During the Wyndham Hotels and Resorts webinar, âOperate Your Hotel Effectively in the Face of Staffing Challenges,â Steve Raposa, Senior Director, Franchise and Quality Operations, Wyndham, guided the conversation with Tracy Ripa, Senior Vice President, Operations North America, Wyndham, asking Ripa a series of questions on how to help hoteliers through this difficult time.
âIn recent months, increasing immunization rates have created increased demand, especially in the car travel, leisure and destination markets,â said Ripa. “This sudden return in demand presented a new challenge for us as operators – the staff challenge – which now has a significant impact on hotel operations.”
Ripa believes some of these workforce issues have been caused by limited childcare options for employees, the lack of international workers caused by the border closures and, of course, the government’s support for them. unemployment benefits which have been increased.
The cost of procurement is also increasing, Ripa noted, along with this increase in the cost of labor.
âThis means that even though the hotels are reporting this rate and this 2019 revenue that they had, they are seeing this squeeze in profits,â she said. “I would be remiss if I did not mention the change we are seeing in our guests.”
Ripa went on to note that there were new customer expectations, including the emphasis on cleaning and safety. Especially as vaccination rates rise, customers now expect previously closed facilities to reopen, putting additional pressure on the staff situation.
âWe will start to see this surge a bit where customers expect [amenities]and we are not able to keep them open, âsaid Ripa.
To counter this, Ripa recommends that hotels advertise vacancies in various distribution channels.
âLet’s face it, just as our hotel inventory is distributed through a multitude of different channels, hotel owners can maximize their exposure to their potential candidates by using as many different mediums as possible,â she said. including job posting websites, universities and job posting boards at universities and local job security offices.
âGet into the community regularly, engage your community and let people know you have open positions,â she added. âThere are people who need to work.
Social media also provides platforms for recruiting, Raposa said, and Ripa agreed, but noted workers could be closer than we think.
âOften the area we overlook is right on our doorstep, our employees,â she said. âEmployee referrals, especially when they come from someone you already know and trust, can also help you retain that employee, but also provide opportunities for others they know. . It creates a family environmentâ¦ Talk to your family, your friends, you never know where you will find your next employee.
Hiring is half the battle right now, Raposa said, with employee retention presenting a whole different set of issues.
âSome of the best practices that we see in hotels are that once they hire their staff, they make sure that we leverage what motivates the team that will drive employee retention,â said Ripa. âOne of the most common mistakes employers make is to assume that employees only care about a monetary reward or incentive. Recognition, development opportunities, education you can provide them, cross training, mentoring, flexible working hours. It’s a balance.
Owners are also concerned with profitability and seek to reduce operating costs. Many owners don’t have operational budgets or annual goals to set for themselves, Ripa said, and she thinks you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
âUltimately, in order to see the expenses that come in versus what you planned, it’s important to identify those variances,â Ripa said. âOperators need to have an operational budget or at least goals for their hotel and use a monthly NLP to measure those results against their budget. “
Understanding the right tools and equipment and how they impact the profitability equation is also essential for homeowners, enabling owners to do more with less. This includes investing in household maintenance equipment, washers and dryers, etc., which can reduce both time and costs.
Ripa also recommended that owners leverage and invest in technologies such as property management systems, point-of-sale systems, mobile operations programs, and administrative programs.
âAll of these programs can dramatically reduce reception, housekeeping and training time for new hires,â she said.
And, specific operational and business functions can even be outsourced to free up time for front desk workers. Tasks related to revenue management, reservation calls, and local sales and marketing can all be outsourced to ease the burden on on-site staff.
Evaluating processes and being as efficient as possible is essential here, said Ripa, and she advised all owners and operators to take a step back and assess each department.
âTalk to your employees, talk to your staff, everyone,â she said. âI bet if you talked to your staff every day they would come up with better ideas than youâ¦ They have some good practices and tips that we could implement. “