As a member of our executive team put it when COVID descended upon the world and demand for the INTELITY platform rose significantly, "I always knew mobile technology would become really essential for hotels. I just didn't think it would be a game-changing virus that would make it happen." And it's true: really robust guest-facing technology has long been regarded as a core part of the future of hospitality—but one that hotels could put off investing in for the next few years. With COVID around for at least the near future, the world has changed and that's no longer the case.
Now, technology that was once regarded as a luxury has become critical to guest safety. But what sets its long-term future apart from other COVID must-haves? Some COVID trends and safety measures will see value and utility fade rapidly over the next few years, and hoteliers will see the value of their investment decline accordingly. Yet the demand for mobile capabilities can only increase.
Mobile usage continues to skyrocket worldwide, with consumers increasingly trusting their mobile phones with anything and everything: banking, shopping, and yes, travel. In 2019, the average consumer spent 3.5 hours a day, that's every single day, on their smartphone—and that number is expected to see a significant bump in 2020 as people have been locked in place for months at a time.
While many hoteliers are being forced to make important decisions about what their property (or properties) can afford this year or next, that long-term investment security can be a key difference-maker. But let's dive a little deeper: what tools are dominating the market right now, and what's here to stay when COVID is behind us?
Mobile check-in, check-out and mobile key are the trendiest tools on the market, and are well on their way to becoming standard.
Despite being available for several years now, mobile check-in and mobile key are just now truly gaining traction in the hospitality industry. They've shot to the top of every hotelier's wish list, and with good reason. Guests are becoming increasingly aware that contactless entry is widely possible and available―and it's influencing their booking decisions.
There's no easier way to make cautious travelers feel safe now and after the COVID era than to eliminate touchpoints like stopping at the front desk. Guests are thinking to themselves, "If there's a mistake or someone sneezes on a keycard, I'm getting sick. My phone is under my own personal control."
While cleaning programs are also extraordinarily important for reassuring guests, they're not uniformly available and it's easy to slip up: just a smudge on a mirror, stain on a towel, or any other simple mistake can be extremely unsettling in this day and age. Technology doesn't face the same challenges as highly human processes like housekeeping. There's no risk in implementation and platforms like INTELITY are always on—never skipping a beat.
Once guests become accustomed to checking in this way, they'll never go back to traditional check-in procedures. As Kerrie Hunter from THE GEORGE noted recently during our webinar, Contactless Tech's Role in the New Guest Experience, "This will just be a thing: you don't use hotel key cards anymore, you use your phone—just like you use your phone for everything else."
But now and in the future, the hotel mobile app reigns supreme.
No tool provides more bang for the buck. No tool provides more flexibility. Often underrated compared to flashier tools like keyless entry or voice technology, the mobile app delivers more ROI than any other guest-facing technology: higher rates of guest satisfaction, engagement, and revenue.
In the COVID era, an app makes the transition to contactless service seamless. It can power mobile check-in, mobile check-out, and mobile key functionality as well as significantly boost dining with mobile ordering and contactless delivery options. Need to update your safety protocols, notify guests of service changes, or market a special new promotion? With an app, you can make those changes in real time, removing any need for printed materials and ensuring guests immediately have the most up-to-date information during their stay.
At INTELITY, we're constantly updating the full platform to account for changes and trends in the hospitality industry. Never has that been more valuable than during COVID. The INTELITY platform's app already offered plenty of contactless options, but we've pushed even harder to add functionality that streamlines every part of the guest experience in order to help our customers make every stay as convenient and safe as possible, despite COVID challenges.
And therein lies the beauty of the mobile app—and why it truly is the future of guest-facing technology. It can shift with the needs of hoteliers, facilitate an end-to-end mobile guest experience, and is in a constant state of innovation and improvement.
Plenty of hoteliers share the same skepticism right now: no one wants to waste a piece of their budget on anything with a short shelf life—or no future at all if hospitality returns to even some semblance of "normal" in the next year. And with budgets so tight, even fewer are looking for something with a hefty price tag.
As hotels recover and travel resumes, it's important to remember that with guest-facing technology, you're never just investing in the product that exists right now. You're also investing in the product that will exist one, two, or five years from now. Perhaps even more importantly, the monthly cost of guest-facing technology is much lower than many think, often a lower cost for properties than laundry. In a time when everyone feels extremely uncertain about what the future holds, the combination of high investment security and relatively low cost is rare. That's why the post-COVID future of guest-facing technology is so bright.
INTELITY is the global leader in contactless guest experience technology, uniting mobile, in-room, and operational tools into one fully-integrated hospitality platform. Built for the hotel, casino, and luxury residential markets, INTELITY has been named the "Official Mobile and In-Room Technology Provider" by the distinguished Forbes Travel Guide for five consecutive years and is in use at boutique properties, casino-resorts, and global hotel brands, including Marriott, Fairmont, Hard Rock, and more.