May You Live in Interesting Times

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As we reach the mid-year point of 2023, it’s clear that we are living in interesting times. The global pandemic has changed the travel landscape, with new patterns of demand and different customer expectations. Inflation, political tensions, and social media fragmentation have added to the complexity of the situation. Add to that the growing impact of robotics, space travel, and the evolution of the American workforce, and it becomes clear that leadership is more important than ever in the lodging and travel industry. 

In a recent Leadership Forum, we had the opportunity to compare and contrast the thinking of hotel leaders on the big picture. Despite the many challenges facing the industry, there is a sense of optimism and a recognition that change is the new normal. Leaders are focused on finding new opportunities and adapting to the evolving landscape. 

One key area of focus is the use of technology to enhance the guest experience. With the rise of mobile devices and social media, customers expect a seamless, tech-enabled experience from start to finish. Hotel leaders are investing in technologies like AI, chatbots, and mobile apps to streamline the booking process, personalize the guest experience, and enhance communication throughout the guest journey. 
Controlling the increase in operating costs is a crucial challenge for hotel leaders, especially with the current inflationary pressures. One way to achieve this is by leveraging technology to streamline operations, reduce manual labor, and improve productivity. Integrated technology can help automate routine tasks like staff scheduling, check-ins, room cleaning schedules, and inventory management, freeing up staff time to focus on guest service and other value-added activities. 

For example, using an integrated property management system (PMS) and workforce management platform can help hoteliers manage reservations, guest data, room assignments, billing, and housekeeping schedules all in one place, reducing errors and simplifying operations. In addition, leveraging mobile and cloud-based solutions can allow staff to access information and perform tasks from anywhere, improving efficiency and flexibility. By finding efficiencies and improving productivity through integrated technology, hotel leaders can help control costs while enhancing the guest experience. 

Another area of focus is sustainability. With consumers becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, hotel leaders are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and implement sustainable practices. From energy-efficient lighting to low-flow showerheads to eco-friendly toiletries, hotels are making significant strides in this area. 

Leaders are also rethinking the traditional staffing model. With the rise of the gig economy and the changing expectations of younger workers, hotel leaders are exploring new ways to attract and retain talent. This includes flexible work arrangements, remote work options, and opportunities for career development and growth. 

Despite the challenges facing the lodging and travel industry, it’s clear that there are many opportunities for growth and innovation. By focusing on technology, sustainability, and talent, hotel leaders are laying the foundation for success in the years to come. 

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