Engaging Your Front-Line Teams in Technology Innovation
“Yes, it’s hard to change the technology tools that are needed to enable digital transformation especially when you are running a hospitality business, normally a 24/7, 365 operation. For me we need more involvement with front-line staff as I am convinced they have loads of small incremental innovative ideas that could make their jobs far more efficient or allow them to provide better customer service.” Ian Millar; Professor at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (Embedding a culture of innovation and transformation; HospitalityNet).
Introducing change is difficult no matter who the audience and how well thought out the necessary innovation is – stakeholders, partners, your board, your staff, and front-line teams that work with visitors every day have unique needs, wants, and perspectives. Here at True Omni, we talk a lot about the concept of “Give to Get” – be it a marketing campaign, new ways to incentivize customers, or your own visitor services team.
We’ll walk you through some ideas to treat your own team as you would any customer to bring them along for the journey of technology innovation throughout visitor services. The rewards for this effort are great – an aligned team and a unique service to offer visitors can provide valuable marketing information.
1. Identify Your Customer & Team
Have a clear understanding of the persona of the customer you are trying to reach, and the team who will be making that connection. The customer is a new audience you have been trying to reach – younger travelers trying your destination for the first time. Tech-savvy travelers with discretionary spending to enjoy local experiences. Both of these audiences crave convenience and authentic locally curated content – your Visitor Center can do both with integrated technology
Now for the team – invite them to the development process of the technology solutions you are considering. Officially collect feedback in advance of developing lists, itineraries, and features for your new digital touchpoints, such as kiosks, etc. Identify your leaders who provide valuable feedback and educate them – they will be your advocates. Find your employees with influence who are harder to win over, if you can include a key representative you may find yourself with an ally.
2. Reward and Respond
Reward early adopters and initiative – Bailey Underhill, Director of Marketing at Maine Tourism created activity scavenger hunt sheets for her teams to discover content and functions on their new kiosks, and delivered rewards for those who found the “Easter eggs.” Product knowledge is key to referring and recommending, including your digital touchpoints.
Respond to feedback from your development and deployment process – your team is just like your customer, they want to feel heard. Acknowledging feedback openly, even when the response is not an agreement lets the team know their perspective was considered and fosters a culture of transparency – both proven change management best practices
3. Plan for Continuous Improvement
Treat any new systems launch of digital services as a trial experience – invite your team to play with each product and provide open ways for feedback on user experience. Invite your teams to QA your live product, and treat the launch as a trial where needs for improvement are expected and budgeted. Encouraging quick wins that benefit the team’s processes, create efficiency, and allow them to “wow” their customers with a unique experience is a great way to get your team on board.
Additionally, plan for continuous training. Communication and upskilling are never one-and-done. Your team has diverse technology and adoption abilities, as does your customer. Continue to refine their skills and revisit the training. Set achievable goals during your trial period, that celebrate when the team reaches them. For example, the team could have a goal to convert 5% of visitors to use and share from your kiosks and provide a reward – everyone will feel the achievement and be better prepared for the next wave of improvements and innovation.