By Joe Vargas

While there are many technologies you can invest in that provide a competitive edge, there is one resource that is infinitely valuable that you don’t want to overlook: your people.

Guest satisfaction is one of the key drivers of success for any hotelier, determining repeat customers and, in turn, your bottom line. While guest-centered initiatives, like expanding your amenities, are often the focus of customer loyalty, employee well-being and job fulfillment are also critically important. 

The feeling of being surrounded by an engaged work culture is palpable for guests, and happy employees are more likely to deliver exceptional service. The result is a win-win: Guests get more value for their money, while you’re more likely to reap the rewards of return visits, loyalty program participation, and satisfied guests spreading the word.

Employee engagement is the new competitive advantage since companies with well-engaged employees are outperforming their competitors. According to a recent study, 69% of employees would work more diligently if their efforts were better recognized or appreciated by their bosses. Companies with highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable than their peers.

Effectively building a motivated hotel workforce takes a significant amount of time and resources. However, leading hotels support this initiative through technology, primarily by leveraging an intuitive,  advanced, integrated, cloud-based property management system (PMS), which enables better communication and gives staff more flexibility and time to focus on connecting personally with guests.

Employee engagement addresses labor shortages while improving profitability

Hoteliers are operating in a pivotal time when it comes to employee engagement, with talent shortages lagging behind travel volumes. Historically, hospitality has long faced high turnover rates when compared to other industries—but COVID-19 has only added fuel to the fire. Nearly three-quarters of US hospitality workers were laid off during the pandemic and many have left the profession altogether. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accommodation and food services had the highest churn rates of any sector in 2022. Even though travel has recovered from lockdowns, hotels are struggling to fill the roles necessary to meet renewed demand. Deloitte found that even by 2030, over a third of hotels don’t expect staff volumes to climb back up to 2019 levels. 

To address talent shortages, hotels need to make sure that employees are sufficiently engaged and motivated. Research shows that a supportive work environment has the greatest influence over how people feel toward their jobs, even ahead of factors like work-from-home options. This is good news for hoteliers, who may not be able to promise as much flexibility as other industries but have the power to create a better working culture. By keeping staff motivated, hotels can promote long-term hires and reduce absenteeism.

This offers several financial gains for hoteliers. Motivated employees are more productive and provide better customer service, leading to greater operational efficiency and cost savings. While long-term employees allow hotels to save money on recruiting and training new staff, low turnover also ensures service continuity, which improves the overall guest experience. Gallup, a leader in employee engagement insights, has repeatedly highlighted the benefits of committed staff on business success. The organization’s most recent findings show that companies with engaged workforces:

  • Experience between 18% and 43% lower turnover. 
  • Have higher earnings per share and can recover from an economic downturn more quickly.
  • Sustain higher levels of loyalty and 23% greater profitability.

Technology supports a more innovative culture

The most successful hotels don’t just include employee engagement as part of their training program or mission statement—they make it a core part of their business strategy. One way hoteliers can integrate this approach business-wide is to use tools and technologies that elevate staff engagement and in turn, guest satisfaction.

Employees are more likely to stay motivated if you offer continual learning opportunities and show that you’re invested in their professional development. Tech-integrated hoteliers may also experience a greater need for unique skill sets like software engineering and data analysis. This can transform a traditional customer service work environment into a more innovative culture that fosters upskilling, gives employees a purpose, and attracts new talent.

Leveraging hospitality systems that are mobile-first and cloud-based also encourages engagement, making it easier for employees to communicate and access the information they need anytime and anywhere. This prevents information silos, promotes collaboration, and ensures more consistent guest interactions. Staff can make more informed decisions and gain a greater sense of confidence, autonomy, and control over their work with access to real-time information when they need it—for example, through mobile devices or tablets.

Property management systems are central to many hotels’ employee engagement initiatives, especially when built with advanced features like artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics. These systems can automate basic tasks and reduce errors, freeing up more time for overwhelmed staff and reducing stress. Moreover, automation prevents boredom by allowing employees to pivot to more complex duties, increasing job satisfaction and motivation. PMS technologies can also leverage customer data to suggest more personalized guest experiences, helping staff satisfy guests with minimal effort.

It’s important to set clear performance goals and track how your measures of success—like revenue, employee churn, or loyalty program participation—are changing in response to technologies like a PMS. This will not only empower you to fine-tune your employee engagement solutions but also share successes, expectations, and feedback with staff. Involving them in these measures can provide further motivation, building a sense of workplace unity and purpose while helping employees feel valued for their efforts.

How to elevate employee and guest engagement 

Employee engagement should be a top priority for any hotelier aiming to combat labor shortages, boost guest delight, and grow revenue in a highly competitive industry. While transforming your hotel’s workplace culture won’t happen overnight, smart technologies can immediately give employees more meaningful tasks that improve both job fulfillment and guest expectations. 

Integrated, advanced property management systems accomplish this by automating routine tasks, allowing employees to focus on more fulfilling interactions. Staff can rely on the software to suggest personalized amenities and experiences to guests based on PMS data, differentiating customer service from competitors. Technology that also incorporates employee communication systems will improve staff coordination and virtual education modules for continued growth and engagement. 

The bottom line is that hotel employees want to feel engaged at work, and guests want the best value for their money. Investing in solutions that facilitate both is a no-brainer, especially if your goal is to maximize revenue.