Are there any quick-fix IT solutions for hotels in the post-COVID new normal?
— 12 experts shared their view
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?
In a time of scarce resources and where caution is required it is sometimes astonishing that some experts propose and advocate a level of IT investment that hardly can fit the budgets of distressed companies that face diminished demand and significant drops in revenue. The recent study published by IDeaS, “The Journey to Recovery”, reveals the intention of 42% of the inquired to reduce costs in technology tools. Curiously the same group of industry leaders inquired by the SAS's company revealed intentions to significantly reduce the costs with staff, both hourly and salaried ( 70% and 58% respectively) which seems a paradox since a logical path for this reduction in labor costs would be the more intensive usage of technology to increase the levels of automation and business processes digitalization that could compensate the unavailability of human resources.
Facing this situation, the number of “quick fixes” that an IT department can implement in a post-COVID environment is determined by the actual richness of the information systems and, above all, the business expertise of the IT leadership. In a nutshell, three different scenarios exist
- The company has a modern IT ecosystem and IT leadership with strong business skills. In this scenario using the platforms to its full extent and adapt the business processes can allow the creation of IT-based solutions fast and at minimal or no cost. In our opinion, the core of these solutions will be focused on empowering the now much more demanding housekeeping operations and portions of the guest journey.
- Companies with very technical IT leadership can face difficulties in looking for the same quick fixes since the knowledge of the business is the key factor to analyze the actual “status quo” and identify opportunities. We believe that this type of company will face more difficulties in taking full advantage of their installed technology base. This limitation can be overcome by the creation of multidisciplinary teams for the post-COVID planning
- Independent Hotels and small/medium without senior IT leadership will face major difficulties and most likely will be unable to identify opportunities in their IT ecosystem. Our experience in discussing post-COVID scenarios with similar organizations shows that most of them feel lost and are desperately looking at the marketplace for low-cost solutions that in many cases do not really fit properly a hotel operation needs. Our experience shows that without using external help like consultants and having some capacity for investment these hotels and group will have their business processes and systems adapted to the post-COVID scenario in a very limited manner with all the negative consequences in guest experience and staff productivity.
As conclusion we believe that only a limited number of hotel companies will be able to deploy rapidly solutions for the new normal without incurring some level of additional costs and investment.