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Hospitality Experts Share Insights on Engagement, Culture, Technology, and at HRIH!

When Andrada Paraschiv, Beekeeper’s VP of Hospitality, sat down with industry experts at the HR in Hospitality Conference the audience was treated to some great insights on the advantages of implementing a mobile-first communication tool in a hospitality organization.

They touched on the hot topics affecting hospitality today, including the labor shortage, compliance, employee engagement, and the importance of transparency and communication that reaches everyone.

The panelists included: 

  • Kelly Blaggie, Director of HR at the Breakers Palm Beach
  • Dan Waite, SVP of People and Culture for Makeready and Former Vice President, People Operations at SH Hotels & Resorts
  • Jamie Blake, CFO at Huse Culinary

Why Beekeeper?

Each panelist shared ways that they use Beekeeper and how the platform has benefited their organizations. At SH Hotels & Resorts, an international luxury hotel group, Beekeeper connects all levels of the company. “For me, it was about flattening the organization,” said Dan Waite. “You can have your president or CEO communicate with a room attendant in real-time.” 

For Huse Culinary, an upscale restaurant group in Indianapolis, communication across its different restaurant groups and employees was difficult. Only salaried employees had company email. Now, they reach all 700 team members on a single platform. “From our standpoint, it creates one point of dialogue,” said CFO Jamie Blake. “We use the chat feature quite a bit. The employees trust it more. Nobody answers their phone anymore. Most of the employees don’t answer emails anymore. Those are outdated technologies in their minds.”

At The Breakers Palm Beach, a 126-year-old majestic resort right on the sand of Palm Beach, Florida, “We created streams for each one of the departments,” Kelly Blaggie said. “And also we have a resort stream so we have continual communication between all departments and within those departments. We utilize it for reaching out, engagement, surveys, and polls to keep the team members engaged.” 

Quick Pick Quote:
“This year we turned on quarterly check-ins and annual reviews which has been a really great opportunity for employees to interact more directly with their supervisors.”

-Jamie Blake, CFO at Huse Culinary

How Technology Like Beekeeper Can Make Life Easier for HR

The panel all agreed that having a mobile-first communication tool to connect their large hospitality workforces has been good for everyone, especially HR. “Our HR department has seen their work decrease and they have more effective communication with the employees,” Jamie chimed in.

“Our HR team is probably more engaged than it’s ever been because of Beekeeper.” 

At The Breakers Palm Beach, providing workers with information and useful features, like Beekeeper Forms, has reduced HR’s workload. “It answers all of the questions that a team member might have,” said Kelly. “It eliminates the need to go to HR or go to the manager to ask those questions.” 

Beekeeper has helped The Breakers Palm Beach HR team forge connections with the staff, too. People have their photos on Beekeeper, which has helped “to put a face to a name.”

“We have 2200 team members, and when you’re walking down the hall and you see somebody from the back of the house and you can recognize where they work and what they do it makes the human resources side of life easier.”

Employee Engagement

And of course, employee engagement came up throughout the Q+A. Panelists shared the top tips on using Beekeeper to engage team members.

“Keeping the energy level going is actually pretty easy if you utilize it in the correct way of not just notifications of what’s happening on the property but acknowledging somebody who just received a promotion, somebody who just had a baby, or it’s somebody’s birthday. When people see their name in lights on the screen they get excited,” Kelly said.

“It really is about the culture of your organization and what your organization wants to be for its employees. Is it strictly a job or is it a place to support their life goals, both economically and about family?” Jamie asked. “I think Beekeeper provides a lot of tools that allow you to cross over all of those spectrums.”

Quick Pick Quote:
“When you survey your employees, probably the top 1, 2 or 3 on the employees survey in terms of what they’re dissatisfied with and what can be improved as an organization is almost always communication and transparency amongst the organization. This tool allows you to do that much more effectively than more traditional methodologies.” 

-Jamie Blake, CFO Huse Culinary

From a No-Phone Policy to a “Smart” Phone Policy

In customer-facing businesses, a no-cell phone policy is not uncommon. So how do companies moderate cell phone usage when they’ve asked their employees to use a mobile productivity tool on personal devices?

“We had a no cell phone policy until Beekeeper came about. And I think it’s all about the training and education on when to utilize it and when not to utilize it,” said Kelly. “A team member is empowered to go up to a guest and assist them and right there you can solve the guest’s problem.”

Jamie added, “Once you empower the employees to say you trust them to use their phone in an appropriate way, the whole dynamic of cell phone use and scurrying behind corners to go use it went away.”

Why Hospitality Companies Should Invest in a Mobile Communication Solution

The Beekeeper booth at HRIH

When asked why hospitality companies should invest in technology, each panelist had a lot of great things to say! 

“What’s the cost of not engaging your employees?” Jamie asked. “They need to feel like they’re not just a number or an employee, but they’re part of the organization.” He added that we’re “in a time where hiring employees is harder than it’s ever been, retaining employees is difficult, and there’s so much competition out there.” 

“The culture will always exist, it’s just whether it’s by default or by design,” said Dan. “Being able to communicate a message and have a common language and consistency really creates a culture.”

Kelly answered,

“Communication was one of the top three issues in the company for years. And once we implemented Beekeeper we were almost able to eliminate that because communication is at your fingertips, and resources are at your fingertips. It allows a team member to not have to go out of their way to get information. It’s right there for them and it just supports our overall culture of transparency.”

Final Words of Wisdom

As the panel came to a close, Andrada asked for any last thoughts or pieces of advice. Kelly offered this: “Beekeeper connects everybody regardless of what position you are in the hotel or what language you speak. It connects everybody and I think that’s so crucial to being a human and being a team member.”

“In HR, people tend to forget that as nice as we are, sometimes we forget how intimidating it is to walk into the HR office. That it’s like going to the principal’s office,” Dan said.

“For them to see the humanity of their leaders and the vulnerability of their leaders is fantastic. Beekeeper gives you the platform to do that, to show that we’re all humans and we all have our stuff that we bring. It flattens the organization and makes us all in this thing together.”

Jamie reflected on technology’s role in rebuilding the hospitality workforce. “I think the kind of post-pandemic recovery, especially in the restaurant industry and hospitality where there’s an exodus of employees and staff. How we are going to rebuild those team members is going to be through engagement and making them feel comfortable and valued as stewards of the organization,” he said. “Beekeeper really gave us the platform to really put our money where our mouth is and show them we’re here with you.”

With Beekeeper, you can implement effective employee training methods that help your business thrive.  Talk to one of our experts to learn more about what we can do for you, or download our Frontline Worker Technology Report below.