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Q&A: The Future of Frontline Work

Q&A with Tom Kelley, President of AccessPoint Group Restaurant & Hotel Food & Beverage Consulting

The face of business has changed drastically in the past months, and none more obviously than the travel and hospitality industry.

Beyond the obvious changes that include panic button legislation, and hyper-vigilant cleaning and disinfecting protocols, many face the stressful challenge of smaller and potentially inexperienced staff. In some cases, there’s the added stress of hiring, vetting, and training entirely new staff. And while the summer season is off to a great start, hotel, resort, and golf club operators will be faced with operating a location with brand new rules that might even change daily.

To help us figure out what the future of active work might look like for hotel and golf operators, we asked Tom Kelley, President of AccessPoint Group Restaurant & Hotel Food & Beverage Consulting for some input as to what’s next in the hospitality industry.

The hospitality industry is changing. “Changes have led to a better appreciation of the importance of a solid and motivated workforce, especially in high-end and luxury properties,” Kelley said. He added that “Challenges of bringing employees back to work are less when team members feel emotionally connected and appreciated by the company.” In case you’re wondering, that’s something that should never change. Kelley offered the example of the Las Vegas Sands/Venetian where they continued to pay their employees during the pandemic.

The biggest change in the industry. In case you’re wondering what the the most enduring changes will be industrywide, it might not be what you anticipated.

  • Sanitation overhaul: “There has been and is a change in sanitation – for the better.” Kelley said. Along with that comes more emphasis on less touching of items. Kelley said “Restaurant runners will continue using gloves.” They’ll also realize that they will need to change them often, especially after picking up used plates).
  • More reliance on reservations: If you’re a last-minute play it by ear type, you’re out of luck. Moving forward, restaurants in hotels will rely more heavily and more consistently on reservations. They’ll also probably pad clean up time to keep things as sanitized as possible.
  • More outside dining: Kelley predicts that restaurant companies are going to ready themselves for concept models built around all outside dining. While this will be more obvious in temperate climates, cities like NYC have already created heated outdoor dining that is probably here to stay. And it won’t be limited to restaurants, Kelley says there will be more outside everything.

The evolution of panic button legislation. When asked about personal safety devices, Kelley said it might be hard to legislate in every state immediately. “ It is evolving and may take some time.  Employee unions are leading, but, now more than ever, costs are a bigger factor.” He added that most hotels and resorts will probably “look for an innovative solution from an industry vendor in the coming year.”

At Relay, we’re proud to offer that innovative solution. Our devices connect hotel and resort staff and empower them through the use of a panic button and a completely connected cellular network. Contact us to find out how to empower your staff and clientele through connectivity with a device that alerts anyone to potential danger.

Accommodate your guests. Kelley said the biggest mistake hotels and golf resorts are making right now is “trying to force guests into situations guests may find uncomfortable.” Your goal in the hospitality industry is to make your guests always feel welcome. To that end, Kelley said “If your guests want to sit outside, find a way to accommodate. If they want more spacing or a table apart from others, accommodate that.”

Don’t rush things. While we’re all excited to get back to normal, we have to all ease our way back in. Kelley cautioned that “operators that are trying to instantly go back to packed dining rooms will only drive a good number of guests away – those who are not quite ready to go back to the old normal.

Don’t slack off. In case you think you can get away with providing a less than optimum experience, you can’t. Kelley said “Those operators who slack off on visible protocols around sanitation won’t win any guest loyalty – it will just be seen as not being conscious of a better way of doing things and a new normal.” And that doesn’t give you free reign to slack off on the things guests can’t see. With millions of active social media profiles that last thing you want is for a guest to broadcast your sanitation shortcuts to the world.

Be transparent about your dining protocols.  This is not the time to be wishy washy or coy about the way you do things at your hotel. “Hospitality establishments, especially restaurants, need to clearly state safe dining protocols on their websites and in-store,” Kelley said. Every guest will be coming to you with different needs and requirements. Make it clear before they book their stay that you can meet their needs. “Guest comfort levels are all over the place and restaurants need to continue to cater to that entire spectrum,” Kelley said. “Operators trying to recoup and cram people in, or use less staff, or visibly clean less won’t win any fans.” You won’t win any fans or repeat guests by cutting corners. “ Just do it the new right way and guests will notice operators have their/guest interest at heart and are not just chasing a quick buck.”

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