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Top tech trends in the UK hospitality industry in 2020

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/everything possible)

The UK hospitality industry accounts for nearly ten per cent of UK jobs, making it the third largest industry by employment in the UK (opens in new tab), employing 3.2 million people directly. The industry also has a historically high staff turnover rate (opens in new tab) and because of this, the post-Brexit predicted labour shortages (depending on subsequent new UK immigration laws) could cause big issues for hospitality this year.

With this in mind, investing in innovative tech to successfully manage and retain frontline workers is more important than ever. Here are some of the key tech trends for the UK hospitality industry in 2020 that show how hospitality companies will use innovative tech to their advantage over this challenging period.  

The rise in operational communication platforms

In 2020 more hospitality companies will introduce a mobile, real-time, operational communication platform, which is now becoming a vital management tool for many businesses. For many HR professionals and senior management in hospitality, communicating with the entire team can be very challenging because many workers don’t have access to a desktop PC or corporate email. A digital platform that employees can access on a mobile device via an app means that for the first time, everyone can receive company-wide communication and updates quickly, with the ability to respond in real time. 

Operational communication platforms allow workers to feel valued and have a voice and it also enables the team to provide a better service for customers. Information can be instantly shared so issues can be resolved quickly and changes made swiftly. Staff can also access best practice guides or procedures if they’re unsure, which helps them perform well in their roles.

Streamlined information technology

IT departments across the hospitality landscape should prepare for some big shake-ups to their hotel tech stacks. In addition to innovative gadgets and software, 2020 will also be a year for IT to renew its focus on security and compliance, as GDPR is now in full effect.

Offering frontline hospitality employees a real-time, bottom-up communication tool can help hotels significantly increase employee satisfaction. It's important not to underestimate the impact of making your employees' work lives easier by streamlining even the most mundane tasks, such as the ability to look up shift schedules, view enrolment reminders, or view holiday time-off calendars.

Digital tools that incorporate instant communication such as push notifications, or that notify colleagues when they are tagged in a post for example, helps ensure your hotel teams get the information they need, when they need it the most.

More automation

Automating processes throughout your hospitality business can save money and increase efficiency for hotel management. Online reservation services, automated chatbots, inline translation functions, and mobile hotel check-in features are only a handful of examples of how the hospitality industry depends on technology for their operations. In 2020, these features will continue to mature and grow.

By leveraging workflow automations for specific business tasks, companies are freeing up employees’ time for focusing on their products and customers. Rather than assigning an employee to monitor the company website and answer the same questions multiple times, programming a chatbot to respond to FAQs saves the company time and resources.

Embracing mobile self-service

The hospitality industry will continue to embrace the use of mobile in their day-to-day operations in 2020. According to Oracle’s 2019 Hospitality Benchmark Report (opens in new tab), a staggering 70 per cent of hoteliers surveyed said they have fully embraced mobile. Additionally, 90 per cent of respondents stated that the guest experience could be improved by the ability to use smartphones to manage basic services like booking a room and managing the check-in/ check-out process. In 2020, hotels will continue to invest in mobile to enhance the guest experience and reduce operational friction.

Greater investment in recruitment and HR tech

Expect to see hospitality companies invest heavily in recruitment technology in 2020 to combat the post-Brexit predicted labour shortages in the industry (depending on subsequent new UK immigration laws). Hospitality companies like hotels are now going above and beyond simply posting a job online to find new talent. 2020 will continue to see the rise of companies recruiting employees through hospitality job fairs and hospitality-specific recruiting agencies, while also offering more competitive pay and benefits to retain their new workforce. 

Along with renewed efforts around recruitment, retaining employees through initiatives such as digitising shift scheduling for hourly employees will prove to be just as important as attracting employees for the hospitality sector in 2020. This matters greatly because research shows that being able to access a shift schedule at least two weeks in advance makes a huge difference in the quality of life for shift workers, especially those in hospitality.

In addition, a survey (opens in new tab) of UK hospitality industry workers showed that more than 50 per cent of workers would be less likely to leave the sector if they had more control over work life and more predictable shift patterns. Using a digital communications platform means workers have much quicker access to shift schedules and the ability to request changes as quickly as possible, so they have better success in swapping shifts, when needed.

Ultimately, the right technology can help mitigate post-Brexit uncertainty around potential labour shortages in the UK hospitality industry. In 2020, hoteliers will leverage operational communication technology to ensure their staff is more engaged, happier and more likely to stay with their employer.

Dr. Cristian Grossmann, CEO and Co-Founder, Beekeeper (opens in new tab)

Dr. Cristian Grossmann is CEO and Co-Founder of Beekeeper. Beekeeper is an internal communications platform that helps hospitality companies like hotels streamline their operations and connect with their frontline employees.