Hotel employees want to be in the know, get answers to their questions, exchange ideas, and find out how their colleagues and the manager are doing, especially in the midst of a crisis. But for many companies, communication falls by the wayside, especially in tough times, and one-sided sporadic announcements create uncertainty and emptiness. An employee communication and collaboration tool launched at Leonardo Hotels Central Europe in November 2015 is proving to be the ideal means to connect employees today and guide them long into the future.

Called “Leapp,” the internal employee communication app developed by Leonardo Hotels in partnership with Beekeeper gets information quickly and easily into the hands of the brand’s employees spanning 200 hotels in 18 countries. In a hotel, where not every employee works at a computer, this level of communication is not possible via newsletters. Therefore, the smartphone app was an excellent solution: in 2016, Leonardo Hotels received the European Excellence Award in Human Resources in the “Employee Engagement” category for this technology deployment.

Communication, interaction, information

Today the app is showing its true potential; it is establishing closeness at a distance and bringing employees 一 who are working reduced hours 一 up to date in real time by continually engaging them. Leapp is actually guiding our employees through the crisis 一 and in many cases it is the only way to stay in constant contact with them.

The Leapp employee communication platform has three main uses:

  1. A messaging function is integrated into the app, which works via postings, likes and short messages, similarly to Facebook or Whatsapp. Important information is shared in real time and questions are answered promptly. Everyone is encouraged to post and start discussions and comment and contact colleagues and managers via direct messages. Since many employees do not have a personal e-mail account, this is also a great step forward for communication between colleagues.
  2. Interaction also plays an important role: there are more than 100 groups with different streams in the app. Here, individual groups can post information, set up campaigns and share special experiences in the hotel. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has also been a separate “Corona Stream” with all the new guidelines and information, such as work benefits during reduced hours and hygiene rules. Management gives regular updates about the current situation, and the status of the company is communicated openly and clearly. In addition, the situation is also made more bearable with challenges and tangible tips, which involve the employees emotionally and creatively.
  3. One of the biggest hits is the “Tagesschau,” a daily podcast with three “News of the Day” segments: one business, one panorama, and one motivational message delivered in German and English. Leapp also has a multi-lingual translation option enabling each employee to translate the information into his or her preferred language. In addition, all company information that is important for employees is provided digitally via the app, and all crucial documents, such as contracts or duty rosters, can be individually accessed in a personal employee portal. Sick reports or vacation requests can be transmitted and pay slips downloaded.

The time saved by the app is a clear competitive advantage. Every employee 一 from trainees to managers 一 can call up information at any time. Important information for day-to-day work is stored centrally. It can be accessed from anywhere using the smartphone app or a web browser. This leads to a high level of employee motivation because it does not create any dependencies or time pressure. Leonardo Hotels’ employees around the world appreciate this service.

Further Features Planned

A new e-Learning Program is being introduced via Leapp, taking on a wide range of topics from the hotel industry and supplementing leadership training, and an Onboarding Program is being used to welcome employees returning to work.

A look at the data shows how important the application became during the pandemic: During COVID-19, use of the app increased by around 50 percent. Prior to the pandemic, around 1,000 employees clicked on the app every month (i.e. they were active within the last 30 days), now that number is 1,500. The number of daily active users has increased from an average of 500 to 750.

Leapp is giving Leonardo Hotels the opportunity to inform employees immediately and quickly, connect them with one another, and receive direct feedback. In the COVID-19 crisis, the app has shown further potential: It can create closeness when distance is required. In this way, cohesion and a sense of belonging are strengthened when it really matters.

About the Author

Anke Rohn-Mass is the HR Director for Leonardo Hotels Central Europe, one of the fastest growing hotel chains in Europe and Israel operating 200+ hotels with 40,000+ rooms in 100+ destinations and 18 countries. The brand portfolio includes: Leonardo Hotels, Leonardo Royal Hotels, Leonardo Boutique Hotels, NYX Hotels by Leonardo Hotels, Jurys Inn, Apollo Hotels and Herods.