The ‘stick to your lane’ mentality will soon be a relic of hotel operations. It used to be that everyone had their duties and departments more or less siloed without much overlap. This meant specialization and smooth service, but also created a ton of administrative overhead. Now, the combination of robust, integrated tech platforms, ongoing labor shortages and the need for deriving an even better bottom line are working to break down those silos.
By merging departments, it means managers have to wear a lot of hats and rely on seamless tech stack connections to automate most of the repetitive tasks and accountability tracking so that their time isn’t bogged down. For the front-line staff, this means that their roles are shifting into ‘utility players’—a term borrowed from baseball—where using a BOH app will inform them of their next upcoming job (and perhaps some instructions on how to complete it).
There are many examples of this. An easy one would be the combination of all traditional front office responsibilities; the front desk clerk also handles reservations, concierge duties and perhaps can act as a bellhop or valet when lobby coverage allows. Another would be the growing overlap between revenue management, marketing and sales which each now act in congruence with the other two to thus make a fusion of the three a reasonable move. While there are trepidations over service quality (and union obstacles in select markets), a clear advantage of all these departmental mergers is the reduced labor overhead as productivity goes up on an individual basis.
This is a big trend and one that will take the rest of the decade to complete; it’s not something that can be done overnight. Why we bring it to your attention now as food for thought for 2022 is that those organizations that don’t adapt to this new way of operating will get left behind.
Consider what the hotels that have this newfangled, flatter hierarchy will do with all those additional cost savings. Besides having better debt service coverage, it may mean more funds to devote to CapEx for continued property renewal to keep pace with design trends or future tech innovations. These savings could also be parsed off so that a portion goes back into employee appreciation to thereby lower the churn rate (and reduce onboarding costs) and heighten service delivery because veterans always know their roles better than new hires.
Dwell on this concept of utility players to see how you can make it happen, or at least start to in the new year. As it relates to the labor shortage at present, the increased exposure to a variety of operations will make for a more dynamic work environment which, besides saving costs by reducing churn rate, will result in engaged team members and better succession planning. There are obvious advantages for this new way of operating, and we hope you consider it going forward.