The resilience hoteliers, tech vendors, and venue operators have shown since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the topic of future case studies of hospitality schools and conferences for years to come. As the industry enters 2022 with continued resilience, there are five areas where hospitality tech can be leveraged to encourage COVID safety more effectively in 2022.
There’s a reason why the adage “safety first” exists. Hotel employees and guests need to be safe for a property to operate. Technology can quickly and unobtrusively create a safer environment for every person in a hotel For COVID safety, temperature scanners, UV sanitizers, and on-premises testing capabilities can create peace of mind for everyone working or staying in a hotel. Also, it’s important to communicate safety protocols and onsite changes throughout the guest journey.
Using a mobile-first approach with guests throughout their stay can limit the number of visits to the front desk or concierge. Getting guests connected to the hotel WiFi easily and securely allows employees to communicate key information about the property, the amenities, and the services in a way that’s convenient for guests. Not only can clear, contactless communication promote operational efficiency, it can also create greater guest satisfaction. WiFi connectivity consistently appears as one of the most important features of the guest experience on surveys. It also plays a key role for many new travel types, including bleisure, work-from-hotel, and workspitality.
The norm is becoming digital keys to avoid the front desk, voice-enabled in-room devices to ask questions, order services, and control the temperature, lighting, drapes, and other amenities, and more. Digital menus and signage have already appeared to help make changes at a moment’s notice. To do this, both guests and hotels have to be flexible. Guests have been tuned to their own in-home experiences where they have lived, worked, learned, and entertained since 2020. They’ve become accustomed to the command and control epicenter of smart homes and want that same experience on the road.
Digitization may seem at odds with the idea of personalization. Known for delivering high-touch service, hospitality has been somewhat hesitant to adopt a personalization strategy that leverages technology. But, similar to contactless, digital personalization is a welcome addition to the guest experience. Leveraging loyalty apps and offering WiFi connectivity technology that remembers guests when they return or visit the same brand in another city makes them feel special, connected, and cared for.
Lastly, automation and AI are here to stay. Both will be key to hospitality’s recovery and the answer to staffing shortages. Many frontline hotel managers are doing just about everything, including cleaning rooms. Automated technology can be leveraged to update housekeeping when a guest has checked out via a mobile key. In addition, voice-enabled assistants can answer routine and hotel-specific questions, freeing up staff to engage in more meaningful ways with guests. Booking a spa appointment, a dinner reservation, or a shuttle can all be done via automation.
It’s easy for hoteliers to be put off by the notion of embracing technological trends. Hoteliers are already dealing with the enormity of the pandemic. But humanity quickly implemented change and adapted throughout the pandemic. Hotels that had a two-year roadmap for digital transformation had to adjust their adoption timeframe to two weeks. If hoteliers get to know the tech, keep an open mind, and do everything to ensure a successful stay, guests, employees, and hotel owners will benefit.
About the Author
Speleos Dravillas is chief revenue officer at Nomadix.