Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many hoteliers are researching what it would take to create a contactless guest experience. A contactless hotel experience would help prevent the spread of germs and ease the anxiety of travelers as they venture out once more. But, a contactless guest experience also changes how hotels traditionally do business, and risks eliminating the personal touches that make travel memorable. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but hoteliers can be mindful of changing guest and employee needs as they consider contactless solutions.
In response to the pandemic, Canary Technologies created a completely contactless check-in experience that hotels can implement within a few days. Co-founder Harman Narula describes that the technology allows guests to avoid physical contact entirely and check in from a mobile device. He says that contactless solutions are “the future of the hotel industry.” Narula, along with Canary co-founder SJ Sawhney, spoke with LODGING about what factors hoteliers should keep in mind as they implement contactless solutions.
1Recognize the biggest risks.
Narula notes that the first step for improving guest and employee safety through a contactless solution is to identify where each experience presents the most risk. He suggests studying the guidelines from industry experts like the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “Find solutions that follow those guidelines and adjust core on-property processes to make them safer,” he advises.
2Keep it simple and streamlined.
It’s important that the operational requirements of contactless hotel solutions are simple and streamlined—a solution won’t stick if it’s more complicated than doing something in person, or requires new equipment or apps.
3Eliminate high-touch points.
Beyond implementing a new solution, hoteliers should remove or limit high-touch items to stop germs from spreading and protect both guests and employees. This could mean putting away all pens, discontinuing the use of room key cards, and avoiding passing items back and forth between employees and guests. One far-reaching example would be to discontinue the use of paper credit card authorization forms, so guests and employees won’t have to physically handle pens, IDs, and papers.
Technology is never going to stop innovating, which puts many hotels between a rock and hard place when it comes to implementing new solutions. A solution may work with a legacy system now, but will it work in two years? Is it user-friendly for those who aren’t tech-savvy? Sawhney says this is a common dilemma for hoteliers, “You don’t want to commit to a technology that looks cool in the demo but doesn’t work in the real world. Look for something that integrates with other systems and is future-proof.”
5Never compromise on security.
At the crux of contactless solutions is safety and security for all involved. Both Narula and Sawhney suggest keeping up with PCI compliance to ensure that every new solution implemented at a hotel keeps information and data safe. Sawhney adds, “There’s no compromise on security. Security is a byproduct of the best solutions. Compliance guidelines exist so that companies can follow them and be secure.”