World Panel
Viewpoint19 May 2020

Are there any quick-fix IT solutions for hotels in the post-COVID new normal?

Information Technology

— 12 experts shared their view

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Floor Bleeker, CIO MEA and Global Accor Strategic Programs
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Max Starkov
Adjunct Professor NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality and Hospitality & Online Travel Tech Consultant

I believe there are three immediate action steps hoteliers, especially independents, can implement in a relatively fast and inexpensive fashion:

1. Develop a “Here is how we make your stay with us safer than ever” program with sanitation and safety protocols at the property, including:

  • Infrared fever detection for each guest arrival (devices on Amazon start at $299)
  • Contactless guest servicing technology applications such as mobile-check-in and virtual concierge as well as mobile assistants in the guest rooms, etc. 
  • Floor mapping in the lobby outlining pathing for guest check-in and movement and safe distances between guests.
  • Masks, gloves and disinfecting wipes made available to every guest
  • Intense sanitation in common areas and guest rooms - name the exact procedures and brand names of chemicals used
  • Attendant to disinfect/wipe out touch screens of the self-check-in and self-ordering kiosks and elevator buttons.
  • To enforce social distancing: Rearrange the seating furniture in the lobby and tables in the restaurant, breakfast, dining room.

2. Communicate the new sanitation and safety program via your marketing agency and PR firm to all of your customers - past guests, loyal customers, group planners, tour operators, distribution partners, media, etc. Communicating your property's post-COVID-19 readiness via the property website, email, social media, CRM and loyalty program messaging, distribution partners, etc. not only addresses your customers' main concern in the current environment but also provides a tremendous brand value to your property.

3. Consider partnering with cloud-native technology vendors to address some of the main safety, productivity, and profitability issues in the post-crisis period. Almost all of the cloud hotel tech vendors charge very low or no set-up fees and then ongoing small fees per room per month. The must-have applications in the post-crisis era include:

  • Mobile check-in is a must-have option in this environment of safety concerns and preferences for contactless hotel check-in. 
  • Guest Services Tech Applications: AI-powered Voice Assistants in each hotel room, enabling utility controls, entertainment, communications with hotel staff, virtual concierge, etc., entertainment hubs able to sync the SmartTV with guests' own streaming service accounts, Issue resolution and customer service messaging services, etc.
  • Revenue Management System (RMS), much needed to maximize revenues and successfully compete in the super complex post-crisis marketplace. Today's RMS technologies have advanced to a level unthinkable 10, 5 even a year ago and have become real-time, automated price-and-strategy recommendation engines, powered by AI and ML, supported by dozens and dozens of APIs with real-time data feeds. An RMS in place, coupled with an experienced revenue manager, can lift room revenues by 20%-40%. 
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System, now needed more than ever to engage, acquire and retain guests and build customer loyalty and boost repeat business, which is 10-15 times cheaper than acquiring new guests or acquiring OTA customers. 
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