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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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How to Connect and Engage a Global Workforce Using Digital Communications

by Andrada Paraschiv

While the FRHI Hotel & Resort brands have storied histories, in 2014 a strategic focus on internal digital communications and its link to employee engagement was still new to the company. At that time, FRHI had recently reorganized, and the employees across the globe had little-to-no knowledge of the parent company and often felt only a connection to the hotel for which they worked. There was a lack of effective internal communication between the many hotels within the system on a variety of levels – time zones, cultures and languages, as well as a lack of strong community culture.

Addressing this challenge that year, the newly formed internal communications team established a vision of efficient, two-way communication based on achieving three goals:

  1. Increase awareness of FRHI as a brand among all employees.
  2. Facilitate system-wide employee communication.
  3. Reach employees whose email accounts were inactive and motivate them to activate those accounts.

Most importantly, achieving these goals would also mean eliminating departmental silos and increasing workplace collaboration.

Introducing Digital Communications:
Inspired by HR’s new employee value proposition, "ONE FRHI: Connect, Grow, Live," in April 2014 FRHI introduced something new. The company needed a platform that would be fun, easy to use, and that would get the attention of even the busiest employees: those that work in front of a computer and the employees who are consistently on-the-go in FRHI hotels. FRHI Talk became the digital communications solution to implement effective internal communications and engage with both these groups.  

FRHI Talk brings to life FRHI's employee value proposition – it is an online and mobile social network that is open for all employees to join. The content posted ranges from employee achievements, celebrations, hotel events, guest stories, community initiatives, questions and feedback.

Asking employees to try something new is never easy. How did FRHI get employees to start using FRHI Talk? With a creative, well-integrated roll out, it sought to promote awareness and adoption by:
  • Use of single sign-on
  • An integrated "Social Stream" on the intranet
  • Use of a mobile app
  • Bi-weekly digest emails
  • Use of monthly highlight videos
  • New streams and functional groups
  • Promoting other internal communications initiatives
  • Measuring users and content
The results of FRHI Talk have exceeded expectations. There are five areas that have been significantly affected:
  1. Adoption – more than 90 percent of the workforce with an active email has opted to join FRHI Talk.
  2. Engagement – generating on average 175 posts per week, engagement is linear.
  3. Behavioral shift – employees with inactive emails are seeking to activate, citing FRHI Talk as the reason.
  4. Internal communications satisfaction – in 2014, 86 percent of FRHI employees said that they were satisfied with the information about what is going on within FRHI. 
  5. Time/cost savings – FRHI leverages content from FRHI Talk to create cost effective videos. Because all content is user generated, the time involved in coordinating photos, music and video footage is also significantly reduced.

"FRHI Talk has taken off! It's very exciting to be able to go on every single day and get a glimpse of our organization around the world," said Michelle Crosby, executive vice president and chief human resources officer. "Seeing the pictures, reading the stories and getting a sense of what's happening out there in all of our vibrant and exciting destinations is really and truly gratifying. FRHI Talk is a way for us to connect with each other as people and share and celebrate some of the really interesting things that our properties are doing both within their hotels and within their communities. Needless to say, this is an online community that has been growing, and I think will continue to exceed our expectations moving forward."

Continued Engagement, Connection and Iteration:
Large, global and multi-branded organizations face a unique set of challenges; the use of FRHI Talk as an internal communications platform has met challenges head on. FRHI has  “consumerized” the enterprise. Rather than disseminate all messages top down via email, the implementation of FRHI Talk supports the social media habits that its employees already have; FRHI communicates with and to its workforce the same way it would with its family and friends.

About FRHI:
FRHI Hotels & Resorts is a leading global hotel management company that boasts more than 125 hotels and branded residential offerings in 35 countries with 45,000+ employees. Our brands include Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Raffles Hotels & Resorts and Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts, and iconic properties like The Savoy Hotel in London, Raffles Singapore, The New York City Plaza Hotel and Fairmont Banff Springs.
About The Author
Andrada Paraschiv
Executive Director of Communications & Strategy
FRHI Hotels & Resorts

Andrada Paraschiv was named executive director of communications and strategy in 2013, with the mandate to set up effective global internal communication for FRHI Hotels & Resorts, following the company’s organizational transformation. Previously she was involved in other strategic projects for the company, as director of business strategy. Andrada has a background in strategy consulting, having worked for McKinsey & Company, where she tackled various issues across different industries and countries. Andrada holds a master of business administration from the Wharton School and a master of arts from the Lauder Institute at University of Pennsylvania.

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