Anyone who thinks that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be part of the future is mistaken. This is already part of our daily lives.
Currently, digitalization is present in all spheres of the economy, having driven the growth of companies and society in the XNUMXst century. XXI, and today, we are changing the way we work.
Tools such as GPT Chat, Google Bard, among others in the field of AI, help us in our tasks, increasing productivity.
In the 2020s, we have seen the emergence of themes such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0. We are facing the 4th Industrial Revolution with improvements in the level of efficiency and productivity of processes.
What impacts will come from Industry 4.0 on companies in the hotel sector? What impacts, especially in the Algarve, where the shortage of Human Resources (HR) is felt with some intensity, due to the seasonality of the region, combined with other factors?
Computer skills must be high. We know that the hard skills – technical knowledge skills – are highly valued in the current professional environment, however, these skills can be replaced by machines after some parameterization.
The same does not happen with soft skills – behavioral skills -, which must be highly trained to become an “asset” that is difficult for companies to replace.
For example, some leadership and decision-making jobs cannot be easily replaced by machines, as human intervention and its character of subjectivity and problem-solving analysis are not yet within the reach of technology.
Technological unemployment will not represent a permanent problem in the digital economy of the future. Lower-skilled or more automated jobs could disappear.
However, some authors believe that the balance – the difference between losses and gains – of jobs will overcome the loss felt, but other new, more digital professions will emerge in this new immersion.
Collaboration between humans and robots will be inevitable in the future, and therefore, it is essential that the stigma associated with the replacement of people by machines disappears. It is important that we look at robots as a way of adding value to the tasks we currently perform and not as rivals, especially because machines will still not be able to completely replace people.
Currently, hotels have mobile applications for reservations and chatbots are replaced by humans to communicate with their customers, not only in the hotel sector, but also in other sectors of activity, such as online clothing sales.
There are facial recognition sensors for safer service and the rooms can be cleaned by cleaning robots.
IoT increases comfort at the accommodation department level. It is possible to automate some equipment in the room, such as: (1) the lock, (2) the A/C, (3) the lighting devices and (4) the safe.
Therefore, it is possible for the guest to have control over these same equipment through a mobile application.
For some time now, hotels have been equipped with in-room technology where, when guests leave, electrical devices automatically turn off.
In the future, there are authors who believe that guests will be able to control all equipment through their mobile device, with an application that records their preferences.
This will give hoteliers access to guest habits and tastes for an enhanced consumer experience and greater guest convenience.
In the hotel industry, there is also the food and beverage department, which suffers greatly from the shortage of HR. Due to this HR shortage, new technologies can help, by introducing digital menus where customers can start the menu viewing process and generate orders directly to the kitchen, thus avoiding errors and unnecessary waiting times.
In addition to these situations, there are already robots that make drinks, replacing Bartenders, and robots that replace the function of employees who work in the room service, taking the dishes ordered by customers to their room.
The HR shortage in the hospitality industry has always been one of its weak points and it doesn't seem to be improving. The subcontracted workforce has been increasing, and the Portuguese Government had to intervene, with legislation that came into force on May 1, 2023.
We know that automation will affect jobs that require less qualifications and also more administrative jobs.
However, the consumer experience is influenced by a series of attributes at the hotel that involve service at reception, dinner at the restaurant, company, among others.
Therefore, these technological innovations will lead customers to look for more automated and digital hotels.
In the city of Porto, there is a hotel that is aware of the digital transformation, in which the check-in This is done through a self-service kiosk, where it is possible to control the television and lighting through a mobile application and where some orders requested to the room are delivered by robots, such as dinner in the room on a room service or a request for extra towels.
Guests also have the option of changing the LED lights in their room using the mobile application mentioned above. The human relationship ends up dissipating, but it is an experience like any other.
On the one hand, as long as companies have the financial resources available to invest in digitalization, it can help with the HR shortage.
The concern lies with people with lower qualifications who have difficulty adapting to new technologies, generally at an older age.
Training is becoming very important and the Covid-19 pandemic has brought us a positive aspect to this issue: the acceleration of digital or hybrid training – known as e-learning ou b-learning, respectively. Therefore, training can now be taught anywhere in the world.
It is necessary to focus on training as a key factor in accelerating digitalization in terms of services and acceptance by workers, which will consequently contribute to a greater consumer experience, with high financial returns.
Author: Daniela Silvestre is an effective member of the Order of Economists, a PhD student in Management at the European University, professor at the Instituto Superior de Lisboa e Vale do Tejo, Management trainer at the School of Hotel Management and Tourism of the Algarve
Note: article published under the protocol between the Sul Informação and the Algarve Delegation of the Economist Order