As in many industries, hospitality and multi-family brands are experiencing frustrating staff shortages coming out of the pandemic. Many properties are struggling to rehire staff. We're hearing from some facilities that are managing with just 60% of their original team.
The challenge today is not just hiring, but also training those staff to manage water features and facilities. It's a skilled job that needs to be done right to keep guests safe.
Because of the immediate lack of skilled staff, properties are increasingly relying on outside service providers. But at a time when hospitality brands are struggling, that's an added cost you don't need. And it creates its own new set of challenges (i.e., ensuring consistency, accountability, etc).
The Need for Skilled Staff
Working in pool and spa management doesn't require just one skill. An operator essentially needs to be a water chemist, an electrician and a plumber all rolled into one. Moreover, operators must also understand changing regulations and compliance standards, which can vary locally.
For such a skilled role, it can take months of training and years of experience to become an expert. But as the world opens up again, you probably don't have the time or resources to invest in this level of training. At the same time, you don't want to leave your properties and guests vulnerable to problems with your aquatics facilities.
The Risks of Undertrained Staff
The number one priority for brands is naturally to keep their pools open and accessible for guests. But one slip up with water chemistry can make a pool unsafe and unusable until the imbalance is corrected. In addition to the safety issues, pools closed for any reason can lead to reduced guest satisfaction and negative reviews.
Without strict adherence to training and compliance guidelines, properties also become vulnerable to shutdowns from health inspectors. Equipment malfunctions can put the pool itself or, much worse, a guest or team member in real danger. Closed-loop water systems are complex, with various chemicals and machines at work. Managing them incorrectly can cause injury or even illness to swimmers. As a result, properties can face litigation on the grounds of negligence.
As a brand, you have the responsibility of keeping your property and facilities safe for guests. Effective water management is how you do that.
All of these problems can have a ripple effect that damages the reputation of a brand. It's simply too risky to have underprepared staff when this much is on the line.
Train and Automate
There is a way forward. First, it's important to get staff trained on the latest in health department codes, equipment function and water chemistry.
The Pool and Hot Tub Alliance (formerly the National Swimming Pool Foundation) has developed a series of educational coursework and certification programs (Certified Pool Operator) for properties and their staff. The materials can be accessed online as well as onsite through local support partners. VivoAquatics is proud to partner with the PHTA. We can help support your training needs and offer localized training to make sure there are no gaps in your team members' knowledge.
Additionally, more options are emerging for real-time or virtual support to help address any immediate issues. For instance, VivoAquatics has launched a remote training and support division. If you discover an issue on your property, we're available seven days a week to help you solve it before it becomes something serious.
Finally, improved automation and software can become a bigger partner in keeping facilities open and safe. For example, through our web-based VivoPoint platform, we offer access to checklists and standard operating procedures for effective pool and spa management. The right resources can go a long way toward helping your staff stay on top of the many tasks involved with water management.
Embedded automation can reduce time associated with checking water chemistry and dosing chemicals. For example, real-time monitoring keeps 24/7 tabs on readings of chlorine, PH, temperature and flow. You can receive seamless updates via email, text or the web portal. Removing the need for a person to physically perform these tasks reduces labor costs, without skimping on safety.
Platforms can also alert you when your bulk tanks are nearly empty or you need to purchase chemicals to keep your equipment online and working correctly. This protects you from running out of the products you need to remain compliant. Instead, you stay ahead of any future stock issues by tracking and replenishing your stores according to automated alerts.
If you're hiring new staff who might not have experience with the unique challenges of water management, the proper training and automation can help them stay ahead of potential problems.
We would love to hear how you're handling the staff shortages and any best practices that might be shared more broadly. Or if you’re interested in finding out more about how to implement training and automation to tackle this challenging staffing market, please contact us. Either way, we’d love to hear from you!