Leveraging on Artificial Intelligence Post the Covid-19 Pandemic in Selected Hotels in Harare Metropolitan Province
Prospects and Challenges
The Covid-19 induced lockdown has had adverse effects on all businesses including the hotel industry. Consequently, most employees got retrenched, as hotels had to scale down their operations by closing some of their outlets, in order to combat its spread. In view of such a scenario, hotels could leverage on artificial intelligence (AI) in order to minimise human contact. The study adopted a purely qualitative approach using the phenomenological design. Ten managerial employees were purposively selected from three (3) different hotel groups. Due to travelling restrictions, data had to be collected using online interviews. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. It was established that under this new normal, AI could be leveraged on to enhance business operations. Some of the benefits to be harnessed from AI included enhanced cognitive support in decision making, reduction in operational costs, automation of repetitive low value addition tasks, and quality people analytics. Although AI threatens some jobs, the study found out that it has the potential to create new jobs requiring new skills. Since AI has the potential to produce more benefits, there is need for employee involvement and transparency in its implementation. It is also recommended that hotel management prepare their employees for the new normal through socialisation and capacity building programs to ensure that all stakeholders would benefit from AI.
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