Future Hotel Technologies Which Help the Hospitality Industry to Recover Post-Covid
It’s already clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world. These changes will affect all areas of business. Today, we’ll discuss the future of the hotel industry and the technologies that will come to the rescue.
A contactless hotel experience is the new reality
The global pandemic has dramatically accelerated the adoption of automation in the hospitality industry. Many luxury hotels have already begun testing mobile self check-in and new dining options. Increased demand for health safety in the future may even lead to the introduction of robots to disinfect premises.
The shift to a contactless guest experience is spreading like wildfire. COVID-19 has popularized contactless technology due to a growing understanding of the risks associated with physical contact. This is why hotel businesses are investing in innovative ways to provide guests with hands-free experiences.
When reviewing the guest journey, hoteliers are taking into account all points of contact between staff and guests. They’re also identifying areas where contactless technology can be used to reduce exposure while maintaining brand uniqueness.
With a contactless interface, you can book and pay for a room even before you arrive in the hotel lobby. Upon arrival, all you need to do is take the stairs or the elevator to find your accommodation.
With a hotel’s mobile app, you can open the hotel room door, adjust the temperature, turn on the TV, and do even more. Most hotels even have Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to help you complete simple tasks and place requests.
Statistics on contactless hotel experiences
According to a study by MBO Partners, 4.8 million independent employees identify themselves as digital nomads, while another 17 million aspire to become nomads. More and more workers are adopting location-independent lifestyles that allow them to meet new friends and experience new cultures, new foods, and new attractions.
While the pandemic has halted international travel and mass gatherings, it hasn’t stopped hotels from offering suitable packages for remote workers who would rather work in a quiet room than in a guest house next door. In fact, HotelsByDay, a company that offers daytime hotel rooms for business travelers, has seen a 900% increase in demand during the pandemic.
Bjorn Hanson, a hotel accommodation consultant, says that “the privacy of an enclosed room is ideal for workers with pandemic anxiety regarding sharing space.” According to Hanson, daytime guests are a welcome market with limited staff and hotel service requirements.
Hanson’s views are consistent with research by Criton, which shows that 80 percent of travelers would download a hotel app that allowed them to get all the information they needed, check in to their room, and check out.
The Citron study shows that:
- 73% of travelers would use an app that allowed them to open their hotel room door
- 30% of travelers would check in and leave through a web page
- 47% of travelers are more likely to order room service through an app
- 48% of travelers are more likely to use a hotel restaurant if they can place food orders through an app
Technologies for a contactless hotel guest experience
#1 Digital keys
Hotels are starting to prefer a contactless check-in and check-out system with digital or mobile keys. The use of digital keys eliminates the need for magnetic keycards, which must be disinfected after each use.
Deborah Bridges of The Boulders Resort & Spa Scottsdale, a Hilton Brand Hotel, says the Hilton CleanStay program will double the use of digital keys so guests can arrive seamlessly. Guests can check in, select their room, access it with a digital room key, and check out using their mobile devices using the Hilton Honors mobile app at participating properties.
Hilton will continue to expand digital key capabilities to shared doors and hotspots across all hotels. Technologies providers like Zaplox and Intelity provide centralized mobile keys for digital signup and registration with convenient customizable features such as enterprise-grade security, helpdesk support, and even payment functionality.
Jurny solves two of the biggest challenges in the hospitality industry: efficiency and profitability. Jurny meets the growing demands of a new generation of travelers looking for a service that gets them into a hotel room without hassle.
This solution is part of the next generation of on-demand services, enabling automated check-in and check-out for guests while increasing revenue for hotel owners. Jurny stands for a new, exciting, professional, and comfortable way to experience home, luxury, and cutting-edge technology as a hotel guest.
With Jurny, guests don’t need to make multiple calls to book a room or queue to check in after a long day on the road. In the Jurny app, guests can not only check in and out with one touch but also get keyless access to Wi-Fi connectivity, 24/7 virtual support, and even request cleaning services.
#2 Digital concierge bots for hotels
Vouch is a digital hotel concierge system that has instant access to a large database and can quickly respond to questions. The Vouch bot allows guests to get answers to their questions without having to make phone calls or queue at the front desk.
By scanning a hotel’s NFC tag or QR code, guests can access the bot from their mobile devices. Guests can then place requests for spa reservations, food orders, room service, and any other needs. When COVID-19 created the need to track the health of hotel guests, the Pan Pacific Hotel in Singapore used its bot to track unhealthy guests without having to manually check on them.
A bot can be updated as needed: When the COVID-19 crisis made it necessary to monitor the health of guests, luxury hotels started adding a health declaration to their bots so they could track guests who weren’t feeling well without having to hire additional staff.
#3 Voice technology to engage guests in leading hotels
Volara is partnering with Google to enable hotels to implement contactless room management and guest service solutions. From their hotel rooms, guests can use Volara to request services and access additional information, entertainment, and recommendations.
Since Volara runs on the Google Nest Hub, guests can use the voice assistant to control their TVs, watch shows, stream music, make calls, set alarms, adjust the room temperature, and do even more.
This solution from Google and Volara also supports confidential, automated, and conversational interactions between guests and staff. Volara’s easy-to-use voice assistant technology finally gives travelers the opportunity to truly enjoy their journeys, knowing that any request can be fulfilled by voice from their room.
According to Volara CEO David Berger, this solution from Google and Volara allows hoteliers to reimagine the guest experience while reducing costs. Contactless guest interactions can replace the outdated bedside clock, paper guide, and Bluetooth speaker.
#4 Deep learning in the hotel business
Xperium uses deep learning to provide personalized automation for over 2,000 hotels worldwide. This platform is designed to improve guest satisfaction, increase booking revenue, and improve overall operational efficiency.
With Xperium, guests can check in and out easily and contactlessly, performing all actions from their personal devices. Hotel staff can approve room selections and even monitor check-ins and check-outs using the Xperium visualization panel.
#5 QR codes and NFC tags
Amani Roberts, the co-director of Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Entertainment and Hospitality Management, believes hotel restaurants will be hit harder than any other area of hotels.
Hotels are now choosing to use digital menus, or QR code menus, for in-room and outdoor contactless dining to avoid staff interactions. Menus with QR codes are placed on the table and link to a PDF with the menu.
Room service in some hotels has adopted a “knock and drop” approach at guests’ doors, and ordering can be done via guests’ smartphones at more than 3,200 Marriott hotels.
Customers ordering through a hotel restaurant’s app will appreciate the effectiveness of digital ordering and payments followed by seamless contactless delivery.
Another area where contactless technologies can be useful is customer feedback. Getting feedback is as important to hotels as it is to any other customer-centric business as they expand and modify their offerings.
Customer feedback is usually accepted in paper form. However, research clearly shows that the coronavirus can spread through infected surfaces. QR codes and NFC tags are contactless technologies that can easily be used to collect valuable feedback from guests.
Information obtained from a QR code feedback form can then be used to change services, improve cleanliness and hygiene protocols, or even get information about guest preferences.
#6 Geofencing for wayfinding and alerting guests
Most hotels are limiting their total capacity to around 20% to 30%. In order to avoid a rush of guests and avoid contact among guests, it’s important to warn guests if an area is densely populated.
Geofencing can be quite useful in this case. Geofencing is used by programs to define geographic boundaries, or geofences. While some geofencing apps rely on data from Google Earth, others rely on web or user-generated maps.
You can place a geofence around common areas so that when a guest tries to enter a busy zone, they’re notified. You can use QR codes at the entrances to common areas so guests can reserve seats for themselves.
“Similar to guests making a spa appointment, hotels may now require advance-timed reservations for using tennis courts, pools, and other amenities.”
Rob Karp, CEO of luxury travel agency MilesAhead
At the Kennebunkport Collection Resort in Maine, guests can use the gym by reservation only. The gym is cleaned before and after guests visit.
Return on investment on contactless tech
The concept of contactless hotel accommodation is not new. In the past few years, the industry has moved towards self-service, with hotel brands and independent hosts using smartphone locks and mobile communications.
However, calculating your return on investment (ROI) is important, especially when operating properties during a pandemic when occupancy rates are low.
From a hotelier’s point of view, striving to provide a contactless experience is costly. Philip Bates, the CEO of Bode, believes in the need to invest in contactless technology. Even so, Bates warns, the technology should serve a clear purpose.
Technology for technology’s sake did not work before the pandemic and does not work today. To focus on ROI, Bates takes three things into account when evaluating technology investments: technology must increase revenue, lower costs, or improve the quality of the guest experience. If it doesn’t do one of those three things, it’s not worth investing in.
Bates had already noticed a shift in the industry towards contactless technology, so from the beginning, his team implemented an SMS concierge program and keyless entry system at Bode properties.
Active communication fosters a sense of safety and security, which translates into trust and loyalty. During turbulent times, travelers are more likely to return to hotels they trust to do the right thing and keep them safe.
Quick summary of technologies for hotel businesses
Here are the key takeaways:
- COVID-19 has greatly popularized contactless technology due to a growing understanding of the risks associated with physical contact.
- 80% of travelers would download a hotel app that allows them to get all the information they need, check in to their room, and check out.
- With a hotel’s mobile app, guests can open hotel room doors, adjust the temperature, turn on the TV, and do much more. Most hotels even have Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to help guests complete simple tasks and place requests.
- 48% of travelers are more likely to use a hotel restaurant if they can place food orders through an app.
- To focus on ROI, you should take three things into account when evaluating technology investments: the technology must increase revenue, lower costs, or improve the quality of the guest experience. If it doesn’t do one of those three things, it isn’t worth investing in.
If you want to implement new technologies in your business or want to build a mobile app for your hotel — or if you have any questions regarding this topic — contact Mobindustry for a free consultation.