Contactless Hospitality: How Technology is Changing the Hotel Industry
Contactless technology has become a buzzword ever since the COVID-19 pandemic brought us face to face with increased contamination risks. The hospitality industry had to adjust to the changing reality and embrace contactless tech solutions.
This has accelerated the adoption of the new-gen technology, and contactless hospitality is now the new normal. Currently, HORECA companies are leveraging contactless solutions to ensure their guest experience is safe and contamination-free.
In this blog, we will expand on the specifics of contactless hospitality and look at some of the most prominent examples of digitized hospitality services. Read on to learn more!
What is contactless guest experience?
Contactless hospitality services eliminate human contact completely or reduce it to a necessary minimum.
During the pandemic, face-to-face communication leads to increased risks of contracting a virus, and here’s when contactless technology can be especially helpful. Most of the time, interactions happen when customers communicate with the company personnel and with other customers, or when employees interact with each other.
Each instance of these interactions may be handled digitally, providing customers with a safe, stress-free, and seamless experience. From making reservations to hotel check-ins and check-outs, ordering catering and room service, sightseeing, and learning about events and tourist attractions, there’s nothing contactless hospitality solutions can’t do more efficiently while preserving the brand identity at the same time.
When lockdowns were enforced and local and international travel was suspended in 2020, many hotels were rapidly transformed into secure social-distancing havens. During COVID-19, hotel stays provided employees with pandemic anxiety with safe private environments for remote work. Contactless technology enabled hotels to quickly transform into private co-working platforms and stay afloat despite the pandemic crisis.
As surveys indicate, 70% of millennials would rather prefer a contactless hotel experience. With gen Z customers this percentage is even higher. Clearly, technology is set to become an inseparable part of modern hotel amenities and is changing 21-century hospitality as we know it.
Benefits of contactless guest experience
The hospitality industry is eagerly adopting contactless technologies. So what is the value of a contactless guest experience for companies and customers, and how does it help improve hotel services?
Let’s take a look at how technology is changing the hotel industry.
Contactless hospitality services enable travelers across the world to enjoy their experiences with less pandemic-related anxiety. When all the interactions are handled through an app, or a voice solution offering a hands-free experience, contamination risks are considerably reduced.
Most importantly, increased safety doesn’t compromise the quality of services. Hotel personnel, on the other hand, is less subjected to the risk of contracting a virus via contact with visitors.
Contactless hospitality is also especially attractive to those who find communicating with hotel personnel tedious and stressful. Admittedly, many customers find miscommunications that happen due to language and cultural differences daunting.
Contactless solutions take the stress out of human contact and enable customers to enjoy the untainted contactless guest experience.
Contactless tech solutions are not only safer from a health perspective — they also eliminate human error while processing documents, credit card details, registrations, etc. They help streamline and automate the routines that normally require the work of several employees.
Companies leveraging contactless digital solutions can also benefit from analytics and insights. Digital hospitality tools collect client-related data at every stage of the customer’s stay — from booking the accommodations to leaving testimonials.
Contactless hospitality solutions operate using the clients’ personal data, which enables hoteliers to cater to visitors’ individual tastes. In a post-industrial society, the personalization of services is a major selling point, as it helps take customer experience to an entirely new level.
Hospitality digitization is imminent, and companies who are pioneering the implementation of contactless hotel technology will have a distinct competitive edge.
According to a survey conducted by Criton in 2020, most of the customers would prefer digitized experience over traditional hotel services. More specifically, 62% of people who took part in the survey said they would prefer a digitized check-in, 80% were willing to conduct all the operations related to their stay via an app, and 47% said, they would request room services more eagerly if they could do it using contactless technology.
With the growing number of young travelers and travelers with pandemic anxiety, the demand for digital hospitality solutions is set to increase, and its early adopters will surely gain a competitive edge.
Use cases for contactless hospitality
Contactless hospitality is not an entirely new concept. The first concierge robots appeared in 2014, while contactless bookings, payments, and automated in-room services had been available even earlier, as part of digital concierge software.
Let’s now take a look at an overview of existing hospitality solutions.
Digital concierge apps
Hotel digital concierge is an all-inclusive platform that aggregates all of the most demanded hotel services — from check-ins to contactless payments, and enables guests to manage their stay by themselves.
Such apps provide personalized services, offer 24/7 support and play a major role in boosting the efficiency of hotel operations.
Guestfriend — is an example of such an app, proving all of the useful information in one place and minimizing staff workload. The app works in a contactless way, delivering all the info that guests need during their stay to their device screens and eliminating the need to print out costly paper brochures.
Checking-in into a hotel can actually be done without any human interaction, and even without touching any surfaces of hotel premises. Contactless check-in is enabled by technologies like NFC, face, and voice recognition and is used in many hotels around the world.
Keyless hotel room entry
Electronic hotel keys are a relatively new invention, but with keyless hotel room entry technology, you don’t need any keys whatsoever. Guests can now use smartphone apps to unlock the room doors.
Other keyless entry options use a small chip embedded in a bracelet and tied to a guest’s credit card. By pressing the bracelet to the door, the chip unlocks a hotel room in a contactless way.
This technology is used by Melia Hotels International and other hospitality brands.
Automated in-room service
Other solutions deliver automated room service which guests can request and manage via an app, or by using voice commands.
Jurny is an example of an automated platform that gives travelers complete control over their experience. Rather than offering a stay at a hotel, the service brings customers a selection of apartments, equipped with everything they need to help them feel at home. Fully automated room service and 24/7 support are included in the service package.
Other hospitality companies focus on developing AI-based chatbots to provide guests with the answers to frequent questions and help them create a seamless and satisfying experience.
Such solutions serve as mediators between customers and personnel and forward customer requests to the staff. These bots are quite sophisticated and use Natural Language Processing to recognize human speech and voice commands.
Booking.com, for example, provides users with a digital Booking Assistant to help them find and book accommodations.
For a hands-free experience, hoteliers are equipping their guest rooms and facilities with voice-command devices, such as blinds, thermostats, TV, and entertainment centers.
Smart speakers with access to digital assistants like Alexa and Google Home are the new standard for modern digitized hotels. Reserving tables, requesting room service or booking excursions are among options that guests can request via voice commands.
Contactless payment technology in hospitality enables guests to pay for services in a secure and hygienic manner, without manual contact with payment processing terminals.
Contactless terminals accept and process credit card payments. Guests can also pay using their devices, such as smartphones, watches, and wristbands.
As fancy and futuristic as they may seem, robots are actually extremely efficient during social distancing. In hospitality, robots perform a range of functions: there are front desk concierge robots, luggage carriers, service, and delivery robots, cleaning robots spraying sanitizer in the rooms and hallways, etc.
Crown Plaza, for example, uses a robot called Dash looking a lot like R2D2 to deliver hotel amenities. The robot announces its arrival with a phone call and returns to a charging station when out of energy.
Surely, the measures that hospitality companies take to ensure secure hotel stay during COVID-19 extend even further: disinfection stations using UV lighting and sanitizing sprayers, air-cleaning devices, and even anti-bacterial furniture coverings are being increasingly used so that guests can feel safe and protected.
Hoteliers are also redesigning public areas to create enough space for social distancing.
The COVID-19 crisis has had a highly disruptive effect on the hospitality industry: apart from the negative impact, companies were compelled to rethink their business concepts and adopt new technologies. In a post-pandemic world, contactless hospitality is the name of the game, and early adopters will surely have the upper hand.
The need to readjust, though, places high requirements on hospitality companies: implementing contactless technology in hospitality will involve profound changes such as personnel training, adopting new security measures, and even changing the entire structure of an organization.
Most importantly, tech partnerships that companies forge will play a decisive role. In order to deliver added value, technological solutions have to be tailored to a company’s unique needs and integrate seamlessly with existing infrastructures and business processes. Moreover, they will require constant updates and support.
At Eastern Peak, we are ready to share our expertise and experience in hospitality software development. Contact us now for a free consultation!
See the original article here: Contactless Hospitality: Benefits and Opportunities to Explore