COVID 19 has had a severe impact on our economies and more so on the travel & hospitality industry. Our industry that has always been in the forefront of providing our guests with memorable experiences and adventures of a lifetime, had to come to a standstill when several hotels had to temporarily or even permanently shut down. Our leaders have some critical decisions to make – there is no looking backwards, only forward.
Travel as we know is not coming back but it can become better than ever!
As we move forward, there will be lot of uncertainties. Uncertainty on how the virus will be contained, on when vaccines will be released and uncertainty on restoring guest confidence in coming back to their favorite hotels.
But here is what we do know – Uncertainty does not call for inaction but quite the opposite – it calls for renewal and reinvention!
How can hotels reinvent themselves? And make sure that their customers choose them over and over again. A hotel’s commitment to cleanliness and to providing a safe environment to guests and employees is paramount but at the same time it is also important to develop the right technology strategy and chose technology partners who would help make them successful in the years to come during the pandemic and in the post COVID era. It is essential for hotels to evaluate their current technology stack and make sure that their existing platforms are not increasing their costs or decreasing operational efficiencies.
Four important items for Hotels to consider:
- Digitization of paper forms: Handling of several hardcopy paper documents between guests and employees can become a huge concern for hygiene in the new era. Digitizing these multiple forms such as registration cards, folios, spa declarations, HR related documents and many more will reduce paper, printing and storage costs and will streamline operational procedures. Electronic storage also means easy retrieval and compliance with GDPR and CCPA laws. Furthermore, go green, reduce your carbon footprint and provide an enhanced guest experience!
- ID Verification of Guests: Step away from photo-copiers and storage units to store ID document print-outs. Be sure to have passport/ID scanners in the hotel to do this job, leverage ID imaging via a tablet-based app or even better have the guest complete the ID verification process via his/her mobile device. Empower your guests to submit their own ID information to you but also make sure to have the right Technology in place to collect all PII data in an encrypted and secure format, automatically update the guest profile in your PMS and send required ID details to local authorities if the case may be.
- Contactless Arrival and Departure: Contactless technology always existed but its use cases have amplified with the ongoing pandemic. Research suggests that over 70% of hotel guests would prefer to download an app to check-in, check-out and connect to hotel staff (up 25% from last year). Providing the ability to the guest to check-in prior to arrival and go through a personalized experience even before entering the hotel is bound to boost the hotel ratings. But hotels must keep in mind that the experience must be seamless and user friendly to engage the guest throughout his/her journey. With new “touch-less” technology, comes a new threat of decreased security in the hospitality sector. In order to overcome this, hotels must also implement new fraud controls and safeguards to help reduce risk. Hence, ID verification has become of overriding importance with the growing use of “Contact-less” technology offered to the guests.
- Contactless Room Service: Do away with booklets of restaurant menus in your hotel room. Instead give your guests the ability to place an order directly through their mobile device. Remember that tech savvy Millennials will form a huge portion of your clientele who are used to the 24/7 convenience and ease of mobile solutions. To top it all, getting rid of old menus inside the hotel room will help save a ton of printing and paper costs and will also keep the hotel aligned to the new cleanliness standards for the industry.
This is a tough time for all of us but it is important to remember that the hospitality industry has been very resilient and has always come back stronger after economic meltdowns in the past. So, this too shall pass. Stay Positive.
By Sonali Deshpande – Bio Below
Sonali holds a BE from McGill University and MBA from INSEAD Business School in France. She has spent over 10 years in the hospitality industry and has worked directly with hotels in Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Qatar, France, Austria, UK and USA. She is a tech enthusiast and not only believes creating the best in class products but also in working with partners to achieve a unified solution to help hoteliers accomplish their goals of better efficiency, increased guest satisfaction and incremental revenue.