, special offers, and staying close to the customer! With an automated system, all information can be easily recorded, updated, and accessed, reducing errors and improving efficiency: reducing human errors and interruptions of critical processes and actions such as "a customer has arrived for check-in" or "a guest needs something"!...

3. Improvement of Guest and Employee Experience:
Experience is a keyword today, and automation can contribute to the improvement of both guest and employee experience. For example, an Online Check-In system can allow employees to access guest information in advance and prepare special benefits and programs for them... This provides guests with comfort, convenience, and anticipation that enhance the added value of the stay experience!

4. Data Analysis: At a time when it is undeniable that the center of the hotel business is the guest, customer insights collection and analysis systems can help monitor performance, identify needs, and provide valuable information for continuous improvement and strategic decision-making. And if automation facilitates data collection, analysis, and informed decision-making, it also has other virtues in terms of resource management: it can help identify patterns and trends (that can improve management and operations) while also improving employee satisfaction through their personal experience in the workplace by using the same technology.

5. Systems Integration:
Automation allows the integration of various systems used by different hotel staff into a single platform, facilitating information access and workflow between different processes. An ecosystem that combines, for example, property management, direct reservations, online distribution, digital marketing, and guest relationship management allows for reduced effort, minimized data and process duplication, and improves efficiency and profitability.

However, if suddenly this advent of digital transformation presents automation as a holy grail, it is important to highlight that automation does not completely replace, nor could it ever, human resources in the hotel industry!

The human factor is crucial in providing personalized and quality services to guests. Automation should be seen as a tool to support the activities of human resources, freeing up their time for more strategic tasks and promoting better talent management/retention! Technology, which has been a partner in online distribution from the beginning, has gained another boost in recent years for the hotel industry, driven by changes in social and demographic attitudes as well as increased digital literacy, and has become mandatory for employees and guests in delivering the differentiated experience that the hotel industry needs to provide!

On the other hand, today's market dynamics do not tolerate acquired know-how and require a lot of agility in decision-making! Therefore, a hotelier needs up-to-date information about the market and their business, and must have marketing and e-commerce tools that allow them, for example, to easily create tailored and personalized offerings: Geo-Localized Rates, Mobile Rates, Special Deals, loyalty programs, multiple payment methods, security, a distribution set adapted to their business (OTAs, Wholesalers, Metasearch, etc.) In short: information, planning, decision, and action are only possible at their best through the proper combination of technology and human resources!

We now know that the future will be even more digital and technological than ever before! Valuing human resources and adopting technology with process security ensures that the essence of hospitality is not lost: from people to people! If this premise guides the decisions of hotel managers, technology will be at the service of the hotel industry to deliver the differentiating experience and to respond to the shortage of human resources and the much-needed talent retention!"

Ana Sofia Castelo
in Dirhotel - Associação dos Diretores de Hotéis de Portugal Nº 49 - Apr./May/June 2023

Read the issue number 49 of Dirhotel!"

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