Are there any quick-fix IT solutions for hotels in the post-COVID new normal?
— 12 experts shared their view
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Most hoteliers agree that, at least for the foreseeable future, hotel stays will be different. Guests will be more conscious about hygiene, social distancing and expecting a contactless guest-journey. At the same time, most hotels DO NOT HAVE the means right now to make big investments in cutting-edge new tech.
So we ask ourselves, what are the inexpensive, easy, and quick to implement solutions that hotels could be implementing today to support changed guest-expectations?
I'd like to start by saying that most modern, cutting-edge technology costs far less than many think - and the savings to be made in resource-hours alone often directly demonstrate a positive ROI! Naturally, you expect me to say this, as the CEO of a high-tech hospitality software vendor - but luckily, it's true!
I'd suggest the hotelier looks for ways their current tech-stack can support as many contactless guest transactions as possible. Reducing physical contact between staff and guests during check-in and check-out would be my first port of call. It's not only the guests who are worried about hygiene, but we must also protect our staff and provide a safe working environment for them too.
Simple tools such as a guest-facing App allow almost all traditional exchanges between Front Office staff and guests to take place on the guest's own mobile device, many days or even weeks before - during - and after - actually being physically present in the hotel. A complete kiosk system in your guest's hand, 24/7/365 - I've always liked that thought.
Digital Registration Cards are another option whereby the guest - and staff - are now no longer forced to handle the same pieces of paper - or even the same pen. Much as with the auto-checkouts at supermarkets or large Swedish style furniture stores, a well-positioned Tablet can be signed equally well with a stylus or a finger - and wiped clean directly afterward.
If heaven forbid, a guest or staff member should fall ill with CORONA, using technology to rapidly inform guests and staff alike is paramount in stopping the deadly spread. Hotels can immediately use advanced features of their PMS to alert all guests and teams - without having to wait, for example, for their government to decide which CORONA-Reporting App should be deployed to the people.
Moving away from technology for a moment, I think a hotel can really impress its guests by improving the way it handles room service and the delivery of goods to rooms from outside the hotel (e.g., think how Amazon deliveries have changed for CORONA). The hotel also needs to be sure it is publishing all this new information loud, upfront, and center-stage on all it's marketing channels such as the web, email, and SMS, etc.
And, although nobody likes losing money, now is a perfect time to reassess the hotel's cancellation policy, bringing it up to date - making it in equal parts guest-friendly and transparent. A new booking could well depend on the exact wording of those clauses - this is where the hotel can show its heart.
So it makes sense to update this info not only on the website but also over on the Google "My Business" Page too - as this is free and widely used in the search results - the place new eyeballs will be looking, on their booking journey.
As we see above, the benefit of using a cloud-based PMS that can inexpensively connect to other vendors' systems is a considerable advantage, and not only during these COVID-19 times.
I wish all of my hospitality colleagues across the globe, from Porter to CIO, all the very best. Stay safe, and above all else, stay positive!