Virtually every article written about the current state of the hospitality industry and the projected future includes a mention of the “labor shortages” and the high cost of labor. Typically, it is the number one issues facing hoteliers today according to surveys conducted by AH&LA and other organizations.
Hospitality has always relied on cheap labor typically provided by entry level staff at minimum wage. Yet now it appears the minimum wage labor pool no longer exists and the mundane tasks that hotels still require to be done are not compelling enough for today’s worker.
At the same time, because of the shortage of labor and a robust inflationary economy, the hourly wages necessary to attract someone have more than tripled in the past few years. A job that used to pay $6.00 per hour, now commands a rate of $15 to $20 per hour. Add to that rate 25% benefit cost and hoteliers and restauranteurs are paying $16 to $25 per hour for someone to vacuum a floor or deliver room service or serve tables in a restaurant.
One would think the innovative leaders of the hospitality industry would be seriously pursuing alternative ways to get the work done at a lower cost, yet sadly most have just accepted the current situation and they have not applied one bit of creative thinking to solve these problems. Article after article is written about how to recruit employees by having empathetic managers, giving employees flexible time, providing a career path and all sorts of other recruiting incentives that have been in use for the last 50 years.
Albert Einstein once said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”, yet this seems to be the approach of most hotel companies. Just trot out the same old list of recruiting programs, make the same old promises and magically the problems will be solved.
Here’s an idea: how about applying technology to the problem? Not just software systems that create less work for hoteliers, but actual technology that completes tasks that typically would be done by an employee. Tasks such as deliveries to guest rooms or food running in restaurants or scrubbing the floor. Of course, I am referring to robotics.
Robotics servers, cleaners and delivery robots are available today and the technology works. The cost of the robots is so low that the ROI can be achieved within 4 months! One would think hoteliers would be all over this tech, yet they are ignoring it and opting to use the same old approaches to labor.
The cost savings are huge, the technology is proven, many testimonials are out there from guests and operators alike about how much they love their robots. Seems to me that a “management company” should be focused on ways to improve profitability for the hotel owners, isn’t that the promise from management groups? Well, here’s an answer and its available now.
It’s time to challenge the hotel industry leaders to consider a new paradigm and investigate robotic technology. Working demos of robots for any hotel are available. Information regarding robotics abounds on the internet.
Some innovative and forward thinking GMs and corporate leaders are making the switch but the majority are ignoring this answer to their current and future staffing requirements.
Author: Michael French