The Importance Of Technology In Post COVID-19 Hotel Operations
By Frederic Van Lennep, Business Development Director MEA at IT Hospitality
The global hotel industry has suffered and recovered from its fair share of crises over the past decades, from economic downturns, terrorist attacks and natural disasters, but nothing has shaken the hospitality sector quite like the current COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a guest post by Frederic Van Lennep, Business Development Director MESA at IT Hospitality. In this post he gives his thoughts on Health and Safety, Technology, consumptions patterns and traveller expectation post COVID-19.
Health And Safety Concerns Will Accelerate Existing Tech Trends In Hospitality
The hospitality industry is no stranger to health & safety and technology has long been integrated to manage and operate multiple facets of hotel operations, from online bookings to high speed Wi-Fi. Technological innovation will now become the driving force behind the changes that are needed to promote and ensure health & safety in a post-COVID world.
"Contact-less" or "touch-less" technologies are the most important emerging tech trends for post-COVID hotel operations. In a practical sense this will mean less front desk check-ins, and more online check-ins, less physical interaction and more digital communication and engagement.
Solutions for mobile orders, guest self-service, staff communications, contactless payments and many more innovative technologies will help hotel operators adapt to the new reality of the post COVID requirements and expectations.
Hotels and resorts are facing a new world of healthy-distancing, contactless guest service and new cleaning protocols across their properties. As guests return, they are demanding to know that they will have a safe and healthy experience.
Identifying Technology That Can Adapt To The Post COVID-19 World
Dwindling occupancy and temporary closures are forcing hotels of all sizes to adjust their operational and investment strategies. These will include optimizing operations, cross-training staff, re-evaluating internal spending, property updates, cancellation policy changes, pricing adjustments, and audits of existing technological infrastructure.
Technology is a primary component in driving a hotel's value proposition, and there are some critical identifiers that hotels should keep in mind while future-proofing their property. Guests will be increasingly conscious of personal hygiene and social distancing. Innovative technologies that aid in reducing physical contact and optimize operations and services will offer a direct added value to the hotels and their guests.
Digital and contactless services will become the norm, ensuring the hotel's readiness for the digitization of core operational processes such as check-in and check-out, self-service pay systems, mobile room keys, high speed internet, Wi-Fi connectivity, digital signage, two-way communication over IPTV, App based remote controls to use in room utilities, will give your guests the post COVID experience and requirement they will need and look out for.
Focus On The Shift In Consumption Patterns
Due to the uncertainty of the changes in guest needs after the epidemic, hotels need to review their existing service offerings and hard-wired setup to adapt to the changes in guest experience.
To cope with the shift in consumption pattern, hotels can make full use of existing online platforms to enhance interaction with customers. Post-pandemic guests are going to expect a complete digital guest
journey - meaning that everything from confirming their reservation up until check-out should all be possible using digital tools.
Post COVID-19 Travelers Will Expect Technological Innovations
Every guest will expect tech integration. The extent to which hotels can offer this will determine their overall satisfaction. Easy, contact-less check-in driven by technology is a must.
Hotels that only offer physical room keys, TV and aircon remotes, and shared tablets or menus for ordering, will be seen as careless and irresponsible. Offering your guests an online platform where they can check-in, order food, change the channel, even open their door and drapes - that is the type of convenience your guests will appreciate and probably even demand.
Likewise, mobile devices can enable housekeeping staff to better respond to guests by improving communication and scheduling of services, eliminating unnecessary interactions between them.
It will be imperative to employ a property management system that can quickly activate and manage an array of contactless services, which will require both built-in features that are core to the product as well as advanced integration capabilities. That combination opens the door to endless possibilities such as:
- Mobile key cards
- In-room ordering
- Passport/ID scanners
- TV-based remote checkout
- Wearables (e.g., contactless bracelets)
- Paperless operations (e.g., e-folios)
- Cashless payment
- Chatbots and robots
- Facial recognition
As guests and staff increasingly recognize and appreciate contactless, such services no longer will be crisis necessities but staples of everyday expectations. Which underscores the key point made by entrepreneur.com:
"The longer players take to innovate, the less relevant they will be for guests."
For some of the guests, it is not the love for technology, but the necessity of having technology that enables them to stay productive on business trips, to connect with loved ones back home or simply to use technology for entertainment during their travels.