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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.

As the travel industry begins to rally, technology companies are taking steps to help their customers get back to business. Strategies run the gamut from complimentary webinars and virtual learning events to special promotions and discounts, all designed to enable hotels and other hospitality venues to reopen confidently and economically amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Room Service and the New Normal - Food always has been, and always will be, a major part of the travel experience. But in a post-pandemic world, change is inevitable. Crowded restaurants and menus which have been handled many times may well (even temporarily) be avoided by wary travelers.

Over the past few years, there has been much media hype around the concept of a voice-controlled hotel room. It’s not hard to see why: voice assistant devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home achieved remarkable penetration in the consumer market in just a few years. Statista reports that about 157 million smart speakers were installed in U.S. households as of December 2019, an astonishing 1.22 devices per household. I haven’t found hard numbers on penetration in hotels, but based on the companies in the market and what I know of their size and success, it’s still very low, probably still under 1% of US hotel rooms. Is that about to change? Should it?

As we examine and develop new strategies for the changes that we can expect to see in the hospitality industry post-crisis, we are also starting to envision the world beyond the pandemic and to the new normal of radically shifted travel consumer expectations and preferences. The probability of guest technology expectations worldwide significantly changing becomes high as guests prefer a more touchless and fully mobile-enabled hospitality experience post-COVID-19. The future of hospitality has always been mobile–but COVID-19 will accelerate this trend from a nice-to-have to a must-have for hoteliers.

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Theres Light at the End of the Tunnel Implement Technology Today to Retain and Attract Top Talent Tomorrow

by Robb Monkman
Proactive hotel companies are using this time to tackle technology projects that are easier to accomplish during low occupancy. Some are seeing immediate benefits and improved efficiencies by implementing a digital employee communication platform that enables them to communicate in real time with furloughed workers. Ensuring that everyone has the procedural information they need while on leave will make it easier to onboard employees when business resumes. Others are using this time to install beacon networks for communicating with employee safety devices. Putting panic buttons in place today will help hoteliers fulfill their social and legislative responsibilities for keeping their service employees safe. Both will go a long way towards reducing turnover post pandemic. Yes … turnover.
One for All, All for One
It seems like just yesterday that hotel companies let go most of their workforces, but soon they will be needing them back. While managers plan to connect with their displaced teams, hotel workers are contemplating their next move. Whether or not they return will be determined by how well management communicated with them during this difficult time. Employees want to know two things: “What are you doing for me today?” and “How will you keep me keep safe if I return?”
  • As much as 90 percent of women and 70 percent of men in service jobs report experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace – higher than any other industry.
Thankfully, a new “one for all and all for one” safety culture is emerging.
Legislation in New York, New Jersey, Miami, Illinois, Washington State, Las Vegas, and California is requiring hotels to add employee safety devices, and the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. is encouraging hotel companies to do even more. This year more than 50 AH&LA members representing 20,000 rooms will be equipping housekeepers and other service employees with panic buttons as part of their voluntary commitment to the AH&LA’s 5-Star Promise designed to strengthen the culture of employee and guest safety. The silver lining for participating hotels is a safer workforce and a more loyal talent pool.

Empathy + Social Responsibility = Loyalty
When hotel management shows empathy, invests in its employees’ personal safety, and acknowledges its social responsibility through industry initiatives, it has a positive impact on job retention. New candidates will be drawn to a property or brand for its integrity and social conscience, while existing employees will find it difficult to leave.
  • 93% of employees say they are more likely to stay with an empathetic employer
  • 85% of employees say they are likely to stay longer with an employer that shows a high level of social responsibility
  • 82% of employees say they would consider leaving their organization for a more empathetic one, a figure that rises to 87 percent for Millennials

Consider this silver lining scenario:

A hotel is closed during the pandemic, yet management is able to stay in constant communication with departmental employees digitally via chats, streams, web and other means using an operational communications platform such as Beekeeper. Workers remain engaged with human resources daily to get questions answered and receive assistance with unemployment paperwork. With no revenue for an extended period, the hotel cannot offer its valued employee’s monetary incentives to return. However, throughout the quarantine, furloughed workers learn that the hotel is using the shutdown to implement new technologies that honor industry commitments and protect them against personal harm, such as panic buttons from React Mobile. Other technologies are also implemented that will help them do their jobs better. As a result, employees who once considered going to the hotel next door for an additional $1 per hour are now returning to their original employers.

When hoteliers put employee safety first – especially when occupancy and revenues are low – it speaks volumes to job retention. No matter how attractive the incentive may be from the hotel next door, workers won’t leave because they feel valued.

  • 78% of employees say they would choose an empathetic employer over a less empathetic organization with a higher salary and they would work longer hours
A Beacon of Hope
Technology suppliers understand the financial struggles that operators are facing today, and we also know the devastation that turnover post pandemic can bring to hoteliers’ bottom lines. With each new hire comes with a hefty price tag; the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California at Berkeley reports the average cost to replace an employee for all categories of workers is about $4,000. Therefore, suppliers are doing everything they can today to reduce the financial burden of technology implementation while helping hoteliers fulfill safety mandates and brand commitments to employee safety throughout the country.
Tyler Knott Gregson, an acclaimed poet on social media platforms, is quoted as saying “WE are the silver lining in any and every dark cloud we could ever find. There is no need to go looking for the light when you bring it with you.” 
About The Author
Robb Monkman
Founder and CEO
React Mobile Inc.

Robb Monkman is the founder and CEO, of React Mobile Inc. A seasoned entrepreneur with experience launching multiple products, from idea to exit. Several years ago, Robb was the victim of an armed robbery and hostage situation that left a lasting impression on him. He soon learned that thousands of people every day were in situations where they desperately need help but could not make a call. He made it his mission to solve this problem, founding React Mobile to create a simple yet powerful personal safety platform that today is transforming the way people call for help in emergencies. React Mobile is making tomorrow a safer place and already helping people all over the world.
React Mobile is offering new customers two free months of service and 90-day deferred payment terms. We also are manufacturing and supplying personal protective equipment, like face masks and face shields, to hotels in need, such as those participating in AH&LA’s Hospitality for Hope initiative. 

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