The hospitality industry has taken a hit ever since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. In a year we saw travel deplete and hotels and restaurants around the world take a lot of damage. Right now, 50% of responders are saying that they are not willing to go to a restaurant or travel to their destination and stay in a hotel. As a result, this is 50% of revenue that the hospitality industry is not going to get.
But, nevertheless, the hospitality industry still exists and is even adapting to the new normal. The willingness to come back up on its feet is bringing new challenges and opportunities as well, which means that in the nearest future we are going to have even more reasons to talk about it. So, let’s get a jump-start and learn more about the challenges and IT support needs of the hospitality industry right now.
In this article, we'll cover:
What Is the Hospitality Industry?
The hospitality industry is a part of the service industry that includes five main sub-segments:
- 🏨 Lodging services (hotels, motels, hostels)
- 🍔 Food and drinks services (bars, cafés, restaurants)
- 🎒 Tourism (tours, cruises)
- 🎤 Events (concerts, sports events, festivals)
- 🛫 Transportation (planes, trains and buses)
Surely, it is not all. The systems that are used to book rooms, tables and tickets, as well as customer support for them are also parts of the hospitality industry as they are aimed at servicing the customers and providing the best customer experience possible.
Customers are everything for the hospitality industry. It is a completely customer centric industry that would not exist without providing superb customer service.
Current Challenges of the Hospitality Industry
Of course, just like any other industry, hospitality has its own issues and difficulties that can easily reflect on the entire customer experience. So it is important to point out which issues might cause troubles for the customers and resolve them before they disrupt it.
- ♻️ Sustainability
88% of customers want brands and businesses to help them be more eco-friendly. This means that businesses in the hospitality industry have to include more environmentally friendly solutions in order to win over more customers. But being sustainable is not easy as we at SupportYourApp have learned. It requires several steps to be made and funds to be invested.
Hotels and restaurants need to opt for paperless solutions (which are also going to be more hygienic and safe) and invest more into recycling. Eliminating the need for a customer to sign any papers is also going to play a big part in turning customers towards them.
Of course, for the hospitality industry, going sustainable is not an easy task. It requires a lot of planning, budgeting and resources. It also requires a lot of cooperation and coordination between different branches of the industry. As a result, the strain can only become bigger.
- 💰 Escalating running costs
Opening a hotel in the USA might cost anywhere from $750 thousand up to $22 million, depending on the size of the hotel. And it is only opening. Imagine the cost of running a hospitality business for several years!
Of course, the costs might become too much to handle and bear. Especially if you take into consideration the need for technical and IT support. The hospitality industry is very demanding when it comes to requirements and support so it only adds to the costs. And with all the issues that hospitality is facing now, running costs are only going to increase in the nearest future.
- 🙃 Customer expectations
Customers expect more and more each year. 54% of customers have higher expectations from businesses than they did a year ago. And that surely includes the hospitality industry. What do customers expect from hotels and bars now?
- The ability to cancel their booking if the epidemiological situation worsens, which can come at any moment;
- The ability to reimburse a full price of the ticket or a room;
- The ability to provide safe environment and full-on safety measures (distancing, sanitizing stations and so on);
- The ability to provide quarantining areas for those who tested positive for COVID-19 during their stay or visit of the establishment.
Right now only after implementing these measures can a hospitality business be deemed safe and trustworthy. As a result, demands and expectations are rising higher and all businesses have to support the desire of the customers for them.
- 👩💻 Labor conditions
Running the business, provisioning great customer service and support for all systems all the while making sure everyone is safe. That is not easy nor does in sound to be. It is clear that with time hospitality requirements increase not only from the customers but also from the professionals within the segment.
Putting the pandemic aside, there is always room to improve working conditions and benefits. Seeing how the standards of life around the globe are growing, it is clear that hospitality will have to follow this trend as well. This, in its turn, will only increase the running costs and create even more challenges for the hospitality industry in the future.
- ⚙️ Finding the right tech solutions
Tech and hospitality. Not exactly the symbiotic relationship that comes to mind when we talk about the hospitality industry. But in reality it is one of the most fruitful and necessary collaborations in the market as any hospitality business needs to have some sort of booking, ticketing or ordering system in order to provide smooth and seamless services. Finding the solution that would be 100% right for your business is not simple as there are many details to the process and requirements for the software.
And tech solutions are not everything. One has to also make sure that whatever hard- and software was picked, it had a perfect customer support team that can provide the best support and service for the solutions chosen by a hospitality business.
IT support for the hospitality business is plenty. But how to find just the right one? What are the components of a perfect IT solution and customer support for a hospitality business?
Basic Components of IT Support Hospitality Industry
1. Understanding the needs and requirements of the hospitality industry
We start with the basics. A perfect IT support vendor must understand all the needs of the industry they are supporting. And why should hospitality be any different? With these businesses providing service to millions of people worldwide, it is clear that each of them will have individual needs and individual requirements. And the support vendor must be ready for anything.
2. Ability to back up and recover information
Cloud technologies are on the rise right now. But having a cloud is one thing. Knowing how to back up the data and how to recover it from the cloud should anything go awry is a whole other scenario. And a support team must be tech-savvy enough in order to understand how to back everything up perfectly and how to recover the information for a hospitality business in case one of the systems should fail.
Cloud and hospitality should work hand-in-hand in order for the service to be perfect.
3. The ability to handle sensitive information and keep data secure
Seeing how hotels, restaurants and carrier companies deal with credit card and personal data, it will only make sense that their IT support vendor can handle all of it without the risks of data leakage.
Choose a PCI DSS support vendor that is going to be privacy policies-compliant (GDPR compliant, for example). The higher the level of certification is, the better it will bode for any hospitality business.
SupportYourApp is fully covered in this regard, not only we are GDPR compliant, we also have PCI DSS Level 1 Service Provider certification that allows us to work with the most sensitive card-holders’ data.
4. Flexibility and adaptability
Hospitality industry definitely needs 24/7 customer support and the possibility to provide support in as many languages as possible. That means that the support team needs to be versatile and fully flexible in order for the service to be perfect.
IT support in the hospitality industry must also cover omnichannel customer support as a lot of customers will want to leave a review or a complaint about the service via different channels like chat, email or a social media page.
In order to ensure that we at SupportYourApp are using our own in-house developed QCRM. It helps us cover all channels of communication and provide 100% flexible and seamless customer service and support.
5. Support for any kind of questions and issues
A support team must be prepared for a question of any difficulty as well as be ready to escalate the ticket whenever needed. And they must do it fast as hospitality users are not going to wait for a solution for a long time — it can simply make them churn. Customer support and service teams must be fully prepared, equipped and trained in order to be able to handle any kind and flow of requests from the get-go.
How to Find a Perfect IT Support for the Hospitality Industry?
Perfect hospitality industry IT support. There are so many things to consider and so many things to look out for that a question of whether one can find it arises itself. And we at SupportYourApp can say with certainty — well, of course it is. The only thing needed here is to understand what it is your business is looking for in an IT support provider.
With a decade of expertise we at SupportYourApp are advising looking at these points carefully:
- 📆 Years of expertise
Expertise and experience are crucial when it comes to anything. But, they deserve additional attention when it comes to communication with the customers and resolving their pressing issues. It is especially true for the hospitality industry as customers can have different issues and their number can be overwhelming for the IT support team. That is why it is important to choose a support vendor that has enough experience to handle even the most complicated requests and any ticket flow.
- 📈 The ability to scale a team
As we all know, the hospitality industry is prone to hot seasons. Of course now, during the pandemic it might not be all that relevant, the present also has its challenges and tasks for the hospitality industry. Those using the services of the industry will have more questions and more complicated questions. And the IT support team must be prepared for them. If the issues get more complicated, the team must be able to scale fast in order to handle everything in a timely manner.
- 🔨 Crisis handling skills
The hospitality industry is now in a crisis. Along with a lot of other industries. Of course, IT support for the hospitality industry is also feeling the impact of COVID-19. And, how smooth any of the hospitality businesses will come out of the crisis depends on the support team as well. After all, they are the ones who handle all booking, messaging, ordering and so on.
It is understandable that a support vendor must have crisis handling skills to provide the best services in any situation, otherwise the entire system is under the threat of collapse.
So now we know, an unlikely combination of IT support and hospitality industry works perfectly. Kind of like peanut butter and chocolate.