The Covid-19 pandemic has been disruptive, to put it mildly, for practically every business across every industry, but particularly for the hospitality industry. Between the lockdowns that caused innumerable restaurants to close indefinitely and the sky-high anxiety that led to rock-bottom hotel occupancy levels, the hospitality industry isn’t expected to recover until at least 2024. The supply side has also been ravaged.
Most notably, as a result of the pandemic, customer loyalty has taken center stage like never before and customers are increasingly engaging and interacting with brands digitally. Advanced technology has therefore become a key enabler for hospitality businesses to keep their heads above water while awaiting a return to normalcy. Little wonder that businesses in the hospitality industry are turning to cloud infrastructure, automation, and interoperable platforms to optimize their business-critical operations and deliver superior customer experiences that create lasting brand loyalty.
Cloud Tech Creates Unified Brand Experiences
One way hospitality businesses have overcome pandemic-induced challenges is by implementing cloud technology. In addition to being a safer option than on-premises servers, public or hybrid cloud and virtualization are effective ways to ensure businesses are providing a unified, consistent experience to their customers.
When all hospitality locations are tapped into one cloud network, they can capture data from customers and provide seamless, personalized experiences catering to each customer’s preferences. As an example, imagine a sales rep who frequently travels throughout Europe. She likes to stay at one particular hotel chain because she can accumulate loyalty points and redeem rewards. Whenever she checks into a hotel, regardless of where she is, the front desk knows she is a loyalty member and can see all records of her previous stays with the hotel chain, including room service and amenities she has used. They also know how she prefers to take her coffee in the morning, her penchant for early-morning workouts in the hotel gym, and that she doesn’t like being disturbed after 7 pm. The sales rep knows she will always have a pleasant stay with the hotel and is comforted by the knowledge that her experience will be consistently positive, no matter which location she visits.
Without cloud technology and advanced data analytics, the sales rep could have wildly different experiences at each hotel location and might decide her loyalty membership isn’t worth the inconsistency. With the cloud, each hotel location is working off one single source of customer data — and unified, seamless customer experience is a proven driver of brand loyalty.
Automation Eases Staffing Woes and Delights Customers
Brands or enterprises that pivoted to handling customers digitally through automation have reaped significant dividends. In the post-COVID 19 world, automation has therefore become not only mainstream, but also table stakes for many enterprises. Furthermore, as the Great Resignation rages on, automation is a strategic recourse for hospitality businesses to ensure consistent workflows and mitigate the fallout of attrition. In particular, restaurants are delegating numerous tasks to automation, including booking reservations and processing orders. Not only does automation allow short-staffed restaurants to remain in business and alleviate the workloads of staff, but it also enhances the brand experience for customers.
Many of today’s customers — especially younger generations like millennials and Gen Zers — actually prefer to use their smartphones to make reservations and place orders, rather than the more traditional in-person interactions that can take longer and introduce more potential Covid-19 exposure. Some popular restaurant brands like Chipotle were ahead of the curve on automated ordering, and their performance figures are a clear indicator that customers have fully embraced their digital model.
By leveraging automation technology for tasks such as booking reservations, checking guests in and out, adjusting hotel room rates and creating efficiencies with cleaning and maintenance, hospitality brands can achieve the double-whammy of operating at peak efficiency and delighting customers.
Interoperability Prolongs Positive Customer Experience
Finally, hospitality businesses have also been leveraging interoperable systems and software to create delightful, multi-faceted experiences for their customers. Interoperability boils down to multiple tech platforms interacting with each other and has been especially prevalent throughout the pandemic as businesses seek new, better ways to enhance customer experiences and drive repeat business.
For an example of interoperability, imagine you’re going on a trip. You’ve purchased plane tickets and booked a hotel room. On the morning of your departure, you get a notification from your preferred ride-share app with a recommendation to request a ride a few hours before your flight takes off. You accept the recommendation, arrive at the airport, and board your flight. When you land, the same ride-share app asks if you need a ride to your specific hotel and directs you to your airline’s pickup area. You accept the ride, hop in the car, and start the hotel check-in process online from the backseat. On your way back home, the hotel, airline, and ride-share app all communicate with each other to ensure your return trip is smooth and stress-free.
Having interoperable systems and software is a phenomenal way for hospitality businesses to work together to provide positive customer experiences and alleviate the stress often associated with travel — and this is just one example. Throughout the pandemic, hospitality businesses have been prioritizing systems and software that are interoperable to demonstrate their thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and commitment to positive customer experience.
Through cloud technology, automation, and interoperability, businesses in the hospitality industry are optimizing customer experiences and boosting brand loyalty. Many experts have observed that the pandemic has forced businesses to accelerate their technology adoption in a short period of time, and the benefits of these advancements are undeniable. With smart investments in technology, hospitality businesses are overcoming the short-term challenges of the pandemic and are making long-term investments in the future of customer experience.