As an industry built on delivering a high-touch, highly personal experience, the hospitality sector has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Across the country, occupancy is at an all-time low with 8 out of 10 rooms sitting empty and hotel operators seeing their annual revenue plummet more than 50% with losses totaling some $124 billion so far.
Hotels are being forced to completely reimagine the guest experience in order to bring travelers back. Now, instead of amenities like free breakfast, soft robes and a well-appointed fitness facility, travelers are demanding intense cleaning, PPE and other health and safety measures as part of a comfortable stay. They’re taking a harsh look at high-touch surfaces—like television remotes, room keys and even light switches—and expecting hoteliers to come up with better and safer alternatives.
High-tech service for a low-touch world
Offering guests a high-tech experience that solves the safety problem with touchless technology will not only lure guests back by providing peace of mind, but it can also help hotel operators create a more personalized, memorable experience that builds stronger bonds and guest loyalty. And, at a time when hospitality providers need all the help they can get to spur business, creating a safe and customized experience will be key to post-pandemic survival and recovery. Here are three touchless solutions that can help hotel operators ensure a safe, yet still engaging and memorable, stay that will entice travelers to return.
- Self-service solutions: Even before the pandemic hit, consumers were already gravitating toward self-service technology for everything from checking in for their flight to picking up a rental car. Now, travelers are looking for DIY options even inside the hotel room. Making tools available for check-in/check-out and concierge services accessible directly on a guest’s own mobile device can drastically reduce the need for lobby visits that can expose guests to a crowd.
Giving guests the option to place a mobile room service order, make bar and restaurant
seatingreservations or book a spa treatment all from their mobile device can help them enjoy a full-service experience without the full-contact risk. At the same time, deploying this type of solution can help hotels better understand guests’ preferences and usage behaviors by analyzing utilization of these services. This allows hotel operators to adjust their offerings and optimize resources.
- Contactless controls: Many guests are understandably concerned about the cleanliness of high-touch areas around their room—door keys, light switches, thermostats, remote controls and more. While thorough sanitation does provide some comfort, leveraging smart room technology to essentially eliminate the touchpoints completely is a much safer and more convenient option for guests. For example, allowing guests to use their own mobile device for keyless room entry solves the problem of sanitizing key cards. Adding an in-room voice activated assistant enables guests to control the lights and thermostat, and even set a wakeup alarm with zero contact on high-touch surfaces.
This approach can also create a seamless contact method should any issues arise. Guests can use the app on their mobile device or the voice assistant to report problems, request toiletries, ask questions and more, with automatic alerts delivered to appropriate hotel staff.
- Custom casting: Streaming services have enjoyed a tremendous surge as a result of the pandemic, and guests have become accustomed to having instant access to their favorite shows. While smart TVs come with these apps built in, this isn’t exactly sanitary or convenient—guests still have to touch the remote, it’s hard for them to log-in using the remote, and they may even forget to log out, allowing the next guest to use the service they pay for.
This is another perfect opportunity to employ the use-your-own-device approach. Giving guests the ability to watch their own Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu or other streaming media service by casting from their phone or tablet to the TV provides both safety and convenience. It not only eliminates the need to touch the TV remote, but guests can also pick up where they left off with their favorite shows without missing a beat or leaving their subscription service unsecured when they check out.
While it might seem contradictory at face value, using technology to provide guests with a self-service, contactless and low-touch stay can actually provide a more desirable, personalized and memorable experience. In addition to added safety, hotel operators can leverage their high-tech approach to create a unique, differentiated guest experience while also gathering insights about guest preferences and behavior. This can help hoteliers optimize services to better suit the expectations and needs of future guests.
About David Millili
A seasoned technology, marketing and operations executive, David Millili, is recognized for his visionary thinking, hands-on management, and deep industry expertise. He has more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry with practical experience in all aspects of hotel operations and management. He is currently the CEO of Angie Hospitality® by Nomadix and recently served as COO of Nomadix.
Prior to joining Nomadix, Millili served as CEO of Runtriz™, a leading developer of innovative mobile software solutions for hotels, resorts, and casinos. He previously served as the GM of two iconic New York City Times Square hotels and co-founded Timeless Hospitality, one of the first e-commerce platforms developed for the exclusive purpose of generating web reservations for independent hotels.
David Millili served as the chief executive officer and board member of Pegasus Solutions, a global leader in providing technology and services to hotels and travel distributors. Millili also founded and led Open Hospitality to become a recognized industry leader in providing innovative hotel internet marketing services including web design, development, and hosting, mobile platforms, online search, and marketing. He currently sits on a number of boards and as a former hotel general manager, he has valuable experience in all aspects of hotel operations and management.