We have all seen it over the last decade, technology was taking strides even before the coronavirus pandemic started. Robots had already been introduced by the Sheraton, and Aloft Hotels 7 years ago, with mobile apps already beginning to change how the hotel industry connects with its guests.
Today, with even more reliance on real-time data while managing the safety of guests & staff (also in real-time), technology may just be the answer hotel owners may be looking for. What we have to understand is that travelers might just camp out and not consider hotels at all.
We must understand that not all travelers have trust in hotel safety & hygiene. This is, however, nothing that we cannot address, and what better than using technology to reach your audiences. We already know that travelers are intuitively utilizing smartphones for traveling making it even easier to reach your guests in person.
Demonstrating safety, hygiene, and cleanliness through online media & mobile apps is one of the first ways that technology will help hotels regain trust with their audiences. The insights gained from executing these campaigns can possibly also identify travelers who are now ready to book hotel rooms.
In his very interesting article “Hotels, COVID-19, HIPAA & Technology. What Is Hospitality’s Role In Information Gathering?” Mark Fancourt discusses how the changing circumstances of COVID will lead to hotels being responsible for more personal & sensitive guest data. He comments that:
“Exposing hospitality to this type of health information may necessitate that the industry becomes a party to healthcare industry regulation and compliance for data handling such as HIPAA in the United States, or other relevant programs around the world.”
Technology can be of great assistance to minimize the liability of handling data of both local & international guests. Access to and the protection of data will be of the essence since it may be sensitive medical information available only to healthcare professionals.
Since we are on the topic, guest & staff safety will be the primary priority of every hotel in the coming years. The threat of infection will encourage hotels to deploy thermal non-intrusive scanners like Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas or the Germ-Zapping robots deployed by the Westin Houston Medical Center Hotel, Texas.
One area that most professionals, academics, and guests are discussing is the potential of mobile apps and websites amid the COVID19 pandemic. With each personalized device safely with its owner, Bluetooth & wireless technology can assist hotels in several ways.
Let’s begin with the on-boarding process where a simple tap can synchronize data from the guests phone with the hotel PMS. Check-in can be a one-step process! In addition, the possibility of WIFI and Bluetooth keys will be a reality in the near future. Avoidance of surfaces and plastic keys will be one of the first few amenities to move to hospitality’s “used items closet.”
It is also great to mention that the smartphone is indeed a communication device. Hotels can use this technology to stay constantly connected with their guests. This can present great opportunities for hotels to not only serve guests faster, but also learn their guests’ behavior faster.
Consider touch payments like Android & Apple Pay, Ali Pay, and others that require nothing more than a swipe or tap to make payment. These touch and pay technologies can be the future of touchless payments for hotels. Guests will never have to exchange cash or cards, allowing them a much safer experience end to end.
Hoteliers can observe a huge set of guest behavioral data through their mobile apps to predict what service they will require and at what time. Yes, this information can be analyzed by cutting edge A.I. and data analysts to determine demand in this volatile time. From ordering food, additional pillows, to requesting personalized entertainment apps, hotels can determine when guests will eat to when they will travel again.
Data analytics are not only limited to guests, there is are a multitude of applications of this highly beneficial technology. Consider energy & waste reservation systems that can identify costly issues like maintenance, reduce energy bills, make hotels environmentally friendly, and reduce costs as a result.
As the industry goes through the saddening numbers of furloughs and layoffs, hotels can also look towards technology to address the missing gap. Robots are quickly becoming the leading solution that several popular hotel chains are deploying to assist with multiple guest services.
As mentioned above UV germ-zapping robots featured in a Houston hotel, while luggage robots have already featured at a Chicago Sheraton. Aloft introduced their Botler service room service robots back in 2013, delivering small items and drinks through these androids.
With strict social distancing and sterilization guidelines n place, hotels will need robotic assistance to ensure minimal human interactions with staff. Robots can also assist staff with thermal scanners and sterilization of areas that may be contaminated.
These are just a few ways technology can assist hotels, resorts, and country clubs reshape their services to operate with COVID19. I do believe that more dependence on technology will trigger a response from technology management providers to develop better solutions for the industry.
Remember that it may seem impossible and there may be losses, but hospitality will find its way back. Hope this article was thought-provoking for my readers, do leave your feedback. Until next time, see you again soon.