SA needs to recognise the key role that technology will play in revitalising the hospitality industry
Pre-Covid, travel and tourism contributed 6.9% to South Africa’s gross domestic product, declining to 3.7% in 2020. Similarly, the number of jobs created by the sector dropped by 32.4% from 1.5 million to 987 000. It was, according to Statistics SA, bigger than agriculture, utilities and construction.
As a country, we obviously need the industry to regroup and reach these numbers again. We have taken to first steps to start such conversations and engagements with the hosting of the Micros TechConnect22 gathering in October and we are confident that as a collective, we will put the building blocks to attain that vision. But, even more, we need the industry to grow, create jobs and earn the foreign exchange we so urgently need.
To do so, however, we need to confront several key challenges. In so doing, it is vital the industry recognises the role that technology can play in helping to equip it to discover new sources of revenue and improve margins.
Some of the key challenges, and the role that technology could play, are:
Quite understandably, many in the industry have taken the decision to move into other sectors that perhaps offer more stability. The loss of experienced talent is always a massive challenge in any industry, and hospitality needs to devote attention to repopulating its talent pipeline.
Technology-based training has a role to play in helping to upskill a new generation of talent. Well-designed online training programmes can easily be customised, and sophisticated assessments ensure that the information has been internalised.
Artificial intelligence is also being harnessed to make using IT programmes much easier. It’s now possible to ask the system how to perform tasks, such as creating an invoice or an inventory, and it will deliver what is essentially an online tutorial. One is tempted to call this “just-in-time training”.
Higher hardware costs
The global shortage of semiconductors has led to a spike in hardware prices of 35-40%, a massive rise that the hospitality industry can ill afford coming after three years of dramatically lower revenues. Another option is to explore different leasing models to take the Capex sting out of the hardware budget and make everything much more predictable from an expense point of view.
Because the lockdowns and social distancing lasted so long, I predict that the desire for more contactless transactions is here to stay. For example, hotels will have to offer a variety of contactless options for checking in, accessing rooms and even concierge services—the robotic concierge is just around the corner. Many of these solutions, it should be noted, also address the issue of staff shortages.
Courtesy of Bizcommunity – read full article here.