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A great deal has been written over the years about the viability of moving a hotel’s property-management system (PMS) to the cloud to take advantage of the latest technologies, but hoteliers need to realize that it’s not the only viable option. All platforms have advantages, including self-hosted, private cloud and on-premise solutions that leverage the latest mobile, contact free and web-based technologies. Independent operators can still enhance the digital guest experience, support personalized and mobile check-in, deploy contact free technologies, and secure hotel/guest data even if their PMS does not reside in the cloud. It should not be a question of “Cloud or On Premise?” but rather “Does the PMS solve your business objectives in both technology and service?”

Much has been written in the mainstream hospitality press about the challenges COVID-19 has presented to the industry. Hotels are in more pain than at any time in our memories. Because of the extensive media coverage, I won’t dwell on this topic further in what is primarily a technology column. But it’s the background for this week’s column, and so merits acknowledgement.

Are You All In?
Posted: 07/27/2020

Imagine everyone in your organization engaged, aligned, and performing to their potential. Imagine everyone playing “All In.”

Great organizations have synergy. Their culture allows them to play to a rhythm at a different tempo than the average organization. How do you get that at your organization?

Many front-line hospitality workers rely on tips for a significant part of their paychecks. If not for tips, many hotel associates who serve as waitstaff, bartenders, housekeepers, bell staff, concierges and pool attendants would soon be looking for other jobs. This is a regional issue: in most of Asia and Europe, staff get higher base pay, and tips are either not expected at all, or are truly discretionary. But in the U.S., Canada, Britain and other countries, tips are an important reality, and one that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

As somebody who’s helped to grow a company from 13 people to nearly a thousand, I know very well the excitement that comes with having a mindset focused entirely on growth. Every newly acquired customer, every new office and every milestone means the gap between you and your nearest competitor is that much bigger and that much harder to overtake.

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SMAC Talk: Four Ways to Compete in the Middle of a Talent Shortage

by Daniel Johnson

Not to be confused with the exchange of taunts by athletes, SMAC is a helpful acronym. Each letter represents a direction in workplace learning that, if utilized together, they may combat hospitality’s globally crippling talent shortage. At the very least, they will boost your ability to compete.

Today’s dizzying multichannel marketplace offers attractive promotional packages designed to lure would-be guests away from their familiar haunts toward something/someplace 'new.' For many, to survive means cutting prices. But for those looking to thrive, first achieve superior customer engagement. Then, pray your customers will be loyal.
When it comes to engaging customers, there are two areas to throttle: technological gadgetry and old-fashion hospitality. As for technology, the options are seemingly endless (i.e. from front entrance touchscreen kiosks to back office optimization software suites and any number of devices in between). However, when it comes to hospitality, it’s really only your people that will be able to deliver what customers expect: a highly personalized experience. This assumes that you are able to successfully attract and retain top industry talent. Only they possess the professional range to impress even the most sophisticated international travelers.

If getting top talent has proved to be difficult, take solace in knowing that you’re not alone. The talent shortage is worldwide. Forecasts show a dire future where industry growth will likely be compromised by an expanding talent gap. For instance, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) issued a report in 2014 indicating the industry’s human capital challenges could create a net loss of as many as 11 million jobs across 37 countries by 2024.

Here’s the irony: The best approach in this competitive marketplace is to leverage your staff’s professional skills, however, talented professionals are becoming more difficult to find.

What to do? Well, when confronted by challenges, it’s often helpful to start talking SMAC.

1. “S” stands for Social

Scholars and workplace learning practitioners have long identified the fact that learning is social. Whether through direct instruction or observation, we’ve always learned from one another. The significance of this fact is our access to information. Put another way, we can learn almost anywhere and in a variety of formats (termed learning interventions). In order to take advantage of this, forward-thinking organizations are abandoning the top-down mentality of talent development toward strategies that incorporate informal learning and interactive games. Today, these organizations are transforming their “learner population” from passive consumers into actuators who are able to and even expected to contribute to the organization’s developmental goals.

2. "M” stands for Mobile

Mobile Learning or “mLearning” builds on the social basis of talent development by leveraging the portability of personal electronic devices. Effective mLearning presents the assistance people seek when they need it … smack-dab in the middle of the task at hand.

Also, mLearning is the ideal way to activate learning over time. With it, talent development interventions can be spread out, prior to the moment the knowledge is required on the job as well as afterward. These reactivation interventions are especially beneficial for memory retention.

3. “A” stands for Analytics

Evaluating training activities with smile sheet surveys consisting of “Did you enjoy the training?” and “Do you think the material was relevant?” questions are not good enough. Such satisfaction and reaction assessments have been widely used for two terrible reasons: they safely avoid accountability and are easy to tabulate.

Business solutions today must be supported by the collection, measurement and analysis of both valid and reliable data. In the world of talent development, organizations must measure the application of learning via actual behaviors, not by happy faces on an evaluation form.

4. “C” stands for Cloud-based

Digital, cloud-based interactivity means creating, sharing, viewing and collaborating. Learning leaders of the future will be less like trainers and more like librarians. Or, better yet, curators. Today, learning interventions are generated more and more by the consumers themselves. Meanwhile, content may be access farther afield in a variety of locations (i.e. Massive Open Online Courses or “MOOCs”). To complete, organizations must act as developmental custodians in a symbiotic exchange where both they and their people thrive.

So, to compete, you must start talking SMAC. You and your people will be glad you did.

About The Author
Daniel Johnson
Chief Operations Officer
Venza Group

Daniel Johnson co-founded the Venza Group, is a partner, and holds the title of chief operations officer. On a daily basis, he builds and reveals the world of training and communications possibilities for Venza Group clients and team members through operational oversight, strategic initiatives and business development. Daniel’s primary focus is to facilitate Venza Group operations so as to best serve the needs of our clients.

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