by Seth BUTERA June 24, 2021
We all understand that for a lot of hotels their objective post-COVID is to survive. They are looking to manage their cash flow and manage debt.
For the past few years, one of the biggest buzzwords in travel has been “seamless,” envisioned as a utopian experience in which every moment of a journey – before, during, and after a trip – happens effortlessly and yet is customized to the needs and interests of the traveler.
Then came COVID-19 – upending the travel industry, the way business is conducted and the expectations of consumers.
Seamless is of course still nice, but seemingly overnight, “contactless” has become even more valuable. Now that the coronavirus has made the world aware of the potential invisible risks associated with physical touch points, the goal of a hands-free experience has become paramount for both travelers and brands.
The shift toward contactless technology solutions has been developing for years, with hotels around the world offering digital check-in and digital room keys and in-room voice devices for some time.
But COVID-19 has accelerated this trend, creating new demand as hoteliers look for ways to eliminate any element of the experience that could create a risk for either guests or staff.
And that’s keeping suppliers of travel-focused contactless technologies very busy.
Things are happening really, really fast and that causes a lot of panic among the hospitality industry to make quick decisions, to bring on a partner that can operate really fast and help adapt to the new normal
Use of digital concierge systems enables hotels to receive and respond to any sort of question or request from guests – from needing more towels, to ordering room service or making spa bookings – without the need for the guest to pick up a room phone or stand in line in the lobby. Guests access the bot using their personal mobile device and either scanning a QR code or putting the phone near an NFC tag,
The issue of health screenings for both hotel guests and staff – something that was unheard of just a few months ago – is now a priority as occupancies begin to increase around the world.
Then there are technology products that have been built COVID-ready long before the virus came onto the industry’s radar such as Beachy. Beachy’s platform combines mapping technology and a reservation and payment system so hotel guests can reserve things like a lounge chair, umbrella or cabana at the pool or beach, all completely contactless.
The point-of-sale systems and property management systems are the last things in hospitality to evolve. Some PMS comes out with its latest point-of-sale system but it still requires paper receipts, or it is Wi-Fi only and doesn’t work outside
By enabling reservations, hotels can better control capacity and social distancing at their pools and beaches
Along with solutions to create contactless experiences for guests, hotels are also seeking technology to protect staff by eliminating touch points in their internal operations. These solutions include the Nuvola Checklists which is a digital tool hotels can use to manage their recurring safety and cleaning procedures, for example to ensure hotel staff know which cleaning solutions to use on specific surface areas and how often high touch points should be cleaned.
Beyond what technology solutions to adopt, maybe one of the biggest questions facing hoteliers in a post-COVID world will be how much technology to adopt – both from a budgeting standpoint and as it relates to the impact it will have on the guest experience.
Protecting the brand promise and guest experience is so important. I suspect many hotels will make conscious decisions on what technology they decide to procure and what technology they may wait on to see how quickly we recover globally and as an industry