The major advances in technology that have emerged over the last several decades have had an impact on virtually every aspect of modern life, and the hospitality industry has also been affected by these changes. While keyboards and microchips are probably among the last things guests want to think about as they dip into a crème brûlée or lounge in a penthouse suite, hospitality industry insiders know that modern technology plays a big part in keeping things on track behind the scenes, from the back-of-the-house order management systems that help chefs keep their plates straight to the reservation systems that ensure that a soft bed will be waiting for a weary traveler at the end of a long day on the road.
Just like all types of technology, the technology that helps power the hospitality industry is constantly evolving. A brief stroll through the product exhibition hall at any industry conference will reveal just a slice of the hundreds of new styles of software, systems, gadgets, programs, and equipment that are released in the hospitality market each year.
Sooner or later, it’s likely that your organization will be faced with a challenge that can strike fear into the heart of even the most intrepid of managers: implementing new technology in the workplace. Whether it’s a POS program for your café or a reservation system for your bed and breakfast, the prospect of managing technology change can be daunting. Here are some strategies to help you and your team survive -- and even thrive -- in the process.
Human beings are naturally resistant to change, but change that is sudden and unexpected is often most difficult to accept. As soon as you are certain that technology change is in your organization’s future, announce the news to your staff. This will give them more time to adapt mentally to the prospect of a future change. If possible, begin training sessions that introduce the basic concepts of the new technology well before the actual date of implementation.
Call on a few ambitious, interested, or tech-savvy employees to act as project leaders for the technology change. They can sit in on the planning and implementation meetings and convey new developments to the other employees in their departments. Also, having a few key “cheerleaders” who are in favor of the project from the start can help bolster the staff’s morale during the challenge of implementation.
The hospitality industry is famously fast-paced, so booting up a new POS system right before the dinner rush is probably not the best way to boost your team’s confidence in the new technology. If possible, set up the new equipment in a back room for several weeks of training before the full-scale implementation. Remind your staff of the old adage that the only “stupid” question is the one that remains unasked.
Remind yourself that a few snags and roadblocks are likely to arise during the first few weeks of using new technology. Make sure that you have developed one or more contingency plans that your team can rely on if the new system becomes inoperable.
Don’t disband your technology committee after the new system has been installed successfully. Instead, plan on meeting every month or every quarter to discuss issues, concerns, or suggestions for future upgrades. You can task one or more of your staff with the responsibility of keeping up with new products from the manufacturer and new developments in the field.
With the rapid pace of technological change that’s occurring within the hospitality industry today, it’s probably more helpful to think of technology implementation as an ongoing process, rather than a one-time project that ends with installation. Although the prospect of change is always unsettling, you can significantly increase the chances that your organization’s shift to a new technology will go smoothly by sticking to these simple strategies.