In 2017, consumers spent $1.6 trillion on hotel rooms worldwide. As global travel continued to grow, and with new GDPR compliance laws taking effect, hotels needed to keep pace in a constantly evolving industry. Today, the hospitality industry has changed drastically due to the global pandemic that brought the world to a screeching halt. But hospitality companies are beginning to pick up business again, and in order to stay competitive and build a productive team, every hotel should have a digital workplace handling internal communications.
Before the pandemic, Hospitality One2One, a podcast for hoteliers, interviewed Corey McCarthy, VP of Global Marketing at Beekeeper, a secure digital workplace solution designed for businesses with frontline workforces, and widely used by hotels. McCarthy is an industry insider with over 20 years in the hospitality world. In this episode, she talks about what hotels need to know in the digital age, from employee engagement to GDPR compliance, and how Beekeeper has been proactive in protecting its clients.
Here are the top five takeaways from her interview:
1. How GDPR Compliance Affects the Hotel Industry
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union sets a groundbreaking precedent. People leave digital footprints with every click of a mouse. As McCarthy tells Hospitality One2One, “The whole idea behind GDPR is to protect European residents’ personal data whether it’s flowing in Europe or flowing from Europe to the US.” Every hotel, from large chains to boutique brands, should be digitally prepared to accommodate EU guests, but most don’t realize that GDPR compliance affects them. “One of the most alarming things for 2018 in the hotel industry is the lack of awareness regarding GDPR,” McCarthy states. “I don’t think most hoteliers in the US are aware that it exists, or aware that it can severely impact their business.” There are consequences for non-compliance. “Fines are up to $20 million or 4% of their global annual revenue. It’s a potential risk to those who remain uneducated,” McCarthy warns.
2. The Digital Workplace Solution for GDPR Compliance
Protecting personal data can seem like an overwhelming responsibility. Only 30% of companies who need to be in compliance actually are. “Hoteliers and companies, in general, need to make sure that every piece of technology in their tech stack is GDPR compliant.”
The best way to protect personal data is with a GDPR-compliant digital workplace. “Because we’re based in Zurich, GDPR is a requirement that we pay very close attention to.” Beekeeper’s Data Protection Officer/VP of Risk of Compliance created a GDPR compliance checklist to ensure a secure internal communications platform for their customers. From virtual private clouds to multi-layered, encrypted channels, Beekeeper was built with data privacy and protection in mind.
Choosing the right application is essential. Hotels shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security simply because they switch to a digital workplace. “A lot of hoteliers are using communication tools geared towards the consumer set like WhatsApp. WhatsApp is not GDPR compliant. If there’s any guest data being shared over the WhatsApp streams currently being used in a lot of hotels they’ll find themselves not in compliance.”
3. Reaching Every Employee through a Digital Workplace
At Beekeeper, the mission was to build an intuitive mobile app to have a simple interface and to facilitate communication between non-desk workers, their peers, and management. But ultimately, “it’s all about the employee experience,” says McCarthy. “Reaching every single employee is incredibly important.”
A digital workforce puts employees first by creating a culture of inclusivity and opening lines of communication, flattening the hierarchy between management and the frontline. Through their mobile devices, every employee is plugged into their company’s internal communication system. They become more informed, more invested, and more engaged, which leads to our next talking point.
4. Employee Engagement Creates Loyal Guests
“Employee satisfaction relates directly back to guest satisfaction,” McCarthy tells Hospitality One2One. By taking internal communications digital, a team communications app delivers employees the knowledge they need to provide quality customer service.
In a retail setting, another industry that relies on a dispersed workforce, “the success of retail employees and the amount of sales they are able to achieve directly correlates back to the amount of information they’re given on the sales floor.” Real-time messaging through a digital workplace can update employees on products, shipments, and promotions. An informed employee becomes a brand ambassador.
A good interaction with a frontline hotel worker can turn a first-time guest into a repeat customer. For hotels, that loyalty positively impacts occupancy and ADR. “Happy employees equate to happy guests. And what hotel isn’t striving to keep their guests happy? Because happy guests are loyal guests and often advocates of that brand.”
5. Beekeeper Builds Better Managers
One of Corey McCarthy’s missions is to teach business leaders how to maximize the benefits of a digital workplace. “One of the great things we do at Beekeeper is education,” she says. “We feel that if we can create a situation and a culture within each of our clients of open communication, we can help each one of them be better managers.”
McCarthy took that mission a step further. She created an MBA-style online course called Bee School to educate digital workplace leaders. The six-part series covers best practices for employee engagement, culture, management, and motivation. The cost? “Everyone’s favorite four-letter word. Free.”