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3 ways to reimagine hospitality and empower your frontline with Microsoft Teams

It’s an exciting time for hospitality, as technology and AI begin to transform the way the industry operates, competes, serves guests, and supports staff. As the hospitality industry begins to navigate the increasingly complex digital landscape, success will require a renewed focus on the industry’s most valuable asset: the frontline worker.

Frontline workers are the cornerstone of the hospitality industry and the first touch point with customers. For these organizations to be successful, they must understand how to effectively leverage technology to improve efficiency and free employees’ time for more high-value work, such as servicing guests. Rooted in Microsoft’s mission to empower organizations to achieve more through intelligent tools, Microsoft Teams is prepared to help transform the frontline experience with purpose-built solutions.

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This week at the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC 2023) in Toronto, Canada, Microsoft Teams is thrilled to be showcasing tailored frontline solutions designed to enhance communication, streamline operations, reduce burnout, and empower the frontline to deliver differentiated guest experiences on one, secure platform.

1. Enhance communication and collaboration across hospitality

Hospitality organizations run smoothly and efficiently with a connected frontline, but limitations to effective collaboration are far reaching. Although hospitality is an interconnected industry, 59% of hospitality frontline workers say that messages from leadership do not make it to them. Regardless of the type of hotel or resort, the guest experience could be negatively impacted if the frontline can’t effectively communicate. That’s why Microsoft Teams unifies communication on one platform, for easier information sharing and collaboration.

Provide a tailored home experience

Within the pre-configured home experience in Teams, hospitality organizations can centralize access to key resources that allow frontline workers to find answers to questions quickly, stay connected to company-wide updates, and access relevant tools for their specific role. This home experience, available on desktop and tablet, offers a customized, company-branded dashboard that provides a quick way for frontline workers to stay in the flow of work.

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To enhance the home experience in Teams for hotel companies and other industries with many frontline employees that span multiple brands, we are excited to announce that an organization can now have multiple experiences. This new feature allows companies to provide a tailored experience that reflects each brand’s look and feel and customize the dashboard for each brand’s unique needs. Multiple home experiences will start rolling out by the end of June through the Viva Connections app in Teams. Learn more about the recent enhancements to home experiences in Teams.

Connect frontline teams with instant communication

Enable staff to be hands-free and heads up by turning employee- or company-owned smartphones and tablets into walkie talkies. With Walkie Talkie in Microsoft Teams, a frontline worker can quickly dispatch maintenance to guest rooms for necessary repairs or ensure coordination between event staff for optimal guest experiences with the seamless push-to-talk experience.

We are excited to announce a new feature in Walkie Talkie, Auto Connect, which will allow users to automatically join the last connected, default single channel or the channel set by the user. Auto Connect will be generally available in July. Walkie Talkie is available on devices from our industry-leading partners, including Honeywell, Samsung, and Zebra Technologies.

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Fostering a connected frontline workforce with Microsoft Teams

Today, MGM MACAU and MGM COTAI, two casino and hotel properties in the resort city of Macau, use Microsoft Teams to provide employees with company news, customer service tips, information and applications they can access on personal devices from anywhere, helping employees to work more efficiently and collaborate better. It’s just one example of the organization’s ongoing efforts to empower employees in all areas of the business with collaboration tools that match the fast-paced reality of the hospitality industry. “With Microsoft Teams, our frontline workers now receive pre-shift briefings on their personal devices. They arrive at work with all the information they need to start a successful shift right away,” says Ringo Cheang, Director of Talent Development at MGM MACAU. “Communication has become so much easier now.”

2. Increase frontline productivity and operational efficiency

In day-to-day operations—which directly impact the customer experience and profitability—nothing is more important than an efficient frontline. Across industries, many frontline workers still rely on manual processes, but when empowered with technology, 46% of frontline workers have reported that tech tools would make their job easier. Hotels can improve productivity by automating processes with digital workflows, subsequently freeing workers to focus on higher-value tasks.

Explore the possibilities of AI across hospitality
Recently, we announced the preview of the native integration of AI-empowered Power Virtual Agents into Power Apps. Power Virtual Agents in Microsoft Power Apps and Teams can help new frontline employees get up to speed quickly by providing them with easy access to standard operating procedures, frequently asked questions, company policies, and other important information that is relevant to their role. With this feature, organizations can easily create and add a Power Virtual Agent bot to their applications.

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We’re only beginning to see the full breadth of AI possibilities in hospitality. Microsoft is investing in next-generation AI that will unlock a new wave of productivity growth with tools like Microsoft 365 Copilot, integrated into the apps your team already uses every day.

Improve hospitality processes and enhance task management
Help hospitality managers create and publish complex tasks more easily while giving workers a clear view of what needs to get done with Tasks app in Teams. Recently, we announced a new checklist completion requirement feature for Tasks in Teams. With this feature, checklist items will be required to be done before a task can be marked as complete in the system, useful for complex tasks and procedures such as turning over a room or preventative maintenance.

Enhance schedule management at all levels
To help relieve the burden on frontline managers and workers, we’ve partnered with UKG to co-engineer the Microsoft Teams Shifts connector for UKG Dimensions to give hospitality workers the ability to view and accept open shifts, request time off, clock in and out, and more. Bringing together Microsoft Teams as the system of engagement and UKG Dimensions as the system of record, organizations can provide a single, seamless interface to simplify scheduling—resulting in time savings and a more autonomous frontline.

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3. Transform the hospitality employee experience and reduce burnout

Industry-wide staffing shortages are a pervasive problem across hospitality, with 53% of hospitality workers saying worker shortages are making it difficult to do their job. Many hotels have adopted new recruitment incentives to help fill open positions—offering higher wages, flexible hours, and expanded benefits—but staffing shortages persist. For hospitality organizations, supporting inclusion and employee wellbeing is critical to alleviating burnout and improving retention.

Strengthen connections between employees and accelerate onboarding
Building connections across teams can help break down barriers and leverage the collective knowledge of the frontline workforce. With employee engagement solutions in Microsoft Teams like Viva Engage, organizations can provide ways for frontline workers to express themselves, build a network, learn, and connect.

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One key challenge of improving the employee experience is enabling onboarding and providing role-specific training in a centralized place. With Viva Learning in Teams, frontline managers can curate learning content for their teams by leveraging Learning Management Systems (LMS), 3rd party content providers, custom content sources, or any of the Microsoft content libraries included in Viva Learning. To build on these capabilities, we recently announced learning collections and learning pathways in Viva Learning, with support for mobile coming soon.

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Driving customer satisfaction by enhancing team member engagement with Microsoft Teams
Hilton Grand Vacations, a leading global player in vacation ownership properties, always looks for ways to enhance the team member experience. To deliver a modern workplace, Hilton Grand Vacations engaged its 8,800+ team members across 55 properties worldwide—and saw a direct business value. “In the hospitality business, it’s all about team member engagement—it’s the secret sauce,” says Kevin Speidel, Senior Vice-President, Resort Operations at Hilton Grand Vacations. “The more that we can access and share information, the easier it is for us to deliver that vacation promise. With Teams, our team members are very engaged.” This is especially true as Hilton Grand Vacations uses Teams to connect frontline workers, housekeepers, front desk clerks, and food and beverage team members with the rest of the company.

Help safeguard your hospitality business on one, secure platform
Protecting data is more important than ever before. With the influx of customer information the hospitality industry receives, safeguarding organizational data remains a pervasive challenge. Establishing a strong security posture is the first step toward mitigating catastrophic breaches and leaks.

Seamlessly deploy Microsoft 365 apps on shared devices to help protect guest information
It’s critical to enable secure communications with a robust set of built-in compliance and identity management tools to help protect guest and staff information. Microsoft developed shared device mode, a feature in Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) that allows a user to sign in and sign out once for all apps that support the feature. Shared device mode is now generally available through Microsoft Intune across the Microsoft Outlook, Edge, Power Apps, and Viva Engage apps on Android devices. Support of shared device mode for Microsoft Teams on iOS devices and the ability to deploy shared device mode on iOS devices via Microsoft Intune is currently in preview.

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Join us at HITEC from June 26 to 29, 2023

Whether it’s improving communication at the front desk or leveraging insights to deliver differentiated guest experiences, Microsoft Teams has solutions to equip frontline workers to meet new and evolving industry demands. Experience Microsoft’s latest solutions to enhance communication and collaboration across hospitality, transform the employee experience, increase frontline productivity, and help safeguard your business at HITEC 2023 and visit booth #1725.

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