After surviving some of the most challenging times in recent memory, the hospitality industry is seeing a rapid rebound in demand for hotel rooms, restaurant meals and travel experiences. However, as booking and occupancy rates have increased, the industry has not been able to hire enough workers to keep pace with the growing demand. The challenge is compounded by the fact that guest expectations for streamlined, effortless, technology-enabled experiences have also risen.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were 1.6 million unfilled job openings in the hospitality sector as of September 2022. So, it should come as no surprise that in a recent survey conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (ALHA), 91% of hotel and restaurant leaders say they’re unable to fill open positions, 87% say they’re experiencing a staffing shortage and 36% describe their staffing shortage as severe.
The result is a precarious imbalance between the number of people who want to enjoy dining out and travel and the number of employees available to cater to their needs.
Plus, today’s tech-savvy hotel and restaurant guests are looking for the added convenience of mobile ordering and check-in/check-out, the ability to effortlessly book rental cars, tours and on-site events and other time-saving amenities. Hospitality organizations must update and modernize their systems in ways that support these quick and easy experiences if they’re to win the loyalty of these guests.
Addressing this two-pronged industry challenge will require a multi-faceted approach that includes adopting new tools, leveraging predictive staffing models to better anticipate shifts in demand and investing in human resources and recruitment. (Many hotels, restaurants and other leisure industry businesses have already increased wages several times since the beginning of the crisis.) But it will also necessitate a strong focus on operational efficiencies. By implementing technologies and processes that enable fewer staff to achieve more in less time, hospitality businesses can best position themselves to grow and thrive, regardless of the labor market or macroeconomic climate.
Leading hospitality companies are looking to modernize everywhere, but it’s especially smart to focus on systems that are ubiquitous, essential and high-touch. A prime example is point-of-sale (POS).
Modern POS systems help hospitality businesses achieve their goals
Hardwired legacy POS systems may have done little more than process transactions, print receipts and invoices and handle payments, but a modern cloud-based POS system is much more flexible and adaptable. Not only does this mean that the system can change along with your needs as your business grows, but it also can play a key role in a far broader array of operational processes than sales alone.
Today’s hotel and restaurant guests are spending more time on their mobile devices than ever, and they value mobile-enabled experiences. Integrating a modern POS system with mobile apps and/or kiosks can enable restaurant guests to order and pay for their meals without needing a server. In fine dining establishments, wait staff can instantly and accurately transmit orders from the table to the kitchen without walking back and forth. This saves time and steps, of course, but it also makes it possible for fewer staff to provide top-notch service to larger numbers of tables.
A modern cloud-based POS system can also allow for payment at the table, so guests will no longer need to wait for their server to go back to a central terminal to process their payments. Shorter wait times mean happier guests, but this system enhances efficiencies for staff as well.
Advanced analytics multiply efficiencies
You’re probably familiar with the old saying, “What gets measured gets improved.” A modern cloud-based POS system puts key performance data related to every financial aspect of your operations right at your fingertips. This data will enable you to optimize efficiencies in multiple areas of your hospitality business.
With extensive sales and inventory trend reporting capabilities, you’ll be able to make more accurate predictions — based on your business’s history — of when you’re likely to see spikes in demand. This can improve your ability to maintain the right food and consumable goods inventories, reducing spoilage and waste. Crucially, it can also improve your ability to match staffing with guest traffic levels.
A modern cloud-based POS system will also provide you with advanced insights into which menu items, options or packages are generating the most sales, so you can make better business decisions about future offerings. And because this information is available in real time, you can pivot quickly to keep up with the latest trends.
You’ll also be able to automate staff management and payroll processes for additional time savings.
Moreover, a modern cloud-based POS system can provide valuable insights in the form of staff performance reports. Even though many hospitality businesses are currently short-staffed, it’s vital to instill a sense of purpose and pride in your workforce. Setting (and measuring performance against) productivity standards is a key strategy for achieving this. Knowing which staff are going above and beyond during every shift will enable you to reward these top performers, which can help to create a culture of continuous improvement.
Enhanced service quality and security to keep your guests’ valuable data safe
Depending on the type of cloud-based POS system you choose, you may also need to switch to a new payment processing provider. In some cases, this can be a major upgrade — some systems come with built-in payment processing that is simpler and less expensive. It may also work more seamlessly with the rest of your system and the critical integrations you rely on.
In addition, an upgraded POS system will be adaptable, which means it’ll be able to support your future business plans as well as your current ones. Want to add online ordering to your restaurant’s offerings? Add new peripheral devices to your hotel’s checkout counter? Use tablets in another area of operations? The new solution can meet your needs.
Plus, your guests will feel comfortable knowing their valuable credit card information is secure because it’s protected with robust encryption and the most up-to-date technology.
As the hospitality industry prepares to meet pent-up demand, travelers and diners are seeking out exciting new experiences. Ultimately, however, old-fashioned human qualities — warmth, friendliness, and personalized service — remain at the heart of the hospitality industry. And modern technologies can help employees do what they do best — connect with guests. Upgrading POS systems can help your business meet today’s customer expectations without the need for significant increases in labor.