A quite fitting quote from Lenin says: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” I would not go so far to say that there happened nothing in the past decades, but what was going on in many fields this year was definitively on high speed! No matter if you look at e-commerce, online classes, ordering/takeout or video streaming, technology adoption went through the roof among all age groups. Will this also have implications for hospitality? Well, why the hell it would not? Will it change everything? No, not at all. Overall, the changes will be relatively small. Travel will soon be back on its longterm growth path, fed by the increasing middle class in Asia. While some segments might take a bit longer (international, big events), others gained popularity during the pandemic compared to the time before (drive-by leisure destinations, staycation, work from hotel).
So what is relevant, especially from a technological point of view? Without being complete in any way, here are a few examples:
Online check-in (and eventually the whole process including mobile key) is a much more smooth and efficient way to manage the administrative part of the process. Nothing against a greeting smile and a warm welcome at the reception or even better right at the entrance, but for the pure admin part of check-in, digital self check-in is simply better. There is usually a lot of idle time when travelling with many options to deal with the check-in process. And almost all of these moments are better than to wait until our guest finally arrived at our hotel, make him wait in front of the reception and do something which feels almost like applying for a loan. Traditional check-in/out will still be available on most places, but any options based on self-service will gain on popularity (like in many other industries).
Contactless, low touch, physical distancing – however you call it, but this is something which also brought us some changes. Or better said, increased the speed of adoption of existing technology. The need to communicate is potentially higher than ever, the options to communicate from face to face in person – well, not so much. No wonder, that finally all those options provided by technology were brought to work intensively. Digital Signage, using the in-room TV, WiFi Splash-page and most of all the guests smartphone (native app, web app, messenger/chat) for 2-way communication are perfect possibilities to be and stay in contact. However, it is recommended to use all of them in an orchestrated way instead of different tools per channel.
It was already before the first outbreak when the “streaming wars” started. Besides Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, with Disney and Apple two more giants entered the field, bringing even more content and variety. And with every lockdown since then, the popularity for this way of entertainment increased. It is pretty obvious that hotels are better off if they provide their guests a simple option to stream content on the in-room TV. Yes, it is not trivial but it is also not rocket science. And for those hesitating to use the remote control (and many did so already pre-pandemic), it should also be possible to control the TV via the guests own smartphone.
We believe that technology in its various aspects will play an increasingly important role for the guest experience at any hotel. And given the baseline in the industry, we would say it is also a perfect option to differentiate. With lodging being a buyer’s market for the foreseeable future, exactly this should be the goal. We are more than happy to support in this endeavor with our solutions during the complete guest journey!