Originally featured on Hotel Executive – https://www.hotelexecutive.com/feature_focus/5679/how-to-effectively-train-for-the-coming-hotel-technology-boom

The Internet of Things has fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with businesses.

This could not be more apparent than in the hotel, resort and casino industries. In a hyperconnected world, one where guests have expectations of doors opening based on smart watches, and minibars asking the front desk to restock themselves in real time, it’s critical for hotel leaders to understand the shifting mindset of the customers walking through the door.

For example:

  • Hotels are implementing a wide range of streaming devices to appease ‘cord cutters,’ guests who have eliminated cable in favor of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video.
  • Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, both of which are smart speakers that can be activated by voice, are becoming commonplace in hotels. These smart speakers are intuitive to use, and replace any number of amenities a hotel can provide (wake up calls and alarm clock for instance, are rapidly being replaced).
  • Many hotels have implemented smart thermostats in their room in order to give guests easier control over setting and maintaining temperatures. As an ancillary benefit, hotels can easily control the temperature of vacant rooms, making it so these units quickly pay for themselves with incremental savings.

For hotel recruiters and property leaders, it is critical to be abreast of these technological shifts, and understand how it might impact a property’s guest experiences. This is also true of the candidates interviewing for roles within a property or organization. The knowledge of the technology required for each department to be successful will give hotel leaders a greater understanding of the knowledge successful candidates will be required to have. This same information becomes more critical for training and enablement programs across properties. Below are three things to focus on when finding the right candidates in the age of IoT.

Hiring managers should go through each candidate’s technology knowledge and their familiarity with technology stacks. Interviewers should always ask the candidates what software and apps they used at the beginning of their career or when technology became necessary for them to deliver the expected guest or customer experience. They should also ask about examples of how technology has become part of a person’s daily routine.

While many candidates will include various software proficiencies in their resume or CV, it’s important to gain an understanding of a candidate’s comfort level with technology, as well as their progression using various software and their thoughts behind software and devices. Some common questions to consider might be:

  • How did software and device upgrades help or hurt their daily routine?
  • Can they give examples of software or devices that improve a customer experience?
  • If they could solve one issue through technology, what would it be?

This last question can be particularly helpful, allowing a candidate to show how they think about the technological world, as opposed to trying ascertain which software packages they do or don’t know. Due to the explosion of largely intuitive tech in the hospitality space, being able to envision a new approach is often as important as being able to use a particular system, which can be addressed in training.

Another key benefit to getting a candidate’s software proficiency is to understand the level of training they will need. A candidate whose experiences generally align with results and common knowledge of the products a property uses may have an easier on-boarding process than someone with less technical skill. In other words, if the candidate has heavily relied on a product that is similar to what’s used at the property then ramp up should be quicker. That isn’t to say a candidate with less technical background should be ignored, only that it should be a consideration based on where a hotel is, especially during peak seasons.

A candidate’s thoughts and usage of social media is also important. One who seems excited about how social media has transformed communication and marketing might be more ready to address guests who expect digital communications beyond receiving a receipt via email. Thousands of properties are communicating with guests via email, SMS and social media. Even though a large number of people are nostalgic for the gone days of being able to correct an issue with a guest in the morning, that is not where we are today. Candidates must have a clear understanding that monitoring social media by using reputation software is key.

What’s happening now from PMS to CRM to IBE to CRS to RM to [insert hotel acronym-] is transformative and rapid. While familiarity with a particular software is important, especially if it’s the same software used at the property, the ability to demonstrate flexibility may actually carry more weight. A candidate who runs into technology such as chat bots to order food or to pay bills should easily be able to explain to a guest how to navigate the system a property is using.

The most important factor might be how the candidate feels about software and devices, as opposed to their level of ability. For properties that have implemented multi-year SaaS offerings, it’s likely that the interface will change over time as the vendor provides upgrades. For hotels who are looking to find the right mix through trial and error, the ability to quickly shift between digital tasks and services will add value to a property.

As such, it’s important for almost everyone to keep up to date with professional trends, including technology. Tech savvy candidates will have an understanding of industry’s regularly used apps, devices and software. Hiring managers should dig deep into into what apps, CRMs, chatbots, revenue management software, reputation management and any other software and platforms with which a candidate has familiarity. For candidates coming from another industry, this information can inform a hotel leader of how simple the transition might be. For instance, a candidate who knows Hootsuite, a popular social media tool, should be able to pick up other social media tools that a property is using to engage guests.

It’s also important to know what apps, websites and devices they are recommending to guests. These are preferred for a reason, so hiring managers should understand what a potential new hire might recommend to a guest. Depending on the candidate’s roles this can be very different, and perhaps intimidating. An early adopter candidate who delves deep into why facial recognition on an iPhone is a bad idea is just as likely to hinder a guest’s experience as one who’s never sent a text message. Learning what apps and other software a candidate regularly relies on in their daily life outside of work can help a hiring manager gain insights into how much technology is present in their lives.

Finally, an interest in continued learning is important. Candidates that are truly open to learning will be happy to train (attitude is always important). Hiring managers should find out how a potential hire learns about new products and how they liked training programs in their current and past roles. In the interview, hirers can discuss the training programs and continued learning options in depth, querying how a candidate might feel about the company’s efforts to keep employees in the know. A candidate that has created an app at school or likes to fiddle with devices may have an easier time explaining devices and apps to guests. A candidate that has no interest in technology may have difficulty and take quite a bit of time when continuously needing to explain to guests how to use devices or use an app. Again, depending on the time of year in a hotel’s booking cycle,

With hospitality recruiting, the most important thing to always keep in mind is fit. Does a candidate fit the brand and team as it is today and as leadership wants it to be in the future? If brought on board with the team and technology “as is,” will they be successful? Hiring managers must be able to balance tech-savvy with Regardless of background, for any successful team, continuous training will need to be made available often. Without training employees can stall and the property can seem unprepared and behind the times. As technology and property demands change, excitement about how to make the property and guest experience better with a smile will always be key.

 

Originally featured on Hotel Executive – https://www.hotelexecutive.com/feature_focus/5679/how-to-effectively-train-for-the-coming-hotel-technology-boom

twitter // LinkedIn // facebook

Leave a Reply