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How Mandarin Oriental, Munich Implemented QR Code Tech During the Pandemic

Prior to the pandemic, the German hotel property was using QR code technology with limited success. But as the pandemic helped Germans become accustomed to the technology, Mandarin Oriental, Munich found it to be a popular, easy-to-implement solution.

In February 2021, MobStac, a QR code and mobile marketing platform, announced that it saw a 400% growth in QR code business during COVID-19, driven primarily by hotels, restaurants and retailers. Before COVID-19, many brands and retailers didn’t use QR codes at all, or used them for relatively rudimentary purposes, like sending consumers to a website or landing page. But the pandemic has pushed brands and marketers to embrace QR technology as a new channel for engagement between the physical and digital worlds. One hospitality company that has taken advantage of this technology is Mandarin Oriental, Munich. To find out more about how QR code technology has improved operations and the future outlook on the tech for the hotel, we spoke with Sales & Marketing Coordinator at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group Can Erdem.


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How was the Mandarin Oriental, Munich using QR codes prior to the pandemic?

Prior to the pandemic, we used QR codes in our marketing department to enhance the customer experience and create awareness for campaigns around the hotel. For example, we used QR codes to promote our recognition program and generate engagement on the Fans of Mandarin Oriental (MO) homepage. We printed QR codes linked to the Fans MO website and placed them around the hotel. Guests could scan the code and be redirected to the website to sign in or learn more about the benefits of the program. 

The codes were printed on sheets of paper, which weren’t reusable. We’d find ourselves printing 100 copies of the code, but only using 20. It wasn’t environmentally sustainable or efficient, and we didn’t get the response we’d hoped from guests. Our younger, more tech-savvy guests responded well, but others had difficulty scanning the code. 

At that time, QR codes were not as commonly used or understood. But the pandemic has changed that. We’re seeing QR codes used more regularly by our guests because of the nudge towards contactless and germ-free solutions. 

Why did you decide to implement QR codes during the pandemic?

When the pandemic hit, it had a huge impact on the hospitality industry. We knew that adding digital technology would help us stay connected to our customers in a safe way. 

In line with our strict health and safety practices, we implemented the group-wide "We Care" program which is designed to uphold our commitment to the comfort, safety and health of our guests and colleagues with precautionary measures. 

Our menus could no longer be printed because it was not hygienic for our guests. At first, we used iPads to solve this problem, but that only lasted a few months. Because the screens are touched so often, constantly using disinfecting products to clean the iPads was damaging to the devices and therefore proved expensive. 

We had to get savvy and come up with a cost-effective way to solve this problem. During that time, QR codes were already becoming widely used by guests of all ages. We went into action and started using QR codes instead of paper menus. It is the safest and most convenient way to ease our operations and keep our “We Care” program promise to our guests. 

How did you find out about MobStac and decide to partner with them? 

When the pandemic first hit, we began looking for a partner who was an expert on QR code solutions. In our search, MobStac’s website stood out. It was easy to navigate, and their product descriptions explained exactly what we’d be getting. Their website also included a rich portfolio of hospitality companies they worked with, which made the decision easy. 

After reaching out to schedule a demo, I was surprised to receive an invitation for a product introduction call with their CTO & Co-Founder Ravi Pratap Maddimsetty, who was very helpful. It’s not often you get a product introduction from the CTO of the company, but he explained the type of capabilities and value their system could provide. 

In that meeting, we expressed that personalization of the QR codes was important to us. We wanted to create something that visually represented the Mandarin Oriental, Munich. It was a fantastic experience. He understood and was very flexible in terms of how we could personalize the offer for our operation specifically. 

What was the process like for designing the QR code and placing it around the hotel?

The process was simple and built like a PowerPoint. Visually, we wanted this to be unique to the Mandarin Oriental, Munich and I used YouTube to educate myself and get ideas. But Ravi’s readiness to assist and answer any questions was unparalleled. Because he was so responsive and helpful, the whole operation was smooth from beginning to end. 

We used digital screens to showcase the QR codes around the hotel. We also have the codes on customized cards that we provide to the guests for their dining experience. 

What is the QR code tech currently used for within the hotel?

When the hotels were restricted this also had an impact on our food and beverage services. We needed to find a way to reach our loyal customers with those services and remain in touch with the community. 

To boost that service, we began offering our guests the chance to order signature dishes from our hotel’s dining options for delivery to their homes or for pick up. (Within the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Munich, we host the world renowned restaurant Matsuhisa Munich.). 

The challenge was, the usual delivery apps didn’t match the standard our customers expected from us, and we wanted to enhance that for our loyal customers. To do that, we worked with MobStac to create customized cards used to order from the hotel’s restaurants. 

Guests scan the card, which directs them to the Mandarin Oriental shop landing page, and from there they can order their favorite signature dish for delivery or pick up. Just because you leave a restaurant doesn’t mean the journey ends. When they leave, they take the card with them. It’s a seamless experience that helps us stay in touch with our customers when they aren’t physically present. 

Are there plans to continue using it post-pandemic?

While we do not know the future of QR codes post-pandemic, we believe that the technology found its place in today's society and will likely remain as a comfortable and customized way of communication.

We’ve seen the benefits of using this technology. QR codes give the flexibility to change the menu daily – without adding printing costs. There’s a flurry of other ways I can see us using this when the change to normality comes. For example, it’s useful for enhancing existing experiences like booking rooms or fitness sessions.

In line with the advice of the local government, we opened our restaurants and have implemented our QR codes for guests to access the menu which was a great success. It was uploaded within minutes, ready for our guests. It really allows us to be more flexible. 

Do you think the pandemic has changed the guest point-of-view of QR codes and contactless technology in general?

Since the pandemic QR codes and contactless technology have become a normal way of life.

In Munich, it’s become the expectation that if you go to a restaurant you’ll have to scan a QR code to access the menu. It has become widely used and accepted, and we are seeing our guests embrace this new standard. 

An added benefit to this technology is the transparency it provides. 

It allows us to get a better understanding of operations. We can view the busiest hours of operation and how many times a code has been scanned. This kind of technology can help us anticipate future business and boost operations for us internally. 

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