Few industries bore the brunt of the global pandemic quite like hospitality. ‘Social distancing’ is the enemy of a sector that thrives on personal interaction and the need for community lockdowns and border closures was akin to driving a dagger through the heart of hoteliers, restaurateurs and like-minded folk who love nothing more than serving people. No one would begrudge hospitality operators receiving some positive news and, as the sun rises on a new year, that is exactly what they are getting.
From CBRE forecasting a significant recovery in demand and room revenue across the lodging sector in 20231 to a Deloitte survey finding at least half of Europe’s accommodation operators expect to return to pre-COVID performance levels2, the signs are promising for a great year ahead. The current state of the hospitality industry means there is also a sense of optimism among many in the restaurant sector as diners embrace the chance to make the most of a social experience they greatly missed during the pandemic.
Tempering this enthusiasm is the fact the hospitality sector is one of the biggest casualties of the labor shortage sweeping the world. As reported by the OECD: “Labor shortages have been widespread across countries, yet particularly in Australia, Canada and the United States; and across industries, yet particularly in contact-intensive ones like accommodation and food3.”
Along with joining other sectors impacted by social phenomena such as The Great Resignation, many hospitality employers were forced to lay off staff during the pandemic and now, with the industry picking up again, many of those same workers do not want to return or are demanding higher wages to do so. The dilemma is highlighted by one study that showed, even after a spike in hiring, the U.S. hotel industry had nearly triple the unemployment rate compared to the national average4.
Between rising demand and labor shortages, there has never been a better time for operators to embrace innovative resourcing solutions. This is particularly so when it comes to reservations, which are the lifeblood of any hospitality business and have come under scrutiny in recent times. Dissatisfaction among consumers with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) during the pandemic has led to renewed growth in hotel direct bookings, so much so that the latter is expected to surpass bookings via OTAs in 2023, the first time that will be the case in recent years5.
As the sector braces for an ongoing rise in reservations, operators need to carefully review how their bookings are being managed and ensure premium performance in terms of efficiency, cost-effectiveness and professionalism. For that reason, it is no surprise many are turning to quality outsourcing providers that specialize in reservations.
Before exploring how outsourcing reservations can benefit hospitality organizations, it is important to highlight there are various ways of making a booking. On a macro level, this can be broken down into two areas.
With direct reservations an essential part of any hospitality business, it is essential for operators to have a clear and concise plan for managing inquiries. Amid rising demand and the importance of delivering exceptional customer experience, many firms are increasingly recognizing the benefits of incorporating a hospitality contact center or offshore staff into their reservations strategy. These include:
The world of reservations has changed significantly in the past decade or so but one thing that will never change is that a missed booking is a missed opportunity. Outsourcing reservations gives operators the confidence to know the right people and systems are in place to maximize bookings, upsell or cross-sell products, navigate customer queries and positively impact revenues. Crucially, it also means in-house staff can sidestep some of the mundane and time-consuming aspects of reservations and instead focus on ensuring guests and diners have a great experience. It really is a team effort and given the expected rise in demand in 2023, that is more important than ever.
Pandemic-induced epiphanies have inspired countless workers to seek new goals, new jobs and new employers. Learn more about The Great Reshuffle and how you can attract the right workers and make them stay.
 Lodging market should recover fully by 2023 according to CBRE | TravelDailyNews International
 Deloitte study: the European hotel industry is expected to reach again the 2019 performance levels starting from 2023
 The post-COVID-19 rise in labour shortages | en | OECD
 Hotel CEOs Concede a Lasting Labor Shortage May Reshape Guest Experience (skift.com)
 By 2023, hotel supplier-direct will again surpass OTAs: Phocuswright
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