Robots and artificial intelligence could play a significant role in easing the tourism industry’s hiring crunch without replacing existing staff, according to a new report from Traveltech Scotland.
The organization’s research of more than 130 technology organizations in the tourism and hospitality sectors also found that working conditions and wages can be significantly improved by adopting programs such as employee well-being platforms.
The results indicate that technology is no longer a marginal efficiency tool for companies in the hospitality and leisure industry, but a key pillar of their success as they adapt to permanent job vacancies in key roles.
Technology solutions that assist with scheduling, training, and management, helping to retain employees in an industry that has seen a long period of job vacancy have been identified as vital to the sector’s future. More support is needed in areas such as housekeeping, food and beverage service.
The report says there is a particular need to help small businesses, which often lack the financial resources, implementation support or training time to explore technical solutions.
The tourism and hospitality sector in Scotland contributes around £6 billion to the Scottish economy each year and tourism companies represent 8% of all businesses registered in Scotland. To protect its important contribution to the economy, the sector needs to address the long-term threat of permanent vacancies, a challenge that is unlikely to fade in the face of demographic changes and tightening borders.
The research, which was funded by the Scottish Government’s Tourism Recovery Trust and commissioned by Skills Development Scotland, cites the likes of Lemon, an app for health and safety solutions, and Hop, a cloud-based property management system, as examples of effective current innovations. TravelTech has also created an interactive, searchable database, the Traveltech Scotland Guide, which identifies the best technology solutions for specific needs, from rota planning to health and safety management and more.
In addition to implementing existing technology, the report states that the hospitality and tourism industry has the opportunity to develop stronger research partnerships and development lines to meet future challenges and bring new innovations to market.
Traveltech Scotland, which works with a wide range of Traveltech companies, from globally recognized Skyscanner to innovative start-ups, argues that the industry must be faster at adopting new technologies.
Joshua Ryan Saha, Director of Traveltech in Scotland and author of the report said:
“The staff shortage in the hospitality industry is an issue that will be with us for a long time. There is a small group of people who can work in hospitality now and want it more than before. To secure the future of this vital industry, we need to make better use of the technology we have now, and we need to build Hospitality technology of the future.
The potential of robotics and artificial intelligence is enormous, but we cannot replace humans with robots. It won’t be right and it won’t work. Hospitality, at its core, is a “people industry”. By using technology to increase the number of employees as they go about their tasks and finding ways to automate unwanted parts of the job, we can create a more fair and desirable work environment for employees.”
David Cochran, CEO of HiT Scotland (The Hospitality Industry Trust) said:
“The industry is renowned for being resourceful and inventive when it comes to finding solutions to the multiple challenges we face. This report adds more technology solutions into the mix, which must be taken into account when looking at the future workforce. Data is the new currency, we must spend it wisely.” .
Angela Vickers, CEO of Apex Hotels said:
This report comes at an opportune time as the industry struggles with labor shortages and rising costs. Exploring the “art of the possible” using new technology is the ray of hope we need to continue working and finding solutions to overcome current challenges.”
Lawrence Durden, Tourism Sector Manager, Skills Development Scotland said:
“Skills Development Scotland has been pleased to support this research which provides important insight into how companies in the tourism and hospitality sector can better use labor-saving technology to help address significant employment and productivity challenges facing the sector.”
Traveltech Group Scotland, which celebrated its second year in August, is helping the sector overcome challenges and meet consumer demands in a post-pandemic society, and amid raising awareness of sustainability issues.
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