The digitization of internal communications just checked in to the hotel industry

To evolve, to develop, to digitize, to reach employees, to form a real community - familiar goals and directions in any company. In addition to the pandemic restrictions and economic challenges, the coronavirus period came to companies as a very sudden motivator in terms of the urgency of developing internal communication. This cannot be postponed any longer. In the 2020s, solutions like corporate emails and the unnecessary multitude of meetings will simply need to be overcome.

However, it is also true for the hotel industry that great changes are often delayed for quite banal reasons. Everyday tasks are overrunning us, we fear that change will scare our colleagues, as if the whole company has to stop for a while for such a transformation. Judit Gál, Marketing and Communications Director of Danubius Hotels, shared her experiences on how the latter does not have to be the case.

Background information

Danubius Hotels Group

  • With 8570 hotel rooms, the Hungarian-based Danubius Hotels Group is one of Europe's largest hotel companies
  • It has spa, wellness and city hotels in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and the UK
  • It is ranked 90-100 in Hotels magazine's top 300 hotel companies
  • It is present in Hungary with 16 hotels under four brands, 1 central office building and more than 1600 employees

Internal communication in the hotel industry

  • While the majority of hotels were forced to close during the first wave of the pandemic, in some markets, such as Germany, the hotel industry is experiencing dynamic growth compared to 2018
  • According to an industry study, the quality of internal communication has a positive and significant impact on employee satisfaction; this is true for both communication with managers and with colleagues
  • 70% of engaged employees better understand customer needs and thus provide better service in the hotel industry

The Blue Colibri employee platform

  • The basis of Danubius' own internal communication system is the software developed by the Hungarian Blue Colibri.
  • ounded in 2019, the company is specifically offering solutions to corporate HR issues such as quickly and efficiently informing non-desk employees and providing two-way communication in a dedicated platform that employees can access from anywhere.
  • The application is now available in 16 languages ​​and its features are constantly growing (eg administration, e-learning, pre-and onboarding, community functions, etc.).
  • In 2022, more than 84,000 employees of 100+ contracted partners - from manufacturing and healthcare to hospitality, construction, and automotive industries - are using the app every day. 

The challenge: more locations, lots of people

 

Danubius Zrt. Is present in Hungary with 16 hotels - under the auspices of 4 brands - and a central office building with a total of more than 1,600 employees. Most of them work in hotel operations making them difficult to reach, since mostly office workers have corporate email addresses, which is a small proportion of the total headcount. So it is not difficult to imagine how intense changes a new platform can introduce (for this Danubius Hotels chose the Hungarian-developed Blue Colibri in the autumn of 2019), which employees can even access from their own phones with an application. The aim was not only to enable those working in the field of operations to be informed quickly and efficiently or to improve the flow of news and information. Judit Gál said that their main goal is to build communities within the company. A separate community has also been formed for the 150 leaders who, although geographically far apart, face similar day-to-day challenges. Through digitalization, they have been able to create a common platform for management. They also launched activities to get to know each other better on the platform, as well as providing first-hand information from managers to managers.

 

Don’t be scared to introduce it, it will be great

However, transforming the corporate internal communication that has been the norm for many years, often decades, is not an everyday task - the transition is not magical. What’s more, even with careful preparation and planning, you can only be successful if employees can easily tune in to the new platform, enjoy using it, and recognize its benefits. Just like in many other matters, the secret lies in the principle of gradation in this case as well. 

Danubius took three months to introduce to the new internal communication platform
Photo: Blue Colibri

Judit Gál said that Danubius has timed the start of the transition to one of their big corporate events of the year, the autumn sports days. “We dedicated a separate booth to the app. Here, colleagues could get to know the platform in a playful way, and we helped them with the registration. ”

They then visited each of their hotels as part of a roadshow where they helped with registration in the high-traffic staff community space. “The orientation was also supported by posters, tray placemats, animations running on a TV screen and printed handouts. During the 3 months of the transition, the weekly email newsletter and the app were both accessible at the same time. In the last issues of the newsletter, we promoted the platform and provided detailed information about the new app. ” The developer Blue Colibri team also helped a lot with the preparations.

 

It just starts and everything changes

Thanks to the new system, the fastest positive change was observed in the flow of information. For example, during hotel closures due to the coronavirus epidemic, it was easier to keep in touch with colleagues and inform them immediately, but the new platform also created a space for community life when they could not meet in person.

“The Communities feature in the app allows us to organize our colleagues into a large community: the process is far from over, but those working in each hotel or center can now more easily find out what’s going on at other locations in the company. As a user, all colleagues can access the app and more and more people are using it actively. Older people are just as enthusiastic as their younger coworkers who are sometimes reluctant to use technical solutions, ”said Judit Gál. She then added that in addition to staying informed and reading news, colleagues also use the interface to communicate and download monthly payslips, and they are happy to participate in games and quizzes advertised in the app.

Danubius colleagues use the platform for communication, downloading monthly pay slips and getting information and news
Photo: Blue Colibri

A significant breakthrough in usage has been the notifications feature, which lets employees be notified of changes that affect them in real time. Moreover, this year the tax certificates required for the personal income tax return have been made available on the app as well.

 

Motivation is key

When we talk about community life within a company, it inevitably comes up that even though the goal is to stir up the stagnant water a bit, if colleagues stay passive, then nothing will really happen. Judit Gál pointed out that they are already seeing positive results in this because their online community of leaders can be more and more easily informed, involved, and mobilized through Danubius' digital channel (eg feedback with a questionnaire, personal introductions, Christmas messages to each other).

 

A new impetus for onboarding

According to the Marketing and Communications Director of Danubius Hotels, this new internal communication platform can also support the development of pre-and onboarding processes. Today, on onboarding days, all new colleagues are introduced to the app and explained in detail how to use it. New hires already provide a more stable user base and they find it easy to catch up with their coworkers. There are many benefits to this. The perception of the company will improve in the long run and employees will become more committed. They see the importance of fast and correct information and communication in their new workplace, in order to facilitate their integration not only professionally, but also at the community level - both in-person and online. This creates a sense of belonging to the team sooner.

 

But there are still plenty of plans left because there are many areas where you can take full advantage of your own digital platform. Just think about taking advantage of preboarding and e-learning, Judit Gál added. "We would like to give the app a bigger role in the onboarding process, but we can already feel we're on the right track."

“As one of the largest hotel companies in Hungary, it is important to us that all our employees working in our 16 hotels and head office across the country can feel that we are one big team. The platform and the mobile app provide an excellent opportunity to keep in touch, inform and inspire them. For 50 years we've been where the action is! - thanks to the app, no one will miss out on the many new features we want to offer our guests to make their experience ever more memorable.”

Márk Neuhauser
Internal Communications Manager
Danubius Zrt.