There has been no shortage of media coverage in recent weeks talking about the challenges currently facing the UK hospitality industry. In addition to a year of severely disrupted trading and adapting to offer services such as takeaways in order to survive, recruitment is a serious issue for many UK hospitality businesses.
A recent article in The Guardian highlighted the extent of the issue with many European staff having returned home and workers finding alternative employment during the pandemic. And as we too well know, the challenge isn’t restricted to chefs and skilled kitchen staff. Experienced front of house staff and managers are also in high demand due to their scarcity. Whilst an industry wide recruitment and training initiative is underway, there is a need to do more, and quickly.
Traditionally the hospitality industry has been slower than other sectors to adopt new technology. When your business relies on your guests having an excellent experience it’s perhaps understandable that there has been some reluctance to implement new technology that could be perceived as depersonalising your service.
In reality, used in the right way, it can be argued that technology can actually support and enhances the service your guests receive and that the customer journey can become more personable and enjoyable for all, even if you aren’t fully staffed. With the smart use of technology, businesses can redeploy staff from elsewhere within the business with less need for role specific training such as learning different menus, allergen information, and so on.
With current social distancing and ordering at table guidelines still firmly in place, many continue to embrace technology to support guests ordering room service or table service. The mobile friendly technology is being used successfully by many establishments including spa’s, hotels, bars and restaurants and guests are now used to using their phone to order off menu’s and pay the bill. The advantage, in addition to helping alleviating staff shortages or making better use of staff to support a great customer experience is that guests are always shown the relevant menus and have access to any active special offers or featured products. This helps avoid difficult conversations when items are no longer available but more importantly, gives the opportunity to up sell as well as giving the guest the freedom to order when they would like rather than having to flag down serving staff to place an order.
Technology can actually support and enhances the service your guests receive and that the customer journey can become more personable and enjoyable for all, even if you aren’t fully staffed.
With real time data about guest location, bookings and capacity throughout the establishment, staff levels can be optimised and staff members moved to where they are needed the most which means that guests won’t notice if you are working with less staff.
Firsti® is one such tech platform which is helping hospitality venues by enabling at table and in room orders and payments to be taken entirely through the system thereby giving staff the freedom to focus their attention on building rapport with guests, creating the ambience that will set the tone for maximising every guest’s spend and even return visits. And, because the last year has seen a huge change in public perception of service, consumers are now far more likely to consider ‘self service’ options as an example of how establishments are working to keep them safe.
We all know the difficulties that the hospitality industry is currently experiencing and there are those who believe that we have a long road ahead before we are totally in the clear. That therefore means that the customer experience and the customer journey is of more importance than ever before. Guests want to feel safe, have fast and excellent service and want to feel the warmth and welcome in every experience. Using technology to help support that experience so to allow businesses to maximise the ability of their staff to focus solely on the guest and create the best experience for them is invaluable.