In a post-pandemic environment, guests are looking to the hospitality industry to implement increased safety measures while still providing an unforgettable experience. Over the last few months, hospitality operators have adopted new technologies to do just that, safely welcoming guests back to their favorite restaurants and destinations without diminishing the guest experience.
What started as strategic solutions to challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis are now becoming integral, everyday components of hospitality operations. Four technologies have stood out as “must-have” components for those seeking to interact with guests at virtual touchpoints across their entire journey, from start to finish, providing the unparalleled experience guests crave while bolstering the safety and security of on-site visits and rebuilding coveted brand loyalty in the wake of the pandemic:
As the first touchpoints operators have with potential guests, a well-executed, easy-to-navigate website and robust eCommerce platform open up new and meaningful opportunities to proactively communicate with guests, outlining safety procedures and on-site guidelines that will help them prepare and feel more comfortable visiting. With a recent survey showing that 67% of consumers care more about a business’ safety measures than any previous brand loyalty, the importance of communicating your protocols early on cannot be understated, and the right eCommerce platform can help with that.
In addition to guest communication, eCommerce can also eliminate the need to exchange physical cash on-site, helping guests to feel more comfortable during their stay. Operators can also do away with long queues across a resort, as hotel check-ins, amenity reservations and other typically face-to-face transactions can be easily managed with the press of a button through a guest’s mobile device. For example, the Gaylord Texan Resort utilizes a digital platform to allow guests who wish to relax or lay out on a socially distanced lounge chair to conveniently reserve their spot at the pool deck in advance.
- Guest experience management.
With the right technology, hospitality operators can move from “customer relationship management” to more holistic “guest experience management,” providing personalized and contextual experiences based on past and current guest behavior. Leveraging insights from data already at their disposal, resort operators can send personalized notifications to guests upon arrival and throughout their stay with offers of particular interest to them. While providing a personalized experience, this strategy can also be utilized to direct guests away from areas in the resort that may be experiencing larger-than-expected crowds, further facilitating a safe environment for guests.
This application of such a tool has long-term potential. Consider how Grupo Vidanta, a leading resort developer in Latin America, initially launched mobile F&B ordering for guests in 2019. In 2020, amid the COVID-19 crisis, the technology was expanded to allow guests the ability to order groceries straight to their resort rooms through the app. This unique use of guest experience management gives us a glimpse of its potential and how it may be applied, both now and as we turn the corner on COVID-19.
- Virtual queuing.
Well-known for its use in theme parks and attractions, virtual queuing has become increasingly popular in the food and hospitality industries, allowing guests to step out of lines and freeing up more time for them to enjoy all that a destination has to offer. Today’s guests not only appreciate convenience – they expect it – and streamlining access to everything from cabana rentals to F&B offerings will be key in aligning operations to meet modern consumers’ expectations.
True virtual queuing offers an added level of convenience and protection against overcrowding. Differing from traditional time-slot reservation systems, true virtual queuing accounts for unexpected operational variables which may cause lines to move more quickly, pause or stop entirely. It automatically adjusts to these variables in real time and provides guests an accurate countdown to their turn, allowing them more freedom to enjoy the resort, rather than waiting at the entrance in a potentially backed-up queue.
- Mobile food & beverage (F&B).
One of the most popular contactless technologies adopted during COVID-19, mobile F&B gives guests even more control in crafting their ideal resort experience. And, with research showing that 92% of consumers enjoy mobile ordering, having the right technology in place to empower guests will be crucial as we seek to deliver more seamless and accessible experiences than ever before.
Mobile F&B allows for increased guest flexibility, as they can order food from the comfort of their room or on-site facilities, like a spa. With the right technology, guests can even submit their order while relaxing at the pool before heading to the dining area for a hot, freshly prepared meal. This type of technology also offers unique opportunities for hospitality operators to boost revenue, as each venue or resort can personalize up-sell and cross-sell options on the right platform. Research also shows that guests may order up to 20% more when given the option of mobile ordering.
To say these are challenging times would be an understatement; however, we can and will get through it together. And, fortunately, with the right technology in place, operators across all industries can address the challenges of today while redefining the guest experience of tomorrow.