The hospitality sector has been hit far and wide in 2020, with every aspect of the industry impacted by the pandemic. No stranger to crisis, industry leaders have been quick to respond to changing concerns, rules, measures and restrictions.
As quickly as COVID-19 impacted the world, hotels have responded just as swiftly, adhering to new health standards and pivoting their offerings to build a path to recovery and a reimagined future of hospitality.
As 2021 approaches, Angie Hospitality has released a new eBook to discuss how the pandemic has been a catalyst to rapid change and innovation and what’s in store for hotels around the world. Take a look at a few trend highlights:
- A New Era of Clean, Safe Hotels
Hotels throughout the world are now expected to adopt heightened cleaning standards. With guest and employee peace of mind a top priority, The World Health Organization (WHO), along with international hospitality bodies including The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and Malaysian Association of Hotels, have introduced new industry health and safety protocols to assure guests that hotels are ‘clean and safe.’
The adoption of these guidelines will be important in winning consumer trust. Throughout 2020, repeated surveys found cleanliness to be a critical factor in a guest’s decision to book a hotel room. The recent Metova Fall Survey found that 90% of guests say it’s very or extremely important that hotels enforce COVID-19 safety, and 86% say that they now prefer a hotel with a fully contactless mobile check-in, concierge, check-out and facility reservation app, over one without.
2. The Reimagined On-Property Experience
Traditionally a high-touch industry, guests are now demanding hotels reduce the number of physical touchpoints. International hotels are implementing new self-service and touchless technologies to enable high-touch service without the actual ‘touch’.
In their next hotel stay, guests will be met with the latest touch-free technology that includes self-service kiosks for check-in/out, mobile room entry, AI-powered in-room, voice-activated assistants and mobile apps that let guests navigate the property and each touchpoint on their terms. Adoption of self-service technologies will encourage guests to choose one hotel over another, with an Oracle Hospitality & Skift Research Report in July 2020 citing that a massive 71% of guests said that they’re more likely to stay in a hotel offering self-service tech.
3. The Rise of Contactless Technology
Advanced, contactless in-room technology was gaining fans before the coronavirus pandemic, but COVID-19 has accelerated the reduction or removal of any interaction that could pose a contamination risk, especially in guest rooms.
Voice-activated technology is becoming commonplace with guests likely to seek out properties offering hands-free control to minimize contact with light switches, TV remotes, thermostats, draperies and more. In-room entertainment has also seen a major shift, with many hotels embracing hands-free casting, which bypasses the manual log-in process entirely.
4. A Safe, Digitally Connected Future
Contactless technologies may be replacing some traditional elements of hospitality, but this won’t stand in the way of a great guest connection. In recognition of their importance on safety and service in equal measure, another recent Oracle and Skift survey found that 70% of hotel executives agreed or strongly agreed that self-service technology will be important to assisting guests while minimizing unnecessary contact.
Technologies that offer pseudo-human interactions (e.g., chatbots, virtual reality and AI-powered devices) are especially crucial to keep human experience relevant. Hotels must consider the entirety of the digital guest journey to identify all touchpoints where they can interject meaningful communications, support, and offers, while also focusing on those solutions which provide a data-driven, personalized guest experience.
Far from (social) distancing them from guests, these new technologies are a long-term investment that will be integral to the success of hotels and continued guest loyalty in the future.
For the full update, download the “Future of Hospitality” eBook here.