the Restaurateur Top Trends in Hospitality for 2020 December 05, 2019 Is your organization positioned to weather the changes happening in the hospitality industry? Here’s the latest. The past decade has brought rapid and dramatic shifts in the ways successful hotels and restaurants operate and compete. This pace of change seems likely to continue. Here are some of the latest developments affecting the bottom lines of hospitality businesses.Labor ShortageWith historic-low unemployment rates, the high rate of turnover among employees presents a significant challenge in the hospitality industry. Moreover, changes in immigration policies are shrinking the pool of candidates for many positions.The costs can compound quickly. Recruiting, developing and retaining qualified employees can easily cost several thousand dollars per employee. Compensation expenses are climbing, too. Employees are taking advantage of the tight job market, demanding higher pay and more benefits. Plus, in many areas, state or municipal laws have boosted minimum wages. And the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has expanded eligibility for overtime beginning January 1, 2020.Technology ToolsTechnology can help ease some of the pain associated with the labor shortage. Hospitality companies are launching apps for customers to make reservations for meals or stays. They’re also setting up kiosks for self-check in and out. Chatbots can provide 24/7 assistance that reduces in-person or telephone waiting times. Robots can also take over such tasks as food preparation, front desk and security services. Likewise, technology can improve the customer experience. For example, the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) connects everyday hotel room objects — like lights, thermostats and televisions — to the Internet, quenching consumer demand for all things “smart.”Technology can even enable hotels and restaurants to collect and analyze data on customer habits and preferences, which can be leveraged to customize their offerings. Personalization is rapidly becoming a customer expectation — no one wants the standardized treatment of a generic guest or diner. CyberrisksData collection provides a wealth of valuable information. But it also comes with significant cybersecurity risks. Has your business taken steps to safeguard guests against a breach? Examples of cyberattacks abound. In May 2018, Earl Enterprises, the parent company of Buca di Beppo, Planet Hollywood, Earl of Sandwich and other restaurant chains, became the victim of a 10-month-long breach involving more than 2 million customer records. In August 2019, hackers accessed an unsecured Choice Hotels database with about 700,000 customer records.It’s difficult to calculate the potential reputational damage from a data breach. But, according to the Ponemon Institute’s 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average total cost of a data breach in the hospitality industry is almost $2 million (or $123 per record breached). On average, the report says, it takes 200 days to identify a hospitality breach and 75 days to contain it. A lot of damage can be done in that amount of time.Sustainability and Social ResponsibilityConcerns about the environment and ethical behavior increasingly are driving consumers’ choices. That’s particularly true of Millennials and Generation Z, who often research the business practices of companies before doing business with them. Possible ways for a restaurant or hotel to reduce its carbon footprint include: Installing energy-efficient lighting and heating equipment,Choosing sustainable construction materials and supplies (such as building insulation and linens),Eliminating single-use plastics (for example, straws, bags and beverage containers)Some states have even instituted state-wide bans on single use plastics—Rhode Island Senate just approved legislation that bans single use plastic bags, for example.Reducing water consumption,Serving seasonal food with ingredients obtained from local sources, andDonating surplus food to local nonprofits.Also, consider promoting your efforts using social media. Environmentally conscious guests will likely notice these efforts and keep coming back. Plus, green business practices may lower your utility bills and provide some tax breaks. Contact UsIs your organization positioned to weather the changes happening in the hospitality industry — or will it fall behind more agile competitors with stronger finances? Our Hospitality Services Group can help your organization tackle these issues head on and prepare for the future.