When it comes to guest-facing technology, the rise of platforms that offered guests a contactless experience began long before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the last 6 months has acted as a catalyst to the industry-wide implementation of these platforms, and the intelligent use of technology to offer personalization in a hands-free environment will become paramount. Hotels are still expected to provide high-touch service, of course, but without many of the physical touchpoints associated with the traditional hospitality model.
So, what does the post-pandemic landscape look like for hoteliers when it comes to technology and guest engagement?
This question has weighed heavy on the minds of hospitality industry leaders around the globe, and it is precisely the question with Hospitality Net's recent World Panel Viewpoint set out to answer. With an emphasis on guest-facing technology, Hospitality Net gathered 10 leading industry innovators to share their views and thoughts as to how guest-facing tech will change in the post-COVID era.
Steve Burk, the Managing Director of SALTO Systems, suggests that self-service check-in, contactless mobile keys, digital contact tracing methods, and antimicrobial surfaces will be pivotal to hotels moving forward. "The entire guest experience must be reimagined and reengineered to emphasize and safeguard the health and safety of guests," he said.
There have always been challenges faced by hoteliers while selecting in-room, guest-facing tech. According to Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen, Founder and Managing Director, SuitePad GmbH, the global pandemic highlighted many of the shortcomings associated with hotel apps and, alternatively, revealed the guest-room tablet as the only viable long-term solution for hotels.
Gary Patrick, CEO at Hotel Internet Services suggests that updating tech and services focus on creating an enjoyable guest experience while minimizing health and safety concerns should be prioritized. From content casting to mobile room service, in-room "smart" technology such as voice-activated thermostats, and even VR and AR technology, properties now have a range of solutions available at their disposal.
While discussing the future of guest-facing technology, however, it's also important to consider the staff experience. In a largely contactless future, staff must rely on the provision of best-in-class platforms in order to facilitate an exceptional, personalized, and safe experience for guests. "As we work towards regaining guest trust, it's just as important to provide employees with technologies that allow them to likewise minimize the potential to come into contact or spread germs while still equipping them with the ability to ensure a physically secure, operationally efficient, and seamless hotel environment," explains Markus Boberh, the Global President of Hospitality at ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions.
Reiterating this point, Alex Shashou, President and Co-founder of ALICE, shared, "The real revolution that we're realizing as an industry is that any technology that is guest-facing needs to have an effective staff interface as well."
For the hospitality industry, there is no "return to normal", there is only the "new normal". The path forward is largely defined by cutting edge guest-facing technology and those innovative leaders willing to lead the way. And as Roy Friedman, the Founder and CEO of EasyWay says, 'The hotels that cannot embrace this new way of safely personalizing the guest experience, may face extinction."
These are just a few highlights. Click here to read the full viewpoint panel on Hospitality Net.