Reshaping the hospitality industry: New technologies that can be used to enhance services in the post-COVID era
Reeling from the pandemic’s devastating impact in a global atmosphere dominated by health concerns, the hospitality industry is slowly getting back on its feet. Although the road to recovery is long, as the economy reopens, travel is already making a comeback.
For the hospitality industry, the post-COVID era will be marked by major structural shifts for which the sector needs to be prepared. These shifts will be driven by a wide variety of factors including evolving demands and changing consumer expectations.
The global crisis has created a newfound demand for all things contactless. Our reliance on technology has certainly been for the better as it has helped in establishing a sense of normalcy amidst the pandemic-induced mayhem. Technology is constantly evolving, and the hospitality industry is quickly catching up with it.
That said, here are some new leading-edge innovations that the sector can use in the post-COVID era to quicken the revival process.
The pre-COVID to post-COVID evolution
Hospitality has been one of the worst-hit by the crisis, and the pandemic has accelerated the need for innovation and new technologies within the sector. According to surveys, even in the pre-COVID era, 72% of guests were likely to return to a hotel if it had the tech-led services they expect.
Technologies that guests commonly expect from hotels include mobile payment facilities and keyless entry systems, among others. A substantial percentage of guests even expected in-room technological equipment such as iPads and voice assistants like Google and Amazon Alexa.
Since the onset of the pandemic, these expectations have seemingly increased. A recent Deloitte Digital Study suggested that currently, over 60% of travellers prefer to stay at a hotel that has contactless services such as contactless check-ins and check-outs, communicating with the staff through the phone, keyless room entries, and voice assistants.
While the industry has included some immediate tech-driven features such as scannable QR codes for contactless check-ins, mobile payment methods, and in-app bookings, laying a solid foundation for the technological infrastructure through property management systems will further spur the adoption of cutting-edge technologies.
We live in a world where technology runs the show. Thanks to cloud-based solutions, we can now access almost anything we want remotely.
The adoption of cloud-based software and IoT devices will further augment and streamline operational complexities such as coordinating housekeeping, assigning staff duties, and confirming compliance with the newly enforced hygiene and safety standards.
IoT revolves around the idea that any physical thing within the hotel/resort’s premises including thermostats, TVs, and door keys can be monitored and controlled remotely. Even voice-based assistants would allow controls using the same interface as Siri, Google, and Alexa.
The key benefit of a hotel that has basic services connected to the internet is two-fold. Not only does it offer guests granular control over their stay and experience, it also allows the staff to gain a more detailed picture of what works and what needs to be upgraded. Enhanced tools will provide guests with a superior experience in terms of assistance, personalised communication systems, and top-tier hygiene standards.
Taking things up a notch, the hospitality industry might soon witness the inclusion of AI-powered systems such as facial recognition that includes mask detection and thermal camera integration to enhance safety and security within the premises.
With the world hurtling towards a tech-driven way of life, even geofencing technologies wouldn’t remain a figment of one’s imagination, and brands looking to build location-awareness apps will leverage it to drive acquisition, real-time updates, and rebuild consumer confidence in the safety aspect of the tourism industry.
Geofencing systems would allow brands to send out push notifications to customers who might be visiting from within a particular radius. This may include directions, instructions, special offers, or promotions and overall make for a seamless experience by encompassing features such as smart queues and activate touchless check-ins upon the guests’ arrival or prompt them for payment on their smartphones during check-out.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of the post-pandemic era, the hospitality industry cannot afford to let safety and hygiene take a backseat. To ramp up safety measures, brands will likely adopt HEPA filters and electric disinfectant sprayers to ensure that surfaces are clean.
It is also expected that UVC technology will make an appearance to effectively eliminate any risk in indoor settings.
As safety and sanitisation will be some of the key aspects that guests will be looking for before booking their stay, the hospitality industry is leaving no stone unturned to make sure that it delivers a safe, comfortable, and immaculate experience.
Efficient guest communication
As touched upon earlier, guest communication is all set to be enhanced with the adoption of technology. All of the aforementioned services and innovations would become redundant if there is a lack of seamless and efficient guest communication.
Brands are already enabling guests to communicate with staff on commonly-used communication apps such as WhatsApp to save them the hassle of downloading an additional app for this purpose. Now, guests can make bookings, leave real-time reviews, and get assistance to queries all under one roof, making for secure and frictionless communication.
The post-pandemic travel experience will undeniably be drastically different from the ones we are used to. Investing in digital tools to adapt to the changing times will give brands an edge in the highly competitive industry by improving customer experience.
Welcome to the new normal.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)