Solving small-business staff shortages in the hospitality industry

Hospitality Industry

Few industries were harder hit by the short-term effects of the pandemic than hospitality, and few will feel the longer-term effects more keenly. Hospitality is a transient industry, powered partly by international students and short-term visa holders. With Australia’s international borders unlikely to reopen until 2022 and the impact of lockdowns, hospitality is experiencing a staff shortage problem. In some instances, hospitality operators have little choice but to close.

With almost half of the 800,000 Australians in the industry employed in small businesses, it’s an issue many small venues are feeling. However, through training and development, talent identification and technology, there are ways small hospitality businesses can do more with less.

Training, development and talent identification

With Australia’s unemployment rate currently below five per cent – its lowest for 10 years – hospitality operators should first look at how they can retrain and upskill existing staff. Industry bodies, like Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA), provide a host of accredited training and education courses. Facilitate, encourage and reward on the job learning in your business, too. An overlooked but important byproduct of upskilling your team is demonstrating that you’re serious about helping them grow. This can increase loyalty and morale among current staff, and act as an incentive to attract new hires.

The May 2021 federal budget sought to alleviate staffing problems by lifting the cap on hours international students are allowed to work, to over 40 per fortnight. This will help make a job in the hospitality industry more appealing to them, so advertise roles in channels used by students. Making your venue stand out as an appealing, friendly and exciting place to work can make a big difference in recruiting efforts.

Streamlining and optimising through technology

Technology allows small hospitality businesses to do more with less; optimising staff time, increasing efficiencies and decreasing admin – all while providing the exceptional experiences guests crave, remember and return for.

When acquiring guests, online booking, virtual waitlist and direct delivery solutions allow guests to place an order or reserve a table, without requiring staff to answer phones, write down orders or consult calendars. Through contactless order and pay technologies, guests can browse menus, place orders and make payments without demanding excessive attention from staff. Meanwhile, table management software provides a holistic view of every table, ensuring that staff’s time and attention is where it’s most needed whether on a busy Friday evening or slow Wednesday afternoon.

When turning occasional guests into regulars, approved data collected throughout the guest journey allows venues to automate their marketing based on customer insights and provide the personalised communications that incentivise loyalty. Marketing automation is an effective way to wow guests and helps staff send the right message, at the right time, to the right person, without lifting a finger.

Whether due to staff shortages or the transient nature of hospitality, data can sometimes slip through the cracks, meaning operators are missing out on being able to engage more deeply with their guests. It’s important that guest insights are collected and stored in one easy to access place so venues can continue to provide exceptional experiences, irrespective of whether staff are seasoned experts or relative newbies. Guest experience platforms like SevenRooms allow small hospitality businesses to optimise their operations and alleviate staffing issues, without compromising the guest experience.

Ultimately, hospitality businesses thrive on exceptional experiences that guests love, remember and recommend. While there might not be a simple solution to border closures or external factors like the pandemic, by empowering your staff and leveraging the power of technology, you can unlock their time, your business’ potential and provide the environment and experiences that wow guests and prospective hires alike.