Melanie-2023
March 22, 2024

Staff shortages in the hospitality industry: using AI for bookings management

Use AI to support your Reservations and Back Office teams

What is the role and importance of the department responsible for managing hotel bookings?

Hotel Reservations Department or the Back Office is responsible for managing hotel booking requests. It plays a crucial role in maximising occupancy rates and generating revenue through direct bookings.

The staff shortage in this department needs to be addressed as it has a crucial impact on the prosperity of your hotel. Among other things, a suboptimal reservation service may result in: 

  • Poor customer service, as having a small team to manage bookings may result in longer waiting times for dealing with requests or booking errors, resulting in guests’ dissatisfaction.
  • A loss of revenue. Bookings that are not logged or poorly managed due to staff shortages can result in a loss of revenue for your hotel. Potential guests may be lost due to mismanagement of bookings, and sales opportunities may be missed.
  • Work overload and lack of operational efficiency as employees may be overwhelmed by an additional workload caused by staff shortages. Furthermore, tasks may take longer to complete, and processes may be delayed. 

In short, staff shortages in your hotel’s booking service can have serious consequences, impacting the team’s operational capacity, guests’ satisfaction and your hotel’s revenue. With the increasing difficulty of recruiting skilled staff, AI is emerging as a promising solution. What benefits can it offer you? Let’s have a look. 

Reservations 2 staff shortages in the hospitality industry: using ai for bookings management

What are the challenges in bookings management service?

Before exploring how AI can help fill the staffing gap in the Reservations team, it is crucial to understand the challenges facing this department: 

  • Real-time booking management, especially during peak periods. It is one of the major challenges for a hotel’s Back Office team. During these periods, such as school holidays or end-of-year holidays, demand for bookings can spike significantly, increasing the pressure on staff to process requests quickly and efficiently.
  • Preventing overbookings and duplicate bookings. Overbookings and double bookings are another important challenge for a hotel’s bookings department. Staff must therefore be able to closely monitor current bookings, update availability in real-time, and quickly identify and correct booking errors.
  • Customisation of offers to meet the specific needs of each guest. Each guest has unique preferences, requirements and needs when choosing accommodation. Some may seek rooms with sea views, others prefer rooms closer to the gym, while others may have special requests such as extra beds for children. Managing all these expectations efficiently and offering a personalised service can be a logistical and operational challenge for booking teams, especially during busy periods.
  • Management of last-minute cancellations and booking changes. Your guests may wish to cancel or amend their booking at any time. This can be particularly difficult for bookings departments to manage, as it requires a quick and effective reaction to adjust availability and respond to guests’ requests. Of course, the aim is to minimise the loss of revenue and optimise the use of available rooms. 

Reservations 3 staff shortages in the hospitality industry: using ai for bookings management

How to resolve bookings management challenges with AI?

More and more hoteliers are using technology. According to a recent study by Food Hotel Tech and Food Service Vision, 40% say they are “very interested” in integrating AI into their business. In general, back-office functions are best suited to this transformation, including maintenance management and bookings. 

Thus, once you have chosen the AI solution best suited to your needs, you can then use it to: 

  • Automate and optimise the booking process. As illustrated above, one of the biggest challenges for booking teams is managing requests in real-time, especially during peak periods. Implementing an AI-based solution helps manage the influx of requests, offering personalised customer support at all times. HiJiffy’s virtual assistant is not only available 24/7, but it is able to automatically answer more than 85% of guests’ common questions in more than 130 languages. Implementing AI also helps you to analyse past booking trends, predict fluctuations in demand, and automatically adjust prices and availability based on these forecasts. Result: a better guest experience and increased revenue. 
  • Avoid overbooking and mistakes. By integrating an AI-powered solution into bookings management, you will reduce the risk of overbooking and duplicate bookings. This translates into a smoother guest experience, a reduction in errors, and optimised revenue for your business. Ultimately, using AI in bookings management allows you to provide a quality service while at the same time maximising your profitability. Remember to check that the AI-powered solution you want to use perfectly integrates with your booking engine.
  • Analyse customer data to offer guests a personalised service. AI-based solutions allow you to analyse guests’ data and thus better understand their needs and preferences. For example, AI can recommend rooms with specific features based on a guest’s past preferences, or even suggest complementary activities or services that suit their interests. This makes it possible to offer a more personalised service and thus improve guests’ satisfaction, at the same time boosting your revenue with upselling opportunities. 
  • Manage booking changes and cancellations efficiently. Being available 24 hours a day, an AI-powered virtual assistant can be used to manage requests to change bookings, providing fast and efficient support to guests to meet their needs.

Integrating AI into your hotel’s bookings department is an effective solution to overcome staff shortages while at the same time improving guest satisfaction. This technology also enables trend analysis to enable accurate financial forecasting. In addition, it identifies periods of low and high demand, allowing the marketing department to develop targeted strategies to attract guests during these periods and the bookings department to prepare effectively to manage peak seasons.

Reservations 4 staff shortages in the hospitality industry: using ai for bookings management

Implement an AI-powered solution now

In short, integrating an AI-powered solution for guest communications like HiJiffy is an effective response to the challenges facing bookings management services. By adopting these technologies now, your facility can not only address staff shortages but also offer excellent customer service. The result? Reinforced guest loyalty and better competitiveness! 

Melanie-2023
Marketing Specialist France

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