Overcome the hospitality labor shortage with the right mix of AI and CX

Stay Connected

Blog updates via Email

Nothing ruins a trip faster than a bad experience or unexpected hiccup. Consumers expect their travel to be memorable, seamless, and personalized, and hospitality brands are under pressure to deliver – even as they grapple with a perfect storm of worker shortages, record-high labor costs, and the fast-approaching peak summer travel season.

In a recent survey of hoteliers, 67% said they’re experiencing a staffing shortage, with 12% saying they’re so severely understaffed that it’s affecting their operations. The American Hotel & Lodging Association survey found most hotels are grappling with shortages even as 82% have increased wages, 59% are offering employees more flexible hours, and 33% are expanding benefits.

Wages for hotel workers have reached a record high but, even as they invest more than ever in workers, brands are having a hard time attracting and retaining and top talent.

How can hotels meet growing customer demands amid all these obstacles? Investing in customer experience (CX) and AI is crucial.

Become more efficient with AI

Hospitality brands don’t have time or resources to waste on inefficiency. The right AI tools can help your associates work better, faster, and smarter, and streamline your back-office operations.

Know your customers’ top intents (why they’re interacting with your brand) and determine which ones can be served by self-service and automation. Not every interaction requires a human touch, and diverting some to automation frees associates up to focus on more nuanced and complex interactions where they add more value.

For those times when associates need to speak with customers, use AI to put the information they need at their fingertips quickly. When our own help desk associates at TTEC struggled to resolved customer inquiries quickly, generative AI that used large language models helped them find relevant answers much faster, which reduced associate stress and lowered average handle time.

Hire and retain top talent

There will always be some intents and interactions that require human assistance, so it’s crucial to have the right workforce in place. But finding and holding onto quality associates is harder than ever.

Make associates’ jobs easier by training them to not only access the right information quickly but also to deliver empathetic CX in the moments that matter. When travel frustrations arise, such as unexpected problems with a hotel reservation, customers typically are stressed and need an empathetic customer support experience. How your associates respond in those moments can boost customer loyalty and help your brand’s reputation – or turn customers off your brand.

Another way to attract talent and reduce attrition is by giving associates more autonomy over their own schedules. Consider a flexible scheduling model that gives top-performing associates the first choice of what shifts they want to work and offers them more flexibility around how they structure their shifts.

When associates have access to the tools and training they need to perform their jobs well, and a supportive work environment, they are happier on the job, stay on the job longer, and ultimately deliver better experiences to your customers.  

For a deeper conversation on these topics, join our upcoming LinkedIn Live, “Smart solutions: AI, CX ready to help reverse hospitality labor shortages” May 14 at 1 p.m. ET. During the 20-minute session AI specialists Richard Schuman of Level AI, Paulette Chafe of Zendesk and I will discuss how hospitality brands can navigate labor challenges with the right technology and people.