ADA Compliance

Like OSHA, ADA compliance is of the utmost importance for hotels. Keeping up to date on the latest ADA regulations and laws can protect hotels from wasting thousands of dollars on lawsuits and fines. In addition, it serves to help maintain a healthy, reputable, and profitable working environment.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that in 2018, over 25.5 million Americans reported having travel-limiting disabilities. And according to a study done by the Open Doors Association in 2015, travellers with disabilities spend upwards of 17.3 billion dollars over the course of a single year. Furthermore, they claim that the number value is closer to double if one includes guardians or other non-disabled travellers who accompany them.

With such a huge amount of money being invested into this market, and travellers expecting to receive proper treatment that is compliant with ADA guidelines, there is a tremendous opportunity for not only personal profit, but the chance to offer disabled travellers better quality service and support to keep them coming back.

There is a common misconception that ADA compliance is cost-inefficient due to the extra utilities and services that are required to accommodate disabled travellers and the seemingly few people who are able to take advantage of them. However, studies have shown that it is not because there aren’t travellers with disabilities, as proven by the numbers mentioned previously, but rather a result of hotels not addressing and promoting said accommodations properly.

The disability travel market is perhaps the hospitality industry most overlooked and untapped market. Far too few hotels and lodging facilities manage to either maintain proper ADA compliance standards or properly market them. Multiple polls done by the Open Doors Association and the Travel Industry Association of America indicate that disabled travellers are willing to spend far more than usual if they know amenities are able to cater to their needs.

Hotels that are proud to be ADA compliant, that actively promote it as part of their brand and duty to guests, and take measures to maintain the standards set forth will find themselves at a tremendous advantage. Especially now, where guest safety and security is at an all time high, there is no better time to establish oneself as a hotel brand with a reputation of putting people first.

And with WrkSpot’s innovative compliance software, we make it as easy as possible to do so. Consistently updated with information on the latest ADA standards, WrkSpot will be the only tool you need to ensure your hotels are fully compliant and ready to accommodate.

It’s time to transform the landscape of the hospitality industry into one that caters to everyone. The future is now, the future is WrkSpot.

WrkOperate: Hospitality industry buckles up to provide a ‘contact-less’ experience

Services that made minimal human contact with humans existed even in the pre-pandemic era. But the importance and need for these services were understood after experiencing the COVID era. This period was revolutionary and transformative for not just one particular business or industry but also the world. With a large number of people locked in their houses, avoiding coming in contact with the virus, travel is at a complete standstill.

The hotel industry across the world has been crippled, what with being unable to conduct business for more than just a few months. Once this phase fades out, people will step out of their homes, but the skepticism to live elsewhere will be held on to. The fear of infection might impact people’s decisions to stay at a hotel. This new phase of living a normal life needs hospitality, too, to gear themselves up and prepare a world that is based on the motto ‘less contact, more hygiene.’

Although hospitality is a generic term for all hotels, not all hotels have the same touchpoints. A report by McKinsey & Company speaks about the IDEA Framework. It says that before you begin setting up your hotel for the post-COVID world, it is primarily essential to understand the core touchpoints and then find solutions for the same.

Let’s take a look at how hotels can buckle up themselves for this new phase of contactless-servicing.

Implementation of PMS
At this moment of hotel transformation, the prime change that a hotel must incorporate is of accommodating Preventative Maintenance Solutions for themselves. Integrating a PMS such as WrkSpot will reduce a lot of physical touchpoints and ensure that operations are functioning smoothly. Once installed, you can manage housekeeping, front desk, maintenance, and even sales and revenue, all at the click of just a button!

Cleaning and Hygiene protocols
The fear of contracting the virus is the prime driver that will have people scurrying back home. Hotels must bear in mind to adopt new and authorized cleaning and hygiene protocols. This means more than merely changing your laundry practices. Some of these include sanitizing guest luggage at the entry point and using electrostatic spraying technology with hospital-grade disinfectants to sanitize surfaces throughout the hotel. This is a recommended protocol by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) and World Health Organization (WHO) to treat known pathogens. Apart from these, all make sure that touchpoints such as door handles, bathroom fixtures, remotes and tabletops maintain sanitization and hygiene standards.

Housekeeping
Gone are the olden days of housekeeping. Welcome to the new world where housekeeping is taken care of with the help of technology. By using Cloud-based IoT (Internet of Things), AI and Property Management Systems, housekeeping can be coordinated with newly-enhanced cleanliness standards. Hotels can either reduce the housekeeping frequency or not conduct housekeeping duties within the guest rooms for the duration of their stay.
Some hotels are coming up with non-technological ways, such as self-cleaning by the guests. The guests are provided with different bags upon arrival to keep their soiled bedding, soiled towels, and trash. When this needs clearance or disposal, guests can text the hotel keeping these bags outside their rooms to be collected by the staff without even entering the room.

Contactless check-in
Undoubtedly check-ins are the first touchpoint that a guest has with the hotel, marking the beginning of their entire in-hotel experience. You can do away with the whole check-in experience by enabling guests to self-check-in through their mobiles. With the help of a PMS software, guests can also be alerted when their room is ready and grant them access to their rooms through mobile keys. All of this eliminates the need to have a reception area or a lobby area as guests can altogether bypass the front desk and simply enter their rooms.

Training of Staff
Bringing about a complete change within the hotel means that the staff working in them will need comprehensive training and skill development. They need to understand how to operate both the PMS and learn to maintain bare to minimum contact with the guests within the hotel premises. Hospitality as an industry prided on personal and customized servicing. Therefore, following the opposite protocol of maintaining distance from guests unless absolutely necessary, may take a while before it’s ingrained within them. Once put to use, it will provide a worry-free experience for the guests staying at the hotel.

Conclusion
Coronavirus has upended the hospitality industry, and hoteliers worldwide are taking the help of technology to open their doors for business. Going beyond automated technology, the demand for Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), chatbots, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is high. It is soon going to become a necessity for hotels looking to build a contactless world for their guests.

Preventive Maintenance Essentials for Housekeeping

Preventative Maintenance

Hospitality is a service industry that needs to be in its best form 24×7 to provide its guests with a comfortable stay. A stay that lets the guest depart with satisfaction so that they not only willingly return to the hotel but also recommend the place to their acquaintances. For a memorable stay, everything within the hotel premises must run like a well-oiled machine so that guests do not face issues at any time during their visit.

For a machine to function smoothly, it needs regular oiling or, in the case of hotels, maintenance, so that all pieces of equipment are functioning efficiently. Preventive Maintenance is performing regular checks on equipment to reduce the likelihood of failure or breakdown in between usages. Regular maintenance of housekeeping can ensure avoiding any embarrassing situations for hotel owners. Such breakdowns lead to increased costs of downtime and causes inconvenience to the guests. Performing Preventive Maintenance requires a thorough knowledge of all equipment and facilities of the hotel. Housekeepers and managers are well aware of these, having worked with them daily. Using this knowledge can help them stay on top things and correct issues, both anticipated and unexpected.
To combat this the best way, hotels must make use of the 80/20 thumb rule here. Using this rule, hotels can plan and divide their maintenance requirements as – 80% of attention given to reducing scheduled fixtures and the remaining 20% for future emergencies. This plan is beneficial in improving the quality of the guests’ stay. Also, being proactive towards Preventive Maintenance helps save on costs that can be spared for future unfortunate mishaps.

Key Areas that need Renewed Maintenance
Guest Rooms: The bedroom is probably the most essential part of a hotel for the guest. It is the first thing they will look at after having traveled a long way. Therefore, entering a bedroom that is tidy and pleasantly fragrant can instantly light up their tired faces. Keeping the current situation in mind, guests stepping into the hotel will be stringent about the hygiene protocol being followed. Ensure that you review your property’s cleaning and sanitization processes regularly. This should then be followed by a run through UV lights and other medical-grade cleaning materials to give the guest nothing but the best.

Air-conditioning: Maintaining the air quality, post lockdown, needs to be prioritized as viruses can be transmitted via air. Air conditioning has been seen as the most common complaint that guests have. The complaints range from the inability of the air conditioning to function at the desired level of the guest to the potential bad odor it may be releasing. Therefore, regular maintenance of air conditioning can help prevent these complaints. It can also bring to light any leaks that might release harmful ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere.

Lighting and Fixtures: A well-lit space can brighten the worst of moods. But if guests were to experience a light fallout amidst their stay, they may only be disappointed. To avoid such a situation, hotels must conduct regular checks to keep their lighting in top conditions.

Heating systems: Maintaining heating systems can be an expensive affair, but they have an immediate impact on a guests’ experience. Ensure to keep a regular maintenance check of the heating systems as leakages in them can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.

Water supply systems: Hotels now need to make sure that the water being used in the hotel properties are in no way dangerous to the health of the guests. Any leaks in the pipes, even the minute ones, can damage the infrastructure and, in turn, ruin the guests’ experience.

Kitchen: Customers are wary of dining out, but if they have stepped into your hotel for a good experience, ensure to provide them with one. One can do this by paying particular attention to the maintenance of all equipment used in the kitchen and ensuring high standards and compliance as per the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). The kitchen staff, too, needs to follow protocols such as wearing gloves, masks and toques at all times to maintain hygiene.

Installing Maintenance Software
Making use of technology as a Preventive Maintenance software provides the managers with extensive control over their hotel’s well being. A software like WrkSpot practically runs the hotel properties with minimal human intervention. Making use of these can smoothen the administrative duties, keep all pieces of equipment in good condition with regular checks when required, and reduce unnecessary costs. Are you impressed with WrkSpot already? Well, there’s more to it. This software automatically schedules regular maintenance without having to worry about them, and it can be managed from anywhere at any time!

Conclusion
To summarise, housekeeping has a direct impact on the customer experience. The housekeeping staff are the ones that look after the needs of the customers closely. They are also the first ones to spot a malfunction and they have direct access to the rooms and its equipment. Regular maintenance of these can ensure that the guests have a smooth and worry-free experience. It also shows the guests that the staff is alert and proactive and cares for their health. In the post-COVID period, it is essential to remember that guests, while stepping out of their safe spots at home, rely on the hotel to not only provide them with a comfortable but also a safe and clean stay.

Implementing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in hotel operations

Disabled Person

An article in the New York Law Journal speaks of the Seyfarth Report for 2019, the findings of which state that yet another year created a record for ADA Title III lawsuits. The ADA Title III prohibits disability-based discrimination in places of public accommodation such as restaurants, movie theatres and schools, etc. New York, alone contributed 2,635 of the total reports filed nationwide. With rules and regulations provided by the American Disabilities Act (ADA), the numbers ought to have reduced over the years. The result, however, has been quite the contrary.

Today, as we stand at the peak of technology and make the lives of those being serviced at hotels better, there should be an ease in the way the disabled are treated. More than 50 million Americans have disabilities, out of which nearly 18% of the population are potential customers for the hotel industry.

Despite the act being established, the staff servicing in these properties aren’t well versed about their role with the disabled, the kinds of fears that the disabled have, displaying awkwardness when confronting them, and have preconceptions or misconceptions. A lack of understanding is equivalent to having little to no knowledge. However, is this really how they are supposed to function?

The ADA implementation in hotel operations

The ADA act comprises five sections in the form of Titles ranging from I-V. These Titles individually provide regulations regarding employment, public services, accommodations, telecommunications, and miscellaneous duties for hotels. As the owner or manager of the hotel, making physical site inspections to audit and ensuring that the property is compliant to the state and federal laws are few of the prime responsibilities.

Ignorance of regulations or instances where ADA hasn’t been complied with, brings heavy fines for the hotel involved. This then displays the hotel as inconsiderate and ignorant, which affects the revenue and reputation.

Some crucial regulations to be to incorporated in the operations for the disabled:

  • For newly built properties, hoteliers must provide basic amenities that can aid the disabled throughout their stay in the hotel. These include parking facilities, swimming pool lifts, check-in counters for wheelchair-accessible public entrances, pathways, ramps and/or lifts and restrooms.
  • For old properties, ensuring the stability of fixtures, placement of pieces of equipment, right angles that provide maximum accessibility are a must-check.
  • In recent times, most customers prefer a digital visit before actually visiting the hotel. Therefore, ensure that the content you put out on your website displays accurate ADA features being offered at your hotel. Also, make sure your online reservation systems are regulated and mobile applications are ADA compliant. Avoid sharing information that can be misleading or false since that can lead to a lawsuit. For example, in California, people with disabilities can question the validity of all kinds of barriers being displayed at the hotel without actually stepping into the premise. Such situations can be a perfect reason that plaintiffs and their lawyers might use to raise ADA lawsuits. This creates a perfect storm for “serial plaintiffs” and their lawyers to survive off of the settlements from ADA lawsuits.

Besides these, the ADA has published new lodging facilities, which you can find here.

Methods to implement ADA

Technology has advanced to the extent that it provides facilities to the disabled that takes them from point A to point B. Today there are software applications like Wrkspot that come with built-in features to ensure that the hotels operate keeping ADA in mind. Wrkspot excels at upgrading your properties to be ADA compliant by taking care of signage issues, parking maintenance, being aware of ADA titles, training the management to act responsibly, and conducting ADA violation checks. Such a software, when used for hotel operations, can massively help to avoid lawsuits.

Another way is the one found by Mr. Peter Slatin, co-founder of the Slatin Media Group, which is the provision of education and training to communicate with disabled customers in compliance with the ADA. Their educational program focuses on providing communication skills for serving guests who are visually-challenged, or have hearing or moving disabilities. They aim to provide a positive and complaint-free experience for such people. Hotels are expected to meet codes for safety and physical accessibility. But the real question is, how many are actually following these norms?

Conclusion
As an owner or a manager of a property, it is your responsibility to understand ADA compliances and its impact on the hotel facilities. Once understood, you must ensure that these are implemented and checked regularly. Your current and the future workforce, too, consists of millennials who need to adhere to ADA compliances. Therefore, it is crucial that as part of the management looking after the property you implement the act, so that the employees emulate it further. Hotels want to bring in these improvements but they must first be willing to do so.

Reputation Management starts with Employee Safety

employee safety

Imagine this: you are a housekeeper at a five-star hotel. One day while you are on duty, a guest asks you to enter their room and give them a massage to earn some extra money. That is an incident that happened to an employee at a hotel in Seattle. Such instances are a regular occurrence in the hospitality sector for people working tirelessly in 12-14-hour shifts every day. Some of the staff at hotels face leering and inappropriate groping by guests or are simply cornered in the hallways. All this while they were trying to earn a decent income!

A report by Unite Here states that approximately 58% of hotel workers and 77% of casino workers have been sexually harassed. Nearly half the staff have had guests answer their doors naked or have been flashed at, and nearly 15% of them have been cornered. Following such drastic numbers, in September 2018, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) announced the 5-Star Promise, a voluntary commitment by its members. It is formed to enhance the existing policies and training given to employees in the industry. By providing safety devices they aim to ensure the safety and security for both the hotel employees and the guests.

The promise is a happy ending for the staff looking for some form of relief through higher authorities. From 17 members in 2018 to today where the numbers have escalated to a good 60-member companies, representing an estimated 20,000 hotel properties have made the pledge. The result? 1.2 million employees will receive protection while on the job. More than 5,000 properties have already deployed safety devices. There is an Electronic Safety Devices (ESD) legislation in New York City, New Jersey, Miami, Illinois, Washington State, Las Vegas, and several other key Californian cities.

Once the panic button or ESD is activated, it sends an alert to the corresponding responder in the form of an SOS. These alerts could inform the respondent about the nature of the situation, location of the incident taking place and instruction protocol for responding to the SOS, depending upon the hotel’s predetermined emergency procedures.

Employee Safety- Need of the Hour
Employees are a part of the workforce whose excellent services bring in revenue and reputation to the hotels. However, when employees feel threatened or insecure at their workplace which has no strict safety policy, their services are adversely affected. When the insecurity is no longer bearable, employees decide to quit their job, much to their dismay.

The hospitality industry, as it is evident across reports, struggles with a high staff turnover rate. Along with previously highlighted factors contributing to this turnover, a large chunk is due to poor working conditions and lack of safety protocol for employees. Apart from bearing physical risks while working within the hotel premises, employees also have to undergo assaults in many cases. This, when received with the pressure from hospitality unions to fulfill demands related to employees, and the negative reviews by the media can ruin the hotel’s reputation in a fortnight.

For those properties, which do not follow the protocols of installing panic buttons and other ESD, the hospitality authorities levy fines according to a tiered structure, starting with a minimal warning being given out to heavy penalties followed by an injunction in severe cases. The hotels which had failed to comply with the guidelines or had not installed ESDs by January 2020 will be heavily fined.

Ways to ensure employee safety
Most preferred hotels aren’t those that only have well-maintained interiors or are given rave reviews owing to the services they provide, but are also the ones with the most satisfied employees and a history of less employee turnover. Installing panic buttons provides a sense of security for those employees who frequently interact with guests or other visitors as the system helps deter violent incidents, reduce injuries and the costs associated with such injuries.

Some other ways to ensure employee safety are:

  • Strict anti-sexual harassment policies in place are made available in the premises of the hotel visible to all.
    Providing training and education to employees on identifying and reporting sexual harassment.
  • Installing property management software such as Wrkspot that comes with panic devices which can also help one track functions within the hotel at the touch of a button. It can also be used to train and monitor situations so that there are fewer unfortunate events taking place on the premises.
  • A physical panic button is a morale boost for employees, so that they feel safe to work and interact with the guests without the fear of anything wrong going unnoticed. Wearable panic devices provided to employees go to show that they are being looked after by their employers resulting in an improvement in the guest service. Such properties receive a better reputation and, thus, a large number of applicants.

Conclusion
A hotel’s reputation can be made or broken based on the way they treat both their employees and guests. Not paying enough attention to the needs of the employees results in a mishap of events which, if displayed by the media, can only bring doom on the reputation of these hotels. Inculcating policies and practices for the welfare of employees can give them a boost at work. Although the installation and maintenance of these panic devices may cost a small fortune, the nightmare of having to face a bad reputation should be enough motivation to do something about it.

A guide to getting your hotel OSHA ready

Osha-ready Hotel

In October 2019, Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans was issued a fine on account of ‘willful’ and ‘serious’ violations. 11 contractors working on the project were heavily fined for life-threatening violations as the building collapsed due to the negligence of the engineers on site. This is just one of the incidents that has been in the News regarding workplace violation in the hospitality industry in the recent months.

To avoid such scenarios and regulate workplace security across businesses, including the hospitality industry in the US, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was put in place. Its regulations are created with the intention of employee safety, categorised under employee management, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training.

Previously, OSHA has come across many such incidents which involve severe as well as minor violations. One such example is the inspection that was conducted at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., resulting in fines of over $76,000 in safety violations. Violations not only result in the payment of fines but also endanger the lives of the staff as they are subjected to harsh chemical substances, electrical and fall hazards, and at times compressed air issues.

As the hospitality industry faces unique challenges, not experienced by other industries, CalOSHA passed a directive effective July 1, 2018 which focused on Hotel Housekeeping and Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention. This standard ensured the prevention of any injuries or illnesses particularly housekeeping musculoskeletal injuries, training employees for this program, and maintaining records among others.

Now that the whole world has entered the New Normal phase, the hospitality industry too must start a fresh chapter. Apart from transforming your properties adhering to the social distancing norms, ensure to also get those ready as per the guidelines issued by OSHA. Today there are software applications in place such as WrkSpot to help you manage these duties.

Guidelines by OSHA to prevent various types of violations

  • General guidelines: OSHA has been put in place for all kinds of businesses including the hotel industry. Some general guidelines that the hospitality industry must adhere to include maintaining passageways for walking and working, storerooms and service rooms- free from debris and any other form of obstructions. They must be clean and dry at all possible times.
  • Reporting and Recordkeeping: Hotels must maintain a system for monitoring job-related injuries and illnesses. It requires that employers use two forms OSHA 300 Log and OSHA 301 Injury Report. Incase of work-related illness or injury, it must be recorded within six days of occurrence in the OSHA 300 Log.
  • De Minimis Violations: A De Minimis Violation does not have a direct impact on health or safety of the employees and is the least form of violation. An example of this violation would be using a ladder with 13 inches instead of the standard 12 inches between the rungs.
  • Serious Violations: A serious violation is when an employer being aware of a situation that is potentially dangerous for causing serious injury or death, finds no solution for the same.
  • Willful violations: This is perhaps the most serious form of violation since it is done intentionally by the employer. This shows disregard for employee health and safety.
  • Repeated Violation: When an employer is cited for a particular violation and is found repeating it, OSHA cites the employer of the property with a repeated violation penalty.
  • Failure to clear prior Violation: At times, even after the employer is handed a violation citation, one may not find a solution to the same. In such cases, OSHA penalizes them further because the citation comes with an expiry date by when the solution should have been implemented.

Each of these violations have a fine attached depending on the gravity of the situation. However, such violations display the management of the hotel in a bad light to its stakeholders and customers resulting in the rise in guest complaints.

Remedies to be OSHA ready
Most businesses are turning towards technology to solve a bundle of their problems. Technology is quick to respond, can be automated and keeping the current scenario in mind, also minimizes physical interaction. OSHA, too, believes that an automated, interactive, software-based training can serve as a valuable tool in the overall training program.

Training software applications come with an advantage of automating their training programs, so that employees can track and report their compliance initiatives. However, training alone may not be sufficient. Making regular checks to ensure the guidelines are being followed to stay clear of the OSHA violations’ radar is also an important step. This reduces the number of safety-related accidents and improves productivity.

Today there are tech-based interconnected ecosystems such as WrkSpot that provide an end-to-end OSHA training workflow. It also allocates time to managers at workplaces to automate tasks for training, inspection, OSHA regular checks, and so on.

Conclusion
As an owner or the manager of a hotel, hotel reputation management is one of your top priorities since it leads to customers and future business generation. It is, therefore, your responsibility to ensure that your business is in compliance with the regulations. OSHA inspectors make unannounced inspections to hotels, so ensuring you are on top of things is a must. Violations can leave a scar on the reputation of the hotel and not just with a fine. With COVID-19 transforming industries as a whole, it’s time to start anew with less violations and more guest services. So, is your hotel OSHA ready?

Future 5: Glimpse into the next 5 years of hospitality

Future

A glimpse of the next five years of hospitality

Companies across industries create five-year and ten-year plans as future goals to accomplish. This helps them to remain focused and adhere to these plans even in the times of chaos. Before the pandemic of COVID-19 was upon us, all sectors, including the hospitality industry, might have had their plans in place to look out for their next five years in the industry. Now that the pandemic has taken place, hotels may have to rethink the way they operate businesses.

Going forward, the future 5-year plans may not be as simple as it may have been in the past. Apart from taking into account the changes pertaining to operational and management systems, hotels have to prioritize the health and well-being of their guests and staff, if they aim to stay at the top of the mind of their potential guests.

Let’s take a look at how the next 5 years of hospitality may unfold.

Sustainability
One of the key changes that people around the world witnessed during the pandemic were it’s positive effects on our environment and nature as a whole. Some of these changes include the decrease in the level of pollution leading to being able to breathe fresh air.

Maintaining these changes will remain a prime concern, even in the future, since we are beginning a new normal phase. This is a phase when a previously unfamiliar situation of living as we did during the pandemic will become a way of life going forward. Millennials, as the guests of today and a part of the future working teams at these properties, will demand that they are run on the principle of sustainability. A report by Deloitte states that millennials find it hard to trust businesses that do not have a positive impact on society. This means that hotels will have to eliminate the usage of single-use plastics, monitor the usage of water, find an alternative for disposal of garbage, and so on.

In accordance to the LEED rating system, you can maintain sustainability in terms of Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) by making use of the below tips:
Make use of daylight, saving electricity wherever possible.
Convert guest rooms into smart rooms by installing temperature and ventilation control.
Provide guests with operable windows and lighting controls.

Global Expansion Plans
With countries imposing lockdowns and a halt on international travel, the current focus of hotels is to cater to their domestic market. However, once the lockdown is lifted people will begin to travel around the globe. Hotels must begin planning for events and increasing their reach and market to international crowds as well. Since the industry would be having a fresh beginning of sorts, it is time to include a global expansion strategy in the next five-year plan.

Hygienic Spaces
The post-COVID scenario includes all sectors to look after hygiene and sanitization, not as an afterthought but to be the most crucial criteria when opening up for businesses. Regular health-checkups, stringent measures taken for the well being of the staff and guests of the hotels, and changes in the internal operations of the hotel need to be on the top of the list of priorities. It will take a while before the virus is eradicated from our lives, even after the cure or vaccine is discovered for the same. So, for the next two years, at least, and perhaps even after that, it is imperative that health check-up routines are being followed as we have entered a period of “New Normal.”

Steady Recovery
In the past quarter of the year, the hospitality and tourism industry has taken quite a hit with the lockdowns that transpired around the world. According to a report by the AHLA, the pandemic has caused 70% of employees to be laid off. In these desperate times, where the workers intend to come back to work but cannot, these industries are to get back on their feet stronger and better than before. The industries were proud to be employing a huge chunk of the population, which unfortunately isn’t the case anymore. Even though the time taken to get back to normal may not go up to 5 years, it surely will need a while to get over the effects of the pandemic on the loss of jobs within the sector.

AI and Automation
With social distancing becoming a norm around the world, it is only a matter of time before people overcome the fear of getting out of the house. In the future, it would be beneficial for hotels to adapt to AI and automation within the hotels to promote social distancing and less physical contact. The presence of self check-in and check-out counters, IoT, Chatbots, cloud-based property management systems, blockchains, etc will only grow manifold in the next five years. Certain software like WrkSpot can come in handy since they merge AI with IoT, so turn properties into smart hotels.

Conclusion
The hospitality, travel and tourism industries have sure taken a hit in the last quarter of the year that may have eroded their efforts of the last 5 years. However, it is not too late to get back with altered plans that are focused on a stronger comeback and later, a stronghold in the industry. Slow and steady steps while focusing on customization of choices for guests is what would help hotels stand out among the crowd.

Must-have technologies for hotels

Technology

Usage of technology is now one of the most crucial elements for sectors around the world as they help to save time and increase efficiency. The hospitality industry has incorporated the use of technology in their day-to-day activities to streamline tasks resulting in customer satisfaction. Additionally, inculcating softwares helps to cut down on operational costs and the number of complaints that are received from customers.

Having a hotel management tech or a workflow management system such as WrkSpot in place has multiple benefits that are of utmost importance now more than ever. With the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential to implement operations that can run without the need for physical contact with one another, right from check-ins within the hotel to taking service orders at restaurants.

Currently, there are various kinds of softwares available in the market which have replaced multiple operations that previously required physical intervention. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Panic Button
Technology is constantly evolving and emerging with newer and unimaginable ways in which it can enhance human lives. One such technology that is a must for hotels and the hospitality industry as a whole, is the presence of the panic button when it comes to employee safety. According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is approximately 6% decrease in turnover in the hospitality industry. At many instances, it has proven to be a lifesaver when employees were harassed within the hotel premises.

IoT in hospitality
IoT refers to the network of connected objects that communicate in sync and automatically. Having IoT within hotels seemed futuristic earlier but it is a reality today. Making them a part of conducting operations within hotels can help to reduce costs and provide your guests with a better experience. IoT may be used to automate the rooms of the guests where guests use a remote to adjust lights or by connecting their mobile devices to the hotel network, can reorganize their stay using their device. This makes it possible to understand guest preferences for meals, stay requirements, and it also helps to save money because most functions are automated.

Chatbots
One of the latest additions to the technology in the hospitality industry is the chatbot service. A chatbot makes use of AI to enhance and customize the guest experience. Installing a chatbot within the hotels helps minimize physical contact as most frequently asked questions can be answered via a chatbot, it can know the guests’ preferences while staying at the hotels, and it can also help sell other services within the hotel such as sauna in the spa, and so on. This helps provide them with a customized experience based on their preferences. As this is taken care of through chatbots, the staff is then left with more time on their hands to manage activities that require to be done manually.

Account Management
Investing and installing a hotel accounting technology is a must for the hotels of today. In contrast to the earlier days of administering accounts manually, a management system takes care of generating invoices and account statements, producing payslips, revenue and expense management, and so much more. Automating of routine accounting duties helps to reduce human errors and provides greater accuracy when integrated with a top-notch property management system.

Employee Retention
Employee retention is a critical issue for the hospitality industry. It is important that efforts are made to retain the employees that are leaving their jobs on account of the burden they experience due to manual tasks that could have been automated. This, due to turnovers, have an effect on the guest experience. Hotels must thus invest in technologies that help ease the burden of employees by automating certain tasks, training them to stay on top of their tasks, and the employees are in accordance with the labor-management laws.

Blockchain
Blockchain and cryptocurrency have come a long way since they were first introduced to the world. Today, these are multipurpose and used widely across sectors since they provide transparency, security, and control of electronic transactions. Hotels and vacation rental marketplaces can make use of Blockchain-based technology since it helps to manage bookings and can help offer services at a lower cost than other industries.

Conclusion
Inculcating technologies within the daily workings of hotels is a must for the guests of today and future young travelers. Having an all-in-one property management system helps to eliminate the worries of having to look for multiple forms of technology. WrkSpot is one such property management system that is created with the aim to simplify hotel operations to turn hotels into smart properties. With a focus on compliance and employee engagement, WrkSpot is an ecosystem that helps empower teams to run the hotel better. technology

Ways in which tech can help run the ‘New Normal’ hotels

Tech

The emergence and prevalence of COVID-19 pandemic have left economies around the world shaken and in bits in more ways than one. Although it has been a situation that could not have been anticipated, it has undoubtedly acted as a wakeup call to sectors, economies and individuals around the world. After a brief lockdown, it is now time to open up and join the world and start a ‘New Normal’ life that is built on the learnings brought by the pandemic.

It is important to follow new protocols of social distancing and to implement better health policies than what was present earlier. As much as these may be tracked manually, implementing technology into this equation will only help serve your guests better. For a while, after the lockdown is lifted, guests may be a little apprehensive to crowds and thus, expect higher standards of hygiene. They would greatly appreciate if hotels follow social distancing and minimize the need for person-to-person contact.

Ideally, the hospitality industry thrives on serving customers in a face-to-face manner. This may now have to be replaced with self-service technology as below:

Contactless payment modes
WHO is encouraging sectors to move to contactless payments as a method to combat COVID-19. This is because the spread of the virus via unsanitized paper notes or card payments is relatively high. Both these modes undergo exchanging hands and therefore coming into contact with the virus through these modes is easy. Hotels, can, therefore, switch to contactless payment methods of digital wallets such as GooglePay, PayPal, etc. or the “tap and go” payment platforms. This curbs the need to come in touch with physical contact and thus lessens the spread of the virus.

Check-in/Check-Out facilities
Traditional methods of check-in/check-out include customers having to join a long line of customers at the front-desk resulting in them having to make conversations with each other and later the exchange of identification details at the desk. All of this puts both the staff of the hotel and the customer at risk of spreading and contracting of germs. Switching to mobile-based self-service technology breaks this link. A guest can make use of a mobile-based technology or a self-service kiosk placed at various stations to check themselves in or out. With a kiosk that is AI-enabled for facial recognition and ID scanning, the guest need not touch the screen at all.

Keyless Room Entry
Since guests can make contactless check-ins through the kiosks or their phones, this can also help them enter their rooms without the need for a room key. Fuel is one such provider of guest-facing hotel software solutions for the global hospitality industry that allows your guests to access their rooms using their mobile phone as a digital key. This application is also designed in such a way that it eliminates the need for guests to stop at the check-in counter and directly move into their rooms since it helps them check in remotely.

Digital menus
Guests that move in the hotel may have to visit the restaurant for meals. As a place that has the potential to bring in crowds, hotels need to look out for alternatives to the same. The best solution for this would be to implement applications such as MyMenusOnline. This is a form of a new touchless digital restaurant system. All a guest has to do is scan their tableside QR code to view the restaurant’s menus online on their mobile device. In case of upgrades concerning food in the restaurant or addition such as ‘daily specials’ will be updated automatically in this menu keeping the customers abreast with the updates in real-time This is a better alternative to making use of disposable menus that will only increase the operating costs of the hotels.

Housekeeping Software
The most significant change that hotels need to implement is a heightened need to keep their rooms and other areas impeccably clean and germ-free at all times. Therefore, having a hotel management system that can take care of these operations is the utmost need of the hour. Many countries are now upgrading their hygiene standards for their hotel rooms. Singapore has implemented an SG clean standard for its hotel rooms that make it compulsory for housekeeping to be more stringent when it comes to practices such as temperature screening of employees and policies for dealing with outside suppliers. Having a mobile PMS ensures quicker efficiency since it can be run through a tablet. On the other hand, a cloud-based PMS enhances housekeeping management checklists, to ensure that the hotel is in sync with the latest COVID-19 guidelines.

Conclusion
COVID-19 has wholly turned the hospitality industry and a “new normal” awaits once the pandemic subsides and people begin joining the world. Incorporating self-service tech that assists a guest to move through the hotel without human contact will help a hotel stand out. Hotels that invest in self-service technology will be in a better position to thrive in the ‘New Normal’ world that is more conscious of health, hygiene, and social distancing. All of this while increasing the convenience of their guests and personalizing their stay at the hotel.

Tips on combating the impact of COVID 19 on the hospitality sector

Covid19

When considering the worst-case scenarios or fluctuations that can occur in business, a pandemic such as the magnitude of COVID-19 was one that no one could have foreseen. Considering nobody was prepared for it, sectors have taken a harsh brunt for the same. Nevertheless, like a domino effect, it slowly took over the world incapacitating most economies. After almost a quarter that went into partial or complete lockdown around the world, it is now that countries are slowly taking steps to lift the lockdown.

The most affected sector in this pandemic is perhaps the tourism and hospitality sector for it thrives on people, those that were forced to remain locked inside their homes. However, now that countries around the world are opening up to in-state and international travel, there is some hope for a revival to take place.

But, will the fear developed in people towards moving out of their homes and traveling or staying at a hotel be resolved? If yes, how? Let’s find out.

Remote Working

As employers of a hotel-based business, it is crucial to understand that remote working is one of the norms that need to be taken into serious consideration currently. This may not be a permanent change to make but surely for a while after the lockdown is lifted, it would be best to adopt and adapt to this form of working. However, this does not mean that your business must suffer since technology has become quite advanced now. With cloud-based hotel management software and workflow management systems, it is easy to control all operations at any time from anywhere. This can be of mighty help when engaging with the guests without personal contact, starting from check-in to meal and service orders.

Re-hiring

With the pandemic affecting the hospitality sector the worst, many workers in the industry have lost their jobs. A report by AHLA states that approximately 8 million people lost their jobs in the hospitality sector due to the pandemic. However, now that the sectors are opening up hotels would be in need of manpower more than before. This is a good time to rehire staff, and you can be sure to have scored on efficiency since most people are in need of jobs resulting in them working better than before.

Revise and implement health policies

With the lockdown being lifted in certain countries, governments all over have laid down regulations that the service industry and hospitality sector, in particular, must adhere to hereon. Since this virus is one that spreads on human contact, the hospitality sector is one that needs to implement stringent measures since they thrive on in-person interactions. Hotel businesses should thus implement, update or adopt set protocols such as frequent sanitization, masks and gloves at all times, to ensure the staff is not contributing to the spread of infection.

Reduction in prices

It is true that reducing the prices can further drill an already existing hole in the pockets of hotel businesses since the sector is already incurring more losses. But, so are the people visiting your hotels whose jobs are affected because of the pandemic. It is important to empathize and understand the situation of those visiting the hotel until the economy of the country stabilizes.

This is an opportune time to take care of your guests and make them feel safe and welcome. These efforts can lead to lifelong customer loyalty which has a ripple effect on your brand However, this may not be applicable to all areas where your hotels exist. Since this varies from market to market as in certain markets, the hotels seemed to perform well even at their earlier. Therefore, this is case insensitive and needs to be looked at individually.

Market to millennials

Millennials are the ones that will be the most eager to get back out in the world and explore things once this pandemic is over. Being the most enthusiastic ones, they would want to get out having been cooped up for far too long. So, this is the right time to plan for the future, keeping the millennials in mind. They appreciate a good transparent, trustworthy, and authentic brand. Since they are also the most tech-savvy and in tune with social media, you must build plans that include personalized messages, contact less check-in, deals and offers, round the clock availability etc.

Conclusion

It is true that COVID-19 has left a void in the hospitality and tourism industry that will be filled in due time. However, it is not the first time that the economy had to go through this. Previously, the hotel industry had to deal with different crises and viruses such as the SARS virus in 2003. But, it picked up pace one step at a time and made it back to what it was before the virus occurred. It is of utmost importance to understand that the pandemic is only temporary and will sooner or later fade away. Thus, businesses must plan for the future, as well as take steps to reduce long-term effects left behind by the virus to drive a faster recovery.