How to encourage a digital culture at your hotel
Hoteliers face a lot of things: from macro-economic headwinds to local market trends, from rising guest expectations to a diminishing pool of talent, there’s an underlying current of change: digital transformation.Today’s tenuous reality changes often. Just when you start to grasp a concept, master a skill, or leverage a channel, a new thing emerges that requires evolving your understanding and adapting your approach. It’s exhausting. But it can also be invigorating with the right framework for putting digital transformation to work for your hotel.
How to navigate the turbulent rapids of digital transformation
Managing digital transformation doesn’t always have to be complicated and slow. A methodical approach can actually deliver simple and speedy results.There are three key areas that will encourage a digital culture change at your hotel. Looking at them in detail will see increased productivity, stronger profitability and provide more memorable moments of true hospitality for your guests.
Here’s how to foster this engagement to nurture a digital-first approach throughout your hotel.
- Employee engagement
- Guest preferences
- Data-driven decisions
Part 1: Start with employee training and advocacy
To create a resilient digital culture that survives turnover, hotels need an ongoing approach that infuses digital literacy throughout employee training and professional development initiatives.
By training employees in digital literacy, you give them the tools they need to succeed in today’s hospitality industry. An added benefit is more trust issued by being transparent about technology’s role in the workplace.
Easy access to training
Continuous digital learning is critical to embedding digital into a hotel’s culture. Make it very clear that your hotel supports professional development.
Promote collaboration across teams by encouraging knowledge sharing. Consider a periodic employee newsletter that focuses exclusively on digital trends in the industry, or other means for employees to get engaged with the topic of digital transformation in hospitality.
Lead by example
If you don’t know what Snapchat is, how can you expect your staff to care? While it’s important to hire people with different skill sets as yours, it’s nonetheless necessary to have a broad understanding of digital pillars, such as social media, search marketing, and emerging technologies.
Employees are your greatest assets when it comes to building a digital culture in your hotel! Platforms are rich with opportunity to turn employees into brand advocates.
Consider this: According to Instagram, the average number of likes per post is 1,261, and Social Media Today found that content shared by employees receives eight times more engagement than the content from brand channels. By empowering employees with relevant messaging, and celebrating employees that share content about your hotel, your hotel harnesses the power of employee advocacy. The additional benefit is that encouraging this behavior shows that your hotel is a digitally-savvy, forward-looking place to work.
Part 2: Understand your guests’ preferences
The second piece of establishing a digital culture is understanding the evolving preferences of your specific hotel’s demographics. Without aligning your digital approach to your guests’ evolving needs, you risk a mismatch that causes failure. After all, if you deploy a digital culture that doesn’t meet guest expectations, your staff will struggle, and the guest experience will suffer.
- Implement guest messaging tools that help your staff be more productive while also providing the real-time customer service most guests expect. When digital tools make life easier for both customers and staff, you have a winning combination.
- Use reputation management solutions to monitor guest reactions, identify service issues, and listen for evolving preferences that may impact your hotel’s product/ service offering.
- Deploy a modern hotel CRM to capture guest preferences, develop rich guest profiles, and ensure that your hotel delivers the level of personal experience each guest wants.
- Install ‘Insta-worthy’ features on property. Lean on current events and ask your staff for input. Creativity and relevancy are the name of the game when it comes to digital culture!
All marketing has become digital. The lines between marketing and revenue management have collapsed, so it’s really about optimizing across channels (both intermediaries and social media) for the most efficient customer acquisition costs.
The discipline is about maximizing revenue without alienating guests. Integrate your CRM data into your digital marketing workflow to power personalized messaging via proper segmentation. By optimizing your marketing spend using data-driven segmentation, you’ll deliver on the productivity promise of a digital culture by spending less time and money on marketing.
Part 3: Data matters
The final piece of the puzzle is to rely on data to drive decision-making. Be sure to show how the sausage is made: When you adequately show the evidence used to derive the decision, staff feel informed and has more ownership over the process. Avoiding explanations like “because I say so” or “because I’ve been doing this for a long time” ensures that the culture orients around objective data and not individual fiefdoms.
Data must also be used throughout your digital organization to enhance the guest experience, improve staff productivity, and market more efficiently. Your hotel should aggregate guest information, such as past stays and keyword based behavioral intent, to build experiences and compose messaging that are contextual and relevant at the individual guest level. Personalization has been an industry buzzword for years; now is the time to deliver it meaningfully.
The perception of innovation
As you continue to embrace the digital mindset and nurture your hotel’s digital culture, you’ll find that it gets easier over time. Eventually, the muscle memory kicks in and your property becomes a physical extension of the digital culture you’ve cultivated. Brand strength derives from even just the perception of innovation, so stay focused on fostering the culture that aligns both staff and guests around this digital culture.