There is a lot of talk around how various industries can be best supported with technology post-COVID to ensure public safety and inspire public confidence. One such industry is travel and hospitality, where management teams are tasked with how to help guests feel comfortable traveling again as we await widespread vaccine distribution.
Hospitality and travel were sparse last year with the onset of COVID-19, and as the world learned to live with the virus, businesses were faced with the question of how they could best accommodate travelers while adhering to public safety guidelines. Now, with vaccinations rolling out and people beginning to invest once again in business and leisure travel, hospitality management teams are looking for solutions to both increase bookings and keep travelers safe.
It’s clear that touch-free, digital experiences will continue to be important factors for the hospitality guest experience in 2021. In fact, a survey from Skift and Oracle Hospitality found that the top three factors that travelers said made them more comfortable when staying in a hotel were: contactless payments, digital room keys, and digital messaging services.
Digital signage, wayfinding and other communication technology can be leveraged to support these needs – from virtual receptionists as a first point of contact within a building to incorporating new floor plans into touch-free digital signage that can be accessed via QR codes on individual devices, automatic temperature scans, AR applications, and more.
Hospitality decision-makers should be aware of the wide array of options available to support their guests in providing a more comfortable and safe experience, during every step of their stay – from check-in to check-out.
Check-in & Access Control
Building entry points have always been an important part of hospitality operations, but now post-COVID, there are new challenges to ensuring both guest and employee safety, while creating a seamless experience. Access control technologies specifically cultivated to reduce viral spread are offering new, simple ways to control and monitor who is entering a building.
Check-in kiosks with surveys and questionnaires, such as CDC guidelines, and virtual receptionists are among the latest access control technology applications. A guest can simply enter a hotel, approach a check-in kiosk and be greeted by a guest relations employee, virtually, who can walk through the check-in process or answer questions without the need for physical contact. Or, a guest can approach a check-in kiosk, and with voice control prompts or via a QR code scan on their mobile device, provide their personal details for a touch-free check-in experience. By reducing physical touchpoints starting from the moment a guest steps inside the front door, management can also keep staff members safe. Many of these solutions can be automatically added to existing kiosks or displays, further reducing upgrade and operational costs for hoteliers.
Building wayfinding solutions have evolved past static maps and signage that are difficult, costly, and time-consuming to update. Now, high-resolution digital signage positioned throughout a property can be updated in real-time, along with options for voice or mobile control to reduce physical touchpoints, to ensure that a guest stays both informed and immersed in an advanced technological experience throughout their visit.
Augmented reality (AR) technology will also be important for hotel property accessibility in the future. For example, a guest could approach a digital sign with built-in wayfinding, scan the map with a QR code, access the most direct or required route (i.e., one-way traffic only to reduce physical touchpoints), and with AR capabilities, be given step by step directions through their smart phone’s camera. The ability to add pop-up notifications as a user is walking through a route can be used for real-time communication – for example, a happy hour special going on in the hotel lounge.
Enhancing In-Room Communications
The same voice command and QR scan functionality that guests leverage during their check-in can also be used throughout their stay. Hospitality management can push notifications on important updates via displays in guest rooms and around the property, or on their mobile devices, that guests can also interact with. This can include signage around the building reminding guests of masks and social distancing rules, cleaning times, events, and more, creating an interactive hotel experience that allows for regular communication, while reducing physical touchpoints and interaction.
While logistical challenges have become a part of daily life for hospitality management, communications technology such as wayfinding and digital signage can be leveraged to both maintain public safety, keep employees safe, and support guests in feeling more confident about travelling. And because this technology can be easily updated and managed to support future needs, hotel management can feel confident about installing it today.
About the Author
Tomer Mann is EVP at 22Miles. As a veteran in the digital signage industry with more than ten years, Tomer strives to enhance visual communication consulting services for higher education, hospitality, retail, transportation, government, corporate, venues, healthcare, and other large organizations.