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  • Writer's picturePhilip Marchant

A to Z of 2021 Home Schooling for Business (Part 4, R-V)

R – Retention

During this trying time, it is understandable that you will probably lose some of your staff as they look for alternative sources of income.

However, it is essential that you keep the key players. So even if they find other jobs make sure you keep in contact and keep them updated with any plans.

Now is the perfect time to help them if you can, to achieve some qualifications, and heave them undertake any online courses that they want, even if you don’t think they are relevant to your business. Having motivated and happy staff is essential for your business success.

Now is also a great time to make changes so ask your staff for ideas on improving or simplifying your offering, service, and marketing.

Engaging with your staff and working with them to improve your business will make them feel valued and improve their performance.

Create a new operating procedures handbook and ask your staff for feedback on it so you can make your business the best it can be.

Retaining your staff is only half the battle, you will also need to retain your customers, or engage with new ones. Get on the social media sites and keep posting multiple times daily. It doesn’t have to be advertising.

Just post what your feeling, any new dishes your trying pictures of you painting or making for your business, funny or inspiring quotes etc. your customers may interact with you and if they do message make sure to reply. Your can even message them and like the things that they post. Retweet or share things that you find interesting on their pages and build up a community.

S – Sustainability

Simple eco-friendly switches include replacing miniature toiletries with larger, locally sourced dispensers, reducing energy consumption with smart bulbs, etc. Vegetarian and vegan options, bio-degradable packaging, carbon neutral certificates, carbon offsetting, buying local to reduce delivery miles. There are also decisions to be made about using more sustainable materials for things like towels and bedsheets.

According to Deloitte, 95% of business travellers surveyed believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives.

Most of your guests and prospects are under the impression that you should be doing what you can to be environmentally friendly.

So, what are you doing about it?

As academics specializing in the travel, tourism and hospitality (TTH) industry, we have trained and advised dozens of companies in their journey towards sustainable businesses.

There is so much more sustainability than just the standard greenwashing statements.

Building a sustainable business strategy won’t be quick or easy—but waiting is not an option.

Implementing an ambitious emission plan will pay off. Can you be the first carbon negative business.

Just Complying is no longer an option your need to be proactive and put Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) in your corporate agenda

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria are the three central factors taken into account when measuring the sustainability and societal impact of investment in a company or business.

Customers are more educated and aware than ever and are increasingly making informed conscious decisions. The reputational damage of misleading customers will have serious implications for the future of businesses.

Sustainability has been a hot topic in the hospitality industry in the last few years.

Sustainable tourism is not just a rising travel trend. It’s also quickly becoming a priority — if not a moral imperative — for hospitality leaders and hotel businesses around the world.

The International Tourism Partnership found that for the hotel industry to align with the Paris Climate Agreement, it will need to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions per room per year by 90% by 2050 (compared to a baseline from 2010).

Key eco-friendly hotel industry trends you cannot ignore:

Cutting down on food waste.

For example, by growing food onsite, sourcing food locally, and shifting social norms to ensure that “plate waste” is no longer enough. Every aspect of food and beverage in the hotel industry is coming under review.

Purchase price of goods. Where items are sourced, whether they’re organic, sustainably harvested, all natural, etc. you also need to think about the packages, plates, and utensils.

In other words, it isn’t just about waste, but also about whether you’re using sustainable suppliers.

Minimizing water usage beyond the hotel room.

In addition to encouraging guests to be mindful of their water and towel usage, some properties are turning to innovations such as showers that filter their own water. Hotel Central Park uses five-minute hourglasses in their showers to make guests aware of wasted water consumption.

The Northern hemisphere experienced perhaps the driest and hottest summer last summer. This signals an impending water crisis which the hospitality industry cannot simply overlook. Sometimes, lawmakers enforce legislation to contend with emergencies. For instance, the state of California was facing a drought for several years. This drought became extremely severe, and the Governor had to impose water use restriction on the entire state. The new regulations state that by the year 2022, indoor use of water will be only 55 gallons every day for every person, and by the year 2030, the use allotted to every person will be 50 gallons.

Hotels in US use on an average 25 gallons water per day per room only for laundry. This amounts to 2 million gallons water, assuming 65% occupancy. Restrictions like those in California have compelled hoteliers to form new green strategies to use natural resources within limit, while making sure that their guests are as comfortable as earlier.

We’ve already touched on shower counters and educating guests on wasted energy, but many hotels are looking to install other water-saving devices, such as flush diverters or low-flow showerheads. Still others are looking to divert rainwater to their plants and gardens. Expect water to remain a major talking point in the sustainability of the hotel industry and look out for emerging innovations.

Eliminating plastic.

A step beyond recycling, doing away with single-use plastic products can help limit the huge amount of waste stemming from creating and discarding these items. Getting rid of plastic water bottles and plastic bags is a good place to start, but you need to look long term. You need to be sourcing suppliers that are as committed as you to the sustainable future. And you need to be telling your guests about it.

Leaders of the hospitality industry are taking appreciable measures in reducing plastic usage. Recently, Marriott International announced the removal of plastic straws and stirrers from more than 6500 properties in the world. In place of small plastic containers for toiletries, in-shower dispensers will be introduced.

To reduce plastic use while continuing to offer guests pure drinking water, hoteliers can install a commercial grade water filtration system with dispensers. These systems can save a lot of money long term and reduce buying bottled water, thus reducing plastic pollution. These water cleaning systems can be hooked directly to the hotel’s water supply, thereby allowing guests and staff to fill reusable bottles or glassware whenever they want to.

Hotels can make the travellers aware about the environmental benefits of reusable bottles which reduces carbon footprint considerably, and hotels might sell them on their premises to help guests get access to these easily.

Replace disposable cups/glasses with ceramic and/or glass ones. Hotel guests can refill their coffee with the mugs/cups they carry from their room or fill their travel mugs. Hotels can sell reusable mugs too, along with the message that guests would be contributing to the reduction of the most toxic material created by man – plastic.

Replacing plastic or Styrofoam with materials which can be used several times is one of the ways how Hotels worldwide place toiletries such as lotions, shampoos, conditioners, hand soap, body wash et al in tiny plastic bottles, and guests love these tokens of hospitality. But unfortunately, this only adds to plastic waste which should be avoided. Hotels can replace the plastic bottles with glass bottles or install refillable wall dispensers for these items. It would cost less eventually and also reduce plastic use and waste considerably.

Energy Conservation.

This “economically sustainable method” is effective and easy to apply, for example by redesigning the guest experience to encourage guests to apply adaptive behaviours. One way is to replace the mini-fridge and coffee machine in each room with a communal amenities area in an open guest space.

Upgrading existing technologies go a long way in saving energy instead of investing in the latest technologies. A sustainability trend in hospitality industry can be observed in using energy-efficient electrical gadgets. LED and energy-saving lamps are finding more use.

Smart energy management system is helping hotels track the energy consumption in various parts of the hotel. This is followed by continuous optimization of energy usage to minimize the environmental impact. Changing the light bulbs to LEDs will reduce electricity bills by half at least. For example, for illumination of 800 lumens, a 60 watt fluorescent bulb is required, but for the same amount of illumination, a 6-8 watt LED bulb is enough. LED lights last for a whopping 50,000 hours as compared to 1,200 hours of normal bulbs, this will also lead to a substantial cost saving too.

Integrating sustainability into the hotel architecture. When building new properties, the “three-zero-concept” approach:

1. using local construction materials and skills (zero kilometres)

2. prioritizing energy management and lower emissions (zero carbon dioxide)

3. introducing life-cycle management into the building process (zero waste)

Proactive hotels are educating their guests on how to be greener. It makes good sense that you’ll need your guests to cooperate with you if you want to make your hotel more sustainable. Sharing how they can help can go a long way towards you achieving your goals. Take advantage of social media, content, and email campaigns to encourage less waste. Attracting eco-conscious travellers.

The number of eco-conscious travellers has increased worldwide. Corporate and business travellers or individual travellers are aware about their carbon footprint while traveling. Millennials, who are avid travellers expect the hotels they patronize to be green, as a matter of course.

Many organizations have initiated policies regarding the environment which also includes reducing their ecological footprint while traveling on company business. This results in entrepreneurs, private individuals and companies choosing to stay in hotels which have green policies. This is why hotels go green to attract this growing clientele.

The U.N. World Tourism Organization predicts that by the year 2020, there will be some 1.6 billion eco-inspired trips taken. It is evolving from a nice-to-have, on-trend hotel commodity to a must-have priority for a growing number of environmentally and socially conscious travellers. We see this especially among the rising generation of travellers and hotel bookers. A study on millennial consumer behaviour, conducted by The Nielsen Company, found that sustainability is a shopping priority among this influential and travel-prone generation. In fact, 66% of global respondents (up 11% from the previous year) would “pay more for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact” (Nielsen, 2015).

Hotels which have a green certification immediately draw attention to their environment friendly image. This opens up hotels to a whole new segment of guests who actively look for eco-friendly hotels. The good PR and a listing on the environment list result in positive publicity which brings in many more guests, thus increasing revenue.

When a hotels practices sustainability, it not only conserves energy and water and make a positive impact on the environment, but also supports the local economy and can be a huge marketing tool.

T – Touchless technology

The trend towards digital and contactless services has gained huge momentum in 2020. Traditionally customer-facing services are being given an overhaul, thanks to the more widespread use of technology-assisted options, such as mobile check-in, contactless payments, voice control and biometrics. Offering the following contactless services will continue to be the norm in 2021.

Just over a year ago, businesses might have paid less attention to sickness related health and safety practices at the workplace. However, communal surfaces are now a major concern for businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Business leaders are looking for ways to address this issue, one of which is with the use of touchless technologies.

When visitors and employees have to touch tap dispensers to clean their hands, it almost defeats the purpose of washing to begin with. People are more likely to utilize automatic dispensers as they are more sanitary, convenient, and easier to use compared to their manual counterparts.

Aside from hygiene, touchless fixtures reduce costs by controlling water and soap usage at your workplace. There’s no need to worry about running taps or visitors using excessive amounts of soap. You also save money by protecting your employees’ wellbeing and minimizing productivity loss due to sick leaves.

Doorknobs are hotbeds for nasty viruses and bacteria. Pathogens can survive for as long as several days on door handles and other solid surfaces. Unaware of the harm this could cause, many businesses might not clean their door handles unless they see obvious stains or detect sticky residues.

One way to address this is with automatic doors. Some companies combine auto doors with sensors or scanners for security purposes. For example, employees and visitors must scan their access cards to enter the building—a win-win for hygiene and security.

If automatic doors are out of your budget, consider doing regular disinfections to keep doorknobs (and other high-traffic surfaces, touch points) clean. Daily cleanings work best to protect your employees and visitors from dirty door handles. Keep in mind, however, disinfection fees can add up over time to the point where it may be cheaper to install auto doors.

The days of making appointments in person are over… at least for the foreseeable future. Businesses want to minimize physical contact as much as possible in the wake of the COVID-19 virus. This means fewer office visits, group meetings, and events. If not already doing so, businesses should be transitioning to an online appointment system.

You can do this with online tools such as Google Forms or Typeform. Moreover, safety non-compliance may result in hefty fines, which is financially risky considering the current state of the economy.

A touchless sign-in system can effectively manage visitors on arrival while saving your staff time and keeping them safe. Some of these contactless sign ins use QR codes, which can be set up throughout your lobby. These QR codes can be displayed digitally or printed on paper if you don’t have sign-in tablets for visitors.

Once visitors scan your QR code, they will see a short form directly on their device requesting their details and vital health information. For example, have they experienced any flu-like symptoms recently? You can easily customize questions and agreements to suit your company’s unique requirements.

Keep your workplace, staff and customers safe with touchless technologies.

It’s crucial to minimize physical contact to keep your workplace safe. Touchless technologies like QR codes, automatic washing fixtures, and touchless visitor management systems will help you achieve this goal.

U – Uniqueness

Competition is the natural order in business, especially in the modern age with a Global economy and the internet, where it’s not just your local competitors that you need to worry about.

Customers are overwhelmed with options, and they want to quickly discover and understand what makes one product or brand different than another. Knowing the right way to position yourself and your products can mean the difference between making the sale and blending into the background.

What is a unique selling proposition?

A unique selling proposition, more commonly referred to as a USP, is the one thing that makes your business stand out from the competition. It’s a specific benefit that makes your business interesting and different when compared to other businesses in your market.

What makes you different from the competition?

Your USP plays to your strengths and should be based on what makes your brand or product uniquely valuable to your customers. Being “unique” is rarely a strong USP. You must differentiate around some aspect your target audience cares about, otherwise your messaging won’t be nearly as effective.

A successful USP must be:

  • Assertive and interesting but defensible: A specific position that forces you to make a case against competing products is more memorable than a generic stance, like “we sell high-quality products.”

  • Focused on what your customers value: “Unique” doesn’t matter if it’s not something your target customers care about.

  • More than a slogan: While a slogan is one way your USP can be communicated, it’s also something that you can embody throughout your business and be lived and practised in all areas of your business.

It’s not necessarily what you sell that has to be unique, but the message you choose to focus on that your competition doesn't.

Specific marketing offers—like 10% off, free shipping, 24/7 customer service, or a strong return policy—are not USPs. Convincing and effective though they may be, they’re not unique on their own, nor are they positions that are easy to defend as any of your competitors can copy them.

A unique selling proposition is a statement you choose to embody that differentiates your brand from your competitors.

A USP is also not just the header copy on your homepage. It’s a position your small business takes as a whole that can be incorporated into your products, your brand, the experience you provide, and any other touch point your customers have with your business.

You might be wondering how you can go about creating, uncovering, or refining your own unique selling proposition.

Every USP is going to be, well, unique but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a process you can follow to put yourself on the right track. Here's how you can discover yours:

  1. Make a list of all the potential differentiators of your brand and what you sell. And get specific. Breakout products and compelling marketing messages rely on precision: they solve the exact right problem and communicate that benefit to customers in their own words.

  2. Research the competition. Who are your competitors and what are their USPs? Look for gaps where you can potentially introduce your brand differently. Products in the same category can be positioned in wildly different ways—footwear, for example, can emphasize style, comfort, or durability.

  3. Compare your most unique angles against your audience's needs. Are there any customer needs that haven’t been filled? Do you see any pain points that you can appeal to that your competitors haven’t?

  4. Compile the data. Take the information that you’ve learned and sift through it to single out your strongest USP.

  5. Think about viable ways to apply it across your business. Applied properly, a USP can be woven into different areas of your business, from your brand name to your return policy to reinforce the idea to your customers.

Once you have a vague idea of what your USP is, it might help to express it as a positioning statement so you can get it down on paper:

This won’t be exactly what you advertise on your website, but it should help you clarify your USP, its audience, and any specific differentiators that might be worth highlighting.

Unique selling propositions: Defining your competitive edge.

A USP isn’t just a persuasive line of copy on your home page. It’s how you position and market your entire business to the rest of the world.

Your products don’t need to be wholly unique in and of themselves for you to have a strong unique selling proposition. Instead, look for a spot in the market where you can plant your flag that is relatively untouched by the competition.

There may be a dozen ways you could sell your products, but your USP is the big idea that best positions your brand according to what your customers care about and what your competitors aren’t.

V – Virtuality – Voice activated

I have included these two for the letter V as I feel these are huge trends that are just really getting started and have huge potential in the future of hospitality.

Voice Search & Voice Control

The use of voice search is becoming increasingly common among customers searching for and booking hotels and restaurants, so you need to respond to this change in behaviour and make a clear attempt to capture these customers. This means, among other things, structuring your website content clearly, so it features properly in voice search results.

Beyond this, voice control can also be used to control devices within hotel rooms, enhancing the guest experience. For example, smart speakers can provide guests with answers to questions and can also respond to voice requests to turn on lights and devices within the room. This can also reduce the number of surfaces guests touch too.

Virtual reality ranks among the most exciting hospitality technology trends, providing the means for potential hotel guests or restaurant diners to experience what their surroundings will be like, all from the comfort of their own home. This can be crucial for moving these people from the planning stage to committing to a visit.

Virtual tours/ 360 videos can help some customers to better understand the facilities available. Offering this service also gives you a clear edge over any rivals that are not yet capitalising on this hospitality trend and the web-based nature of modern VR tours means they should be easily accessible on many devices, even without a VR headset.

Virtual & augmented reality

Following on from the orientation towards visually appealing content, it seems only natural that businesses in the hospitality industry should seek to capitalize on features such as virtual tours, conjuring up a digital environment for consumers to picture themselves in. Videos providing 360-degree views of restaurant ambiance, sweet little café terraces enveloped in greenery or hotel beachfront locations, for instance, are just the ticket to make an establishment stand out this year. As ever, keeping the access threshold low is key to reaching as broad an audience as possible with virtual reality material: making content accessible on a variety of devices, without the need for a VR headset.

Once on site, guests should be able to whip out their trusty sidekick – their smartphone – and simply point it at real-world artefacts to summon up additional information. Augmented reality uses graphical or informational overlays to enhance in-situ environments. Once they have downloaded the respective app, guests can use this tool to access restaurant opening times, reviews or interactive tourist information maps or even create user-generated content. This can be a great tool for replacing the large amount of printing and lamenting and cleaning of hotel information packs.

In a hotel room you can use this tool for instance:

Point your device at the phone to display contact numbers for the hotel departments and partner businesses such as taxi firms, local restaurants and attractions with links to their contact information or websites. Point at the bathroom and it can display the list of toiletries that are available to order from the hotel or local Pharmacy that will deliver.

Point at the mirror and opening times of the spa and package deals ( you can even offer special offers that aren’t available any but your app),

Point at the tea/coffee facilities and room service menus come up, with app ordering available. Point at the alarm clock and you can book a wake up call, order a newspaper and order room service breakfast.

These are just a few services you can offer this way to make your guests stay easier and exciting.

Keep a look out for the final instalment in this series.


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