Data-Driven Hotel Staffing: The Tools & Metrics You Need for Accurate Labour Forecasting

by Isioma Daniel, 8 minutes read
HOME blog data driven hotel staffing the tools metrics you need for accurate labour forecasting

Is your hotel drowning in spreadsheets, frustrated by scheduling errors, and watching hidden costs eat away at its bottom line? Juggling staff availability, fluctuating guest numbers, and endless paperwork is a recipe for burnout for you and your team. This chaos isn’t just an annoyance; it directly impacts guest experience and your hotel’s reputation. 

But what if you could gain control, predict demand accurately and create schedules that boost efficiency and team morale?

The secret lies in embracing data-driven labour forecasting. Using the information you already have and the right software, you can stop the scheduling scramble and create a win-win for your hotel and your employees. 

Understanding the Importance of Labour Forecasting 

Labour forecasting is a core business activity that ensures your hotel can meet customer demand by having the right number of staff during peak and off-peak periods of business. It contributes to customer retention and boosts customer satisfaction, leading to higher customer bookings. 

By ensuring staffing levels correspond with occupancy rates, hotels can maintain an updated housekeeping schedule, address staff retention needs, and effectively manage room and amenity costs. 

The Perils of “Gut Feeling” Staffing

We all know the feeling: you’re staring at a blank schedule, trying to predict how many front desk agents, housekeepers, door or restaurant staff you’ll need next week. Are those big group reservations going to come through? What about the weather? Should you play it safe and overstaff, or risk guest complaints if you’re short-handed? 

Gut feelings and guesswork can lead to costly inefficiencies. Overstaffing means wasted resources, while understaffing leads to long customer service times, stressed employees, frustrated guests, and, ultimately, negative reviews and decreased customer loyalty. 

Understandably, relying on gut feelings and outdated spreadsheets can seem easier than making strategic, data-backed decisions. However, when staffing is unpredictable, it leads to: 

  •  Overspending or lost revenue: Did you overstaff and waste resources, or understaff and lose out on opportunities due to long wait times?

  • Stressed-out employees: Constantly scrambling creates burnout and turnover. 

  • Frustrated guests: Inconsistent service hurts your reputation 

This is where a powerful combination of hotel management software, the right metrics, and a data-driven mindset come into play. Let’s explore how you can unlock the power of data to optimise your hotel’s staffing strategy. 

Shifting Away From Manual Processes: The Importance of Hotel Management Software

If you still rely on manual spreadsheets, post-it notes, and endless phone calls to manage your hotel staffing, you’re setting yourself up for frustration, wasted time, and inefficient operations. Manual processes are prone to errors, communication breakdowns, and a lack of real-time visibility into your labour needs. 

That’s why investing in the right hotel management software stack is crucial. These specialised tools can come together to provide a centralised platform that:

  • Streamlines Scheduling: create optimised schedules in minutes, not hours, based on forecasted demand and employee availability

  • Automates Communication: Instantly share schedules with staff, reduce miscommunications, and seamlessly handle shift swaps and time-off requests. 

  • Integrates with Other Systems: Connect your scheduling software with your property management system (PMS), point-of-sale (POS), and other essential tools for a holistic view of your operations. 

Key Benefits of Advanced Hotel Staffing Tools 

By integrating sophisticated forecasting tools, modern hotel software management solutions can help you move beyond simply reacting to bookings and toward proactive staffing. This can make a big difference to your hotel. Here’s how: 

  • Demand-Based Scheduling:This system analyses your historical data and current booking trends to generate accurate forecasts of guest demand. It then suggests optimal staffing levels for each shift and department.

  • AI-Powered Staffing Suggestions:Advanced algorithms can factor in employee skills, availability, and labour laws to suggest the right person for the right shift, taking the guesswork out of scheduling.

  • Real-time Adjustments:Shift planning and labour forecasting tools are the best tools to modify forecasts and staffing plans on the fly as circumstances change, ensuring adaptability to unexpected surges or dips in demand. 

Enhancing Employee Satisfaction: The Hidden Factor in Data-Driven Staffing 

While data-driven hotel staffing might seem focused on numbers and efficiency, don’t underestimate its impact on employee satisfaction. Here’s why:

  • Reduced Burnout: Accurate forecasting helps prevent over and understaffing situations, minimising stress and burnout for your team.

  • Improved Work-Life Balance: With digital scheduling tools, employees often have more control over their schedules, swap shifts easily, and manage time-off requests directly - all of which enhance work-life balance. 

  • Empowerment and Transparency: When employees have a clear view of upcoming schedules and understand the reasoning behind staffing decisions, they feel more valued and part of the team. 

Success Story: Atlas Hotels

Deputy Atlas Hotels Customer Story

Atlas Hotels is a hospitality giant whose old-school scheduling weighed it down. Spreadsheets, endless updates, and poor communication were a recipe for payroll mistakes and major administrative headaches. 

Enter Deputy. “Before Deputy, we used to drown in complaints about work-life balance. Staff now feel in control, and complaints have plummeted to 5 comments from 766 employees since implementing Deputy,” says Sub Iyer, Head of Operations-South at Atlas Hotels. “Deputy gives our people control, which translates into a happier workforce.” 

Now that you understand labour demand planning and its top benefits for hotels, let's explore the tools and technology that can help you streamline your planning and make it successful.

The Toolkit for Successful Labour Forecasting

Implementing a robust labour demand planning process requires a comprehensive toolkit that includes: 

Point of Sales Systems (POS) 

POS systems like Lightspeed consolidate data from all your business transactions, sales, and inventory. With these insights and analytics, your business can track trends like sales volumes, inventory insights, and customer behaviour. 

These data points are essential to understanding your historical business patterns and valuable inputs that you can factor into your labour demand planning for the most accurate forecast. 

Property Management Systems (PMS)

Property management systems such as Cloudbeds and Mews are the core systems for most hotels. A PMS manages:

  • Front desk operations

  • Reservations

  • Room inventory

  • Guest profiles

  • Basic reporting on occupancy and revue 

Channel Managers

These systems, like SiteMinder, help hotels manage their distribution across multiple online booking platforms (like, Expedia, etc.). Channel managers:

  • Update room availability in real-time across all platforms

  • Prevent overbooking

  • Provide some analytics on booking sources

Revenue Management Systems (RMS)

These sophisticated systems, like Duetto and Flyr, help hotels optimise pricing and maximise revenue. An RMS:

  • Analyses historical data and market trends

  • Forecasts demand

  • Suggest optimal room rates to boost RevPAR

  • Usually integrates with the PMS for seamless updates  

Business Intelligence (BI) Tools

These broader platforms, such as Tableau, pull data from various sources (including PMS, RMS, etc.) to provide deeper insights. BI tools help hotels:

  • Create custom dashboards and reports

  • Track KPIs across departments (not just rooms)

  • Identify trends and opportunities 

AI-Powered Demand Planning and Scheduling Software 

This is where the magic happens. Demand planning technology helps hotel managers predict future staffing requirements and adapt to the business's changing needs. With this advantage, they can deliver outstanding guest experiences without spending more than they need to on labour costs.

AI-powered demand planning and scheduling software like Deputy can analyse the data from your different systems, like your POS software, to create an accurate demand forecast that you can schedule your employees against.

You can visualise demand and the number of staff you need at different times. Then, in just one click, AI-powered employee scheduling can assign the right team members to every shift based on availability, training, cost, budget, and other custom requirements.

This helps hotel managers schedule the right staff, at the right times, for different roles and responsibilities — in minutes or even seconds.

Digital Scheduling Solutions that Offer Custom Business Metrics and Reporting

When comparing demand planning tools and employee scheduling software, it's crucial to look for a solution that allows you to set up custom metrics. After all, different hotels will have unique factors shaping how they plan their staffing.

The Right Metrics: What to Track 

Once your labour forecasting toolkit is in place, the next step is identifying the key metrics you need to track for accurate labour demand planning. Here are a few critical ones: 

  • Historical sales data: You can access these from your POS or payment systems. Historical sales data can help you understand trends and patterns from former transactions and give you insights into customer behaviour. 

  • Occupancy rate: Your property management system (PMS) tracks the percentage of rooms booked out of your total inventory.

  • ADR (Average Daily Rate): The average price guests pay per room gives insight into revenue potential. Your Revenue Management System helps set optimal rates to influence ADR and RevPAR and pulls occupancy data from the PMS. 

  • RevPAR (Revenue per Available Room): Helps assess overall performance across occupancy and rates. It’s usually calculated based on occupancy rate and ADR. 

  • External factors and seasonal trends: Consider local events, weather, seasonality, and holidays. These factors can dramatically influence and alter your forecasts. 

  • Manager forecasts and insights: Good demand forecasting software should also allow managers to make tweaks based on their expertise and what they see on the ground. 

  • Actual sales: To ensure the accuracy of your sales projections and demand forecasts, track actual sales in real-time and compare them against your predictions—ideally, in one simple dashboard. 

  • Budget: Plan and input budgets to ensure your labour demand plan doesn’t go over the amount you’ve set to spend on labour. 

  • Staff needed per location: Set minimum and maximum requirements for staff across different areas of your business. 

  • Tasks: Factor in specific assignments with a known requirement for the number of staff and hours they will take to complete. 

  • Operating hours and staff availability: Very importantly, your demand planning system should be able to perfectly analyse your team’s availability and assign the right people across different shifts. 

  • Training: If specific shifts at your workplace require particular types of training, be sure to input those so your system will automatically recommend individuals who meet the criteria for that shift. 

  • Sales data (if applicable): If your hotel has restaurants, bars, or event spaces, track sales data to understand peak service times and staffing requirements. 

  • Foot traffic (if applicable): For hotels with amenities like spas or fitness centres, monitoring foot traffic patterns can help optimise staffing for those areas. 

Deputy: Your Data-Driven Staffing Sidekick 

Here’s how Deputy helps hoteliers tackle the staffing puzzle:

  • Smart Scheduling Based on Demand: Our algorithms analyse your data and generate cost-efficient schedules that match your forecasted needs. 

  • AI-Powered Forecasts: Deputy continuously learns from your data, improving the accuracy of its demand forecasting over time.

  • Seamless Integrations: Easily pull data from your PMS, POS (like Lightspeed), and other systems, providing a complete picture of your operations.

  • Easy Communication and Schedule Changes: Keep your team informed with instant schedule updates, shift reminders, and in-app communication tools.

Transforming Data into Successes

Don’t just take our word for it - hotels worldwide are reaping the benefits of data-driven staffing with Deputy:

  • Atlas Hotels saw a significant improvement in employee wellbeing, with complaints about work-life balance plummeting thanks to Deputy’s flexibility features. 

  • citizenM reduced their scheduling time from 4 hours to just 15 minutes and gained a single source of truth for scheduling across all European hotels. 

  • The Castle Hotel gained peace of mind with seamless payroll integration and the ability to track labour costs accurately in real-time. 

Embrace the Future of Hotel Staffing

In the competitive world of hospitality, accurate labour forecasting isn’t an option; it’s a necessity. Our Ditch Dinosaur Scheduling eBook explains in detail how harnessing your data and embracing the right technology, such as Deputy’s hotel staff scheduling software, can optimise staffing, control labour costs, increase guest satisfaction, and boost employee morale. It’s a win-win-win. 

Ready to transform your hotel operations? Experience the power of data-driven staffing first-hand. Start your free trial of Deputy today or contact our sales team now. 

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