The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic. Now, as the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in many parts of the world begins to ramp, hoteliers need to be more agile today than ever before as safety procedures continue to evolve.
With access to a digital workplace for frontline employees, hoteliers can remain flexible in keeping employees (both active and furloughed) informed of changing global policies in real-time and engaged in open communication practices to maintain an excellent guest experience.
In a recent webinar, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s Group Director of Rooms and Quality Anja Luthje spoke with Beekeeper’s Head of Hospitality Andrada Paraschiv on the importance of agile employee and guest communications as health and safety procedures continue to change given the ever-evolving COVID-19 environment.
Let’s take a look at some important practices that have helped Mandarin Oriental and its employees navigate this time of uncertainty.
Keep Furloughed Employees Connected with Mobile Communication
With major hotel groups furloughing thousands of employees around the world, hoteliers are now tasked with keeping both active and furloughed employees connected in a COVID-19 world.
Mandarin Oriental leveraged its established mobile communication platform to quickly communicate with employees throughout the pandemic.
“Beekeeper has been a great tool in this time of crisis, particularly for hotels that have closed and employees that have been put on furlough. With this tool, we have been able to continue communicating and engaging with those employees.”
Through its Beekeeper employee application, Mandarin Oriental can remain in constant communication with furloughed employees who no longer have access to their email addresses by sharing important information they will need when returning to work. The employee app also provides access to development training employees can take to improve certain skills while away.
Digitize Key Documents for Easier Accessibility
Gone are the days, at least in the near-term, of sharing physical SOPs, manuals, checklists, and other important documents across employee groups. Instead, hoteliers are working quickly to create easier, quicker, and safer digital accessibility to key documents frontline team members need to provide great guest service.
“People are concerned about revising SOPs, but given the nature of the current environment, these SOPs are bound to change. You as a hotelier need to be able to be agile and make these revisions with the protocols almost instantaneously to the frontlines.”
At Mandarin Oriental, the hotel group re-imagined their SOP by creating a digital SOP summary card that is now available to employees whenever they may need it on their mobile employee app. Additionally, with integration capabilities with platforms like Lua on its employee app, Mandarin Oriental introduced interactive housekeeping checklists. This process ensures employees are diligently following health and safety policies, even as real-time updates are distributed.
Empower and Engage Employees to Do Their Part
At the onset of the global pandemic, Mandarin Oriental understood it had its own role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but that goal also extended to its frontline team members.
As a result, the hotel group empowered employees to do their part in meeting that goal by equipping them with the necessary tools and encouraging their collaboration, idea sharing, and open communication with the management team.
Following the hit of COVID-19, Mandarin Oriental quickly implemented the “We Care” health and safety program, in which:
- Employees receive a welcome back package stocked with branded PPE equipment and access to amplified guest room cleaning resources
- Guests can provide personal preferences prior to their arrival and expect stringent health and safety protocols being met by well-informed employees upon arrival
Ask Me Anything
Mandarin Oriental emphasized the importance of open communication and employee engagement when re-opening their locations. As a result, the CEO launched the “Ask Me Anything” initiative, in which employees could submit any question for the CEO to answer – and he would. The initiative broke down hierarchies and promoted a transparent environment for employees to interact with the management team.
By encouraging open communication across team members, employees began to organically share their own ideas on improving the guest experience or certain protocols. Mandarin Oriental partnered with Beekeeper to create a submission process within their employee app called the Innovation Stream.
Through this important feedback channel, employees could formally submit ideas on the go, and those ideas were then sent to their general managers who had the ability to award points and rewards for ideas that were implemented.
“Our colleagues are empowered to give their own ideas. They are more engaged, which may be connected to the open communication they’ve received.”
Adhere to Local Regulations on a Global Scale
Hotel groups with a global portfolio are required to regularly update procedures and protocols that match local regulations. At times, those updates are needed on a real-time basis.
Mandarin Oriental relies on its easy-to-use mobile employee app to quickly adapt any necessary safety measures and easily disseminate key information directly to employees on their devices.
“We have to remain agile and constantly available to change. Regulations are changing in every county, not just every state, and we need to be flexible to adapt to those changes […] We’re really happy with the Beekeeper tool because we think it’s what’s made the difference in our colleagues actually being able to do a superb job.”